We walked into Santiago on June 15th, for the second time in one year. The square was full of pilgrims like ourselves feeling a mixture of elation, relief and sadness.
I’ve told a few pilgrims that I’m on the Camino to get over my shyness. This is usually followed by laughter, because I really do not present as shy. In a way, however, the statement is true. The Camino encourages me to start conversations with everyone and not worry about what they might think. While there might be some who find me overly chatty or bothersome, most pilgrims appear at least to appreciate that I have broken the ice. I always assume that there will be shared experiences and common ground and I’m usually right.
Yesterday while waiting for a friend to drop his pack at an albergue another pilgrim gave me a thumbs up sign indicating it was a good place to stay. We started a brief Rapunzell conversation with him up on a balcony and me in the square. Before even learning his name, I had invited him to join us for a beer. Mats is from Denmark and had just completed his first Camino from Leon on the Camino Frances. He hopes to return next year with his 15 year old son. It feels so natural, safe and wonderful to be able to connect with perfect strangers.
Gord and I woke up on our first morning in Santiago wanting only to go for a walk. We started out of Santiago on the route to Finistera and returned on the Camino Portuguese. Neither of us really wanted the Camino to end. After a menu del día we headed back to the square to watch as more pilgrims came in. While we were taking photos of friends in front of the Cathedral another unknown pilgrim jumped into the frame and posed with them for the shot. He was from Slovenia and, like me, working on overcoming his shyness.
Numbers for our trip
Caminos completed: 2 – The Via de la Plata and The Camino del Norte
Kilometres walked or cycled: 1700
Days walking or riding: 70
Average daily distance: 24.3
Flat tires: 4
Bed bug bites: 16 ( up from 1 two days ago)
Days that were significantly rainy: 2
Days with frost: 3
Days over 30 degrees: 3
Dog bikes: 1 (a chihuahua bit Gordon while it’s owner was having a cigarette)
Nights in dorms: 3
Nights without sleep: 3
Age of oldest pilgrim we met: 81
Days lost to COVID: 9
Friends made along the way: too many to count!