Day 20 (May 24)
Lauren spent the day confirming travel arrangements. She already had a flight booked for Saturday May 25 that would get her from Madrid to the U.S., and ultimately to Cincinnati. She contacted a local travel agency and attempted to book a flight from Santiago to Madrid.
The travel agency told her they would contact the airline and get back to her. By late afternoon, she still hadn’t heard back, and she wasn’t able to reach the travel agency, so she went to the airport. She spoke to an airline representative, who had no record of her reservation. And, unfortunately, this airline only sells tickets online or through travel agents, and Lauren couldn’t get any internet access on her phone.
To Lauren, this was all a part of the pilgrim’s journey. She knew that, one way or another, she would make it. Her journey began at our home in Alexandria, and it would end when she reached our home again.
She raced to the Santiago train station and was just in time to board an overnight train to Madrid. She spent the night excited and unable to sleep, playing with two young girls and telling them stories to help them sleep.
Day 21 (May 25)
The division between May 24 and May 25 only happened for those of us who slept between one day and the other. To Lauren, it was all one long day of travel. From the train station, she boarded the subway and went directly to the airport, not even getting a glimpse of Madrid.
She was fortunate again to find herself in business class for the return flight, and she even managed to doze a little bit. The flight lasted about nine hours.
She flew into JFK and had a three-hour layover before her flight to Cincinnati. During this time, she called me. Unbeknownst to her, I had packed up clean clothes, makeup, shoes, magazines, and every other creature comfort I could think of, started driving to Cincinnati.
She asked what I was doing, and I told her I was in the car, but I neglected to mention what I was doing in the car. Lauren just assumed I was running errands or on the way to a friend’s house. In her mind, she thought she wouldn’t see me for several days yet.
I briefly spoke with Linda, who assured me they would keep my arrival a secret, and then I finished a nine-hour drive listening to podcasts.
Lauren reached Cincinnati around 6:30 PM. Bob and Linda took her home. She stripped out of filthy clothes and dumped everything in the garage, and then took a long, hot shower. She put on some old clothes and lay down on the couch. Bob ran out and picked up Lauren’s favorite meal – Indian food.
When I walked in the front door around 9 PM, Lauren couldn’t believe her eyes. The expression on her face was one of overwhelming surprise. It was a very happy moment. Lauren showed us her compostela and her credencial. Then she gave us some thoughtful mementos she had picked up.
Finally, she curled up against me and quickly fell asleep. She slept through the night, sleeping better than she had in weeks.
Lauren is resting now, her swollen feet up on the couch and a triple grande skim latte in hand. She’s doing well and her feet are healing quickly.
Once we’re back home and have had time to digest, I’ll offer up one final epilogue to this journey.