|People and Stories of the Camino:
-Jeff is a young man from California who arrived with us on the late train into St.Jean Pied de Port. He didn't have accommodation booked and couldn't find a room. We ran into him days later and he told us 2 hilarious tales. The people in the pilgrim office called up someone to take him to their pensione. They picked him up in a van with no windows and kitchen chairs in the back to sit on- then apologized for the smell, as the donkey had been riding in there earlier! Then, when he stayed in the big albergue in Roncevalles, he was nice to let the caretakers know he snored- they placed him alone on a bed in the ancient basement and he awoke in the night to hear all the ceramic tiles falling off the walls one by one and smashing on the stone floor "like a Greek wedding!" Poor Jeff had blisters on the soles of his feet and was taking the bus the next day - we wonder what happened to him.
-Nicholas is a fellow my age from the area of Italy near Monte Carlo. He speaks fluent Spanish , English, French and Portuguese as well as Italian and when he walks with us he says "it is beautiful to be with you again!". He is fascinated by Doug and says he has never met anyone like him. We have lost track of him as he was a bit sick at Logrono ("just a bit of vomit- I don't care") and is a day or so behind us- you really get attached to people on the way.
-Armin is a Swiss man in his 60's who has been walking already for 500 km from France before joining this Camino. His wife is at home near Zurich. He is a native German speaker, but we can understand each other with a mix of French and English. He is hilarious and one just wants to hug him. He meets us later in the village after our brief encounter in the rainy hills and insists we have dinner and wine with him, and it is the 20-somethings and us that have tell him it's time to call it a night. He has befriended a young fit girl from Oregon who designs shoes for Nike . Together they plan to walk 40 km one day.
-Oskar is one of our favourites. He's near 60, born in Argentina, has lived in Holland, Britain and Italy then California. He is completely fluent in Italian Spanish, French, English and Dutch, including the nuances of humour in all. People follow him around like he's the pied piper. He calls himself Oskar the grouch, but we have only seen him grouchy once- when he told the caretaker of the Knights Templar church off for not letting us in to see inside until siesta was over 2 hrs later. Oskar is a devout catholic and says too many people leave the church because the clergy are too lazy! He makes us laugh one day when he warns us not to give too much sugar to the overly energetic talkitive lady from Ottawa
-Jen is a sweet young Canadian nurse who trained in vancouver but does public health in Nunavut! She hiked all day with terrible blisters and had to get help with dressing them up, getting new boots and having her pack transported for a few days, but she's back on the trail and walking with a young guy from the German army who speaks little English.
-Andreas is a charming 19 yr old guy from northern Mexico. We had passed him on the trail, sauntering along alone with a straw hat on his head, and then later shared 2 breakfasts with him. He is starting college soon to study economics and political science, he is quiet,laconic and adorable- so -surprise!- we want to adopt him. We laugh because he has joined the club with those of us that do not rush to hit the road at 6am -perhaps being more "chill" is a North American trait after all?