This is Ramon and his mom.

They have turned their house outside of Zumai into a bed and breakfast. Since it is 3 kilometers from the Camino, Ramon offered to come pick us up “because we have no business.” When we arrived in town, I called him and he was there in no time, waving cheerily. When we told him we were from Los Angeles, he perked up and said he had been there and had driven up the coast to San Francisco to see his elder brother who had gone to Berkeley and now works at the Westin in San Francisco. Once at his home, he showed us to our room, checked us in and said he would leave us as he needed to go to the laundry. When we arrived for dinner, he appeared at our table to take our order in his chef’s coat.

In the morning, he was in the kitchen again and ready to drive us back to the Camino. On the way, I asked him, “Do you want to do something like your brother did?” and, almost imperceptibly, his shoulders slumped and he shook his head. “No, I need to stay here. In the summer, we are busy. The rest of the time, it is complicated. My mother is ‘cansada’ (tired).” It might have been my imagination, but he looked wistful to me. He drove us to the sea, and showed us where to hike to get the best views and pictures, and then described how we would reconnect to the Camino. “If you have trouble finding a place to sleep tonight,” he said, “just call me. It’s easy for me, I’ll be at my computer.”

He sent us off on our adventure, turned his back on the long trail and the wide Cantabrian Sea, got back into his car and headed home. Ramon, we agreed, is the George Bailey of Zumai.

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