Grace and I both awoke after great rest at 6. Our roommate was still asleep. We got up to leave, carried everything quietly downstairs and then, in the red-tiled, entryway, repacked. Our host arrived, bearing bags of fresh bread, jam and fruit to fix breakfast for his other four guests and greeted us in Spanish. By then I had filled out the register with our information and actually overpaid. He had no complaints about that! As we left he said how he hoped we were rested and pointed us to the Way and said “Walk, do not run your Camino.” We laughed and told him we appreciated that.
As we walked outside, we walked into an overcast, misty day. The air was cool. We walked out of the town and eventually came to this beautiful beach where we found a place to sit and eat our breakfast down by where the ocean waves were crashing in. Those ocean waves were mesmerizing.
Then we walked and walked. For a bit we walked with Thomas from Germany. I loved watching Grace chat easily and noticed how, just like those in her salon chair, people really opened up with her.
We parted from Thomas in a town where we thought we would get a coffee. But we discovered all was still closed. We walked in the mist on a windy, tree-lined road. We wound up and up to a coastal view. And then we continued along the coast. For a time our roommate from Canada had caught up and joined us. She and Grace walked together. It was a good time for me to just be quiet.
I was enjoying being with Grace. I found her such a delightful person. She was so engaging and we had many meaningful conversations. One thing I was struck with, was her use of self-deprecating, even negative humor, against herself at times. It was like her view of herself did not equal mine of her. This alerted me to a basic message, that God had a higher view of me than I had of myself. It reminded me, that frequently, the largest work was for our own hearts to accept and receive the grace and love God gave and gives. Unlike my beautiful daughter, the comments did not come out of my mouth frequently, but like her, if that’s what it was, I had a long ways to go toward loving myself.
Also, Grace was very keen on making certain I was cared for, asking about food, snacks, lunch, my feet, etc. She consistently demonstrated this “other focus” and was particularly demonstrating that love for me.
I also was noticing how much the Camino had worked on me. I could be silent and listen and “just be” much longer than previously was possible.
We came to the large city of Illanes and there stopped for coffee and this amazing, specialty, pastry treat. I rubbed down my feet!
The town was full of people and readying for a parade for some festival. We saw part of it…
We stopped for apples at a small, roadside market then walked on to Playa de Poo where we stopped for the meal of the day. It was this massive feast served with wine and bread.
We enjoyed it all. Then we walked 10k further and when at end of strength, and pain in my feet, arrived at Villahormes, a private albergue, which was kind of a commercial enterprise. The woman checking us in was fairly non-communicative. It was like she didn’t like us being there much. The place felt crowded, which was such a contrast to the previous night. She made certain every bed in the small room of 12 bunks was filled.
Those who had preceded us to the place were frustrated at this woman who ran this place, for she had hijacked the washer/dryer to do her own laundry, leaving the pilgrims waiting to address theirs. Since Grace and I had not done any the previous night, we were among those in need. There were complaints flying about this.
There was a single bathroom without a door into the common area that boasted two sinks, two showers with curtains and a couple toilets with doors for all to use. True communal living!
The metal bunk beds were rickety, as if held together with just one of the necessary 25 bolts. I was on the top bunk above this Frenchman, but it was frightening getting up on my bunk for me and for him below me! The whole frame swayed and shook as I swung myself up there to set up my bed. We finally got our things into the washer and then dryer and they dried forever. After two hours in the dryer, they were still wet. I pulled some things out and hung them up. Grace, meanwhile, was out on the patio, drinking a glass of wine and talking with two guys, one from Germany and the other from Columbia, who had joined up hiking together on the Camino. I sat down and joined them for a short time. The guy from Columbia, young, handsome, rough looking, taking long drags on his cigarette, looked at me and said, “I bet you know what I am going to ask you.”
I laughed and said, “Nope, I’m at a loss.”
He said, “What do you think of Trump?”
I said, “Oh, that question!”
That was a popular question and concern all along the Camino. Many spoke of our election campaign, for at that point we were more than a month before the election. He and I talked briefly about the impressions I have had from the campaign rhetoric. Since I was exhausted, I soon excused myself and went to bed.
I got to bed at 9:15 pm and awoke two hours later to go to bathroom. And as I lay there, the dryer stopped running ringing the buzzer. I needed to get up anyway, and knew I didn’t want the things to sit there if still wet, which might be a possibility. I grabbed the top left large rear rail and the far rail along the wall, and swung my feet over the bed. I got my feet to the bed below and slowly lowered myself to the floor. It only had felt like a 8.0 earthquake to my lower bunk companion!
Our clothes were mostly dry, except socks, which could dry on my pack. I pulled them out, used the toilet, got back into my bunk, and next awoke at about 530. I didn’t want to disturb my bed partner so hoped he’d awaken soon. His alarm rang half hour later. But he just turned it off. It rang again. And again he turned it off. At that, I decided to get up.
I began to get my stuff gathered, while the French travelers made their breakfast and warmed their coffee in the microwave. I ate something. Grace and I got ready and began to walk. The walk was through the countryside
and we arrived at our destination, Albergue Casa Belén, at 10:30 am. Brigitta greeted us warmly, interrupting herself from a phone call, and said in her German accent, to rest as we would like.
Grace and I went into their small chapel. It was this separate building. It had clearly been dedicated to God for as we entered the place was soaked with His peace and presence. Grace and I were blessed by the sweetness of the place. She stretched out and rested.
I read this in my journal, a note from Amy: “As you walk this journey of renewal may you encounter new experiences, new people and a new connection with the Lord. We will be walking and praying for you every step with you. You are a special and important person to our family and our church family. Enjoy, refresh, find renewal and come back ready to regale us with amazing stories.”
After a while in that place, we knew for certain we needed to stay the day.
After Brigitta ended her call, I asked if we could stay that night with them.
She told us it was too early to check in, but if we came back later, yes that was fine. She allowed us to leave our packs there. We took some things and walked back to the village, Cuerres, that had only one cafe in it. We arrived before it had opened, and sat outside on park benches, waiting. A group of folk on beautiful horses arrived, got off, cared for their mounts, then entered the café. We entered as well and sat there for a couple hours.
We ate tapas, drank beer, water, and wine, along with purchasing some other snacks. We did a crossword puzzle together, Grace laughed at me because I said I hated crosswords, at first, which was exactly what Gabri had told her when they were last traveling together. But in the end, I had loved the challenge of doing them as a team. This was just what Gabri had told Grace. It was this stellar time together. We talked, laughed, bantered about the crossword and enjoyed one another. Eventually, the weather cleared.
I said: “Grace, the sun is out. Let’s go to the beach.” So, we paid 10.70E for all that (!), walked back to Albergue Casa Belén, grabbed our beach stuff and walked about a mile following the “Playa” signs to eventually arrive at the beach.
We found this gorgeous cove, played in the surf and then laid out in the sun. I never have liked lying in the sun previously, until that day, there. It was wonderful. I felt so blessed. We rested and slept until the tide began to come into the cove further and further, and soon would have filled it. We then made our way back to the far side and then got shoes on and climbed back to the road and walked back. It was a great walk. The area in full sun was beautiful. We felt like we were soaking in the vitamin D!
At the house Manfred, Brigitta’s husband, was there to welcome us. He had guests who had returned. They’d begun walking from his place and left their car but the mom, of this mother daughter team, could not possibly make it so had returned and soon left for home by car.
I washed clothes after Manfred gave us a tour of the area. We were their only pilgrims that evening. They had two bedrooms, which could hold four pilgrims each. Grace and I were both able to be in bottom bunks. We shared a room. They had two bathrooms. There was also a kitchen and fridge, near our bedroom, with cupboards filled with food for us. We ate four garden cucumbers from the fridge and sausage and cheese before dinner.
They prepared dinner and we ate with Manfred and Brigitta. The dinner included salad that Manfred invited Grace to help make, bean soup, incredible Bread, wine, and a cake for dessert. We shared about life as we ate. They were richly delightful people.
Manfred and Brigitta were from Germany, but had lived in Spain for years for his work. While living there, they had walked the Camino and portions of various routes more than once. When they walked the northern route they came to this place and decided they wanted to build a house to welcome pilgrims. That was several years back. Since then they had welcomed some 8000 pilgrims into their 8 beds!
They didn’t need help with dishes and invited us to join them in the chapel when the bell rang for their Taize worship time. Joining them again in the chapel was so sweet. We listened to a song. Sat in silence. Manfred led us to consider choosing a rock for something to lay down and a marble or more than one for something grateful. I chose two rocks and three or four marbles. Since on the Frances Route there is a place to lay down a “stone” at a cross, this was especially significant for me to have this opportunity here. It was sweet. We sang a Taize song and were silent with music. Grace cried and I just soaked in the beauty there. Manfred and Brigitta hugged us goodnight and goodbye for they knew we would be leaving before they got up.
Back up at the house we went to sleep. Slept great. Awoke at 6. I read then we ate some breakfast.
We got in the road at 740 am and stopped in the first town we came to for an espresso for Grace!