The Camino has a way of forming friendships that can run very deep, very fast.
And I’ve discovered that you don’t even need to meet these friends in Spain or Portugal or France. You can meet them online.
Through this blog I’ve made some wonderful friends. And now on this current work trip to the US, I’m getting to meet some of them face to face.
Earlier this week I finally got to meet Michael and Kathryn Schlesinger. Michael writes under the name Rambler59. I’d always thought that meant he was a rambler – a nomad – and he was either born in 1959, or he was 59 years old.
Turns out his pride and joy – apart from his wife and family – is a glorious old 1959 Rambler station wagon.
Jennifer and I had a gap in our schedule so I contacted them – they live down at Newport Beach – and were free to meet at short notice, so we drove down.
Wonderful people – and they had the Camino “shine” which was apparent immediately upon meeting them. (What is it with this Camino shine? How come I don’t have it? Maybe it’s because I drink too much Coke Zero…)
Michael and Kathy treated us to a fabulous afternoon – they took us out onto Newport Harbour on a little electric boat – we had Proseco and nibblies – and we chatted incessantly.
Then they took us to The Wedge – a very famous surfing beach which has the most insane wave for belly-boarders.
Then later we went out to a cool Mexican restaurant for dinner.
The evening concluded with me corralling their large screen computer, going on YouTube, and playing them parts of the Aussie Rules Grand Final, in which of course the Sydney Swans won.
They’d never seen anything like Aussie Rules footy before. It was a little confusing for them. I guess it is an odd code of football. But for me, it was a triumphant way to finish the evening, although I did hear Jennifer muttering in the background… “Bill, I thought you promised me that if you walked the Camino, I’d never have to apologise for you again.”
We drove away from the Schlesinger’s house feeling like we were leaving old friends behind. The bond that the Camino forms, even across cyberspace, is palpably strong.
Then yesterday we drove out to Palm Springs to meet up with Steve and his former wife Jill. Steve had flown in from Houston specifically to introduce us to Jill who, like me, is more beautiful in the flesh than in photos.
Jill is a stunningly beautiful woman in every way – and she’s whip smart. So smart I began to wonder why she’d ever married Steve… (Steve, maaaaaate)… but once again, on meeting her I felt like I’d known her for years, because of this blog, and because I’d followed her adventures on her blog when she and Steve walked the Camino together last year, trying to figure out if they should stay together or not.
We then went to a very cool old styled hotel and had drinks around the pool. It was happy hour and we dutifully got happy. Jill told me this was where Sinatra and the Rat Pack used to hang out in the 50s and 60s.
They then took me on a tour of Palm Springs and showed me some extraordinary houses, owned by the rich and famous. Then we had a great dinner together and I discovered “misters.” Not misters as in misters and missuses – but tiny jets of water spray that make the desert air less dry.
Again we talked and talked – and Jill has indicated she wants to join us on the Assisi tour next year – which would be amazing.
Steve won’t come. He hates walking. And also, it might rain… and I can’t guarantee sunshine every day in Italy. My weather powers only reside on the Camino.
If I can now step to one side and make the observation here that in the several hours I was with them yesterday, they were cuddling each other and cooing and picking the parsley out of each others teeth and carrying on like damn teenagers. And they’ve just divorced.
I told them they’re the poster couple for those aspiring to an amicable divorce. Steve says he has no expectations – he takes each day as it comes – and he’s learnt that you never know what the future holds…
Personally I would not be surprised if one day they get back together again, but hey, I’m a romantic. They do make a beautiful couple though.
This photo below doesn’t do them justice. They are far more beautiful in the flesh than in photos… like me.
From Palm Springs Jennifer and I make our way north up into Washington State, where we’ll meet up with Lynda Lozner and her husband Dale.
Lynda has been active on this blog almost from the start – and I’m very excited to meet her and Dale. We’re going to have dinner at the Twin Peaks diner. And have a damn good cup of coffee and some cherry pie.
How cool is that?!