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Joyful Camino Memories

Year of past OR future Camino
Frances (2013), Primitivo (2015), Muxia/Fisterra (2015), Haervejen (2017)
I was browsing my pictures and stumbled on this one. Suddenly my eyes teared up, and I really felt like I was sitting with pilgrims at Refugio Gaucelmo sharing our lives and eating....homemade apple pie! I think I may have shared as version of this story before. But as I sit here with happy memory tears, I need to share it again. At the time this pic was taken in 2015 we were serving as hospitaleros at Refugio Gaucelmo in Rabanal del Camino. My husband and our third colleague were slowly recovering from a bad case of food poisoning, so it had been a busy day for me, and exceedingly hot — almost 40 C.

Early in the afternoon a pilgrim warned us to be ready for the “hippies” coming down the way. I’m ashamed to say I fell right into the stereotype and started worrying about pot and sex in the Huerta! Sure enough, about an hour later a group of five or six hippies showed up and set up camp in the garden. That is where the stereotype ended. Shortly after setting up, two of the hippy pilgrims asked if they could cut the grass for us. This was no small task! Even on a good day the Huerta at Gaucelmo is large. And on this day, not only was it sweltering, but the grass was about a foot tall. The hospitaleros before us had been ill with the flu and we had had food poisoning so grass cutting had fallen to the bottom of the lost of chores!

An hour later, with the grass completely cut, the hippies asked if our oven worked (yes!) and where they could get supplies to make pie. I directed them to the various shop options in Rabanal, but hadn’t learned my lesson yet as I also immediately began worrying about the collossal kitchen clean up we would be facing the next morning.

In the mean time, a Lithuanian mom and her 12 year old daughter walked in. The young girl was fascinated by the hippies. The pilgrim we had come to think of as the Chief Hippie, quickly swept the girl into the circle making pie in our kitchen. Needless to say, the pie was huge, tasty and we all enjoyed it for dessert that evening. Oh, and the kitchen was cleaned to within an inch of its life!

it is one of my favorite camino memories. This pic is of our young Lithuanian pilgrim and the chief hippie enjoying the fruits of their labor.

To me this day captured all that is wonderful about the Camino! Friendship and giving accross boundaries of age, language and culture, letting go of stereotypes and judgments and meeting people right where they are, the triumph of hard work, and the utter and complete joy of shared bounty.

Ultreia!

LizB
1607106381740.jpeg
 
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peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
Well, I learned that same life lesson about stereotypes on the Camino too. I was volunteering in the Pilgrims’ Office, back in the day when it was on Rua Vilar and there was a courtyard directly outside where a line snaked around. One Sunday morning, we could hear the loud noises in the courtyard that only a crowd of young people can create, and there were more than a few eyes rolling in anticipation of this unruly bunch marching in to get their compostelas. Then as they started to come in, we saw they all had on the same t-shirt, with a photograph of an adolescent boy and the phrase “Te queremos Juanjo.” It was a group of about 30 young people, and four adults — Juanjo’s parents and two other relatives. Turns out that it was the one year anniversay of Juanjo’s death, and his friends had organized themselves to do the camino in his honor. The eyes that had formerly been rolling were soon all shedding tears as the young people explained, one by one, the meaning of this camino for them.

And just to add that this experience also was a great reminder that we should think twice before we dismiss those Sarria-starters as not “real” pilgrims.
 

Camino Chrissy

Take one step forward...then keep on walking..
Year of past OR future Camino
Frances 2015;
Norte/Primitivo 2016;
Frances 2017;
Le Puy 2018;
Portuguese/FishermanTr. 2019
I was browsing my pictures and stumbled on this one. Suddenly my eyes teared up, and I really felt like I was sitting with pilgrims at Refugio Gaucelmo sharing our lives and eating....homemade apple pie! I think I may have shared as version of this story before. But as I sit here with happy memory tears, I need to share it again. At the time this pic was taken in 2015 we were serving as hospitaleros at Refugio Gaucelmo in Rabanal del Camino. My husband and our third colleague were slowly recovering from a bad case of food poisoning, so it had been a busy day for me, and exceedingly hot — almost 40 C.

Early in the afternoon a pilgrim warned us to be ready for the “hippies” coming down the way. I’m ashamed to say I fell right into the stereotype and started worrying about pot and sex in the Huerta! Sure enough, about an hour later a group of five or six hippies showed up and set up camp in the garden. That is where the stereotype ended. Shortly after setting up, two of the hippy pilgrims asked if they could cut the grass for us. This was no small task! Even on a good day the Huerta at Gaucelmo is large. And on this day, not only was it sweltering, but the grass was about a foot tall. The hospitaleros before us had been ill with the flu and we had had food poisoning so grass cutting had fallen to the bottom of the lost of chores!

An hour later, with the grass completely cut, the hippies asked if our oven worked (yes!) and where they could get supplies to make pie. I directed them to the various shop options in Rabanal, but hadn’t learned my lesson yet as I also immediately began worrying about the collossal kitchen clean up we would be facing the next morning.

In the mean time, a Lithuanian mom and her 12 year old daughter walked in. The young girl was fascinated by the hippies. The pilgrim we had come to think of as the Chief Hippie, quickly swept the girl into the circle making pie in our kitchen. Needless to say, the pie was huge, tasty and we all enjoyed it for dessert that evening. Oh, and the kitchen was cleaned to within an inch of its life!

it is one of my favorite camino memories. This pic is of our young Lithuanian pilgrim and the chief hippie enjoying the fruits of their labor.

To me this day captured all that is wonderful about the Camino! Friendship and giving accross boundaries of age, language and culture, letting go of stereotypes and judgments and meeting people right where they are, the triumph of hard work, and the utter and complete joy of shared bounty.

Ultreia!

LizB
View attachment 88696
Liz, thanks for sharing your special memory and photo...it made my day! 😊
 
Year of past OR future Camino
(2009): Camino Frances
(2011): Sevilla-Salamanca, VdlP
(2012): Salamanca-SdC, VdlP
(2014): SJpdP-Astorga
(2015): Astorga-SdC
(2016) May Pamplona-Moratinos; Sept.:Burgos-SdC
(2016): August/Sept: Camino San Olav (Burgos-Covarubbias), Burgos-Sarria
(2017): May: Portuguese; Sept: Pamplona-SdC
I was once (in Burgo Ranero) making a seafood soup+bread&Wine for myself in the albergue. Too much for me. Beside me there was a heavily tattooed skinhead, all big muscles, looking very scary, with no food, but I asked if he would join in and help me finish my cookery. So he did, heartily, and we joined also in finishing my wine. The next day, as I was entering Reliegos, I heard a loud shout from a cafe by the road: It was the skinhead, together with 10 likewise ugly-looking friends, who wanted to buy me a beer (of course I accepted; there were several...!). Great party. Just goes to prove that you shall not judge the dog by its hairs; a terrific friendly gang to hang out with...
 
Last edited:
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El Cascayal

Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Primitivo May 2019
Invierno November 2019
Ingles April (2020) postponed
Long live the hippies, the dreamers, the Peregrinos(not mutually exclusive). The Camino opens up to the goodness of others and the diversity that we are as people of good will. Buen Camino!
 

Sherpa47

Member
Year of past OR future Camino
2008 and 2017
I was browsing my pictures and stumbled on this one. Suddenly my eyes teared up, and I really felt like I was sitting with pilgrims at Refugio Gaucelmo sharing our lives and eating....homemade apple pie! I think I may have shared as version of this story before. But as I sit here with happy memory tears, I need to share it again. At the time this pic was taken in 2015 we were serving as hospitaleros at Refugio Gaucelmo in Rabanal del Camino. My husband and our third colleague were slowly recovering from a bad case of food poisoning, so it had been a busy day for me, and exceedingly hot — almost 40 C.

Early in the afternoon a pilgrim warned us to be ready for the “hippies” coming down the way. I’m ashamed to say I fell right into the stereotype and started worrying about pot and sex in the Huerta! Sure enough, about an hour later a group of five or six hippies showed up and set up camp in the garden. That is where the stereotype ended. Shortly after setting up, two of the hippy pilgrims asked if they could cut the grass for us. This was no small task! Even on a good day the Huerta at Gaucelmo is large. And on this day, not only was it sweltering, but the grass was about a foot tall. The hospitaleros before us had been ill with the flu and we had had food poisoning so grass cutting had fallen to the bottom of the lost of chores!

An hour later, with the grass completely cut, the hippies asked if our oven worked (yes!) and where they could get supplies to make pie. I directed them to the various shop options in Rabanal, but hadn’t learned my lesson yet as I also immediately began worrying about the collossal kitchen clean up we would be facing the next morning.

In the mean time, a Lithuanian mom and her 12 year old daughter walked in. The young girl was fascinated by the hippies. The pilgrim we had come to think of as the Chief Hippie, quickly swept the girl into the circle making pie in our kitchen. Needless to say, the pie was huge, tasty and we all enjoyed it for dessert that evening. Oh, and the kitchen was cleaned to within an inch of its life!

it is one of my favorite camino memories. This pic is of our young Lithuanian pilgrim and the chief hippie enjoying the fruits of their labor.

To me this day captured all that is wonderful about the Camino! Friendship and giving accross boundaries of age, language and culture, letting go of stereotypes and judgments and meeting people right where they are, the triumph of hard work, and the utter and complete joy of shared bounty.

Ultreia!

LizB
View attachment 88696
A lovely memory. Having been privileged to walk the Camino twice, often over a cup of tea my mind drifts back to wonderful days on the Camino. Now at 73 I hope and pray that I can once more walk the Camino.
 

peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
@alexwalker’s story about the kitchen reminded me of another time when I regretted my snap judgment.

I wrote this in my blog, from a night in the private albergue in Aljucén on the Vdlp. I had taken a very short day so as to be able to follow @alansykes’ GPS tracks to Santa Lucía del Trampal. (Any time I mention this little detour, I cannot help but say — do not walk to Alcuéscar without taking this trip!). Anyway, back to a joyful camino memory —

I should have learned by now that snap judgments are dangerous on the Camino, well anywhere really. So yesterday when I had the afternoon to spend in Aljucén, I went with a couple others to the local bar where we sat outside in the shade on a beautiful cool sunny day. We wound up spending several hours there, moving from a couple of lemon Aquarius (kind of like Gatorade but much less sweet) to an ice cold beer or two. I didn’t know any of these guys, since I had just joined the Via de la Plata the day before in Mérida where the Mozárabe ends.

It was a very congenial group, a British couple, Canadian guy, Dutch guy and me. Then up comes Antonio, oblivious to the fact that no one but me spoke Spanish. Like a bull in a china shop, he charged into the conversation going on and on in Spanish. I explained that I would have to translate if he wanted anyone else to know what he was saying.

Truth be told, we had much preferred our previous English conversation, but he just kept talking. He asked everyone why they were walking the camino but before anyone had an answer ready, he jumped in to tell his story. Like many Spaniards, he was doing it to fulfill a promise to Santiago. Several years ago his sister was diagnosed with cancer. Of the 11 brothers and sisters, he was the only good match as a donor for bone marrow. He promised Santiago that if his sister survived, he would walk a camino. She just completed her three year anniversary, and he decided it was time for him to walk. Wow.

The next surprise was that he offered to make dinner for a bunch of us. So a few hours later we were all being served a really yummy paella (minus the mussels and prawns). We all agreed that we had not been very pilgrim-like and were totally undeserving of his kindnes.


Thanks, @ebrandt for starting this thread, so many good life lessons are learned in such an uncomplicated setting.

FF3E212F-71CD-46D5-AEC2-E4312FD45859.jpeg 59DA174F-C767-422A-8A74-DFCB26D7931D.jpeg
 

susanawee

susanawee
Year of past OR future Camino
Camino Frances-(2013/14/18
Camino Salvado Perth -(2015)
West Highland Way (2016)
Lyon France 2017
I was browsing my pictures and stumbled on this one. Suddenly my eyes teared up, and I really felt like I was sitting with pilgrims at Refugio Gaucelmo sharing our lives and eating....homemade apple pie! I think I may have shared as version of this story before. But as I sit here with happy memory tears, I need to share it again. At the time this pic was taken in 2015 we were serving as hospitaleros at Refugio Gaucelmo in Rabanal del Camino. My husband and our third colleague were slowly recovering from a bad case of food poisoning, so it had been a busy day for me, and exceedingly hot — almost 40 C.

Early in the afternoon a pilgrim warned us to be ready for the “hippies” coming down the way. I’m ashamed to say I fell right into the stereotype and started worrying about pot and sex in the Huerta! Sure enough, about an hour later a group of five or six hippies showed up and set up camp in the garden. That is where the stereotype ended. Shortly after setting up, two of the hippy pilgrims asked if they could cut the grass for us. This was no small task! Even on a good day the Huerta at Gaucelmo is large. And on this day, not only was it sweltering, but the grass was about a foot tall. The hospitaleros before us had been ill with the flu and we had had food poisoning so grass cutting had fallen to the bottom of the lost of chores!

An hour later, with the grass completely cut, the hippies asked if our oven worked (yes!) and where they could get supplies to make pie. I directed them to the various shop options in Rabanal, but hadn’t learned my lesson yet as I also immediately began worrying about the collossal kitchen clean up we would be facing the next morning.

In the mean time, a Lithuanian mom and her 12 year old daughter walked in. The young girl was fascinated by the hippies. The pilgrim we had come to think of as the Chief Hippie, quickly swept the girl into the circle making pie in our kitchen. Needless to say, the pie was huge, tasty and we all enjoyed it for dessert that evening. Oh, and the kitchen was cleaned to within an inch of its life!

it is one of my favorite camino memories. This pic is of our young Lithuanian pilgrim and the chief hippie enjoying the fruits of their labor.

To me this day captured all that is wonderful about the Camino! Friendship and giving accross boundaries of age, language and culture, letting go of stereotypes and judgments and meeting people right where they are, the triumph of hard work, and the utter and complete joy of shared bounty.

Ultreia!

LizB
View attachment 88696
Such a lovely, uplifting and happy story.....just goes to show, we should not all be so judgemental. What a lovely photo as well. Thankyou for sharing with us all.
 
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Year of past OR future Camino
2019
@ebrandt , thank you for your wonderful story, and for starting this wonderful thread!

My story is about fellow I met first in Roncesvalles — he had the bunk above me in the old winter albergue. I was exhausted, but still couldn't sleep well because of his restlessness. Up and down and up and down, creak rattle squeak...through the night. He was not quiet when he went to go out, but it almost seemed like he was angry. Was he resentful that I had the bottom bunk and acting it out? At least that was the story I was telling myself, and I was certainly getting more than a little annoyed myself.

After a very early start, I made my way to a private albergue in Zubiri — quite pleased that by dinnertime, the room had only three of us, all women. Guaranteed, a good night's sleep!

But my little happy bubble burst when I got back to find that the last remaining place in the room— the bunk above mine— had the same pilgrim as the night before! He had arrived almost after dark, and looked exhausted.

That night much to my relief there was no noisy climbing up and down. All good, in fact. But the ideas formed the night before were definitely getting in the way of any desire to connect. So while I noticed that he had a peculiar clumsy gait, I was less than eager to strike up a conversation to learn anything more about him. But by the I ran into him again in Puente la Reina, somebody had told me his story — and boy, did those judgements about him take a beating.

He was a surgeon dealing with burnout, and the first night of his Camino in Roncesvalles was about sheer nerves. He had never walked long-distance before and had no idea if he could do it — so he was trying to calm his nerves by going out and smoking one cigarette after another. That peculiar gait? It turned out he was partially paralyzed from childhood polio and had to work hard to walk, even without a pack — which he was carrying, rather than transporting it ahead.

He told me that by then, he was feeling guilty because sometimes he had to take a taxi for the last 5 km of the day out of shear exhaustion. He thought he was not being a real pilgrim. Listening (and remembering the selfish judgment that I'd had before learning about him) was a big lesson in hubris.

I don't know if he ever made it to Santiago. I like to think he did, triuphantly. The guy was a huge inspiration.
 
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susanawee

susanawee
Year of past OR future Camino
Camino Frances-(2013/14/18
Camino Salvado Perth -(2015)
West Highland Way (2016)
Lyon France 2017
@ebrandt , thank you for your wonderful story, and for starting this wonderful thread!

My story is about fellow I met first in Roncesvalles — he had the bunk above me in the old winter albergue. I was exhausted, but still couldn't sleep well because of his restlessness. Up and down and up and down, creak rattle squeak...through the night. He was not quiet when he went to go out, but it almost seemed like he was angry. Was he resentful that I had the bottom bunk and acting it out? At least that was the story I was telling myself, and I was certainly getting more than a little annoyed myself.

After a very early start, I made my way to a private albergue in Zubiri — quite pleased that by dinnertime, the room had only three of us, all women. Guaranteed, a good night's sleep!

But my little happy bubble burst when I got back to find that the last remaining place in the room— the bunk above mine— had the same pilgrim as the night before! He had arrived almost after dark, and looked exhausted.

That night much to my relief there was no noisy climbing up and down. All good, in fact. But the ideas formed the night before were definitely getting in the way of any desire to connect. So while I noticed that he had a peculiar clumsy gait, I was less than eager to strike up a conversation to learn anything more about him. But by the I ran into him again in Puente la Reina, somebody had told me his story — and boy, did those judgements about him take a beating.

He was a surgeon dealing with burnout, and the first night of his Camino in Roncesvalles was about sheer nerves. He had never walked long-distance before and had no idea if he could do it — so he was trying to calm his nerves by going out and smoking one cigarette after another. That peculiar gait? It turned out he was partially paralyzed from childhood polio and had to work hard to walk, even without a pack — which he was carrying, rather than transporting it ahead.

He told me that by then, he was feeling guilty because sometimes he had to take a taxi for the last 5 km of the day out of shear exhaustion. He thought he was not being a real pilgrim. Listening (and remembering the selfish judgment that I'd had before learning about him) was a big lesson in hubris.

I don't know if he ever made it to Santiago. I like to think he did, triuphantly. The guy was a huge inspiration.
Thankyou for this story of "The Surgeon", A really timely lesson for so many of us who are so quick to judge and those of us who express such annoyance about "The Snorers" and The Nighttime Fidgetters" - we dont know their stories and we have not walked in their shoes, nor they in ours.
 

pellegrino

Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Various since 1998
Well, I learned that same life lesson about stereotypes on the Camino too. I was volunteering in the Pilgrims’ Office, back in the day when it was on Rua Vilar and there was a courtyard directly outside where a line snaked around. One Sunday morning, we could hear the loud noises in the courtyard that only a crowd of young people can create, and there were more than a few eyes rolling in anticipation of this unruly bunch marching in to get their compostelas. Then as they started to come in, we saw they all had on the same t-shirt, with a photograph of an adolescent boy and the phrase “Te queremos Juanjo.” It was a group of about 30 young people, and four adults — Juanjo’s parents and two other relatives. Turns out that it was the one year anniversay of Juanjo’s death, and his friends had organized themselves to do the camino in his honor. The eyes that had formerly been rolling were soon all shedding tears as the young people explained, one by one, the meaning of this camino for them.

And just to add that this experience also was a great reminder that we should think twice before we dismiss those Sarria-starters as not “real” pilgrims.

Thank you, peregrina2000, for mentioning the "Sarria-starters." Few things on the Camino are more deflating to me than hearing fellow pilgrims badmouth those who did not start the Camino "at the beginning" (whatever that means). What follows will appear too absurd to be true, but it did happen: A student of mine and I were on the francés when a young man walked past us. I observed a sign affixed to his backpack that was positioned in such a way to be clearly visible to those walking behind him. The sign read: "Real pilgrims begin in St. Jean...," followed by some other disparaging remarks about those who did not walk the same number of kilometers as he had. I felt regret for that young man, who was completely eluded by the irony that his negative mind set and intentionally hurtful remarks were not exactly what one might expect of a "real pilgrim." To reprise an old Spanish proverb - "El hábito no hace al monje" (The habit does not the monk make) - one could say: "The distance does not the pilgrim make."
 
Year of past OR future Camino
(2009): Camino Frances
(2011): Sevilla-Salamanca, VdlP
(2012): Salamanca-SdC, VdlP
(2014): SJpdP-Astorga
(2015): Astorga-SdC
(2016) May Pamplona-Moratinos; Sept.:Burgos-SdC
(2016): August/Sept: Camino San Olav (Burgos-Covarubbias), Burgos-Sarria
(2017): May: Portuguese; Sept: Pamplona-SdC
Well, I learned that same life lesson about stereotypes on the Camino too. I was volunteering in the Pilgrims’ Office, back in the day when it was on Rua Vilar and there was a courtyard directly outside where a line snaked around. One Sunday morning, we could hear the loud noises in the courtyard that only a crowd of young people can create, and there were more than a few eyes rolling in anticipation of this unruly bunch marching in to get their compostelas. Then as they started to come in, we saw they all had on the same t-shirt, with a photograph of an adolescent boy and the phrase “Te queremos Juanjo.” It was a group of about 30 young people, and four adults — Juanjo’s parents and two other relatives. Turns out that it was the one year anniversay of Juanjo’s death, and his friends had organized themselves to do the camino in his honor. The eyes that had formerly been rolling were soon all shedding tears as the young people explained, one by one, the meaning of this camino for them.

And just to add that this experience also was a great reminder that we should think twice before we dismiss those Sarria-starters as not “real” pilgrims.
Completely agree with you!

From my time as a volunteer in the Pilgrim's Office in May/June 2019, I posted this little story, just for fun:

 
Year of past OR future Camino
(2009): Camino Frances
(2011): Sevilla-Salamanca, VdlP
(2012): Salamanca-SdC, VdlP
(2014): SJpdP-Astorga
(2015): Astorga-SdC
(2016) May Pamplona-Moratinos; Sept.:Burgos-SdC
(2016): August/Sept: Camino San Olav (Burgos-Covarubbias), Burgos-Sarria
(2017): May: Portuguese; Sept: Pamplona-SdC
Not exactly joyful, although memorable for other reasons; but here is a story from the VdlP in 2012:

An old Scottish couple: They were walking in shorts and T-shirts. That year there was 21 days of rain and wind, and 2 days of snow (!) on 2 mountain passes of VdlP. They must have been freezing like h*ll...

The man got up at 4.30 AM every morning with much noise, went to the kitchen and made tea, noisily, came back to the dormitory at 5 AM and shouted: "Tea is ready, dear!". The wife got up with even morie noise than her husband, and used her flashlight extensively, leaving the rest of us in sudden shock wakeup. Noone managed to sleep enymore...

At 7.30, when everybody else was leaving, very tired, they were still in the kitchen, preparing their allergic-friendly breakfast (After tea, that is...), which they carried with them in their backpacks: 2 kgs each, I estimate...

After 2 nights in the same dorm as them, I had had enough, and stopped in the nearest village cafe and watched them walking by, my head low. Then walked to the nearest albergue for an early, peaceful night.

I never saw them again; until Santiago... I was sitting in SdC at a cafe enjoying a beer, when they sat down at the next table. The woman was yelling an swearing at her husband. I drank up quickly and left, unseen.

The next morning I took the bus to Finisterre for a stayover. In came the Scottish couple and took the seats in front of me. More yelling and swearing.

When we unloaded in Finisterre there were more yelling and swearing, this time at the locals who tried to provide them with offers for the local hotels, in all friendliness. (You are not allowed in the albergue there unless you have stamps to prove you have walked there. Busegrinos not allowed).

Next morning, it was the same on the way back to SdC... Yes, they took the same bus as me...

The next day, I went to the bus station in SdC for a ticket out of SdC, and went to the restroom. I looked over my shoulder: The old Scottish man (in shorts) was next in line behind me. It started getting spooky..

I was glad when my bus left SdC, without the old Scottish couple...
 
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trecile

Camino Addict
Year of past OR future Camino
Francés (2016 & 2017), Norte (2018), Francés-Salvador-Norte (2019), Portuguese (2019)
And just to add that this experience also was a great reminder that we should think twice before we dismiss those Sarria-starters as not “real” pilgrims.

Thank you. That is so true.
As a "veteran" pilgrim, I try to pass on to newbies, is after they have been walking for several weeks from St Jean, Burgos or León not to judge the pilgrims that start in Sarria. We don't know their stories. It's a privilege and a luxury to take over a month for our regular lives to start in St Jean, Irun, etc. Mind you, I don't do it in a scolding manner - I try to emphasize the positives of the pilgrims that they will encounter after Sarria - their energy, joy and sense of wonder, and the fact that many of the "Sarria pilgrims" are Spaniards walking in their own country, experiencing their own culture.
 

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