DAY 25: Sunshine, Rainshine
A crackling strike of lightning lit up the campground BBQ area, highlighting the same wooden picnic tables where last night’s boisterous partying must have taken place. Embers of a failing flame warmed my shaking hands that were soaked to the bone from trying to pack up the tents at top speed while cold bullets of rain penetrated my skin. It was 7:00 am and the only noise that broke through the restless pounding of thunder was the self-assured crowing of the neighbourhood rooster. Its loud cries had accompanied this morning’s breakfast and the ear-splitting ‘Cockadoodledoos’ weren’t showing any signs of stopping as we bundled up in a rainbow assortment of ponchos, raincoats and jackets and set off out into the rain on Day 25 of Our Camino.
The Camino de Santiago del Norte was showing us a completely different side. Instead of harsh rays of sun beating down our backs as we jumped from one pool of shade to another, we were now in what I considered unchartered territory. A luminous presence followed us down into the depths of a dark forest whose array of glowing silver trees temporarily shielded us. But as we entered back out into a realm-gleaming white light that shone from a hidden sun, I welcomed the fairy-dust-like sprinkling rain and let it fall lightly onto my face without a care. We hide ourselves away under coats and hoods and gloves and umbrellas and never feel the natural joy of feeling the rain on our skin. It’s a magical sensation and I couldn’t help but laugh in delight as we walked past honey coloured fields painted a shade darker by the water of the sky. It was here that we met with a young Slovakian couple also walking the Camino and together we chatted away as we marvelled at mystical views of a fog enclosed coast with dark sea-foam breaking on the damp sand’s shore.
We suddenly found ourselves under the cosmic concrete bridge of the freeway, its alien-like support poles stretching two hundred metres across the sky. Cars whizzed through the clouds, untouched by the Earth as we made our way on its moistened beating surface.
Another twelve kilometres later we came to rest outside the small township of Soto de Luina.
It gleamed like a mirage in the distance, lit by the lustre of a cluster of gas lamps that guarded the perimeter of the town. Halting with the stinging rain to our backs, we turned to look at each other. It had certainly been enchanting, even bewitching at first, but now 3 hours later, we had all had enough. We made our way into the cafe from where we could check into the Albergue, taking care to try and not touch anything with our bulky, sopping wet backpacks.
“Well, on the bright side,” Dad said cheerfully as he surveyed the check-in manual, “looks like we are the first to arrive!”
Following the directions of the kind waitress from the cafe, we trudged up a slight hill that overlooked the rest of town and came to rest in front of what looked like Amityville’s latest shooting location.
An eerie echo followed us through the empty halls as we debated which of the metal red bunk beds to choose for our night’s stay. It was spooky at first seeing an Albergue silently empty. We had never seen the reason of rising at 4:30 am and being on the road by 5 o’clock just to ensure a bed at an Albergue. We liked to just take our own time, trusting in the fact that we would find a perfect place to sleep, no matter where we were. And we always had. However today, the rain would be slowing many down and not many would choose to stop after only 15 km, so with no rush, we all took long hot showers and snuggled under the covers of our sleeping bags to rest.
When I awoke a couple of hours later, I found myself amidst buzzing life. Our fellow Camino walkers had finally arrived. The Albergue now had a lively feel and the smiles that greeted me as I yawned made me feel warm inside. But strangely my legs felt warm as well. Tracing a patch of golden light to the large paned window, I looked outside and smiled. There were no more rain clouds and the sun was shining brightly again.