An Ode to the amaWalkers Group
We had two married couples who got on really well and who were a great delight.
Our senior citizen was Roy, a musical chap who carried and played his large and small organs (which were often the butt of risqué jokes and innuendos!) He even entertained us and other diners in Santiago by playing the grand piano in the Casino Restaurant – once the domain of gentlemen only.
His wife Kay is a bubbly, happy, cheerful Aussie who enjoyed her beers and even a Spanish version of a frosty, slush-puppy Guinness.
Charles was quieter but became the story teller in the group and after a Brandy and coke responded to the pleas of the younger ladies by regaling them with tales of his shipwreck off the Seychelles and his many canoeing escapades.
His wife Barbara was our poet and mystic who spread calm and serenity and off the road. Excepting one night when Charles suggested they share a top or bottom bunk. (She put his daring suggestion down to the number of beers he had that day!)
Linda was our wild child – setting the pace by walking alone from St Jean Pied de Port the day before we arrived in Roncesvalles and also doing a solo hike up to O Cebreiro when we all got the taxi up the hill for breakfast.
Janet – the only US member of the group – was our invaluable translator of menus and notices stuck on doors, and telephone-whizz who was able to call hotels, taxis and transfer companies on our behalf. She learned the 12 South African slang words given to her and delivered an amusing speech all about ‘kak hills’ and ‘vrot rocks’ ‘blerry blisters’ and ‘lekker’ food. She is an Honorary South African with a badge to prove it.
Kim Francis was our morning song bird who woke up singing a Yoga tune, laughing and smiling like a breath of fresh air all along the Camino.
Sally, her roomie, was the quieter one, often comparing herself (mostly her aches and pains) with everyone else’s. Sally proved to herself that she is stronger than she thought she was.
Kathy was our girl scout, always in front, forging up or down the mountains and arriving first at the town or village, sussing out the easiest route to our overnight accommodation and then sending directions ahead.
Rayna, her roomie, was the carer on the team, always ready with a travel sick pill or a blister plaster when a pilgrim was in need.
Carole and Kim – our Jo’burg girls – skipped and ran, hopped and giggled their way across the Camino often surprising us by dashing past us and leaping into the air just ahead of us like Springboks!! They trekked an extra 70km up and down the Cebreiro hills like two gazelles and sent an sms to Syl, “Thank you for giving us our wings (angel wings) for this wonderful walk!”
Eugenie, Syl’s roomie, went from walking 0km to hiking 30km and surprised everyone (including herself) by setting the pace, often leaving the younger women behind in her dust.
Syl was the planner and organiser who made sure everyone had a bed at night, a meal and someone to help cart their heavy baggage to the next overnight stop. She was often the sweeper and made sure that no-one was left on the road.
Pami spent 9 days on the Camino with the group. Unfortunately she had to leave us to return home when her sister became critically ill in Cape Town. But, she left us with her deep spirituality and love of the Camino, making sure that she was in our thoughts and hearts as we continued on without her.