This week’s theme: Companionable
One of the most memorable senses of companionship I have ever had the pleasure of having in my life to date was with the very special people I met when I did my pilgrimage across the north of Spain back in 1999, it also happened to be the 1000 year anniversary of the pilgrimage to the tomb of Saint James housed at the cathedral in Santiago de Compostela.
The first day I arrived in Pamplona at the pilgrim’s hostel the night before I began my 650 mile journey, I remember seeing the man in the above photo. It was several days before I would see him again and begin talking to him at one of the many hostels on the way that gave shelter to those walking the route, usually for a nominal donation. Little did I know on that first evening that this man was the reason I was there. Neither of us had intended to be where we were that night, we had both made other plans for our break away, but through some strange twist of events we both had changed plan at the last minute and decided to do this pilgrimage on the advice of family and friends.
It soon became clear that we were to share this journey from beginning to end, and for good reason. We had a lot to talk about, we had much in common. Born on the same day though seven years apart, both with Spanish family from the same part of Spain, though were both a long way from home. We sang the same songs, had read the same books. We had both had the same dream two years previous that had told us things only we both knew, having never told anyone else. And we both knew that we would meet. He not only sang, as I did, but he was a writer too, amongst all of the very uncanny similarities between us. Dani was like my male counterpart, my twin in no uncertain terms. Two peas in a pod.
I remember he wore an Indiana Jones-style hat when he was out on the trail, and it wasn’t long before he earned the nick-name Indiana Muñoz. I shared my very religious experience with this man, and the wonderful people that we had adopted along the way. Our little group was like a comet blazing along the length of the milky way, with Dani and me at its centre setting the pace, telling the jokes, and entertaining everyone with our songs and stories.
I remember when we arrived at Santiago Cathedral 26 days later, the day after we had attended the special pilgrim’s mass in celebration of the 1000 year jubilee. For the long while that we sat in front of the altar on the ancient marble floor almost in pride of place, we looked at each other through tears of joy and relief and we both knew that this place belonged to us. It was a moment that I shall treasure and remember forever.
I haven’t seen Dani for many years, although I still have his walking stick that he had picked up along the way. It lives next to my own.
Here’s to all the special companions in our lives, be they people, places, objects, books, songs. Whatever it is that makes you smile and fills your heart with love.