I joined the early group of walkers yesterday morning. Early means setting off at 6.30am. That always seemed like such a good idea when I lie in my bed at home but I never get out of my bed to check. Yesterday I checked. It is a very good idea!
The air was cool and the sun was rising and all around us people were setting off to work. We were setting off to walk.
Remember I said there were four experienced walkers along with two newbies? The thing I didn’t explain was that the experienced Camino walkers are very organized. They don’t think they are – they joke about it all the time – but I think they are. For one thing they have books and printed blogs to guide us…. this might seem like an obvious addition but remember they are carrying those books for ever kilometer they walk.
Anyway there we were, the three early risers. I was half-listening to the instructions and tips as the other two read from their books. All was going really well, really well…. until we passed a couple of gate posts.
As we sauntered straight past we could see there were beautiful yellow flowers growing in front of them, pretty. An hour later we saw the beautiful flowers again when we revisited the gate posts… We had missed the yellow arrow pointing left behind the flowers.
We had walked on, oblivious, enjoying hedge-less crop fields. We trudged over rutted farm roads. We marvelled at the height of the bamboo. It was only when we came to a junction and there was no guiding arrow that we realised there might be a problem…
From time to time as we’ve walked along these Camino roads we’ve seen workers in the fields. In the blazing sun they plant tiny tomato plants where the automatic planter has left a gap. They wave Bem Dia but we have never had a chance to talk to them…. until now.
Madge spotted them at the other side of the field and off we went to ask for their help. She explained our problem using a little Portuguese, a little Spanish and a little English and they understood! They knew exactly where we went wrong and they told us. Unifortunately, our Portuguese wasn’t up to the challenge.
We thanked them and resigned ourselves to going back the way we had come. That was a sad moment for me (imagine some sad piano music here) because I’m not too fond of the deep ruts) but Rita reminded me that it was a beautiful day and sure what else do we have to do?
Sad moment over, we retraced our steps. And that’s when the angel appeared!
In a jeep! One of the workers had taken pity on us when he realised we didn’t understand his directions. He hopped into his jeep, picked us up…. and returned us via the non rutted field roads to the gate posts! Our thanks was profuse, in Portuguese, Spanish, English and Irish. He seemed to understand because a smile covered his face as he drove away.
The sun was hot, the legs were tired but we floated for kilometers after that.
Sometimes we miss the signs but it turns out there are more than arrows to guide our way, Mairead.