Day 28: Ruitelán – Tricatela
The road curves ahead of me, and a yellow arrow points the way. I figure they are just around the corner. Apparently I miss the marker that would have directed me onto a dirt path that parallels the paved road and is hidden behind a tall hedge. I considered asking the coverall clad farmer for directions, but something about him made the hair on the back of my neck stand up, along with a little voice that said to “walk on”. These two “clues” have served me well throughout my life, so I pay them heed and walk on. I quicken my pace, as does the farmer. I look and listen for signs of Paul and Dave. It is as if they have vanished into thin air. Concerned I have missed the trail, I hail a woman who has come out of her house as to where the Camino is. She tells me I am on the bicycle part of the Camino, but the dirt path is just above me and parallels the road. Confident that Paul and Dave are ahead of me, I continue on and stop where the bicycle road and the dirt path meet at a bar/albergue. I look in the bar. It is empty. I sit at the crossroad for 5 minutes, trying to decide what to do. Do I walk back to where I last saw them via the dirt tread? Do I continue on and see if I can reach a vantage point to see if they are still ahead of me? Surely they would figure out I have fallen behind. The bar seemed like the perfect place to wait for me. The farmer is closing in and raises his eyebrows at me. He is on his phone and I hear and understand enough to know he is telling the person on the other end to meet up with him. I don’t know now whether I am experiencing “appropriate paranoia”, or the fact that earlier this year an older (40+) female peregrino was kidnapped and killed while walking the Camino in Galacia, has me spooked. I am pretty sure that if it becomes necessary I can “take care of myself”, but I’d rather not have to as the outcome would not be “pretty”. Better safe than sorry, so I walk on through the sparse and dilapidated village to a spot where I can see the trail way ahead of me and the village behind me. I take a seat and wait. The farmer rounds the corner, then stops and turns back into the village.
The view from my perch is beautiful. My plan now is to wait for more peregrinos, to ask if they’ve seen Paul or Dave, and if not, to walk with them to the next albergue upon which I’ll figure it out from there. I look at my watch. It is 3:15. I decide, I will wait no longer than 4pm and continue on no matter what to at least a place that has WiFi, where I will message Paul. I consider calling him, but I doubt his phone is on, and we did not get the international calling plan for his phone, so I figure his phone won’t work. Finally I spy two hikers. I ask if they have seen two men, and describe Paul and Dave. They then say to me in very broken English, ” you woman missing” (for the record, I am not missing, Paul and Dave are), “dey bak der” and continue on. How far back, I ask and get no response as they walk briskly away. A German woman with her dog (a poodle named Leigha…why I know the dogs name and not hers I’ll never know), she recognizes me and exclaim, “Oh my God, you’re husband is so worried. You must call him. He has been trying to call you. He is so worried!” She hands me her phone. I look at my phone and see that I now have a missed call and it’s from Paul’s phone. Hmm, I guess it works. Not sure how much that is going to cost us, but good to know that it works. I call him. For once, he picks up immediately. Simultaneously we ask, ‘WHERE ARE YOU?!’ Turns out we are, and have been, no further that 50m apart this whole time. ‘Stay where you’re at’, we both say, ‘I’ll come to you’. Soon we are reunited, as we ignored each others command to “stay put” and walk toward each other. Out of all of this, I think Dave was the most frazzled. Apparently he was about to commandeer a farmer’s motorcycle and/or rent a car to begin the “search”. Paul’s rendition of the “disappearance”, has me as the one who ” vanished”, and goes something like this…”we stopped on the dirt path waiting for you, you never showed up, so we back tracked to the paved road. The lady with the dog comes along and said she hadn’t seen you…impossible! We continued on to the albergue and they said you never came by either. Dave was going to buy off the farmer for a vehicle, when I tried my phone.” It all ended well, we were only minutes apart, just out of sight of each other. Whew!! When we got to Filloval Dave’s pack was not there…and thus begins the tale of the second “disappearance”.
It’s getting late, but we have no other choice but to now head to Tricatela which will make this a 31km day for us and about a 35km day for Dave. Once we enter Tricatela, we find that the municiple albergue is “completo” and Dave’s pack is NOT there. We enter the next albergue and his bag isn’t there either and this one is full as well. The old Spanish women who run the albergue do not speak a lick of English and do their best to help Dave, (who is becoming more than a little frustrated/upset), find his pack, after I explained to another peregrino whom Paul and I met earlier how important it is that we find Dave’s pack (he is carrying his son’s ashes…in the pack). Turns out his pack was the next albergue down… and they were full as well. It’s beginning to look like we will be sleeping outside tonight, and its gonna be COLD! As luck would have it, the last (and cheapest) albergue has space for three weary travelers, and we all get bottom bunks and our own room, plus a cyclist from Texas named Scott. We are more than glad this day is over as we are exhausted in soo many ways besides physically.
Be Strong! Austin Strong!