There were so many wonderful evenings on the road to Santiago during my 2016 Camino Frances. The Camino de Santiago is a network of trails that cross the whole of Europe and ends at the Cathedral in Santiago de Compostela. As I am a traveller by nature, I know the freedom of sharing company with people I probably won’t see again. This freedom loosens the tongues, as stories are shared, and secrets spill out.
I miss those nights on the Camino; long pilgrim dinners and good company, as we threw our opinions to the wind. While there were so many special occasions, one sticks out in my memory the most. I guess I’d just hit the golden hour of the Camino when I arrived at an albergue in the Meseta which was a little different to the rest. This albergue had a swimming pool for one. Bliss.
The albergue was right next to a church and I could see there were two stork nests built on the church’s tower (see picture). I spent the afternoon resting by the pool, yet my attention came back to the storks, again and again, as I could hear the strange clicking noise that storks make. I watched the storks feeding their offspring, as they swooped off and returned with food for their young in their mouth.
That evening’s pilgrim dinner was one of the liveliest yet, as we all shared our stories from the day. There were no tears this time. Instead, the room rang out with pilgrims’ laughter. Thinking back, perhaps we’d all reached the golden hour. We were all experiencing that sweet, Camino joy.
A conversation with an Italian man and his girlfriend is the main memory I have from that evening. I was in such a state of joy, so happy to be on the Camino, that I told them the story of how I left my career behind to begin again with such zest, that the man went to bed and decided that he, too, must change his life. I’m still in touch with him to this day and yes, he is going after the life of his dreams.
The storks seemed to be a symbol of each pilgrim on the Camino that day. Perhaps we were all feeding our future dreams and wishes by taking the first steps to create life from joy.
I guess it’s one of the many reasons that the Camino calls people back, again and again. The companionship and camaraderie between pilgrims. Don’t get me wrong, I´ve travelled many roads during my wanderings, and shared many moments with wonderful people. Yet there is nothing that compares to the company of a Camino pilgrim on the long road to Santiago, sharing stories of blood, sweat, and tears. Heartbreak, sorrow, and long-forgotten dreams.
If you plan to walk the Camino de Santiago, check out my book, A Wild Woman’s Guide To The Camino de Santiago. I share everything you need to know before you begin your Camino. Read at A Wild Woman’s Guide To The Camino De Santiago or click the link below.
(c) Samantha Wilson 2020. All Rights Reserved.