Camino de Santiago: Day 6 (Christina)

From Los Arcos to Torres del Rio (7.6 km)

I am a mother on the Camino today.

I sleep in until 6:30.  Me feet are feeling better but they are still tender.  I think today should be a rest day and enquire to see if I can stay for another day.  Yes, but I must leave for the morning when they clean the Albergue. Well, it has been raining all night, thunder storms in fact, and it is still raining this morning.  It is Sunday and nothing is open so what would I do and where would I go for the morning?  Even the church is closed until 3:00.

So I decide to walk to the next village, only 7.6 km away, nice and easy.  I take my time this morning.  The Albergue offers breakfast for an extra three euro – all the coffee you can drink and delicious home made ryebread, just like my mother makes, with butter and jam.  Ahhh, a taste from home.  I enjoy three cups of coffee, leisurely.  I visit for a few minutes with the Irish girls but they are heading out early, 7:00, undaunted by the rain.  Alex is going slow today too so we start to chat over our coffee.  We end up having a rather interesting conversation about yoga and meditation and energies, just what I needed.  She is only 23 years old, but is very grounded and seems much wiser than her years.

Breakfast with Eleanor (left) and Sinead (middle),
the Irish nurses and Alex (right) from the US.

As I start to pack up my stuff, I notice Javier, the young lad who gave me the lower bunk, is still hanging around.  I´m surprised as it is usually the young people who are first out the door.  He seems sad to me and I ask him a couple of times if he is ok.  Then he asks if I am walking and if he can walk with me.  I´m quite surprised.  Why does this young lad want to walk with an old woman like me?  As we pack up our gear, he offers me his Compeeds which are a necessity for bad blisters.  He says his feet are perfect so he doesn´t need them.  He refuses to accept money for them, even though I know they are expensive.

Javier and I are the last ones to leave this morning.

And so we set off together.  He is so sweet and offers to switch packs with me because my pack is heavier.  Of course I refuse the offer.  He speaks about as much English as I speak Spanish so I think we´re going to have a pretty quiet walk.  In short order, we take a wrong turn and a Spanish lady directs us back to the pack.  I must pay more attention!

As we continue to walk, I notice he is teary eyed.  I ask him is he is ok, and he replies he has allergies.  When I offer him some medicine, he admits it isn´t allergies but he is really sad.  I tell him that if he needs to cry, just go ahead and cry.  I don´t mind.  And so he cries.  And cries.  After he tells me what is bothering him.  What I get from his story is that he is estranged from his mother, he is unemployed even though he has a university education (PhysEd teacher), and he is still hurting from his parent´s recent separation.  There is a lot weighing on this lad.  I can´t offer any words of wisdom because I simply don´t have the language skills.  All I can offer is empathy, sympathy and a shoulder to cry on.  I think it is what he needs.

And then we get lost, again.  This time, we have no idea which way to go and nobody is around.  Luckily a tourist drives by, sees our confusion, drives a little further and then turns around to come back to us.  ¨I saw pilgrims in the village that way,¨ he tells us, even offers to drive us.  I am tempted but it is only a couple of kilometres away.  He has done his good deed for the day.

Detour from the Camino – this way to the town with pilgrims.

As we approach the town, I suggest we get a cool drink.  It is then that Javier discloses he is broke.  He had started the Camino with a girlfriend who has since left him to party and she had the money.  He has 50 cents to get to Logrono where his uncle lives.  I buy him a drink and give him all the food I have in my pack.  I´m stopping soon and don´t need it today.  He is moved to tears with gratitude.  This boy is such a lost soul, my heart really goes out to him.

At the restaurant, I run  into Agnes and Schushan,
the Hungarian girls.

A few kilometres later, I reach my destination and we say our good byes. He kisses both of my cheeks and thanks me for being a mother to him today.  I slip him 5 euros (my kids will laugh when they read this  – this is something my mother would have done 🙂 and wish him well.

I check myself into an Albergue – it´s big and seems to be attracting all the young people.  Little do I know that all the old people have gone to the one down the road….well, no one sent me the memo, how was I to know?  After settling in, I decide to walk around the little village to see what it has to offer. It is Sunday and everything is closed.  But pilgrims are coming through in hordes and I look to see if I recognize anybody.  First I see Daniel, the young lad from England who had joined our dinner party a few days ago.  And then, lo and behold, Pauline shows up.  She stops to have a coffee with me so we can catch up on the past few days.  She has lots to share as she has been up to some ¨shenanigans¨ as she puts it. She has me laughing my head off with her stories.

Home for the night. These beds were pretty rickety
and creaked every time someone moved. 

View from the bedroom window. Later, this road
was busy as pilgrims passed through the town. 

She has given me permission to share her funniest story.  I hope I do it justice.  When she was in Pamplona she decided she was going to skip curfew and stay out all night, along with two other Pilgrims, a couple of 40 something year old guys from Belgium and Austria.  The plan was to stay out all night and then go back to the Albergue when it opened up at 6:00.  Well after a night of drinking and dancing they all got tired in the wee hours of the morning and decided to try to get back into the Albergue which of course was locked up tight.  But there was an open window which one of the guys hoisted Pauline up to.  As Pauline pointed out, they were completely pissed but had the wherewithall to empty their pockets of change so as not to disturb their fellow pilgrims….but they couldn´t remember where they put the change.  Anyways, Pauline got in through the window and rummaged her way through the house to the front door: it was padlocked and there was no way to let someone in (how´s that for a fire hazard!).  Anyways, the other guys had to hoist themselves up through the window too.  In the morning, Pauline overheard another Pilgrim tell the story of a vivid dream he had where he swore he saw someone come in through the window and stand over him….It was all Pauline could do not to laugh.

After coffee, Pauline heads off to Viana, 10 km away.  And then I see Laila, my other friend on the Camino.  Later, I go for a big lunch and end up eating it with an older man named Roger, also from Ireland.  It was a quiet, thoughtful lunch, which I really enjoyed.

I spend the afternoon lying on my bed, writing in my journal, just resting my feet as my nurses had ordered.  I am anxious to get on the computer to let everyone know how I´m doing, especially Chris who I haven´t talked to since day 2.  That computer has a voracious appetite for euros….I spend 7 euros and only post two days.

I hang out with the other pilgrims who are all young people full of fun. They don´t seem to mind having an old lady hanging out with them and I notice how much I am enjoying myself in their company.

My dinner is a simple affair as I´m not very hungry after that big lunch.  I buy a half dozen eggs and boil them.  I eat two for dinner along with a piece of bread and some of my salami which seems to be lasting forever.  Delicious!

My dinner tonight.

I buy some fruit, an orange and an apple for just 80 cents in the Albergue store.  Now, along with my remaining boiled eggs, I have food to get me started in the morning.

I am feeling great.  My feet are healing nicely and I feel rested and ready for a good day on the Camino tomorrow.

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2 Responses
  1. Jurgen says:


    Sounds like you are having an enlightening and rewarding experience on this pilgrimage. Thanks for sharing so candidly.

    Buen Camino!


    • christina says:

      Hi Jurgen,
      I am so surprised at what each day brings on the Camino. Each day begins with no plans, no expectations. I love just letting the day unfold, completely in the moment, taking everything that comes my way. I wonder sometimes if I am sharing too much in my posts, but I feel compelled to share the good, the bad and the ugly. I hope someone will let me know if it is too much!
      Thanks for following along. I really appreciate the comments on both my posts and Chris´ especially during the low moments on the Camino.
      Take care,