Camino Day 8 (the final day) – Part 1; Lightning flashes

Camino day 8; Arca – Santiago (part 1)

What a day!

I slept in this morning so didn’t start walking until nearly 10am.  I knew I would be starting out alone today so I wasn’t holding anyone up with my late start.  Last night we had a goodbye of sorts.  The Puerto Rican’s wanted to be at Santiago for midday pilgrim mass as they would only have a few hours in Santiago before heading back by train to Lugo where they had left the bulk of their luggage.  Our delightful Italian friend was planning to only go as far as Monte de Gozo so he could have a leisurely walk into Santiago the next day and arrive fresh and relaxed.  Our free-spirited southern lad was also headed to Santiago but would only be there one night before heading on to Finisterre.  We made no solid plans to meet up because the way is unpredictable and nobody knew when they would get to Santiago.  The only thing we did know was that the band was playing in a plaza somewhere in Santiago at some time – maybe 3pm, maybe 4, maybe 5 or 6, they didn’t know.  But the sadness of parting was forgotten in the joy and companionship of the evening.

Last night I followed the sound of music down the main street until I found the band – and everyone else.  We chatted, some danced and clowned around, took photos and listened to the music tapping our toes to the joyful beat.  Afterwards the two Puerto rican girls, Italian guy and I headed to the cafe for some amazing, rich Spanish hot chocolate that was so thick it had to be eaten with a spoon.  I decided I would have to take some home with me if I could find it in Santiago.  After many words and hugs we parted ways for sleep and another day or more of walking, not knowing if we would meet again but knowing we shared something very special that would live on in our hearts long after the thrill of travel had passed.

There was a light rain in the morning but once I left the streets of Arca behind and headed into the forest the rain did not touch me through the trees.  It was beautiful – glorious ivy-covered Oak trees interspersed with Eucalyptus and ferns, so many shades of green there are not enough words to describe so here’s a photo

The walk today would be shorter than yesterday according to the wayside markers – only 18.5km to Santiago, I was sure I could make it.  I was going along at a good pace, buoyed up by my music and the feeling that today, maybe, I would finish, I would achieve what I came here to achieve.  I would complete my Camino.  I was listening to ‘China’ by Sparkadia

and singing along to the chorus when suddenly it happened.  The thing I had been hoping for with every fibre of my being.  It was as if I had hit an invisible wall or been struck by lightning and could not move.  Then a flood of emotion took over, a feeling of love, protection and reassurance coursed through me from all around and I had the overwhelming feeling that everything was going to be ok.  EVERYTHING!  That I don’t have to worry anymore.  I have no idea where it came from and after what could have been a moment or 10 minutes it ebbed away leaving me completely stunned.  Overwhelmed I cried as at buoyed my spirit.  It was like nothing I have ever experienced before.  There were no words to hear, nothing to see and no-one took responsibility for it but that is not important.  It was there, it happened, that is what is important.

I don’t know specifically what it means; whether I will get well completely and forever, whether I will be accepted into and complete a medical degree, whether it meant I will finish the Camino, finish my holiday, whether I will always be happy and live to be old and wrinkly with the person I choose to spend the rest of my life with by my side, whether I will meet that person – who knows!  But that is also unimportant because I know that whatever happens I will be OK.
 Obviously this experience lead me to reflect a bit.  I was on the home straight of a journey that has been several months in the making.  A journey that looked several times like it would not happen.  A journey that has taught me new respect for my body.  We (my body and I) don’t need to go any further to prove anything to anyone.  We have proved to ourselves that we could do it, that we can do anything we set our mind and heart to and that is enough.  We have learned the most important thing of all from this journey – patience with ourselves and love for ourself.  Santiago will always be there and everything will be ok.

About 100m from my place of epiphany the Camino brought me back to the world (just to remind me I was still here and not to get too carried away) when I met an elderly Spanish man walking along the way in the middle of nowhere.  He was going very slowly and it was clear he would take a long time to reach anywhere.  He was carrying an umbrella.  I said the usual ‘Hola’ and ‘Buenos Dias’ and he settled in for a chat in Spanish.  He did not let the fact that I understood very little of what he was saying deter him and repeated himself over again and used hand gestures until he thought I had grasped the idea.  I believe the conversation went something like this; you are going to Santiago?  It is not so far now, only 16km.  Where did you start?  Oh Sarria, that is a long way – you are very fit/fat/happy/beautiful????? (yeah that bit got a bit confused because he kept saying different things – it could possibly have been all those)  To get to Santiago from here there is one small hill and then one very big one.

Spain makes language barriers and cultural differences highly amusing 😀

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