Something weird is going on. No one can tell me it´s only coincidence.
For weeks we had some kind of company here. We like company. Having guests and family and friends and helpers stay with us is a major reason we are here, so I´m not complaining. I´m just sayin.´
We returned from France, some three weeks ago now, all tuckered-out from the long drive and late nights. Kim left to go walk on the Camino. And Paddy and I decided to just chill out for a while, alone.
We read books and magazines. We cooked simple dinners for one another. We got some more chickens. We did not go out, except to look at the neighbors´churches. We wanted to be alone, and we were. Even though the trail is populated with pilgrims, not a single one sought us out.
We are a "casa de acogida," a "house of welcome" on the Camino de Santiago. We are the place in Moratinos where travelers can come for a cold drink or a rest in the shade. We don´t advertise ourselves, except for a single typewritten sheet on the notice board outside the church, and brief "emergency stop" listings in the UK Pilgrim Guide and the German Paderborn Confraternity guide. Most people don´t stop because they don´t need to, or they don´t know we are here. Others are too focused on walking, and coming to our house requires them to deviate about 300 yards off their course.
It´s OK by us. We don´t have room or energy or money or desire to host big crowds of pilgrims. But we like the one or two that trickle in. They know us from the blog, or the santiago websites, or by word-of-mouth from hospitalero friends back the trail a ways. Or if they´re in need, they ask a neighbor where to go for help, and they send them here. There´s a Casa de Acogida in every town in Spain. They are just not official. You just have to ask the right person, in the right way, and you´re in. (One woman calls these "stealth albergues.")
It was unusual, not seeing a single pilgrim at the gate in so long, especially in high season. But we didn´t really want to see them, so it was OK. It´s like we switched on our pilgrim-repellant force-field. We were invisible to incoming traffic.
And after a few days of R&R, without really saying anything to one another, we got back into the scene again. Paddy went out with the dogs in the morning, and came back with a couple of pilgs. We gave them coffee and little cakes and a sello, and off they went. Evidently the deflector shields were down again, Scotty.
And in the afternoon, some more came. Paddy went off to visit his son in Malaga, and two people were waiting at the gate when I got back from dropping him at the train station. Somehow we´d tripped the invisible Welcome Wave Phase Generator, and the Pilgrim craft were zeroed in.
Over the weekend, I hosted a beautiful French boy and a package designer from Bilbao. On Saturday a musicologist from North Carolina showed up, and Kim phoned from Fromista for us to come collect her. She shimmered back to the Peaceable just in time. I needed her housekeeping and hosting talents to handle the onslaught that flowed in after her: Two old hospitalero friends we met on our very first hospitalero gig in Rabanal del Camino came rolling up in their camper, on their way back to Rabanal for another go-round. Ian, a bluff old barkeep from King´s Lynn, walked in the door. Paddy came back from the south, tanned and un-rested. And then came Marianne the Swiss, too, also walking the camino.
In the spaces between we cut up peaches and cherries for the freezer, and made peach cobbler and way too much Bolognese sauce. So when the big crowd showed up, it´s almost as if we knew they were coming. We had a feast all good to go!
We stayed up late and feasted and visited.
This morning all of them headed out.
How does this work? For weeks we saw no one. And then, only when we were ready, several days of one or two or six or seven. The traffic here flows almost exclusively east-to-west, so it´s not like the people leaving are telling the incoming people we are open for business. Still, somehow they know.
It continues this way for about a week, and then drop off again for a little while, just long enough for us to recharge.
It´s enough to make you believe in cosmic vibes, or energy vacuums, or the attractive scent of merry company.
Whichever it might be, the wind is blowing it from the west. A footfall breaks the Peaceable quiet, and the dogs lift their heads lift from the patio pavement. A hand touches the front gate-latch, and Una and Tim leap up and rush the door, barking and baying and sometimes sending the visitors scuttling down the drive.
The shower is going. Tonight it´s a Chilean guy and his new Swedish sweetie. (They´re crazy about each other.) Tomorrow Kim will recommence her camino, and we expect an Israeli couch-surfer who wants to start her hike from here.
And the evening and the morning are another sunny summer day at The Peaceable -- a place of weird rhythms and sweet surprises and tons of providence. And cosmic wave phase generators, maybe.