The Camino has a way of bringing things to you just when you need them, like the men who appeared to the group of young women to carry the wheelchairs for them. It was no different for us, when we most needed a boost, some levity, three Irishmen and an Argentinian walked into the bar. No, it is not the start of a pathetic joke, they really did. Andrew, the tallest of the bunch was celebrating his 61st birthday, on this journey to Finisterre. He’d met, Chris the Argentinian at the outskirts of Santiago, the Camino throwing them together as walking companions. Chris, who’d done the walk to Santiago the year before and spoke the language had somehow gone several kilometers in the wrong direction before realizing his error and retracing his steps, getting to the start of the Camino again, just as Andrew was beginning. They’d been walking together for two days. The other two Irishmen, who’s names we did not catch due to their heavy brogue had only just met up with them. They invited us for a drink, apologizing that the bar only carried Scottish Whiskey, we chatted, they joked, we laughed. It was midnight when we all decided to go to bed, our new friends anxious about the difficulty of the next morning’s first ten kilometers, straight up hill they said, the whole way. We divulged that we would not be joining them as our arrangement included a 10 kilometer transfer, they said we did not know how lucky we were and joked they might be begging for a ride.
The next morning, we could not help feeling a little ashamed as we rode comfortably in the cab while the few scattered pilgrims walked up a steep hill along the hard asphalt highway, their trek made even more uncomfortable by a steady downpour. But, as the cab pulled off exactly at the 10 kilometer mark, we had another thought. Providence had lightened our load. Months before, when making the necessary arrangements for our journey, our MacTours booking guru Ewan had informed us of the transfer. We balked at him, not wanting to cut any corners, but Ewan had simply said “trust me, you will want the transfer”. After our experience the day before, the transfer was not only wanted but necessary, another hill would have crippled us for ever. The total walking distance that day was 33 kilometers, we still had another 23 km to go, up and down more knee killing hills in the bitter cold and rain. By the time we arrived at our hotel, exhausted and soaked, we were grateful for the head start. We concluded that God often sends you help well in advance of when you may need it. We thought back on all the people that were put in our lives well in advance of when we’d lose Gus and how much they’d help lighten our load as we went through the worst time in our lives. We are forever grateful.