SHE’S ALMOST HERE

This day seems like a week.

I’ve waited so long to see her and now the minutes seem frozen.

I’ve done my peregrino watch from 7:30 am. Watched them come up the hill, wished them Buen Camino, watched them nip to the shop for that last minute scallop shell and photo opportunity, lose the yellow arrow, again, and disappear round the corner having been whistled at like I was herding sheep with a dog. “Come-bye, Shep” – That one nearly got away.

Check watch again. “What do you mean it’s only 10 seconds after the last time you looked”.

God this is killing me. Have another cup of coffee courtesy of the kind cleaner of the pension I’m staying at – 108 to Santiago. Named as it stands opposite the 108 km. marker to Santiago.

These markers would become our friends and our drill sergeants. “Only another 2 km. to go before lunch” or “Come on you horrible man, you’ve been on this hill for hours”. I hate the hills. Not all, but the ones you can see ahead of you, endlessly narrowing to the horizon.

Anyway, that’s killed only another 10 seconds.

The peregrinos begin to dwindle and I think to myself, how am I going to punch in the next 7 hours.

A couple of hours later and I’m chewing my toenails. Then Carlos, the pension owner, says he’s going into Sarria and would I like a lift.

It’s only around 2:30 pm but I can’t contain myself any longer. I say ok and we head off into the town.

Marcos stops at the bus station where AM will come in and wishes me well as he drives on to do his messages.

I need to check out the alberques in the area so AM can get her first stamp in Sarria.

I wander through a pretty desolate part of the town, can’t find any albergues here so decide to sit down for a while with a little drink and maybe a snack.

AM and I had decided on the phone earlier that we should wait to eat in Barbadelo when she arrived instead of Sarria. So I picked a little café/bar around the corner from the bus station.

Cape Canaveral, this is Sarria, begin countdown – T minus 3 hours.

I sat inside and asked the lady for some sort of savoury snack, Empańada de Atun washed down with sidre, the local stuff. Tasted beautiful. Got a piece of Tarta de Almendra.

They have a custom in Galicia of putting a little spirit on top if this almond sponge cake. “Spirit?” I hear you say, never touches my lips. They prick the cake with a fork and drizzle Aguardente, a strong clear spirit which tastes a little like poteen, over the top – perfecto.

I take the cake outside to sit at a table to have a smoke. Only smoke while doing caminos you know.

About 10 minutes go by and a young guy passes by. “Hola!” he says. “Hola!” I reply. He pauses at my table and turns and says “I recognise that accent, your Irish aren’t you”. For the purpose of the Camino and actually in my heart there is only one answer.

He asks to join me and I’m only too glad to have someone while away some time with me.

I’ve been told about the Camino angels before. I don’t mean in a religious way, necessarily, just at times when you’re at your lowest people say you will come across someone, or something that will help you. They say you can meet seven of these angels. Peter, from Dublin was one of my angels, I have had two already, Summer and the Frenchman. Peter would not be the last.

I can’t explain how it works. I can’t put in words how total strangers, you might call them, can meet you and in seconds share with you and you share with them the things in our lives that have brought us to this point.

It’s so open. It feels almost surreal.

We talked solidly for 3 hours. We shared, we cried, we laughed and we drank. This is an odd friendship. The time is irrelevant. Three hours, three years or thirty years, I couldn’t have been closer to another human being than at that moment. Peter, from Dublin you were one of my angels.

Before I knew it I had five minutes before AM would arrive. I had to say goodbye to an old friend. We hugged, after a little whiskey for the road, and shared our wishes for each other. I hope we meet again Peter.

Ran to the bus station for the eight o’clock arrival of my love.

Bus was late. Closer to 8:45 pm before the bus rounded the corner. Eagles soared in my heart this time, not butterflies.

Then she was there. Running down the steps of the bus and into my arms.

I’ve cried a lot on this Camino. Not bad tears, good emotional floods of tears. I wept in her arms while my head rested on her shoulder.

The Camino just got better.

About CJ

Setting out 1st September to walk El Camino. I am walking the French Way and starting at Logroño. My wonderful wife is joining me at Sarria to finish the walk with me.
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