As fate would have it, the beginning of our Camino journey started with a new friendship immediately. On the train to St Jean Pied de Port we met Leticia (Brazil) and Dokona (PNG) who are a couple who live in Blackwood, Melbourne. A few years ago we celebrated Jason’s birthday at the Blackwood Mineral Springs caravan park so we were familiar with the area which was much to the surprise of our new friends as they’d never met people who knew where the area was. These two met over 8 years ago whilst in Bangalore (India) whist they were attending a teaching by the Dalai Lama. They fell in love and she eventually made the decision to move down to Melbourne. She is a lawyer turned yoga instructor and he is a counsellor for the Aboriginal community. They tell us this walk is both a spiritual journey for themselves but also a way to raise awareness and funds for the Victorian Aboriginal Health Centre which is likely to close down if they are unable to raise enough funds. Their global target (including for others who are trying to raise money) is $100,000, an amount which will guarantee the centre remain open for another 2 years. They are openly technophobes; do not own a TV, only purchased a smartphone a day before the walk which is also when they opened up an Instagram account (for keeping their fundraising sponsors updated). They also know they packed way too much, he’s carrying 18kg and she’s carrying about 9kg. I guess this journey will also be about getting rid of the excess baggage in their life (literally).
When we arrived at St Jean, we headed straight for the pilgrim’s office to register ourselves and pick up our pilgrims passport. This passport is to be presented at each hostel we stay out in order for them to place a stamp in it as evidence of our journey for that day.
Tonight we are staying at the municipal refuge. €10 in a clean 16 room dorm which includes shower, toilet and breakfast, couldn’t get more of a bargain!
We are so excited to start tomorrow, don’t think I’ll be able to sleep!