Blog entry Camino

I thought I’d start this blog by gathering all my posts from a great adventure I had last summer (2016). I walked the Camino de Santiago (a pilgrimage in Spain) and posted a bit about my journey every day on Facebook.  If you have any questions about walking the camino I’d be happy to try and answer them(the posts get longer and a bit more in depth as the trip went on). I hope to walk it again one day soon.

May 31, 2016

Day one walking complete. Felt good to start after a bit of epic travel. Starting to remember why I came here.
As you can see behind me the trail is long. This is called the meseta and I believe I’ll be on this part for another few days.
Tonight I stay in my first albergue. It has 32 beds for pilgrims to sleep in. The town has 66 inhabitants.

Later same day- Went for a walk on the one street in the village I’m staying in. Number 17 has seen better days. Peeked over the wall of number 1 and there’s a small garden behind it.
Now off to my first pilgrim’s dinner.

June 1-

Day 2.
After walking for 25 kms I was faced with a 1.3 km seriously steep climb. That was hard but not as hard as the steeper decline for the next half kilometre. My knee is not happy. Nice that I had a beautiful field to look at afterwards.
Then another in my collection of address number 17.
Praying the ice on my knee means I can walk tomorrow.

Later same day

Nothing like some ice and a nap to make you feel better- and Advil. Also today o met my first Camino family. Walked with them most of the day. Talk and also silence. Lovely people. Tonight I share a room with Mark, a 67 year old mental health professional from Washington state.A couple of pics of them walking. And a castle.

Now off to a pilgrims dinner.

June 2-

Day 3.  Things to be thankful for today. Coming over a hill at 7:15 am after having walked 6km and seeing a town that you know will have a good coffee.

Seeing three stork’s nests on top of three church steeples in 3 towns.
The pharmacist who showed me his own pain cream that helped my knee
Joe‘s walking poles
No blisters yet despite today’s 29 km day. No way I thought that was going to happen with my knee but at 6:15 I left the albergue I was in and started walking wondering what would happen.
The feet pic is of mine and one of the men I am walking with who is 67 and has been walking for a bit longer than me.

June 3rd

Day 4. Walked almost 30 kms today which means at some point this morning I hit the 100 km mark.
It’s amazing how you can feel your body both breaking down and getting stronger at the same time.

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The person behind me is an Italian woman who smiled at me in the 30 degree heat and said buen Camino in the middle of an 18 km stretch of road. She had to be around 80 years old. It made my knee stop hurting a bit.

 

 

June 4th

Two hours ago I would have said this was a bad day. A day of just getting to a place instead of being on a journey somewhere. My knee was killing me and my body was telling me to stop. For lots of reasons I didn’t and walked almost 35 km. But the last 7, which I was dreading, I made a decision to hold my head and body upright and walk and enjoy it. The Advil helped as did the ice I had but I am, at the moment, pretty proud of myself.
That said tomorrow is a restore day no matter what.

June 5th

 So this morning I said goodbye to my first Camino family. I wasn’t going to walk as far as them and needed to get my knee in order. So thanks to Darrell, Mark and Sue for a great few days.
But it turns out I am rotten at taking it easy. My plan was to walk to the next village which was 13kms but after a couple of bananas and a coffee I felt like a bit more would be good. So 20kms today and now I am lying in bed in a room with 26 other people who are speaking Dutch, French and German to each other.
I REALLY wish I spoke Spanish.

 Later same day

 A couple of musings before the end of day 6.
Dutch is a very odd language.
I just got yelled at by an older woman on the street for not being dressed up enough. Ok I actually have no idea why she gave me a talking to but she was unimpressed. Then her husband took her hand and they walked down the street together holding hands. It was sweet.
The Dutch…
Everything in Spain is closed on Sundays. Everything. Except bars. And they close from 2-5.
The pic is the view from my bunk.
There are very few young people in any of these villages. I’m not sure what’s going to happen to them- the villages.
Did I mention the Dutch language?
The waiter was not happy with me when I didn’t understand the number 80. Really wish I had done a better job with Spanish.

 June 6th

 Day 7. Another short day of 20 kms. Mostly because of the city of Leon being a place I wanted to stop and see but also desperately trying to get my body moving in the right direction. I sit here with ice on my left ankle which is rivalling for superiority in pain over the right knee. Balance!
The ebbs and flows of a day are incredible and I am only now realizing that the low moments will be replaced by good. The city of Leon is beautiful and the cathedral is breathtaking. it’s fun to watch the pilgrims wander through a big city. I’m living it up having booked a room on my own for the night. So I’m gonna have a little party in my 80 square foot room- and by party I mean take some ibuprofen and siesta.
Tomorrow if my body allows I will have a bigger day of walking.

June 7th

 Day 8. A great day. A hard day for sure that took me over 32 kms on a crazy hot day. But a great day because last night as I sat and ate in Leon I watched the celebration of life on the street. Yes yes it hurts in some places. Actually it hurts in lots of places and that’s a part of this but this journey has to be about more than that and it is.
I’m lucky to be here. I’ve walked well over 200 kms in 8 days and have somewhere in the vicinity of 300 to go.
So a long and humbling journey ahead. Here’s to more good days and I’m sure some more tough ones.
Now I’m off for a beer and some ibuprofen before the pilgrims dinner.

 June 8th

 Day 9. The meseta is done and I’ve hit the hills. Today as I finished going down a steep rocky path-which is the hardest for me- and began another uphill I thought to myself “this is one of the hardest things I’ve done in my life”. Then at the top of the hill there was a stand full of fresh fruit and juices and and and. It was an oasis in the middle of a 12 km stretch of nowhere. It has been there for 7 years run by a guy named david. All for donation. It was the best orange and watermelon I’ve ever eaten.
Later I met Jose who was so happy that I was from Quebec because he had done missionary work with some québécois. He asked if he could bless me and my walk to santiago.
Both these people made the rest of the walk a bit easier.

Happy birthday Noah Kagan-fleming.

You are the best!
Have an awesome day and here is to an amazing year ahead for you. Only the greatest things! 

June 9th

Day 10. New terrain today so new pains. But today also felt like the day my body surrendered a tiny bit. Not all the way because both ankle and knee reared their head at points but when I needed them for the last 7 kms of a 27km day that had me climb a mountain with big loose rocks and mud as the path, they came through.
I am on top of a mountain in s lovely and calm albergue. It’s 2 pm and my bunk is ready (bottom bunk!), my laundry is done, I’m having a beer while looking at the map for tomorrow ( and swing the day and a half of downhill I’ve been dreading a bit). Time for a nap soon.
I’m pretty sure I crossed the halfway point today.
This really is a crazy journey.

Later the same day

A story
Yesterday when I got to the albergue- the hostel- I happened to walk in at the same time as a 20 something year old woman. So we both sat down to pay and get assigned our respective beds. After paying the owner said “now I have bad news. For young people it is a top bunk. We save bottom bunks for older. ” I thanked him for calling me young and he looked at my passport and couldn’t believe I was born in 1968. We had a good laugh as he passed my passport around to his co worker. Then up to the beds we went. And my look took over from my passport and up to the top bunk I went.
Moral of the story- I need to make a bigger deal of my age because top bunks suck.

June 10th

Day 11
Today was just really hard. No other way to put it. Travelled down an entire mountain going from over 1500 meters to under 500 meters in elevation. Much of that really steep drops on small rocky paths.
The good news is I made it to the end when I truly didn’t think I would.
It was beautiful to look at when I was able to look up. I started the day in the clouds.
28kms today.
Lastly and most importantly, happy 55th anniversary to my parents! See you in 2 weeks.

June 11th

Day 12- kind of a wonderful day. Woke up and made a promise to smell the flowers and look around at the world I have the privilege of walking in. Today was a relatively flat terrain with only a few steepish climbs so that was appreciated. I am now in wine country so walked past many vineyards both large and small. Saw a man in his bathrobe tending to his grapes, walked through a few beautiful villages and decided I wouldn’t decide where to stop until I wanted to.
28 kms again today and I have now done over 300. Less than 200 kms to go.

Story- I got to the town of villafranca Del bierzo where I figured I’d stop. There are 4 albergues here and I chose one from the short description in my guide book. It’s a large town so finding the albergue was not easy and I took a wrong turn and ended up near what was my second choice. I was tired so figured what the hell. It should be right around here. I found it- it’s a huge building- an old monastery (pic below). I walked in and no one was there. I wandered around the cavernous place and finally a woman came by and when I asked about beds she told me to go upstairs. So I wander more and finally find a small desk down a hallway that has a phone that says to call a number for a room. This is about where I realized I’m different now than I used to be. I pick up the phone and s moment later a very crazy but nice lady comes around the corner with a cell phone ringing.
Those of you who have been following know that my Spanish is terrible at best. Through my few words I’ve picked up and the fact that I hand her my pilgrim’s passport we understand I need a bed. So all is good. I give her a ten but she gives it back and orders me to look in my pockets for exact change which to my surprise I find. We are now friends. That’s when a Korean couple show up and they don’t seem to even know the few words of Spanish that I know. Somehow I become the translator and this is when I start looking for a camera because the crazy Spanish lady and the nice but confused Korean couple are seriously counting on me.
In the end they got a room together- which at one point was a question- and paid what they wanted. Spanish lady shook my hand with a muchas gracias and then I was shown my room, which I am sharing with two German people who met a few days ago.
Life on the Camino.

June 12th

Day 13
The first leg of the day is never my best. I can always feel the parts of my body working hard to get going. All the sore spots are more sore and it feels like there is no oil to keep things moving smoothly. But today it was worse. Like in mid February when you try to start the car and it really doesn’t want to start. My body is tired. I woke up with a cold which is an annoyance. So the first 10 kms were probably the slowest I’ve been while here. My pack even seemed heavy which it hasn’t for over a week. I brought music and headphones but have not used them so I can stay open to this whole experience- until today. Although I walked between mountains today it was somewhat uninspiring as the road was right there so I put on music. It took ten songs to really make any difference and then it helped- and it also helped that the first coffee came right at the end of that song.
The next ten kms were better, more positive, more life in my legs. So I looked at what was ahead and after walking 20 kms I thought I was good to do 10 more knowing that it was all a pretty steep climb up a mountain. I had heard that the top was incredible- a spectacular view in the first Galician village The climb was insane and just wouldn’t end. I actually like climbing but this was a real test. It started to rain a bit as I got high up and the temperature dropped. Finally a couple of hours after starting the climb I got there.
The view is unbelievable. I can see valleys all around and can see how far I just climbed. As I walked into the village I thought maybe this is the day to get a room- fight this cold and get some rest. Then I decided to tough it out and and save money and go to the albergue. Big mistake. I’m in a room with over 50 people. There’s got to be 150 of us in the building. If I was 20 I wouldn’t care but I am definitely not 20. No wifi which is a drag so this story may not get out unless I find some. I’m back to where I was when I started this morning.
Should have gotten a room on my own today.
Thanks to pearl jam, Santana, Beethoven, r.e.m and others for helping boost me up and for the guy sitting near me at that first coffee stop who told the person he was with a story about being at home and serving the same customers the same things every day and one day saying there’s got to be more to life than this and off he went to the Camino.
The day didn’t begin well and it’s not ending well but that middle part was pretty good.
To end on a better note because I just had a nap – some characters of the Camino
The guy who started walking in holland and has walked 70 days. He says there is a law in France that if you knock on the mayor’s door and say you are a pilgrim the mayor must feed you and give you s bed to sleep on.
The Hungarian guy who when he gets too hot and his shorts get sweaty walks in a speedo. He also once did his laundry buck naked.
The couple who started walking in Belgium with their two year old with them.
The 70+ French man who is very nice who started walking in Le puy France in April 16th. He told me he has heart problems.
There are, of course, many more.

June 13th

Day 14

Have I said before that top bunks suck? Cause they do. One reason (and there are many) is that at 4 in the morning when you have a cold and you walk all day so you drink a lot of water, you have to pee. I lost weight getting ready for this and am guessing I’ve lost more here but I can’t exactly lightly leap off the top bunk. So after trying to avoid it for half an hour I silently apologized to the guy under me and went. Once back I slept again for an hour using my good ear plugs to dull the orchestra of snorers.
I was beside a window so could hear the wind and the rain outside. Between going out in that or staying in the dorm there was no question. I put my layers on and covered my pack and went out. It really was dreadful. I was on top of a mountain inside a rain cloud so couldn’t see more than 20 feet ahead. I walked feeling in my legs the result of yesterday’s climb. And then I passed two people and I looked back at them. Much to my delight it was aemonn and bernerd, two retired school teachers from Dublin, who I met a few days ago and who made me laugh to the point of crying. Meeting these two and walking the first five kilometres with them made the weather not matter a bit.
Story- we are walking and just behind us is a young Asian woman by herself. She stops us and points to her bag on her back as she lifts her poncho up. After a lot of hand waving we figure out she is asking us to put her pack cover on for her. Bernerd (and I know that’s not how you spell it but it’s how aemonn says it and he says it at the beginning of each sentence that he directs at bernerd) took control and covered her pack and she was grateful. She then went to adjust Bernard’s strap on his pack as it was twisted but he thought she was giving him a hug so he tried to hug back but that’s not at all what was happening so there was a beautiful awkward moment that I don’t believe aemonn will ever let bernerd live down. As I write this tears are streaming down my face. I definitely have not done the moment justice.
Suffice to say that everyone should, in their lifetime, get to walk with these two gentlemen. They come to the Camino each year together and walk a different part for 9 days together. They’ve known each other all of their lives and worked together teaching high school. They make each other laugh, care for each other and take the piss out of one another. If I am fortunate I will watch the Irish play in the euro cup tonight with the two of them.
Today my day was made by the two of them and our conversations about everything under the stars so thanks for that.
It rained sideways for a good part of the day until we got down to a more reasonable altitude. I have now walked close to 400 kms I think and to celebrate and also to recover I got myself my own room. It is a beautiful non descript bland room. I love it. I have emptied my backpack and tomorrow I will leisurely fill it up again. Paradise.
I walked 23 kms down a mountain today. Sorry for the long post.

June 14th

Day 15

When you get to santiago you go to the cathedral and show them your pilgrims passport with all the stamps you’ve collected along the way. From what i understand you are asked a couple of questions and then you receive a certificate for completing the Camino. To get this, though, you must walk at least the last 100 kms. And that is about where I am at distance-wise. So the Camino is getting more crowded now with people who will walk the last bit to get the certificate. And I’ve been dreading this part a bit because it means the albergues get crowded and lots of people reserve their beds a day ahead (and there is no shortage of those who have been in the walk for many many days making fun of those with a day pack). I am enjoying not knowing where I’ll end each day, trying to listen to my body and stopping where I feel good. But that will get harder. I also don’t have a phone to call them and other than my expert Spanish/Korean translation skills my Spanish is tremendously bad.
The other thing about seeing that 100 kms to go marker is you start to look forward and also back, trying desperately to stay in the moment of course but you can’t help it. And I think about what’s next in life and wonder if I should have come up with an answer to that by now but I haven’t. I think about what I’ll miss when this ends… Being in nature every day and the beauty I get to walk in, the smells- even with a stuffed up nose I can smell all the vegetation in the Galician mountains which are so rich. And the simplicity of me and my pack. That’s all I have in terms of possessions right now and there really isn’t much in there. I like that. That said I’ll be pretty happy to bbq a whole lotta vegetables when I get home because that is sorely lacking here.
But there are still many days ahead. I’ve walked over 400kms now. Just over 100 to santiago and then ill see if I walk to finisterre and to the ocean.
I’ve done terribly at choosing albergues but today I did good. I walked though the big town of sarria because I’m done with big towns snd found an awesome albergue that is small and clean. We are 8 in this room but not right beside one another and guess who is in a lower bunk? And- there are cows right outside by bedroom so what could be better than that?
Today was a 24km walk up and down hills. The landscape reminds me of cape Breton. It’s all so green and rich. It threatened to rain all during the walk and now it is with calls for big rain tomorrow. Rain brings the sore to the forefront so hoping for sun.
Time to look in my guide book to see where tomorrow night take me that is away from the crowds.

Day 15 post script
This is a pic of the dinner table I was at tonite. England, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, United States, Germany, Netherlands, New Zealand and me.
For those back home. Both canada and more particularly Montreal, have a very good reputation and when people hear that’s where I’m from a very big smile comes across their face.

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June 15th

Day 16

I wondered what the Camino would be like in the rain. It’s not so good. Just after 6:30 this morning it started to rain. Not a drizzle, not spitting, not a light shower… It rained. And it rained all day. Within 250 meters of me leaving the albergue I was soaked through and out loud I wondered whose idea this was. No answer. Once I was soaked I thought maybe I’d just go with it and all would be fine but it was only 10 degrees out today so it was tough to get warm.
When it rains like today it’s less friendly out there. Everyone has hoods up and as you pass each other it’s a much less enthusiastic buen Camino. Though I had a nice moment with a Danish woman today when we realized we had passed the 100kms to go mark. There was, of course, no sign for it. So after looking we both just smiled at each other and said congratulations and walked on.
Santiago is so close now. Some people have to get there soon. And there is a real difference with all the new people walking now. All day in the back of my mind I wonder whether there’ll be a bed in the town I end up in. Today, thank goodness, there was. I went past the large town of portomarine and pushed on another 9kms which was a cold and wet decision. But once here a Spanish man and I gestured enough to each other that we figured out how to share s load of laundry ( now I wait in a pair of shorts and a thin shirt while my pants and sweater dry), I had a hot bowl of spaghetti and a short nap under a big blanket. I’m sleeping in a converted old farmhouse which is very beautiful but also very chilly. After waking up and coming back to the main part of the albergue I opened the door and heard a lovely chorus of my name. I looked up to see 5 people from last night’s dinner group sitting at a table.
The last few days or week I’ve really noticed that I’m part of a community here. It’s quite amazing. And now that all the new short term walkers are here those of us who’ve been doing this for a bit seem to recognize each other that much more.
Today was a long and wet 28kms. The last sign I saw had me at about 86 kms from santiago. And tomorrow’s forecast is for more rain…

June 16th

Day 17

Today was a rough start. The farmhouse I was in last night was beautiful but not at all made for people to sleep in during the weather we are having. It was so cold. My cough is worse so I didn’t sleep well at all. I haven’t slept a night through since getting here but last night was a long one. So this morning even though I could hear the rain pounding I decided to stuff everything into my pack and go to the bigger albergue house which was warm to actually prep to go. Problem is the door was locked. So there I stood in the rain in my sandals trying to quickly get my insoles (which had dried) into my shoes, put the anti inflammatory cream on my knee, get what I needed from my pack then cover it before it all got wet, etc etc. Just as I did all that a pilgrim unlocked the door to leave and I jumped in. I went to the warm room and properly packed up.
By the time I got out again the rain had stopped and the day was already better than it began
Last night I had dinner again with a few of the sane people from the night before and they have been booking a place ahead. They asked if I’d like them to book me a bed at the same time and I happily said yes. Knowing where I was going and being assured a bed on another rainy day took a load off. So today I walked with Trudy, Monica, Hillary Simon and Julie. They’ve all known each other for quite a while in this Camino and it was great if them to include me.
Today was a mixed bag weather-wise- some rain and some stops which was nice. I arrived without being drenched. It was a lovely uneventful day where I got to know a little bit more about the people I walked with but also got a lot of alone walking time.
I hate the rain but if that’s what makes the Galician paths and forests this beautiful then let it rain because not much ive seen is more amazing. There is so much life in the woods. As you walk under the covering you really do expect a tree to open up and ask you how it’s going and wish you a buen Camino.
Decision made. I think I will most likely enter santiago on Sunday morning. So I will go to the pilgrims mass on Sunday then spend the day there. Monday I will leave early Nd begin the walk to finisterre (the end of the earth). I’ll have to move fast but what’s another 100 k in three days? If I can do that and dip my feet there and get back in time to get to Porto and fly home I think finisterre may be my version of santiago.
Today 24 kms of coughing and walking.

June 17th

Day 18
Everyday the sun has come up by 6:30 but this morning at 6:30 it was still dark for some reason. I guess the sun was as tired as I was. I walked with the same group as yesterday and so we headed on the way which led us into a dark forest. A couple of headlamps went on so we could try and avoid water and deep mud and the only sound I could hear was the rain hitting the leaves that were above us protecting us. And for some reason through that whole first part of the walk I had the theme song from fame in my head.
Two people in our group went down with illness today. Trudy announced first thing this morning she couldn’t walk and then Julie had to stop partway through. Hopefully it ends there but if not it seems like a short lived bug because Trudy is back up on her feet now at the end of the day. She cabbed to meet us down the road. Fingers crossed as I am two days from walking into santiago.
Blister number 5 came on yesterday and it’s complicating things as it’s the first that is not healing fast and well. again fingers crossed.
Today at every place we stopped for coffee or a quick drink we were given amazing cake on our table snd the owner wished us a buen Camino. Quite sweet.
I’ve always been good at sprints and not so much long distance but I’m getting better I think. I guess it’s all about keeping the overall in mind while taking one step at a time. One step at a time.
Tonight I am in a very lovely albergue run by a German woman who has done the Camino multiple times. She is tending to the sick, put a laundry basket out and told us to put our dirty stuff in it and has just been amazing. Very lucky to be here. No internet though so this post will be late.
Each albergue has its own personality and I am amazed at the pride the owners have and the care they give to the pilgrims. It’s amazing.
31 kms walked today. It rained almost all day. I think I’ve passed the rain test. Happy to move on to a different more sunny one now. And in case you were wondering the rain in Spain dies not seem to fall mainly on the plain.

June 18th

Day 19
A big bump in the road. A stomach virus kept me in the bathroom all night. Nothing staying down and everything hurts. For the first time In almost 3 weeks I won’t walk today and that’s pretty discouraging.
The bright side is the owners of this albergue are angels and are allowing me to sleep as long as I want. They are tending to me with tea and this afternoon they drove me to the destination I was going to walk to. This way I can still walk into santiago tomorrow- though would have preferred to walk the 20kms today. So I am truly thankful for them. haven’t felt this crappy in a long time and I’m moving like an old man. Not sure what this will mean for the next 6 days and getting to finisterre but I’ll make it there somehow. I may have to shift plans and not walk all the way but one step at a time.
Yesterday I hit the 500 km mark for my walk.
I guess I should have been careful about asking for another test. It’s sunny today. My body is running the show now.
Only a couple of pics…
Tomorrow I walk into santiago on Father’s Day. Amazing.

June 19th

Day 20
Woke up this morning feeling like a new world was here. Other than the feeling that I had taken a couple of body blows to the kidneys I was good to go. I worried about my back being tense but strangely my backpack felt like it supported me as soon as I put it on. Felt good to walk again.
It was so different knowing that santiago was so close. I never imagined what it would be like once I got there, I tried but couldn’t, and now here it was. And I won’t try to describe the feeling because I’m not sure I could. It was emotional and a great sense of accomplishment poured over me, that’s for sure. And when I showed my pilgrim passport and it was accepted and I was given my certificate it was truly amazing. The guy behind the counter smiled genuinely and said congratulations.
I went to the pilgrims mass and there they did the ceremony I hoped they would with the giant incense cauldron swung back and forth. I didn’t understand a word the priest said except when he listed off all the countries that the pilgrims were from. but I guess that didn’t matter.
Sometime during all of this it became clear to me that I needed to rest and go do laundry because the next challenge is ahead. I think the ocean is the real end of this journey for me. It’s a tight timeline. I have about three days to walk just under 100 kms and get a bus back here so I can get to Porto in time to make my flight. If I can do it then great but my body will decide what’s possible. 24 hours ago all I could do was lie in bed so who knows. I have always believed that failure should be a possibility because then you are really trying something.
Tonight Ill have dinner with my second Camino family, celebrate this great feeling and early tomorrow morning I’ll be off alone on a long day of walking.
Time to unpack my backpack and get it ready for the morning and tend to this blister.
What a ride.
Happy Father’s Day to all the dads out there.

June 20th

Day 21
First, and I’m sure it’s not, there is a woman who looks remarkably like Margaret Atwood staying at the albergue I’m in.
Last night I had dinner and said goodbye to some remarkably nice people. Some I only had a couple of conversations with and some I spent a few days with. In both cases Camino time is like dog years- you have to multiply it so even two long conversations lead to a very good friendship. I’d really like to thank Hillary Monica Trudy Simon Julie daniel and Katie for letting me become a part of the gang for a couple of days any to walk into santiago with you. You are awesome people.
Today I woke up and hit the road alone again. What a shift from the past few days of crowded paths. I saw exactly 7 pilgrims today over the 35 kms I walked. Plus a few going the other way. It was very odd and in the morning walking through the forest it was spooky. Santiago is the destination for most I guess.
So the infrastructure is very different. Bigger distance between towns and much bigger distances between places to get food. It was -5 kms this morning before I could get anything. Tough way to start the day. But the sun came back in a big way which was great. It was hot and I think I rather that. My body now let’s me know when it wants to stop but it’s just in little jolts instead of lasting pain. Good I guess. My guide was not helpful today as it did not make a big deal out of the fact that it was almost all uphill today. 35 kms flat is one thing but hills add to that. I figured out that today I walked from downtown Montreal to ste anne de Bellevue- not bad. But it continues to be beautiful here. Rough but beautiful.
I’ll see the ocean soon. Maybe tomorrow. Going to balance rushing through it with seeing this to the end. We’ll see what tomorrow brings. But I’m really excited to place my feet in the salt water and look in the direction of home.
A story:
I was going to have a beer yesterday before meeting everyone for dinner. Just as I was going to sit down I noticed the holy door into the cathedral did not have a lineup ( the holy door is only open in certain years or if the pope decrees it which he did this year. When you walk through it you are cleansed). I was going to skip it since , as Amanda said I think I got cleansed when I got the stomach bug but I decided to make sure. So I walked through and touched the cross chiselled out of the rock. Then there was no line to go behind the alter and touch the statue of st james. I had seen, during the pilgrims mass a steady stream of people lining up to go and hug the statue which is a tradition I believe. I was behind a few people and noticed an old priest sitting on a stool by the statue. I guess he had guard duty. People in front of me went by and touched the statue and then it was my turn. I touched the back of james because I really didn’t know why I was there to be honest. Then a Spanish voice was talking to me and I turned to see the old priest quite animated and indicating that I should hug the statue. So…I did. I’m not sure what it was about me that made him come alive but me and james got close for a moment. So then I went to the burial chamber because I felt I now owed it to james and the old priest to see the box that supposedly holds his remains and which is the original reason this pilgrimage began.
It was a very small casket.

June 21st

Day 22

Made it.

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Later same day- A story
When I got to the beach today, after dipping my feet I walked in the water the 2 kilometre walk to the end of the beach. After asking a stranger to take the pic that I posted I was relatively alone walking. There were a few tourists walking and sunbathing and a kilometre ahead I saw another man walking as I was with a backpack on.
I will admit I was pretty chuffed, feeling pretty good and I may have had a bounce in my steps through the water. Then, I heard clapping. I thought “what a nice gesture from a sunbather”. As I turned my head to acknowledge the person and was about to wave an arm in victory I realized it was just a guy slapping sand off his legs. I laughed and laughed and laughed.
Humility is a wonderful thing.

June 22nd

Day 23
Last night I watched the sun set at the end of the world and so today have begun my journey home.
Thanks very much for indulging me in my stories and for encouraging me on the tough days and for reading too much about my knee… And ankle…and…
I sit here in a large town square with a couple hundred other people eating and having a drink. The shops are all closed for the beginning of siesta so families and friends are out eating together. Their economy here may be screwed but it’s hard to argue against this way of life. I’ll miss that a lot.
Ive found myself saying next time a bit the last few days. Not a conscious thing. But if there’s a next time here it will be with Amanda and maybe one with Dustin and Noah… More adventures in life for sure.
First a return home that I’m so excited about so I can see my family. Feels like I left yesterday but also that I’ve been gone forever. See many if you in a few days.
Now it’s time to start figuring out what the next chapter is going to be in life. ….recently returned Pilgrim back home seeking new and interesting projects….

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