Tomorrow is the day when so many Albergues and cafés will open for the season along the Camino. They typically shutter on November 1st and hibernate for the winter. Some will wait until April 1st to open their doors again.
From June through October of 2021 we were awakened by Pilgrims every morning. The click of their sticks, voices raised in laughter and in song. Looking out the window there would be flags peeking over the hedge. Sometimes from a country far away. Sometimes from one Spanish province or another. We noticed that the French sing more than any other nationality. The Spanish Peregrinos, while the majority of Pilgrims, come in a distant second.
Its been a quiet four months here. Over coffee in our pajamas each morning we would see a couple of people walk past. Most walking a solo Camino with few others with which to interact. A different kind of Camino experience to those walking in June, July or August. But all that suddenly changed today.
Jeff and I walk every morning. Six kilometers to the same place. Back over the old stone bridge then uphill home. Yesterday we noticed a few more Pilgrims than the day before. Mostly from Scandinavia. But today the floodgates opened. By orders of magnitude. And the high school classes are back. The shouts and laughter are welcome.
As we walked against the tide today I noticed the teenage walk that says ‘Why do I have to do this?’ that transcends any language. But walking the Camino is something you put on a resume here. Something that sets you apart. Jeff has is proudly displayed on his.
This morning our usual coffee stop was fill with Mexican Pilgrims. Their Spanish is very different and easier for me to understand as they speak much more slowly. Eavesdropping to practice my comprehension has become a guilty pleasure. And it helps. It really does.
People assume I have no idea what they are saying. Its not the first time I have been underestimated. When I lived in San Francisco I was working in a store. A woman came in to exchange something and her husband approached to ask her what was taking so long. She made a derogatory comment about me to him in Arabic. The worst sort of comment and not a word you should use in polite company, especially speaking to your husband. After the transaction I handed the bag to her and said ‘Really? Shame on you.’ In Arabic. Then walked away. The look on both their faces was something I will never forget. Being underestimated is one of my few superpowers.
Jeff and I got up from the Café and walked the rest of the way home, past large groups of 20 somethings all smiling. Happy to be on the Way. The Camino is waking up. And its like a breath of fresh air blowing through our world.