-“Where are you from?”, he asks in a familiar and soft twang, rounded at the ends.
-“Quebec, Canada”, I say.
-“From America then”, he replies, innocently.
I feel like a little banter…
-“No, from CANADA”
Banter quietly acknowledged, let the inter-American playful teasing begin!
“Americans”, as in our cousins to the South, often take a real pleasure in this type of friendly teasing. I don’t mind joining in, especially when it is immediately clear it’s coming from a kind place.
Jeremiah was preparing dinner for 10 other pilgrims when we met in the albergue kitchen of Ledigos. He was part of a group of people who all met on the road and seemed to be sharing tasks and duties.
Whilst many basked in the afternoon sun or wet their feet in the pool (a rare occurrence on the Camino, and therefore that much more appealing), he cooked two impressively large batches of potato soup, one for vegetarians and the other with some chorizo, kindly offering others in the kitchen a taste – yum, by the way.
As the communal kitchens leave little chance of, …well, not being communal, you often learn quite a lot about your fellow hungry caminadores.
Between the chopped tomatoes and tears of the onion peel, I learned that Jeremiah currently had about 60 euro to his name and it had to last him until he makes his way via thumb and bravado to Lisbon once he gets to Santiago. As the garlic stung my fingers, he laughed off the time he spent two weeks with a meager 20 euro in his pockets “…but I had the best time, I met so many wonderful people”. As I am myself discovering, simplicity really does leave a lot of room for amazing things to happen.
Jeremiah, originally from Kentucky, has been travelling in Europe for almost six months. He left the States with 103 dollars and seems to have made the very most of the little he had, with some luck, some good fate and what seems to be a generally positive and happy outlook on life.
On one seemingly lower day, in the cold rain of Dublin, he made a chance meeting with a local and explained his slight predicament (needing somewhere to stay and possibly a way to replenish the travel funds). The next day he had a job, a roof over his head and a reason to show his contagious smile once more.
“You go to school, you get a job and then these things pass you by. I read about the Camino 10 years ago when I was in college and put it on my list of things to do.”
He may have put the idea on the shelve for a decade, but he’s here now, walking 800KM to Santiago!
As I continue the Way in these still early days of my “no plan, plan”, I am again reminded, in that familiar and homely accent, that you don’t need much to do a lot… And that sometimes, a bit of playful banter and a smile will suffice!