They hobble into the Albergues with a limp and a cane, sometimes even two canes, or more hiply referred to as walking sticks. Slowly, the newcomers are worming their way into my heart. Even after two days, they are feeling the aches and pains of the Camino. In some ways, the Albergues are almost like geriatric assisted living facilities. Everyone, even the newcomers, complains about knees and hips. We eat dinner and go to sleep 3 hours earlier than the rest of society – in Spain, its normal to eat dinner at 10 pm, but Peregrinos munch their Menu del Dias starting around 7pm. We talk about what medication we are taking and even take naps in the afternoon. And with our earplugs in to drown out the snoring, we are hard of hearing.
I had the opportunity to discuss the topic of TourDeGrinos with Dag today at length. He sees the whole thing from a bit different perspective. For one, what the newcomers are doing may be even harder for them than for a lot of the people doing the whole Camino. Some are way out of shape and some are really quite young or old. Walking 100 kilometers is still not easy. And secondly, can it really be a bad thing that so many people are doing the Camino? Isn’t that a positive? Thinking of the many other alternatives, I didn’t really have a good counter argument. And was I so naive to think that everyone could take 33 days off to do the Camino in one go?
Somewhere between Ligonde and Eirexe, Dag told a parable. An owner of a vineyard needs to find workers for the day so he goes early in the morning, around 6 am, to the place in his village were day laborers congregate to find work. He offers a couple of them 100 euros, a good amount of money, to work the whole day. He then needs some more workers around 10 am, so he goes back, finds some more laborers and offers them the same amount of money. He does this throughout the day, going back to hire more laborers later and later and still offering them the 100 euros. At the end of the day, the guys that worked since 6 in the morning are pissed. But the owner told them that he was allowed to do with his money what he wanted. Weren’t they happy with the arrangement when they started their day? And so it is with the Camino. He argued that I was perfectly happy walking 800 kilometers before. Why should it matter if others come to get a similar experience waking only 100 kilometers?