Wynette. This morning outside Villabilla, just before the Camino crossed a busy highway via an overpass, a woman rode up on a bicycle, coming from the opposite direction, and pretty much demanded that we stop and listen to her. She (woman in hat above) told us that the Camino signs pointed left ahead but that we should go right. She said the left turn is a road construction detour, but since it is Saturday we can go the original way and save 3 km. By that time she had stopped several other pilgrims. She seemed Asian but spoke fluent English, Spanish, and French. She told us her name is Maria Mercedes and she mostly spends her time helping people and that people call her an angel.
She was going on and on a bit so we finally said we needed to keep going. When we came to the turn, instead of following her advice, we decided to follow the left-pointing signs, influenced by a Spanish pilgrim who thought her advice was bad. A short way past the turn there she was again behind us. By then, she had collected about eight pilgrims. She singled me out twice saying I hadn’t trusted her but said she was a long-time resident of Villabilla and was only there to help, and repeated that she was an angel. She convinced all of us to follow her across the bridge.
The way ahead through the construction area was clear. We saw old Camino markers and Charlie remembered going that way our first Camino. We aren’t convinced the non-detour saved us 3 kilometers but all worked out fine. Because of it we ended up walking with a nice woman, Pernilla, from Sweden (who is now at our albergue) and another nice woman, Jane, from England.
It is a few hours later and we are resting in lovely Albergue Liberanos Domine in Rabe de Las Calzadas. I’m pretty sure Maria Mercedes (with the bicycle below) stayed a few more hours by the Camino convincing pilgrims to trust her and turn right over the overpass.