Inga was angry. Throwing her backpack onto a bench outside the albergue she dug grabbed, hurled, things, mumbling. “I can not find my pill,” she confessed, turning everything onto the bench, loosely pushing it back into the pack. Running back into the albergue, Eva following to translate, she emerged minutes later, waving a baggie, “found it.” The albergue owner’s child, six or seven, had helped search and discovered it under her bed.
Her possessions restored, the bad mood seemed to persist. Eva and I chatted about Switzerland and kayaking along the Rhine river, Inga trotting behind, in thought.
We barely stopped in Astorga, only to take pictures of Gaudi’s palace and the cathedral, then moved on.
The Way led along roads and across them, and we didn’t stop for breakfast until hours later in San Martín del Camino. Inga, still in thought, I figured it best to take a quick hike and let her open up to Eva. Excusing myself to “grab some supermarket stuff,” I spent a few minutes admiring different cheeses at the Mercado, then returned. Inga was clearly still miffed, but less so. I’d have to ask, but not now.
“You should tell him,” Eva started shortly after we returned to the road.
“It’s the same as always,” Inga replied, “plus some stuff with Lilly.”
Lilly, it turned out, had been sending messages from the Camino del Norte. Initially walking with her Polish beau, it had turned out that he was broke, depending on her paying for everything, from the bus trip to Santander to albergues and food.
Jettisoning that relationship, she’d found herself in a Camino Family with a group of pilgrims from Washington State, and had decided to remain with them for the rest of her Camino. Worse, though, Inga had told her about Eva and me, meeting a barrage of insults and bigotry from her friend that she was not used to. “She was the wild one in college,” she explained, and now Lilly not only called her names for her friendship with me, the dirty Imperialist American, but also Eva, and particularly the nature of said friendship.
“The Camino takes,” Inga sighed. “And gives,” Eva added, kissing her. Inga smiled. “But that’s not the whole thing. Over there, I saw a sign. ‘Santiago, 245km.’ Yes, it gives, but not that long anymore. And then it’s back to a life in which I have seen how amazing things can be. And, trust me, after my divorce I didn’t think it could…” she went silent, then grabbed mine and Eva’s hands and dragged us along. “Let’s enjoy the time we have,” she commanded. And we obeyed.
The path to El Ganso took the last energy from everyone, Inga, her brooding subsiding but still visible, decided to go to bed early. Eva and I stayed for the pilgrim dinner, then curled up on an oversized lawn chair in the back yard and watched the stars come out. “Do you think after the Camino you’ll come visit me?” she asked. “Sure,” I responded. “And Inga will, too. But you’re going to Mexico after this, no?” “I thought I would,” Eva revealed. “But now I am not so sure anymore. Do you think I could open an albergue on the Camino?”
We went to bed and I dreamed of Eva as a hospitalera.