Camino De Santiago Part II
I set my goal. I left for Spain in July 2015. I arrived in Rota, Spain. Then I went to Seville. Then to Madrid. I spent three days there if I remember correctly. It was an interesting experience with tours and wondering around. It’s difficult to remember when I look back. I lot has happened in those memories.
I was able to speak with a beautiful Madrileña on the train to Irún, the starting point of Camino del Norte. I was so proud of myself for having short conversations with her in Spanish. She was very patient with my Spanish.
I remember I arrived in Irún late and I didn’t have lodging. I spent an hour walking around looking for a place to sleep. I finally settled on a pension. I thought to myself. “Tomorrow I will begin my journey.” I remember that I was very timid with my Spanish. Now when I think about it. I feel more comfortable to be in a situation where I need Spanish to help me.
It’s unfortunate that I’m writing this part of the journey more than a year ago. Many of the details are lost in my mind. It was an amazing experience because the journey was so new and refreshing. The views were so beautiful.
I met some wonderful people on that Camino. I met French, Swiss, Spanish, Catalan, Danish, Belgian, Austrian, Italian, and of course, German. Everybody had their own reasons for walking the Camino. Some were newly graduated college students, established adults with a career who saw the Camino as a convenient holiday, or other people who were looking for answer to a life decision. The last reason was my own.
My first impression of French people came when I visited Paris as a 21 year old. It was not a great experience. It was a strange unwelcoming feeling for an American. I saw the landmarks but the language barrier and the inherent unfriendliness towards tourists left a dent with me. That impression was shattered when I met a very friendly French man on the Camino. His name was Olivier, from a city north of Paris. I stopped for a break and he joined me for his break. I shared some of my orange with him. We decided to walk to the next town together. Olivier had a wonderful idea of eating sashimi for lunch. We went to the grocery store and bought our picnic food. We ate on top of green cow pasture above Zumaia looking at the Atlantic Ocean. We communicated in English, which he spoke very well, and he told me his story. He was mid 40’s, divorced, two kids. It seemed he was on the camino like most, searching for an answer through meditative walking. I don’t remember much else from the encounter except that he has upgraded my impression of French people. There are unpleasant people everywhere from every country, but there are good people everywhere as well.
I left 13 days into it. I stopped in Santander. It was a one of the best days on the Camino. We left Güemes and there was a light rain. I remember the day being rainy and miserable but I didn’t care because I knew that was my last day. So I just enjoyed every second of it. Especially the misery. My favorite memory of that day was when we stopped around 11am at a beach bar before Santander. I changed my socks and we ate some food. I bought some “chupitos” for my group. Then we walked to Santander with a nice buzz. We took a small commuter boat to Santander. We had Regma ice cream, Santander ice cream, right after the boat ride. We parted ways soon after. It was the best day of Camino because of company I was with. The most important part about the Camino for me was meeting wonderful people.
I returned home when I got to Santander. I finally continued my journey in September 4, 2016. See Part III