On Sunday we arrived in the town of Navarrete, completing our first full week of the Camino Ignaciano. We completed the mountain stages of the Camino, which are supposedly the most difficult. As I look back on this week, I realize that our best times this week were times we spent with people.
There was Fermin, the first pilgrim of the Camino Ignaciano, who completed the entire route in only 18 days earlier this year. He recently returned from his thirteenth Camino de Santiago, the better-known pilgrimage route in northern Spain. He spent hours with us, answering questions about the Camino and giving us history lessons on the area. We looked at the 26 days we had to go with great trepidation, but Fermin calmed our nerves. He gave us his phone number and told us to be sure to give him a call with anything, big or small.
We met Jose in an old church in his town where they were holding prayer services and traditional dancing. I noticed that nearly everyone was wearing a blue bandana around their neck with a picture of this church on it. I asked Jose about it. He explained that the bandanas were no longer made, but when he heard about the Camino he insisted that I take his bandana as a memory of our time there. I was stunned by his generosity.
A third great person was Guy, owner of a hostel we stayed in. After preparing us dinner, he proceeded to sit with us to drink some Spanish wine. Then he asked us to join him in the next town for happy hour (only 1‚¬ for a glass of wine and an appetizer!).
I am touched by the way Fermin, Jose, and Guy opened their lives to us. We haven’t met other pilgrims on the Camino Ignaciano. We appreciated being greeted so generously.
I am often reminded of Ignatius’ principle of seeking out God in all things. We have felt welcomed by these three people as Jesus would have welcomed us. I imagine Ignatius finding God in the people he met along his way.