0km on The Way, a few round town this rest day….by MamaBear
Are we not incredibly blessed? I couldn’t help but think this all day yesterday. For a start we are here in Spain walking together as a family, enjoying each other’s company, eating good food, feeling healthy, loving the sunshine which brightens our spirits, finding a good bed every night, making wonderful memories. We are blessed to be having adventures, waking up not knowing what the day will bring, enjoying the challenge of using different languages, seeing new sights, eating olives, being stretched, avoiding the rain and forest fires (the one we saw beginning two days ago made it to national news on tv last night).
I was contemplating that we are blessed to have an eldest daughter, who is keeping a gorgeous journal (everyone is journalling, but hers is especially artistic). We are blessed to have an eldest son, who ordinarily is a serious meditative type, but who last night at dinner in his extreme exhaustion, laughed and laughed and laughed out loud. We are blessed to have a second son, who gives us laughs at his descriptions of things – let’s not say your ankle is sore when you can say “foot hinge”. We are blessed to have a second daughter who shared her awe and respect for her younger siblings: “I don’t know how the little ones are doing it! I’d have had a paddy if I’d known at the beginning of the day we would go so far.” We are blessed to have a Levi, who takes the lead most days, racing out in front, walking on his own, forging the path. We are blessed to have a youngest son, who cannot walk unless he talks and when no-one will converse with him he will walk for half an hour making up a story out loud that rhymes and would rival Edward Lear for nonsense! We are blessed to have a smallest daughter, who gives us giggles-a-minute for most of the day and opportunities to practise patience and offer encouragement usually for about half an hour on the long-walking-days;-) We are blessed to have a Tessa, who walked 21km to Triacastela with an undiagnosed broken arm, who has plodded on stoically every day without ever complaining. She also slips her hand into yours as she walks sometimes, just to let you know she’s there. That’s blessing.
And that broken arm is a blessing too. For E-Rgirl6 it was a huge bonus when she realised she would get a taxi instead of walking…….although after a few hours of sitting and waiting, she declared, “I prefer walking.” Tgirl8 pointed out some of the blessings: that it was not really sore after the first day, that the swelling went down before we got to medical help so they could put the cast on straight away, that we got to see the monastery at Samos even if we couldn’t stay there as we had planned, that someone helped us call a taxi, that we found the medical centre at Triacastela, that the accident happened not too far from the medical centre (the 21km walk seemed to be fading from her memory already! – but she’s right; we were relatively close to help), that we met lots of kind people in the medical centres/hospital (everyone greets everyone when they enter a waiting room and it feels so friendly in comparison to kiwis who would walk in and take a seat without so much as raising an eyebrow at anyone else), that on three separate occasions when we were asked for passports this formality was overlooked (I suspect my adulterated Spanish explanation accompanied by many hand movements about father having passport and walking from Triacastela to Sarria was more painful than pursuing proper beauracracy), that I understood the forms we had to fill in, that I knew how to catch the bus…….little did she know. I had no idea. But I was blessed by the thought that just as she put her trust completely in me, we have a Father who cares infinitely more for us. I was thankful for the doctors who walked me to the right department instead of giving verbal directions (especially when later we would be given verbal instructions and would end up wandering from department to department down long wide corridors in an enormous sprawling hospital with no idea where we were going but always ending up in the wrong place!) I was thankful that right outside the medical centre in Sarria was a map, and that the first thing I saw on it was Estacion Autobus….exactly where we needed to go. I was thankful at the incredible calm I felt about purchasing tickets to go to a city that I didn’t even know the location of on the map. I wished I had looked at places other than Madrid, Barcelona, Seville and the Camino route, so that I might have had some idea how to answer E-Rgirl6’s question “How many hours will this bus take? Is it overnight?” (the tiny cost was the only clue that it would not be more than an hour). I was thankful we passed a supermercado on the way and could purchase provisions. I was thankful that the bus did not leave for 45 minutes and so we had time to sit down and eat. When we arrived in Lugo, I was thankful that I somehow understood the directions of the bus ticket seller who sent us to the other end of the bus station to “Informacion”. I was thankful I understood the directions to go straight back where we’d come from and find an urban bus stop just round the corner….and that when we did that there was actually a bus stop right there and a timetable which indicated the right bus would arrive in a few minutes. When it hadn’t come in half an hour, I decided to hop on the next bus and ask (you may choke over the use of the word “ask” if you like… what I really mean is I intended to show the hospital name written on paper and gesticulate wildly). But the man behind me in the queue saw the paper and prevented me from boarding and asked the driver exactly what I wanted to know and with fingers, showed me the next one would not be for another hour. I was thankful for him, and the driver who took the time to consult his timetable. We took another taxi. And what a wild ride that was….stop signs are only to be obeyed if you think something might get round the corner quicker than you. If you can make it first, you have right of way. We were all thankful to get out of that taxi alive! As we traipsed around the hospital trying to find the right department I was thankful the girls were happy to follow without complaint and to think it was a bit of an adventure. When they wished the long waits were shorter, we gave thanks for the break from walking! Eventually we found ourselves sitting in a corridor in the “traumatology department” to await a “consultacion”(at least that’s what it sounded like!) Beside us was an old man on a stretcher, who looked near death and his weeping wife, an ancient lady with shaved head and falling-off-hospital gown, an assortment of others, all wearing hospital gowns, looking ill and holding their personal belongings in enormous white and blue plastic bags……some appeared to complain at the waiting time and a very officious white-uniformed lady gave them an animated talking-to, frequently including the word “urgenxia” (emergency, perhaps?) Suddenly a door opened, and although we had been the last to arrive, we were called in by a young lady dressed in green….within 15 minutes the arm was in a cast, the lady had confessed she spoke poor English and I had asked her in English how or where we should pay. She had no idea, but wrote the question in Spanish for me to show to someone at admissions…….which we thankfully found again without any problem. Tgirl8 sighed emotively as we exited the hospital….she was glad it was all over. Only it wasn’t! The others were still walking and didn’t know where they would end up, we still had to get back to Sarria and find them. With thanks again, I texted FatherBear, who had all the information about where we might find an albergue and he replied with a street address. Although the girls were doing perfectly well, I didn’t want to push them over the edge by making them wait another two hours for the next bus and then have to walk all the way back to the map we had used earlier in the day and then somehow get to the street FatherBear had sent, so I approached another taxi driver. He was the friendly sort who made sure I knew that it was 35km back to Sarria and explained how much it would cost – I was thankful for his honesty. And when we arrived in Sarria, he turned off the metre while he looked for the location on his GPS….no matter which spelling he used, he could not find the street. He drove on, refusing to restart the metre, asked men on the street, who could not help and for some unknown reason drove up a no exit street. I turned my head and who should be coming down the road, but FatherBear with some exhausted-looking kids in tow!
The day was not yet over. Blessings were to continue. The council albergue we had hoped to stay in was full – later an elderly French couple we have been passing on and off would tell us it was cramped and not nice. We found another in a lovely stone building with a delightful garden, which everyone was too tired to enjoy and a kitchen no-one had the energy to use! But just up the street was a lovely restaurant offering a wonderful pilgrim’s menu….and Grandpa insisted it was his shout!
After the events of the past few days we decided it would be prudent to try to take a rest day and to spend another night in this albergue if possible (general rule is one night only). The hospitalero went out of her way to accommodate our request and even to move us into a 12 bed dorm this morning (a huge blessing after the snore-chorus of last night in the bigger dorm). So lunchtime saw us eating simple tomato sandwiches and fresh melon here, pondering aloud what we have recently seen and heard:
Tags: 2012, postcard: Spain