I didn’t sleep well last night, for a few reasons. 1, It was a crummy albergue. 2, It was hot. 3, Our Camino was coming to an end. It wasn’t the Camino Paula and I wanted, but it was the Camino we got. in a perfect world, we’d both be walking into Santiago; instead, Paula was already here, dealing with Covid.
I started early in the morning, and spent a few kilometers by myself in the forest. A medium-sized black dog – about the size of Humphrey – joined me out of nowhere. He briskly trotted past me, looking back a couple times. I saw him again a couple hundred meters later, waiting for his larger friend, a white dog. They both walked with me for a half-kilometer or so, looking back a couple times. Eventually they stopped to poop and I didn’t.
I met up with The Gang soon after that. Chris and Roxy, Mark and Jo, all from Wales. Allison from Canada. Kate from Scotland. Sven from Germany. Cherie from Texas. Paula and I met Kate in Astorga, and the rest along The Way. They absorbed me into their group seamlessly; carrying on conversations for the entire 19 kilometers. I love these people.
We grabbed up a few more people as we entered Santiago. Yuen Ru from London. Vancouver. Australia. Tiny French Woman. We all walked together the final kilometer or so. After so much talk the first 18 kilometers, we were all fairly quiet for the last bit. Lots of emotions swirling through my head; and I’m sure all of theirs as well. Most of them started in St. Jean. It’s impossible to portray just how close you get to these people in such a short time; you’ll just have to trust me that we do. And it’s doubly impossible to explain what goes through your head when you see the facade of the Cathedral. For me, it was 322 kilometers of walking over two weeks. For them, it was 780. For Paula, it was an even more difficult journey. I decided to go ahead and upload the three videos I shot walking through the old city. Like Paula said in an earlier post, we’re all about the honesty. But hahaha take a Dramamine before you watch them. They are shaky. You’ve been warned.
It was great to see Paula again. I know this has been a rough few days for her and she hasn’t recovered yet. hoping things get back to more normal over the next couple days. We took some pictures with our people – we ran into Margherita and Alessandro again – and picked up our compostelas. And we ran into a few more people on the plaza and beyond for more congratulations. We saw Blue Jeans Guy, who sold his bar and decided to walk the Camino. We saw the Pennsylvania couple. We saw Cindy from Germany. Maria from Germany left a nice message on Instagram. And we saw the Bucknell kids one last time.
Paula stayed in for dinner, while I met up with one of the Bucknell professors and the Italians. We marveled at how close some of us got on the Camino. We had in-depth discussions about religion. We traded numbers and promised to keep in touch. Who knows if we actually will, but the sentiment is there right now! 😉
Will I do the Camino again? Yeah, I could see it. There are things I would change for sure, but also, this has been an amazing journey. Never in a million years could I see myself walking double-digits miles day after day without a break. I never thought I’d be tired of French fries, but here I am. More thoughts to come, I’m sure. The walking portion of our Camino is over, but I think our Camino has just begun. Buen Camino.
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