This was a typical run around day I was trying to get some shopping done. At the craft shop I stood in line to pay and I felt a tap on my shoulder. I turned to see this older man (early 60s, I’m thinking), fit, tanned and smiling.
“That tattoo on your leg, what does it stand for?” he asked.
“It’s the symbol for the Camino de Santiago, a pilgrimage walk through Spain” I responded.
“You did that?” he asked.
“Twice” and pausing “and planning to return next fall” I added.
“Do you have time for a coffee, I’d like to ask you a few questions about the Camino” he offered.
And ask, he did. I suspect he was a reporter in his work life though he never confirmed or denied it. We walked over to Starbucks and he conducted what I felt was a reporter’s interview. I thought I’d share a few of the questions he asked me since it was truly a very unique interaction.
HE: “Describe the Camino experience in 5 words”
“Really, 5 words?”
“No more, no less”
“Wow… wait, that’s not one of my words… wait, yes, WOW is one of them. Amazing, Life-changing, Challenging and Heaven”
“Top 3 moments”
“Are you a reporter? statistician? interviewer? It feels like this is a prank of sorts? Did my friends send you?”
“No, no, maybe, and not a prank and I don’t think I know your friends, I’m from Toronto”
“Ok, so top 3 moments… that is very difficult to pinpoint. Arriving at the Cathedral de Santiago, my leaking moment (I explained that one to him but for those who are curious, you can read my blog entry titled “I leaked” under my Camino experiences ) and spreading my mother-in-law’s ashes in Finisterre”
“Top 3 worse moments”
“Worse? there weren’t any really BAD moments… not as fun moments, I’d have to say the over-crowdedness (my own made up word) of the Camino this time around, falling off a top bunk in my sleep and finding out my favorite restaurant (Tarara) was closed on my last day in Santiago”
“I’m 70, did you meet people my age?”
“Yes, in fact, I spoke at lengths with at least 10 pilgrims that were in their 70s, and one in his 80s”
“Were they tired?”
“haha, we are ALL often tired… it’s a way of life on the Camino but we deal with it”
The entire hour chat seemed more like an interview than a conversation, but it had to be one of the most interesting and unexpected interaction.
Turns out my “interviewer” had contemplated doing the Camino many times, and apparently the last year was filled with what he considered signs encouraging him to fulfill this dream.
He told me that when he saw my tattoo he considered this as the last sign he needed to move ahead with his dream. We parted and exchanged emails and his last words to me were “I will call you my pre-Camino angel”
What a great unexpected meeting!