The hike over the Pyrenees is both challenging and breathtaking, a true test for pilgrims setting out from Saint Jean. It was during this difficult stretch of the journey that we came across a group of pilgrims gathered around a young man named Et-thun from South Korea. He was shivering on the ground, clearly in distress. Kind-hearted fellow travelers had given him a poncho and a blanket, but it was evident that he needed more help.
Despite the cold and windy conditions, we knew Et-thun had to keep moving to stay warm and reach safety. I pretty much told him to pick up his mat and walk. Basically if he didn’t get his Korean butt moving he was going to get hyperthermia. There was nearby food truck and we assured him that we would stay by his side until we could call for help there. Thankfully, once he started moving, his condition improved.
I couldn’t be prouder of my daughter, Josie, for stepping up during this challenging moment. When it seemed like we might need to help carry Et-thun’s pack, she selflessly offered to take on the burden. Although he ultimately insisted on carrying it himself, I knew she would have carried it in a heartbeat.
Et-thun was incredibly grateful for our assistance and wanted to thank us by buying a gift. He accompanied us for the rest of the day, expressing his appreciation over and over again. With tears in his eyes, we shared a heartfelt, if somewhat awkward, hug at the top of the mountain. We urged him to simply pay it forward, as we too have been on the receiving end of kindness during our journey.
Once we arrived in Roncesvalles, he used his reservation to get in while we had to head on since they were fully booked. That was okay with us. While we were glad to help him out, we were not looking for him to be a permanent addition to our group.