Walking The Camino: The Police of Nájera

Christine shakes me awake. I have finally fallen asleep to the sound of rain and thunder, courtesy of an app on my phone. My extra shirt is wrapped tightly around my head, blocking every potential beam of light that threatened to keep me from my beauty rest. As a terribly soft sleeper these are necessary steps when I sleep in a hostel, and even then I barely manage more than a few hours of shut eye. Between creaking bunks and snoring comrades, sleep is often beyond my feeble reach.

I wake disappointed that my rest was so short, but I immediately perk up. The police are here, at the municipal albergue of Nájera. It's 12:34am and all the lights are on. I assume this isn't a social call. 

They are talking with a friendly Dutchman one bunk over, a bearded giant who I overheard had walked all the way from the Netherlands. They exchange some words and shortly after he is escorted out without incident. A nearby woman shoots some snide remark his way as he leaves, a clue to just how this story may have began.

The lights go out, whispers die down, and everyone gets back to their well-earned rest. Until we hear shouting. 

"Help me! Help me! Somebody help me!" 

It's the Dutchman and he has decided to resist arrest. Sort of.

The shouting grows intense and we all assume he is being beaten. People rush out to his aide, ready for a fight. He isn't being beaten, though. He has, however, perhaps enjoyed a tad too much of that affordable Spanish wine. Eventually he is dragged away, much to his angry disappointment, and we are all left to put the pieces together.

So I did. 

Turns out the man had a wee bit too much to drink and decided the 10pm curfew was more of a suggestion then a rule. A rather displeased woman thought such anarchy inappropriate and they had a disagreement. The police were called and the man was taken away.  

The End, I suppose. Chances are the story is more complicated — they often are — but it made me think.

During this whole ordeal one pilgrim was shouting at all of us, trying to rally a defence of the drunken-ish Dutchman.

"He is just a pilgrim! We are all just pilgrims!"  

He shouted it a few times, an attempted rallying cry, but eventually quieted down as the police made it clear they were taking their man. I pondered. 

We are not just pilgrims. None of us here on the Camino are just pilgrims — we are all far more, for better or for worse. We all have histories and baggage; we're all the sum of a million different thoughts and a million different actions – every day. Hell, every moment! The Dutchman was not just a pilgrim: he was a pilgrim AND a man breaking the curfew AND a man who maybe had too much wine. Though, I admit, that's hardly grounds for arrest.

So yeah, we are all pilgrims. But we are so much more, too. 

The 90 bed dorm in Nájera. 

The 90 bed dorm in Nájera.