August 12, 2013
From my experience last year, I knew I would meet some interesting people on the Camino. The act of walking strips away the human condition and leaves the true soul behind. I believe that’s the reason that the Camino is so addictive – once you’ve experienced the movement of souls along a common path, with a common objective, it changes the way you relate to others. You tolerate, you forgive the human condition, while you yearn for interaction with the soul.
Over the past few days, I’ve crossed paths with Mark, Susanna and Nina from Germany. They’re walking with their fox terrier Hancock. They’ve tolerated my German and we’ve enjoyed a few albergues and meals together. Last night in Los Arcos, we enjoyed a late meal in the plaza in front of the church. During the course of conversation, Mark mentioned that he had been a professional body builder who enjoyed a certain amount of fame in that world. His regimen included usage of the most extreme performance enhancing drugs. His weight was more than 250 pounds and his body fat was in the low single digits.
One day, for reasons that were lost in translation, Mark decided to give it all up. Perhaps it was his two friends that had already died. It took him three years to wean himself from the juice, but he was just as dedicated to getting himself back to normal as he was to build his body in the first place. Today Mark is still ripped, but he is a kind, thoughtful, gentle man who shares his struggles and gives you a hug that touches your soul. He gives credit for his success to Jesus and his wife Susanna. They share a glance and it warms my heart and brings tears to my eyes.
Tonight I attended the pilgrim mass and many people were there that I have met along the way. I sat in the pew behind Mark and Susanna. After the mass, the priest invited all the pilgrims for a special blessing and shared a few kind words in our native languages. Aftet the mass, Mark invitred me to the albergue where they were staying. It was attached to the church and provided simple mattresses on the floor. It reminded me of a slumber party. As the pilgrims gathered for their dinner, I was a bit jealous that I couldn’t join them. It was truly a communion of souls.
Notes from today:
Left Los Arcos at 0730; arrived Viana at 1300. Total time 5.5 hours. Total distance 18.6 km. Average speed 3.4 km/hour.