“It’s the middle of the Camino, today,” Eva woke first and, flopping over both of us, she made sure we also weren’t slacking.
We grabbed coffee downstairs, and Eva felt well enough to attempt to walk with us. Today was the “seventeen kilometer dread” stage, a flat stage that leads the pilgrim trough wheat fields for hours on end, without shade or water.
… or that was what we were told.
We walked slowly, considering Eva’s foot, but by nine in the morning, two hours in, she started to pull forward, going into an almost normal walking speed. An hour later, ten kilometers in, we passed a food truck in a yard by the road, drank coffee and ate an early burger.
Another five kilometers later, another food truck invited us to stay and, mentioning her foot needing a rest, Eva convinced us to take a second break. We didn’t mind.
It was a good idea to, as the Way started to descend shortly after, a movement apparently not conducive to Eva’s stride. Tears started streaming and Inga lent her an arm. “Shall I carry you a bit,” I asked. “No, I want to make it past the midpoint on my own,” she responded.
The midpoint came shortly thereafter. A small chapel and two columns marked what, arbitrarily, had been designated as such. We rested in the shade, Eva cooling her foot in a nearby stream. “She likes you a lot,” Inga smiled. “And you…” I responded, “I don’t think she’ll give us much privacy any time soon.” “Well, she’ll have to watch or participate then,” Inga grinned devilishly.
With her foot soothed, we swapped arm duties every fifteen minutes and carried on. We passed the world’s oldest “Bodegas,” the original mounts of dirt used to store wine in an enclosed chamber within.
Not much later, we arrived in Sahagun, a town that would be right at home in the Wild West. A pilgrim from France joined us briefly and informed us about a special “Compostela” available at the Sahagun monastery and museum for anyone completing the half way point.
“Do you want to carry on?” Inga asked Eva over dinner at a downtown bar. “If I can come with you,” she responded. Inga looked at me, I nodded. Eva was nice and had a calming effect on everything, even in her pain. I told Eva about my theory concerning vending machines and pilgrim needs and she agreed: “I just saw one a little down the street,” she explained, “even has a Lady Rabbit for five bucks in it.” “Be right back,” hollered Inga and was gone.
We found the albergue we’d sent Eva’s backpack and moved into our cots. Eva was drained from the day, so we left her at her bed, moving into the yard, smoking a good night smoke, and discussing the finer details of scrubs versus coats. The sun set, stars came out, and as the lights of the albergue dimmed, we could faintly see the Milky Way. “I goes from SJPdP to Compostella, thus the name,” she said, snuggling into my chest. “If I were tired of it all, I’d just follow the stars for the rest of my life.” “Aren’t you, though?” I asked. “True, true,” and then we just watched the sky, counting shooting stars, and feeling happy.
I fell into my bed and almost immediately asleep. I dreamed of stars and massive pillars reading “the middle of your life.”