Saturday, September 23, 2006

Camino Celebs #3: Surprise Reunion

This morning, a few kilometres outside Boadilla del Camino, I was deep in conversation with a German girl named Annabell when we were approached by an elderly gentleman who took his hat off and tried to sell us some Camino souvenir pins.

As I began to politely say no, a light went on in my head: Boadilla, old man greeting pilgrims, cheeky smile. The lightning bolt flash of déjà vu was instant. But I needed confirmation.

I noticed the man was wearing a gold name tag normally worn by Amigos de Peregrinos association members but it was partially covered by his jacket. I asked him what his name was.

He revealed his name tag and bingo! It was Alejandro Sandoval Ortega, also known (at least by me) as Alexander the Great.

I reminded Alejandro that we had met 3 years before on my first Camino and told him of our conversation that day. He beamed from ear to ear and complimented me on my memory. When I got to the part of the story about how he had asked us to write our name and country of origin in his notebook, he produced the said article and waved it above his ahead with pride saying "Yes, that was me. One and the same."

I discovered that Alejandro has been walking this patch of territory for 5 years (since 2001) and that he has collected more than 25 notepads of pilgrims' names in that time.

Bubbling with enthusiasm at being remembered after several years by a pilgrim from Australia (always the farthest point on the planet for Europeans!), he told me that earlier this year he'd been filmed by a Spanish film crew as he was doing his rounds and had appeared on Spanish national TV in March.

I guess now that Alejandro has made his TV debut, we can truly call him a Camino celeb.

¡Buen camino Alejandro!

I hope you will be greeting weary pilgrims into Boadilla for many years to come with your truly memorable smile.

What are your thoughts? Share your views & experiences below.


Anonymous said...

Dear John,
Happy to hear you are meeting few old Camino friends. When will you meet again your old friends back home? Anyway, enjoy your Camino; we all know that at the moment you are having a wonderful time in Spain. Please, take care. Love. Francesco

John said...

Hi Francesco
I'll be home soon enough. I've just passed the halfway mark and as I write this am in the town of Sahagun. Ahead lie two mountain crossings and a region known for its rain and mud.
Happy days ahead!!
Much love