Torben was at the bar ordering a cognac. This is Torben’s third time walking the Camino. As we stood at the bar I told him how excited I was about reaching Santiago, but also how nervous I was about reaching the end of my journey. He understood. He said it’s like a death. That struck me because I had only finished telling Sue the day before how I felt my Camino journey has been a metaphor for life.
Sue had asked me what my favourite part of the journey has been thus far. I said it was my Camino youth and explained what I meant. My Camino youth was between the time I reached Trinidad de Arre to about Najera.
I explained that my arrival in St. Jean Pied de Port was the birth of my journey.
Then I grew up a little after hiking over the Pyrenees and dragging myself into Roncesvalles so late – my first Camino moment.
I grew up a little more as I toughed it out walking with achy joints and muscles from Roncesvalles through Viskarette to Trinidad de Arre where I began to make connections – the beginning of my Camino youth.
Then, my Camino experiences were new, fresh and fun. It’s like when you are a teenager and have such a zest for life. I had a zest for the Camino in the same way. Everything was exciting and new.
This is also around the time I began walking with Andrew out of Pamplona.
He had walked into the outdoor store where I was talking to the shop keeper. I bought my scallop shell there and Andrew was looking for a new pair of shoes to relieve his terrible blisters.
After Najera, my Camino experiences started to change.
Goals were set like when you reach adulthood and you’ve got to start planning your career. Andrew had to speed up. He had a time limit to reach his goal. Focus was put more on what we were here for – the purpose for walking.
After Burgos, I developed the shin splint and was forced to slow down.
After finding Andrew again, I lost him.
My journey changed and became more inward and spiritual.
Walking the never-ending Meseta was like going through a midlife crisis where you contemplate your life – the things you want to change, the things you want for your future, the relationships that are important to you and the ones that you need to let go of.
You’ve got lots of time to think during those long days of flatness. This was probably the most important time – the contemplation.
Then, I laid things to rest at Cruz de Ferro, the highest point on the Camino – the pile of rocks with the cross.
Now, I feel like I am trying to prepare myself for the end of my journey, or my Camino death as Torben puts it. But, he says it’s a good thing. This is a spiritual journey and there will be positive changes as a result. I can see it already. I feel like I understand my life more – what I see and want for myself. I have grown.
Now I’m lying on my back on my top bunk with my feet propped up against the wall. Kiwi Nick said it’s supposed to help the lactic acid drain from my legs. What the heck, after walking 40 kilometers today I’ll give it a try!
I’m in Melide and only 53 kilometers from Santiago now. I expect to arrive Wednesday afternoon instead of Thursday as originally planned.
My feet are aching, but I’m doing a lot better than I was in Logroño when I laid on the floor outside the bathroom door when the handle was stuck. I’ll always remember the look of concern and the murmurings from the French woman who opened it. My hips don’t hurt like they did then and neither do my shoulders or the shin splint on my left leg that developed after Burgos. I’m just stiff and the bottoms of my feet ache.
My plan wasn’t to go this far until I reached Ribadiso, a 25 kilometer distance. It was still early in the day. I was only planning to go five kilometers further to Casanova, but because I had made good time, I decided that if I could squeeze in another ten kilometers, my next two days would be shorter and I could reach Santiago a day early on the 23rd.
Thankfully, I decided to go the extra distance because I saw the ‘Aussie freight train family’ among others inside a restaurant in Melide. What are the chances of that? Immediately I detoured inside and sat with them in my wet plastic poncho before heading to the albergue to get settled.
Now I’m all cleaned up, very tired and ready for, I am hoping, a good night’s sleep – another luxury I will treasure when done!