We recently started walking the Camino de Santiago. As is usual in most aspects of our lives, the Camino isn’t going quite as we had expected. We are learning about our limitations of walking, especially uphill with heavy packs. Sheila slept a total of one hour during our first night in a peregrinos’ Albergue, mostly due to several heavy snorers among our 100 plus fellow pilgrims. Sheila expressed her concern the tiles would shake loose from the roof due to the vibrations. We stayed at a much smaller and considerably quieter albergue a few nights ago and both got more sleep, but still not enough.
Since we were facing several kilometers of a steep uphill climb and the rain was pouring down the next morning, we took an alternate Camino path downhill to a small village. We had learned this village had a bus stop and our plan was to bus it to our next destination. We waited for the bus which was due at 10:00 AM. It did not come.
After trying to call the Pamplona bus station without success, Sheila approached a woman who was walking a dog in her bathrobe. (The woman was wearing the bathrobe.) In her limited Spanish, Sheila asked the woman if the bus was coming that day (on Sunday). We think she replied that a bus was doubtful. She left but soon came back up with the bus schedule on her cell phone. Since we were having trouble communicating with her, she called her niece who came around the corner within minutes. In fluent English, her niece explained the 10:00 bus was not coming, but thought another bus would arrive in about four hours. We thanked her, got directions to nearby restaurant, and started toward it.
About half-way to the restaurant, we heard a woman calling to us. Our bus info friend, still in her bathrobe, came running around the corner. She pantomimed driving and inviting us back toward her home. We waited outside talking with her niece, while the woman changed her clothes. Then to our surprise, in this humble little town, we got into her brand new Mercedes. She sped off to Estella, which would have taken us about eight days to walk to given our usual pace.
In addition to the almost surreal and certainly unexpected method of getting to where we wanted to go, we had the pleasure of getting to know both the woman and her niece. We gathered some insight into the culture of their small Spanish village. Almost all family members have continued to live in the village for many generations. They often have to find work in neighboring towns or nearby Pamplona. Every Sunday the extended family gets together for dinner. They also learned a bit about us and our current adventures. We assume their experience with us provided them a good story to tell at dinner.
This woman and her niece went out of their way to respond to our questions about the Sunday bus schedule. Then they went way beyond our request for help. Of course, this would not have happened if we had not initially asked for help.