Kids with ice cream dripping down their hands stared as they walked past. Their parents pretended not to see us: barefoot on a stone bench, sponging the oil from a can of tuna with pieces of bread.

Jose, the Spanish guy we had roomed with the last few nights ran past and hollered something about having an eight euro lunch with Niki.

“I need to see new people,” I said.

So we decided to move on.

Arriving in Comillas

We had arrived in Comillas just after 3, with plenty of time to walk the five kilometers to the next city, Santana.

We finished lunch, put our shoes on and made on last stop for tea before we started up again.

Akash had the brilliant idea to call the hostel in Santana to make sure they still had beds available.

We called, and they did not.

So we called the more expensive, private guesthouse.

Completo.

By that point it was after four and we couldn’t even bank on getting two of the 20 beds in the hostel in Comillas.

We rushed from the cafe back up toward the hostel. As we got close, a line of pilgrims carrying big backpacks and tree branches marched in front of us.

It didn’t look promising.

But as I looked closer, I began to recognize the faces of Jovany, his friends from Madrid, Jose and Felix, John, the 82-year-old, and finally, Maria.

We all greeted each other and Akash and I fell in line.

As the seven of us approached, the hostel seemed to shrink in size and the chances that there was space for any of us, let alone all of us, looks slim.

There was one bed left, and John didn’t want to stay in it alone.

The woman running the hostel told Maria about a pension close by. Maria got right on the phone to find out if it had space to accommodate seven people.

The rest of us sat around and imagined what it was going to be like to sleep on the streets of Comillas that night.

We didn’t have to find out. The pension had space for all of us and at the special pilgrim price of 15 euro per person.


We had dinner on the beach and marveled at how things had been working out during El Camino; how lucky we had been to reunite on the street before the hostel.

They were the new people I needed to see, though we had met them already. There was never a garauntee that we would ever see them again, but there we all were together on a beach in Comillas.

And thanks to Maria, we all had beds.

Things don’t always work out how we expect them to, but they always work out.

Day 12: Fresh-Faced and Familiar

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