Tuesday, July 10, 2007

We´re in Spain

We´re here! After a couple of long days of traveling, we´re in Pamplona ready to start our journey. I have some other stories from the days leading up to today, but I will have to go back and post later.

We had our first encounter with a fellow pilgrim today while waiting to buy bus tickets in San Sebastian. He was a short and stocky Spaniard talking to everyone else in line in Spanish and novice English like he owned the place. While I took off to find an Internet cafe and retrieve some information about where we were headed, Paul stayed to buy the tickets and the guy struck up a conversation with him. The interaction went something like this:

Spaniard: Hey, your wife, she left!
Paul: She went to the Internet cafe.
Spaniard: No, no. She left her bag and she left too. Ha ha
ha. Hey man, I just walked 1,000 km. I am so strong.
Paul: Oh yeah? My wife and I are walking a long way too.
We´re here to walk the Camino de Santiago.

Spaniard: Oh no. I just finished this Camino. You are not strong enough. And those are the
shoes you are wearing?

Paul: Yes, they´re pretty comfortable.

Spaniard: Oh, no. You cannot wear those. The rocks will punch you in your
feet.. You will take an autobus. Or you will die. You have to train for three
months at least before you start, like me. I am so strong. See my muscles? Let
me show you my feet (he proceeds to remove his shoes to show blisters and broken
toes). I am so strong. I am not Superman. I am not Spiderman. I am not Batman.
I am all of them put together.

Paul: (At this point Paul´s face is involuntarily contorting into a look
similar to Gary Coleman´s trademark ^Whatchoo talkin´ about Willis?^) Hmmm. I see. How did you do
that to your toes?

SSB: (The Spaniard will henceforth be known as Spider-Super-Batman - SSB for short). Oh, well I
start the trail at 10am. All of the white people start at 6am and I pass them
all because I am so strong. One day on the mountain, it goes down, down,
down and then up, up, up. I am walking so fast and in front of me there is
this girl, She is walking so slow. I yell at her, -Ày, Ay!- but she does not know
she needs to move and get out of my way and then crunch, poof! My toes run
into her, I fall on a rock and crack my head. Blood, blood
everywhere. But I am strong. I go on. Not you, you will
die. This mountain, Alto Perdon, there are no policia, no hospital, no autobus. You cannot make it.
There are so many white people on the Camino. I am the only black one (mind you,
this man has olive skin, but he is no more black than Tom Cruise with a

Paul: Black?! You are not black.

SSB: Ah, yes I am. (He pinches the skin on his arm and shakes his head as if this stupid American doesn´t have a firm
grasp on the English language) Dark skin. Black.

This goes on for a while before I return. It turns out that Spider-super-batman walked the start (which he made sure Paul knew was NOT in Pamplona where we are beginning) in 21 days. After the bragfest, Paul wanted to ask about SSB´s personal and spiritual growth on the pilgrimage since humility was something he clearly discarded along the way along with his extra socks and shirts. But he thought the `better of it lest he be subjected to yet another Ì´m the King of the World´ story from black Spidey.

As we toasted our homemade Kalimotxos this evening (red wine and coke, sounds gross, but is a Spanish staple and I learned to love it during my time in San Sebastiàn before), maybe we should have toasted: ¨Here´s hoping that we´re not the only 2 normal peregrinos on the road!¨

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