After a sociable evening, I was again the last one to leave the inn and I continued my journey alone. I hiked through beautiful, vast grain fields and every now and then I passed a village.

After hiking for a few hours I saw, on my right, a meadow with some plastic tables and chairs scattered around. A bit further away there was a wooden house with a porch and a bar. It looked like some sort of abandoned lunch spot. Well…not quite abandoned.

There was one man, sitting at one of the tables. He wore a striking, purple turban on his head and he had a long, grey beard. He was not alone, but in good company of a donkey and a glass of red wine. A very special sight, in the middle of the day.

I was actually getting hungry myself. I walked up to the bar and ordered a sandwich. When I looked around for a place to sit, the man invited me to join him at his table. I doubted for a moment...

would I be able to trust this man?

It was rather odd and unusual to sip a glass of wine in the middle of the day along the Camino. At the same time, I was triggered by his peculiar appearance in combination with the donkey.

My curiosity took over, I shed my doubts and joined him. The man told me that he wasn't on his way to Santiago, but that he

walked his own camino with his donkey

He was walking on another long hiking route, right through Spain, and slept under the stars. That sounded exciting!

We had only just started talking when a Spanish lady walked up to us. I had seen her before. I had noticed her because she was hiking with her dog. Her dog was wearing special socks with studs, so it could cope with the many kilometres it had to walk. It looked very funny. She also joined us at our table.

The man offered us both a glass of red wine. I usually don't drink red wine, and certainly not in the middle of the day. I was scared that I would not be able to put one foot in front of the other after drinking the wine. But strangely enough I couldn't resist his offer, and the Spanish lady also accepted a glass.

In the distance I saw another person approaching. When she came closer, I recognised her immediately from the night before. How nice, it was the elderly lady from Italy! She was very small. Standing up, her eyes would come up to my breasts. I was wondering how that would be for her? She also took a glass of wine.

She told us that she walked the Camino to Santiago every year. Wow...that was something I couldn’t understand at all. I asked her why. She said:

'the camino is my way of life'

I was intrigued, but I couldn't yet grasp the true impact of her words.

She said that she wasn't allowed to walk the Camino again next year. Her daughter thought it would be too risky, considering her age. She was 76 years old now.

As she was telling this, I saw a naughty look in her eyes. I don't believe she had any intention of stopping. I became incredibly curious about her and her lessons and wisdom in life.

who was this woman?

The man with the purple turban kept on filling our wine glasses. He was a very good host, open-minded and generous.

I had to adjust my first opinion of him

After an extremely sociable and long lunch, I finally went on my way again. My legs felt like lead, but I wouldn't have missed these conversations and special encounters for the world. Hours later, I arrived in Carrión de los Condes. Here I found a beautiful monastery and I checked in.

While searching for a hot dinner in the village, I passed a bar with a terrace outside...and hey, that was nice! The American lady with the laptop was sitting here. She gave me the tip to go the supermarket while it was still open that evening, to get enough food for the next day. I asked her why. She explained that the next stage would be long and hot, through endless, dry fields without villages and restaurants.

oops...I was still contemplating today and not thinking about tomorrow

After a glass of wine, I decided it would be best to visit the supermarket. And really...the supermarket was overflowing with pilgrims. Everybody was frantically filling up baskets and trolleys. Suddenly I bumped into a lady...we both had to laugh. We had already met yesterday. It was the cheeky Spanish lady with the cigarette.

She had also filled up her trolley. I asked her if it would all fit into her backpack. She was convinced it would, and thought it was absolutely vital that it did. Seriously...this scared me, it seemed to be a quest for survival.

I felt the anxiety around me and noticed that it got to me

Everybody in the supermarket was struck by it. I also bought a lot more than I had intended, and I was wondering how I was going to stuff it all in my backpack.

Somewhat frightened and anxious about what was to come, I walked back to the monastery. For the first time I was not looking forward to the next day, and suddenly thought about the earlier words from the Korean guy:

'your backpack is full of fears'

I went to bed, put in my earplugs and huddled myself in my sleeping bag...waiting for the day to come.

Read what happens next in Santiago 15

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