I awoke at 6:30 am today, which is sleeping in for pilgrims. The day began on a forest trail and gave way to highway walking and then a small pueblo where apparently Hemingway used to recover after his week long drunks in Pamplona at the Running of the Bulls. You will learn when you come to Spain, that everywhere you go, there is a place where “Hemingway was a regular here.” I saw Silke, the German girl, early in the morning and she gave one of her 6 pack yogurts as sat on a cobble stone enclosure and chatted about an hour after sunrise. I thanked her for the yogurt and said “it’s a shame you won’t be seeing anymore of me after today, I’m going to be picking up the pace tomorrow and I don’t think you’ll be able to keep up.” She demurred that I was such a strong man in a sarcastic tone, which I deserved. I sped ahead of her and later met this Spanish girl of 17 who was walking the Camino for a third time with her 16 year old dog. He was a docile and dependable guy with a slow stride, no leash needed. The girl had planned to join the military service of Spain next year and had to shave seconds off her Physical Fitness test times. It was a good opportunity to strengthen my weak grasp of the Spanish Language.
I encountered a guy about my age (25) named Jerry who I gathered was from either Northern Ireland or Scotland and he later confirmed it was the former. We both fit the speed walker profile, so I joined him for 10 miles. Jerry told me he had a friend that did the Camino and said it was the best thing he ever did. He had a gentle manner but there was something guarded about him, a shame or fear of vulnerability. From what I intuited, he was a loner on the Camino and didn’t seem to be interested in forming a “Camino Family” as many clique-disposed people will do. Also, he had to catch a plane home from Santiago de Compostela on July 30th. I consider myself to have a melancholic temperament. People frequently tell me “You’re so serious.” or “You never smile.” Meeting another that shares this burden piques my interest. Many I met on the Camino had emotional hurt or a fracture in their soul lurking below the surface. They would suffice it to say “Just heard it was a blast and had some time off so I figured why not.” and they had the cheerful demeanor to make it believable enough.
We reached Larrasona after an 18 mile day as my feet thumped with pain and my shoulders ached from a heavy pack. I rested and put my feet up, and had a few hours and waited for the pilgrims to file in. I had a dinner with an Italian guy, American girl, and an Austrian. I instantly felt like one of the crew. People offered leftovers and extra food. The positivity was contagious. A Japanese homeless looking family who were carrying children of 1 and 3 years old were staying at the hostel too. I couldn’t fathom the logistics of that, must have walked at a glacially slow pace.