Friendships form quickly, and at times, intensely on the Camino. Today I had lunch with Alex and Monika, a young couple we met our first night on the Camino. We have shared several meals together and each time Alex remained rather quiet and a bit shy. Today he said he would tell me a story. Let’s see if I can retell it.
Alex was born in Russia and moved to Germany at age ten. His family was granted German citizenship because his ancestor was part of Catherine the Great’s entourage when the young princess was sent to Russia to marry Peter III in the 18th century. Fast forward…When things went south, Alex’ ancestors were banished to Siberia.
As a lad, Alex’s family suffered the privation that was common to everyone in his village. He remembers his first sweet. It was a Snickers bar that arrived from a relative in Germany. His mother cut it into four equal pieces and the family shared it. Alex said he still remembers the taste of his first Snickers. He kept the wrapper and would often smell it just to enjoy the scent of chocolate. Curiously, the children in his village traded candy wrappers the way Americans trade baseball cards.
Note: Three years ago Alex met Monica on the Camino. Next week they will be married in the cathedral in Santiago.
Such are the stories pilgrims hear on the Camino.