The last several days have made me decide that you need to hear 'the other side'.
The other night during dinner, Billy grabs my foot under the table and squeezes it and scares the everloving daylights out of me. Completely unable to act nonchalant about it, I gasp and give him a look and say, "what on earth are you attacking my foot for?" He says, "I can't believe it! Pendulum is at the next table!"
I knew exactly what he was saying and I glanced over to see the man in question. Last year, when Billy walked the Camino his first time, he came upon a guy who was consulting a pendulum regarding every move he made. Where should he spend the night? Ask the pendulum and follow the swing. What should he have for dinner? Ask the pendulum to point out the correct menu items. He even got very upset when he followed a woman's advice over his pendulum's answer and all did not turn out as he would have liked.
So here he was, sitting at the next table! And talking to his new dinner companions about his pendulum. How on earth did he end up in the same albergue with Billy on year two!?
That was a few days ago. We saw him again today, under even more bizarre circumstances. He walked in to the same cafe as 'Crystal'...
When walking the Camino, we play a bit of a hopscotch / leapfrog game with people. Everyone is on the same road, but we leave at different times, we rest at different places, we walk at different speeds...so you end up seeing people over and over again as you pass each other during the day or as you stop to rest in the same towns, etc.
For the last couple of days, we have been paralleling a woman who has both baffled and frightened me. The first time I saw her, she was walking an irratic s-pattern down the trail, stopping every few meters to state at the sky or to shake her arms at an invisible something, or to spin in a circle with her palms up and her head back. Honestly, my first thought was drugs. My second was mental illness. She also mumble talks to herself or to something. When we saw someone pass her, she waved her arms in a strange motion and said something in their direction. So, she freaked me out a little. With her outburst toward others when they passed, plus the thought that maybe we were looking at drugs or mental illness, I was a little nervous about passing her on a trail that is two feet wide. But pass her, we must. So I said a little prayer of protection and then she really freaked me out! When I prayed (quietly and at a distance of many meters), she stopped dead in her tracks and faced us head on in the middle of the trail. Whoa. She starts her stuff again. So I do it again and again she immediately turns toward us. Okay...I'm a lot freaked out now. Billy says a prayer silently and she ducks her head and turns her back to us and stands off to the side of the trail, but won't face us. We pass and go on our way. Its then that we notice that she has crystals in her hands and a black ball / orb. Okay. Now we know a little more about what we're dealing with .. the whole thing is more than a bit freaky.
The nature of the Camino being what it is, we have hopscotched and leapfrogged 'Crystal' for two days now. She acts even more nervous about us now than she did yesterday. Once, she saw us coming and literally ran off the trail and across a country highway! I really would be nice to her and try to have a conversation if she would stand still long enough, but she acts like we are hot potatoes and she takes off when she sees us.
She came to a cafe where we were having coffee today. She put down her crystals and her orb thing and turned to go order, but when she saw us, she grabbed her stuff and announced that she couldn't stay. And off she went. I asked another couple if they knew what her story was (as they are also leapfrogging the same parallel path with us) and they were as mystified as I am, only to say that she told them yesterday that she deals with energy on the Camino.
Tonight, we are staying in a home in a quaint village that looks like some precious alpine hamlet from medieval times. The owner was so nice and so gracious when we arrived, and she sent us immediately to the showers and to bed to recover. When we woke up, we found a key to the house tied to our door with a note that said, "go to a restaurant and enjoy your night...We'll see you later or tomorrow morning." such hospitality. Upon heading out for dinner, I noticed plates of crystals laying around. Then I noticed books on reading Tarot cards. Then the Buddha statue met us in the hallway.
I tell you these things so that you will have a clearer picture of what is on The Camino. There are some who walk for religious reasons. Some walk for adventure. Some walk for grief or loss. And some are out here doing whatever it is that they think might bring them peace and enlightenment.
May the real Truth and Love and Peace find those who are searching.