As we rove the hills, mountains and villages of our “project-lands” around the world we meet with the wisdom and kindness of strangers.
So too on “The Camino de Santiago Pilgrim Trail” in Northern Spain, Mark and I encounter many inspiring and interesting people and Mark records their names on a hand-carved “tally stick” as a momento. I have added my own titles to their names to help me remember them.
Daniel the Courageous, Paulino of the Well, Serg the litter picker, Felisa of the Figs, Girl and boy with horse and dog. Mother and daughter Pila and Raquel, Irish politician Paul, Young Lisa and dog Roxanne, Eduardo Keeper of caves and his Wife.
(and what about the girl and her mule “Chupito”maybe the stick was too short, Mark?)
I’m eager to share stories of some of the pilgrims we have met and I’ll start with the story of Daniel the Courageous.
DANIEL THE COURAGEOUS.
Waves of barley break over the low-wild hills of Navarra to our left as a we catch up with another pilgrim. There is something about his lurching gait….that worries us.
“Oh my God,” says Mark. “Heart attack?” I reply. The man stumbles again. Mark is off…running to his aid. “Are you alright?” he has real concern in his voice. The man is calm “No es nadam, estoy bien,” he says.
“How can we help? ” Mark replies.
“Here.” He passes over our water bottle. “Have some water.” The man is clearly exhausted, dying perhaps, beads of sweat on his forehead.
“What to do?” We look at each other for inspiration.
“Estoy muy bien, muchas gracias” repeats the man quietly, slowly.
A fellow pilgrim is suffering, we won’t leave him to his fate here on the dusty track. Mark asks him again how we can help. He waves a tube of suntan lotion. “Gracias,” he says shaking his head. “Estoy muy bien.” “You should rest a bit in the shade, its too hot,” we say. The man looks at us sympathetically then extends his hand in friendship.
“Soy Daniel” he says quietly.
We want to hear more so we lean in towards him and watch his lips. “Tengo Parkinsons” says Daniel. We read his message loud and clear.
“PARKINSONS?” we gasp incredulous.
“But you are walking THE CAMINOOO and you have PARKINSONS ?”
Daniel is on a roll. “Voy a Burgos,” he says !! It turns out that Daniel is walking the whole Camino ,but like us he is doing it in stages.
“Oh my god.” “This is amazing “!! ” You are incredible” we say with English understatement. Meeting Daniel is awe – inspiring. We will NEVER complain AGAIN !!!
We wish him well shouting” Buen Camino” as we pace off towards the horizon. But soon the violent glare of the sun forces us to stop and we sit out the siesta hours in the shade of poplars.
AND …. after a while who should come down the lane but our friend DANIEL. If Santiago himself had just caught us up with us we would have been less surprised. We run out into the sunshine to greet him.
He smiles and begins to fumble in his bumbag. We watch his fingers struggle with the zip and search for a paper. He hands over his photocopied details in English, French and German. “I am Daniel. I have Parkinsons” says the English version. We fold the paper with his contact details and tuck it away in Mark’s pack. We want to join Daniel’s fan club.
“We’ll email when we get home ” we say. But Daniel is not finished. He tells us how his motor-biking companions bugged him to visit the doctor when he simply thought he was getting old. He got his diagnosis some years back and decided to do the Camino.
We wish Daniel well as he sets off again. The sun is still way too hot for us so we’ll catch him up later.The funny things is that we never do. Daniel is the tortoise and we are the hare.
This blogstory is one of several by Anna is writing about her journey with Mark on the Camino de Santiago Pilgrim Trail in Northern Spain.