This afternoon I was driving back to my home town north west of Sydney, and I happened to look out the car window.
I was passing a small pine forest, and on the other side was a lake. I got a sudden and vivid flashback to a similar grove of pine trees outside of Logrono. It too overlooked a lake.
But what I remembered most clearly was the beautiful young Japanese lass sitting under a tree, having a rest stop. She'd started at St. Jean same day as me, and we'd seen each other on the Camino several times since.
Whenever we met she was always happy and laughing and gorgeous. But I didn't even know her name. She spoke very little English. And yet there'd developed something of a sweet friendship between us.
She saw me walking, and yelled out to me to join her. Laughing, she waved me over.
I'd had a hard time that morning. I'd left Viana early, and had already walked about 12kms. I wanted to get to Ventosa, another 20kms further on.
Not only that, but I was in a lot of pain, and the long paved walking track leading out of Logrono had aggravated my injuries.
I didn't want to stop, but I walked over. She had some food laid out, and she invited me to join her.
I declined. I wanted to keep walking, and I knew that because of the language barrier, any time spent with her would be fraught with communication difficulties.
As I drove past that pine forest this afternoon, I got a sudden pang of regret.
I should have stopped.
I should have joined her and taken fifteen or twenty minutes out to sit and chat, no matter what the language difficulties.
We saw each other again several times over the next few weeks, and I bumped into her in Santiago at the end, and we hugged.
I never did find out her name.
And I regret that too.