The world is a strange and curious place. Sometimes hard things lead to wonderful coincidences.
Today I woke up in Ledigos at a nice Albergue in a private room. I have a weird history with this place from my walk in 2017. Back then, a very weird scary guy stayed on the bunk next to me. The kind of man that wouldn’t take no for an answer on many levels. He did so many strange aggressive things towards me before going to bed I didn’t sleep all night. I refused to leave the Albergue with him in the early hours of a June morning. But he left, then came back three times, begging, then berating me for refusing to leave with him in the dark. I pretended to repack my pack. Then waited until a nice Slovenian couple emerged. They saw I was distressed. I was shaking when we all set off in the dark with our head lamps on. Sure that guy was out there somewhere.
I won’t lie. This morning as I was walking out of that village all alone, I looked over my shoulder more than a few times, walking fast to catch up to visible back packs on the trail in front. Totally irrational since that was five years ago and that weird French guy is probably in jail back in France by now. This morning I called Jeff and woke him up from the trail.
‘I need you to talk to me for the next few kilometers.’ I explained where I was. He remembered the story of that guy from before. ‘You can read me the ingredients on a shampoo bottle. Anything. Just keep talking.’ He obliged.
I want to love this section before Saugun, but I can’t. I stopped at the first place to get coffee. And was still unsettled. Then in walked Alma, an American Peregrina from North Carolina. We have been staying at many of the same places for the past week. Her presence calmed me down a bit. Then we walked together to Saugun and stopped for lunch.
Saugun is said to be the halfway point on the Camino Frances. But the math just doesn’t add up. I think its closer to Carrion. But, then, who cares?
After lunch, Alma and I walked together. 10k was all we had to do. Easy peasy. But then we went right, instead of left. A variant, better signed than the path we should have taken. Four miles in the wrong direction. My knees didn’t like it. And my feet liked it even less. We finally figured out that I need to listen to myself when I say ‘I don’t remember this from last time.’ We walked a few miles back to the last town we saw. To call a taxi. At 28km for the day I was done.
I spotted a young boy on a balcony and explained we needed help. He ran inside and came out with a girl and a woman. I explained we were lost and needed help getting a taxi to our Albergue – on the right route. The woman went inside. The little boy was fascinated with us. And there is a reason for that. He has only been in that house, in that town in Spain, for dos semanas (2 weeks). You heard that right. Because he is Ukrainian. Or as he told me Soy de Ukrania. And then his sister came out. This Spanish family is hosting the two sisters and their little brother as refugees. The children’s parents are still in Ukraine.
He was excited we are Americans. I told him he saved us by getting us help and he smiled big. Then high fived me. I said I was very upset because I have lived in Spain for four years and he has only been here for two weeks and his español is better than mine. He laughed and seemed pleased with himself.
The taxi arrived and the whole family waved us away. Buen Camino! Alma and I are both safely landed in our accommodations for the night. What started out as a tough day ended with being saved by a boy who didn’t live in Spain when I was stepping on the train in Santiago in mid-March. But our fates twist and turn. It proves to me that with a helping hand, none of us are ever truly lost.
Friends – Please say a prayer 🙏 for these children’s parents tonight.