I would like to say a huge thank you to everyone who has read and commented on my blog over the last 36 days. The comments really do give me a great boost every day. Please stick around for a few round-up posts.
I was up and out this morning and able to catch a belated sunrise over the ocean on my way towards the church at the tip of the Muxía peninsular, the Santuario de Nuestra Señora de la Barca, built at the end of the earth, on the very rocks that jut out of the seething, swirling ocean. I was lucky to catch the sun because soon after I returned it rained quite hard for a while. I also had the place almost to myself as the very early birds had either walked on to Finisterre or caught the 06:45 bus back to Santiago. Many more, who like me had completed their walk, were taking the later bus and were making the most of a lie-in. But once I am awake I like to be up, particularly when the room smells as though 20+ people and their aromatic boots have been sleeping in it.
But today I am neither walking, nor catching the bus. I am about to be collected by an, as yet, unmet friend who lives close by, and I shall be staying the night at her retreat.
During supper last evening we were discussing what we most wanted to do when we arrived home. My first activity is always to check what has been happening in my garden during my absence. I know for sure there will be a mountain of weeds to contend with. Then I will have a long, hot shower with my favourite products, and afterwards straighten my hair of frizz for the first time in five weeks and pluck my eyebrows (I broke my magnifying mirror about three weeks ago and now have something akin to a forest growing above my eyes). Other treats include using an electric toothbrush, sitting in ‘my’ chair that I know David will have been keeping warm in my absence, drinking hot water from ‘my’ cup that I know David wouldn’t dare to use in my absence, watch the news, get dressed in something tidy, eat a balanced diet.
I shall continue to eat what I want for a few days (although that will almost exclusively be healthy, except of course the chocolate and churros I will indulge in when I am back in Santiago) and then with the new week I shall try and get back into eating a whole food, plant based diet. During the first three months of this year I shed around 10 kilos (more than the weight of my backpack). I’m not sure if I’ve lost any more weight during the course of my camino, but my shorts are definitely feeling a bit roomy. I was hoping that I might stick with a vegetarian, or better still vegan, diet whilst walking, but I’m afraid I wasn’t sufficiently determined and fell by the wayside almost immediately. It isn’t easy to be so dedicated to the cause when away from home, particularly in rural Spain. But the intention remains for a healthy, sustainable diet when I am back in my own kitchen.
I’ve been lucky to experience a fairly pain-free camino this year. My right knee has given me more trouble than normal, but less than the first year I walked. Blisters – I’ve had a few, but then again, too few to mention. I’m hopeful that all my toenails will stay put despite some ridiculously steep downhill tracks. I’ve taken no more painkillers than I can count on one hand. I’ve supped a few glasses of wine and never suffered a hangover. So all in all my body has done me proud and I have remained pretty strong. It never fails to amaze me – what incredible machines our bodies are – that we can ask so much of them on a daily basis and most of the time they just obey the command.
Other than the seven years of bad luck I earned by breaking my mirror, I managed to keep hold of all my possessions until the last few days when I left behind my soap and lost my tripod. My clothes and equipment all worked really well – I wore my shorts for walking almost all of the time except for a few days when it was literally freezing cold and I wore both leggings and skirt, and both these items were employed alone or together every evening. The only item I didn’t really make use of was a pair of light cotton trousers that only got worn once when everything else was in the wash.
I was exceptionally lucky with the weather. Time and again the forecasts threatened us with storms that didn’t materialise. There was a fair amount of mist and low cloud, but that probably kept the cold at bay. There were a few scorching days as I reached Santiago, but an extra early start meant that I reached my destination before it became unbearable.
I’ve walked with friends of old and met with many new and interesting peregrinos. Starting my walk with a ready-made camino family was a bit of a gamble – how would this disparate group get on with each other? The simple answer was…very well. We were a happy family, but when the time came to go our separate ways there was a tinge of sadness, but always new paths to forge and new friends to meet. With the exception of two stages, Marilyn and I stayed together until we reached Santiago, and shared a whole range of experiences and emotions. And the icing on my camino cake was bumping into Eli at Finisterre.
After completing my last stage to Muxía I spent a day and night chilling out at ‘The Little Fox House’ camino retreat, situated nearby in the heart of the countryside in the tiny hamlet of Carantoña. It was nice to meet with Tracy who runs this facility, we have been facebook friends for some time. The Little Fox House is Tracy’s home, an old stone building where pilgrims can visit post-camino to take a breather before returning to ‘normal’ life. I’ve never had a problem returning home, but for some, particularly those from far away, it can be a shock to the system after so many days on the camino, and Tracy offers friendship, support and excellent food in a well equipped and cosy environment. Please take a look at her website and spread the word.
And now I’m back in Santiago, having posted my walking poles home (thanks to the infinite patience of the lady at the Correos who re-engineered the pre-formed carton to fit my pacerpole handles), and visited the Pilgrims’ office in vain (unfortunately I have none of the patience that the Correos worker displayed and had no inclination to wait a couple of hours to register my completion and claim my compostela). So, whilst awaiting the airport bus I am sitting in Casa Pepe, in Praza de Santo Agostiño, just above the food market, where I remembered from years past that they provide exceptionally good tapas with every drink. One more glass of wine (it has just turned mid-day!) and I shall be off to the bus stop. Cheers everyone. And once again, many, many thanks for your company along this camino.