By the time you read stage 12 in the Brierley guidebook (the bible of the Camino de Santiago), many are struggling. Even the residents write messages of encouragement on their driveways. In English, this reads, “Good walk, pilgrim!”
Perhaps it is the accumulated weight of day after day of walking that causes many to despair. Perhaps it is the hills. Or the rocks. Yes, probably these. There are so many of them! But they are easy materials for an artist’s imagination as well.
Not too far into my day I stopped at a little shop for a bathroom break and a cup of coffee. Sitting dejected at a table was Gisele, a young Austrian girl who had stayed at the same donativo as I in Tosantos.
“How are you?” I asked.
Her face crumpled and tears sprang to her eyes. “Not good,” she admitted. I knew that her foot had been hurting her. It had gotten worse, and she did not think she could make it through the walk today, which traveled through countryside sparse of habitation.
I suggested a bus or taxi into Burgos and she admitted that she did not want to ask her father for extra money for such an indulgence, whether or not it was necessary.
“I am sure he would not mind,” I said to her, putting myself in her father’s place.
She didn’t seem convinced. After a little more chatting she decided to pay the money for the taxi. The sadness had passed and she now had a plan to continue. It felt good to be a small part, no matter how unremarkable, of another’s Camino just when she needed it the most.
Later, I saw Gisele in the cathedral in Burgos. Her demeanor had changed totally. “How I love this place!” she said. Indeed, it is a highpoint in the trip. And, since I have many more photos to share with you, I will continue this series beyond just 100 photos. Will you join me on the Way? I hope so.
If you’ve missed any of these photos, feel free to backtrack over here.