Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Existential Friendships


For hours, and sometimes days, we see no one as we walk. In France, at least we see someone at our lodging place at the end of the day.

This is not a bad thing. It helps the transformation to the simple demands of the trail - food, shelter and persuading our body that this is normal, this is to be expected. As we settle into the daily routine, a new voice, the passing of a pilgrim, become major events.

Later, as we think back on our experiences, we find the trip defined by the people we meet. Good friends for the moment, and then usually gone forever. For a few hours on the Arles trip we walked a while with Robert, the Solitary Walker.

A few days later we kept meeting Celine, a French-Canadian pilgrim who helped us with our daily phone calls for lodging.

Then they are gone or we are gone, each walking our own path.

This is a strangely compelling existence. If you are thinking of walking in Europe, I would recommend the Le Puy route to Santiago as a good first experience, but once you have that under your belt, and are looking for a different challenge, consider the Arles route. I've put our planning info and post walk thoughts into an Arles Route webpage.