Today started well. I woke up at 5:30am and was on the road by 6:25, trying to beat the heat. At times the scenery, forest trails with moss-covered ancient fence rows, got me daydreaming about medieval times when the knights would traverse these very same pathways in protection of the pilgrims along the way. And as I thought about that and the heavy load I was carrying, I very much reminded myself of the squire in Monty Python’s Quest for the Holy Grail. Truly, all I needed was a little mud on my face and two hollowed out coconuts and voila- a very close re enactment! Made me laugh to myself. However, by 2:30 pm I wasn’t laughing anymore. The trail just kept going on and on and lovely as it was, there was no shade from the hot, hot sun. I was out of water and feeling a little relief at the sight of a town ahead, until I realized it wasn’t the town I was stopping at for the night. Then, my 3 year old part took over and I had a little pity party for myself… tears and all, feeling like ripping my knapsack off and heaving it away, questioning why am I doing this? However, as I came to said town, an old woman stood in the doorway of her home that directly fronted the busy roadway. She asked if I spoke French and beckoned me over to her side of the road. Before I could respond, she had manoeuvred a chair out onto the street front and bade me sit, while she disappeared into her home and came out bearing two large oranges that she forced into my hands (though I protested that I only needed one- she wouldn’t have it). She pulled up a stool and with many gestures and by piecing together several languages, I discovered her name was Maria and she communicated that she had lost her husband 5 years ago. We sat for a while “talking” in the shade and then she graciously filled my water bottle and probably saved me from dehydration today. I told her that she was my Santa Maria (Saint Maria) and she kissed both my cheeks as we parted. Sometimes God sends an angel just at the moment you so desperately need one! Feeling grateful.

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