One of the things I love most about life is the never knowing how my day is going to unfold, that is perhaps the single most important lesson the camino has taught me….enjoy the unfolding of the mystery. It was on the camino that I became most conscious of the newness of the experience of each day. One in particular I will share, relates to a day of walking across the wilderness of the Meseta, the vast central plane which takes about a week to complete. I was on my way out of the City of Sahagun at about 1pm having enjoyed lunch with two fellow pilgrims. One of them was staying overnight in Sahagun and the other was going to catch a train to Leon which was two days walk away. Rather than do the sensible thing, I decided to walk on another 14k to Calzadilla de los Hermanillos where there was only one albergue accommodating 22 people. I knew it was a bit of a mad decision in the heat of the day when my feet were suffering with blisters and still it was what I wanted to do. As I walked alone across the vastness of the Meseta and without any sense of progress I realised I could do this the easy way or the hard way. I could resent the heat, the lack of shade and the lack of facilities. I could worry about the possibility of not getting a bed because I would be arriving late or I could accept the conditions and enjoy the walk. I remember deciding ‘it’s all ok’ and if it comes to it, sleeping under a bush wouldn’t be so bad. I had enough food to survive and I could wear everything in my rucksack to keep me warm overnight.
In any event, outdoor sleeping was unnecessary as I reached the albergue at 5.45pm, there was a place to sleep as well as a few people I knew already there. In fact it turned out to be the place I most enjoyed. The albergue felt really homely, the hospetarios were wonderful, the kitchen was well stocked, the dining room was a treat, they had books, lovely music playing and candles lighting. After the usual arrival routine I went out in search of the local shop which was in fact the front room of someone’s house. I literally walked into the hallway of his house and then on the left was the shop. It was absolutely adorable.
It was like a treasure throve inside and he (the shopkeeper) kept me engaged by showing me everything he had for sale. He kept pulling out additional boxes of pastries, fruit, meats and asking “you want?” It didn’t seem to matter much how I replied because he still had more to show me! He opened the fridge to reveal what was in there and it was packed to the rafters and then he pointed to the vino, ‘did I want some wine’? Moments like this are what make the camino so special. He was a tiny man with a large zest for life, a wonderful warmth and the encounter with him made my 14k walk in the afternoon sun all worthwhile.