The best part of walking the Camino is having good travel companions. It helps you deal with the physical stress of walking 10-20 miles a day, sometimes in pretty unpleasant weather. Most pilgrims pick up traveling companions along the way. That's what Gentry and I did last year, and we formed lasting friendships with people from all over the world. This year, I came with a group, which is a new experience for me. I wasn't sure if it work out, but so far so good!
If you're going to walk in a group, finding things to talk and laugh about is critical for success. It helps if the members of your group share the same interests and/or sense of humor. I'm happy to report that things are going very well for us in this area.
I could tell you all the things that we've cracked up about on our walks, but I think the humor would be lost to those who aren't walking with us. I've been vastly entertained by singing, dancing, impersonations, goofy faces, and the kinds of inside jokes that only the members of our group would understand. For example, in Melide we had churros con chocolate at a place called Cafe STOP. Since then, every time someone needs to shed a rain jacket or drink some water, they holler "cafe stop!" You're probably thinking "why the heck is that funny?", and I couldn't tell you why, but we laugh every time.
I honestly did not expect to have this much fun with a group, mostly because there are so many of us and the chances of having fun lessen with the number of people involved. Additionally, students don't always think of a professor as someone who is capable of being or having fun, so they are more reserved. Finally, this is no walk in the park. We've been doing some pretty grueling physical labor on this trip. So far, we've walked over 100km in the rain with our worldly goods strapped to our backs. We have climbed many hills, and although we arrived in Santiago today, we have two more days of arduous walking before us. It's not always the easiest thing to maintain a sense of humor when your feet hurt and you have another five kilometers to go, but this is a good group of pilgrims. We're having an amazing time, and tomorrow the laughs will continue on the road from Fisterra to Muxia.