The Primitivo has had many surprises so far, as did the Frances last year (and yes I know I have yet to write all of it up.)
On my first day out of Oviedo I walked to Escamplero. It was a short 17km walk, however since my train did not arrive in Oviedo before around 12 o’clock I figured it would be best to not walk through the night. That may have been the best decision I have made on this trip because of what followed.
I arrived at the albergue and my research came in handy. I knew that it was unmanned and that in order to claim a bed I had to register at a near by bar. I arrived at the albergue and checked it out first, it was a nice one. The water pressure in the showers were awesome and that was the deciding factor.
A bit later I walked back to the bar to register and there was a group of americans there. I introduced myself and started chatting with them bringing back the feeling of camaraderie I had on the Frances last year. It was the moment that that nagging feeling of me being insane for doing a second camino in as many years finally subsided. This, for me, is what the camino is about, friendship and camaraderie between those who find themselves on the way for what ever reason it may be. On the camino all that matters is this.
A long story short; the americans, 14 in number, ended up staying at the same albergue as me. I had told them that the albergue had more beds available but that Grado was not too far away if they wanted to go on…. I checked in at the grocery store next to the bar as the bar apparently was closed on this particular day. And that was the place to check in.
I found myself chatting with them and discovered that they were devout Catholics, which probably should not surprise me. And to be frank it did not, this is after all a pilgrimage route to Santiago de Compostela. What I think surprised me the most was that they were 14 in number and walking together.
The biggest group that I met last year was a family of 6 walking together. Oh and the Koreans, but I didn’t see much of them as they were seemingly on a different schedule than me.
The kitchen in this albergue was not a big one, and as all of us had arrived rather late me and the group happened to be there at the same time. I had just purchased a few snacks since I really was not that hungry, the excitement of being on the camino was still an overpowering feeling, quashing all others including hunger I think. The one thing it did not quash however was loud mouth and good spirits.
So I chatted a bit with the group and when their priest mentioned that some luggage had gotten lost, 2 of their group were without their backpacks, I remembered the proverb I heard on my last camino and one that is repeated by all that walks it.
The camino provides for those in need
I phrased it differently, but the meaning remained.
As the evening went on we chatted and they invited me to eat with them (including dessert) I had planned to just eat the fruit and some snacks I’d bought but a simple pasta was much better sustenance.
We set up dessert outside and chatted and laughed and then dusk appeared and by then we had decided we would set off together, heading to Salas for our second day on the camino. A good 45km walk from where we where, I however assumed that they’d keep pace with me, also not factored in that they would hold and attend mass.
A long story short; after many laughs and cursing a few rocks we arrived at Salas at 22:05… we found our rooms and Miguel, our host, took us to the dining area and served us a delicious meal.
–this section was written a few days ago with a mind to publish this post immediately —
Tomorrow I arrive in Monte del Gozo having walked the all but one day with the americans as their tag-along-viking. A short time after I found out that they had told their families back home that they had found their Joost, partly because the top pocket of my backpack was a virtual pharmacy containing Compeed and various drugs, though mine as opposed to Joost, were legal … they quickly picked up on the tips and tricks I told them about and soon they restocked and had their own supplies as well.
Santiago looms in the distance, I have contracted tendinitis in my right knee making it a bit more of a struggle covering the distances I want, however there are short days ahead and with the help of anti-inflammatory drugs, good humour, oh, and careful walking I manage. Santiago the day after tomorrow and that will be a rest day and I will decide if I abandon my plans to reach Finisterre. It will be five days with a 16km average, so unless it worsens I think it will be fine. The decision however will be made when I am there.
The decision was made on my walk from Monte del Gozo to Santiago, a short 5km walk, I booked myself for another 6 days in Roots & Boots. To put it mildly the knee was not good and certanly not in any shape to do another 100km in mountainous terrain.
I walked with the Americans all the way from Escamplero to Santiago de Compostela. I was far from the only one that suffered from a malady on the way. Together we pulled each other forward towards a common goal though our reasons differed.
We arrived in Santiago early in the morning and after a breakfast break we walked together into the cathedral square. The sense of joy, reliefe and amazement was palpable. A journey was done, finished. However like last time it was a bitter sweet time for me, the adventure was over. Normal life looms in the distance and I realized again the privilege it is to walk the camino, to leave the world behind for a brief period to simply just walk, think and be with others without the distractions (well mostly, still had my iPhone for pictures and video) of the world.
After we arrived we did the usual things, took pictures, talked, greeted other pilgrims that arrived (some of which we had met previously) and then the inaugural performance of the Camino song by the girls, which they had written. I got an honorary mention in it which made me absolutely chuffed (which for you Americans means; very pleased, emotionally so.)
After we got our Compostelas we made our way to the albergue to leave our bags so we could walk around the city without causing a pedestrian traffic jam in the narrow streets around the cathedral. I found the nearest bar and had celebratory and commiserative cider. To celebrate reaching Santiago and commiserating the fact that Finisterre would have to wait… and that our strange fellowship would come to an end.
We had drinks, a farewell dinner, more songs and an awards ceremony … in which I won the best legs award! (Apparently my calf muscles are huge by american standards, who knew)
So here is the Fellowship:
(Father Illo, Mason, Brian, AnnaMaria, Martin, Erin, Alejandra, Emily, Maggie, Olivia, Esther, Cecilia, Sindre (me), Claire, April)
Thank you all for making my camino what it was, I will always carry the memory of it and thus you guys with me.
Camino Primitivo, ULTREIA!