Day 5

Puente la Reina – Estella

21.9km/13.6 miles

Today is like any other day on the camino.  Wake, walk, rest.  My loved ones have been on my mind today.  I can’t help but notice familiar faces once walking alone, now in pairs.  It seems as if the amount of solo pilgrims has dwindled down to myself and a fast walking asian lady.  Even Frida, the hard to read girl from Estonia, has found a new male companion.  I’ve had my fair share of broken English conversations and it would definitely ease some worries at home if I made a friend.

Camino de Santiago - Tiny Villages

We walk through many tiny villages on the Camino

Every day the camino passes through 3 or 4 tiny villages that provide an opportunity to rest, refuel and take a much needed bathroom break.  Each village is built around a cathedral, dating back to as early as the 1500s.  This particular village is quite hilly.  (As if the up and down trek all day was not enough).

A group of well speaking English folks banter along with each other as we all huff and puff up the hill.  Something in me felt inclined to ask if they were here on a tour or if in fact they were bold enough to form their own group.

Nuns Playing with Kids on the Camino

Nuns playing with kids as we pass through a village

The solo girl from Michigan

Standing next to me is a well fit man who had made it to the top of the hill first with me, “Do you all know each other from before?” I ask.  With excitement, “No!” he replies.  “We met each other a couple days ago.  Where are you from?” he asks.  “The states, Michigan,” I reply.  Again, with excitement, “We are from Michigan, Holland Michigan!”  The corners of my mouth lift as the excitement builds in my stomach.  “We have heard about you.  The solo girl from Michigan,” he says.   I am taken back and a bit happy that anyone has even noticed me along the way.

He asks if I want to walk with them, they have 7 in their group but could sure use 1 more for an even eight.  There is no doubt in my mind if I want to walk with them, I have been questioning and wanting some type of group to belong with.  “Yes, I would love too!  My dad will be so happy to hear I met you, especially someone from Michigan!”.

He introduces me to the rest of the group.  Marian his wife, a beautiful woman who welcomes me with a warm heart.  Peter from Australia along with his niece and her husband and Rachel and her mom from London Ontario, (not the cool London).

A new type of experience was on the horizon…

I walk with Russ and Marian for most of the day.  They tell me about their stories wwoofing in France, tandem bike riding in the US and many other amazing experiences that I though only existed in my dreams.

Russ is full of life.  He has some type of conversation with every person we pass.  He practices his Spanish with the locals and sings songs along the way to break the silence.

Graffitti Along the Way

Graffiti Along the Way

We stop and admire the graffiti.  Something I normally would breeze by on my own.  Marian is an artist, a painter, who has something intriguing about her.  She reminds me of myself.  Layers upon layers of a soul that only time can peel apart.  I feel at ease with them and walk with a new found confidence about me.  I am no longer the solo girl from Michigan anymore.

 Drinks and tapas fill the table

Dinner is much more exciting now.  We drink and share stories of our time so far.  The people and places that only us, on the camino, have witnessed thus far.  Estella is a wonderful city full of life and things to see.  It is one of the few larger cities on the camino.

Drinks and tapas fill the table.  The Australians humor is like none other.  They crack jokes about themselves; not in a put down sort of way, but rather in a way that exposes themselves.  It is refreshing and raw.  I know this is where I am meant to be.  Something that the universe has brought into my life at the right time.  It’s funny how that happens.

New Friends on the Camino de Santiago

New Friends

The laughter and fun this group has with each other warms my heart and reminds me of home.  This is a blessing that has pulled me away from the depths of my own mind.  The camino didn’t have to be so serious.  No longer was I turned inward, but now I could let go and let others in.  I am thankful today.