Did someone mention Camino Angels? Well, just in case no one has, I think I have one….
I slept very well the first night in Pamplona but after that, I haven’t had much luck after that. I think I managed to sleep less than an hour on the second night in SJPP and again in Valcarlos last night. I don’t know what is that is causing this restlessness. And this is probably why I left the albergue in SJPP, leaving my eye glasses on the floor. I was disheartened when I realized it yesterday about 3 miles outside of SJPP. I wasn’t going to hike back to SJPP just to retrieve Them. I won’t be able to read or see well without it (it is bifocal) but I have J with me. I’ll get by.
I was tired but I got up cheerfully this morning, made breakfast for us and headed out into the rain. It was 50 degrees this morning so the rain made me feel somewhat refreshed in spite of my lack of sleep. I was ready for the day’s hike. So I thought….
I remember our first Camino in the same location 2 years ago – we were flying! Well, we didn’t exactly feel like flying today but our spirits were high and our mindset was to accept whatever would come our way. About half way into the day’s walk I found myself running out of breath and had to stop frequently, simply because I didn’t have enough energy! I have to mention here that today’s hike is probably one of the most challenging segments of the Camino. The total distance from Valcarlos from Roncesvalles is only about 13.5K but you have to climb up the last 8K with a 650 meter height gain. Needless to say, I didn’t have the optimal condition to do this with less than a couple of hours of sleep in the last 48 hours. We came to a spot where the trail briefly meets the N135 highway, after a series of vigorous climb and before receding into the now very wet forest, and decided to take another short break when a car pulled over. The passenger opened his door and I instantly realized it was Antoine, the French gentleman who registered us as pilgrims at the SJPP Pilgrims Office, this time and two years ago. I shouted my greetings to him for I was pleasantly surprised to see him again! Then he said, “you left your eye glasses at the albergue!”
I mean, what is the likelihood of meeting him, two days later, in some out-of-no-where place, and exactly at the moment when we decided to take a break and peep out of the forest! Also, precisely at the moment his car was passing by and he recognizes me, as the one who left her eye glasses! Okay, you might think I am making a big deal out of an ordinary matter but I choose to think otherwise. I think it is lovely! I think it is a very important reminder for me that people are good and kind. Sure, I can always get a new pair of eye glasses (while in Spain, if I want to) but that’s not the point. In that brief moment I reaffirmed my belief that this is a holy moment, when a person simply re-members (with) the other. That is all it takes! Lovely!
I gave Antoine the name and address of our hotel in Santiago so he can mail them to me – he didn’t have the glasses with him. I know, I still have to do the Camino without them, but that is fine! And, despite of my tiredness we made it to Roncesvalles, safely. And, as they say, tomorrow is another day!
I thought the story ends here but, no!
To make a long story short, no bar or restaurant was open last night. This means that our now growing number of pilgrims (total 10) might not get a chance to eat tonight (after a day of vigorous climb!). I decided that I won’t starve to death by missing one meal so I assumed my usual daily routine; shower, washing clothes, clean boots and gators, etc. in the meantime, J was outside in the hallway and seemed to be engaged in conversation with someone. He came in a few minutes later and announced to all of us that the albergue personnel will bring bocadillos (sandwich) for everyone around 6 pm. And the two strangers he was talking to (turned out that they were passing looking for a restaurant for dinner for themselves and their twin boys – the boys wanted something else other than what their mom had prepared for the road trip) offered to drive J to the nearest town so that we can buy some beer, wine and water. Everyone shouted for joy! It turned out to be a great night amongst strangers, including this nice couple with the cutest 3 1/2 year old twin boys! I should mention that the husband, Juan, had walked the Camino a few years ago so he understood our situation. And the wife, Carmen had taught Spanish in the LA area a few years so they spoke perfect English. All of us pilgrims offered them our gratitude with hugs and kisses when they drove off to their destination after the party. They were definitely Camino Angels.