While the first day on the Camino was nothing but skipping and singing merrily downhill, the last three days proved a bit more difficult. We happily went to bed that first day dreaming of flat, sheep-filled fields and woke up just in time for breakfast and to be the last few pilgrims staggering onto the road — most leave at 7 am or earlier to try and beat the midday heat.
While we tried to follow the directions a lovely Spanish lady gave us (we understood about two of the hundred words she said), we met a determined looking woman marching her way out of town. She didn’t know the way, but she knew she’d find it eventually, and didn’t seem one bit worried.
We followed her no-nonsense steps up and out of the tiny one-street village (she did find the way without a hitch) and onto a walking path cut straight into the cliffs high above the stunning sea. The sun was rising in the distance, streaking across the sky before bouncing along the waves of the ocean. We caught our breath and spent the rest of our day drafting off of this confident woman.
Marissa, our new friend and guide to everything Spanish for the day, bubbled over with facts and stories about Spain, her wild times spent in the US, and anecdotes about the Camino. She got our blood pumping by walking just too fast for comfort but being too interesting to let walk into the distance.
After a day of chatting and walking, flirting to and from the shoreline, we found ourselves in a town we were planning on stopping in. But, lured by her fantastic flair for life, we followed her 4.6 more miles into the next town. Climbs met us right as we left our safe haven and rolled us up and down until we finally made it into the next town — only to be told there were no rooms in the hotel.
Marissa came to the rescue, leading us to another hotel just before we cracked.
The next day, sadly having to leave our new found friend behind to hop a day ahead on the Camino (to make it to my mom’s plane on time), involved a similar mix of hill and staggeringly beautiful hilltop views of an ocean bluer than the clear blue sky. Words do the walk no justice at all — it is a sight you have to sweat to understand, as it relies as much on the hard journey as the tantalizing reward.
And then, after spending a loud night over a bumping discoteca, we rose to seize the day. It was raining. We got lost. We didn’t find breakfast until far down the road. My jacket was not waterproof after all. My boots weren’t either. And then there were no nice hotels in which to celebrate our wet trek and my mom’s last night in Spain.
Happily, the bruises, blisters, and burnt up energy are always worth it after a hot shower and warm meal. Well, not always, but in this case, I wouldn’t have traded our ‘hardships’ for anything because, at the end of the day, we still are in Spain living a dream. It’s not every day that I am so lucky.
My mom, giving me mom advice before she leaves me to my own devices in a foreign country, told me to enjoy every moment in life. Whether wet or dry, hot or cold, cranky or not, I am alive and able to take on this great adventure. And that, in and of itself, is worth cherishing.