There are numerous Camino routes throughout Europe, including Camino Francés, the most popular walk and the one featured in a favorite movie of ours, The Way. So why, then, did we choose to walk one of the lesser known routes, Camino del Norte?
We had a particular vision for what we wanted in our Camino experience, and Dale did some serious homework to find the trail that most matched that vision:
I experienced a great deal of anxiety while walking the Camino, and much of it was centered around getting lost. A part of me feared that we would disappear into the wilderness of northern Spain, licking the peanut dust off our empty snack bags to survive.
Never mind that Camino del Norte is not that wild; I was neurotic about having the right resources during our journey.
After a wonderful tour of Finisterre and Muxía, we got back to Santiago just in time to attend the Friday night Pilgim’s Offering mass at the Catedral de Santiago de Compostela, a service that honors the peregrinos arriving in Santiago. The mass is held daily, but the Friday night service is special because the church brings out its gigantic Botafumeiro.
Today we arrived in Santiago de Compostela. We had envisioned this day ever since starting the trail on October 1. Actually, our visions of finishing the Camino started back to 2010, except the images were of Martin Sheen and his three newfound friends triumphantly walking into the Cathedral de Santiago at the end of the movie The Way. For years, Dale and I had been drawn to the idea of a long-distance walk and had contemplated doing the Appalachian Trail or something similar, but that takes months to complete. So when we saw The Way in the theater, it resonated deeply with us. It was a hike that could be completed in about month and that entailed walking across Spain, experiencing life-changing personal growth, drinking lots of wine, and becoming best buddies with Joost from Amsterdam. Perfect.
We were so close to Santiago. We’d be there tomorrow. And yet all the efficiency and motivation that we’d been demonstrating the last few days dissipated today. It was hard to get going this morning for both of us. The walk was almost entirely on pavement, and it was through nothing but fields and half-shorn forests (or at least that’s the way I remember it now). We were leaving rural Galicia behind as we moved closer to Santiago, and it seemed lonely and depressing without the little villages and inviting cafes that we often came upon along the trail.
The last few days of our hike have been, if not easier, then smoother. There are still challenging hills, still hurting body parts, and if anything, our bodies are starting to tire out. My feet have swollen up like balloons, so much so that it was hard to get my shoes on this morning, and Dale in general just feels tired and achy.
But the doubts have gotten easier to manage, we’ve gotten stronger mentally, and we are learning to apply the lessons of the Camino more consistently. And Detlef is a great distraction.
We are so close. We’ll be in Santiago in three days, so hopefully we can hang tough for that long!