TRAVEL: BUSKING TO SANTIAGO DE COMPOSTELA

After seven months of virtual solitude our busking pilgrim, finally in Spain, yearns for company - and finds it

12 NOVEMBER

Two hundred and thirty days since I set off, and the strain's starting to show. The Santiago trail is a place to make friends for life. I do - then stop to go tromboning, and say goodbye. Time and again. Seven months is a long time to be alone, and each parting hurts more than the last. Bastian and Liesbeth whom I met in France, Jose and Melanie from Quebec, Beatriz from Madrid, Joachim the German, one after another. They're here to walk. I'm here to trombone. It hurts.

13 NOVEMBER

Reach Santo Domingo de la Calzada, alone, exhausted, sad. Stop at the cathedral, and suddenly feel better. Romanesque stonework, Gothic carved choir-stalls, Renaissance altarpiece (a fretsaw massacre) - and chickens. Two live chickens in a gilded cage, memorials to a saintly miracle.

I'm still staring when I hear music outside. Step out. Instantly accosted by a teenage girl. "Money!" Eh? "Fiestaaaaaa!!!!!" Hordes of youths run by, importuning allcomers. Then the band appears. They see my trombone. "Come and join in!" I'm soon jamming along to "Tequila" at 110 decibels.

It's the quintadas, a birthday party/pub-crawl for everyone in the area who turned 18 this year. Mission: a drink and a dance in every bar in town. Lots of bars in Santo Domingo. Dancing gets progressively less inhibited. Then, suddenly, all eyes are on me. "Guest star! A dance!" Right. Dance to "Scotland the Brave". Fast. Fifty Spanish teenagers attempt the Highland fling. My 18th was never like this.

When it's time to leave, handshakes from the guys, kisses from the girls. I'm presented with a "Quintadas 1999" neckerchief. And more kisses. Feel much better.

On across an empty landscape. In the distance appears a homeward-bound pilgrim. Comes closer. Stops. "You're Ben." Wow. "I've got a letter for you." Double wow. It's from Melanie. She's left a surprise for me in the next hostel. WOW. The miles fly by. As night falls I'm there. And so's she, opening the door. "Surprise!" Jose, Joachim, Beatriz are queuing up to hug me. "We missed you, so we waited." Words fail me. Tears don't. Like I said. Friends for life.

For more information on the charity trombone walk, visit the website at www. netplaycafe.co.uk/bonewalk

The Independent travel offers: Discover a world of inspiring destinations

News
peopleFrankie Boyle responds to referendum result in characteristically offensive style
Sport
Lewis Hamilton will start the Singapore Grand Prix from pole, with Nico Rosberg second and Daniel Ricciardo third
F1... for floodlit Singapore Grand Prix
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvHe is only remaining member of original cast
Arts and Entertainment
tvHighs and lows of the cast's careers since 2004
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Sport
Fans hold up a scarf at West Ham vs Liverpool
footballAfter Arsenal's clear victory, focus turns to West Ham vs Liverpool
New Articles
i100... she's just started school
News
news
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
New Articles
i100
Life and Style
Couples have been having sex less in 2014, according to a new survey
life
Arts and Entertainment
musicBiographer Hunter Davies has collected nearly a hundred original manuscripts
Sport
football
New Articles
i100... despite rising prices
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    IT Administrator - Graduate

    £18000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: ***EXCELLENT OPPORTUNITY FO...

    USA/Florida Travel Consultants £30-50k OTE Essex

    Basic of £18,000 + commission, realistic OTE of £30-£50k : Ocean Holidays: Le...

    Marketing Executive / Member Services Exec

    £20 - 26k + Benefits: Guru Careers: A Marketing Executive / Member Services Ex...

    Sales Account Manager

    £15,000 - £25,000: Recruitment Genius: A fantastic opportunity has arisen for ...

    Day In a Page

    Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

    Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

    Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
    Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

    Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

    The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
    The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

    Scrambled eggs and LSD

    Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
    'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

    'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

    Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
    Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

    New leading ladies of dance fight back

    How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
    Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

    A shot in the dark

    Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
    His life, the universe and everything

    His life, the universe and everything

    New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
    Reach for the skies

    Reach for the skies

    From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
    These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

    12 best hotel spas in the UK

    Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
    These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

    Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

    Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
    Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

    Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

    His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam