|On the road to Santiago
an outline film script, Copyright © 2003 by Piers Nicholson
The story follows two characters on their pilgrimages from St Jean Pied de Port to Santiago de Compostela, showing how the journey alters their perspectives on their lives.
The first character is a young Spanish woman, called Esperanza. We first see her struggling to decide whether to pursue the career that she wants or to marry Rocco, her childhood sweetheart. She yearns for freedom and thinks that marriage to Rocco will prevent her from fulfilling her dreams. She decides to walk the camino to have the space to decide, secretly thinking that it will be the start of a gradual separation from Rocco. The progress of the walk and the people that she meets along the way make her realise that it is only in a truly loving relationship that one is free, and that marriage to Rocco would be the start of her life and not the end of it.
The second character is a retired English professor, Peter. He is happily married, with children and grandchildren. His struggle is getting used to retirement and finding a role for himself now that his working life is over. His wife is busy with her life and the family. He leaves them believing that he is an independent spirit, and finds himself hurt by the thought that life will go on without him. As his pilgrimage continues he realises that he would enjoy everything more if his family were there to enjoy it with him. While walking to Santiago, he comes to understand, through interaction with the pilgrims and local people that he meets, that it is the strength of their relationship that allows his wife to be so involved in her life, and that it is this strength that allows him to pursue his interests.
Both characters finish their pilgrimages with the realisation that freedom comes from a happy home, and that the pleasure of travelling is the reconciliation with their loved ones. Their spiritual journeys are complementary: she discovers that you can be with someone and still be free; he discovers that you can be free and still be with someone.
Through following the characters on their journeys one sees the beauty of the countryside, the splendid architecture, the history and mythology of Santiago and of the camino, and the multicultural atmosphere and camaraderie of the modern camino.
A recently retired English professor. PETER is married to MARJORIE. They have three children and seven grandchildren and live in a cottage in Norfolk. He is tall, thin, white-haired and bearded and wears wire-rimmed spectacles. His image is exactly that of the classic English professor: corduroy trousers, leather brogues, checked shirts and cardigans with leather elbow patches, all in neutral colours. His manner is avuncular: friendly but slightly remote. Peter’s life focus has always been his work, the University and his books. He loves his family but is not involved. Retirement has hit him hard, and he is finding it difficult to adjust to the time he has on his hands and the amount of time he now has for his family. He is surprised to find that they, particularly Marjorie, lead full and active lives that do not include him. He is extremely knowledgeable and has a passion for Romanesque architecture. He is also open-minded, and able to give others the chance to show their strengths. This makes him good company on the Camino.
A young, ambitious, fiery Spanish woman. She is from the outskirts of Madrid, the youngest of five children. All her family are professionals: lawyers, doctors, accountants. She is tall and slim, with shoulder length dark hair and large dark eyes. She is intelligent but easily distracted by frivolities. She has just completed her degree in Business Studies and is keen to set off on a career, like the rest of her family. She is also in love with ROCCO, her childhood sweetheart, and worried that commitment to him will stop her from achieving her personal goals. Her life so far has been secure and happy, but she has not been really challenged. She is attracted to Brad because of his easy charm, but through the journey and interaction with the other pilgrims, comes to realise that it is what is inside a person that is important.
Lotta and Johannes The DUTCH COUPLE
They are two of the few pilgrims who are travelling together. Lotta is small, plump, early middle-aged and blonde. Johannes is medium height and wiry with a friendly face, marked by laughter lines. They are both approachable and easy-going, offering advice and comfort to their fellow pilgrims. They are genuinely nice and the other pilgrims seek their approval. Their relationship is close. They have been married for twenty years, live life together and know one another inside out. They have a habit of finishing each others’ sentences.
BRAD the YOUNG, AMERICAN college boy
Born and brought up in Boston, the only child of a middle-class American family. He is classically handsome, tall and well-built with blue eyes and soft brown hair. He has just finished a Humanities degree at New York University, and thinks that he knows everything there is to know. He has little experience of the world, and no experience of adversity. He is charming but shallow and impatient with the older pilgrims that he meets. He is not prepared to look for the good in people. His charm is not enough to carry him through and the other pilgrims tire of him. He is ultimately shows himself to be immature and to lack self-knowledge.
RAINER the SAD, Lonely German
Rainer is a environmentalist from Berlin. He is small, thin and wiry with thin, blonde hair and light blue eyes. He wears casual combat trousers, T-shirts and walking boots and carries a small, well-equipped modern rucksack. When we first meet him, he is self-sufficient in an ostentatious way, preferring not to give or take, or to get too close to anyone. He believes that we have lost our way through losing contact with the rhythms of nature, that we no longer live by sunrise and sunset. His pilgrimage is an act of asceticism, but he is gradually drawn out by the camaraderie of the camino. He ends a happier, more relaxed character than he begins. He learns that cutting yourself off from your fellow human beings is no solution. Physically less prepossessing than Brad, Rainer becomes better liked through his genuine approach to life.
Monique the Middle-aged, French woman
Monique is small, slim and dark with a sharp, intelligent face. She is in her fifties, has been married but is now happily single. She owns and runs an Antiquarian bookshop in Paris. She is successful, independent and knowledgeable, and a devout Catholic. She wears quietly sophisticated clothes: all-black trousers and tops, which are still comfortable for walking. She is practical, efficient and patient and able to relate to all her fellow pilgrims.
Haresh the intelligent, sensitive muslim
Born in Bombay and educated in England, Haresh is interested in comparative religion. He is of medium height and build, quiet and unassuming, while also demonstrating wisdom, understanding and compassion. He works for an aid charity, travelling the world to help people in need. His dream is world harmony. He muses on the benefits of pilgrimage and believes that Western culture has lost the ability to be humble and to do penance.
Wife of PETER. She is in her late fifties, with an attractive face and a tweedy style. She has a full and active life, which includes the children, grandchildren, as well as village life of church gatherings, fetes, etc. She is a little vague and unaware of how difficult Peter is finding retirement until he leaves for Santiago. Her thoughts then lead her to follow him and they are reunited in the Cathedral.
Boyfriend and childhood sweetheart of ESPERANZA. He works in a garage, and loves cars. He is ruggedly handsome, sensitive and caring and genuinely committed to Esperanza. He knows that he will never love anyone else and will do anything to make her happy, as long as she loves him.
2. Plot outline
Interior. Peter’s home, Norfolk, England. Night. Fade in to PETER sitting alone at his dining room table, studying a map of the Camino de Santiago. He is dressed in traditional English academic clothes: corduroy trousers, leather patched cardigan and wire-rimmed glasses. Through an archway we can see MARJORIE, Peter’s wife, wearing an apron over her tweedy clothes, busy in the kitchen. Peter is explaining that he feels a bit lost since his retirement and that a trip might bring things into focus for him. Marjorie is not paying attention, and occasionally mutters, “Yes, dear” when she feels a response is needed. She is making a mental list, aloud, of things to do: “cakes for church fete, collect the grandchildren from school, etc…” Peter finishes his speech with “…so that’s settled then, dear. I’ll leave on Monday.” Marjorie mutters, “Yes, dear.” Peter folds up his map and leaves the room, closing the door gently behind him.
Interior. Esperanza’s parents’ home, Madrid. Night. The door slams open and a furious ESPERANZA storms through, followed by a desperate ROCCO. They are both dressed for a party: she in a red dress and he in a suit, in which he looks slightly uncomfortable. She screams at him, “You’re not listening to me. I didn’t say I didn’t love you, I said I needed space. I don’t know if I know what love means and I need to find out what my life is for.” He replies, “If you need space then you don’t love me in the way I love you.” She collapses at the kitchen table, head in hands and, after a moment, he bends to comfort her. He can’t understand why she needs space when he wants everything for her. Yes, he’s working in his uncle’s garage, but he will set up his own business and then they will have everything they want. She smiles at him and holds him, but her face over his shoulder is unconvinced. She asks him to trust her, and says that she needs time to think. She will walk from St Jean-Pied-de-Port to Santiago de Compostela, and ask the saint what he thinks. They both laugh at the absurdity of this proposition in the 21st century, but agree that she will go.
Day ONE (ARRIVAL, ST Jean-Pied-De-Port)
Exterior, railway station, St Jean-Pied-de-Port. Fade in to a train arriving at the station. Peter alights from the last carriage, dressed in old-fashioned walking clothes with a canvas rucksack. Esperanza alights from the furst carriage, dressed in modern walking clothes with a shiny, new rucksack complete with gadgets: sleeping mat, water bottle, etc. All very new. They walk separately up the main street to the refugio, check in at the reception desk, are issued with their Credencia and are shown to the dormitory. They smile at each other but, in the modern way, are unwilling to break the etiquette of strangers, and both absorb themselves in their own preparations for the morning.
We follow Esperanza from the dormitory to the terrace outside the refugio, and from there to the restaurant where she has supper alone. Peter is at the next table. There are other pilgrims eating, including LOTTA AND JOHANNES and HARESH at one table, and MONIQUE, BRAD and RAINER at another, but the atmosphere is subdued. The soundtrack carries snippets of conversation concerned with the enormity of the task they are taking on, and the life that they must leave behind for the duration of their journey, including both Peter and Esperanza’s thoughts as voiceovers. Esperanza is excited by the prospect of the journey and sees it as an opportunity for adventure. Peter is nervous about his physical ability to complete the walk and thinking of home. Haresh speaks the key line: “Life is a pilgrimage and we are all pilgrims. The answers that we seek are found in the hearts of our fellow pilgrims whom we meet along the road, if we can only find it in ourselves to stop and listen.”
day two (ST. JEAN-PIED-DE-PORT – RONCESVALLES)
Early next morning the pilgrims are rising to leave. They pack their beds and leave into the early morning light. They have a long way to go. Throughout the day we see them walking as a montage with a soundtrack of feet crunching on gravel, interspersed with dialogue as it occurs. They pass the Vierge d’Orisson (where Esperanza says a clumsy prayer for the journey, half-remembered from her childhood), the frontier fence and the first fuente, the Aragon marker, the huge view of the landscape of Navarre before the descent into Roncesvalles and walk down through the beech woods to the huge monastery, which they look round before checking into the refugio.
Esperanza and Monique go to evening mass and are blessed and sent forth as pilgrims. Peter visits the cloisters and reads in his guidebook about the death of Charlemagne’s nephew, Roland, and the enchanted horn, Oliphant.
The pilgrims gather for dinner. There are many that we have seen the previous day, but tonight Haresh, Monique, Rainer, Lotta and Johannes, Esperanza, Peter and Brad gather around a common table. Conversation is warmer as the 21st-century mistrust of strangers begins to evaporate. Talk is of the history of the pilgrimage and how they are stepping out of time. Peter relates the story of how St James came to be in Compostela.
day three (RONCESVALLES – LARASSOAñA)
Fade in to the dormitory, dark in the early morning with the sound of many people snoring. Apart from the paraphernalia of modern walkers (rucksacks, etc.), it is timeless. It is not a comfortable environment. We see the first pilgrims, Peter and Haresh, waking up and preparing to leave in the cold. We follow them out of Roncesvalles and through misty fields, picking up waymarks as they go. The mobile phone masts at Puerta de Erro spark a learned discussion of the conflicts between ancient and modern that will be a feature of the entire journey. They enter Zubiri and comment on the medieval Bridge of Rabies and the local tradition of herding animals three times around its central pillar, where the relics of St Quiteria lie, to ward off disease. Although they are virtual strangers, they soon discover that they have interests in common and spend the day in comfortable abstract conversation about life.
In Larassoaña they meet Don Santiago in the Mayor’s office who tells them about the increased number of pilgrims on the Camino. Over dinner together they discuss the notion of pilgrimage in world religions. Haresh’s theory is that Western culture in Christianity has lost the urge to simplify life and the humility to give thanks. It is something that the Eastern religions do much better. Pilgrimage is a fundamental tenet of Islam. The seriousness of the discussion is punctuated by moments of humour. Haresh is gently teasing of Peter, who is able to take the discussion lightly as he has little personal investment in it, though can only come up with the Rambler’s Association by way of an example of Westerners wanting to walk.
day four (Larrasoaña – pamplona)
Esperanza is walking alone between Larrasoaña and Pamplona. She is cold, tired, miserable and, worse, her feet hurt. She rails at herself for having made the decision to make such a long walk, untrained and unused to long walking as she is. If her blisters get any worse, she will have to stop walking and rest. She feels very foolish. It doesn’t seem as if anyone else is suffering. We see her having breakfast at a café in Larrasoaña, looking at ancient houses on her way through the town, then walking on through open country near Zabaldica. Then at the bridge in Trinidad de Arre, crossing the pilgrim bridge into Pamplona and entering the city gate. She books into the refugio in the city centre, where Lotta and Johannes are staying. She tells them about her painful feet, and they are sympathetic and reassuring. She then visits the Cathedral and meets Peter, who is staying with Rainer in a private hostel. Peter enthuses about the architectural features of the Cathedral, but Esperanza is tired and keen to return to the hostel to nurse her aching feet.
day five (Pamplona – puente la reina)
Peter and Rainer leave Pamplona together, walking out into countryside. We see them in Cizur Menor then walking across fields to explore the 16th-century church and ruined Palacio de los Condes de Guenduláin, at the fountain at Zariquiegui, and at the church in Obanos looking at the polychrome Santa Maria de Arnotequi. They visit the octagonal 12th-century church of Santa María de Eunate and talk to the Dutch hospitalero at the refugio about why he came back to the run a refugio, having walked the Camino some years before. They check into the refugio at Puente la Reina and walk to the main square and then to a vantage point from which they watch the sun go down together, Rainer expounding his theory that man lost his way when he lost touch with the rhythms of nature. Peter is writing a postcard to Marjorie, on which he relates the story of the Roman legionary, who, in the days before Santiago, made his pilgrimage to Finis Terre and experienced the terror of watching the sun extinguish itself in the ocean with a noise described as the hissing of iron tempered in a forge.
day six (puente la reina – estella)
Esperanza and Monique leave Puente la Reina together, walking over the medieval bridge. They talk about the medieval Queen who ordered its building. Their conversation all day is at slight cross purposes. Esperanza thinks that Monique is a dried up old stick who knows nothing of life, and Monique thinks Esperanza frivolous. Monique explains the importance of the pilgrimage for her: she wants to affirm her faith and believes that St James, as an apostle, of Jesus, has a particular religious significance. The shrine at Santiago de Compostela is a special passage between the spiritual and the secular, where the power of prayer is greatest. Esperanza is aware of these thoughts from her Catholic upbringing, but does not feel their significance. We see them later entering Cirauqui and passing through narrow, steep streets, and then on the Roman road. They have lunch at the shop on the way out of Lorca. They check into the refugio at Estella, noting its large communal area. Later, we see them at the portico of San Pedro de la Rua and San Miguel, where they meet Peter. Monique and Peter have a discussion about the Romanesque features of the churches, in which it is plain that they have interests in common in spite of the fact that Monique is a devout Catholic and Peter is not religious. They are able to be mutually respectful. Esperanza leaves them for the cybercafe, although they tell her that this is not in the spirit of the Camino.
day seven (estella – los arcos)
Peter leaves Estella alone early next morning. We see him at the monastery at Irache, at the Fuente de los Moros in Villamayor de Monjardin, walking through vineyards and stopping for lunch by a stream. He arrives at the refugio in Los Arcos and books in. For the first time in days, he finds himself thinking of home, his work (which he realises he misses dreadfully) and his family.
day eight (los arcos – viana)
Esperanza and Brad find themselves walking alone together for the first time. We see them leaving Los Arcos, and walking through vineyards, then leaving Sansol they see the view of Torres del Río across the deep valley of the Rio Linares. We see them in Torres looking at the interior and exterior of the Iglesia de San Sepulchro, knowing that they don’t really appreciate it. Esperanza does an impression of Peter talking about Romanesque architecture, which is funny and accurate but a little cruel. They stop for lunch and a drink and talk to the bar owner who also runs the refugio there. As they walk, they talk about Rocco and Brad’s girlfriend, Rachel. Both have left to find freedom from a relationship that they don’t feel able to commit to. The conversation is characterised by growing mutual regard, the two walk closer together and we see them beginning to make eye contact that goes beyond friendship. They book into the refugio in Viana.
day nine (viana – navarrete)
Peter leaves Viana alone in the early morning, He walks down the main street, turns in to look at the doorway of Santa Maria and looks at the old houses with shields and balconies as he passes. He continues walking along the Camino, wondering aloud where on earth Logroño can be as it is hidden behind a hill. We see him at Ermita de la Trinidad de Cuevas, crossing the bridge over the Ebro, at the doorway to San Bartolome and at the church of Santiago el Real with the huge equestrian statue, then passing the pilgrim fountain in Logroño and the lake as he leaves. He checks into the hostel at Navarrete, where he meets Lotta and Johannes. Over dinner they talk about the rigours of the walk and how, perversely, that is one of its pleasures. They all see it as a personal challenge and agree that completing it has become a real goal.
day ten (Navarrete – nájera/Azofra)
We follow Esperanza, Brad and Monique as they leave Navarrete, looking inside the Iglesia de la Asuncion and at the cemetery looking at the old gate of San Juan de Acre. They meet Peter, Lotta and Johannes, Haresh and Rainer walking over the bridge into Nájera and discover that they are checking into the monastery there so that they can visit Cañas and Yuso in the morning. Esperanza and Monique decide to continue on to Azofra, to go to Cañas the following day, with Brad, who is unaware that there is any significance to the journey and jokes and chatters inanely, as usual. We see them walking through the sandstone hills beyond Nájera and checking into the refugio there. It is a short walking day as all of them are feeling the strain of the long trek. After the three of them have supper, Monique excuses herself wanting an early night. Brad and Esperanza go alone to a bar and drink and talk. As they return to the refugio, just in time for curfew, Brad kisses Esperanza. We see them trying to maintain an illusion of platonic friendship as they prepare for bed. Both lie in the dark thinking: Esperanza thinks of Rocco and Brad of Esperanza. She decides that the pilgrimage was exactly the right thing to do, and that this meeting with the handsome American has proved it. There is a world out there waiting for her to experience. She will seize the opportunities and leave Rocco behind.
day eleven (nájera/azofra – santo domingo de la calzada)
Esperanza, Brad and Monique have spent the night in Azofra. The women walk to the nunnery at Cañas. Brad can’t be bothered so continues alone along the Camino route. Peter, Haresh, Lotta and Johannes and Rainer have spent the night in Nájera and, all except Rainer, go by taxi to Yuso then to Cañas on the way back. Peter and Haresh are particularly keen to visit Yuso, described as the cradle of language, both Castilian and Basque, and the amazing library of chained books. Rainer is extremely concerned that they are taking motorised transport and decides to continue his walk alone along the Camino route. We see the women at the nunnery in Cañas, at the tomb of the abbess, discussing women’s role in society and how it has changed. Esperanza is exciteable and nervous. Monique ventures the (unfashionable) view that too much choice is as bad as none at all. This strikes a chord with Esperanza, and she begins to look at her with respect. They all arrive at the refugio in Santo Domingo in the evening, run by nuns and with a huge common room with a log fire. They visit the cathedral together and go on to dinner. They discuss the chicken and the cock in the Cathedral. There is a little awkwardness for Esperanza as she is asked to comment on the legend in relation to Brad. No one knows that their relationship has moved on.
day twelve (santo domingo de la calzada – belorado)
Peter and Esperanza walk together, as they struggle to find a topic that both are interested in, the discussion turns to love and relationships. We see them on the Camino with a distant view of Grañon, then at the fuente and looking at the church with the refugio in the tower. They follow the pavement waymarks out of Grañon, at the border of Navarre and Castile, and at the Chocolatero roadhouse where, for the first time on the trip, Peter feels old and out of place, then entering Belorado, commenting on the prettiness of the river as it rushes down between the houses, and checking into the refugio there. As they walk, Esperanza tells Peter about Rocco and his plans for their life together and asks how his marriage has worked. Peter tells Esperanza about Marjorie, and his current thoughts about their marriage: how she is so busy, and has no time for him, and that he has his own interests anyway. He also tells her that the shell is an attribute of Venus, Goddess of love, as well as the attribute of St James, so that love is a very appropriate topic for the Camino.
day thirteen (belorado – san juan de ortega)
Esperanza and Rainer are walking together. We see them walking past the ruined house outside Belorado, at the ruined abbey of San Felices, at the Ermita da Valdefuentes, on a wide forest track and outside the monastery at San Juan de Ortega, which we see from a distance as a small hamlet with a large church, where they check into the refugio. Rainer and Esperanza are utterly unalike: she is confident and fun-loving, he is quiet and ascetic. It is a difficult day for both of them. As they enter the town, Rainer tells Esperanza about San Juan and his causeway building, how one man altered the environment, and that it shows that there is more than one route through life: if something stands in your way then you must find a way round it. They go together to the church and stand in front of the retable of the souls in torment. They have a moment of understanding, in which both are able to stand in the other’s shoes and laugh about the awfulness of their day. Esperanza is able to laugh at herself and Rainer, who is usually so serious, shows his lighter side.
day fourteen (san juan de ortega – burgos)
Peter is walking alone between San Juan de Ortega and Burgos. He stops on the limestone ridge on the approach to Burgos where there are wildflowers and sheep. We see him walking through Burgos, enjoying the strange-shaped squares and arcades and the atmosphere and street entertainment. He sits at an outside table, writing postcards home to Marjorie, his children and the grandchildren. The cards to the children are difficult, and he realises that Marjorie has always written their postcards on holiday. Unusually for him, he finds himself struggling for words. He wonders what he will do when he returns home, and his thoughts turn again to his work at the University, the teaching and the books he has written. He doesn’t feel old, he feels young. Does he really have to give it all up and grow vegetables for the rest of his life?
day fifteen (burgos – castrojeriz)
Esperanza finds herself walking with the Dutch couple, Lotta and Johannes. The landscape is changing. This section is the beginning of the meseta. They pass the convent of San Anton, where the nuns specialised in treating pilgrims’ gangrene. The Dutch couple joke about Esperanza’s blisters, now healed. They pass the huge arch that stands alone in the countryside then admire the long view of the hill village of Castrojeriz (one of the most impressive on the Camino), as they walk towards it. The Dutch couple talk together and finish one another’s sentences, but they are kind and friendly and without edges and are comfortable walking in silence. Esperanza realises that this is what her parents have and what she would want in a marriage. We see in Esperanza’s thoughts an image of Brad, chattering on inconsequentially. We have the first suggestion that Esperanza is beginning to tire of Brad’s constant inane chatter and to seek the company of the other pilgrims.
day sixteen (Castrojeriz – fromista)
Peter and Brad are walking together. They pass the causeway outside Castrojeriz, the thirteenth century chapel converted into the Hostal San Miguel, a lovely old bridge. We see them entering Fromista together and visiting the Romanesque church of San Martin, one of the most perfect in Spain. Peter finds him crass and shallow but tries hard to find subjects that will interest him. Brad is unable to conceal his boredom at Peter’s desire for information about everywhere they encounter. Peter is effusive about the Romanesque church and Brad cuts him short, rudely. Peter confronts him and Brad explains that, for him, it really is just a walk. We see that he doesn’t really have a spiritual side, is selfish and unable to appreciate the virtues of others who may be different from him.
day seventeen (Fromista – carrion de las condes)
Esperanza is walking alone. We see her climb the hill to the Ermita de San Miguel, through the village of Villarmento and Villalcázar de Sirga, where she visits the 13th-century church of Santa Maria la Blanca. She is beginning to appreciate the architecture for herself, and the spiritual motives by which they were inspired. She arrives in Carrion and books into the refugio there, in the monastery. She wishes for company and thinks of the other pilgrims she has met, and particularly Brad.
day eighteen (Carrion de las condes – sahagún)
We see Peter and Haresh leave Carrion de las Condes, walking past the monastery of San Zollo and on the old road approaching Calzadilla de la Cueza and on to Sahagún. As they walk, they discuss the importance of St James, as the first apostle to be martyred and patron saint of Spain, and as pilgrim, giver of absolution, curer of physical and mental illness, and as the warrior ‘matamoros’. Is his popularity explained by these many incarnations? Is he all things to all people? His divine powers protect pilgrims and they both agree to accept this. They pass the Arco de San Benito, wishing that the rest of the Benedictine monastery were still standing and check in to the refugio built into the upper levels of the Trinity church.
day nineteen (sahagún – el burgo raneros)
Esperanza finds herself walking with Monique over this short stage of the Camino and discussing whether relationships are necessary to happiness. We see them leave Sahagún by the bridge over the Cea, then walk along the tree-lined path beyond Calzada del Coto, passing the Ermita de la Virgen de Perales, the Iglesia del Salvador in Bercianos and into El Burgo Raneros. Monique has found happiness without a relationship and is encouraging of Esperanza’s personal ambitions. She points out that sometimes something that seems to be a sacrifice can actually become a liberation. She has sacrificed her personal relationship in favour of her passion for books and her career, but is happy. Her faith is also a great comfort to her. If someone had told her at Esperanza’s age that that would be the case then she would not have believed them, but then young women are romantic. Esperanza may find that committing to Rocco is a liberation, not a burden. Esperanza finds this view illuminating, though doesn’t fully accept it, and in her heart she is still thinking of Brad. However, we see that Esperanza is beginning to find a sense of self in her conversations with the other pilgrims. She wonders for the first time whether she is leaving Rocco or finding herself.
day twenty (el burgo raneros – mansilla)
Peter is walking alone over this, the hardest stretch of the Camino. He leaves the village passing a pond where he stops to listen to the frogs croaking, then continues along the tree-lined path. The meseta is monotonous and tiring and there are no villages to break up the walk. He carries his own provisions and stops to eat beside the river. His reveries are concerned with his life so far and where life will take him on his return to England. He is still feeling hurt that Marjorie does not have a place for him. The sight of the imposing walls of Mansilla are welcome, though he wonders how he would have felt approaching them as an unwanted visitor at the time they were built. Reaching the refugio there is a relief. In the open courtyard he meets Esperanza and Haresh. Brad appears later, yawning, but dismissive that he is finding the walk tiring.
day twenty one (mansilla de las mulas – leon)
Esperanza finds herself walking with Haresh and finds him good, intelligent company. Brad is evidently focusing his walk on being with her, and she consciously finds this irritating, and thus finds him irritating for the first time. We see Esperanza and Haresh leaving the refugio. Brad has decided to sleep in, but Haresh reports, with a wry smile, that he has brashly promised to catch them up by the end of the day. They walk across the medieval bridge out of Mansilla, pass the hill on which are the ruins of Cerro Lancia, cross the Puente de Villarente walk through Arcahueja to Leon where they visit the Cathedral, marvelling at its splendour, admire the ancient Hostal de San Marcos, and book into the refugio there. As they walk, Esperanza asks Haresh about his life and his work and we get a sense of the privations that he gladly accepts in order to be able to help others. His lifestyle is genuinely selfless, though he does admit that, as he gets older, he does begin to wonder whether he will stop wandering the world and settle long enough to have a family. Life is a series of choices and you can’t do everything. His commitment is to his work and his work makes him happy. It is a mission for him. He couldn’t not do it. Esperanza considers her own life and ambitions in relation to this and finds herself feeling slightly ashamed. Haresh tells her not to be: you are what you are, and you make the best of what you are given. If you can truly carry your home and your loved ones in your heart then every journey is an easy pleasure.
day twenty two (leon – villandangos)
Peter, Lotta and Johannes are walking together. We see them crossing the Puente de San Marcos, passing through La Virgen de la Camino where they comment on the modern treatment of the Sanctuary, and wonder what the ancient pilgrims would have made of it. Peter confesses to preferring the Romanesque, but Lotta and Johannes believe that the modern interpretation is equally valid. Peter concentrates on the waymarks, which on this section are an attractive design but difficult to pick up. They pass through the villages of Valverde de la Virgen, San Miguel de la Camino and enter Villadangos del Páramo, where they visit the church of Santiago, marvelling at the high altar and its depiction of the warlike saint and check into the hostal there.
day twenty three (villadangos – astorga)
Brad and Esperanza are walking together. We see them leave Villadangos and walk through the poplar grove beyond, crossing the bridge at Puente de Órbigo and on the main street there passing the parish church. They are laughing and joking together. At the church of the Trinity at Santibáñez de Valdeiglesias, Esperanza is reminded uncomfortably of Rocco by the statues of San Roque. They walk into Astorga where Esperanza has to persuade Brad to visit the Cathedral. She is overwhelmed by its beauty, but he just wants to get to the refugio. Over dinner, Brad tells Esperanza that he loves her and, in that moment, Esperanza realises that she has no feelings whatever for him. She realises that Brad is handsome but shallow, and worse that she has made a fool of herself in front of the other pilgrims. She tells him that she does not love him, and nor does she really believe that he loves her. He doesn’t know her. He is hurt, but mostly angry at being rejected.
day twenty four (astorga – rabanal)
All the pilgrims have spent the night in the municipal refugio in Astorga. Brad is quiet and reserved all day with the pilgrims, and blatantly ignoring Esperanza. She tries to reason with him, but he won’t be persuaded that she hasn’t led him on to humiliate him. This is the last day of walking on the meseta and the weather is sultry. All the pilgrims are uncomfortable and irritable, with no one quite able to say why. Haresh explains about the Maragatos, whose ethnic origins are unknown, possibly Phoenician or Berber, as they pass through Murias de Rechivaldo, a typical Maragato village. We see them pass the Pilgrim’s Oak and walk into Rabanal and book into the refugio Gaucelmo there, run by English volunteers.
day twenty five (rabanal – ponferrada)
In the morning, Brad is mysteriously gone. The other pilgrims are politely curious, much to Esperanza’s embarrassment, she finds herself having to explain what has happened. The pilgrims are supportive of her. Everyone makes mistakes. It is a moment of realisation that she can survive a loss of pride, and that you don’t have to be perfect to be a good person. We see the pilgrims walking through the changing scenery. Their spirits are lifted by the sight of fields and rivers. We see them leave Rabanal, walk through the ruined village of Foncebadón. We see them walking towards the Cruz de Ferro, adding a stone and then surveying the scene from the top. Rainer is drawn to the refugio at Manjarin. The owner is keen on organic food and vital forces, and has signposts to Lhasa and Macchu Picchu. The other pilgrims are sceptical and continue on through El Acebo and Molinaseca, looking at the beautiful buildings as they pass through. They visit the Templar castle and check into the refugio in Ponferrada.
day twenty six (ponferrada – villafranca del b.)
Peter is walking with Monique. We see them walking through fertile farmland to Camponaraya, admiring the distant views of Galicia, entering Cacabelos, crossing the bridge over the river Cúa and passing the chapel of Nuestra Señora de las Angustias and passing the Iglesia de Santiago at the entrance to Villafranca del Bierzo. In spite of themselves, they find the discussion turning to Brad and Esperanza. Monique confesses that she has had her suspicions for some time. Peter has noticed nothing. Monique teases him: so like a man. They both agree that Esperanza is an interesting, clever person and that Brad is a tiresome young man. Then they laugh at themselves for sounding like old people bemoaning the youth of today. Peter asks Monique whether she misses company now that she lives alone. She seems so gregarious. She answers that the she has good friends, and her faith. He confesses to missing Marjorie more and more as the trip goes on. He has met some wonderful people, but he has known Marjorie for forty years and some things do not need to be spoken. They both agree that Lotta and Johannes are a wonderful couple. In Villafranca they visit the Castle of the Marquesses and walk along the Calle del Agua admiring the buildings there.
day twenty seven (Villafranca – cebreiro)
Esperanza is walking with Haresh and Rainer. The men talk among themselves about sport. Both are fanatical cricket fans. Esperanza laughs at them. It is the first time that both of them have spoken of something inconsequential. The mood of the day is light, as they are approaching the end of the Camino and the relief is evident. We see them following the Valcarce valley to Pereje, walking through beautiful woodland, and then on into Cebreiro where they enter the Church of Santa María la Real and discuss the miracle of Cebreiro, where the bread and wine turn into the body and blood of Christ. Esperanza is particularly struck by how graphic a reminder of faith that would be. For the others it is a more abstract concern. They book into the refugio next to the pallozas.
day twenty eight (cebreiro – samos)
Peter is walking alone between Cebreiro and Samos. We see him pass through Hospital de Condesa, admiring the view of Vilar and Vilavella from Triacastela and at the monastery at Samos, one of the most ancient in Spain, where he checks into the refugio. As he walks, he thinks about his conversation with Monique. He is beginning to realise that Marjorie is his rock, and that his motive for walking the Camino was childish petulance. He wanted to go away so that she would miss him. Perhaps the Camino has been a way of punishing her, or of getting her attention? He laughs to himself that human relationships do not change, and that an old man can behave as stupidly as a young one. He realises that he has no real fears about the safety of their marriage. He also realises that he doesn’t have to retire. Romanesque architecture is his passion, but it can also be his work. He will write a book on the architecture of the Camino. He resolves to call his publisher on his return.
day twenty nine (sARRIA – portomarín)
Esperanza is walking with Lotta and Johannes. They have taken the direct route to Sarria, so have not visited the monastery in Samos. They leave Sarria via the Ponte Aspera and have a leisurely breakfast at the café at the top of the steps, where we see many other pilgrims. We see them make a diversion to walk past the church of Santiago de Barbadelo. The landscape is beautiful with villages, fields and woodland. We see them at the hermitage at Morgade, looking at the messages left by pilgrims at the altarpiece and leaving messages themselves, and later at the ruins of the Monastery of Santa María de Loyo, then crossing the new bridge into Portomarín and look down with interest at the old bridge just visible above the surface of the reservoir. They check into the hostal there. Their conversation is of home.
day thirty (portomarín – palas de rei)
Peter has breakfast at the café in Gonzar, where there are many other pilgrims. We see him walking through pleasant hills and fields. He makes a detour to the Vilar de Donas, where we see him looking at the tombs of the knights of Santiago. He checks into the refugio at Palas de Rei. Peter watches the sun go down alone. He is nearing the end of the walk and his thoughts turn to home. He telephones Marjorie to wish that she were there to see it with him, and to tell her that he will be in Santiago in three days’ time.
day thirty one (palas de rei – arzua)
Esperanza is walking alone, out of choice, on her last day. She needs a chance to think about everyone she has met and what they have told her. She realises that Rocco truly loves her and will not stand in her way, and that she will have to work hard to be good enough for him. We see her leave the refugio early in the morning, walking along the ancient medieval road then later having a late breakfast at the bar in Leboreiro. She stops in Melide to look at the frescoes in Santa María de Melide. She walks through the eucalyptus forests approaching Boente and visits the church of Santiago in Boente, where she is struck by the contrast of the two images of St James as pilgrim and as the warlike moorslayer (matamoros). She checks into the refugio in Ribadiso de Baixo where she has a swim in the river and meets Rainer, Lotta and Johannes.
day thirty two (arzua – santiago de compostela)
This is the last day of walking. We follow Monique, Peter and Haresh through the eucalyptus forests, following the waymarks that show the distance to Santiago, rejoicing as they decrease. The entire group of pilgrims meet at Monte del Gozo and stand together admiring the view of Santiago there, with the end of their journey in sight. They all stay together at the Monte del Gozo refugio where Brad reappears, looking slightly sheepish. The pilgrims have a great dinner together at the local cafe, over which the conversation turns to the nature of their journeys. They decide that each has to say what they have learned from their travels. Peter has learnt that he has a life and a family that he loves, and he only has to recognise it in order to be happy. Esperanza has learnt that people are supporters, not obstacles to life. Monique has fulfilled the dream of a lifetime and renewed her faith. Brad jokes that he has learnt that there is more to life than fast cars and girls. Rainer has learnt that even in the 21st century, people still need friends. They have all made some good friends. Haresh paraphrases Goethe, who said that Europe was made on the road to Santiago and reminds them of his words on their first night together, and that we are all pilgrims for our time on earth. They all agree that it has been a fabulous experience. Lotta and Johannes propose a toast to the camaraderie of the Camino.
DAY THIrty three (santiago de compostela)
Peter and Esperanza walk into Santiago together, marvelling at the splendour of the route into the city and the beauty of the Cathedral. They enter the Cathedral and visit the statue of the saint to give thanks for the success of their journeys, both physical and spiritual. They make their farewells to each other at the Cathedral door, “Good bye, fellow traveller” and turn to go in their separate directions. Outside the Cathedral is Rocco, on his motorbike, waiting for Esperanza. He looks at her with a questioning stare. She returns with a genuine smile and they fall into each other’s arms with real joy. Climbing the Cathedral steps is Marjorie. Peter embraces her and they walk off to Marjorie’s voice-over, “Come on, old chap. Let’s go to the end of the earth and see if the sun really does sink into the sea with an audible hiss.”
The outline film script is Copyright© 2003 by Piers Nicholson