LOS ARCOS – Today I walked 32054 steps, or a little over 20km (12 miles), my longest day so far. The teaching that kept presenting itself was: “What you need, the Camino will provide,” or it will be provided by Santiago (St. James), or simply “The Camino will provide.” I admit I didn’t pay attention the first few times, but by the third time I knew St. James was trying to tell me something. Interesting for such a secular walk, there is quite a bit of mysticism attached to the Camino, or St. James.
Yesterday, when the rain had asked me to stop in Puente la Reina, where I met up with Amy the Aussie, who I met my first night. She was concerned about John and Michelle and their polls, which had been left behind when they had gone ahead. We set out together to walk the polls forward.
Amy is a fast walk, (or she is trying to ditch me), and soon we are in the next town, but no John and Michelle. It is past 3pm, time to call it a day. We were the fourth people to check into the Albergues, and this one had separate rooms for men and women. At least that is how it started out, but by six, the men’s room of 30 beds was an even mix of men and women. I don’t have any hard statistics, but by my count this walk has been maybe 70% women, and seriously, women snore just as loud as men and their boots smell just as bad. Soon Kay checks into the Albergues, but I won’t meet her until today after a long and hard climb.
Kay is on sabbatical and asking The Camino to give her direction for what is next. All she knows is that being a social science researcher isn’t it. This is her fourth Camino, but only for two weeks and then it’s on for something else. I’ve met quite a number of people who have joined my Camino, knowing they won’t complete it. Doris, from Germany began her Camino in Munich, Germany five years ago and has been chipping away at it in three-week chunks with her sister. They are a delightful pair. Doris won’t finish it this year, and maybe not even next, she says laughingly.
We start out early, but soon its clear to me that I can’t keep up with Amy, and I beg out to take pictures.
A few hours later I’m walking with Kay, and hearing her story, it brings out the life coach in me and the day’s conversation is a delightful distraction. Kay is also a fast walk, and tomorrow I learn both plan on going 18 miles, and I know I’m not in shape for that kind of walk, which brings up the walking partners.
The Camino is like a game of cribbage, which is actually two games played concurrently. In cribbage you play your hand, and then you count your cards, and doing well with one hand doesn’t always look the same. On the Camino, there is the walk, and then the place you stay and the community for the night, and you have to manage both.
We’ve shared a few days together, but I don’t realistically expect to see Amy or Kay for the remainder of my Camino. They are two driven, ambitious women, and I’ve already walked with one for 31 years, and don’t need to keep up with another. Besides, if I try to keep up then I’m walking their Camino, and St. James brought me here to walk mine. I’m reminded of this African Proverb – “If you want to walk fast, walk along. If you want to walk far, go together,” except I don’t think it works for The Camino, unless St. James has given out the same Camino. For now I’m, according to the proverb, walking fast (alone), except that I’m really not that fast.
Midway through the day we run into John and Michelle in Estella, and I learn Amy has already found them and tried to give them their polls, except they hadn’t lost theirs. So Amy leaves them on a fence, and moves on and John and Michelle report seeing the polls walk past them an hour later. The Camino Will Provide.