Francois, French. Los Arcos, Spain. April 25th 2011., originally uploaded by Hannah is a Palindrome.
WHO: Francois from France.
WHERE: Los Arcos Municipal Albergue, Spain.
SLEEPING PATTERN: Slept with one eye open, knowing that I would take his photograph. All I could get was this blurry one before he heard me.
This was FRANCOIS' third time walking the Camino. He's such an advocate, not only has he done it multiple times but it is actually the subject of his PHD. His enthusiasm for the Camino rubbed off on me enough to keep me walking about 15 more days than I had planned to. After his first Camino, he fell in love with the lifestyle of a pilgrim; getting everywhere by the power of his own two feet, so he packed his bag, grabbed his dog and set off from his town in France again. While he was walking simply for the sake of walking, he realised that without the Camino he wasn't seen as a pilgrim, but as a tramp. He estimates his boots have done about 4000km. Before we met, Eugene had actually described Francois to me as a French chef with a philosophy of no smoking and no alcohol during the Camino and a handsome smile that the ladies love. I think that could all be true.
When I asked Francois what he has learned about the Camino, he replied that it is religious for each person. To paraphrase: as everyone tends to search for something along the journey, whether for benediction or for oneself, the experience is made sacred by the symbolic value we give it. Although both the ideas of religion and 'finding oneself' make me equally sceptical, I can still see his point. There was something special about the simplicity of accomplishing distances each day; of surprising yourself with what you are capable of.
Francois was a really lovely guy who gave me a lot of good advice, good company and good snacks. I missed him when we parted ways.