Calzadilla de la Cuaza, September 12, 2001
It has occurred to me that being a woman walking alone on the camino can be a lonely endeavor. Because I’ve had a few days off and lost the people I was walking with at the beginning I find that many walkers have “paired up” with another person or group and while I might walk with them for a bit I’m not really part of the group. Plus most of the people walking are Spanish and my ____ with the language is so poor that talking is difficult both for me and them. But then there are the French 🇫🇷 🤗
I have the distinction of being fairly fluent in French. Because my mother was French my brother and I grew up speaking French to her and English to our dad. Well today the French Armada arrived in full force. I know because I called out “Hola” and the response I heard back was “Bonjour”. So I fell in with them and picked right up in French learning where they are from, where they started from, etc., etc. It was great! And then the inevitable question of where I come from. The United States of America. And then the inevitable wide eyes and open mouths. An American who speaks such good French? No! And with that introduction I became part of the group.
Later I was supposed to have dinner with one couple at my hotel but unfortunately because of Covid the hotel stopped serving dinner. So I met them in the town square and we dined there with another French gentleman. Over dinner the woman said to me (in French), “ We love speaking with people from other countries but our English is so poor”. I didn’t think of myself as a foreigner. I was simply speaking as one of the people at the table.
We had dinner together the next night and another French couple joined. There was a rousing discussion at the table over French and American politics. You might think that a dangerous subject to tackle but it was positively fun. I tried my best to explain the electoral college system and was privileged to listen to them explain the education and health care system of a country that is part of a larger collective of countries. I felt very much part of the group.
They are all walking a bit faster than I am but we have all exchanged WhatsApp contacts and promised to keep in touch and send pictures. Invitations were issued all around to come and visit. I’m not alone on the camino anymore.