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How the Camino humbles me time after time

Time of past OR future Camino
Camino Frances (2022)
Here I am on a chilly February day, supposedly getting on with 'work' and once again the Camino walks through my mind. Maybe because I know I am going out again this year but possibly also because I marvel at the way it gently changes me every time.
I was just thinking how easy it is to judge and how quickly I can become irritated by the situations that arise and leave me muttering away under my breath like Muttley. Thankfully the Camino sorts out the wheat from the chaff and gives me a right royal kick up the backside to put me straight. The whole blisters, exhaustion, hunger, cold thing strips away all of the usual coping strategies and social etiquette. A black cloud descends as you are presented with the top bunk for the third night in a row and your sore feet scream as you tentatively ascend the hard, sharp-edged steps of the ladder. If indeed there is one. You cannot help but spot a (to your own warped mindset) 'less deserving' pilgrim basking on the bunk below. The mental Muttley mutterings start anew. But then all of a sudden you are filled with joy at a hot shower or a familiar face (not seen for days) in another bunk or an unexpected snack offered by a stranger. Perhaps the Camino has to be a battle of extremes. I am grateful to feel ashamed at any gripes I may have had along the way. I know for sure we are all equal and of course equally deserving of anything we might experience along our own personal journeys.

Anyway the reason I'm waffling away about this is because on my last Camino I had a whopping great experience that will always remind me of the importance of not judging too quickly.

My walking companion and I considered ourselves very hard done by when we reached a town on the Frances to find no room at the inn at all. We tried to fling ourselves on the mercy of the Municipal Albergue and pointed to the bit in the guidebook saying about sleeping on the floor in gyms etc. But no. As we trudged away, facing at least 10k more, I am ashamed to say we felt incensed at all the young, injury-free, pilgrims having the audacity to sunbathe outside as we slunk past. Yes. Embarrassing isn't it? I have to tell you the truth. Fear not. There is redemption ahead eventually. A young fellow and his partner were coming up the steep steps to the albergue and we thought to save him the trouble so we told him it was full. 'Oh we've already booked our place!' he laughed airily and continued to laugh as he passed. I think you can imagine our feelings on that. My companion insisted he was laughing at our plight. I was not so sure but it was certainly very annoying.

Over the next few tortuous days (for some reason we ended up walking 20 mile days because of the lack of beds situation) we trotted that story out. I'm sure it was embellished every time. How everyone who heard tutted and sympathised. About five days later we sat in yet another gloriously timed cafe. And in walked the young chap and partner. Now I'm all for a quiet life (which is why my mutterings are mostly in my mind and don't manifest into actual behaviour). But this was the moment my companion had yearned for. She leaned over and let him have it. And there it was. The Truth. He had been part of a party of friends who had kept walking ahead and on reaching an albergue had booked them all in, including him. He, in fact had started to get very irate at this as he preferred to do his own thing and even sleep outside from time to time. On the day we had come across him he had drunk far too much at lunchtime owing to a celebration. He couldn't even remember speaking to us and the guffawing was more drink-related than smugness. The albergue bunk beds did not have ladders and so he had thrown his girlfriend up on to the top bunk. In the morning she couldn't get down and had slid down and landed on his rucksack. Which didn't really appreciate being used as a crash mat. All in all they were a very pleasant young couple having a wonderful time on their own Camino. Which made me realise that we had got him all wrong and if we had not had this new conversation we would have continued in our nasty character assassination. So maybe it might have been better to have given him the benefit of the doubt in the first place. It's amazing how your perspective can alter when you are faced with all of the facts and not just your own.

And that is why I say thank you to the Camino for teaching me lessons that I need to learn.
Ideal pocket guides for during & after your Camino. Each weighs only 1.4 oz (40g)!
LOL Thank you for the much needed chuckle this afternoon as I lay bundled in blankets after walking The Hound in the cold and new-fallen snow.

Buen Camino! May all your bunks be close to the floor!

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