León, Spain – March 17, 2017
Today’s Miles: 13.2
Total Miles: 4,959.9
Villar de Mazarife, Spain – March 18, 2017
The steps out of León come slowly. Last night’s tapas weren’t enough to soak up all the alcohol that came with them. Five of us meant five rounds, six really, because the Germans decided one round’s beers were so small that we needed two.
Halfway through with the Camino, we are old friends now, familiar faces and stories, inside jokes, laughter. But it wasn’t always this way, on the first round, I asked what our first memory of each other was.
Daya remembered seeing me as she and Jorgelina ran to the St. Jean Pied du Port albergue hoping it wasn’t closed. I was outside on my phone and they were knocking on the door. I told them it was open and to just go inside.
The two of them met on a bus to Roncesvalles. Two older American men were with them on the bus and the four of them caught a taxi to St. Jean Pied du Port. When I first saw the four of them, I thought they were together, two couples, even though the men were far too old.
Jorgelina remembered seeing me on the bunk bed and being careful to watch her things for fear that I might take them.
“Every time I looked over you were on your phone,” she said.
It is true. I was. It was my first night in an albergue and I couldn’t sleep with all the strange people around. I also did not trust anyone to not steal my things.
Christina and Amelie remembered seeing me and Daya sitting in a town square eating lunch the first day, though they saw Daya earlier in morning on the streets of St. Jean. I remember Christina and Amelie at the pass near Roncesvalles. They came up the last few steps to the top with big smiles on their faces. I thought they must be old friends. They had only met the day before on the train as they traveled down to St. Jean.
It’s hard to look around the table and remember it was all chance. It feels so certain, so obvious, but a day earlier and I never meet one of them. A day later and maybe I pass in a moment on the trail, maybe we waive and say “Buen Camino” and never another word. Maybe I’m writing about four different people, from four different countries, with stories all their own.
Is it really all just chance? Some would argue for fate, destiny, or divine intervention, but I’ll leave it with chance. Just chance. There is enough beauty in chance for me. There is more even, because chance requires something fate and omnipotent dieties do not, it requires you to say hello to the man you thought would steal your things, to talk with a stranger at a pass or on a train, to help someone knocking on an unlocked door. Chance does not operate alone. It is all the more beautiful because it needs you to take its hand and leap with it.