Dawn finally came at the Albergue and I packed up. The poor woman who had snored so badly looked terrible. I felt bad having been upset with her during the night. It sounded like she was going home. I felt for her, knowing what it is like to have to cut short your Camino.
Nancy from New Brunswick and I walked down to the plaza by San Martin where we found the best cafe/bar. It turns out that she is a French teacher and is Acadian. She did a year’s exchange as a teacher in Louisiana! She lived in Brobridge and taught in Cecilia. Of course she knew Alexandria! She was going to taxi from Fromista to Villacazar de Sirga to meet her husband and friends. I took off and thought I might stop there, too, or go onto Carrion.
The way out of Frimista took me over the Autovia, and then next to the two lane highway on what’s called the senda, a specially constructed gravelly pathway.
It was warming up fast. There was a beautiful Ermita off the road all by itself that caught my eye. Of course, it was locked. But there was a hole in the door so I could see inside. Once there was a village there. So many layers of history. I laid my pack on a long, moss-covered stone. Was it a tomb? I enjoyed the solitude for a few minutes while I shed some layers. I took the alternative route that was supposed to be more scenic, but it was more desolate than inspiring. Maybe I was just sleep-deprived. I felt slow, and heavy, and there was nowhere to stop after about 10k. But a tiny village called Villovieco was just ahead and I walked into it looking for a cafe. No luck. It was noon, and hot. But…The door to the church was open! What a rarity! I walked in and found several artists restoring the figures on the retalbo of the altar! (I wish I’d taken more photos.)
I asked if there was a cafe in town and they said no. A vivacious young woman came in with some snacks for the artists and she offered me some. We talked a little more, and I must have looked quite tired and hungry because she said in rapid-fire Spanish, “I’m taking you home for lunch!” She took me by the arm and we walked about a block to a small square where she opened the door to a large home and took me into the kitchen, pulled out the table and sat me down with two of the most adorable little girls, who were painting Easter Eggs. Of course, their eyes got very big when they saw this complete stranger in hiking gear plop down next to them!
We chatted in very broken English and Spanish for about an hour. She has a sister who lives in Atlanta. I pinched myself to make myself realize it was real. It was so wonderful.
Macha, the young Mom, was visiting her parents with three children. Her husband and son came in, and her mother was also there. She was sweeping rubbish into a trap door, through which I could see a fire?! I asked about it and Macha said it was a radiant heating system invented by “los romeros!”
The house was over 300 years old, she said, and the family crest was carved into the stone on the front of the house.
I wish I could remember their last name. I asked if we could take some photos and here’s what happened:
She gave me a quick tour of the downstairs, pointing out the taxidermies of a fox on the landing and a wild boar with its hooves also mounted, that her grandfather had shot. It was a glimpse into another way of life, and at the same time, the large staircase reminded me of home.
Macha, Julia and Isabel walked me back to the Camino and Macha kissed me on both cheeks as we said good-bye, as Manuel, my seat mate on the flight to Madrid had done when we reached the baggage claim.
After my run-in with Mr. Albergue, my time with them was such a gift and a blessing!
I walked onto the next village and filled up my water bottles (the visit had been so exciting, I’d forgotten to ask) and met Tammy, a fellow Pilgrim from Texas. We walked and talked for 10k and decided to stop in Villacazar.
When we walked into town, there was Nancy and her group, and we checked into the same Albergue! They were so nice. We toured the large church together and ate dinner together at the Albergue. And I had a good eight hours’ sleep.
I cannot TELL you (or not fully, in a blog comment) how much I loved your story of being swept off to lunch with the three-generation Spanish family. Loving all your stories, and your photos, and using Google maps to track your progress east, and being swept myself back to Spain…