This is us. We THINK the sweet little man in the center has a position of some authority at the tiny church we went to today to get our pilgrim’s passports stamped. The stamp says it is called Parroquia Santiago Apostol.
We THINK we arrived just as mass was getting out since there was a small group of parishioners gathered, chatting, near the door. When the tiny man saw our passports, his face lit up and he led us inside, hastily pushed some papers off a small table and hunted down the stamp. He brought it to us and, a first, gestured for us to stamp it ourselves.
When we finished, he let loose with a stream of Spanish of which I could decipher only a little but one of the things I picked up was that there was some place in Andalusia that was very beautiful, very historical and that we had to visit it.
In order to at least try to keep up a tiny bit of my end of the conversational bargain, I attempted to say that we needed to buy a guidebook that would tell us more of the history of the Camino.
This engendered another stream of Spanish which ended with the word “espere” which I was pretty sure meant “wait.”
So we waited for a few minutes and then decided, in part because we are, um, not known for our patience but also because I began to worry that “espere” actually meant “hope” (as in “Goodbye, have a good trip. I hope.”, to make a run for it.
But as we attempted to skulk away, the older woman in the picture who we THINK is the tiny man’s wife, made it clear that we were indeed to wait.
So wait we did. Minutes more went by – could have been four, felt close to 30. Did I say we have yet to learn the Camino’s lesson of patience?
In an outraged whisper my partner informed me that the tiny man was finally returning, but that he was chatting with another woman – no wonder he was taking so long!
When they reached us, the tiny man placed a guidebook in my hands as a gift (luckily it includes English translations) and he began to speak urgently to the younger woman who had walked at his side and was now standing with us.
He had found a translator who knew just enough English to tell us the story of the beautiful place in Andalusia he so wants us to visit, complete with stories of the great battles that had taken place there, one of which ended with the Christians being forced to carry the huge cathedral bells from Santiago de Compestella to Granada and another that ended with the Muslims suffering the same fate in reverse.
We all shook our heads at the madness of war, grabbed a passing stranger to take a commemorative picture and said our good-byes.
They say the Camino has many lessons to teach. Today’s were, I THINK, that language is no barrier when good will is aplenty, that generosity is all around us and that patience is indeed and after all, a virtue.