Here They Come

This day began after a deep sleep. Surprising even me. Especially since the Amish barn raising that was hooking up the electrical, the water, and tuning the coffee machine lasted until 8pm last night. Our yard was full of trucks. I just had to watch and wait. And it all worked out. Trenches were dug. pipe was laid I love out contractor’s crew. They had all kinds of suggestion about the food truck. Then they reinforced my countertops, unbidden. When I thanked them, they just shrugged. ‘We feel like this is our food truck ,too. We couldn’t let it stay like that.’

After all this activity, Jeff and I went for a long walk down country lanes. It was just what the Dr ordered. I slept like a baby. So much so that Jeff had to wake me up after my alarm on my phone was going off without me hearing it. The calm before the storm. But not such a storm, afterall. No major eruptions. It’s the Camino. I was cool as a cucumber. And, it was a relatively quiet day this morning. The least number of Pilgrims we’ve had since a Wednesday in March. Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays are our busy days. I figured opening on a Friday would allow me to ease into it. Turns out, I was more right than I knew.

It was a strange day, traffic wise. Usually, our busy time is between 8-noon. But today it wasn’t anything like that. The morning was a bit slow. Then, as the temperature heated up, the trail did too. Of course, we had people from all over the world. It was great to hear people’s stories of their Camino(s). And to watch a group of cyclists go by – then turn around and come back to order coffees. A hundred people came in to take photos. And Irish lady told me that walking through our gate is like a warm hug. ‘I told my friend. You just feel it.’

As you would expect, it was a day of mistakes. Not the least of which was when I forgot to bring the cash from the house and put it in the cash drawer. So funny. There were other things , too. They seems so obvious now. But, I also got a lot of stuff right. Mostly, I nailed it. Ha!

There were highlights. I loved meeting these two women from Saudi Arabia.They stopped at the gate to take photos. After I asked where they were from and greeted them with a ‘Salam alaikum’, they sat down for a beverage and a chat. We had some things in common. They had studied in the US. It’s just a reminder that the Camino transcends religion (or lack thereof), or country of origin. The experience is transformational, no matter where you come from.

A group of ladies who wear their South African pride without apology are life goals. Happy Pilgrims!

By 1pm it was winding down. The first day was in the bag, as I locked up and took the dirty dishes inside to get everything ready for tomorrow. But before that, I put my feet up and thought about food for the first time today. Suddenly, I was hungry.

Just then, my phone rang. Looking at the screen, I saw it was from a number in Beverly Hills, California. Hmm… I don’t know anyone who lives in Beverly Hills anymore. I considered ignoring it because I get scam calls all the time. But then I remembered those are on my US phone. So I went ahead and answered it. What happened next was interesting.

‘Are you open?’ asked the voice on the other end.

‘Excuse me?’ I asked. ‘I don’t understand.’

‘We are sitting at your tables and you look like you are closed.’

Well, I was closed. I went out the front door onto the patio with the phone to my ear. They waved and I walked over.

‘I’m sorry. But we are closed.’

The woman looked a bit disconcerted. ‘We need some vegetarian food.’ she pointed to a very skinny boy next to her, who looked shy. He reminded me of our eldest son, Ryan. ‘You are listed in Google as vegetarian. Is there any way we can get something?’

I looked at the boy and then back at the woman. I couldn’t let him go hungry. ‘Of course. Give me a moment.’ I ran back and got the keys to the food truck, put on some shoes, then went back outside. ‘What can I get you?’

The boy whispered what he wanted and she passed along the information to me. ‘Two avocado toasts and some hot oatmeal. Fruit squeezers, Pineapple juice. And water.’

Those, I could do. Oatmeal has been a big hit on this hot day. Yeah, I know, even I was surprised. As I was whipping it all up, two cyclists rolled up. (Psst.. I’m closed). But they just wanted grilled cheeses sandwiches and orange juice. So I fired up the grill. Again.

As I was grilling the sandwiches, another pilgrim showed up. She saw us on FB and wanted a cold beer. ‘One beer, coming up!’ Easy.

I served the woman and the boy their avocado toast. Then, another pilgrim came through the gate (Remember – I’m closed, right?) . She wanted a waffle. I turned on the waffle machine, then served the grilled sandwiches and orange juices.

The waffle Pilgrim was from Scappoose, Oregon. She saw my coffee sign and we chatted a bit about growing up in Oregon. Her waffle done, I scooped the butter and put some blueberries on to it, along with some real Canadian maple syrup. Note – I still have not eaten myself yet.

The woman and the boy were now joined by a large group of other kids from Los Angeles. They bought some other stuff. Then they wanted some hot popcorn. Hot food on a hot day – curious. A crowd of pilgrims at a very hot 3 in the afternoon was not what I was expecting on my first day out, Based on our previous experience of Camino traffic, there should be no Pilgrims after 1pm. Or very few.

I refilled water bottle with a little fresh squeezed lemon. It helps with the hydration.

Finally, they were all on their way. I waved goodbye, then cleaned up, again, and made my way into the house. Smiling and sweaty. An unusual but surprisingly good day. So many people just coming into the gate to take videos or photos. And to tell me how lovely they felt just standing there and looking at the scenery. One person smiled ‘It’s very calming here.’ It might sound unbelievable, but it’s true. I heard it so many times today, from so many different countries. Before we moved here I had never experienced this with strangers at my home. I know we can’t fix other people. And we can’t expect them to fix us. But something magical happens when like minded, positive people gather. The energy and acceptance is contagious. One of the women I met today sent me a message later. ‘I saw my dream alive today.’ Who knew a simple food truck and a sometimes, at least lately, scatterbrained American could be a part of something so transformational? This is just the first day. It makes me wonder what day two has in store for me, and the Pilgrims who are on their way here.

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