There’s an article in The Guardian today about how the small towns of Spain were affected by COVID-19. Specifically, the writer explores Santo Domingo de la Calzada, a name familiar to most pilgrims of the Camino de Santiago. It’s worth a read.
This is the home of “the chicken church” — the cathedral known for the two live chickens that live inside — and a memorable stop along the Camino Francés. I’ve been there twice, once in 2015 and then again in 2017.
The coronavirus ravaged the town, where the fatality rate per capita seems to be twice as high as New York City’s. “People are still scared,” says a resident. “The truth is, we don’t know if life will ever be quite the same.”
Yesterday I did a Zoom call with a group of Camino enthusiasts in South Bend, Indiana. They had questions about my first trip across France and Spain.
How many people were there? How did we make reservations? Was it hard to find food or bathrooms?
I answered them all as well as I could (I love talking to these groups, and the chance to re-visit photos and stories), but there were times I felt myself getting stuck. I was full of caveats. Well, this is how it happened before… who know how will it happen now? Spain is re-opening, but the impact on the Camino remains unknown. What does social distancing look like among people who share so much and carry so little? But without it, how do towns like Santo Domingo rebuild?
I don’t have the answers. (Well, that’s a phrase I’ve needed to use a lot this week.) All I can do is wait, and continue to share the stories in the meantime.