June 3, 2019
I have experienced magical evenings a couple of times on my Caminos. Last night was simply over the top in terms of how common people can create such enjoyment together.
At you need to know if Casa Fernanda is the most important Camino experience every person must make an effort to visit this Albergue. we. Arrived just after 1:15 in the afternoon to find Maria, the owner, sweeping the area around the Firepit. She welcomed us with warm and sincerity…..saying “Sit down, I have soup from yesterday” and appeared moments later with a pot of soup, preparing 3 large bowls along with bread, cider, and red wine. Anna form many, Patti from Oshawa were the earlier arrivals. Lookin a a sign saying open at 2PM, it was obvious we were early. Maria would have been within her privilege to ask us to wait, but welcomed us as if we were long lost family members.
Within minutes of our arrival she was telling us to choose a bed and have a shower. This is the drill when you arrive generally, and we followed the instructions without hesitation. The accommodations were single beds, all with sheets, a cover, and a substantial pillow. It was obvious Maria did everything here.
It is important to note this is an Albergue based on Donativo. (Donations) whatever you are able to give, is what you give. They also have a sign saying if you need help….ask.
Other pilgrims start to roll in….and introductions start. Here are a list of people I remember….with apologies to those whose names I miss..
Jon from Amsterdam
Michelle from South Africa
Patti from Oshawa….I meet on the way into Casa Fernada
Freddie and Birthe from Denmark (lived in Edmonton for 4 years)
Carol and Nat from Montreal
Anna from Germany
Basically we all took turns cleaning up and being welcomed into our home for the evening. Many people took the opportunity to have a nap, as is the pilgrim custom….and others sent massages home and catch up….unfortunately there is no Wi-Fi in the Albergue.
I should point out there are about 5 cats, two small dogs, chickens, a rooster and gardens where som much of the food will be grown for preparing food.
Around 7:30 Maria’s husband called us to dinner. He had been cooking something over a fire pit while we were recovering from the days walk. We all moved into their house. A large kitchen with a long table was set for dinner and we were served a potato kale soup, followed by chicken, pork, fish tortilla, salad, fried mushrooms, and potatoes. A veritable feast. Enough red wine and cider to float a small boat was included….
We enjoyed a spectacular communal dinner including Maria, her husband, and their 19 year old daughter Mariana. In fact I sat beside Mariana and was able to speak with her at some length about what she wanted to do,, where she was planning to go to school, and about life in general. I was impressed with her ability in English. Mariana said her only education for English was from the public schools system.. Kids were required to learn English from Grade 1 in Portugal. Honestly, you would have thought she was from downtown Toronto….her English was that good. (Oh I am so embarrassed)
After dinner Maria’s husband appeared in the kitchen waving my Ukelele. He had seen this on my bed, ran out to get it, and brought it in with much fanfare…. with the amount of alcohol this crowd had consumed it appeared a concert was going to happen. I was a bit surprised, by as I also had consumed sufficient wine…it seemed like a pretty good idea. A guitar was then produced and I was given this as well.
I decided to tune the guitar when Nat (I will blame Nat….but this may not have been the right person) called out….”Play Stairway to Heaven”) Normally this wold be a joke….But I can pay a pretty reasonable version of this tune….minus the signing part. Well, this went over pretty well…..and I wasn’t feeling any pain.
My whole thing is I don’t want to be a reformed so I made everyone promise to sing and participate in a tune. This next note is for Susan, my partner on my first Camino. I said I’m going to play Wild Rover and everyone has to join…..and they did. Everyone sand, pounded the table and contributed….shaking the rafters of this house.
I moved onto ther songs like You in’t Goin’ Nowhere, You Don’t Know How it Feels, Behind That Locked Door, …..and about 4 more songs……sorry the wine pretty much has obliterated my memory of all the songs.
When I was trying to close the show, Maria moved in fast and said, we have to sing Hallelujah. As this wonderful woman and her family really had invite u into her home….the least I could do was to provide the backup for a song that was important to her.
e launched into the song…..every person singing the chorus at the top of their capacity….and it was really quite an emotional moment for all….especially Maria. She wanted to let everyone know this was the real meaning of the Camino, and was obviously a perfect moment for her to share with us….
I promised to one back to see Maria and her wonderful family some day. I am sure she will remember this night for a long tome to come…..we all will remember this night for a long time to come.
Everyone retired too our rooms and tried to get to sleep….most of us humming Hallelujah….
The next morning breakfast was served in the house again, and slowly we all made our departure heading North. There was rain in the air, but nothing more than a mist was landing on us.
My PF was acting up….partly because I felt I didn’t need to take medication. This turned out to be a bit of a miscalculation. About 3 1/2 hours into the walk we’re entered Ponte de Lina. A picturesque little city. The entrance into town is by a wide pedestrian boulevard, with enormous trees lining the path, and light standards with speakers paying music. Very impressive.
You will also see a magnificent river with a dam and water cascade on the left.
So picture perfect.
As we arrived in town he rain became a bit more serious, and the next stretch of the Camino is a serious elevation….and the rain was obviously pounding the path.
Patti (from Oshawa) and I decided both of our feet were done for the day and we got a room to share in the town….smart move. We received emails from others who decided to continue on….they reported horrific rain, floods on the paths, and treacherous conditions…..
All this while the weather below the mountain improved to brilliant sunshine and warmer temperatures.
In the evening Patti got a couple of tomatoes, Cheeses, cherries, and some bread. I ran out and gabbed a bottle of wine ad some chocolates. Outside of our room was a patio….and our plan was to have this as dinner sitting outside.
As we were setting up a young couple from Utah came up to the patio….so we made them join us and had a great time learning about their bicycle trip. (Not connected to the Camino) We talked about everything, enjoyed out time together and wished them well……
How is it possible these types of chance meetings are so rare in our day-to-day lives…..and seem to be common place on the Camino…..