P.S. There IS life after the Camino!

There actually is “life after the Camino!” It isn’t easy, though, because there are no yellow arrows pointing the way. The Camino is a “no brainer” in that respect. We never had to figure out where we were going; we were shown. Now it takes a lot more effort to get around. We’ve landed in two cities – Porto and Lisbon – and were so utterly confused about where to go. Why is it that street names don’t appear on our maps and why street names on our maps can’t be found on street corners!? Continue reading

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Day 50 (October 29, 2015) – 8.7 km., Villamaior to Santiago de Compostela

On the day of our arrival in Santiago de Compostela, we got a message from Tania that made us laugh. She said waiting for us to reach Santiago was “like waiting for a couple of babies to be born!” We are happy to announce that although the labour was long, the delivery went smoothly. The babies arrived at 10:30 this morning! They (make that “we”) will be spending two nights at the Hospiteria San Martin Pinario, a renovated monastery built in the 16th century and located as close to the Cathedral as you can get.

Our arrival in the city was a happy/sad time. The rainy weather we got while walking into Santiago was consistent with my feelings of sadness that this amazing experience of walking the Camino de Santiago was coming to an end. It was the journey of a lifetime. How often do we get to be in a crowd of people all walking in the same direction and along the same path. Even though we don’t all speak the same language, there is an unseen bond between us. How wonderful it would be if all the world got together like this with one goal, one path. Continue reading

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Day 49 (October 28, 2015) – 11.4 km., O Pedrouzo to Villamaior

This is another one of those days that can be called a “prelude to tomorrow.” Tomorrow we will walk to Santiago de Compostela. Between here (Villamaior) and Santiago, there is a long slog up to Monte Gozo before coming down into Santiago just 8.7 km away.

There was no sunshine, periodic rain, and muddy paths. Are we being weaned off of the Camino? There are many other things we would have preferred to do other than walking in the rain and trying unsuccessfully to avoid the mud while carrying all our belongings in backpacks that sometimes feel like too much of a burden. Warm sandy beaches,  blue skies, flip-flops are starting to sound awfully good! Continue reading

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Day 48 (October 27, 2015) – 22.1 km., Ribadiso to O Pedrouzo

It took just a few words written on one garbage can that started me humming a tune that stayed with me all day: “Imagine there’s no Heaven…” So what was written on the next garbage can? “It’s easy if you try.” It went on like that, one garbage can after the other: “No hell below us; above us only sky. Imagine all the countries, living life in peace…” Meaningful words and a beatiful melody. Thank you, John Lennon. Continue reading

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Day 47 (October 26, 2015) – 10.8 km., Melide to Ribadiso

Oh no! This is a bad time to get writer’s block! It could be our focus is too much on our arrival in Santiago de Compostela in three days instead of experiencing the present moment. The journey to this point has been incredible and worth every ounce of effort. Will our arrival in Santiago be as incredible or will we be overwhelmed by crowds, disappointed that the journey is over, and/or feel gratitude for our safe arrival? Will there be a crowd gathered at the side of the road cheering us on and will a marching band be leading the way?

The logistics (the easy part) are worked out. We made a reservation for two nights (October 29 and 30) at Hospideria San Martin Pinario near the Cathedral. We will arrive on the morning of the 29th and attend the pilgrim mass at the Cathedral at noon. With any sort of luck the swinging of Botafumeiro (giant incense burner) will take place. It was originally used to fumigate the sweaty (and possibly disease-ridden) pilgrims. Hopefully the required dozen attendants can be gathered together to perform the ritual. Continue reading

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Day 46 (October 25, 2015) – 15 km., Palas de Rei to Melide

Spain has so many fields of sunflowers, especially in Navarre and Castille y Leon. Tonight in Melide we learned why. Spaniards simply love to eat sunflower seeds. We went into a bar for their “menu del dia.” A group of men at the table across from us were playing what sounded like an exciting card game. They were far more interested in their card game than in the football (soccer) game playing on the overhead TV. At the same time, they were busy opening and eating sunflower seeds at a shocking speed and tossing the empty shells on the floor around them. When a bowl of sunflower seeds was empty, it was replenished. Meanwhile the pile of shells on the floor grew higher. Apparently it is perfectly acceptable and normal to throw the shells on the floor in Spanish bars. They say a dirty floor means a good bar in Spain! Who knew?! Continue reading

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Day 45 (October 24, 2015) – 30.4 km., Mercadoiro to Palas de Rei

We are in Palas de Rei, just 68 km away from Santiago! We didn’t intend to walk this far today, but we made the mistake of not staying in Ventas de Naron and then had no choice but to keep going until we could find a place to stay. “Ultreia!” Pilgims of the Middle Ages would shout “Ultreia!” (onward) as a wish of unfailing courage. We had to draw on every ounce of courage to make it to Palas de Rei! Continue reading

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Day 44 (October 23, 2015) – 16.8 km., Sarria to Mercadoiro

We expected to see a pilgrim “rush hour” leaving Sarria this morning and were surprised that it was not busy at all. Sarria is just a little further away from Santiago de Compostela than the required 100 km a pilgrim needs to travel on foot, by bicycle or on horseback, without vehicular backup in order to receive their Compostela. Sarria is where many people begin their journey. Continue reading

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Day 43 (October 22, 2015) – 18.7 km., Triacastela to Sarria

This was one of those days when we should have checked our guidebook before leaving our room. It was still dark when we came to the intersection just outside of Triacastela and didn’t know which way to turn. Usually we simply follow the yellow arrows, but we couldn’t see any. When there are no yellow arrows, we follow others. The problem this morning was that they were going both ways, right and left. We ended up relying on two people with a GPS who said it has never failed them yet and followed them to the right.

Later we learned that both ways end up in Sarria, but the route we took was shorter, 18.7 km versus 25.1. Distance can often (but not always) be the decision-maker. The longer route goes to Sarria via the Benedictine monastery of Samos, one of the oldest and largest in Spain. Apparently it is well worth the visit as we later found out. So now there is something else to add to the list of things to see, if and when we walk the Camino again! Continue reading

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Day 42 (October 21, 2015) – 21.3 km., O’Cebreiro to Triacastela

We could have stayed in the “fairy tale” town of O’Cebreiro and lived like hobbits, but we had kilometers to go before we sleep. So it was toast and cafe con leche at our favourite little funky restaurant in O’Cebreiro followed by a view of the “almost sunrise” before saying “adios” to the little village. We were fortunate again today to have clear skies and a comfortable temperature for walking, so it wasn’t long before we were peeling off several layers of clothing. Continue reading

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