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A year ago today

FRM

How do you walk the Camino? One step at a time.
Year of past OR future Camino
O'Cebreiro to Santiago (2014)
Pamplona to Sahagun (March 2019)
Sahagun to O’Cebreiro (March 2020)
A year ago today I cut my Camino short. Covid was exploding in Italy and cases were just being reported in Spain. Travel was just beginning to be restricted. I felt the need to return home. Spain would go on to be one of the countries most impacted by Covid. I think back on the people I interacted with and wonder how many of them have died. The old men at the cafe in Ponferrada who invited me join them at their table and drink coffee with a bit of brandy. The woman in Reliegos sweeping in front of her house who pointed me in the right direction. The group watching soccer in the bar at the Albergue La Encina in Hospital de Orbigo, who invited me to join them. I cheered when they cheered, I really don’t understand soccer but it was a great evening. These are the moments that make the Camino such a magical place. I mourn for Spain and honor these individuals with my memories.

I’ve attached photos of the front page of two newspapers that were in the dining car on my train to Madrid to return home. Who would have guessed that a year later we would still be the throws of the pandemic.

peace and love,

frm

BAE25B16-BE3A-4898-8373-3B5BE0FC3B8B.jpeg EE6C6E00-A7A6-4E47-BF56-0C9D353961DD.jpeg
 
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Arn

Veteran Member
The virus did hit Spain hard. Since your aborted Camino there have been 3,161,432 cases reported and 68,079 deaths. Mortality by age: 30-39 .32%, 40-49 1.06%, 50-59 3.32 % 60-69 5%, 70-79 14%, 80+ 21.1%. I chose these age groups as they approximate the age of pilgrims on the Camino. Just using the numbers reported by WHO. I am a bit skeptical about the numbers, especially as they don't breakout the expected mortality rates where COVID may have been an underlying cause, rather than predominate cause. Such causes would be diabetes, cancer, heart condition and obesity. Increased testing will often be an indicator of everything from mild contact, to immunity, to full blown COVID. but it is not the ball you want to focus on.
My point being, if the folks you were traveling with fell outside the 70-80+ age range and, even if they were and they had no co-morbidities...they are likely fine.
 
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Barbara

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Frances, Norte (twice)and Primitivo, Sureste, In France From home Tours and Vézelay, also Le Puy.
I'm sceptical about all of it, honestly. It's not the black death. But we are stuck with what we have in terms of restrictions so need to suck it up. Interesting that this time last year I was travelling back from Thailand amidst great panic and gnashing of teeth. Should have stayed there, at least it would have been warmer than last month in France.
 

FRM

How do you walk the Camino? One step at a time.
Year of past OR future Camino
O'Cebreiro to Santiago (2014)
Pamplona to Sahagun (March 2019)
Sahagun to O’Cebreiro (March 2020)
My intent with the original post was to acknowledge that it is possible, if not likely, that some of the elderly Spaniards I interacted with on the Camino have died in the last year due to Covid. That these random interactions are what makes the Camino special and what I treasure, and the memories of these events will last regardless. It was not to cultivate a discussion of death rates or to engage Covid deniers. My apologies if I didn’t make that clear.

frm
 
Year of past OR future Camino
Camino Frances Roncesvalles to Sahagun Oct 2016
Sahagun to SDC April 2017 Burgos to SDC April 2018
My intent with the original post was to acknowledge that it is possible, if not likely, that some of the elderly Spaniards I interacted with on the Camino have died in the last year due to Covid. That these random interactions are what makes the Camino special and what I treasure, and the memories of these events will last regardless. It was not to cultivate a discussion of death rates or to engage Covid deniers. My apologies if I didn’t make that clear.

frm

The problem, as I see it, with what you have presented is poignant. Many of the people who made my Camino easier or more enjoyable were elderly and may be more likely to have died. The sad part is that these were mostly casual and brief encounters....someone in a store or giving directions on a corner. Or the farmer who leaned over a fence and shared his freshly picked figs. Neither of us was fluent in the other person's language. However we managed to spend an enjoyable 15 minutes discussing things of great world importance. I have a vivid memory of his smiling and generous face.

I still think of some of these encounters and it is sad that I will never know if they are still extant. Little pieces of our lives have been taken from us by the pandemic and I find it sad that I will never know what happened to some of those pieces
 
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Elizabeth2018

Member
Year of past OR future Camino
2018
My intent with the original post was to acknowledge that it is possible, if not likely, that some of the elderly Spaniards I interacted with on the Camino have died in the last year due to Covid. That these random interactions are what makes the Camino special and what I treasure, and the memories of these events will last regardless. It was not to cultivate a discussion of death rates or to engage Covid deniers. My apologies if I didn’t make that clear.

frm
FRM I think you did a very good job of making it clear. I wonder too what has happened to the people living along the Way.
 

Rebekah Scott

Camino Busybody
Year of past OR future Camino
Many, various, and continuing.
I think some people living far away think Spain is in deep mourning, its economy crushed and large numbers of people are now missing or dead.
I live in a camino village in the middle of the Meseta. Perhaps because we are so isolated, only one of us 20 souls has contracted the virus -- and she recovered quickly. Most of us are over age 70, and nobody has died. Last year there was a bumper crop, so the farmers are OK. (the hostel and albergue not so much...)
Other towns in the district were not so lucky.
Several people caught the virus in Carrion de los Condes, Sahagun and Bercianos del Real Camino, but most of the deaths were limited to residents in the homes for the aged. The Saturday market, when it's allowed to open, is still full of very alive people. The bar terraces from Burgos to Leon are full of masked, distanced people of all ages, enjoying the winter sun.
I am not minimizing the suffering and loss experienced here. I just want everyone to know that Spain, and Spaniards, are still very much alive and lively, and ready to get all this virus business over with!
 
Year of past OR future Camino
CF 2014, CF 2018, CP 2019 from Coimbra
I for one know that if/when I can get back to the CF and the CP I will be hoping to see those elderly faces...

On most days I think of the elderly women who crossed the road to touch my shoulder as I approached Ponferrada, having begun the day in Foncebaddon, and having felt so *great* at Molinaseca that I just *kept going*.... but clearly she could see that I was flagging...

She had her house-dress on, and a little bolsa of goods from a shop... and she crossed in that way that blends age and ferocity, walked right up to me, put her hand on my shoulder and said:

"Poquito mas, perigrina. Poquito mas."

I cried as I continued onward, undone by her fiercely encouraging kindness... and I hope she is still there, walking her daily walk...

And I think of an elderly gentleman in Portugal... one day before I hit Porto... November, 2019...
I had come through rain and a muddied out zone devastated by the fires the year before. He was spritely, and about 90... and trotted up beside me as I was resuming my walk after a break. He told me his name was "Dauphin" -- because he was so small; we conversed in French for several bocks after he learned I was Canadian... He told me how special it is to walk the camino, and how much he would like to do it but was now too old... He was truly charming and sweet. I bade him farewell when he turned into a little shop and seemed to be carried on quite lightly for the rest of my day.

And I think of all the very, very elderly who lined the hallways of the hospital in Caldas do Reihnas in Portugal at the end of my last camino. I was supposed to be relaxing on a beach but came down with tonsillitis so bad that I developed sepsis... There were 27 extremely elderly people, many with dementia in the halls... and dedicated staff tended to them the very best that they could in the circumstances... I think of the ENT surgeon who saved my life... the medical doctor who put me on the extraordinary IV antibiotics to hold me to the surgery... and I sincerely hope that they are OK....

I think about *all* of this and, sincerely, I sometimes am so overwhelmed that I weep.
 
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Elizabeth2018

Member
Year of past OR future Camino
2018
I think some people living far away think Spain is in deep mourning, its economy crushed and large numbers of people are now missing or dead.
I live in a camino village in the middle of the Meseta. Perhaps because we are so isolated, only one of us 20 souls has contracted the virus -- and she recovered quickly. Most of us are over age 70, and nobody has died. Last year there was a bumper crop, so the farmers are OK. (the hostel and albergue not so much...)
Other towns in the district were not so lucky.
Several people caught the virus in Carrion de los Condes, Sahagun and Bercianos del Real Camino, but most of the deaths were limited to residents in the homes for the aged. The Saturday market, when it's allowed to open, is still full of very alive people. The bar terraces from Burgos to Leon are full of masked, distanced people of all ages, enjoying the winter sun.
I am not minimizing the suffering and loss experienced here. I just want everyone to know that Spain, and Spaniards, are still very much alive and lively, and ready to get all this virus business over with!
Thank you for providing this perspective, Rebekah. It is good to hear from someone who is actually living the experience. I feel too like I can visualize your community after reading your book, A Furnace Full of God. What a beautiful piece of writing.
 
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Bob from L.A. !

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Camino Francis 2012, 2014, 2016. Camino Norte 2018. Many more to come in my future God willing !
@FRM - Your initial statement was crystal clear and thank you for posting it.
Rebekah - It is nice to obtain an actual "boots on the ground"/accurate update on the goingson within Spain. There has been so much speculation and misinformation over the last year. Thank you too!
 

Arn

Veteran Member
@FRM - Your initial statement was crystal clear and thank you for posting it.
Rebekah - It is nice to obtain an actual "boots on the ground"/accurate update on the goingson within Spain. There has been so much speculation and misinformation over the last year. Thank you too!
To all, my intent is to lay out a statement of COVID related facts that, “absent on the ground credible information” FRM, and other concerned individuals, may find more than just a modicum of hope that these cherished friends are likely to have survived to be seen again once this is past.
 

AlwynWellington

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
please see signature
A year ago today I cut my Camino short. Covid was exploding in Italy and cases were just being reported in Spain. Travel was just beginning to be restricted ... ... Who would have guessed that a year later we would still be the throws of the pandemic. Peace and love,

@FRM, I suspect we are in an age we we now expect things like Covid or whatever to be resolved quickly and for everything to carry on as if nothing had happened. And compared to things past the resolution this time has been quite quick. Just might take most of this year to settle down.

I am not minimizing the suffering and loss experienced here. I just want everyone to know that Spain, and Spaniards, are still very much alive and lively, and ready to get all this virus business over with!
And I suspect this is pretty much the case in many places around this world of ours. My son, living in a London "village", reports in a similar vein. There is no doubt there has been abnormal loss of life there and elsewhere.

One joy has been the push to find new ways of doing business that may cause more to take up working from home. And get 2 or 3 hours back from the daily commute.

It is hard to speculate what would have been if countries had not closed their borders and/or done lock-downs. Like the guns or butter trade-off, it would have been lives and the economy this time round. Or is that being too simplistic.

What I do know is that many countries continue to either have closed national and/or regional borders.

In Europe/Schengen Area "normal" (my definition) travellers from the UK and US at least are not allowed entry, according to their official advice websites.

Many of us in the southern hemisphere seem to not expect to travel this year and hope to do so next year.

Dum spiro, spero.

Kia ka'ha, kia māia, kia mana'wa'nui kou'tou ka'toa. (You all be strong, confident and patient.)
 

FRM

How do you walk the Camino? One step at a time.
Year of past OR future Camino
O'Cebreiro to Santiago (2014)
Pamplona to Sahagun (March 2019)
Sahagun to O’Cebreiro (March 2020)
To all, my intent is to lay out a statement of COVID related facts that, “absent on the ground credible information” FRM, and other concerned individuals, may find more than just a modicum of hope that these cherished friends are likely to have survived to be seen again once this is past.
Understand. Thanks.

frm
 
Year of past OR future Camino
Caminos Francais: 2002, 2012, 2019. (Future Ingles, Primitivo, Portuguese in 2021)
It has been one year -- a lifetime, a moment, a forever, and a "normality" which we shall never see again -- and I think of the elderly woman who stopped me on the Camino in 2002 who asked me to pray for her. I did. With tears, in Santiago, I prayed for her.

And yesterday, I received a Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

In one yearl

My hopes for an Autumn 2021 Camino are fading and I sense I am not alone in this regard. Every night, i pray to St James to support, bless, love and protect the nations of Spain and Portugal and that we who long to be on our way on their Ways shall do so in perfect timing. We -- and I boldly write "we" -- desire to extend our resources to those who feed us, house us, fuel us with the intimable cafe solo or cafe con leche, who encourage us with smiles and waves, and in whose coffers our Euros can in some manner assist their kindness and businesses.

Ultreya ... in perfect timing.
 
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