I met my friend Marina today for a lunch we've been talking about for weeks. I've known Marina for years, and she is a close friend and confidante. we've grown a lot together and happily in the same direction, which is why we're still firm friends.
Marina and I got to know each other in my travel-writing days, when she, as the then-rep of the Spanish tourism office in Toronto, accompanied me to Northern Spain to drive the Camino. We had to drive it, rather than walk it, because time was short and I had to get back and write the article (she, however, has walked the pilgrims' route more than once.) In all fairness, I should add that when we came within sight of Santiago de Compostela, I got out of the van and walked the last kilometres to the city as a gesture of pilgrim faith.
We started at Bilbao, which I kept confusing with Balboa (a remnant of my life in San Diego), communicating with locals in Italian (we understood each other quite well), and eating exceptionally well, with all the fine wines of the area at our disposal. In one of the towns where we stopped for the night, she took me to a hot chocolate place to taste the famous Spanish chocolate brew. To say that it was so thick that you could stand a spoon up in it is no exaggeration. It was a very good trip for me, although I remember I was going through an emotionally rough time. But the best thing that came out of this trip was the friendship of my beautiful, tender-hearted friend.