Tuesday, January 19, 2016


” Ladies, come join us”!
They call to us in English...American English. Liz and I have spent the morning on this climb to Orisson hearing British and Australian versions….for the first time we hear Americans..
Two men, sixty somethings, obviously dear friends from their demeanor and completely ecstatic to be sitting here on the outdoor terrace of the hostel at Orisson.
“ We have smoked salmon...bring your beers and come sit!”
Their voices are full of enthusiasm…. infectious! We gather the iced mugs of beer we have been sipping, pull our weary bodies from where we flopped down earlier  and wander over to their table across the immense outdoor dining terrace. Two fellow Americans,  promising a feast, gathering pilgrims on this first day.
“Pacific Northwest salmon” they announce proudly.
A flurry of questions arises from others trying to picture where the Pacific Northwest might fit on a map, not entirely familiar with the expanse of the United States.
“ I have a cousin in Arizona” says one.  “ Is it near there?”
“ My sister lives in Denver… I don’t think that’s close, is it?” questions a man from Holland.
“ Pacific Northwest? “ I ask with surprise, “ What city?”
“ Seattle area ” they answer in unison.
“ Richmond Beach to be exact” says Guy, smiling.
I am sure my mouth has fallen open in an astonished gape. Jack and I left this exact same neighborhood when we moved overseas 6 years earlier.  Our house near Richmond Beach had been our dream home. Gardens, an expansive lawn  and a view of the Olympic Mountains across the waters of Puget Sound. Six years later, and here in the Pyrenees mountains, the first pilgrims we truly connect with are from this same neighborhood.  Universe, what’s going on?

   The afternoon flies by as fellow travelers are shown to their beds or tents.  As some leave, more join. These two enthusiastic peregrini  have created a party! And then we learn, they have done this before. They walked this Camino just the year before and had had the time of their lives.  Now, two lifelong buddies,  following their hearts are  walking this pilgrimage for a second time….beginning on the exact same date and location as before.!  Thier first night out, here in Orisson, had been one of the greatest memories of their adventure and they were determined to re-create and offer that sense of camaraderie and excitement to us newbies. It worked!
By 4 PM there must have been twenty of us laughing, sharing information on hometowns, our Camino hopes and dreams for the next few weeks and promises to keep an eye out for each other along the way.  Pacific Northwest smoked salmon, beer and wine...and a peregrini family is born!  

To this day, well over a year later, I am pleased to call these fellow pilgrims friends.  Many of us have stayed in touch….and I know beyond doubt we are connected for all time….we are Camino Family.