Rainy Day walking along the highway. Rainy Day in Santander - a not very interesting big city. I have to include a picture, so here's a confusing one - 20 minutes to go 4.9 k - because it's by boat. My map only has this crossing, no land crossing even listed. Father Ernesto said last night that there's another place in a day where you need to do a exclusive train bridge crossing or walk an extra 7k. So even pilgrims must abandon their feet occasionally.
As I walked along the lonely, rainy road, I recalled the story of St. Rete - a variation of which I related at an open mic at Burning Man after our first Camino seven years ago.
The Catholic Church has a pantheon of Saints that are enlisted when God needs a little extra bugging about our entreaties. St Francis and St Roque are the only two I ever recognize in picture or in stone - Francis for his stigmata and Friar Tuck haircut and Roque because he is usually accompanied by a dog that is bringing him bread. St Rete, aka the Saint of Timely Advice, is not (yet) officially part of the Catholic Super Friends.
There was a young man named Rete from Switzerland who went to walk the Camino de Santiago. Ten days into his journey, he turned over in bed one night, and dislocated his shoulder. The doctor he consulted told him his journey was done - he could not carry a pack with such an injury. Head hung low sitting on a bench on the street outside the doctor's office, he looked up and noticed little old ladies coming and going from the grocery store across the street - each of them with a small cart trailing behind them. Shortly thereafter, Rete returned to the trail pulling his own pack-laden cart with his good arm. It was unbelievable what type of terrain he covered with his modern day mule and the speed at which he traveled. He often beat us to the next town.
After meeting Rete, and getting his most interesting story, we noticed that he seemed to have quite good insights as to the Camino. Saints are required to have 3 miracles to gain this title (post-humous miracles are fine - but don't worry - nothing bad happens to Rete). The first timely advice Miracle occurred at our favorite town of O'Cebreiro. The Albergue on the far side of town was filling up fast - his advice, "not a good hostel, if you can find a reasonably priced pension in the center, take it". Running around avoided, Mike-Janine argument diffused, and no trip required to next town to find beds (which many pilgrims were forced to do) - Miracles do not have to be large.
Rete's second miracle steered us in a different direction. He encouraged to stay in the 500 year Old Convent in Samos that had 100 hostal beds in one room. Not the best night's sleep but a unique experience in every way.
The Timely Advice Miracle #3 occurred when he suggested we not follow the prescribed destination (top of the page of the map for those of you who have read earlier posts), and instead stop a little early at a very nice B&B in Morgade. We did so but there was no room in the Inn. It was lunch time and we decide to dine, informing the woman we were interested in a room if for some reason she had a cancelation. Lunch was great and as we were getting ready to move on, the phone rang. Room canceled - awesome place to stay for the night.
A post-Camino miracle also occurred. As mentioned, I told a version of this story at open mic at Burning Man. I had notes but the story was not tight and in preparation I needed to get the bit down to 5 minutes. I walked off into the desert to work on my timing. Far from my camp and on the edge of civilization (no more tents, just deep playa), I realized I didn't have a watch. As this happened, I looked around and LITERALLY saw the Virgin Mary inside a Guacamole - the St. Mary of the Guacamole Camp was immediately to my left. I took it as a sign, went in, explained my predicament, and successfully borrowed a watch for an hour. Both the Playa and Camino provide.