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The People Make the Journey on the Camino Santiago

Updated: May 23, 2023

Read the previous post here.

It is good to have an end to journey, but it is the journey that matters, in the end.” - Ernest Hemingway

This little quote was on a ‘Wall of Wisdom’ which we came across, plastered with laminated quotes.

A wooden shelf against a stone wall with an assortment of boots used as plantersf

One of the best parts of the Camino Santiago was the people you see and meet. We’ve written a wee bit about our Camino ‘family’, yet there were people we encountered only once, passed them by in a flash and yet they added to our journey.

What is it that makes them stand or position themselves along the Camino path sharing themselves in some way?

That is something open to speculation, but what I do know is that they contributed to our experience and in writing about them, I hope to acknowledge their contribution and remember them as best I can.

A woman standing, man seated posing with a dog.

Walter, an Argentinian, walked the Camino with his dog Flan a few years ago, he wrote a book about their experiences and now lives in a camper van along the path, ‘selling’ his book for which he takes a donation. He radiates goodness and joy, an energy which is quite powerful. Our brief stop to talk to him and pick up his book, was very uplifting and we moved on energised by our interaction with him.

The piper in the forest was magical. Lifting our spirits as we walked. He seemed content with himself, sharing a talent to keep the pilgrims moving.

This gentleman carved walking sticks and small Camino mementoes out of branches and twigs. Quite a few of these pieces were 'donativo' i.e. donation or pay what you like.

I loved that he shared his talent so willingly, it was hard not to stop to admire his handiwork and watch him carve.

A bespectacled man wearing a blue sweatshirt working at a desk

The other gentlemen, an amputee, probably gave us one of the most attractive stamps on our Camino passport. I loved his idea of using an old wax seal as a stamp, giving us the choice to hang a small metal shell/ cross or foot off it. Pilgrims dropped in a few coins into his box, yet he was keen to have any kind of currency from the pilgrims country. Unfortunately, I had packed away my rupees and couldn’t add to his collection. We marvelled at how he chatted with the pilgrims and created his own little bubble of joy, sharing some of it with the pilgrims who stopped by for the unique wax stamp.

Three ladies of different ages  posing for the photograph in front of a wooden staircase

Alicia and Hannah, a grandmother and grand daughter duo, eased our discomfort at being stuck far away from town, in what seemed to be rural Galicia. They gave us a warm welcome into their farm home stay and served us a delicious dinner, conversing through the wonder that is Google translate. It was probably one our best stays and we marvelled at Alicia’s shrewd business acumen.

Two ladies with sweaters, flanking a man in a red sweatshirt. In the background are hands a large bell and blue skies and trees

Shaun, we’ve written about before. We spent half an hour chatting with him and quite a few more minutes chatting about him. We admired his determination to find the perfect location along the Camino and his open spirit which welcomed pilgrims in for a chat, tea or a snack, opening out his house to complete strangers to use the restroom. Trust, sharing and friendship on offer for all who care to stop.

Pilgrims walking a tree lined path of the Camino Santiago
Pilgrim drying her tshirt on her backpack

The little Japanese or Korean pilgrim who seemed barely more than a teen, carried 2 backpacks, one in the front and one on her back. The combined weight seemed more than her own body weight which made her move with a slow, side to side gait. We loved her perseverance and her ingenuity to hand her washed wet clothes off hangers from the loops of her back packs.

Japanese pilgrims, some with conical hats on the Camino Santiago

The Gentle Japanese tour group who brought a bit of Asian flavour to the Camino with their custom hats. Ever smiling and very friendly.

The bagpipers welcomed us into O'bradoiro Square, sprinkling an emotional arrival with a little bit of Galician flavour.

As did the Galician performers who gave us a brief glimpse at their vibrant culture after we reached Santiago.

All these people and more, added to our journey...there was so much to admire and appreciate. We however found many pilgrims whizz past.

I guess, when time and/or destination is foremost in our minds, it’s easy to miss the joys of the journey.

Boots used as planters with purple flowers blooming

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