Brien, USA

“The young man made the short walk over to my location near the cistern and said, ‘What is the second thing the pilgrim needs?’ I sat silently, having no idea, so he said, ‘Patience. You must have patience.’ Then he spun the wheel a bit more and voila, water appeared, flowing from a pipe near the large wheel.”

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“On a day hotter than the already almost ridiculously hot days of July, I met one of my Camino guides. Since I was walking the Camino unguided with no support or sag wagon, I mean to say my spiritual Camino guide. The day was bloody hot and I was finishing an incredibly long, drearily hot stretch between villages. By now, late in the day, I was tired and could think of nothing more than wanting to sit my lanky, haggard frame somewhere, anywhere, even just for a minute. Not far on there was a water source indicated on my map—an indicator of which one really never knew what to expect—and I was watching closely, not wanting to miss this supposed fountain.

During my time on the Camino, up to this point anyway, water sources shown in the guidebook in my hands proved to be of almost any variety: A pipe dribbling from a hillside spring; an old style hand pump by the road; ornate fountains with multiple spigots at village centers; and, now a cistern with a rather unique water delivery system.

Approaching the village of Boadilla, a somewhat Wild West feel to this berg on the meseta (the high plateau of northern Spain), the pathway was suddenly shaded by large trees lining the roadway into town and irrigation canals adjacent. Still quite weary, I almost literally stumbled upon this newfound water source. The fountain indicated on the map was actually a Roman built cistern with a very large hand wheel that needed cranking to earn your water. I gave this giant wheel, a steel made creation resembling a ship’s rudder control, a short spin. No water appeared. I was so knackered, tired from the day’s long walk and oppressive heat, that I decided to sit a minute, catch my breath and try again in a minute or two.

This is when my guide appeared: I heard a voice from a nearby hostel saying, ‘More energy.’ I turned to see a youngish, lean Spaniard in cargo shorts and flip-flops, no shirt, his shorts hanging low over his hips, underwear in view. He repeated, ‘more energy.’ I gave the wheel a hefty spin with what little ‘more energy’ I had. Still no water. I sat down and thought to myself, ‘whatever.’ The young man made the short walk over to my location near the cistern and said, ‘What is the second thing the pilgrim needs?’ I sat silently, having no idea, so he said, ‘Patience. You must have patience.’ Then he spun the wheel a bit more and voila, water appeared, flowing from a pipe near the large wheel.

I only needed patience. He quickly told me, with great pleasure, about the fountain being two thousand years old, and then returned to his doorway where he sat on the threshold of the old, dusty and worn building with a beer in one hand, a stogie in the other.

After resting a bit, sitting on a bench beside the cistern and refilling my water bottles, I thanked my newfound Camino guide and hit the trail. He had said no more; needed say nothing more. By the time I had made it to the other end of this dirty little town, I was wondering if I had dreamt it all.

Patience, that’s what I need. Says my guide of the Camino.”

This was an excerpt from my book, “Su Camino,” which you can find on Amazon. I hope you’ll also look at my blog, “Grandpa’s Gone Again?” with travel notes from all over.

-Brien, USA

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