Walked from: Pedrouzo
Walked to: Santiago de Compostela
When: 24 October 2019
My day started early. After lying in my bunk, unable to sleep as the small room’s two champion snorers duked it out for pole position, I dragged myself out of bed at 5am to catch up on the previous two days blogs. But I wasn’t feeling tired – I had the familiar buzz of energy and anticipation that surges through me on the final day of a long walk.
Daylight arrives late in the northwest of Spain at this time of year; setting off at 7am, our small – but perfectly formed – group walked for the first two hours in the dark on seasonally spooky forest paths. It was raining. We could see bugger all. It should, to be honest, if not eloquent, have been a bit shit. But as I listened to my friends, people I didn’t even know existed at the beginning of this Camino journey, chat (sometimes quickly to one another, sometimes slowly, with the thought that comes into picking words the English woman with crap Spanish might understand) and sing, I walked with the same big smile I’ve had on my face for the past 13 days.
Ten kilometres in we paused for breakfast, the rain falling ever heavier outside, before arriving into Santiago’s old town at noon. Soaked, the five of us (Nilda, Pepe, Esteban and Florentino) who had walked in together were joined for the final kilometre by Sumjio and Thomas, who had arrived in sunshine the day before but braved the rain to join us. I’d met them all for the first time just thirteen days before, when we’d spent the night at the wonderfully hospitable albergue in Villapañada on the first day of my Camino. As the days progressed, we had came together and left each other behind at different points, but they have all come to be special to me, and it was an absolute pleasure to arrive at the cathedral in Santiago de Compostela in their company. As we reached the main Plaza, Thomas, a lovely German man with a beautiful smile and an excellent line in hugs, who speaks neither English nor Spanish, gleefully produced a bottle of Kas Limon from his pocket – a present for this lemonade-loving hiker. He’d been carrying it around with him for two days, awaiting my arrival. The thought that went into that gesture, the fact that he knew me well enough to do that despite us not being able to talk to one another, summed up the spirit of the Camino for me in one 500ml plastic bottle. My eyes might have been a bit wet. I blame the rain.
A quick visit to the Pilgrim Office to collect our completion certificates (my third one now) was followed by a looooooong, hot shower. And food. And drink. Then later, more drink. It had been an early morning and while I won’t bore you with the details of the party we had, or of my mild hangover the next day, I can assure you it was also a very late (but very fun) night!
This is the third time I’ve walked to Santiago de Compostela, and each has been special, but for me this one has been the most authentically Spanish. I’ve explored beautiful places, had conversations with interesting, different people who have really made me think about the rest of my life and how I want to live it. I’ve eaten a lot of bread and drunk a lot of wine, when I had some foolish idea in my head that I would do neither. And, quite frankly, I have laughed my arse off. Best. Holiday. Ever. Thank you for reading. And Buen Camino.