Villava into Pamplona
Wednesday, 5 October, 2016
That previous evening in Villava, it struck me that I had not seen one single pilgrim in six days of walking on the Camino de Baztan, from Bayonne. Considering how difficult it is to find solitude in this crowded world, I over-achieved.
The next day I set off to stroll the remaining six kilometres into Pamplona, and true to recent form, I got rather lost. I was standing at an intersection, probably looking bemused, when a man came up to me and, without any questions on his part, said that if I was a pilgrim looking for the path, he would show me the way.
We walked together for more than an hour. He said that he was taking food to his daughter and grandchild. He noticed my limp and I told him of my stroke ten years previously.
It turned out that he had had an identical stroke to mine, a cerebral haemorrhage. His was in August 2005, mine in November of that year.
He lost memory and speech, as did I, and his sight was affected, as was mine. At the time he had his stroke he was still quite fit, running marathons and cycling. My story is similar.
The big difference between his experience and mine was that he was operated on twice to remove the blood clot, and he subsequently made a full recovery.
While we walked, we talked about a wide range of subjects – children, love, religion, nature, food, wine and many more. It was like talking to a twin brother.
And he even has a small vegetable plot in Asturias, similar to mine in Uppsala.
When we arrived at the Magdalena bridge, the ancient bridge over the river into historic Pamplona, he shook my hand and left me without a further word, apart from ‘buen camino’.
I wanted to stop him.
But he did not look back.