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Camino de Santiago, Day 26: Sahagún to El Burgo Ranero

Camino de Santiago

Camino de Santiago

I started the day very late.  Got word from Jamie that he is about two days behind me. Felt the need to move on and not stay in Sanagun.

I thought it was misfortune when I ended up in a small village of 100 people at the end of my day’s walking and all the hostels in the village were full.  Except one.  The one across the train tracks, by the big abandoned silo waaaayy on the edge of the village.  That one had four beds free.

The local told me to walk down the road to the train tracks.  It sounded ominous.  Fifteen more minutes of walking and I could not find the hostel, so I asked a man working in his backyard.  His nose was bandaged with a square of gauze and it seemed to me that maybe there was no nose underneath it.   “Pardon. Donde esta el albergue?”  He stared at me.  “No albergue! No!”  Literally, 15 seconds passed before he broke into a huge grin with teeth full of green vegetables and hit me on the arm to indicate he was joking.  He walked me to the tracks and gave me instructions from there in rapid Spanish.  No idea. He then leaned in for a kiss to send me on my way.  This required a rapid cheek turn.

In any case, I found myself crossing six railroad tracks, passing behind abandoned railroad cars and ending up in the front yard of the best place yet!  Nobody was there but the door was open so I put my bag inside and waited outside in the sun.  Twenty minutes later, a man in a wheelchair greeted me and welcomed me in.  His nickname is Femi.  His eyes are very kind. He has a bed for me in a room with no other pilgrims.  His place feels good to be inside.  He has to go help someone in the village “Life is hard for us now so we must all help each other.” He’ll be back later.

I sit outside and watch a tall man with a disfigured face bring a small flock of sheep to the railroad tracks to graze.  He holds a staff and I think about how this scene could be happening 5000 years ago. Except in the background are rotting train cars with faded graffiti.

Upon returning, Femi’s asks me how I’m doing, and it is clear that he is intuiting my current emotional state.  In less than five minutes I am crying in this man’s arms.  What the hell!?  I am so embarrassed but he is so calming and sweet about it and tells me to just cry.  He goes to his room to get me a quote to share. The quote is essentially about feeling what you feel and not being afraid to feel the darker things.  “What you push away, comes closer.  It’s ok to feel the shadow.”  He brings me a four leaf clover wrapped in cellophane.  Later he gives me a gift that was given to him by a penniless Spanish artist who walks the Camino continuously back and forth.  He gives me all these things to make me feel better but most of all, he gives me his energy, his time, his compassionate ear, his experience.

Over the next four hours, we share beer together and talk about the deepest questions of our lives.  He tells me things I need to hear that I didn’t know I needed to hear.  He gets out a tarot card deck and very seriously and thoughtfully does three readings for me to help me understand where I am now.  He does not use them for reading the future, only the now.  He tells me they are just a tool to help him understand my current state.  The card which turns up as the signifier of my most essential self in the moment is…drumroll please….

Le Mat

Le Mat (The Fool) is a traveler.

The Fool

Wikipedia describes The Fool this way and it is similar to what Femi said:

The Fool is the spirit in search of experience. He represents the mystical cleverness bereft of reason within us, the childlike ability to tune into the inner workings of the world. The sun shining behind him represents the divine nature of the Fool’s wisdom and exuberance, holy madness or ‘crazy wisdom‘. On his back are all the possessions he might need. In his hand there is a flower, showing his appreciation of beauty. He is frequently accompanied by a dog, sometimes seen as his animal desires, sometimes as the call of the “real world”, nipping at his heels and distracting him.

Ultimately,  Femi tells me I am in the perfect place and doing the perfect thing and I don’t have to do anything but continue to stay on the Camino and everything will be right.  No thinking, questioning or worrying needed.  He tells me about the miracles he has seen on the Camino and about the magic. He tells me that it’s all a metaphor and nothing is an accident, including me showing up at his place.  My mood is transformed from stressed and sad to energized and grateful.

He tells me all about the car accident that led to him being paralyzed three years ago and how before that he loved to run.  He explains what has changed and how he understands why it needed to happen.  He talks about God slapping him in the face to make him stronger.  And ten months ago more problems.  Another slap.  Also needed in order to get stronger.

We talk about his future plans – he doesn’t know.  He bought this property ten years ago.  It was a former grain building, beside the train tracks, and everyone said he was crazy, that no pilgrims would go across the tracks to the edge of town.  He and his friend spent six months building it, creating it, adding lovely artistic touches to it.  And pilgrims came.

He tells me that he was born in this same small village and that the year he was born, he was the only baby born in the village and how he had no friends.  He laughs heartily about it but not like a madman – like a happy man.  He says he doesn’t get lonely or bored in the tiny village.  He says that in every place you go you can find the love, even if it’s itty-bitty.  You must find the love and you’ll be ok.

The time talking has flown by.  At 12:30 am he says he must go to the bar to play dominoes.  I say my goodbyes and thanks for such a wonderful evening. Big hug.  I realize I want a picture of him and catch him with his hat on, ready to fly out the door.

Laura and Femi

Laura and Femi

And I am changed.  Thank you Femi.

Today, I walked 17.7 kilometers (11 miles).

Photos of the Day:



  1. Thanks so much sharing! I balled just reading it! I will make sure to visit Femi this summer! 🙂

    • Glad you enjoyed the post. Anyone who meets Femi is blessed. Buen Camino!

  2. I’ve read 10 or 12 IOC your posts at a time and have held off commenting whenever I’m compelled to do so out of fear that I’ll have to add something to each post. But this one, I simply could not resist. You tapped into the synchronicity of your journey and found just shat you needed when you needed it. Femi sounds like an angel. I will look for his alburgue when I nake it over for my camino.

    • Thanks for commenting Larry. Femi did indeed appear like an angel. Magic like that happened to me several times on the Camino (and since my return).

  3. Good stuff you “Fool!” Lots of disfigured or disabled people in that village. Strange. The Camino does sound like an experience. “It’s ok to feel the shadow.” I recently spoke to a friend about that…..and your previous post about the alpha state and being more intuitive. Cool. Glad all the other hostels were full!

    • I’m glad they were full too! That day/night was a highlight among many.

  4. yea! people pictures!

  5. Wow! That is just amazing!

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