The next morning I was out and about before the break of dawn. Normally it is my preferred mode of walking; walking for an hour or two and then having breakfast while watching the sunrise. When I walked the camino 2 years ago it was the perfect way to have the roads all to myself - and I do love watching that glorious orange ball rise above the horizon.
But being a holy year; as I'd suspected and feared; the roads were full already at five in the morning. I was the first out, but at breakfast I was passed by several groups.
And by the time I reached the first open café for my morning coffee the road was full of pilgrims. It was a rainy day and the café was damp, not to warm and full of people like it was a saturday night at a semisuccessful local pub.
The Dutch guys. I never caught their names, but we met just about every day for weeks. In the end I left them behind as the wife started struggling with tendentious. I advised them to take a few short days - and I guess they did, because I never saw them again.
The married couple had the best trolley-system I've seen on the road. They 'shared' the burdens but if I should trust my observations he was dragging that trolley about 90% of the time. As it should be.
On the camino, as in 'real life', there is a big difference between traveling alone and traveling as a couple or in a group. On your lonesome it seems easy to get new friends - and when you travel with other people it is not that easy. Even if you fight that tendency not to approach others, to be happy in the company you have, others will be more hesitant to approach you, you won't have as much in common and no matter how flexible you & your traveling partner(s) are you'll be less likely to adjust your travelingschedule to spend time with someone you found interesting.
Along the way, in churches and refugios you will find small fliers giving advice of varying quality. Here's a couple I found on my way to Zubiri:
Our Father for Pilgrims
Our Father who is on our way, may your breath come to us
And watch over us pilgrims, your will be done
In the heat as it is in the cold, assist us in our weakness
As we assist those who falter on the way
Lead us not into heartbrake, and deliver us from all evil.
The Beatitudes of the Pilgrim
1- Blessed are you pilgrim, if you discover that the "camino" opens your eyes to what is not seen.
2- Blessed are you pilgrim, if what concerns you is not to arrive, as to arrive with others.
3- Blessed are you pilgrim, when you contemplate the "camino" and you discover it is full of names and dawns.
4- Blessed are you pilgrim, because you have discovered that the authentic "camino" begins when it is completed.
5- Blessed are you pilgrim, if your knapsack is emptying of things and your heart does not know where to hang up so many feelings and emotions.
6- Blessed are you pilgrim, if you discover that one step back to help another is more valuable than a hundred forward without seeing what is at your side.
7- Blessed are you pilgrim, when you don´t have words to give thanks for everything that surprises you at every twist and turn of the way.
8- Blessed are you pilgrim, if you search for the truth and make of the "camino" a life and of your life a "way", in search of the one who is the Way, the Truth and the Life.
9- Blessed are you pilgrim if on the way you meet yourself and gift yourself with time, without rushing, so as not to disregard the image in your heart.
10- Blessed are you pilgrim, if you discover that the "camino" holds a lot of silence; and the silence of prayer; and the prayer of meeting with the Father who is waiting for you.
The refugio was full; and it was getting increasingly rainy so I took a private room. That was one of two times I did that until I reached Santiago.
It's not just about the money - on the parish and municipal refugios you meet a lot of interesting people. You meet a bit less in the private refugios, and when you have a private room you meet practically nobody. (I think - although I experience admittedly is narrow and lightweight.)
Unless you are a true catholic believer there is no reason to do the Camino Santiago if not to meet people. You can be spiritual anywhere, you can travel a whole year in Norway for 125€. With that said, the infrastructure on the Camino Frances is impressive. You can walk from hotel to hotel and from restaurant to restaurant without ever carrying more than a sandwich in your 4-5 kilo backpack. (Although, if I was doing some luxury version of the camino, I guess I would send my luggage aswell. No reason not to travel with 15 or 20 kilos if you're being a tourist anyway.)
From my room. Another example of the spanish style of sexy kitch art.