Saturday, February 9, 2013

Day 25, Ponte Vedra to Caldas do Reis

Originally today was supposed to be a day off but so close to the end, it seems silly to stop. Besides, YeNa and Mark are going on.

Nobody got up until 7:30. Several signs announce that peregrinos must be out of the building by 8. Not gonna happen. It's still dark out for crying out loud.

We all ate breakfast in the little kitchen together. We got the drama over with early today-- JH burned her thumb on a microwaved mug. It's has a big blister and it hurts me just remembering looking at it. We put cream on it and wrapped it up.

Mark was planning to go 30 km but he wasn't saying goodbye. Yena had information on a good place to stay and gave him the address. Mark claimed he hadn't been lonely but to me it was clear he had been. I was pretty sure that we were going to see him in Caldas do Reis. He left before us.

We saw him much sooner than we expected. Just beyond the city center he caught up to us. "I had to wait for the grocery store to open."

He walked with us for awhile, gradually drifting ahead, until we could only see him on straight sections. We lost him for awhile then spotted him talking to what looked like a centaur. As we got closer, the back legs turned out to be fence posts; the body, a backpack; and the creature, a human female. The illusion was helped by a large black poncho draped over the pack but not her upper body.

Her name was Susan and she was just walking back from Santiago. She was very friendly and bubbly and I think she'd been struck by too many rainbows.

Upon seeing JH, Gyueon, and Yena, and establishing that the were Korean, she outstretched her arms and said, "How wonderful it is to meet people from your country. Your people are so kind. I've met many."

We moved on but Mark talked to her longer. Later he caught up and told us that she'd been walking since the northern part of Norway. Not in one continuous trip but piecemeal. Between walks, she works sporadically and walks other caminos. Even Mark thinks she's spent too much time on the way. We lost Mark soon after he caught up to us.

There is a subculture of people who live on the camino. They finish one and either turn around or do another one, looping endlessly, not finding whatever they are looking for. Some of them fund their journey entirely through begging. Call me a jerk, but I won't be giving them any money.

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