Yesterday we concluded our latest Camino, the Portuguese Coastal Route. It concluded neither with a bang nor a whimper. We just stopped walking. We had arrived.
Our arrivals, over the years, have stoked many strong emotions. The joy of faith reformed, respite from the storm, new friendships formed, older ones rekindled, health reconstituted, fitness reclaimed, and most frequently an abiding sense of well-being. Yesterday, I think our focus was on the last, a pervasive sense of well-being.
We departed Padrón around 8:30 (early for us) without so much as a cafe con leche. I’m not sure why we needed to get going so quickly but out the door we went. Another chilly morning greeted us and windbreakers felt just fine. Shifting along on an empty stomach with a caffeine deficiency felt strangely odd. This was the first time on this Camino that we had skipped breakfast and my body was a bit at odds with that call. But, Santiago was just a few hours away so onward we went. The first handful of kilometers was spent in silent reflection on why I felt so wobbly. Perhaps it was old age just creeping up, or sore muscles trying to sort out a proper walking gait, or God knows what. But, in the end, actually well before the end, things came right and I was walking like I hadn’t been hit by a truck.
Robin and I remembered a nice Casa Rural in a village called Rúa de Franco. We had stopped at its restaurant for a coffee a couple of years back and thought it was quite nice. So as the terrain became familiar we kept a sharp lookout. Sure enough we hauled through a now recognized village and presented ourselves at the door of the Parada de Franco where the lonely barman quickly showed us to a table. Here at last the coffee flowed and a double order of tostadas disappeared in record time. Now things were shaping up and my body offered up quiet thanks for the extra log on the fire.
We carried on, mostly uphill, as some pilgrims passed by and we passed by others. We have become accustomed to a slow and steady wins the race walking strategy, and it works quite well for us. So onward and upward we went drawing Santiago ever closer one step at a time. Great fun.
We are not overly fond of long approaches into any city, including Santiago. Certainly during our early Camino years we felt that the trip had to be door to door. That has been modified somewhat as we now decide on arrival day whether to push through or stop a bit early. Yesterday we arrived at the top of hill in the newer Santiago suburb of O Milladoiro. This was our finish line for today. We finally found, what appeared to be the only bar in the neighborhood and squeezed in. The place was absolutely packed. This is where the locals apparently spend their Sundays. Despite the crowd the lady at the bar kindly called us a taxi, but only after after a couple of cold beers cleared away the trail dust. We got dropped off in Plaza Galicia and made our to our apartment on Rua Vilar. Our arrival plan came together nicely as we punched in various codes and gained access to what was to be our lodging for the next three nights. Our Camino was now officially over.
So as I sit out on our porch above Rua Vilar musing over the events of this latest Camino the rattle and hum from the street below reminds me just how many contrasting motivations dwell in the confusion of pilgrims below. We all are seeking something. Sometimes we sense success and other times we are left scratching our heads wondering just what happened. All I know is that walking the Camino just feels right, whatever that is. For Robin and I that is simply enough, and that is why we keep coming back.
See you next time and thanks for walking with us.