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Camino love

Will it, or will it not?

By Emmy BPublished 2 months ago Updated about a month ago 6 min read
Camino love
Photo by Dyu - Ha on Unsplash

I had been walking for 37 kilometres that day. Grime covered, hair tied in knots, when I arrived at the hostel in Santo Domingo de Calzada. I remember looking around and being the dirtiest one there, but I was proud. 37 kilometres is madness - who walks that in a day? I do! My legs were weak, my face slightly red from the sun. I had put on a very unflattering cap to shield myself, and now I felt the need to remove it, sure I would look less dishevelled with it off. The room was bright and big, almost clinical. It was one of the hostels run by nuns, and the rules were just as strict. Lights off at 10, lights on at 730, and at 8 you had to be out - such was the life of a Compostela pilgrim. I loved it. 

After what felt like an eternity, I gave them my passport number and was sent to my room. A warm shower and maybe a drink - the biggest hopes of all when all you do is walk. But I walked into the dorm and I saw him. Long hair, tattoos. I knew him. I had seen him 2 days ago in Viana and I remember taking a note of this man. Something about him just took my attention. Maybe it was his energy, his smile, his style. Who knows. But in that moment I knew him, and in my tired state I opened my mouth and:

“Oh, hey, you’re here!” We had never spoken. Never shared a coffee, never shared a room. He was just the only thing in this room that felt familiar. 

“Hi.” His face betrayed his confusion. Of course - he had no idea who I was, why I was talking to him. But I had started, so why not continue?

“I saw you in Viana, just recognised you,” I paused. “Where are you from?”

“Argentina,” he said. A surprise. I had never met anyone from Argentina. But Spanish I could speak, ok. 

“Oh, nice. I’m French but have an American accent!”

“ Yeah, we couldn’t tell at all,” a voice from the nearby bunk says. A man, slightly older than the Argentinian, blond hair askew. Is it a joke? Now I’m in this conversation, I need to end it, continue it, I don’t know. 

“Yep. Well, I’m going to head to the showers - best moment of the day!” I walk past them, conscious of every step, wondering why on earth I spoke. Who even was that guy? I wanted to see him again. 

I finish my shower, but by the time I am back in the dorm, the two of them are gone. By then it’s maybe 3pm. It’s a nice little town and I decide to go for a walk. I want to see the clock tower and the ruins here. I’ve been on my own for the last 20 km and it would also be nice to meet a pilgrim who wants to grab a drink . 

I head out and first thing I see at the restaurant across the way is the Argentinian with the beautiful smile and his sarcastic friend. I wave and keep going. There’s something about that guy, but this is my trip and my walk. That’s all I want. 

The clock tower is beautiful. My legs scream at the effort to climb up. The view is underwhelming. You can see the side of buildings and the staircase. But I made it there, a small satisfaction to know I am not just passing through this charming town. I walk back to the hostel. 

He is there. He is on the phone. I walk towards him when his call ends.

“Hey, do you want to grab a drink?” He shakes his head.

“No, I am tired. I will go to bed.”

Ok, no problem. I decide to head to another part of town, sit down, have a small tapas and a sangria. By this point, it’s getting dark. I’ve been writing in the journal I’ve been keeping since I started walking, 10 days and 250km ago. I figure, go back to the hostel, and then grab a salad at the local supermercado. I check on my phone, and head over. 

My phone in hand, directions on, I walk past the hostel, cross the sidewalk and there he is again, walking towards me. His eyes connect with mine and I can’t do anything but keep going. He stops. 

“Hey -where are you going?”

“To the shop to buy some food”

He looks conflicted for a minute, the grocery bags in his hands. 

“Ok, you know what, I’m going to come with you.” Neither of us say it but it feels like the universe has thrown us together. Like there isn’t any other way than the path you are taking, which I am taking. We go to the shop, talk. I invite him for a sangria. It’s his birthday. What are the chances? 

I don’t know where this man from another universe came from. All I know is he is in my life now, irrevocably. It felt like nothing could keep us apart. A word, a path - suddenly we were walking on the same one. All of us were, I know, but this was different. We found each other when we least expected it. 

And so we walked, together.

The day the Camino ended was the hardest day of all. At that point we had walked together for 20 days. I know, I know. It doesn’t seem like a lot. But 20 days on the Camino? Walking together all day, alone with your thoughts, the path, and each other? That is something else. It’s a sort of freedom from all your responsibilities and a show of possibility. And we met, there. Where we weren’t looking. 

You might ask what happens next? I was more invested than him. I was distraught at the idea of it ending. But everything ends on the Camino. It's part of the beauty of it - the ephemeral nature of walking one day from one place, disappearing to the next. I should have been used to it by now. And so the night before he left, I accepted it. But I asked him to write in my journal. I asked him to just write his thoughts and I told him I wouldn’t read it until he left. That night, without reading what he wrote, in that tight little bunk bed we forced ourselves in, I found in him the emotion and love I had been craving. We drew the curtain and gave ourselves to each other. The next morning he left.

I cried.

He cried. 

I walked on my own the next day, a different path from his. I listened to Disturbia's “The sound of silence” and I wept. I didn’t cry - I wept. Heavy crocodile tears that felt like they would never end. My chest was ripped from my body, my legs were walking when all they wanted to do was kneel. A connection so real that had disappeared in an instant because that is, that was, the Camino. Connections that come and go.

But him?

Where will he go? 

Will he miss me?

Was he a story I tell?

or is he my future?


About the Creator

Emmy B

I write some of my truths, and use words to weave stories and ideas together. Writing is a passion and an outlet for me and I hope to inspire, challenge, or simply be a reflection of others's experiences - to make people feel seen!

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Comments (2)

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  • Joe O’Connorabout a month ago

    This was a wonderful read Emmy, and I’ve been thinking about doing part of the Camino at some point. “ He was just the only thing in this room that felt familiar.” is a great line. You really capture the sense of what it must be like to walk this, and “ Walking together all day, alone with your thoughts, the path, and each other?” is a strong way of showing your connection. A bittersweet ending, but I like your lines about how that’s part of the Camino- walking on as things end. Just checking- “sure I would look less dishevelled with it on”. Are you taking the cap off in order to look neater/tidier? In that case, it would be more dishevelled, not less. And I think you spelled Vienna as Viana in their first conversation. This was well-written and enjoyable, though sad, to read😊

  • Tina D'Angelo2 months ago

    Thank you for sharing an adventure I'd never heard of before. I love learning about new places and people. I wish it had ended differently!

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