In 2013, my second Camino began at a koala’s pace as far as the social scene went. I was Happy Houring and eating alone too often.
Fortunately for me I performed a Waltzing Matilda into two Aussie couples on a World Wide Walk-About.
Melanie, Chris, Daniele and Martin allowed me to hang within their kangaroo pouches. They were fun, funny, interesting and told great yarns about the exotic places they’ve been. They didn’t seem to mind the fact I was the same age as their parents. These youngsters seemed to get a kick out of me for-how do I say this. Uniqueness?
Through them I met other Pilgrims for many multi-national, multi-generational Happy Hours. Camino 2013 turned out to be swell. I owe it to them.
Camino 2017, as I’ve mentioned before has been different. Nationalism and technology is the New Order of the day. There’s an over abundance of Americans here, much to the chagrin of the Europeans. I don’t blame the Continental Locals for these feelings. The current invasion has been on a D-Day scale minus the bullets and bombs. Once again I found myself eating and drinking alone.
That changed on the outskirts of Burgos. On a Sunday morning I bolted from the city high on caffeine but low on calories. I was famished when I pulled into a suburban cafe. I ordered the old standby Tortilla de Patatas. (Egg and potato omelette) with tomatoes on crusty white bread. The cafe owners were sort of in hysterics over my pantomime of what I wanted to eat. Out of the kitchen came a Nautilus class submarine sized sandwich of Tortilla de Patatas. That’s Big.
Out of the corner of my eye, I noticed two women glancing at me in a stranger than normal way. Their look said it all. How the heck can a little man like him eat all that? They were right. I couldn’t. This being the Camino, I offered them half. They politely declined. With their few words I detected the unmistakable twang of Fair Dinkum Aussies. This is how I met Toni and Catherine.
Our hemispheres cross every few days. Either I or they would perform the International Sign of please take-a-seat and join me/us. Once comfortable the first question is, “what are you drinking?” Then they will regale me with their Camino tales.
Long distance trekking is foreign to them. Toni confessed, “I don’t even like to walk!” Yet, they are typical Aussie tough despite the blisters, sore muscles and achy joints. They make light of their plight. They exemplify the Aussie “She’ll be Right!” Attitude.
Yesterday, Catherine told a story of a plugged up drain in an Alburgue’s communal shower. She went on to elaborate about her virtual swim in other Pilgrims effluent.
She summed up the funky experience this way, “It was shocking!” Classic Aussie understatement. I howled. They both make me laugh. This is something that’s gone missing from Camino III. More Pilgrims equates to less human interaction. Sad but seemingly true.
If you’ve read this far, you might think I’m having a miserable time here. Not at all. This Camino might not be my favorite but this has been the most enjoyable European journey I’ve ever taken. Chasing yellow arrows through the Iberian landscape has provided me with a perfect excuse to be in Spain once again. Which if you haven’t figured it out is a superb place to be.
Plus, I’ve had the pleasure of meeting two Awesome Aussies who bring a smile to my face.
Thanks Catherine and Toni for making this Camino like Old Times even for brief moments.
Next post will be about the upcoming Sarria Syndrome portion of this Pilgrimage.
Until then, Buen Camino,