An Evening of Kindness and Gratitude in Arzua

El Camino de Santiago provided many incredible moments to me when I walked in October.  Those moments happened when I least expected them, when I was distracted with conversation, with my own thoughts, or with the fact that my knees, feet and hips were feeling the stress of several long days of walking. My walking partner and friend, Michael, and I were fatigued and challenged at this point in our walk. The terrain wasn’t terribly difficult, although there were definitely more hills to ascend and descend than I had anticipated. And lots of ancient rocks in the path to avoid.

We were in Arzua and wondering how we were going to finish walking the miles for the day. There is something about wanting to walk, to be part of what the Camino has to offer and to not overlook or shrug off any possibilities. We were determined to walk as much as we could and give ourselves to the experience of the Camino. It is an amazing thing. As the day grew longer and the very early shadows of evening began, we decided to stop and reflect on how much more walking we could safely and realistically manage. We looked forward to being at our hotel. We rested for a bit and knew we would wake up the next morning refreshed.

Photo credit: Michael Donnoe

When we arrived at our “hotel”, Casa Das Corredoiras, we were greeted by several dogs, a mixed dachshund, a mixed terrier, a Dalmatian, and a Labrador. Our hosts took our suitcases to our rooms and gave us our keys. We saw small tables and chairs on a patio and headed for them. Our hosts offered us a glass of wine, which we gratefully accepted. Galicia has some of the best wine I’ve ever had. The manager, a woman, had the face of kindness. She smiled broadly and knowingly with a gentle twinkle in her eyes. Having greeted many who have walked the Camino, she was very aware of the fatigue we were feeling. 

Our small group decided to stay there for dinner. The idea of getting back on the bus to go to dinner was something that I couldn’t do, so I agreed. When we asked the manager if she would be willing to cook dinner for us, her smile broadened and she asked if we could wait an hour. We were thrilled. We were sitting outside on a small patio in a rural part of Arzua, Spain. There was a gorgeous, rolling landscape in front of us, a clear, blue, expansive sky, a vegetable garden beneath us, a grape arbor above us and sweet dogs meandering. The grapes were sweet and the skin fell away as soon as I put one in my mouth. I could have waited much longer than an hour. 

As we watched her pick fresh vegetables from the garden, we grew quiet. We sat in the waning hours of the day filled with gratitude. We were cared for, and respected by someone who understood our needs. Someone who accepted us with joy and kindness. Someone who clearly loved what she was doing. When she walked away from the vegetable garden towards the kitchen, we stopped her to say thank you. Thank you for your hospitality and your generosity! And this place is amazing, we are grateful, we told her. She opened her arms wide and looked all around the land. Smiling, she said that we were most welcome and that she was happy to share with us. It was all from God, she said. 

We had the best, fresh vegetables for dinner that night. And I slept really well.

I invite you to see my photos from this trip on my Instagram account @peggerns_therapist.

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