Twenty more kilometres to go. Tomorrow I finish my pilgrimage from Le Puy to Pamplona, where this year’s path will join last year’s path.
When I started this pilgrimage on 10 May, I was largely in the company of retired people who could chose their time of departure. It would have been the same on the Camino Frances. Now it is late June and it is very definitely the time for young students to walk the Camino during their vacations or upon graduating. The heat in Spain is not conducive to walking with a heavy backpack and so you only attempt it when your options are limited.
There is an encouraging number of British pilgrims around me on the Camino Frances (there were none on the Via Podiensis) plus the usual mix from around the world. Yesterday we saw a couple of young Americans and N and I speculated whether they were traveling together or if they had just met. He was a hulk of a man from Michigan, his NFL head gear replaced by a peaked cap pointing backwards. She was bobbing along beside him, Miss Connecticut.
Miss Connecticut joined our table for dinner with her fresh face, her curly auburn hair and her sparkling white teeth. She is studying International Relations at one of those wealthy universities with ivy growing up the walls. She had lost track of the hulk and was now engaging with a couple of Brits. I was reflecting on how society wires the young to perpetuate itself. But today she was back bobbing along beside the hulk, this time wearing a matching peaked cap pointing backwards. Ah, the Camino…
N, who recently graduated from film school, has met L, a lovely technicolor girl who walked the route from Vezelay, a brave journey for anyone to undertake alone. Because alone is how you have to walk it. At last N can meet people her own age and L can meet people and enjoy the Camino Frances.
I set off early and walked alone. P, the US management consultant, emailed me. He had been left alone in SJPDP with a bad case of Camino blues because our fun group has dispersed. He says he will walk to Pamplona in two days to catch up with me for a final beer. I replied that this condition was quite normal and that he would soon meet a new set of friends. Anyway I would probably remain in Pamplona for two nights. But I don’t know yet.
We meet the people we are supposed to meet, no more, no less. We are all called to be here, we heard the message, and we walked toward one another, pass one another, walk together, disappear, meet again and say goodbye… until next time we meet.
Camino Walk: Where Inner and Outer Paths Meet, Marie-Laure Valandro