We were the only customers in the bar except for a woman who sat at the bar chatting with the young woman working behind the bar. Our waiter, a friendly, attentive youngster, seemed glad to finally have something to do.
We ordered tostadas with butter and jam, and lamented that once we were home there’d be no little bar to which we could walk and have our morning toasted baguettes and jam. But then we remembered good old Panera, just a few blocks from our house and probably the closest thing in our neck of Columbus to a Spanish bar (or would be if the place served toasted baguettes and alcohol along with the bagels).
We were both feeling a little blue to be leaving Spain in a few hours, and though we’d been there for two months walking the Camino de Santiago then visiting Barcelona and Madrid, we were wishing we had just one more day. But then we started talking about what we were looking forward to back home: our children, our grandchildren, our family and friends, our washer and dryer, movies.
As we were leaving the bar we thanked the bartender and the server, as we always do, and told them that this was our last morning in Spain and how much we liked the country and the people.
The girl behind the bar laughed. “None of us is Spanish,” she said. It turned out that our young waiter was from the Dominican Republic, the bar keeper was Venezuelan and the lady sitting at the bar chatting with the staff was Armenian.
After we left the bar Tom and I returned to the Hostal Madrid and hoisted our backpacks onto our backs for the last time, then donned our good old Camino rain gear.
The lobby of the Hostal Madrid.
We wondered how well that message was actually going over in Spain.
We also wondered why this message was written in English.
The bus stop was, not surprisingly, crowded.
The bus was packed, standing-room-only, and Tom and I were kind of a nuisance in our back packs, though there was not much we could do about it.
Still, from our stop it was only a 20-minute ride to the airport.
When we arrived Tom and I recalled how much friendlier the Madrid airport now seemed compared to the first time we arrived there for our first Camino two years ago. Then the place looked to us like some stark, slightly scary super-high-tech industrial complex out of a science fiction movie.
Now it just looked to us like a cool airport.
And me, still tightening my boots.
At the agent station next to ours stood a well-dressed, stylishly-coiffed middle-aged American man. As we were leaving the check-in desk he turned to us.
“Did I hear you say you just walked the Camino? The Camino Frances?” His face lit up when we told him we had.
“I walked the Camino years ago. Wasn’t it wonderful?”
We agreed that it was wonderful.
He put a hand over his heart. “Didn’t it make you feel like there was hope for the world?”
Sigh. That we’re not so sure about. (photo).