camino de santiago

“I had such a wonderful non sleep last night, no honestly! I would wake up, to the sound of silence, then snuggle back down beneath the blankets relishing the fact that it was hours until we all had to be up. This would happen every now and then through the night. My bunk was so comfy it was ridiculous! I smiled as the housekeeper tip toed in through the door beside my bunk. It was still dark, my happy sleepy stupor didn’t fully acknowledge the house keepers next actions. Which were to turn on all the bright white lights in the dorm. Everyone groaned as did I, I pulled the blankets higher over my head and blocked out the fluoresce. Bless her cotton socks she didn’t give up on the 5 am wake up call. Eventually the familiar sounds of plastic bags, rustling, stretching and yawning has me fully conscious. By 6.30 we were packed, we were packed up and on the road. Sean and myself past the few hours walk giggling and chatting. After our deep and meaningful chat about our relationship and what our life holds together, a sort of peace has fallen over us on this walk. This morning we are both relaxed and terribly happy. I notice that this morning is the second morning in a row I am getting up and not noticing any aches or pains. We stop three towns past Belarado, its the only place to stop. We share an omelette and coffee. Sean is laughing at the whole omelette situation. There was a sign stating we could have an omelette and a cafe con leche for €2.40. Only when we get to the bar they are no longer doing omelettes. They were off the menu! However, for €3.50 we could get a cafe con leche and an omelette sandwich. In which an omelette was freshly made and folded into rectangle shape to fit the baguette!!!! So we discarded the bread, much to the amusement to everyone around us, as Sean proudly tucked into the eggy goodness!

We walk on, eyes peeled for an ATM. We splashed out on our pilgrim meal last night. This wouldn’t have been a massive problem if we could have found a working ATM on our way out of the town this morning. So far we haven’t passed any. I am really starting to fret. Its not like you can get cash back at the small shops or from landowners sharing their produce. We are down to the princely sum of €22 euro. If we can find bed for five euros each we should be okay. According to our book this is an unlikely dream. We walk on past Villafranca Montes de Orc, population 200 and no ATM, up a steep track to the Monumento de los Caídos. My money worries disappear as I concentrate on the track before me which looks like vertical drops up and down. I just can’t believe I am going to walk that. I think I will bum shuffle down if I have to. Other pilgrims probably wouldn’t bat an eye!

What follows is a tedious forest walk that just goes on and on and on. It never changes, it is mind numbing. I would give anything to be surrounded by striking farmlands rather than tall clusters of dense of trees. Its becoming claustrophobic. I pay attention to other pilgrims who are walking with heads down full of chatter or lost to their headphones. When they look up at the surrounding it’s only for a minute before their gaze turns downward. Its seems I am not the only one who feels a bit torchured. We break for lunch, that is after a 15 minutes walk trying to find a spot to sit that’s not infested with ants. I am eyeing up the apples and pears, like Sean has just produced rubies and emeralds from his rucksack. My mouth waters on sight of the fruits. Munching on a sandy pear we nod hello to passers by. There is a gap in the trees across the path from us and I can feel the sun on my face. Im cold sitting in the shade so this beam of light is bliss. Eyes closed bathing in the heat of it, something hits my face. It takes only a millisecond for my brain to figure out the weight and shape of the object and a fraction of a million second for me to realise I am now on my feet shrieking and frantically patting myself down while moving away from the picnic spot. I look to the ground and see the culprit, a massive black spider. He is scurrying to wards my rucksack, looking for shade or shelter from a crazy screaming eejit! I swoop down and gather my bag, still hopping from one foot to the other. Fruit break is over I tell Sean who is doing his best to sympathise. I laugh at the silliness of it all. I walk the rest of the track right smack bang in the middle of the path, out of the shelter of the trees and their Kate attacking spiders!

Alot of people asked me to light candles and say a prayer for them, for people they knew. I lit candles for all of you who asked, here in this beautiful church. There was just something that felt right to light them here. I lit candles again in Santiago. I hope my prayers and wishes worked for you all. Ye were always close to my heart and in my thoughts throughout the walk.

There is this pain that has developed in my leg, a deep seated throb half way up my shin. Its gone beyond an annoyance and I notice for once I am trailing behind Sean. I can’t for the life of me figure out what I have done to it. Whats even more bothersome apart from my leggings which have taken it upon themselves to spend the day riding north, is the sunburn that is scorching the back of my calf. I have spent the day yesterday lashing on sunscreen. I had it on even before the sun came up. I am very annoyed. Its already red red in the heat of the afternoon. I just can’t fathom how? Typically it’s only on one calf too. The Camino, takes tan lines to a whole new level of awkward! Like its still feels like its burning under the leggings. Is that even possible? Now we are away from the forest and walking along the main roads I keep to the shade. I hadn’t factored in ever getting sunburnt. This is going to be a royal pain. I will have to wear these leggings in the boiling heat tomorrow, possible the next few days too. Fun times, Not. After Burgos starts the famous flat lands. There is little or no shelter and few towns passed between morning and night. Yes, this burn is a pain in the butt! I chuckle to myself in face of the pain that it would just be easier to cut my leg off. Problem solved, no more pain. No more walking. I wouldn’t have to keep tugging at my shorts then! It will be grand once I get in and changed and let the evening air at it!

YAY!!! Ages is in sight! The pain in my leg is making me limp. Sean has noticed and is doing his level best to take my mind off it. It works and we walk a little faster. We turn a corner and see the long road down hill into Ages and we run. The relief is mighty. Cool breeze on my calf and for some reason the pain lessens in my leg. We run because we never found an ATM along the way or a place to stay that would accept card. We know that the first albergue has beds for 8 euro each that are in the attic but at this point it’s not an issue. We will be left with six euro to get something in the shop for dinner, Cheese, bread and fruit perhaps? We leg it in the door and are greeted by a the landlady who is taking the details of two pilgrims in front of us. We are tired and she is telling us in spanish to take off our shoes and bags and leave them in the hall. Time is of the essence here and tensions start to rise in our stomachs. There are a lot of people kipping in this town tonight. We ask if she has beds for 8 euro by pointing to the sign and using the limited spanish we have picked up. If she doesn’t we cannot waste the few minutes to take off our shoes and bags, put them away and wait with our passports. Thankfully she does, she has two. We stand and wait while she takes the other pilgrims details. We’d both love a cold drink and a seat. Only a few more minutes and this will be a reality. Then to my horror I see the two ladies being signed in, look for the change for the twenty euros they just handed over. Sean sees my face and shakes his head. They want the two last cheaper beds in the attic. We just wasted twenty minutes here. The landlady tells us she now has two beds for 10euro each. We show her our twenty two euro and explain this is all we have left for today. A friend of hers has some English and relays this. Sean goes outside to get our stuff as the landlady explains to me I should go to her friends albergue around the corner, he will give us beds. She writes him a note in spanish. I leave thanking her, though totally addled by what’s happening. She follows me out to Sean who looks exasperated, she cups his face in her hands and tells him it will be okay. We do as we are told. I am half hoping that the note says give them a free dinner! We are given two bunks for nine euro each. Dinner is getting smaller by the minute. We dress our bunks, take showers, hand wash our clothes and hang them out on the street to dry.

We are on our way back to the room to pillage our rucksack for money when we bump into Douglas! He asks Sean if we will be taking the pilgrim dinner and if so will we join him. I listen to the conversation unfold as i desperately look for any change in my bag. Sean tells Douglas what has happened, maybe tomorrow we can do dinner in Burgos. Douglas is having none of it, he will pay the twenty euros to cover our dinner. Sean is totally having none of that. Twenty euros is a lot of money on the camino. The offer is politely declined. Douglas insists and says that its the camino way. That he is not looking for repayment, he only asks that we would pay it forward. Sean says he will think about it. When Douglas enters the dorm I am sure it looks like my rucksack has vomited all over my bunk. I have found no more than fifteen cent to add to our four euro! Douglas tells me of the conversation, only something he says make the hairs rise on the back of neck. I am covered in goosebumps. I look at him and ask him to repeat what he just said slowly. If I am honest I am weirded out by what I hear again. Douglas: I said, I was just talking to your husband Kevin and he won’t let me pay for your dinner, it’s the camino way. I would love to have dinner with Kevin and yourself. Me: Holy Crap!!!!

For as long as I have known Sean and for as long as Sean can remember, most people constantly confuse him with his brother Kevin. Now, what Douglas said would have made total sense if we had the previous night mentioned Kevin, if Douglas somehow knew Kevin or had done some serious Facebook stalking and studied our families. Yet, we never mentioned our families as we were too busy talking about Ballyvaughan the previous night, Douglas lives in America and Kevin doesn’t, Douglas doesn’t do social media. Even if he did, he couldn’t have know the significance of what calling Sean Kevin would mean. I tell Douglas this and he laughs if off. He says he is off to check his washing, to let him know about dinner later. When Sean returns, I tell him all of what just happened. He can’t believe it either. We sit on my bunk and look at the loose change on the bed and back to each other. At the same time we say “Things happen for a reason!” We are firm believers that in life, things do happen for a reason, good or bad. Thankfully this was epically good. Sean runs off to tell Douglas he will be the reason for two very happy tummies and hearts this evening. I smile to myself. Just what on earth are the chances of this. Strange and wonderful things happen on the Camino, some call them miracles. I know we will be paying this forward not just on the rest of our walk, but for the rest of our lives.

I am sitting in the evening sunshine trying to finish todays entry. Its heaven here in the evening sunshine. I know there is so much more to write about of today. Sean is with Douglas, they are swapping information and camino apps. There is also talk of treating ourselves to a stay in hotel when we get to Burgos. What a treat that will be. Douglas is going to go for a stroll around Agés and I need to finish this. Its not that we have to go for a walk with this man, who we met randomly last night. This wonderful man that knows our Margaret from Ballyvaughan. This man that popped up again today and is now treating us to a dinner. Its that I want to, I have a feeling that we will be talking about Douglas for a very long time to come.

It’s day nine. Its been our best day yet. The Way has opened up its magic to us, in return for us mending our hearts…

Little did I know then, it was only to get better!


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