The fifth day ended and I was devouring ice cream in front of the albergue. I heard a man loudly talking on his cell phone. He said, “I have three bunks reserved. Two on the bottom and one on the top, I will take the top. You will be here in about 30 minutes . Hang in there.”
I looked at him with a smile and said, “You must be walking with supermodels because nobody gives up the bottom bunk.”
He laughed and replied, “These guys are old and need to pee all night. They cannot climb up and down those ladders.”
With a grin, I said, “No offense, but you are no spring chicken.”
He chucked and said, “I am not the youngest, but my pals are 73 and 67. I am in the best shape, so I take the top.”
This is how I met Ironman, Turtle, and Doughboy. Three amigos from Chicago walking the Camino like school kids. Turtle had walked the Appalachian trail and apparently they use trail names. He carried this tradition to Spain. I had dinner with these three men. Turtle started running at age 56. Over the next three years, he completed 37 marathons. His pals were full of equally astonishing accomplishments.
Day one of the Camino is the most difficult. It is a 16 mile hike with 4500 feet of elevation. The three amigos arrived in St. Jean at noon and decided to start the ascent. It was almost dark when they hit the summit and without a bit of fear, they slept in the emergency shelter on top of the mountain. So full of life.
Before going to bed, Turtle was arranging his backpack. He had a pair of hiking pants in his hands and a mystified look on his face. Without even asking the question, he answered, “I have too much weight and this may be my last walk. Not sure if I should ditch them here or take them home and walk the Pacific Crest Trail.”
The next day began by walking through endless fields of grain with sporadic oceans of red poppies. Halfway through the day, I stopped to stretch on a park bench. It was so nice, that I took a hour long nap. My alarm clock was refreshing rain. I was deep into Camino mode as nothing seemed to bother me.
When I arrived in St. Jean on the first day, it was around 8:00 PM and the stores were closing. I bought a walking stick, but it was not the correct size. On a temporary basis, it was fine. I began to wonder how many things in my life did not fit, but were hanging around under the guise of temporary. A good fit is needed in all aspects of life and I knew the perfect stick would appear at the ideal time.
I woke up on May 20 and started walking with pain in my knees. On a long walking journey, the intellect must obey the body. My knees were older but my mind was wiser. I walked slowly is a very relaxed manner.
My father would have been 80 on that day. That thought hit me just as my music player played Pink Floyd’s Shine on You Crazy Diamond. His insatiable affair with vodka robbed him of the past 15 years. Of course I miss him, but he does live in my heart. Shine on dad.
I was about one kilometer from Logrono and my mind started to think about all the things to do in this big city. My TTD list started with lunch, exchange dollars for euros, etc. Fortunately, I was able to realize that every moment spent thinking about what may happen in twenty minutes robs time from the present. I quickly snapped back to admiring the current beauty of nature.
I stopped for lunch at a remote lake. On my previous Camino, I dined at the exact same spot. The owner sat with me while I ate a wonderful meal. When I walked out, instead of saying goodbye, I smiled knowing that there would be another meal at this location down the road.
To be continued….