mardi 9 juin 2009

Finisterre - End of the Voyage

We have been so incredibly lucky on this trip. As an example, we have had a total of less than one day's rain during the 31 days we walked, but it has been raining most of the time snce Saturday. We could have been walking soaked for several days.

Yesterday, we went to Finisterre (literally end of the earth) with Pierre and Lawrence. The 100km trip took 3 hours by bus each way along the coast, and as Nadine and I both tend to get motion sickness, it was not always pleasant. It rained most of the way there, and I did wonder why we were going. However, again, being incredibly lucky, the rain stopped while we were there, and we were able to walk the 2.5 km to the lighthouse and back. The wind was something else; it could almost knock you off your feet so no one was burning anything. We tied our items to the pole along with everyone else. It truly felt like the end of the camino, more than did the arrival in Santiago, and in the end we were vey glad we came, even though 6 hours by bus was more tiring than 6 hours of walkng with our backpacks. In the town of Finisterre, we stopped in a small museum, where a very enthusiastic guide spent one hour explaining to us about fishing and the 'Coast of Death'. He later told us he was the poet referred to on one of the exhibits.

Today, we are doing last minute errands before leaving for Paris. We are both looking forward to going home. Apart from the loss of a couple of toe nails on my pasrt, we have not suffered any injuries. Again, we have been very lucky. The modern Camino is safer than in medieval times, but it is no walk in the park. Three people died crossing the Pyrenees at the end of April when they got lost in the fog, and suffered hypothermia. We saw a few markers along the way of people who died in the past few years while making the trip. We heard of at least 2 attempted rapes in the past few weeks. People we met suffered sunstroke, as well as various injuries. Bedbugs have been a problem the past few years, but we did not encounter any.

The Camino is an interesting experience. In some ways, it is a microcosm of everyday life, but in some ways it is very different. Some people become 'Camino junkies' - we heard of one person who did it 11 times - they enjoy the camaraderie and the wonderful feeling of being with people from all over the world, in a setting where who you are and what you do is irrelevant. Others feel that the Camino is something you do once in your lifetime. I incline more towards the latter, although I do hope to take long walking trips again.

For me, the highlights of the trip, or those that come to mind at the moment, there were so many, include:

- the pleasure of walking beside Nadine in companiable silence
- communal meals
- the nuns in Carrion de los Condes who, with guitar and recorder accompaniment, led us in a Camino version of Beethoven's 'Ode to Joy' before bedtime
- storks and stork nests; poppies; the sound of cuckoos; snails on teh road; roosters crowing; the smell of eucalyptus;
- the mists of Galicia
- the Cathedral at Burgos; the small church in Fromista; the monastery at Samos
- Cafe con leche and Rioja wine
- celebrating Queen Victoria's birthday in Mansilla de los Mulas
- The Japanese man at the Melide albergue who made us paper cranes
- locals, particularly old people, smiling and wishing us 'buen camino' or 'buen viaje'
- albergues (the good ones)
- meeting people from all over the world; seeing people again after being separated for several days
- sunset in O Cebreiro
- walking in the early morning as the sun is rising

and I could go on and on. I have just read Nadine's last post. I have learned a lot about my youngest daughter on this journey, so I suppose it shouldn't surprise my that she wrote in it things she didn't tell me. I realized that Nadine and I are more alike than I had thought; we may have different interests, but our personalities are not that different. It has been a pleasure and a privilege to share this journey with her. J't'aime, Dine-Bine.

This is my last post. Looking forward to seeing you all,


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