People. The Camino is in big part about people. There was the shop keeper today who offered to drive us to the albergue with our groceries because it was raining. We declined as we were already wet and did not want to soil her car.
Earlier today a youngish guy in a navy and white tracksuit sauntered over to us as we leaned against the stone wall outside the church. He was carrying keys and offered to open up the church for us to have a look. Over 500 years old, the balcony upstairs looked like it had never been dusted in all that time! Then the man asked if we’d like to go into the belfry. Of course!
There was Manuela, who cooked us a fine dinner last night and hugged and kissed me on both cheeks because the children liked her vegetable soup and salad from her garden. The boys especially liked the six fillets of fried pork they were served too! A friendly, engaging, generous host makes such an impression.
Then there’s Vincent from New York, who we keep bumping into.
He cooked a fabulous pasta dish for some others the first day we met him and he gave us the leftovers. Unforgettable. He reminds me of one of our kids – walks into a room bringing life and his stories, then breezes on to the next person so no one misses out on his presence! He also reminds the kids they have to clean up the kitchen as they go about their cooking. (By the way, Vincent is walking in memory of his husband, Antonio, who passed away nearly two years ago. People walk for all kinds of reasons.)
And do you see Corey in the photo with Vincent? He’s one of the fair number of Aussies (and Kiwis) who are walking.
There are other people too.
Lots of Spaniards, Germans, Italianos, French, Dutch and Irish too, as well as a Canadian, a Belgian and a Korean who speaks no Spanish and no English so is pretty isolated in his walk, but seems happy that way. The Polish lady has left us behind. Actually, everyone we walked with the first week are far in front of us now. Bruce and Jenny are kindly sending us updates about which albergues are closed, whether there are kitchens for us to do our own cooking and warnings about where there are no shops to purchase food. People helping people.
Tonight there will be a dinner cooked for everyone staying here at this collection of cold stone buildings filled with icons and paintings and ancient milk cans and statues and books and empty picture frames and a carved wooden sheep and plastic crates and horse saddles (dozens of them!) and bells and boxes of oranges – it’s like a massive second-hand shop…..and a kind man is cooking dinner for thirty or so people. No money is charged – we simply leave a donation to express our gratitude.
When we were in Caceres a few days ago three of the kids and I cooked an awesome four course meal for a mere few euros. We then challenged the men and remaining child to do the same for the same price. So we had two A.M.A.Z.I.N.G. home cooked meals. We’ve had a lot of pasta, sauce and salad too. And just now we have bartered another meal for in a couple of nights’ time. Vincent is going to cook for us in exchange for being allowed to move into our room tonight. You see today there was rain forecast for the whole day. And indeed it looked grey when we started.
…but the last half hour we got caught. It wasn’t heavy, but it was enough to get us wet. And it was just 14 degrees outside (and colder inside the delightfully romantic but frigid stone buildings!) So when we got a fire going in our room, we were quick to agree when Vincent suggested he move in with us in exchange for cooking a meal. Of course, he could have come anyway (indeed we were informing everyone we had spare beds AND fire), but memories of his pasta still linger a week later!
So the Camino continues to be about people…..and food.
Distance: 21.4km Total distance: 369km