May 26-27, 2019
“Hola!” I called cheerfully to a woman on her balcony. Jay and I were crossing a plaza in the town of Nájera, ready to begin another day of walking the Camino de Santiago.
The woman leaned over her railing and gestured urgently. “Seguir la flecha amarilla en la piedra!”
‘What did she say?’ I stared blankly upwards.
The woman repeated, slightly louder. “Seguir la flecha amarilla en la piedra!”
The only word I had caught was “piedra”. Thanks to teaching a fourth grade unit on rocks and minerals two decades ago, I knew “piedra” meant stone. But which stone? What did the woman on the balcony want me to know?
As Jay and I looked, the woman’s arms waved, her face full of earnest purpose. She repeated her phrase again and again, the volume of her voice rising, as if understanding were linked in direct proportion to the amount of sound being issued.
I looked around desperately. What was she trying so assiduously to communicate?
Suddenly, my eye alighted upon a boulder behind us. A large yellow arrow, painted across its side, pointed left. Understanding dawned.
“Follow the yellow arrow on the stone!” The lady above was showing the way out of town!
Laughing, I waved and nodded, pointing to the arrow.
“Gracias!” Jay called, as we turned.
The lady on the balcony smiled, “Buen Camino!” Once again, she had put wandering pilgrims upon the straight and narrow.
So, how does one follow a 1,000 year old trail? The Camino de Santiago is well marked.
Not content to rely solely upon shells and arrows, we bought the guidebook by John Brierley, which has excellent maps and tells a little of the places we pass.
Because we’ve hiked (and been lost) often in our lives, we also bought the Guthook app for the Camino de Santiago, Camino Frances SJPP (St Jean Pied-du-Port). This app, on my phone, showed the Camino route with a blue dot signifying our location. It worked even in airplane mode with no wifi. Jay and I found it most helpful in the large cities, where old, winding streets sometimes made me wonder if my feet were headed the same direction as my face.
Finding our way has been only part of the pilgrimage. “Buen Camino,” the standard greeting between pilgrims, would become an empty phrase without a slight understanding of the sights we see. Jay has carried the following ebook.
Oftentimes, the sights which attract my notice and imagination aren’t listed in any guidebook or map. And so I close this post with a few of the unique and beautiful sights we’ve encountered these two days.