Fast forward to a year later.
It is September 4th, 2016 and I’m in Bilbao.
I returned to Europe on a military place because I was active duty at the time, cheap flight. I traveled from Palm Springs, Ca – Baltimore Washington International- Rammstein Air Force Base- Frankfurt, Germany- Madrid, Spain-Bilbao, Spain. It amazing to experience travel in such a quick time frame. I had to make a quick connection when I had a connecting flight in Madrid. My bag was lost. I stayed in Bilbao for a few days waiting for my bag.
I saw it as a omen to see and experience Bilbao for the three more days. The airline eventually found my pack and brought it to me on the first day. I had two more nights at the hostel. It was the same hostel, Bilbao Central Hostel, that I walked two Austrian girls at the end of a night the year before. I spent all night charming one of them and the Danish dude does a quarterback sneak and he makes out with her at the end of the night. (Sigh)
The freshness is gone when you continue the Camino. It did for me when I continued that day in Santander. I knew what to expect already. Follow the arrows. If I’m lost. I know enough Spanish to ask for directions.¿ Por aquí o por allí? ¿ Dónde está el camino? ¿Puede ayudarme, por favor? Estoy perdido. Soy Peregrino. The locals were so helpful even if you didn’t speak Castellano/Spanish. Walk into town and find an Albergue shower, eat, mend you injuries, meet people, wash your clothes, sleep, wake up, walk, repeat. The magic of being a novice to walking the camino is gone vs those who walk it and finish it in one go.
At first I was just walking. I didn’t talk to anybody the first two days because I was racing some Hungarian dude. It was exhausting because I never stopped to enjoy the scenery. As soon as I let it go and just let my journey run its course I started to have fun. I met two Germans, Sebastian and Kristiana with a Dane, Søren. That group made me laugh and reminded me what the camino was about. I forgot about walking when I started conversing and laughing with them. We parted ways several hours later.
Pendules. I came upon an Javier’s Albergue, which was recommended by my guide book. That Albergue was one of the best. All of the pilgrims broke bread and shared a vegetarian meal that Javier made. We sat along a long wooden table and shared songs of our native countries in the respective languages. German, Polish, South Korean, Spanish except American. I really can’t sing. It’s really embarrassing how bad I am. Javier was asked” Why do you do this? (hosting pilgrims in his home and treats them like family) Amongst the laughing, singing and drinking vino tinto with people from all over the world. Javier answered” porque los moments como este.” I smiled because its a feeling that can’t be described without experiencing it.
The next day I met Maria. Here’s where I think everything happens for a reason. Our paths intertwined many times on the Camino. I enjoyed her company more than anybody on the camino. I enjoyed our conversations and her company. I spent the most time with than anyone else. We met up in Madrid after we completed it. It felt reminiscent of Before Sunrise. I said I would visit her in South Korea when I get out of the Navy.
Next is Camino De Santiago IV.