My roommate in Barcelona is from Ponferrada, in the north of Spain, so when I told her that I was going to do the Camino, she made it clear that a stop at her parents’ house was mandatory.
I arrived Wednesday morning, hungry, tired, soaked by the rain and with a few ugly infections on my toes.
Within an hour, Laura’s mother, Rosa, had me fed and showered. She did all my laundry, anointed all my wounds and put me down for a nap. I was home.
Mothers are basically the best kind of people because they will love you unconditionally from the moment you step into their lives, regardless if they’re actually your mother or not.
I only intended on spending one night there, but stayed an extra day because Rosa insisted. She took me shopping for hiking sandals, took me to a community theater production and showed me her city and a few other towns. Both evenings I was there, I would relax on the couch while Rosa held vigil over my wrecked feet, applying ointments and having me soak them, changing the water as soon as it got chilly.
We even picked up her girlfriends one evening and I went out for beverages and gossiping with three 50 year old Spanish women. If that doesn’t prove language proficiency, I don’t know what does.
On top of that she took me to an evening talk at the local pharmacy about protecting your skin from the sun, because her friend was hosting it. I wasn’t quite sure why I was sitting in a roomful of Spaniards two or three times my age, listening to a woman speak about sunscreen in a little suburb in the north of Spain on a Thursday night, but somehow I was there and it was nice.
Over dinner, delicious homegrown peppers and their own chicken, Laura’s parents adorably tried to convince me to stay the entire weekend, and it broke my heart to have to decline. As much as they had helped me, I think I had helped them, too. They were happy to have their home filled again with a daughter, and I could tell they didn’t want the feeling to go away. Part of me doesn’t want to leave, because it feels so nice to be taken care of again. But, alas, the show must go on.
I am forever grateful for their kindness and hospitality, and I know another visit will be in order when I do the Camino again.