The mountain pass was difficult but mystical. Yellow arrows marked the path. We set into an unsteady rhythm with the creaks of muscles and bones unaccustomed to the weight, the daily distances, and the diet.

We felt hungry always and ate without remorse. We went to grocery stores and markets in groups and split the cost of picnic lunches. We shared food as naturally as if nourishing each other’s bodies nourished our own.

The camino pains began on the first day and multiplied each day after. The “bad day” was something we passed around like an object that first week, each of us nearly buckling under the weight of new pain and doubts while the other pilgrims helped to prop us up.

Word traveled that a pilgrim we knew had been injured and forced to return home. We mourned like it was all of us who had been sent home, fueled by the fear that it actually could have been any of us. It was cruel that there were injuries that all the determination in the world couldn’t hike through.