Despite my occasional scathing critiques of inconsiderate, maniac bikers and out of control clueless teens most folks have been a delight. First, like in France, a Buenas Dias or Hola is mandatory. The normal response is Buen Camino.
Occasionally you run into people plugged in and oblivious to all but what the machine is blasting in their ear. These are pretty uncommon except amongst the youth. I guess they will have plenty of time to hear the birds and the sounds of nature. Why worry about it now? But these are the ones unlikely to exchange pleasantries that are part of the reason I think people are on the Camino. To take the time to greet everyone you meet is almost like Christmas.
The usual brief conversations center on destinations and origins. Language is one limiting factor but the other is walking speed. If they are faster than me, the conversation is brief but I can usually adjust if we have some common interests. Topics include the difference between the Camino in France and Spain, the quality or lack of thereof in Aubergues, the mediocrity of Pelegrino Menus. If the person is French, the quality of Spanish food and drink is a favorite topic. The British are generally satisfied with whatever appears on their plate. The British and Irish don’t like bikers either.
Have gotten to know the Old French guys, Roger and Francoise. Exchanged Email addresses. Roger is the kisser. We endured the 28 km plus hike today. It was long and had more climbing that we thought. The sun was out but it remained a very pleasant temperature. With the recent rains there was some mud but easy to navigate around and actually feels good compared to asphalt. We are in a region with many villages that are strung out along the Camino. Most are just a few farmhouses with nice stone pavement for moving dairy cattle around.
Crossed some old bridges and even crossed a rocking stone bridge that Peggy made me dance on so she could get the perfect picture. I got one of some Japanese walkers as they hit the rocking stone. That was amusement enough for me. This group hiked about 5 or 6 nice Kms along a wooded path and then got back into their waiting van.There are many groups like this now that we are this close. The percentage of hikers with backpacks is well under one in four. Most people are actually hiking but there are some skaters that use cabs to get their stamps and drive to their hotel. Not sure of what value their Compostelle will be to them. These folks are relatively few but notorious (Peggy said I should not use the term cretin to describe them).
Gardens are everyplace few empty plots of land anywhere. Nice to walk through the dense woods which are also managed for pulp or firewood. Not much actual wilderness or wildness but it is still inspiring. Ran into an Irish guy who had done the Camino in Spain six times. He talked to me since I was one of the relatively few backpackers on the trail. When he found out that we had walked from Le Puy, he opened up about hikers who committed as little time and effort as possible. We agreed that the Compostelle Certificate was only worth what you put into it.
After all, Peggy and I have hiked over two months carrying all of our stuff, but we eat hot meals, sleep in usually warm rooms and take a daily shower. Imagine carrying chains, wearing the same woolen cloak ( not sure about the undies), being subject to attacks by bandits and predatory ferrymen and nobles, drinking questionable water and worse food and sleeping on straw that might get changed once a year. Our adventure has not been without challenges but we have always felt safe and usually comfortable.
Few comments on the pictures. The Galician farms seem to all have corn cribs. Strange when you figure that they don’t look good for anything than corn drying on the cob. Corn had to have been introduced to the region after the 16th Century but everyone seems to grow some along with potatoes. We only went through one small city today, Melide. It had some interesting churches and a former hospice turned museum. We managed to get lost briefly. Did run into the kids late in the day. No boom box now. They were all soaking their feet in the river. Still glad I am far removed from that Albergue.
Goldie and I are getting excited about your homecoming! The map book says two more days! Also, I looked ahead and they say that there will be many people. And the walk up from Monte Gozo can be particularly tiring. Don’t plan on going to Mass at noon but go to the Cathedral early the next morning.
I can well imagine that slackers and Johnny-come-latelys are annoying. You’ve done the true Camino and your Compostelle will have deep meaning for you. Bonne chance on the home stretch.
Actually I have gotten over any degree of ill will towards the folks I perceive as not putting much effort into their Camino. Instead, I just hope that this experience might hep them do a little reflection. And I do remember that not all have been blessed with our good fortune to be healthy and capable of walking the distance. Besides it is humorous to hear the slackers talk about the demands of their walk.