Day 2: Roncesvalles to Larrasoaña

I made some friends today. At the beginning of the day, it was just Faith, a health coach from Scotland, and I. We were bunkmates last night in the monastery and after breakfast we fell into step together. I tend to walk faster than most, so I didn’t expect to walk very long with any one person. But our paces, as well as our politics, were well matched. We discussed our shared disgust with the rise of the palm oil industry and its myriad impacts and our mutual interest in mindfulness meditation.

By the middle of the day, we were a posse of seven, having joined with Enrique and Alvaro from Spain, Paul and Ngaire from Australia and Charlie (short for Charlotte) from the U.K. We walked briskly but comfortably, resembling leaves floating downstream, pairing up for conversation then breaking away, only to pair up with someone else a little way down the road for another interesting discussion.

Alvaro and I had connected briefly on Day 1 when he noticed me with my binoculars and said in his halting English, “I like birds too.” This morning over breakfast he asked me what I had seen, helping me identify species based on my descriptions. Although the identifications were in Spanish, it was fun to learn the names in another language. And as I began to identify species using my new “Birds of Spain” app, it was fun to teach him the English names. He also knows a bit about the native plants in the region, explaining that we were walking through a forest of beech and pine trees for much of the day. An avid National Geographic reader, he seemed to enjoy quizzing me about trees in the U.S., especially sequoias and redwoods.

Although the Camino is by no means a wildland hike. Today I found beauty in many places, both natural and human.

Based on a recommendation from a fellow pilgrim, 72-year-old Sharon from California walking her second (!) Camino, we made our way to Albergue San Nicolas in Larrasoaña for the night. The destination was a bit shorter than I had planned to walk, and longer than most of the others had intended. Yet, no one seemed to mind the change of plans as we happily sauntered into town, a smiling group of amigos nuevos.

As a bit of a misanthrope, one of my goals for the Camino is to meet and connect with people along the way. And today I feel like I made real strides towards accomplishing that goal.

Today I walked 17.2 miles.

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