The traditional El Camino de Santiago or Way of St. James starts from a tiny town in the south of France, some of the most beautiful countryside I’ve ever seen. We took a train from Paris to Bayonne and there was nothing to do but look out the window. Everything was so green, with hills rolling and perfect red-roofed and gabled houses. After we arrived at Bayonne, we took a bus to get to St. Jean.
|St. Jean Pied de Port around sunset.|
On the bus, I couldn’t stop that nervous feeling bubbling up from my stomach through my chest. The bus made several stops in little villages on the way to let out a few older passengers, most with canes and berets. At every stop I found myself praying this wasn’t ours. Because the closer we arrived to St. Jean, the closer we arrived to the beginning of what could possibly be a mistake. I’m always like this, dreading the beginning of the thing, instead of the actual thing itself. We finally pulled in and walked with all the other pilgrims towards the office to get our Camino credencial, a passport of sorts that would be stamped with the name of all the albergues we slept in and towns we walked through.
After we got our credencials, we went to the albergue to put down our bags and find a place for dinner. I was surprised at the age of many of the pilgrims there. I imagined walking with younger people or others around our age, but many of the pilgrims were in their 50s, some in their 60s, and many doing this for the second or third time. It was encouraging and intimidating at the same time to see so many different people planning to take this journey.
I had no idea what to expect. I had a hard time falling asleep because I was excited, scared, full of anticipation, and of course, bombarded by the snoring of almost every other person in the room. Tomorrow: follow the yellow shells to Santiago!