• Morgan Fagg

Camino into Hell

A friend was doing a charity Camino around Spain and contacted me at a few stages to get the lay of the land. What followed was a Camino from hell, that sounded like the Fall of Saigon.

I hate to use the Fall of Saigon or any war reference at all but my generation is not used to the mayhem that can happen when an airline collapses or a country closes down and the fact that my friend had internet and data makes his story quite different from what happened in Saigon.

A more geographical reference might be the Spanish Civil War and certainly in his Facebook post, Paul Taggart ends up meeting La Guardia Civil, Spain's oldest law enforcement agency that covers the whole country.

This military force is charged with police duties and Paul met their officers riding horses.

My father used to tell me, “There are many ways to enter Spain” which is a reference to the Spanish Civil War where people could just walk into Spain. The reference is about crossing the Pyrenees in Spain where Republican rebel forces could pick you up when you arrived.

Ireland had people fighting on both sides of the conflict but Paul Taggart found himself in a hostile land where hostels were closing and tourists weren’t welcome.

Personally, Paul shared some wonderful stories of hospitality where he was taken care of by some locals when he injured himself and had to rest but Covid-19 has created a sort of civil war where people in Wexford don’t want Dubliners spreading the disease to their Summer homes at Easter time and other countries have been very hostile to tourism spreading Coronavirus too.

Paul would message me and ask what the news was saying and I kept advising him to get a move on as buses could stop or their schedules become sporadic and hostiles could close before he arrived at his destination.

At one stage I had to ask him how long it would take him to walk to a city if the buses closed.

Caught behind enemy lines, Paul hadn’t brought his driving license to Spain as he was doing a charity Camino and became dependent on public transport when he couldn’t continue his Camino.

For those of you unfamiliar with a Camino, it is a religious pilgrimage that is on my list of things to do in Spain where people walk between a hundred and thousand kilometres along pilgrim trails which have various resting spots and hostiles to stay in.

There are many ways to enter Spain but Paul arrived when people were exiting Madrid and Spain was preparing for a shutdown. Flights and transport became harder and harder and Paul had to wait hours waiting for buses which did come and all the time I kept texting him to keep in touch with family and the embassy and to make sure people knew where he was.

Paul made it back to Ireland in the end and raised a €1,000 for charity along the way.

Money that is needed now more than ever as Coronavirus has put a halt to a lot of fundraising efforts. Covid-19 hasn’t deterred his hope of completing his charity Camino but for now, I’m guessing he will be happy to rest his legs and knees for the journey ahead.

You can read Paul's post here.

LIFESAVER: That's a lot of lifesaving water Paul. Visit https://wellsforzoe.org for more info.

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