The next morning I started with a delicious breakfast on the terrace in front of the inn. Here I met the pilgrims of the previous night again. We had a great time, making it difficult for me to start the hiking path again.

Together with the dutchies I made a short, delayed hike to Rabé de las Calzadas. We found a small, cosy inn. We had time to spare, doing nothing, sitting in front of the inn for hours, watching the passing pilgrims. The dutchies were really on a roll, making hilarious jokes about my leg.

The next day I parted from my dutchies again and set out alone. The surroundings were slightly hilly with huge, magnificent vistas. I was still walking very slowly, as the pain was expressly evident with each step forward. This time there were no pilgrims behind me, everybody was way ahead.

I was walking with myself

After a very long day I finally saw a lonely hill with the ruin of a fortress and just before it, the village of Castrojeriz. I arrived completely exhausted. I found an old inn full of atmosphere with lovely wooden floors and crackling, shaky beds. I was happy with anything remotely resembling a bed.

There I met a flamboyant, South African lady from Cape Town. Apart from the fact that the South African language sounded funny, she herself was very funny too. This made me forget my pain and endless limping of that day for a moment.

After a shower and some rest with my feet up, I walked very slowly to the village square. Then my face instantly transformed into one big smile: there I once again discovered… my three dutchies!

They were in conversation with a very special man. He wore a long, grey beard and looked like a wise man. He had hiked the Camino to Santiago a couple of times already. I got involved in the conversation and he told me:

'listen to your body and take some rest'

But for how long? I asked. As long as is necessary, a day, a couple of days or a week. It startled me: one week? Help, that really wasn’t possible. Then he said:

'feel welcome in my home, there you can rest and recover'

I fell silent…was deeply impressed by this very special man and his invitation.

he was the third wise man on my pilgrim path to give me this advice

That night I finally surrendered and decided to take some rest. With pain in my heart I bid a final farewell to my dutchies in the local bar. We had had so much fun and wonderful adventures together. We promised to meet each other again in Holland.

The next morning I went to the house of the wise man. Upon entering I saw lovely photos of their pilgrimages. I looked around me in admiration. I was received with great hospitality and was offered tea and biscuits, having a special conversation with this man’s girlfriend.

they opened their home to injured and passing pilgrims

but many pilgrims were in a hurry, seeing nothing, walking past the house

I had been sitting comfortably in the back in the house for a couple of hours, reading, when I suddenly heard someone entering the house. I looked and…ohh…it was my Spanish friend with the shin injury! We had lost sight of each other and had forgotten to exchange contact details.

We embraced and were so incredibly happy! I asked her how she had found this house. She told me that she had been in one of the four churches of Castrojeriz. There she had seen a mystical man with a grey beard. She told me she had been so impressed by his appearance that she had secretly photographed him. Then she was addressed by another man who told her to go to his house. Wow…

our reunion seemed predestined

What a wonderful reunion! We hung on each other’s words and talked at length about our adventures and insights. After a lot of tea and a couple of hours we said goodbye, this time exchanging our e-mail addresses. She left for the hiking path again. My day had been made.

Next morning I was suddenly thrown out of my inn, which suddenly closed for a number of days.

help, I was not able to walk yet…

Limping, I moved to the house of the wise man. When I entered, he was just about to leave for the big city. I had arrived just in time.

I thanked him for his great hospitality. When I subsequently embraced him, tears were suddenly running down my cheeks. Help, it startled me, what was this? I felt such a strong, all-fulfilling love streaming through my body…

as if this love was not of this earth

I apologised for my awkward, emotional reaction. He smiled, indicating that everything was OK.

Once outside, I could only put on my sunglasses to hide my tears. I started to walk cautiously, still numb and impressed by this emotional event. And for the first time

I could walk without pain again, incredible…a miracle!

Read what happens next in Santiago 13

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