Communal living means constant and close proximity with others, often strangers. In our last installment of Awkward Camino Moments, Justin tells, perhaps, the most awkward moment of the entire journey. Enjoy!
Staying in albergues (pilgrim specific hostels) can lead to some awkward moments. Especially since there is often very little privacy to be had. During our last week on the Camino, Patrick and I had joined up with friends, Michael and Matthew Turner a few days prior. After a long day, we rolled into town and the search for lodging began. We found an albergue and hauled our packs and my chair into a room that had six beds. We took four of them and the remaining two were soon occupied by a couple other pilgrims. As the evening drew to night, the six of us all went to bed.
On any given morning some pilgrims will rise before the sun to beat the heat. This was definitely the case for one of our new friends. Our Dutch roommate, named Coen, rose long before the sun and began to putter around the room, gathering his clothes and packing his backpack, trying his best to be quiet. If I was staying in a room with five complete strangers I would probably chose to get ready for the day with some clothes on...
Not Coen, as he went about his business, he did so completely naked. Hearing shuffling in our room, I opened my eyes to see his stark white buttocks staring back at me as he bent over and stuffed his clothes into his backpack. It was like twin moons hovering over the horizon that was our tile floor. As startling as this was to wake up to, things were about to get a whole lot more uncomfortable. Coen then proceeded to walk over to my bottom bunk and unplug his phone that was charging in the outlet next to my bed.
Less than a foot from my head, Coen stood facing me while checking his phone. He was so focused on his phone he had no idea how close he was to me. The only way I could avoid staring at Coen’s junk was to close my eyes. But he was so close, I was afraid to do so.
As I tried to shift my way back in bed to avoid Coen and all his glory, he noticed I was awake.
Smiling, he just looked at me and whispered the standard pilgrim’s greeting, “Buen Camino.”
As he turned to finish his packing, I whispered back, “Buen Camino?”