After crossing the Pyrenees, we deliberately took it slow for the first five days of our walk. Training on the trail, we began to settle into a natural rhythm – wake, pack, walk, breakfast, walk, coffee, walk, lunch, walk, find a bed, wash clothes, nap, dinner, sleep.
Sometimes, we walked in silence, immersed in our own thinking. Sometimes we’d talk. Early on we’d realized that there were a lot of people walking El Camino sorting out serious life issues, seeking answers. We were out there as part of our transition to ‘retired’, but not dealing with anything particularly heavy. Still expecting some insights, self-discovery, we’d joked about stumbling upon our “Profundio del Dia” – “Depth of the Day” as we went about our walk.
We met Barb on our first day. She was walking El Camino to shake off some demons, and reboot her life. She holds multiple world records for power lifting – and is quite strong* – but still struggled with the endurance required for walking uphill. Since we were going slow, we invited her to hang with us for a few days until she got her trail legs. We’d start off together with a rough idea of where we’d end up for the day, and then meet up along the trail – walking together, yet apart.
Third day in, our morning coffee stop was at an outdoor cafe. Just as we sat down, a large group of boisterous Spaniards descended upon the courtyard. Whooping and hollering, the men swamped the cafe proprietor, and filled the tables. We finished up, deciding to get on our way to get ahead of their large, loud pack.
They were everywhere – yapping on cellphones, singing, talking at extreme volume! They’d fragmented into smaller groups, and we couldn’t get ahead of them all! Destroying any chance of a peaceful, meditative walk, we finally just gave up – stopping in a field, we waited to get the racket ahead of us.
Rolling into our destination village for the day, we spotted another outdoor cafe on the edge of town. And there they were! Over two dozen loud men – singing, hollering, and infesting the entire outdoor area like giant locusts in futbol gear!
daisyfae: If those noisy bastards are staying here tonight? i’ll keep walking! i don’t care how far it is to the next village, i’m not bunking with them tonight!
We decided to at least stop for lunch. Walking into the cafe, we found Barb, already having coffee and a snack.
Barb: Do you see this group of men?
daisyfae: Oh, hell yeah! We see ’em.
Barb: They saved my life today! i was struggling to get up that last hill, crying. They surrounded me. That one? With the bright yellow shirt? He took my pack and carried it for me. And that one? The older man? He walked beside me, helping me keep my head up to make it easier to breathe. They don’t speak any English, but it didn’t matter! They are amazing.
On this day, Profundio del Dia slapped us both upside the head: One man’s asshole is another man’s savior.
* Training to lift heavy things does not include any cardio training. In fact, she told us that cardio reduces strength, and when training she would avoid it like the plague!