DAYS 10-12: The Friends We Make Along ‘The Way’
Different faces flashed in my mind corresponding with coloured backpacks in a rapid fire. Some young, some old, but all smiling. I looked to my left and then added another face to my time roll. Just as we had been leaving Portugalete, the final annex of the city of Bilbao, we had run into Maite – an 18 year old boy originally from Germany who was doing the Camino by himself and for himself. We exchanged stories as we walked at the same pace and rhythm, backpacks beating in time to the steps we took. Maite was nothing short of inspiring, only 4 years older than my brother and I and he was embarking on this adventure of a lifetime, treading the delicate path to self discovery. Talking to him made the day’s walk pass so much faster, as we lost ourselves in the comfortable cloud of companionship. We parted ways as we came to the beach of Pobeña, but only temporarily. We would see him later tonight but now the fast flowing ocean wave’s call was too loud to resist.
We lost track of time in the water’s grip and so it was much later than we had imagined when we entered the small cobblestoned city and the Albergue that lay within. I was a bit apprehensive as we stepped inside. Having stayed an extra day in Bilbao our old group of familiar friends were now one day in front of us, which left us on the brink of new friendships and faces. Maite was the only person we knew in this strange new world of other Peregrinos, but all that was about to change and quite quickly too.
We were setting up our pop up tents when a lady, whom we learnt afterwards was Margaret, struck up a conversation. We were all elbow deep in stories about Ireland (Margaret’s Native home) when Margaret called over her daughter and introduced us. Katie, Lalika and I stared at each other for a few seconds. Three smiles was all it took before we became the best of friends. We set up the tent together, explored the river creek and talked for hours on end. Dinner turned into a group event and that turned into a long movie together before bed.
The next day after a beautiful day’s walk down to the city of Castro Urdiales, that took us past towering green mountains, fast flowing crystal rivers and the golden yellow sand of the deep blue coast, we connected once again at the next Albergue. We went swimming together in the ice cold waters of the Atlantic Ocean, where the blind explorations of Marco Polo reigned supreme. We cooked together in the hostel kitchen before sharing our meals and then relaxed in the warm precincts of our tents which were perfect for long conversations. That night it rained harsh cold bullets of water with a deadly aim. In the morning we were all delayed and so we set off at the same time, tackling the Camino de Santiago together.
We walked all morning and early afternoon and crossed the incredible barrier of 1/3 of the way at the same time. The saying goes that ‘Time flies when you’re having fun’ and unfortunately it’s true. These past three days flashed in a blink of an eye faster than you could say Camino de Santiago del Norte. We had to say goodbye on the road, where Katie and Margaret were stopping.