Are we there yet?October 3, 2019 in Spain ⋅ ⛅ 16 °C
We approached Sarria the next morning after San Mamed, and were so happy we chose not to stay there in Sarria. It was a grim town, with lots of flats and busy-ness. We walked quickly through it and out onto the country path once again. We got chatting to a, couple from Mexico well he was english and she was Mexican id heard her drop some words about art and exhibitions and so we spent the day walking with them and their lovely daughter. Discussing art, life and everything in between We said goodbye over a quick lunch at a, bar and headed onto Ferreiros our stop for the night. This is the actual last 100 klms from here to Santiago it was a tiny village with an albergue and a bar and not much else. We had a really nice dinner and Mark finished off with the local arzua ulloa cheese and membrillo (quince paste) the cheese, was delicious creamy and soft with a delicate flavour. Spanish cheese is really very good. There was an amazing sunset that night that had us in awe of where we were and how lucky we were.
Next morning it seemed to be dark for ages and no coffee in sight. Eventually a place appeared and we had our usual first breakfast of half a slice of potato frittata each and coffees. Then carried on to Portomarin which is a beautiful town on a river. Crossing the bridge over the river into town you are so high above it that we both felt slightly queasy and a bit dizzy. The town itself is pretty too with stone parapets and cobbled streets. We only stopped for an ice cream before we headed on to palais de reí. We booked a private room and the climb up the stairs was so steep we were almost crawling up to our room. We were a bit albergued out by this time and rooms are pretty cheap. A double room(marido or marriage room) costs around 35-50 euros and for 2 bunks in a decent albergue it's about 12-15 euros so for two its not much more to have your own room. Its not the bunk beds that we were fed up with but getting up in the morning and trying to dress and pack up in a room full of strangers, that's the bit we didn't enjoy. We didnt even mind the snoring, in fact we may have contributed to it a little as i had a bit of a cold coming on.
Now we started to notice the the influx of new pilgrims with very clean clothes and bright sparkly clean shoes. They seemed to travel in packs and nobody said "buen camino" or even a "hola " as they passed by. Greetings which are usually shared liberally as you pass another peregrino. It feels nice and also if anyone is struggling or checking feet for blisters there's always the offer of help with fresh compeed plasters and a kind word. But the new peregrinos havent got that message yet. I began to feel grumpy about it and had a good old whinge to Mark. All day no greetings, no smiles even and it bothered me. We arrived in Melide a biggish town in comparison to where we'd come from we had another cheap private room with an amazing comfy bed and our own bathroom, luxury!
That night we went in search of Pulpo, the galician speciality of boiled octopus. Mark ordered that and loved it, i tried a bit but it wasn't my cup of tentacle!
It gets cooked in water then they chop off a, tentacle and add olive oil and paprika. I chickened out and had egg chorizo and chips. Very spicy chorizo it turns out!
We had a chat about the newbies and i decided i couldn't carry on being such a whinger. I'd change my attitude and try and find a, place of peace in my heart for myself and for them. We also decided to leave a little later once the main crowd had taken off.
Next day as were walking I got chatting to a, German woman who is walking just this last stretch. She was only about 35 but told me she had had 4 strokes and now also developed rheumatoid arthritis but really wanted to complete the walk to Santiago. She was doing this last part to see how she coped. I felt a bit humbled by her situation and it made me look at the newbies with fresh eyes. A lot of people come and do the last 100klms and then decide to come back and do the whole thing. But really does it matter how far you walk, how fast, whether you carry your pack the whole way or get it transported to your albergue, or even get a taxi now and then, everyday we are, all walking and appreciating the priveledge of being able to do this.
So I said" hola, buen camino" to everyone and when I needed some space I slowed down let the pack move on, found a, quiet place inside and fell in love with the walk again. It felt to me I was in some hallowed place. We walked through green avenues of overhanging trees and leaf littered paths I was in the church that God (or whoever whatever) made for us not the churches that had been made for him. I felt such a strong sense of connection and reverence as I placed each foot on this beautiful land. Happiness is a, state of mind and we can each find it for ourself if we look for it and allow it to come to us. It seemed to me at that point that it's not a thing you can chase after or grasp it's more a sense of peace and rightness with the world , that develops for me. I felt like I had little bubbles of happiness popping inside my chest.
Tonight's stop was Arzua the home of the delicious cheeses they also have another local cheese called tetilla which is formed in the shape of a woman's breast, great bit of marketing. We started calling it "titty cheese". It's a bit milder than the Arzua Ulloa.
Tomorrow is our last overnighter before we begin the walk into Santiago, it seems strange to think we are nearly there. How did that happen!
The day dawned with an ominous look about it, it was dark till past 9 am and didn't get much lighter. We were headed to Lavacolla, which literally means "bumwash". What a great name for a, town... or not!
It's called that because it's the place where there's a small river where smelly pilgrims would wash their private bits before hitting the cathedral in Santiago. Can't greet the Saint with a smelly bum!
Anyway the heavens must have decided we needed a wash as it poured down all day and we arrived in Lavacolla wet and bedraggled but hey we splashed out on a, private room bought some of that yummy local cheese and bread and sat on our wee balcony and ate and it was lovely.
Next morning we declined to take the peregrino dip in the small river as we passed it by. It looked very very cold. So no thanks.
Lots of pilgrims today, and I saw 2 buses who dropped off people they got off the nice warm coach and walked the last few kilometres into Santiago in pristine outfits, what's the point really. Apparently they get dropped at each stop to pick up their obligatory 2 stamps in the pilgrim passport and still get a compostela Oh well I think they've missed out on something very special.
We walked towards the cathedral and could see the spires in the distance. As we walked into the approach to the square I felt a heightened emotion. I hadn't expected to feel overwhelmed like this but it all came back to me. The kilometres we'd walked, the people we'd met, the places we'd seen, how many beds, how many bocadillos, how many potato frittata and café con leche I'd drunk. And how far my feet had carried me. The tears streamed down my cheeks not in awe of any religious moment but in awe of what we'd done.
We had a big hug and then felt a bit lost so we went and found our hotel and had a rest. It was emotionally overwhelming for me and I was also feeling a bit unwell with the cold I'd acquired so a rest was in order and Mark went and got our washing done, what a guy! . Then we had a little explore. We went to the cathedral which is in a state of repair for the holy year in 2021.
We climbed the stairs to hug St James whose remains are said to be in the crypt below. We saw his silver coffin too. For me I realised this wasn't my church. I'd spent the last 51 days in the church of my choosing. In nature I felt the closest reverence ever for life and all its wonders than I could in this place of stone and statues of long dead saints and priests.
The next day we got our compostela although we were a bit ambivelant about that. It's just a piece of paper and it will probably get stuck in a drawer and never see, the light of day again, but Daniel our son had said why not get it, you've done the walk and the thing is free so we did. It just involved a bit of queuing. They spell your name in Latin, so apparently I'm Maryam!
They couldn't do Mo in Latin or maybe it would have been have been Mo'ium.
We had a lovely dinner to celebrate our achievement. Mark loved all the seafood choices starting with a plate of Pulpo then a whole sole and I got to have the Spanish lamb. Followed by creme caramel. Can't go to Spain and not try the lamb! (quote from Joost in the movie the way).
So 800 kilometres and 51 days. It's not easy but it's not hard. You can walk slow or fast you can get a bus or a, taxi in parts, you can get your bag sent on you could walk the last 100 klms only. You get to see so many dilfferent places experience a great camaraderie and live a very simple life. You travel light and you learn to let go of a lot of things. I'm sure I'm changed by the experience but it feels too soon to think about that. We will complete the journey by walking the extra 100 klms to Finisterre (the end of the world) and to Muxia. My legs still have walking left in them so tomorrow we will begin that last part of our journey. It feels fitting for us as Aussies to end at the ocean. I won't be burning my boots though!Read more