October 18, 29km
Hospitalero Juan gave me a cheap blue poncho this morning which was my saving grace. Despite a good train jacket and waterproof pack, today’s solid, relentless and glacial soaker had the ability to get in anywhere. Breakfast was a cheery and communal affair with laughter and bravado to cover any grim feelings about setting out on such a day to walk 29km and to make the only etapa without any single village in between. Victor, Señor Poloña, doesn’t seem to have any rain gear so was wearing a garbage bag with arm holes cut and a green plastic bag on his head. It still makes me laugh out loud to think about it, so cheerily he set out in the most hilarious pilgrim garb so far of the Camino. It was a caffeine and sugar and biscuits for breakfast kind of hilarity, but hey, some mornings you take it where you find it!
It’s bloody cold as we step out, and me in shorts of course. After a few hundred metres I can feel water in my shoes and within the first km they are sopping. Every half an hour or so I’m saying a prayer of gratitude that they haven’t made wet-feet blisters, and it is truly a grace of today that everyone’s feet are to my knowledge okay. We are I think nine pilgrims who arrived in San Pedro: the blue-lipped, the sodden, the ones who missed an arrow and walked an additional 4km, the all of us extremely grateful for hot water, a radiator and hot chocolates, whiskey and chamomile with anis. We made it!
For Letizia and I, we walked 29km in five and a half hours with only one small (and logistically challenging) wee break. No stop, no chocolate and trail mix, no lunchy-poos. Just step after sodden step, and a good couple of hours on the road as well. But you know what, the day was so bloody awful and the conditions so horrible, we found the smiles, jokes and laughter came all the more readily. I thought to myself as I nearly missed stepping in a puddle up to my middle, gee I’m glad none of us has diarrhea. Or, my gosh this crappy poncho isn’t doing much but it’s a damn side better than nothing.
Warming ourselves up in the great bar of San Pedro, we had time to meet some of the new pilgrims a bit better: Pat and Marie from Buckinghamshire / Florida – a wonderfully cheerful and intrepid couple who have never done a long walk before and just though, why not! I love their knack of finding the best wine a pueblo has to offer and of taking the bus if they bloody well feel like it. And there is Philippe from ‘south Belgium’ – ie. Paris, who… ah, Philippe. Who is a pilgrim beyond description. He came to our table today, ordered a round of drinks, and just quietly, with joy and tears and the heart speaking out loud, began to tell his story. All three of us ended up running with tears, sharing some joys and sorrows and dreams and I think, somehow, were a blessing all for the others in doing so. Philippe decided to call us ‘Lutizia’ – a blending of our names, both of which are from Latin and mean light and joy. He blessed, and I almost want to say sanctified, our being and walking together, saying that we are stronger together than apart and complement and strengthen each other. Philippe sings his caminos and walks very slowly and laughs a lot and has a big white beard and loves the best a pueblo has to offer and brings the humility, joy and simplicity of the pilgrim in his being. He is not having an easy Camino, and I wish him every blessing on his way.
“N’aies pas peur. Aies seulement confiance.”
The Lu of Lutizia