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Everyone comes to the Camino for reasons of their own. Along the way I’ve met pilgrims, peregrinos, from all walks of life. Everyone has their own story and motivation for being here. It’s not uncommon for peregrinos to share their stories in the evenings while we wait for dinner to be served. And on a side note, I think people in Spain eat dinner rather late. As a long distance backpacker, it’s not uncommon to be in bed by 8:00 after a long day of walking. My routine while hiking is usually walk, setup camp (check into an albergue on the Camino), eat, and go to sleep. In Spain, dinners seem to start anywhere between 7:00 and 8:00. But mealtime is a very social occasion and something I’ve come to enjoy.

I met Mike and Vernetta, from Detroit, my first day on the trail and we’ve crossed paths a few times since. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a couple more in love than these two. I strongly suspect walking the Camino is one of his dreams that she is happy to support. Next year, they are planning an Alaskan cruise, her dream I assume. But Vernetta has been a very positive peregrina. I’ve only ever seen a smile on her face as she makes her way to Santiago. It’s clear she’s not a long distance walker. The first night we met, I saw the fear in her eyes. The unknown of an upcoming adventure can be quite intimidating. Mike has said more than once how proud he is of her for persevering through rain and heat and cold. She’ll make it to Santiago, I have no doubt, because her spirit is willing to go.

Ian, from Ireland, is walking the Camino to challenge himself. He’s broken down the trail into sections and has set daily goals for his entire journey. Some, to me, are highly optimistic, some I think are doable. His most optimistic goal is to walk across La Rioja in a single day. He had his pack sent ahead, a service many peregrinos use, and left the albergue at 5AM to walk more than 65 kilometers in a single day. I wish him luck! That kind of distance would take me more than 17 hours of walking. I broke La Rioja into about three days. One of his more realistic goals is to attend mass at least four times a week. Since the Camino passes at least two churches a day, often more, I think that goal should be a slam dunk for him.

There’s lots of peregrinos walking the Camino simply for the enjoyment of nature and many, like me, who aren’t sure why they’re here. I think this is where I’m supposed to be. Enough signs pointed me in this direction, so here I am. Walking the way, waiting for something to point out my reasons for being here. In the meantime, I’m visiting churches, marveling at the construction of these monolithic structures hundreds of years ago, and being amazed that villages, like Viana, celebrating its 800th anniversary, are still vibrant, lived in, and functional communities.

I’m just over a third of the way to Santiago de Compostela and am enjoying every step of the way!

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