Tuesday, June 19, 2007

old people

I haven´t met any old people on the Camino, but I would estimate that more than half of the pilgrims are over 55. It´s constantly amazing and humbling and inspiring to walk alongside them, to learn about their lives. It´s rare, very rare, to hear anyone attribute aches and pains and limitations to age. Pilgrims are pilgrims, and all blisters are equal.

Yesterday I chatted with the Australian woman in her mid-fifties who has just restored an old sheep shearing shed to make it into her home in Canberra, though she won´t be there much because she has been hiking the Camino de la Plata with her Dutch boyfriend who she met two years ago on the Camino Frances. He hurt his leg, though, so she is now walking with her ex-husband. He stays in hotels while she stays in albergues. She says she should have stayed married to him so she could afford the albergues, too. She considered stopping the Camino, but she´s trying to get in shape for her upcoming trip to Nepal.

There´s a pack of four white-haired Canadian women in their 60´s who appear almost every day and shout out "yahoo!" and "here weeeee goooooo!" and tell stories about their rowdy marathon cross country ski weekends.

Then there´s the 60ish Dutch guy who was a principal of a school in Ghana for several years and is now hiking the Camino while wearing a scallop shell given to him by his Kenyan girlfriend who is a nun.

Let´s not forget the Spanish man who lives in Brazil and earned a degree at Bowling State. That´s who I walked with today.

And that´s a tiny sampling. Looking at these folks out in the world, I would never peg them as any kind of athletes. When I consider whether I would do the Camino again, I often think about how much I would like to do it 30 years from now, just to prove to myself that I can keep up with these folks. I´m not sure I can. Vamos a ver.

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