25 kilometers, 4 hours and 30 minutes. Stopped in Calzadilla de los Barros for café con leche. Then nothing until Puebla de Sancho Pérez, just before Zafra, a relatively new town around an older, much smaller village.
In Calzadilla, we made our way through the small town and into a plaza near its center. There we found Lara, referring to her German guidebook and looking for a bar to have some coffee. I’d had tea with the breakfast provided at our albergue, so I was interested in a coffee, too. And I hoped to get to know another member of our Camino family.
Eric and I had left Cantos together, and we joined Lara to seek out a bar/café. Our strategy was the following: to ask a couple of locals and look lost. The result was that we would find almost anything we needed. People were very helpful.
Indeed, we did get to know Lara. She and I ordered café con leche, and we started talking. She had walked the Camino Francés (CF) six years earlier, and we discussed our favorite parts of the Way (a popular shorthand term for the Camino de Santiago) and the city of Santiago de Compostela.
As we were finishing our coffees, she told us about a spiritual place she had heard about on the Spanish side of the Pyrenees near the Camino Francés. She asked if I knew of it. I did not. It was off the Camino path by five kilometers, so I hadn’t considered such things when a friend and I walked the CF in 2015.
Lara had gone there to explore the spiritual site, having been told of a practice that involved removing one’s shoes and walking around the edifice to experience its spiritual powers. Lara said she didn’t take off her shoes but decided to walk around the edifice three times. Then she sat for a while to see what occurred.
After nothing seemed to happen, she donned her backpack, began to walk back to the Way, and headed toward Santiago. As she moved, she told us that she suddenly felt a new strength and flow to her movement that propelled her down the trail. This feeling lasted for more than ten kilometers, she said.
As she related this tale, I felt a welling up of tension and emotion. As she came to the end of her story, I felt a chill rise up my spine. I shivered and had to stand up. I could not resist; I could no longer sit still. I was full of goose bumps. That sensation was what I, and many others, call the breath of God.
Whether religious, spiritual, or atheistic, you know that feeling. We all feel it when God is closest, when we are in matching frequency.
The name of that spiritual place was Eunate.
Stayed at the Albergue de Vincent van Gogh. Antonio and his wife lived there and ran the place. This was where Carlos made paella (a Spanish rice dish) for everyone. Most excellent. He had talked Antonio into purchasing a large paella pan so he could make us dinner that night. We all pitched in to help with the cost, which included a couple of bottles of wine. It came to €3 per person.
Costs: €3 for breakfast, €12 for the albergue, and €3 for dinner.