The workers at GM in Oshawa wanted a decent living; the Stelco employees in Hamilton wanted a secure job. As Rocco writes, "Politics make little difference to Enrique — he lost everything under the socialist regime."
At age 50, his factory shut down and he lost his job. Two years later, his money ran out, and so did his wife and young daughter. At age 55, he was walking the Camino de Santiago in Spain. That's where I met him.
During the Depression, many "rode the rails" in Canada and the United States. Enrique, however, has been walking the Camino — a thousand-year-old pilgrimage route — continuously for over three years. His well-worn shoes, clothes and two carrying bags represent the sum total of his worldly possessions. He sleeps out most nights, and his favourite spots are cemeteries, "They are quiet," he explained. "No one bothers me there."
He looked for work for years, and still does. But he's largely given up hope he can return to the life he once had. He doesn't want to beg and can't afford a bus ticket or a place to stay, so he walks.
A proud man who values working to support himself, he does odd jobs along the way for food and the odd coin. He's picked apples and cherries in Bierzo; gutted fish in Galicia; cut and stacked hundreds of cords of wood in Navarre; harvested grapes in the Rioja; loaded potatoes in Palencia; weeded gardens in Castille; and milked cows, goats and sheep everywhere in between. For one week each month he can stay in a monastery in Santiago for 1.50 euro a day. That gets him a bed, a hot shower and three meals. He can only stay there for a week each month, though, because of the rules — and because he needs the other three weeks to raise the 10.50 euro.
When on the move, Enrique walks an average of 30 km a day. He's covered almost 27,000 km in the last three years — two-thirds the circumference of the Earth.
Politics make little difference to Enrique — he lost everything under the socialist regime. The "austerity" measures of the current conservative government have no relevance to him. Walking and sleeping out have not been any different under either government.