Virtual Camino de Fisterra

Virtual Camino de Fisterra

April 13 – As much as we love Santiago, we are glad to be heading to Finisterre – virtually, of course! Finisterre (Fisterra) is the westernmost point of the Iberian Peninsula. In Roman times it was believed to be the end of the known world. Dave and I went to Finisterre by bus in 2019 but this time Janine, David and I will walk.

I actually got a head start this morning with a 7.8 km walk to and around Sidney while the bread dough was resting. Dave will catch up later as he is out power washing the patio.

 The Hotel O Desvio looks a great little place to stay in Roxos. They not only have rooms available, but patio seating outside the bar where I will wait. I’ve ordered the vino and tapas for all. 🍷 🍷 🍷 😊

April 14 – What a great five-star day this is! It’s day 21 after our first dose of the Pfizer vaccine which means we’ve got 80 per cent protection against COVID and no chance of hospitalization. I celebrated this momentous occasion by walking to the barber shop in Sidney for the first haircut I haven’t given myself in 15 months. What a treat!

At the same time that I walked 10.6 km locally, I virtually made it to Casa Rural Albergue de Logrosa on the way to Finisterre. Trip Advisor gives this place just one star, but I think it deserves many more. 🚶‍♂️ 🚶 🚶‍♀️ 😊

April 15/16/17 – Since our virtual arrival in Santiago de Compostela almost a week ago, we have been slowly and surely making our way to Finisterre. We have walked 37.6 km so far – 42 per cent of the way. The landscape can be described as “rolling,” except for a few steeper sections. Much of it is covered with lush forests of eucalyptus, pine, chestnut, and oak trees.

When we couldn’t find accommodation in O Cornado today, we backtracked to Vilaserio where we had passed by an attractive albergue: Albergue Casa Vella. There are glowing reviews on the website which describe the albergue as tranquil, clean, and cozy. It has a fireplace in a lounge area and the food is delicious.

Here are scenes of where we’ve actually been walking in our local area this week. One place I especially like to return to is my “Virtual Catedral de Santiago.” It is where I reached 779.9 km on my “Virtual Camino” last Sunday.

I met someone there a couple of months ago. I refer to him as “The Old Man” as he is 91-years-old and I don’t know his name. He was sitting in a chair among the trees with a view of the Victoria International Airport in the distance. His dimpled face lit up with joy when I was passing, so I paused to talk. The Old Man told me his chair was brought to that spot by someone he  refers to as his “Benefactor.” The Benefactor had noticed The Old Man sitting on a log and said it was damp and cold and that he needed a chair. It wasn’t long before one chair appeared. Now there are two.

This spot holds a special place in my heart since it is now my “Virtual Catedral de Santiago.” I keep hoping to see The Old Man sitting in his chair because I would like to tell him why this place where he sits is now special to me. I will tell him that Dave and I walked the Virtual Camino and that this is the place where I completed that 779.9 km journey. His chair is in my “Virtual Catedral de Santiago.”😃 I will also suggest that his Benefactor is his Camino Angel 😇. I will ask him his name. 😊

Update on April 21: The Old Man’s name is Joe and he charges rent for the use of his chair (just kidding!).

April 18 – Oh how we love spring after such a long winter when we were all restricted to “essential travel only.” There was no chance for Canadian “snow birds” to break up the winter by going somewhere warm. Obviously the feeling of joy on this sunny, Sunday afternoon is mutual, judging by the smiles on everyone’s faces. We just returned from Butchart Gardens and, even though masks are mandatory, you knew people were smiling behind them. It’s not bad being home at this time of year! 😊 

It was my second walk today for a total of 7.7 km –  far enough because we virtually arrived in Santa Marina and caught sight of the Albergue Casa Pepa that Cynthia recommended. It is a newly restored albergue in a quiet, rural environment with a large terrace and the promise of a beautiful sunrise tomorrow morning. We didn’t book ahead so it’s a good thing we arrived early as they have a limited number of beds – comfortable ones, I might add. The owners are friendly, Camino-spirited, and great cooks. Whatever is in the oven smells delicious! “Hey, Dave! Could you open the wine now? Janine will be here as soon as she hangs out her washing…” 🍷 🍷 🍷 😃

April 19 – Yesterday I listened to a couple of interesting Dan Mullins’ interviews as I walked 14.1 km to, from, and around Sidney. One was with Tom Friesen, a Canadian pilgrim who describes his yearly two-week stint as hospitalero as being “a rock in the stream.” His greatest joy is in seeing a Camino “tourist” transform into a “pilgrim” in search of a new or expanded meaning about life. I met Tom several years ago here in Victoria when he gave the hospitalero training. One day I hope to put the training to use with Janine.

The second interview was with Noel Braun, an Australian pilgrim who walked the Camino for the first time in 2010 at the age of 77 a few years after his beloved wife, Maris, took her own life. Noel walks to think. There is never a day when he does not think about Maris. The book he wrote about his first journey, “The Day Was Made for Walking,” is one of my favourites.

At the same time that I was listening to these podcasts I was aware of all the beauty and action around: the owl that flew out of the brush and up onto a tree branch, the softness of the dandelion seed pods, a gecko cooling off, etc. I was in the present moment, enjoying it all! 

At the same time, Dave and I virtually caught up with Janine at the Horres Hostel on our way to Finisterre.

April 20 – Okay, so I am really hooked on Dan Mullins’ podcasts! This morning on my walk to Sidney I listened to his interview with Leigh Brennan. Leigh thought that she and her husband would walk the Camino in 2018 when their daughter went off to college. That’s when life took an unexpected turn. Her marriage ended at the same time she became an empty-nester. Not knowing what the future held, Leigh went ahead and booked a trip to Spain to walk the Camino. Several times she considered cancelling, but didn’t. Thankfully! She walked the Camino in 2019 in spite of her broken heart.

Dan Mullins likes to ask his guests to tell a Camino story. The one that Leigh told is my favourite. She preferred to walk solo in the early morning as it was an emotional time. She would cry and pray for her heartbreak to be lifted. One morning she looked down and noticed a heart-shaped rock in the middle of the path. She picked it up and put it in her pocket, thinking “What a coincidence!” 

That same afternoon Leigh walked a labyrinth, beginning with a prayer that her broken heart would be healed. When she came to the centre, she saw that stones had been placed there. She remembered the heart-shaped stone that she had picked up earlier. When she reached into her pocket, she was surprised to find the stone had broken into pieces, like her own broken heart. She added the broken pieces to the pile.

Later when Leigh was back on the trail, she looked down and discovered a larger heart-shaped rock in the middle of the path. It was the size of her palm, and much more substantial than the first one. She took this as a sign of recovery and healing of her own broken heart.

Because Leigh talked about mindfulness, I decided to practice mindfulness on the walk home instead of listening to another podcast. Many times my mind wandered off and had to be hauled back to the present moment. Oddly enough, it was often because I smelled something that my mind wandered. Traversing the playground took me back to my grade three classroom and the smell of freshly cut grass coming in through an open window. When I passed close to a cedar hedge, I was suddenly calculating on my fingers how many months until Christmas. Next was the smell of someone cooking lunch. What are they cooking? Mmmmm… getting hungry now!

Anyway, during the 9.7 km walk I virtually made it a little beyond Capilla de San Pedro Martir in the middle of nowhere. Are you coming, Janine? I hope you have a tent. According to my calculations, we are still on track to reach Finisterre in another 20 km or so.

P.S. In town today I bought a journal for all the inspirational quotes I’ve read here at the Camino For Good Cafe as well as a broad-brimmed hat because of all the sunny weather we’ve been having. 😊 👒 👍

April 21/22 – I got out for three walks yesterday and today for a total of 20 km. Today I wondered why I was feeling so glum. The weather and scenery were perfect and I had no aches or pains. The episode of Dan Mullins’ podcast was inspirational, so what was the matter with me?

The podcast episode ended and I was on my way home when it hit me. It is time to face reality. Dave and I are probably being unrealistic to think we would be able to travel to Spain in the fall to walk the rest of the Camino del Norte. New restrictions to curb non-essential travel in British Columbia are in place until late May. At the same time, non-essential passenger flights from countries with high rates of COVID-19 variants such as India and Brazil were still arriving in Canada. The situation will only get worse. It is time to face the fact that travel plans will have to be put on the back burner until next year.

This realization requires a big shift in attitude. If we have to stay home, this is not such a bad place to be. We’re fortunate, really! We have our health, unlike the guest I listened to on Dan Mullins’ podcast this morning. 

Will Boag is a 70-year-old pilgrim with Parkinson’s Disease who has walked three Caminos. He is not a sufferer but a survivor who faces his health challenge head-on with a positive attitude. He says it may even have enriched who he is as a person. When he walks, he is raising money to find a cure for Parkinson’s, although he doesn’t really care about a cure for himself. He said, “What would I do without these challenges?” 

If Will Boag can face Parkinson’s Disease with such a positive attitude, then Dave and I should be able to accept postponing our walk in Spain until next spring. “Thank you!” Janine and Melanie for recommending this episode. It really helped me put our own problems into perspective.

Today I virtually made it to Faro de Finisterre. Janine, If you are looking for me, I’m here on the rocks watching the sun go down over the edge of the dinner plate. What a thrill it is to be at this mythical place that was considered the End of the World until just 500 years ago. It’s time to contemplate the 98 days of travel it took to get here since leaving St. Jean de Port on January 15th and to open yet another bottle of vino tinto to celebrate! 😃 🚶‍♂️ 🚶 🚶‍♀️ 👍 🍷 🍷 🍷

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