There are places and key moments for each of us on the way. Personally, the halt in the small village of Zabaltica will remain in my memory.
I decided to stop there because I knew I would find there a donativo. A donativo is a non profitable pilgrim hostel which is based on volounteer work and donations from pilgrims.
I arrived there after a day walking through amazing autumn landscapes, the weather was nice and warm. The donativo is sitting on the top of Zabaltica village, in a nice and bright house next to the church.
I am welcomed with my two hiking companions by a tall Irish man: Michael. He explains us that he is volunteer host with his wife Kathleen in this house for 2 weeks. The house can host 19 pilgrims, it belongs to the Catholic Church and there is a small community of 4 sisters who live there.
Mickeal offers us to leave our bags in the dormitory, to get a shower and invite us to rest a bit or to go to the mass before diner. He also tell us that there is a time of sharing experiences with the sisters and the pilgrims after diner.
The place is beautiful and peaceful. After my shower I go down to the garden, some delicious smells of food are escaping from the kitchen where Kathleen is working. I seat for a while on the grass facing the view. I can see Pamplona in the horizon and I suddenly and surprisingly feel like crying. It is an indescribable mixed feeling of tiredness and joy which are inhabiting me at this moment. I think again of a text I received few minutes ago from a friend who is telling me how lucky I am to be walking through Spain, and right at this moment I can fully realise it. I feel blessed and immensely grateful for all the kilometres already walked, this great day, the encounters and the lessons learned on the way; and above all for having the time and the possibility to choose where and when I will end my travel: Santiago? Finisterre?
The diner is delicious, we are many around the table. Then, comes time to share our experiences, whatever our belief and religions we are welcomed in the church by sister Marie Ascu. She speaks Spanish, English as well as French and Swedish. She leads this time which is all about gratitude. The exchange is rich and beautiful, each person explains a bit why she/he is on the way and what she/he is grateful for. We speak about the Autumn of life, about going away from the life motorway to find our own path and about Love. Then, the sisters and the Irish host give us them benediction, it feel great to hear theses people wishing for us to find what we came for! Finally, it is Michael who is closing this time by a song in Gaelic. His strong voice resonate in the church, the pilgrims are sitting comfortably on the pillows. I can see stars in their eyes and a smile on their faces. Here in Zabaldica they experienced a time in the true spirit of the camino. And me, I realised I already found a bit of what I came for.