I have a younger brother. His name is Bob, he’s eighteen months younger than me, and we’re very close. Always have been.
Yesterday he and his son Rupert walked into Roncesvalles, having just completed the first stage of their Camino Frances.
It’s a remarkable achievement for both of them, because Bob has had some medical concerns in the past, and Rupert is still recovering from an horrific accident in which a speedboat propeller nearly severed his foot.
When I was talking about walking the Camino, several years ago now, I tried to get Bobby interested. I suggested that we both do the pilgrimage together. He wasn’t interested. He said it would kill him. So I did the walk on my own.
And then his son Rupert one day watched The Way, the Martin Sheen film. And everything suddenly changed. He urged Bob to watch the film, and together they then began to talk about walking the Camino together.
I knew Bob was serious when he phoned one day to say he’d bought boots.
And then he started haunting Katmandu sales, and calling me up asking me about mid layers, and SIM cards in Spain, and whether Osprey was better than Deuter etc.
I knew the signs. He was gone. He’d been bitten by the Camino bug, and there was no stopping him.
Bob is a vet in Brisbane, Queensland. He has his own very successful practice, and he was able to juggle his schedule so he could take some time off. Rupert has just been accepted into Medical school, and so this is a period before he starts to knuckle down and bury himself in text books for the next six or seven years.
At 3 am this morning I couldn’t sleep because of jet lag, and also because I’d been thinking about them all night, wondering how they were going. Because they’d both been so busy, they hadn’t trained much and I was worried about them. Also I was concerned about Rupert, and his foot.
So on the off chance that he might answer, I called Bob’s mobile. And he answered. They’d just arrived in Roncesvalles and Bob sounded so happy. I hadn’t heard him sound that happy in years.
He and Rupert had made it over the Pyrenees, and while he said he was tired and sore, he said they could both go home tomorrow and feel that they’d achieved something majorly significant.
And they have.
I’ve always said that the Camino infuses you with a special energetic magic that washes away past traumas – physical and psychological.
I love them both dearly, and I’m so proud of them.
Buen Camino Bobby!!