Something happened last evening that I want to mark.
Yesterday was a strange day. I wrote about some of in the last post. We were inundated with Pilgrims, even though we were selling nothing and have little to offer right now. But it reminded me of last summer when there were no beds and people came and camped in our yard. We weren’t selling anything then, either. But people came and we got to hear their stories. And yesterday, when there were breaks in the crowds of Pilgrims, I was able to speak to some – always long haulers – who shared their Caminos with me. And they talked about the grieving process of being just two days away from Santiago.
It was a lovely day, when the river of positivity that runs perpetually past our gate for 8-9 months a year invited us to jump in and swim in it. For just a bit. It’s like a baptism every time. You emerge energized and grateful for the experience. Jeff and I reflected upon it throughout the day.
Last evening, we decided to head into town. We can get gluten-free pizza prepared by Greek immigrants in Melide. And it’s really good. We ordered an Athena pizza, then sat down over our drinks, waiting for it to come out. At one point, we had to move tables as a group of very rowdy teenagers behind me were so loud I couldn’t hear Jeff speaking. It turned out to be a blessing. Because of this we met Alejandra, a Mexican peregrina walking the Way. She started in Sarria and was in terrible pain. And she struck up a conversation with Jeff.
‘I don’t know what to do. I know I only started in Sarria. But my legs are killing me.’
So many Sarria walkers feel the need to almost apologize for just walking from Sarria.
Jeff smiled. ‘You’re on day 3. That’s the worst day.’
Alejandra appeared skeptical.
‘I see these people that have walked from France.’ She told us, rubbing her leg. ‘They are flying. They don’t look like they hurt at all.’
Again, Jeff smiled. ‘They looked and felt like you feel now, 30 days ago in the Pyrenees before Pamplona. You will likely just be getting past this by the time you reach Santiago. Everyone goes through the same thing. No matter where they start.’
This seemed to make her feel better. Then we asked her about how a lady from Mexico City was here walking a Camino. It was an amazing story about having a vision from her deceased sister. She always felt that ‘someday’ she would walk the Camino. But the vision of her sister told her to go now. So she left everything and flew to Spain.
She cried telling us what this walk has done for her. The time to focus. To let things, the heavy things of life, fall away. To see miracles in the small moments on this walk. And to learn to appreciate the littlest things. A chair or a wall, upon which to rest. A water fountain when her bottle has run dry. Encouragement from another pilgrim.
I was impressed. Often, those of us who have walked ‘the whole thing’ often believe that walking from Sarria doesn’t allow for the type of spiritual or personal transformation that we have experienced over weeks and weeks of walking. But this woman dispels that myth. Caminos take many forms. A Camino with an open heart is all that is required to work it’s magic.
She asked us about how we ended up here in Spain. People we meet here always do. We told her the abbreviated version. Our own story bores us now. But she was intrigued, and we talked a bit about our plans for our food truck, the cabins and the free camping. How it was born last summer when beds were scarce. She was amazed.
‘And you didn’t speak any Spanish when you moved here?’
I smiled. ‘Barely a few words.’
‘But you came anyway. And now you are helping Pilgrims. God has called you.’
We finished up our pizza and said our goodbyes. Jeff went to pay but our new mexicana friend surprised us. She had paid for our meal! Then she hugged us both.
‘You are angels. You pass on good things to Pilgrims. And so I am passing this on to you.’
I am not a religious person, but truly, something happens in this place that I can not always explain. And it’s because of this river of positivity on the Camino, that all of this comes our way. Hmm… On second thought, maybe I’m not meant to really figure it out. Maybe we are just meant to accept it, and like Alejandra, pass it on. All with the same open heart.