BootsnAll Travel Network

Entertaining Angels

I´ve arrived in Spain.

The journey here was ardous, and I am very, very tired. When I finally made it to Pamplona, I decided to stay here for 2 days before heading on to Roncevalles, where I will be starting the Camino. I want to be well rested before starting such a long journey.

But, back to the actual getting here:

One plane from San Francisco at 9am; one plane from Atlanta at 6:30 pm; arriving in Madrid at 9 am the next day; waiting 5 hours for the next bus to Pamplona; a 5 hour bus ride to Pamplona; and then finally rest, in Pamplona, which has to be  one of the nicest cities I´ve ever been in.

The traveling here itself was event filled, and far beyond dull.

While waiting in the airport I saw 3 women looking at me rather curiously. What? I thought, are they looking at? It turned out that they worked for the company that made all of the clothes I have on, Athleta. They were all decked out in Athleta stuff , too. As their clothes are fabulous for traveling, and tougher than nails without looking like you are on safari, I told them how much I loved their clothes. They took my picture in the airport, modeling their travel pants…..So, women readers, look them up online.

Then as I got on the plane, I noticed all the tall, blonde people getting on. As I am tall and blonde, this seemed odd..until I found out the plane was heading to Denmark after Atlanta. Everyone thought I was from Denmark, too, and kept talking to me in Danish. They thought I was joking that I could not understand Danish…

My seat mates on the next two flights were engaging and funny-both of them two totally different people, yet somewhat similiar in personality:witty, irreverent and complicated. One of them wasa man on his way to see his mother in who was living in assisted living; othe other was a young woman on her way to Morocco alone.

When I finally got on the bus in Madrid to head to Pamplona, a spectacularly well dressed woman, wearing entirely red, was seated next to me, and I found out that the Spanish I learned in Central America was just fine for Spain(something I had been somewhat preoccupied with the last few days).

One thing that strikes me often is about travel is the way that one meets these random people who one would never meet. It´s always wonderful, eye opening, and a great experience.

The other thing that really affects me when I´m traveling with people I don´t know is how people share what are sometimes intensely personal things about their life. Maybe it´s because they may never meet you again, or maybe it´s just because you are the right person to share things with at that moment.

Whatever it is, is is such an act of grace and hunility to listen to others, to hear what they are saying, to smile, to nod, to be there-sometimes, to even encourage or advise. I become more aware of the experience of others, and more understanding that everyone´s life experience is totally different-so many  different ways to experience life. The human landscape truly is vast.

I also become more aware of the suffering of others-everyone, no matter how they may appear, is suffering, or has suffered. It seems this suffering is what brings total strangers together and creates these sort of otherwise impossible conversations and exchanges.

Those people who tell me stories about having these horrible seat mates on planes-well, I´ve yet to have one of those. I´ve always lucked out. But perhaps it is my perspective.

The woman on the bus, wearing red, was suffering terribly. She had just been diagnosed with cancer, again. She sported a butch haircut, her hair just growing out from her last series of chemo treatments. She was so put together, so perfectly mannered, that when she began telling me about herself and her situation I was somewhat surprised.

These conversations always start out with, ¨I have no idea why I´m telling you this, but…¨and then they move on into some inner part of themselves, where they are suffering terribly, or have suffered in the past.

After she told me about her cancer, I told her that not that long ago, I was very ill myself, and that I understood what she was going thru. But, I also told her that that illness was partly what moved me into new areas and adventures, and that a new life has come out of it. That I had always wanted to travel the world, and so on. Also that the big change for me after this devasting illness was to devote myself to giving to others: and, that I think this probably saved my life. I told her about some of my experiences I´ve had so far, volunteering around the world, and what a wonderful experience it has been.

The woman reached out and held my hand. We were both so moved by the others story, and we just sat there for awhile, just like that.

Then she asked me why I was in Spain. I told her that I was here to walk the Camino de Santiago. She asked me why.

¨It´s something I have dreamed of doing, something that would have been impossible for me not that long ago. It´s a spiritual journey for me, and a journey of thankfulness.¨, I told her.

She removed her hand from mine and said,¨We were meant to have met. It is not random chance that I have met you. I have a sense of hope I have not had for a long time.¨

She lifted up the sleeve of her jacket, and took off a bracelet, made of wood, featuring pictures of the saints, and put it on my wrist. ¨For your journey.¨, she said.

Then she asked where I was going next, wrote down the name of a sweet little hotel and nearby place to eat a quick dinner.

When her stop came, she hugged me, she  had tears in her eyes, she put on these enormous sunglasses. …and, perfectly polished, she disappeared.

I´ll never know her name, but I´ll be walking the Camino for her, as well.

You never know when you have entertained angels unawares…



8 responses to “Entertaining Angels”

  1. Sue says:

    Hi Gigi,

    It was a pleasure meeting you at SFO. (I was the tall one from Athleta) We did not mean to stare at you. We just get excited when we see people wearing our clothes, and you wear them well!

    If you get a chance, check out our new website: There is a Customer Spotlight section I think you would enjoy. If you have any pictures of you from your travels that you would like to share, send them in!

    I enjoyed reading your blog, and I wish you all the best on your travels!


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