I have reservations.
No, wait…I have no reservations.
But I have reservations.
OK, I have hotel & albergue reservations AND no reservations about the camino this year 😉
Last year at this time despite having had to cancel a trip to see Lady Gaga perform and a trip to Paris and England to visit my cousin and friend from the camino 2019, I was fully confident that this Covid crisis would be over in a few weeks and I would be traveling to Spain to walk the Camino on my own. As you all know from your own disappointments it was not to be.
So this past year became a different kind of camino. I kept the camino alive by cooking the dishes I so enjoyed eating in Spain. I found a good recipe for Santiago cake and to my delight it became a hit with my family and friends. I looked for recipes that mirrored the meals we most enjoyed on the camino…red peppers stuffed with cod, empanadas, tortilla (which is a potato/egg tart). We experimented with Spanish wines and remembered the good times we had at the end of the day sharing a glass with other pilgrims along the way. One thing I do recall about the meals in Spain is that I rarely found pepper on the table and I like a good sprinkling of black pepper on my food. However the pandemic afforded me an opportunity to solve that problem. When we did eat out this past year if I asked for pepper the server would frequently bring a dozen or so packets of pepper. Since I know that these must be thrown away if not used I simply took them home. Now I have my own small stash of pepper.
I listened to a lot of podcasts. I relished in Dave Whitson’s Camino Podcast and Dan Mullins’ My Camino – The Podcast. Dave talks to a lot of professionals who discuss topics like the history of the Camino Frances, the Biblical foundation for the stories of St. James, how to avoid blisters and all are generously sprinkled with with colorful stories experienced along the way. Dan interviews people from all over the world who have walked the camino and share their stories of the experience. I feel close to these people as their stories compare and contrast with my own. Dan also frequently speaks with restaurant and albergue proprietors who tell their stories of how covid has impacted their lives an d business. I feel comforted knowing that my exile from the Camino Frances is shared by those who live there. And I am reminded that that exile is only physical. It does not rob me of my memories and it does not prevent me from continuing a spiritual camino.
Finally I talk about the camino…a lot. OK, really a lot. Yes, people who know me well frequently roll their eyes as they indulge me in yet another comparison of life to the camino. I purchased a stack of cards with this blog address on it and I’m not shy about telling complete strangers about the camino and handing them a card. My husband would say I’m never shy about talking to strangers. A trip to the grocery is often extended by half an hour chatting with people I haven’t seen in a while and others I’ve never met before.
Many if not most stories of pilgrims include the question, “What did you do when you finished the camino?” And the answer is frequently, “Well you never really finish the Camino. It keeps going, doesn’t it?” Yes it does. The camino has become a part of me in the same way that I am a mother and grandmother (5 little ones now). And just as I yearn to be with them I also yearn to be on camino.
As I continue to prepare for this camino if you have questions please ask them. I may not have the definitive answer, or even the answer that fits best for you, but I can share my own experience.