Thursday, December 9, 2010

Day fifty one - Wednesday December 8

Departed: Muxía 7:45am
Arrived: Cape de Finisterre 2:30pm
Total hours: 6.25
Total kms: 33
Accumulated kms: 1650.8
Weather: overcast

It seemed only fitting that on the final day of my walk I would get lost leaving the city. Lucie, a French-Canadian who was at the same albergue, wanted to head out with me so that she wouldn't get lost. That's like asking the Pope to spend time with you so you don't become Catholic. The second we left the albergue we headed up the wrong road, but were rewarded with a short climb to the top of a hill and a scenic view of the well-lit Muxía. We then found the right road and I soon strode ahead, eager to get cracking on my final day.

It was a beautiful walk. Despite the weather reports of rain it held off all day, and was again really quite warm. The humidity here is incredible - it's actually why it rains so much. I felt as if I was walking quite slowly and taking my time, but before I knew it I was in Fisterra, the little town just before the final 3km climb to the edge of the world, and, once again, lost as I looked for the albergue to receive my third and final compstela (the second one I received upon reaching Muxía). After I found it (and, surprisingly on fiesta day, an open panaderia to buy a delicious napolitana) I headed for the edge of the world.

Earlier today I met three Spaniards in quick succession who had stayed the first few nights of this stage at the same places as I, who had then come here as I went to Muxía. They were all jubilant and happy to see me, and as in good spirits as I at winding up their own Caminos. On the way to the end of the world I saw another Spaniard guy and Italian girl, same story. It was really nice to catch people in the same moment. We all congratulated each other, wished each other the best and passed out of each other's lives forever.

The edge of the world is almost too much. Despite living on an island surrounded by vast expanses of ocean, in all my time spent on various coasts I don't recall that expanse ever feeling quite as immense and impossibly far-reaching as the Atlantic feels here. I can absolutely see how pilgrims of old thought they had come as far as anyone could go. I felt like that myself sitting there staring out.

I checked into a beautiful hotel that is perched right at the edge, had a long, relaxing bath, read a John Galsworthy story, then went out to sit on the rocks in the just-beginning rain and watched the sun set over that mind-numbing infinity. What an incredible end to my Camino.

When I held my camera at a certain angle, this early morning photo of the coast actually looked pretty cool. It doesn't appear to have translated so well on the computer.

I don't know what these little buildings are, but they're all over Spain.

If I had been walking along this path on a day that wasn't fiesta, I would have been met here by a group of construction guys who would have told me to turn back and walk an extra 3km or more. Fortunately, I was lucky and they weren't here, so I just climbed across it.

This is the hotel where I stayed.

The end of the world!

The final marker.

Sun set at the end of the world.

Day fifty - Tuesday December 7

Departed: Olveiroa 8:15am
Arrived: Muxía 2:30pm
Total hours: 6.25
Total kms: 33
Accumulated kms: 1617.8
Weather: Overcast and sunny

Well, Galicia really gave me nice weather today. The sun was out and surrounded by sycophantic clouds, it was warm enough to walk without a jacket, and the light made all the colours in the mountains look spectacular. Most of today's walk was through stunning forest paths and mountain tracks, and I barely stopped at all, I was enjoying walking so much.

The highlight of course was coming over the crest of a mountain, through a thick growth of trees and into a clearing where I could finally see the ocean. It was magnificent. I had been planning on stopping for lunch once I could see it, but the ground was very muddy and there was nowhere to sit, and after walking on for another 3km or so I realised the path was winding away. I finally stopped for lunch on a small bridge in a small town and watched the water flow under my feet as I munched on my boccadillo.

Once I got into Muxía I dropped my bag at the albergue, grabbed a bed, had a shower, then headed out to the water, where I sat on the rocks just watching the waves come in for nearly two hours. I made it back here just as it started to pour rain - good timing once again! I just heard it's supposed to rain all day tomorrow, but I'm going to get me a nice hotel room at the edge of the world, so I couldn't care less! One more day to go, I'm not sure how I'll handle spending the following day on a bus and train, I might have to pace up and down the aisles just to feel normal!

This is the point where one must choose between Muxía and Fistarra.

I don't know what this is, but it's big.

Day forty nine - Monday December 6

Departed: Negreira 8:15am
Arrived: Olveiroa 2:45pm
Total hours: 6.5
Total kms: 33
Accumulated kms: 1584.8
Weather: Raining and windy

This walk is a very beautiful one, even in the pouring rain. Like yesterday, a lot of today was through forest, and the rest along quiet country roads. At one point I came out of a small town, across the crest of a hill, and was greeted with a magnificent view of a far-off lake. Stunning.

It's good to keep in mind the way perceptions work. I've decided to absolutely enjoy this walk, and despite finishing the last two days completely soaked through, I'm loving it. There are other pilgrims here who each night have complained for hours about how wet and cold it is. One girl hitch hiked today to get out of the rain, and a guy just told me he's had enough and is catching the bus tomorrow. It's all good, everyone does what they need to do, but I for one am really enjoying these final days of my walk. And tomorrow, I reach the Atlantic Ocean!

Day forty eight - Sunday December 5

Departed: Santiago de Compostela 10:15am
Arrived: Negreira 3:00pm
Total hours: 4.75
Total kms: 22
Accumulated kms: 1551.8
Weather: Heavy rain

I had to see it coming. After making so many comments about Galicia, the wettest place in Spain, being so sunny all the time, I had to expect a huge downpour at some point. Today it happened.

It started about 11am and just kept going all day. I'm writing this inside now and can see it through the large windows, getting heavier and heavier. The wind has picked up now too and it's trying really hard to storm outside, but not quite getting there. Earlier in the afternoon it tried too, massive tolls of thunder pealed out and a couple of flashes of lightning, but aside from some extra heavy rain nothing much came of that either.

The rooms are heated and there's a clothes line strung up in the large bay windows. I'm hoping my stuff will dry by morning but if not, it's supposed to be bucketing down all day again tomorrow anyway, so I'll just wear it all wet as I'll be soaked within minutes of stepping outside.

I felt really good walking today which was a nice surprise. I expected to feel a bit flat after celebrating the official end of the Camino, but I felt very alive and strong. It might have been the rain!

Day forty seven - Saturday December 4

Departed: O Pedrouzo 8:15am
Arrived: Santiago de Compostela 12:30pm
Total hours: 4.25
Total kms: 18
Accumulated kms: 1529.8
Weather: Sunny then overcast

Well, I´ve finished the official pilgrimage. It's hard to believe that I've made it here and, as Felipe and I have been celebrating his finishing, it's also hard to believe I'm walking on tomorrow.

Today was a very hard walk. Felipe and I decided to walk in together, and barely spoke the whole way. We were both very tired and very sore. I'm not sure whether that's more a mental thing with coming in to the last day, or just an accumulation of the long days we've had this week. At any rate, I spent most of the walk focussing on slow, deep breaths while Felipe did whatever he does to help the miles pass easier.

Along the way we met a Spaniard called Howie who told us about a monument a little off the path that looked out over Santiago. We went there with him and took photos, then walked into Santiago together. When he heard I was Australian he grinned and said, "Crocodile Dundee!" He's the third person in Spain to say that to me. He then said what each of the others have also said next: "Mel Gibson!" I told him what I tell everyone, "No, he's actually American. He has nothing to do with Australia at all."

Despite Felipe and I not following the rules of getting two stamps in our credentials each day, the pilgrim office gave us our compostellas. The guy believed me right away, but nearly didn't give Felipe his, even though we both had all the same stamps since Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port. Columbians must have a worse reputation here than convicts. They like to write the Latin version of your name on the compostella, but apparently there is no Latin for Craig so I had to make do with my normal name.

We then went out tonight for a very decadent dinner of paella, hot chocolate and dessert and I am now feeling so full I might burst. I'm going to take it very easy tomorrow - get up late, do some yoga, have breakfast with Felipe then walk a lazy 22km for my fourth last day. I'm looking forward to getting to the ocean, that's for sure.

Baby lambs! Cute!

Me and Felipe with the pilgrim statues.