The Camino is full of stories. Not only for those who walk to Santiago, but for the people who live along the Camino. The ten-mile path from Sarria to Ferreiros cuts through tiny villages, pastures, backyards, gardens and a hay barn. It wanders along the edge of a creek and winds up a rocky trail flanked by a column of ancient-looking walnut trees whose branches bend and twist like old men ushering us forward.
The Way is both social and solitary. Jon and I walked alone for miles, then turned a corner and happened upon a noisy group of pilgrims speaking at least ten different languages.
“Are you looking for a stamp?” the owner of a tiny bar called to us from his front door.
Like every pilgrim, we eagerly pulled out our credentials (pilgrim’s passport) for a stamp with a date to prove we had passed this way. Within moments we were caught up in the chatter and excitement of other pilgrims sharing tapas or drinking a beer or enjoying ice cream.
Not long after our welcome break, we came across a Galician farmer tending the trail that passes along the side of his barn. He was bent over with age and weathered from years of sun and wind.
“Buen Camino!” we said, and continued walking.
For some reason I turned back and noticed the man leaning against his rake, watching us walk away.
He smiled. I waved.
Moments later I jogged back and reached for his weathered hand. The two of us began conversing in the universal sign language of travelers with no common language. He asked me how far I was going. I told him I was walking to Santiago. He pointed to Jon. I nodded.
He pulled one, then two walnuts from his pocket and wrapped my hand around them. He made a broad arch with one arm and I heard the word cathedral in Spanish. Take these to Santiago for me.
His hands made the shape of the cross and he motioned again, showing me a hill. Again I heard the Spanish word: catedral. Leave them at the top of the hill when you first see the cathedral. He pointed to his heart and smiled.
The exchange lasted only a few minutes, but I understood his story. I will carry the walnuts from his trees to Santiago and leave them at the monument on the hill above town. What a lovely view they will have.
Kristin Jarvis Adams is a public speaker and advocate for children with special needs, helping to bridge the gap between the outside world and the inner world of autism. Her speaking engagements have included: Seattle Festival of Trees Gala, a benefit for Seattle Children’s Hospital and The Seattle Children’s Autism Clinic. Learn More>>