Down a country road with wooded hills in the distance; past a sleeping cat and graffiti that read ‘Fellowship of the Camino’ – that made us feel very epic and heroic; past three more cats, one of whom eyed us very suspiciously; we stopped for the cows as they crossed the road from one field to the other, and once more caught up with Lilian. But only for a short while. It was another hot day, and she stopped at a café for a drink. We ploughed on.
Not long later, we came to a roadside ‘café’ – actually just a wooden box with a single banana inside it; other pilgrims had got here before us. Hopefully, they had given a donation to the money box as well.
Through the woods and across a brand new bridge that spanned a brand new motorway – so new it was still closed. It felt very eerie crossing this empty road that would soon be busy all the time.
We finally stopped for lunch at a café called the Casa Calzada. There, we saw a pilgrim and his dog take their rest before heading off together, and were greeted by a little jay who may have been a new friend but more than likely just wanted some food.
We walked past a lush green field; I saw a roadside saying ’80’ seemingly half way across it. I smiled at the idea of animals being told to limit their speed to 80 kilometres an hour. The reality, of course, is that the sign was on the far side of the field and was warning drivers on the road there to limit their speed.
After a drinks break, we left the roadside and headed back into the woods. There, the light of the sun made the field just beyond it glow brightly. I took a photograph to try and capture what I saw but it did no justice to the sight at all. Some gifts are for keeping, others just for the time in which they are given.
Twenty-five kilometres after starting, we arrived in the hamlet of Brea. We had decided to stay at a pensión called, appropriately enough, The Way. Lilian had caught up with us again and came to the hotel to see if they had any spare beds. Unfortunately, they hadn’t, so she left to find somewhere else to stay.
The Way was a pretty plush place. Our room was spacious and had a nice shower. They had a pool outside but although we were now well into May it was not yet in use. If I am ever blessed enough to do another Camino, it will not be in the summer; despite this, I envy summer pilgrims who get to use hotel swimming pools. What a feeling it must be to jump in after a hot day’s walking!
Dinner at The Way was scheduled to be served at six PM. It arrived, though not until a little while later. The slow service was compounded for some by the food not being to their taste. To their credit, the owner tried to provide an alternative but this was one of those days when nothing could be done.
What happened the next morning was more unfortunate than the meal. When we checked out, we were told that we needed to pay for our dinner. I was convinced that we had done so when we checked in yesterday. The son of the owner was brought in and after checking the records confirmed his mother’s statement. To this day, I am still sure that we did pay it but maybe I’m wrong. It wouldn’t be the first time. So, for that reason, and because the Camino is no place for disputes about meals, we paid the requested amount of money and went on our way.
The previous evening, we returned to our rooms and relaxed. Or tried to – for tomorrow would be the last day of our journey; we had decided to walk the 25 or so kilometres that remained between us and Santiago de Compostela. The end for which we had come but which we did not want to happen was almost upon us.