I had dinner last night with Bob and Joan, two retired educators from Berkley. Bob is 69 and Joan is 71. (You wouldn't believe their ages to look at them both.)
I left half an hour before them this morning, and today I really cranked it out. I was hooting along at near to 5 kms / hr, which for me is verging on the speed of light.
They passed me three hours into the day. And they'd also stopped for morning tea.
I had a rest stop and spoke to this fellow who'd come through from south of Madrid. He was 64, and this was his fourth Camino.
Yesterday I got talking to a couple who'd come from Nimes, in France. Already they'd done 1200 kms, and by the time they finish they'll have done 1300 kms. Jean Marc is 61 and his sister Genevieve is 64.
And then there's Soren, from Switzerland. He's 67, and he climbed up O Cebreiro a couple of days ago leaving me bobbing in his wake.
The Camino is full of OLD PEOPLE.
Note the caps, note the italics, note the underlying tone of disdain, and bewilderment. Bewilderment because they're all faster than me.
My definition of old? Anyone over 60.
For the record, I'm 59 years and 9 months, so I write from the relative perspective of youth.
It's not surprising a lot of old folk walk the Camino. They have the time – most are retired – and most have a degree of financial security. (Mind you, you don't need to spend a lot of money to walk the Camino.)
Some are looking for answers to the Big Questions of Life, others see it as a way of keeping active and staving off the degenerative symptoms of old age. Some see it as the ultimate FU to getting old.
But, if you saw one of these people standing in a crowded bus, you'd get up and offer them your seat. They look like they should be getting Meals on Wheels. You feel that some should be accompanied by Carers. With bed pans.
And yet these oldies are blitzing the Camino.
They're leaving the young folk, like me, reeling in their backdraft.
You never see them getting buses, or taxis, or shipping their backpacks on ahead. Nope, they are hard core. Seriously hard core.
They have stamina, resilience, and the wisdom to listen to their bodies, and judge the demands of The Way. Often they are people who've lived active lives – but I'm astonished by those who've just turned up and done it, with very little training.
They are amazing.
Today I hardly took any photos, because I couldn't find much that was really interesting. The path followed roads for most of the way. I'm now at Palas de Rei, with only 64 kms to Santiago.
I did though meet up with Lazlo, the Hungarian fellow that I started the Camino with – the friend of Balazs. I last saw him in Pamplona. It was great seeing him again!
Here are a couple of shots that I kind of liked: