The Flight Home from my Camino.
I took the night bus from Santiago to Madrid.
I arrived at Barajas airport, early in the morning, still wearing my walking clothes. I hadn’t dared remove my walking shoes on the bus – my left foot and ankle was swollen. I was afraid I would not be able to get the shoe back on if I took it off. So I had been wearing my clothes and shoes for over 24 hours. I was wearing the same walking clothes I basically wore every day for 40 days. I made the whole trip with only one complete change of clothing in my pack,
I had anticipated shopping for clothes in Santiago and maybe even going to a beauty shop for a shampoo and cut and maybe a manicure and pedicure. But here I was in beautiful Madrid, limping around in my tattered, tired clothes.
I hadn’t expected to be so exhausted and so ready to simply be home. Don’t misunderstand – the Camino was a wonderful experience and I treasure the people I met and the experiences I had…but I was tired, tired, tired.
At Barajas I saw that my flight was delayed several hours. I let out a big sigh and then found a cup of cafe con leche to comfort me while I waited for more information. I had to connect with another flight in the USA and make two changes. My estimated arrival at the airport and hour from home would be around 2300 PM. Now a delay which would no doubt complicate my schedule.
After my coffee, I headed over to the counter to see about the status of my flight. I could see on the board that it was cancelled. I took a deep breath. I teased a smile onto my face. As I approached the counter the ticketing agent beamed at me and said: “I wondered when you would check in! I’ve been waiting for you.”
I laughed, feeling self conscious in my walking clothes and boots. Then I pointed to my Camino patch and my shell and said, “Well, I walked about 800 kilometers to get here!”
The agent smiled and proceeded to give me really delightful and unexpected news. “Well, you better walk fast, because your plane is about to take off. We’ve put you on a direct flight and upgraded you to first class! Now hurry pilgrim, hurry!”
So that is how this smelly pilgrim in her tattered walking clothes ended up flying First Class, sipping champagne and watching movies on a non-stop flight back to the USA.
There are angels everywhere.
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