Day 18: Mortara to Gropello Cairoli

What an epic day. This morning we got kicked out of the abbey quite early so hit the road at 7.30am. The weather was nice and the path pretty even and simple.

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We walk on for ten kilometres, which is supposed to be half way to the next village and two fifths of today’s journey. After stopping for a pick nick (with the steak sandwiches from yesterday) in the shade, however, we reach Tromello in just another 30 minutes. We decide that means we’ll walk further than originally planned. So we enter Tromello and want to stop for a coke in a bar where there seem to be a thousand people and no seats. It’s a bank holiday. Everyone’s on the streets. By the way, that’s something I really like about Italy. Everybody is always outside, spending time with others, drinking coffee and beer and talking talking talking loud and non stop. Great! Anyway, a man grabs me and asks me to follow him. I think he wants to show me another bar when he starts talking about a man, another one. So he leads me to this place in a backyard, where another pilgrim is resting, Jean-Luc from Switzerland. We are the first pilgrims he met on his twelve days on the road. The place belongs to Carlo. He takes care of the pilgrims. He gives us coke, a Via button, I as a girl also get a Mary key ting, and then he runs to the street to give us biscuits (they are selling them there because of mentioned bank holiday). Carlo is amazing! He so hands us a certificate and doesn’t want any money for all of this. “Pilgrims don’t pay!”

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We walk on with Jean-Luc who is happy to have someone to talk to after two weeks. We walk along Santa Bozzola which has a massive madonna church and have the obligatory coke (you really need the sugar here!) We see done donkeys and goats…

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…just before we come across a little party for the holiday. Since we stop to take a photo we are invited to join and have a drink. We also get offered cake and watermelon. They are a group of volunteers organising a party for disabled people who would otherwise be alone in this day. Of course, pilgrims are welcome too.

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Just a little bit further on, bambi walks towards us. He’s lost and tries to find his way back. Poor thing decides to jump into the river to cross it. Only that its walls are made of concrete, so he can’t escape anymore.

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We walk down the river with him for a while but are unable to help. Then our path leaves the river. I’m devastated. Poor bambi. I hope he makes it. After a cemetery, Italians are obviously putting a lot of money towards their dead, we make it to our final village. There, in the canal, we see Bambi again. He’s been swimming all this way with the current and is no stuck without escape. Günter steps in, manages to grab him by his horns and pulls him out of the water!!! Pewwww! He saved him! Bambi runs away all shaky to hide in a side street. We hope he gets some rest and finds his way home or a new life. It’s all we can do. Sorry, I didn’t take a photo. It was one of those moments when you stare because you think you can help someone with sheer will power… Thanks Günter! Very heroic!!! 🙂
We are now at the parocchia, where the pastor didn’t care too much about us, but the other guys had a beer with three tired pilgrims and talked a lot to us. Jean-Luc had reserved a B&B and we’re meeting him for dinner now. I had a great day full of action and kindness! The first part of my credential is full. My Achilles’ tendons hurt again. Yes, both of them. But I’m just hoping it’ll go away! Very happy! 🙂

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