We walk the Camino. People from all over the world and all ages. We are different but the Camino binds us. The Camino has a life of its own. This is no trek, but a deeply personal experience for each of us. Some of us have started from Saint Jean Pied de Port in France, some people leave after days or weeks. Some will leave before Santiago, some will go all the way to Santiago and some beyond to the Edge of the World or further.
Yes, it is a spiritual experience. It is serious. But it is also fun. On my 11th day, I stayed at Ages in a municipal hostel. Ages is a small town with interesting Pilgrim history dating back over a 1000 years. We have dinner at the Municipal Albergue. I sit out front afterwards having a drink with two Macedonian siblings, a brother 23 years older than his sister. A young girl that brings happiness to the Camino. She walks with a terrible limp but has the most beautiful smile. So beautiful to see that joy overcoming her pain. It is beauty in its purest form. There is a very nice young man Primos, a Slovenian, as well and a tough young, tattooed, Lithuanian girl, Lolita. It is never difficult to talk with others on the Camino. The differences are many, but I believe the Camino draws people with open minds and hearts for the most part. It almost seems sometimes that it is easier to converse with a stranger on the Camino than it is to talk to a neighbor from home.The next day as we walk to one of the cities on the Camino, Burgos, the word spreads that 3 young men were drinking at the Municipal Hostal in Ages the night before and had at 11:30 PM made a spontaneous decision to walk to Burgos. That’s 25 Kilometers in the dark and drunk after drinking all night. Stupid and foolhardy? Yes, but I found myself wishing that I had been one of them. It is the Camino and all things are possible. I am told it is a Dutch, an American, and a German. I try to imagine who as I must know these guys. They are under 25 of course. I figure I will find out soon enough and I hope to meet them and shake their hands. We have a wonderful day and evening in the beautiful city Burgos with a magnificent cathedral that houses a spectacular painting of Mary Magdalene and many other beautiful art pieces. Later in the evening we sit across from the Albergue at a bar enjoying some wine and tapas on the spectacular cool evening.
The next morning, I am leaving at 6:30 and I stop in the bar across from the Albergue for a tea and I see two of my Camino friends, Alexander from Holland and Jason from America. Two guys I have known since St. Jean. Alexander is 50 and Jason is 45 and wish them a “Buon Camino” the most used phrase on the walk. Later that day I am told it was Alexander and Jason and a German named Lothar, 39 years old who had walked through the night. I can not believe this. I know those guys. I just of course assumed it was boys under 25. Why not someone older? I laugh with joy. I must shake their hands. I heard how it was cold, they slept on park benches, they warmed up at a strip joint and paid 24 Euros for 3 Cokes, a small fortune on the Camino. They had breakfast at the restaurant across from the Municipal Albergue and slept at their tables. They waited all morning before being able to get into the Albergue to get a bit of shuteye. I will always remember them as the Legends of Burgos.