On the second day of my third Camino, Via de LaPlata, originating in Seville I leave Guillena at 7:15. Just outside of town the river is too high to walk across so a peregrina from France, Claudina, and I walk 100 meters to the bridge. We then have to continue alongside a busy road but fortunately after 2 kilometers the Camino veers left going on for 12 kilometers through a natural area of orange and olive orchards, trees and; purple, white, yellow, red, and blue wildflowers amidst rolling hills.
While enjoying the peacefulness I still feel sluggish mentally and physically just as all day yesterday. But grateful for the beauty of the walk and the fact that I have the health and time that has allowed me to be on The Camino for the 114th day over 3 years. The pleasant feeling is a reminder to reach into my pocket and hold my prayer stone and thank The Camino for today and pray for my family and friends and the sick and suffering.
A few kilometers before today’s destination, Castilblanco de Los Arroyos, we come to a paved road which the trail follows alongside into town. Passing one more peregrino I see the sign for Municipal Albergue and walk through the wrought iron gate to a table with two chairs and a smiling man, Juan, waiting to check me in and stamp my credentials.
A second hospilatero, Salvador, then hands me a plastic cup of cooled tea with lemon. I had forgotten to fill up my water bottle this morning and only had a few sips of water all morning and this tea tasted like an elixir from the gods. And then Juan explains that payment is by donation only and would I like a lower or upper bunk. Rarely have I felt this welcome, even on the Camino, and I broke into tears feeling such gratitude to these men and the town of Castilblanco de Los Arroyos. The dormitory was nothing special but it was clean and they had fresh pillowcases and sheets. The shower was hot, the laundry facilities were adequate but my plaster(bandaid) had fallen off my finger and the cut from yesterday was still bleeding and not healed. Moments later returning to my bunk I noticed a basket with some basic medical supplies and found two plasters hiding under a bottle of alcohol.
As I walked down the stairs seeking to find a restaurant for lunch I thought there is something about this place that is special although it was similar to most other municipal albergues I’ve stayed at on various Camino’s. I felt The Camino reaching into my heart and humbling me with the kindness bestowed upon me. Then as I reached the lobby there was a group of Down’s Syndrome kids with a male and female supervisor and they had a simple display on the hospitalero’s table with inexpensive Camino souvenirs. Without another thought I bought their entire inventory and knew that I would be handing out small gifts to my fellow peregrino’s the next few days.
As I sit enjoying a filling and delicious peregrino meal of salad and venison stew and the ubiquitous glass of vino tinto, I realize my sluggishness is gone. I am into my Camino rhythm and feel at peace and excited about what tomorrow will bring. Also knowing that the Castilblanco de Los Arroyos Municipal Albergue may be nothing special but it is special to me……that is enough.