I´ve told you before about the Wave phenomenon: We can live silently here for weeks at a time without hosting anyone, but once a single pilgrim crosses the doorstep, we can count on more showing up the following day, and the day after that, until the house fills up. We don´t know how or why this happens, but we´ve just come off a weeklong flood that included some outstanding pilgrim characters.
We had a French lady whose house burned down. She lost everything she owned, so she figured she might as well walk to Santiago. It´s her way, she said, of saying Thanks to God for simplifying her life. Wow.
We had a guitarist from Uruguay who made us all laugh by confusing the words "lovely" and "lousy."
There were Andy and Eric, two lovely (not lousy!) young men from Potsdam, who found the place "ein
wunderschön, freundlich und hilfsbereit." They were walking with Erzsébet, a 42-year-old woman
from Budapest who will likely die from cancer within the year. She has to stop frequently, use special
medical equipment to perform basic body functions. Her stomach is criss-crossed with surgical scars. She´s lost her hair and her beauty, but so long as she still has energy in the morning she´s up and walking down the trail to Santiago... doing the pilgrimage she´s dreamed-of for years. Andy and Eric slowed down their pace so she could walk with them. They make sure she has a place to sleep each night. They carry her extra water supply in their packs.
Erzsébet was turfed-out of a pilgrim hostel in Boadilla last week. She was giving herself one of her four daily injections, and someone told the hospitalero she was shooting-up drugs in the dormitory. She slept that night on the church porch. Andy and Eric slept out there with her, she said. They gave up their beds, too. "We couldn´t have her sleeping out there on her own," Eric said. "We decide together that she needs help, we can help her. This is the right way to make a camino," Andy added.
"They are so lovely boys," Erzsébet said. "God sends me angels."
On Sunday night in Fromista I attended another guitar concert, and ended up taking home Beth, an English girl whose heels were blistered, split, and infected. The doctor there had ordered her to stay off her feet for four days, so I told her she could spend them here if she wanted. Beth read, snapped beans, wrote letters, chopped onions, set the table, petted Tim, and read "New Yorker" magazines. Her feet were almost back to normal when her friends caught her up and swept her back onto the trail yesterday.
Beth got better. And she got to meet Amado.
Amado is from the Phillippines, he is a Catholic priest of the Redemptorist order, and he is walking the camino barefoot. Not for any fanatical penance, but because he loves the feel of the earth under his feet. It honors the sacredness of the Camino pathway, he said, and keeping an eye on the path ahead keeps his mind in the present moment. Besides, when he wears his sandals (in the afternoons when the pavement heats up), it makes his knees ache all night long.
Wednesday we stayed up late and spoke Christian to one another. It was meat and bread for my soul. Often, when she lets herself, the minister is ministered-to.
|A trip up to the Tumberon, a paleolithic tomb. Big Fun!|
The following day brought Verena, my Austrian Zen master, who is on her way to be hospitalera in Salamanca. Every time I see her it is an hour of intense, deep, difficult truth. It´s good I had Amado here first!
Salted among all these folk were a handsome Basque called Iñigo, a pretty Canadian called Lee, a strapping Swede called Linda, Deirdre who just finished the Camino Portuguese, and Jacqueline. She´s a Dutch lady who lives way up in Ter Apel in the northern Netherlands, on the German border. She left home 18 weeks ago, and walked all the way here. Yesterday morning she rose with the sun and went out to our vegetable garden and gave it a good hoeing. She re-tied the tomato plants, watered, weeded. She dug up all the new potatoes, a job Paddy´s been putting off for a week. And then she thanked me for letting her do all that -- she misses her garden!
Tomorrow, Federico reappears on the scene with a duo of Mexican guitarists and a Paraguayan ambassador. The fun never ends.
Here are some photos of our fields and landscapes... and maybe even a movie if I can make it load!