Marie Carmen

Sitting in Navarra wishing for a different result was unproductive. As you all know, Albergues are no place to recuperate from a long term injury. And after spending three nights in a hotel in Pamplona icing my knee with frozen peas, hotels aren’t either.

I am back home now, following the prescribed treatments, just until I get the green light to resume my Camino. Luckily, I live in Spain. The distance for Jeff to drive me back and drop me off is like going from San Francisco to Los Angeles. Not a big deal. Or I could take a bus or a train.

Because I am not as cooperative a patient as Jeff would hope, I drove myself to our local farmacia in Melide to get some prescriptions filled. Using my new cane. And who do I see there? My next door neighbor, Marie Carmen. She’s dressed to the nines and looks fabulous, sporting the cutest shoes, too. She has the tiniest feet I’ve ever seen, and can purchase any shoe she wants in Spain. Me? I’m better off shopping in Scandinavia or Germany, where they make shoes the size of dog sleds.

The women who work at that farmacia have always been circumspect with me. Professional but not warm. But that all changed when Marie Carmen greeted me warmly, and I her.

‘What happened?’ She asked. Pointing to my inee.

I reiterated in español as best I could.

‘When did you return home?’ She wanted to know.

‘Hoy.’ I told her. ‘Medio hora.’

‘Uf.’ She replied. She had been keeping an eye on the house.

Then, it was my turn at the counter so we both moved on.

I went home and lay down with my knee elevated. Walking with a cane is tiring. I suddenly had a knock at the door, but didn’t get up. If it was a delivery guy they could leave it or come back. Jeff was on a call for work he couldn’t get off of to open the door. We both forgot about it.

This morning, the gate opened and there was Marie Carmen with her wheel barrow. Filled to the gills. I am unsure of the number of pounds of potatoes from her garden, but it’s a lot.

And the largest whatever-this-cauliflower/broccoli thing is. With some heirloom tomatoes and peppers. I just love this woman.

But the kindest part was when she came back and left these on the front porch.

It’s easy to think of luck in terms of money or stuff. Having everything your heart desires from a material perspective. But, for me, I think we hit the jackpot when we moved here and got Marie Carmen in the bargain. Five months ago we didn’t even know her. But now she is such a gift. An important part of our lives. Funny how that happened when we weren’t looking.

I was sad to surrender my Camino and come home to Galicia, early. But not anymore. No matter what, I am very lucky. Because I have something you can’t buy. I have Marie Carmen.

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