There are times when you get a choice between the easy path and the hard one, yet you still choose the hard path. For different reasons, maybe to prove it to yourself, maybe to prove it someone else, and maybe even just to brag about it later; but the basic fact is, me and my Camino friends decided to walk “el Camino Duro” (Translation from Spanish: The Hard Way) when we had this option on day 26 of walking between Cacabelos and Vega de la Valcarce.
We started climbing, and climbing, and climbing, it was an endless climb, and in no time we were high above the city, and could see the highway way below us (it’s where the other easy path was going to be).
This part of the way was deserted, no one walks it, and so we were enjoying the beauty of the mountains to ourselves all the time. Until we saw a lady walking in front of us. We kept walking with our same pace, but she proved to be walking really slowly because we caught up with her (we were known as the slow group, more about that in a coming post). She was a German lady, weirdly dressed, walking with her dog, Hugo, and carrying a really heavy backpack. “Buen Camino”…”Buen Camino, Do you need anything? You look tired! Do you want some water?”…”No I’m fine I’m just taking it slowly, Thank you”.
That’s the conversation we exchanged, as usual with any other pilgrim we meet. And we went on with our way, until what we thought was the highest point of the Camino Duro, because the following part was descending. So we decided to take a break, eat a snack and have a smoke and then get going again.
That’s when the German lady and Hugo caught up with us again, and they stayed with us for their break as well. After a short break we started walking together, and then we started being ahead of her again, with Hugo enjoying the new company and running back and forth between us and her. Until suddenly, Hugo never went back, and kept walking beside us; we looked behind us and she was out of sight.
We kept climbing (yes this wasn’t the hill top as we imagined it was :)) until the real peak of the mountain, where we had two ways to choose from. One that goes into a village with a bar, and the other goes around the village. We decided to go around the village. And that is when we had the bright idea of sticking a paper on a “no parking” sign telling the lady that Hugo was walking with us and that we will wait for her at the first bar we meet after descending that mountain.
We then started descending, which was as hard as climbing the mountain. Hugo was becoming very fond of us, running in front of us and waiting for us at the turns.
We finally reached the bottom of the mountain, which was directly into a village from between two buildings.
We met up with two other friends there, who have taken the easy way not the Camino Duro and have been waiting for us in this town for more than one hour. We found a bar, which was closed, but we sat there and ate some snacks we had, gave water to Hugo and gave him some food as well. We waited for so long that we started losing hope his owner will show up, we started thinking maybe she went to the village on top of the mountain and decided to stay there for the night.
It was after so long that an old guy showed up, and when he saw the dog he asked us if it belongs to a German lady. We said yes. He said she was on her way, he just met her while he was climbing down el Camino Duro and she is taking it slowly but she is on her way, and that she is looking for us.
It was almost one hour or so of waiting before Hugo’s owner showed up. She looked so happy when Hugo jumped towards her! And we all felt so relieved, for various reasons, because we gave back the dog to its owner so the dog is happy, the owner is happier! And one other reason is that we all didn’t want to take care of a dog on the camino, we were barely taking care of and feeing ourselves, it would’ve been a lot extra pressure to also carry food and water for a dog!