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Saturday, May 12, 2007 

Day 16 & 17: 30km is the new 20km

Clocked in 32 kms today to El Burgo Ranero, which is a bit just past Sahagún & about 38 km to Léon.

Things started very well today; did the first 13km by 9:30am which meant I could clear the next 20 before it got too hot after 1pm.

Made it into a nice albergue (Albergue Peregrinos, Domenico Laffi) just about a half hour after Mariette.

I am humbled today by the story of a Hungarian women that I walked past early on today... maybe around 12ish. She was walking on the pavement very slowly, hunched over by the weight of her pack (more hunched than the usual peregrino) & taking steps one at a time with every breath (like I did the first day.) She arrived very late at our albergue, maybe some 5 hours later & found that the Dutch women who had reserved a bottom bunk for her had it given away.

There were two girls sitting outside: Kirsti from Finland, (who when we met said, "Canada and Finland are always easy friends!") and this girl from Holland (originally from Iran, who wore this giant St. Christopher's medal, more about her later) who saw that this Hungarian woman was in anguish; Dutch/Iran girl said [she could see] the suffering in the old woman's face as she turned away from the albergue to find a room at the other hostals...

The two girls went after her to help her; they offered her some food as they noticed this woman would eat half an apple & put it away for later. The woman was SO grateful, again with such emotional expression in her face, that the girls could only hug her, and console her weary body & soul.

From talking through, we all believe that this woman is walking for religious reasons & willingly suffers through her pain on the way to Santiago.

Mariette also told me the story of this Dutch girl from Iran, named Amena (sp?), has also had suffered from very painful foot problems.

Her shoes apparently were completely bad for her feet & her feet were completely wrecked. [Along the camino] woman stopped her & asked her if she could help.

Neither of them were able to speak each other's language, but between the two of them they managed to communicate that Amena was in pain from walking...

This woman ordered a taxi, took Amena to have something to eat and then to the hospital to see the doctor. The doctor examined her and confirmed Amena could continue on the camino after at least a day of rest. The lady then booked a hotel room for her, and said she would meet her for dinner at 7pm.

A very grateful Amena was told by the woman "I have no children, so if I can help one person, it would be my duty..."

Apparently, while waiting at the hospital, the woman had asked if Amena's socks & shoes were alright. Amena said "I
have dry socks in my backpack & I don't know about my shoes..." sincerely and thought nothing of it.

Well, at 7pm, Amena gets a knock on her door from the front desk, & waiting for her is a box with a brand new pair of Nikes in her size.

Believe it or not, Amena has not seen this woman again since then.

There are so many people on this camino having completely different experiences. I can't explain how crazy it is.

And it is all so humbling. Here I'm complaining that I'm down to my last euro, when I know I am healthy and will be able to take refuge (with a credit card if I have to) & then I hear these stories about the pilgrims who deserve help.

I am grateful for the gifts I received, for the distance I've walked without injury & for being loved. I am grateful.

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