Day 23 – Today I was a horrible person…

Today I was horrible.

I will have to atone once I get to Santiago.

First, I'll explain the day: I stayed overnight in Astorga in an €8 a night albergue. It was crowded, and noisy, and there were a couple of furniture rattling snorers.

I left early with Ivan the Terrible and his wife, the lovely Giovanna. We had breakfast in a cafe on the outskirts of town, and were on the way by 7:30am.

Today we headed into the mountains. The last big range before dropping back down into Galicia, and the home stretch to Santiago.

Some of the pilgrims who've been together over three weeks now are starting to get sad. The end is in sight. Even though it's been tough at times, some strong friendships, and a couple of romances, have formed.

As we were leaving Astorga, we noticed a big bus pull up and disgorge a large number of pilgrims.

I felt great today. All my pain has now gone, for the moment at any rate, and I walked swiftly and strongly.

In fact I didn't realise but I walked 22 kms straight without stopping, or a break. Five hours. Towards the end I got a bit spacey, because other than a croissant at 7:15am I hadn't had anything to eat at all. But it put my head in a very interesting place. I had a robotic rhythm going with my walking, and I started to free associate with my thoughts. It was wonderful.

And then after 22 kms I stopped, went into a small store, bought two apples, a small bread roll, a wedge of cheese, and two cans of diet coke. I found a bench on the edge of town and sat down and had lunch by myself.

I then had a further 6km, a stiff climb, up into the mountains before ending up at Foncebadon, which is where I am now.

There's no wifi here so I will only post a couple of pics.

But, getting back to me being a horrible person today…

I'd been walking a couple of hours, was deep in a meditative place, when I heard these shrieks of laughter, and yelling and chattering behind me. I turned and saw this group of about fifteen pilgrims coming towards me. They were clomping along, and were making a huge racket.

I turned back and tried to zone them out, but I could feel them coming up fast behind me. They were like this boisterous tide – rolling along with their noisy laughter and the yelling and shrieking.

They got up alongside me and I looked across and said: Where are you from?

From Madrid, one of them said.

And where did you start the Camino, I then asked.

We started this morning, in Astorga, the bloke replied.

Ah, I said. That's why you're so loud.

The guy looked miffed.

Where are you from, he asked.

Australia, I said.

And where did you start?

From St. Jean Pied de Port, I said, trying to conceal my air of superiority. And failing.

Somewhat subdued, they moved on. Talking quieter.

I realised that in that one moment, I'd blown all my 21 days of Camino spiritual development.

I'd been a complete dick.

I shouldn't have begrudged them their first day's exuberance. The excitement at the start of their journey. And when I started to analyse why I'd reacted the way I had, I came to the conclusion that it had nothing to do with me being peeved that these people were coming into the Camino for merely the last third, and hadn't done the hard miles that we “true” pilgrims had done.

It had to do with the sacred nature of The Way.

For me, this path has become a place of contemplation and meditation. It has become sacred. It was like they'd walked into a church and started laughing and shouting. Same thing.

I was reacting to what I saw as disrespect for The Way. My sensitivities were heightened too because I'd walked about 15 kms non stop and I was a bit zonked.

But even so, I shouldn't have got annoyed. I should have been more tolerant. I should have beamed over at them beatifically and wished them love on the journey.

Instead I sniped.

I'm a horrible person.

I think I'll have to do the Camino again.



31 thoughts on “Day 23 – Today I was a horrible person…

  1. gosh, you are too funny, mia culpa and all that…. the only thing you are guilty of is being human and please don’t ever stop that. Am still smirking in a way, because I am in the process of writing out my journey. I didn’t write a blog or even a journal, but I voice recorded as I was walking, took lots of pictures, (compared to yours they are more like snapshots from one of those throw away cameras… but they are mine and I love them), and my scribbles on my map book. This is a surreal journey I am on now, it’s like looking at yourself floating alongside with the knowledge of a journey completed, and seeing the transformation from start (oh how full of myself I was in the beginning and I hear myself speaking to that person and telling her… “just you wait… you have no idea what you are in for”.) We are all saints and devils on the camino… so you are in good company. Get used to the noise and crowds now… it gets jubilantly noisy from Sarria onwards. Enjoy it all. Ultreia!


    • Thanks Ingrid! All
      Photos are only ever a personal keepsake. I’ve only taken about 4 shots I’m happy with. The rest are just snaps as I go! Bill


  2. Ahhh the Camino gives many gifts, but it doesn’t take away your human nature. A horrible person, I think not. I’m reading between the lines and marvel at your spiritual consciousness. Joe and I were warned at our Camino Chapter meeting, that you will get your smug on in Sarria seeing those who are just starting the walk, while you have arrived in your worn clothes and dusty boots. You are only human, but human with an ability to look inward at ones self. A great gift in anyone’s book. So glad to hear your body is mended to bearable!



    • Saw these people today hop off a bus, then started taking photos of each other in the Camino walking pose, with their brand new sticks. I had to go back and read what I’d written about “true” pilgrims’


  3. Easy Bill!! Just being able to admit and see your perceived ‘horribleness’ is enough to see that The Way has done its work. Being human is a dreadful burden – but one we must carry and part of that joy/burden is to allow ourselves the perfect imperfection of our humanness! You’re ok Bill – I would probably have had the same reaction and then the same reflection – and why? Because our humanness points out our faults through our feelings – after all they probably didn’t think about it again – but you did and that’s what counts. And it seems that this is your Way…..walk on my friend.


  4. Bill, for your sins you must walk back to SJPDP once you reach Santiago. Give you time to reflect. =) Just kidding. Give yourself a break. Your human side will always be flawed and to beat yourself up over “imperfection” is not getting you anywhere. As others have commented, the fact that you recognized what you said and how you felt afterwards is a huge leap. Keep rolling, don’t dwell on this any longer, and pat yourself on the back for trying to be a better person. Animo y adelante.


  5. Don’t Sweat it Bill – You aren’t a Saint – and you realized your mistake quickly – and you have time to make amends . By accepting your Imperfection quickly – you have gotten out of “self” and will be able to give to other more freely . Enjoy the rest of your journey in the spirit of Peace and Giving ..


  6. Ah, ah. I so remember feeling the same way. Day-packers is stil an insult I use at home. 😉 Brace yourself for the party gang that will join you in Sarria. 133 days before my Camino… I’ll probably be noisy that first day too.


      • It might have started, but the tidal wave from Sarria is something else again….then you will really know how horrible you are! Great read – glad you had such a good walk up to Foncebaden.


  7. But….NO PAIN! Yeah!!!! You give me hope each day I read this. PS: The fact you are willing to bare your soul like this nudges us all to be better. Namaste….


    • Thanks Julie – it’s incredible that my pain did leave me while I walked across the Meseta. I found it a very cleansing and healing experience. Bill


  8. Bill…Just discovered your blog a couple days ago. Have been reading steadily to catch up. I leave home (USA) in 11 days and start walking from SJPP on May 16th. Your writing and photos have been very inspirational. Especially glad you mention all the “senior citizens” on the camino. I’m 62 and a bit like “damaged goods” myself. I have been concerned about the physical challenge but I’m very encouraged to hear of the 70 and 80 yr olds walking. I have been preparing, though not the intense training it appears you did. I will “respect” the camino, my body and will do what I can do. I have no schedule. If it takes two months, that’s fine. Thanks again for your informative and enjoyable posts. Buen Camino! Rick


    • Wonderful Rick. Thank you.
      Just had dinner with a 65 yr old bloke, a Spaniard, who’s walked from Seville. By the time he gets to Satiago, he will have done 1,000 kms. The oldies are ripping it! Bill


    • Rick,

      If you look over your shoulder we will be right there with you starting the Camino at SJPP on the 16th. Arrive there on the evening of 14th from US also. Staying in the Cantu hotel. All we could get three months ago. Bill inspired me to blog and I am running one now (practice for the main event) at and my wife at Get in touch. BTW, I will be 71 and Jill 58 next month. Bill, thanks for use of your blog to make contact with Rick.


      • Hey Steve, that’s so cool! Love being the facilitator for unions.
        You guys are going to have a memorable experience.


  9. Bill, again you open your heart and soul. Thankyou. We are all human and one of the greatest strengths is to recognise that none of is perfect.
    As I am starting in Leon, due to time constraints in my work schedule, I hope I will still be considered a true pilgrim, not a pseudo pilgrim. I am taking the Way as a religious / spiritual journey, rather than a pleasant walk with friends unknown. I will be sure to walk quietly and respect all those who have already experienced much of what you have described.
    Keep walking strongly and pray for us all in SdC.


  10. Aah, the gift of the Camino – it shows us all aspects of ourselves! Congratulations on being human. Yes, I recall the Camino after Sarria. It was just more crowded – even the cafe owners got their money upfront., whereas earlier you would eat, order more things, then wander back and pay. It was such a trusting feel, but after Sarria, that changed. I too started to get irritated at fellow walkers, a new experience for me on the Camino – whether it was the increased crowds, or my accumulated fatigue .But that did settle after a while. Onwards to Santiago. Kay

    PS Just wait till you get to Santiago! It is a tourist destination in its own right, and there are many tourists. But you can identify fellow pilgrims instantly, and I felt quietly smug that I had got there on my feet!


    • Hi Kay, I see the influx of new people as being just another challenge, and a delight, of the Camino. I will have to try and remember that! Thank you for your message. Bill


  11. Bill,

    I discovered your blog just a week ago. I have also been reading to catch up. The Camino calls to me in a way I simply cannot explain. I am unable to go for now as I take care of my elderly parents but I know in my heart that one day I will walk in your footsteps too. It makes my heart and soul sing just to think about it.

    Thank you so much for sharing your journey. It has been really special to read.

    Bueno Camino,


  12. Sounds like an excuse to do another Camino 😉
    I’ll start in a few days on my first and, from the Camino Forum, I know that this kind of tolerance will be something I will have to work on.,
    My blog about my 30 days prep leading up to “my” Camino is at I appears that I’ll have to prepare my tolerance pack, in addition to my water pack, blister pack, rain pack, etc Thanks for reminding me and for being a good mentor for tolerance and forgiveness.
    Isn’t it a blessing that you – and The Camino – can create such close relationships in such a short amount of time? I enjoy your blog very much. Ultreya!


  13. If you ARE a horrible person…you would get a pass due to the photo of the dog in a moment with that incredible roof. Thanks for that one.


    • Thanks Robert!
      Actually, my brother said that’s the best shot I’ve taken so far – but I pointed put that he’s a vet, and he only responds to pics with dogs in them!

      It’s 3:12am here – cant sleep. Big couple of days coming up.


Comments are closed.