Yesterday I achieved a milestone of sorts. A Wretched Stone milestone.
As I mentioned earlier, on this Camino I'd somehow managed to conquer the Wretched Stones of Galicia that had paralyzed me with fear on our last Camino.
That is to say, I'd conquered most of the Wretched Stones.
But I knew I stll had one more rock-monster challenge to face; This would be the bridge made of four rocks across a stream, the last two of which rocks are narrow, uneven, and somewhat wobbly and which so filled me with fear that I stood frozen in the middle of the bridge, unable to move forward despite the encouragment and extended hands of the pilgrims already on the other side. Finally a man with an artificial leg who was selling trinkets on the other side of the bridge got up from his little table, limped and pushed his way through the crowd, stepped onto the rock bridge, grabbed my arm and yanked me quickly across the rocks to the shore.
It was my most embarrassing Camino moment, but I had to admit the guy's method was effective.in getting me over the rocks and across the bridge.
But this time, having overcome my fear of all the other the Wretched Stones along the way, I believed that the danger of the rock bridge had been, likewise, all in my head and that when I again came to it this second time I'd simply breeze across.
Though I've had vague fleeting notions for the past few days that we'd soon be Yesterday morning I wasn't I really wasn't even much thinking about the rock bridge, though I had a vague notion that we'd cross it soon.
At one point yesterday morning while hiking through forest land we heard Celtic flute music off in the distance which got louder as we advanced until we came upon the forest flutist playing next to his donkey.
And the just a few steps beyond the flutist and donkey, there it was:
In retrospect I should have just kept walking, just marched across that bridge as I’d rehearsed in my mind, but I hesitated, backed up a little to get a good walking start, hesitated again just to make sure I was ready, took a moment to summon up my courage, then quickly set out across the four rocks. And stopped dead when I reached the end of the second one. I couldn’t make myself set foot upon the third.
Tom, who was already on the other side, started back to fetch me but I didn’t want to be fetched, I was afraid of losing my balance and pulling us both into the rocky stream below.
“Just give me I minute,” I said. I can’t do this, I thought.
“Put your sticks down one at a time on the middle of the rock, then you won’t fall,” Tom called.
Now, I don’t know whether putting my sticks down on the middle of the rock kept me from falling any more than holding a feather in his trunk made Dumbo able to fly, but in that moment being told by Tom that I wouldn’t fall if I just kept my sticks centered made me believe it and, keeping my sticks centered, I ventured onto the bad rocks, kept moving and was across in about three seconds.
While I was still doing a victory dance for having made it across the rock bridge in, really, less than two minutes and without having made a major scene, Tom and I noticed another pilgrim now frozen on the spot on the bridge that had stopped me.
Tom went out to her and helped her across,
...and then she helped the next fearful pilgrim across.
Pilgrims three, rock bridge zero
Then the next pilgrim to cross the bridge was a young Israeli girl who perched on the bad rocks casually snapping photos of the stream.
“My goodness, weren’t you scared out there on those rocks?” I asked her.
Besides crossing the wretched rock bridge, we also walked through a fragrant eucalyptus forest,
….saw a cow-pilgrim mixer,
...and stopped at a little bar for our current favorite lunch, tomato, cheese, and olive oil bocadillos....
We walked probably 8 or 9 kilometers yesterday
…..though we’re not exactly sure, as the place we stopped at, a hostel called Casa Mila, was a little off the map.
We’d found this place rather by accident on our last Camino when, walking through a forest late in the day and having already passed two albergues that were full and the next town several kilometers away, we came upon this sign, pointing to a narrow path that veered off the Camino.
Wondering whether we were as foolish as Hansel and Gretel to be following a sign through the forest, we followed it anyway as it was getting dark and we were getting desperate.
We came to another sign,
...that led us to one more sign,
Then we were in front of a big stone house that looked empty.
“I don’t think there’s anyone here,” I told Tom, but he strode up to the door, me following behind him, and knocked.
We weren’t exactly expecting a wicked witch to answer the door, but neither were we expecting the cute little grandmotherly lady wearing a kitten apron who answered the door and seemed as happy to see us as if she’d been expecting us.
We ended up loving the place.
And so yesterday we decided that, to make up for the nasty albergue we’d ended up in the night before, we just had to go back to the lovely Casa Milia, even though it meant walking a short day.
So we made our way through the forest back to the lovely Casa Milia.
View from the front door
..... Where we were warmly welcomed by the same sweet hospitaliera and her friendly grandson who helps her run the hostel.
We got a double room with the most heavenly comfortable beds.
It turned out that Tom and I were the only guests in the hostel, but the grandson told us that starting the following day the place was booked solid through the weekend with pilgrim tour groups.
Camino Karma, thank you again.
Remembering the amazingly delicious food we’d had on our last stay at Casa Mila, we were especially anticipating dinner.
….which even better than we’d remembered.
The first course was a pot of fantastic vegetable soup, all the ingredients of which came from the hospitaliera’s garden.
The next course was rabbit, raised and prepared by the hospitaliera, and served in the most unbelievable sauce, every bit of which we soaked up from the platter with bread and the delicious roasted potatoes served on the side.
For dessert I had home-made flan and Tom, encouraged by the hospitaliera’s grandson to try this local delicacy, had cheese and quince, which he declared delicious.
Along with our coffee and tea the hospitaliera brought out a bottle of a strong raspberry liqueur that she made herself and poured a shot for Tom – I declined - into a tiny iced glass.
“It doesn’t get any better than this,” said Tom.
And for the 81€ we paid for our room, dinners, laundry service and delightful breakfast this morning,
...it probably doesn't.
A romantic comedy of errors.
Lots and lots of errors.
"Equal And Opposite Reactions"
by Patti Liszkay
Buy it on Kindle:
or in print:
The Book Loft
of German Village,
Or check it out at the Columbus Metropolitan Library