To those who have yet to walk a camino, you may find it difficult to grasp a real understanding of my enthusiasm for walking hundreds of kilometres in less than ideal conditions. But you might at least be able to share my joy in completing these mammoth tasks given my complete lack of sporting prowess. I recall one teacher in my high school years chastising me after a race in which I had given my absolute all “Put some effort in next time girl!” Well Mrs V I always put some effort in! Especially this time! I have successfully walked over 2000 camino kilometres. And whats more, for my finale I haven’t even injured myself! No moon boot, no headaches, nothing- I’ve evened the score of arrivals in Santiago!
So how has this last camino finished up? Read on and you will see!
So Fraulein and I were up early this morning, filled with enthusiasm for arriving once again in Santiago. It did look a little wet outside unfortunately but nothing compared to our day up the mountain. We packed our gear, I taped my feet and packed wool where I needed to and we headed out the door into the dark.
The plan was to stop at the first cafe for a cafe con leche and some desayuno. We wandered passed the paddocks and onto the main drag before turning off into the dark forest. A few other pilgrims started coming out of the woodwork but not too many really. Before long we felt all alone again. But not for that long really.
The rain kept coming down and as we emerged from the forest we had high hopes of a coffee stop along the road we were skirting. Nothing. Not a single cafe, bar or machine! Nada! We kept walking.
Finally there were signs that a cafe was situated in the next town and was open early. Unfortunately it was 100m off the camino so we thought we’d walk on for the next one. Well that was a silly idea wasn’t it! We walked on and on and on and on and finally a cafeteria sign! Nope – other pilgrims coming out of the albergue told us it was closed too!
As I was coming up a hill getting close to Santiago I felt almost trampled by a bunch of touragrinos. I know I shouldn’t judge. But then they stopped at their back up truck for refreshments! They had hardly walked up a hill! I slid passed with my fully laden pack wishing I could carry an umbrella and then I saw the two arrows with little indication of which way to go. I’d read something about this earlier in my guidebook but it was too wet to pull it out now.
I stood with the two French pilgrims from Brittany and we discussed which option we should take. The tour guide abandoned his flock and ran to us with a smile- “take the left it’s shorter- the right will take you to monte de Gozo”. A camino angel indeed- no way in hell was i detouring vía monte de gozó! The road that had attacked me last year! The touragrinos had actually helped us! So left we went and looked back to check that Fräulein was following.
We were getting so close to santiago it seemed almost absurd to be stopping at all by this time. Not that we had opportunities – we didnt spot the first opened bar on the camino until we were only 2kms from the cathedral. Stuff it – not stopping now – I ate sweets from my belt pockets- chewed salts and drank the water from my water bladder – we were going to go all the way!
What was the point in stopping now? 17kms in one stretch. No breaks. No cafe con leche. No tortilla patata. No messing around. But, most importantly, no blisters and no injuries! My beloved would have been thrilled to have been here!
It was the exact day we had thought we were walking into Santiago last year. The day when the pavement had jumped up and attacked me! When the ambulance came. When the headaches began! When, at the most crucial moment, my beloved lost his amazing ability to whistle!
Fräulein reminded me. They were waiting in the square when my enthusiasm got the better of me.No problem today though! Another great finale!
A few years ago just the thought of walking 17 kms without a break would have sent me into a panic attack. Let alone with my full pack on. Today 17 was an easy day! Over 30 and I’d be miserable. It was wet but it was in no way miserable. To top it off we arrived in time to see a bunch of bike riders hit the square singing songs of joy and jubilation!
Down to the pilgrim office and what do you know the Other Young Danes were staying just there! Fast walkers and fast eaters!
Washing was a priority along with eating! It wasn’t hard to put the two together with a pastry shop across from the lavadaria!
I accompanied Fräulein to lodge a police report as requested by the police on the espiritual variant. The police were attentive, considerate and grateful for the information and would encourage anyone encountering suspicious or concerning behaviour on the Camino to take photos and report it if at all possible.
Along with this serious interlude I managed to catch up with quite a few people including the Old Young One. Also managed a special reunion with another friend from Australia you may recall from last year – Speedy Gonzales – this time with her husband – he had virtually run the whole Norte and primitivo in 28 days and she had walked from the airport after 30hrs flying! Serious pilgrims they are!
Yep it may have been a bit damp but it was wonderful arriving safely, especially for Fräulein , after another long journey!