Last night in San Martin del Camino, I stayed in the Camino equivalent of the Bates Motel. There was only one other pilgrim (an elderly Korean man) staying there and the hospitalera did not remain on-site, giving the place (which was old and moldy) a decidedly eerie air. Consequently, when the other pilgrim left at 6:30 this morning, I high-tailed it out of there along with him.
After about 18 kilometers, at least ten of which were without a break (the last town I had passed seemed like a ghost town and there was no open bar in sight), I was really tired and felt the need to rest my feet. And my stomach was looking for something to eat, even though I had had a banana and shared some apple and tomato with my housemate that morning.
I started to pray, plead is perhaps more like it. “Please, God. I don’t even need a town. Just even a rock I can sit on would be enough. Anything so I can get off my feet for a few minutes.”
Very soon after I finished my prayer, I turned past a bend in the roads and heard a friendly voice call out, “Welcome to paradise.”
This was “paradise”:
The truck contained coffee, tea, fruit, bread, nuts and all sorts of other things. “Self-serve, have what you want. Sit, relax.” There was space to sit on make-shift couches, and several pilgrims were doing just that when I arrived. There was a little box with a heart drawn on it, for whatever donation one wanted to make in exchange for the food and drink.
The man to whom the voice belonged was a Brazilian man. Someone suggested he was out of work and this was how he earned a living. I don’t know if that was the story or not. What I do know is that “paradise” was the answer to my prayer. I left there refreshed and ready for the rest of my walk into Astorga.