Happiness on the Camino

(Poor formatting due to using an iPad with slow internet access and limited time.)

Restaurant owner

Restaurant owner and cake

French guidebook

French guidebook

Paco, Gabriela and I were soon eating what looked like a homemade cake with coffee, tea and juice while the woman went about readying her restaurant for another day. The morning chill and the rising sun came through the open door. “A beautiful morning, a good breakfast with friends and no responsibility except to walk. This is happiness,” I said. Paco and Gabriela were quick to agree. After three days of rain, harsh winds, cold and general misery, we set off in a great mood.

Eleven kilometers (seven miles) later, when we stopped for a morning snack, a young pilgrim was struggling to order in Spanish. Before he took his food to sit alone at an inside table, we chatted briefly in English, and he said he was Austrian. “Come join us outside, if you’d like,” I said.

Minutes later, Yoon, a beautiful young Korean woman came through the opening in the hedges that separated us from the highway. “Pull up a chair,” we said after hugs. As she did, the Austrian came out. He settled into a chair and stretched, declaring, “The sun feels so good.” Amazing how a morning of sunshine after days of rain can send a pilgrim’s spirit soaring.

English guidebook

English guidebook

German guidebook

German guidebook

I ate the banana Gabriela had given me the previous evening because the little store had run out of them by the time I got there. Yoon shared her chocolate bar. Paco and I split a ham and cheese sandwich that I paid for because I owed him two euros. Before long, I shouted out to Jim the American and Phil the Australian as they came into the yard. This involved more hugs and updates. The Brazilian girl and the two Spaniards from Valencia arrived before we left.

On the Camino, you can get to know people fast. You might see someone for several days and then not for a week. Some of the Europeans, Spaniards in particular, walk the Camino over several years, a week or two at a time. That was what the two couples of friends from The Canary Islands were doing when I spent some time with them during the first week of my Camino. I only walked with Sam and Joanne from Chicago for part of a morning, but I have the photo Sam took of Joanne with her arm around me as they sang happy birthday to me.

Spanish guidebook

Spanish guidebook

Korean guidebook

Korean guidebook

I love the kids from Florida State University walking with the youth director from their church. I haven’t seen them lately, which worries me because they’ve been hit hard with blisters, a twisted ankle, a sore leg. Word from Jim and Phil today was that Australian Frank’s leg is in bad shape. They’ve already lost one member of their group to homesickness. She flew back to Perth from Burgos.

Meanwhile, Gabriela, a German who has lived forty-three years in Paris, became a grandmother two days ago when her daughter-in-law in Sweden gave birth to twins seven weeks early. Paco, the Catalan from Barcelona, tans I toasted her grandmotherhood with table wine at a pilgrims’ lunch special. We’ll probably never see each other again after we reach Santiago, but for now, this is happiness.

Comments

  1. Maria Yoos says:

    It’s great to keep reading about your adventures in Spain. I m so glad you’re enjoying it so much and that you’re making so many friends along the way. Continue to have a great time and take care of yourself.

  2. Barbara Zito says:

    You’ve discovered the mystical joy and wonder of the Camino: relationship. I think the Camino draws folks who are prepared, seeking, and hungry for it. Relationship with God and with other Pilgrims; this to me, is the true Camino destination.

  3. Carrie Barry says:

    Hi Leslie,
    “Happiness” is a lovely entry in your blog. I enjoy the food detail – because it’s obvious that even a simple banana is much appreciated on the Camino. I enjoyed the photos of your united fellow travelers- what a interesting group they must be. So glad to read that the weather has improved too. Safe journey.
    (Nothing wild to report of our quiet neighborhood, but that’s the way we like it, right?!)
    Carrie

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