A Godwink on El Camino
I had desired to walk El Camino since I was a Spanish student studying at the University of Salamanca, Spain in the 1980s. At that time in my life, I did not have the funds or the time to do so. Later, working as a school counselor, I met a co-worker who had made the trek; I vowed I would too one day. Fast forward to 2018 and my journey with MT Sobek and local trip leader Erik Perez.
Prior to the start of my trip, my good friend, Denise, joked about me getting lost on El Camino because she had heard some of my crazy misadventures. Then it happened. Erik had told us the name of the hotel and drew a map for those of us who wanted to go ahead. Not that he was encouraging us to do so, he just knew that some of us were driven hikers whom he affectionately called, “The Anarchists.”
Needless to say, I got separated from those in the lead group and then lost the signs for El Camino.
I speak Spanish, so I asked an old man walking. He told me the way he thought I should go. I had not yet panicked because I knew I had my phone, but I kept walking without seeing any more Camino yellow shells.
I took out my phone to consult my GPS when I saw that my phone was not working—it was frozen. Water had leaked out, unbeknownst to me, from my water bottle in the bottom of my backpack.
I walked to what looked to be the town’s main cathedral. I went into a bar and asked them if they knew where my hotel was (I had the name at least). They said they had no idea, then went back to their business and ignored me.
An older woman and her husband were seated behind and overheard me. This very kind woman got up and asked if she could help. I explained to them that my phone was not working and that I did not have the street address for our hotel. Her husband pulled it up on his phone’s GPS and drew me a map. Seeing that the map and their directions were confusing me, Rosario decided to guide me two blocks with an injured ankle and then point me to the hotel.
The Bible says that we sometimes entertain angels unaware. I told Rosario that she was my angel. She laughed and said she was no angel but that all people should try to help others in need.
I asked her to come to my hotel later, so I could repay her kindness by gifting her a copy of my book translated in Spanish about the importance of friendship. She said, “No, no, no. I don’t need a gift. Just say a prayer for me when you reach the cathedral of Santiago.” I assured her I would; then we the two strangers hugged. I walked the short distance to the hotel. Guess what was on the top spire of our hotel?—the heart of Jesus. Don’t tell me she wasn’t an angel!
When I entered the hotel, I was immediately greeted by sweet, Joaquin, “Xuaco,” a member of Erik’s team, with, “Where have you been?” He couldn’t believe my story and what bad luck I’d had with my phone.
Later that evening, Erik had fun reminding our group that I was the first out hiking but the last to arrive to the hotel. He hadn’t worried about me because he knew I spoke Spanish and had a GPS— ha ha on me!
Every other day went smoothly. I interacted with even more delightful people. And, of course, when we arrived at the cathedral of Santiago, I said a prayer for my angel, Rosario, along with one of thanks, for my making it safely and for a trip of a lifetime.
Jennifer Calvert, MT Sobek Guest
MT Sobek Trip: El Camino de Santiago, 2018