Already I’ve lost count of the languages overheard on the walk. There are the easy ones (at least to recognize): Spanish, French, German, Japanese. I’m a bit sketchy in the Slavic tongues but there are 26 more days of hoofing it to make acquaintance.
Regardless of nationality, these peregrinos are an interesting bunch.
They’re all trying to make it work, all trying to figure out where to stay, where to eat, how to put one foot in front of another. How to keep on keeping on.
If they share one other commonality, it’s a stock response to perhaps the most benign of questions – ‘Are you going all the way to Santiago?’ And invariably their answer: “That’s the plan.” I’ve heard that who knows how many times, most recently from Larry, a jovial Canadian.
I guess there is one other trait that is a dead giveaway of the weary walker. Everyone is sore.
It’s a given no matter their pace. You can instantly spot an aching pilgrim especially after they shower and make their way – slowly – to the central plaza for the obligatory menu de peregrino (a fixed item meal for usually 10€) and something to ease their suffering. They are the ones who limp or shuffle along at a snail’s pace, sometimes with bandaged feet and toes visible through their sandals. They seem to feel they’ve earned their cerveza or vino tinto. Come to think of it, that’s what I’m doing right now. I share their pain.