Sunday, 17 August 2008

To greet or not to greet

The closer you get to Santiago the more pilgrims there are on the road. To qualify for a compostela walkers must walk at least 100km, cyclists ride 200km. And as we enter Galicia on the last leg, mid-morning pilgrim density has now reached over 50 per km on the road, particularly in the vicinity of bars and albergues, which makes the problem of whether or not to say hola quite acute. For the first km we try to say hello to everyone. After that you get more selective. Locals always get acknowledged, as do pilgrims going the wrong way, but everyone else has to be assessed. If they make eye contact first your options are limited; say hi or appear rude. If they don't see you coming you have to decide whether to initiate contact. Our rules of thumb are: never on a hill (because you'll end up saying hi at least 5 more times), noone with a camera poised (we'll blog about that later), and try not to encourage conversation with anyone with two clacking metal trekking poles or a bandana. It's either that or take a vow of silence. Hmmmmm.

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