Sharing on Camino
Walking into Roncesvalles on day one was magical but tough. We walked down a steep hill with the impressive image of a monastery ahead, my knees were not happy with this decline. I was feeling an overwhelming sense of achievement as I had completed my first day of the Camino yet some things did not go as planned. I did for example not get up at 6am and walk in the dark early morning hours and so this was my main aim for day two.

I was like a robot the next morning, up at 5am, in a shower, in clothes, backpack on! There was one problem, my backpack magically gained weight. Is this possible? It contained the same basic items I had carried with me the day before yet I was sure some pilgrim thought it hilarious to sneak in a brick or two. Clearly the effects of just one day of walking was already taking its toll. This imaginary extra weight left me feeling in a foul mood and I was displaying a face that I refer to as my ‘leave me the hell alone face’ – sometimes I substitute the word hell for a few others, something you can also try.

I was mostly annoyed as this specific day was one that I needed to do full speed, passionate and preferably loudly as this is how I would describe Anna, the woman I was dedicating it to. I tried to convince her to tell her story in full, it’s one hell of a story and involves the re-occurrence of cancer multiple times in quite a few nasty places but Anna assured me that a story about her shitty cancer (her words) sounded about as dull as an afternoon with her mother in law. In the end she agreed to me dedicating a day to her but only if I did something reckless that day. “Reckless Laura, this is something we should all be, don’t be boring”. I decided not to argue this point but truth is I wasn’t quite sure how I would make this one happen.

Kjell was next to my side at 6am leaving Mike behind who was still a bit slower due to his participation in spanish wine appreciation the night before. It’s a funny thing about the Camino, there is an unwritten unsaid rule about not interfering with other people’s pace yet I secretly knew Mike would catch up – the man was planning to run the bloody Camino. Hats off, applause and cheering must follow here please.

We set off in the dark leaving the monastery behind and quickly ran into another pilgrim called Will and so just like that our little family grew. You never know exactly which one of the people passing you will stick but some just do so naturally. Will is a 24 year old recently graduated French Canadian and is one of those unique characters that when you had to describe him you would definitely use the word cool. He is just cool. Very soon after the Camino, he will be the coolest teacher at some school in Canada, he will be that teacher that you want to hang out with and want to work your hardest for. That is Will.

The rest of the day was walking through the forest and valleys talking all the way to Larrasoana. Then there was Larrosoana. This place is what I would imagine a purpose built Spanish town at a resort like Disneyland would look like after closing hours, it’s a ghost town except for the odd dog walker of which there were surprisingly many. Our first stop after checking into our very modern very hotel like pilgrim’s hostel was the local grocery shop. It wasn’t so much a shop as it was the home/bar of a very eccentric Spanish man who introduced himself as our angel. After only a few minutes in the shop we started believing that he might just be our angel, that is if angels gave you free wine and food and treated you to eclectic sounds from the seventies.

I loved this man yet we all agreed that whatever he was on, it must have been some good strong stuff in large amounts of the illegal sorts.

The bar was followed by fantastic food at the hostel combined with some more bottles of Rioja which led us (as it should) to a few nightcaps at the local bar. This is how me, Mike and Will learned one of the most important rules of the Camino – do not ever, as in EVER, get back to your hostel after 10pm unless you are happy with the idea of roughing it outside. Pilgrims hostels are locked, blocked and bolted up after 10pm, a fact apparently well known.

Now I will spare all the details but I will say that at some very low point the three of us were collectively wearing Mike’s clothes which happened to be hanging outside drying while huddled on top of each other on a dry cement floor outside the hostel. We had briefly considered finding a spot on Mr Angels porch but as Mike rightly pointed out, the man had an exceptionally large knife and was clearly bonkers. Ghost town, crazy drugged man, large knife – don’t sleep there.

So on my second day on the Camino, I found myself roughing it up in the great outdoors of a ghost village, squashed between two guys wearing layers of men’s running clothes.

I can only hope that this is the type of reckless non- boring activities that Anna wanted on her day.

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