It was a pleasure to stay in Azfora. The albergue was lovely (no bunks) and a fresh breeze blowing over the hills. Did I mention that I now had four blisters. A lovely woman from Somerset offered me some miracle blister plasters. I tape my feet carefully each morning and hope they stand up the next 20-25kms. We have decided to have our bags transported as the afternoons are so hot and the weight of our packs adds to our struggles. We head out for Ganon. This is wine country and the hills are filled with vineyards.
We tried a couple grapes and they were so lovely and sweet. Hard not to take more but we did resist. I think the farmer would be quite upset if all the pilgrims ate to their hearts content. It would be worse than a giant flock of birds. 300,000 pilgrims walk the Camino de Santiago each year, through many paths . Closer to Ganon the fields were replaced with acres and acres of sunflowers. They were drying in the harvest sun. When you stare at them they start to resemble ghosts of pilgrims past. One even had the camino symbol on it.
We reached Ganon and made our way to the old church. The church takes in pilgrims, offers a mat, dinner, mass, and breakfast for donations only. We stay in the attic of what may have been the priest quarters.
It was a very warm and welcoming place run by three volunteers. We were asked to help prepare dinner and do the clean up which provided some fun and an opportunity to meet the other travellers. I had rhe task of cooking a huge pot of cherizo sausage onions and garlic. An Italian girl and a Spanish man helped to chop. While we didn’t speak each others languages we still had fun and found ways to communicate. Mass was just before dinner and most pilgrims attended. For a small village of 290, the church was impressive.
The gold display behind the alter is a copy of the same in Santiago cathedral. Pilgrims have been passing through this village for 800 yrs.After dinner we were invited to the upper loft of the church where you might expect a choir to reside. This area is dedicated to pilgrims. We sat quietly in the dim light and were asked to pass a lit candle . When you received the candle you were asked to reflect on some of your thoughts you carried on the camino. I have spent the last few days thinking about the kindness of strangers.The girl who left bandages at my door, the young Spanish couple who stopped me on the trail worried I would get sunburned and gave me lotion, the local Spanish man walking his dog on a steep downhill who insisted I follow him as he knew the easiest way down, the Spanish pilgrim who gave me hope that the top of the hill was moments away, the albergue host that gave me a lower bunk when it was needed, the bus drivers who honked and made signals to let a pilgrim know they made a wrong turn and sent them back to the correct path, the hundreds of local people that sincerely wished me a “buen camino”, the patient shopkeepers that endeavored to understand you and always remained cheerful, and the airport official that understood my plight when caught up in long line going through security at Heathrow to catch a flight to France and whisked Tauno and me through a fast track to make our connection. I think it has reinforced that when you need something you just need to ask and people are generally only to happy to help.