Joaquin from Spain
Short post about one of our favorite Camino pilgrims, Joaquin. He has one of the coolest names I think and is just one of the nicest guys you could ever meet. We first met him in the albergue verde in Hospital. That was the town right after the ½ kilometer cobblestone bridge that took us about 30 minutes to get across. Cobblestones are Debs arch enemy.
On our way into the town, right before we got to the bridge we stopped and had a drink and a little bit of a charge in a bar. That was where we met Elvi from Ireland. I really enjoyed talking to her because of my infatuation with pretty girls with Irish accents. We also met a girl who was walking the Camino with her mother.
While we were talking the couple with the website Love on the Camino, who Hayden had talked to a few times came in and were talking about the albergue verde. This is probably all in my other post and of course once again I got off topic. Sometimes I think I write like Nuke Laloosh pitches, sorta all over the place. Anyway while we were at albergue verde with Elvi and the Love on the Camino couple, we met Joaquin.
He was traveling the Camino again, this time on a bike. He had already walked some of it but felt that he wasn’t done yet so he bought a second hand bike and took off for some more. He told us once that he got into an albergue one time only because he didn’t look like a biker. Usually the albergues won’t let bikers in until after 6 to make sure all the walkers are in first. I thought that wasn’t fair until one of the bikers told me it’s because if there are no beds it is so much easier for a biker to go another 10 km than for a walker. Well Joaquin I think was in O’
Cebrero and had checked into the albergue there and paid and got his credential stamped. He asked where to store his bike and the hospetelero looked at him funny. Joaquin had totally forgotten that sometimes they wouldn’t let bikers in there. But he had already paid and it turned out there was plenty of room.
Joaquin had planned on leaving the Camino for some time to go down to Southern Spain but was having too much fun he said. He told me several times that when it stopped being fun, that was when he would turn South. So everytime I saw him after that I always commented on him having fun.
The next time we saw him was at the albergue in Astorga. That was the one where they took Deb and I in through the service entrance it looked like. There was a ramp leading down to a damp basement but we could get in and were put into a room by ourselves. There were about 20 beds in there and I thought we got lucky. Of course a couple of hours later when we went to the room, there were 18 other people in there. It was still a good night though, no snorkers. Well when we were going to the kitchen that evening there was Joaquin parking his bike down the ramp.
We didn’t see him again for about a week I think, it was some time after O’Cebrero, we were walking down this little road with the Camino on the side. We were going down a hill when this biker passed us and hit the brakes. He came back up the hill happy to see us. But he was always happy when we saw him. That was part of what made him so endearing to us. He had such a good outlook on life and things in general. He made the most of everything and had a good time in all he did. That sounds like I’m talking about him in the past tense but he is alive and well, just not here now, he finally went South. Well when he came back up the hill he walked with us for a couple of km down the hills. For a biker to do that is saying something, they work hard getting up the hills for the joy of the downhill and he walked a chunk of his downhill with us so he could talk with us. Most people think we go too slow even for walking, I know we are slow for bikers. But Deb has a big biker fan base. We have had several come up and talk to us and several even get emotional that she is doing the Camino.
That was the last we figured we would see of Joaquin especially with him on a bike, but the last day we were in Santiago, we were cutting up a little side street to get back to the last stamp albergue and there he was cutting down the same little street. We were so happy to see him again. We talked for a few minutes and told about Quinn being in Vittoria and maybe going to Bilboa. Joaquin said he may be going that direction and gave us his phone number, said if Quinn needed anything to give him a call.
Now here comes the amazing part. Two days later I get a what’s app message from Joaquin. It is a selfie of him and Quinn together. Here’s what it said “Hi Carl! Look who I found!!
Then a picture of the two of them smiling at the camera.
“We just started talking and he said he was going to Milan…And I started laughing…First guy I spoke with in Bilbao and it was your son!”
“Hope all is well and best of luck for the rest of the trip”
“It was a pleasure meeting all of you”
This just totally blew my mind. I realized that the Camino was a small world but this was just too much. We had seen almost everyone we knew from the Camino while we were in Santiago but what are the chances that one of our favorites would even see the son who wasn’t even anywhere near the Camino. The chances are astronomical.