With rain forecast for Sunday we decided to make every effort to arrive in Santiago early Saturday to avoid hiking in cold temperatures and pouring rain.
We figured that, given the profile of this portion on a call the trip, we could make it from Ribadiso to Amenal and be in our lodging by 5 or so and still maintain a reasonable pace; so off we went.
Turned out this was one of our favorite days on our journey.
Filled with the realization that we were just a day away from Santiago our spirits were high and our legs now accustomed to the long days and terrain; there was no doubt we were ready for the final days of our trek.
Along a pleasant country path early in the day we were both startled by the sound of galloping hooves and then to our right, above us on the path a magnificent white stallion came to a sudden stop and looked at us as though WE were a sight to see!
We stopped to take a photo and he stood with patience until we were done, looked at us one more, obviously had seen enough of us-whinnied and galloped away.
One of the more peculiar sights of the morning was what we dubbed “mushroom alley”.
We turned a corner and saw that every stump for yards was covered with mushrooms. As if they were cultivated they started on one stump and flourished for 20 or so yards and just as suddenly as they started, they stopped.
No matter how pretty they were and how hard I tried I couldn’t get Brenda to try any.
Our biggest surprise of the day, and perhaps the trip, was when we stopped for lunch in an extremely small (3 tables) cafe in a village of only a half dozen buildings.
While eating our dried ham sandwich we struck up a conversation in broken English with Jose.
There was no apparent difference between Jose and other travelers with the exception that he seemed to be running the small cafe. When the owner came in we found that Jose was simply a “good friend” who was watching the till while the owner performed some chores.
Just as we were saying our goodbyes, Norman came through the door and saw Jose. Norman gave Jose a huge hug and a warm greeting and then said to us, “I see you’ve met a true legend!”
Ken and Jose
I guess it was obvious from our response we had no idea what he was talking about, so he got out his phone, pulled up a website and explained.
“My friend Jose is a living legend among pilgrims…as a sailor he was the sole survivor of a capsized ship in the seas off Norway. While praying for rescue in freezing waters he made a vow to the Virgen del Carmel ( patron saint of sailors) that he would make a pilgrimage to all the holy sites in the world if she saved his life.”
“ My friend Jose has traveled over 100,000 kilometers to keep his vow.”
It’s an amazing story of survival, resolve and faith. (Read the entire amazing story here https://www.odditycentral.com/news/the-pilgrim-man-spends-eleven-years-walking-107000-kilometers-in-the-name-of-faith.html#more-54830)
After hearing the story of Jose and his personal pilgrimage we left the cafe amazed and in awe headed towards Amenal and our final night on the Camino.
Just before Amenal we made one last stop for water and a snack.
As we finished our water Brenda chatted with a man, Kennedy (Ken) Asaba leading a group of Pilgrims with whom we had leap frogged several times along the trail. When she asked about the group we were surprised to hear he was a minister from Kenya. He explained that over the last 3 years he has built his church in western Kenya and works to raise funds to help educate the local youth.
Brenda and Ken establish an immediate bond and are already in communications, hoping to develop synergies for the future.
This was truly a wonderful day on the Camino full of the sights and spirit that makes the Camino unique.