There are people you come across on the Camino that stand out for different reasons. Some are funny, others able to get a social gathering going despite language, others for their sheer determination.
Two people have stood out for me so far. Patrick and Albert.
I call Patrick, “The French Machine.” He is 72 years of age and started walking somewhere in the south of France. The thing with Patrick he is so fast. I have tried to keep up with him, watched his stride and how he uses his walking poles. I have tried different techniques but to no avail, he will inevitably disappear into the distance with a cheery “Bien Camino”as he passes.
He usually does not start until after a breakfast so I have a head start on him but he has usually caught up to me within 2 – 3 hours. Apparently he told someone he does not like walking!
Today I did not see him until I arrived at the day’s destination.
The other thing about Patrick is he will help anyone. In his pack he has an excellent medical kit which he has open when other pilgrims need help, particularly with their feet.
Today he was a life saver, all the rooms at our destination were full and there was not likely to be accommodation available for another 7 kms. My body was not going any further after 8 hours walking in the heat. Patrick knew where there were rooms available at a hotel – that is all we needed to know!
My second hero is Albert from Amsterdam. A very affable person who had time between jobs to walk from St Jean to Leon. Very early on Albert teamed up with two pilgrims from South Africa who were struggling with injuries. As a team they have made incredible kilometres. When I thought that there was no way they would make the destination they were aiming for that day, there they would turn up – and not long after me! Albert would be an encourager, translator, and conversationalist.
Sadly Leon is looming and Albert will be leaving.
It was Albert who found the hotel Patrick had mentioned and negotiated the price.
To Patrick and Albert, Salut!
In the picture, Patrick is the gentleman on the left and Albert on the right.
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