DAY 29, July 1st, 2014. Palas de Rei– Arzúa, 28.8 km
It was time to go back to walking, and especially to say goodbye to Houliane.
“I will become the best doctor”, she told us more than once. And I am sure she will. A long black braid and a constant smile, a dirty pair of Crocs that surely gave her pain. But she didn’t complain, not one single time, and she was always the first one to arrive.
It is both sad and awkward to think that she will not arrive to Santiago with us.
I spent those first kilometers alone, lost in my thoughts. The sadness for Houli’s departure mixed with the sudden awareness that there are only 3 days left before we reach Santiago.
Santiago de Compostela is most of my friends’ final destination, but not mine. For me it represents just one more stop, despite being quite different from all the other stops.
Finisterre is my final destination. Finis terrae, the end of the world: that’s where I’m going.
We stopped in Mélide and had lunch at Ezequiel, apparently the best pulpería in town, that didn’t disappoint us.
After way too much pulpo à feira and vino tinto, a nap would have been just perfect. But we had 15 more km to go, so hop! back on track.
Walking uphill and downhill, we finally arrived in Arzúa. Some went for dinner; others, including me, just wanted to sleep. Neither the other pilgrims chatting outside, nor the girl trying to sell some foot lotion in a terrible Spanglish could stop me from sleeping like a log.
DAY 30, July 2nd, 2014. Arzúa- Monte do Gozo, 35 km
Last day before Santiago. It’s been already one month, but it feels like time has flown these past few days.
I remember my first days clearly. I remember when Santiago felt so far away, while now it’s even too close. Just 40 km to go, and then it’s almost over.
Now that I finally feel good- no knee pain, no blisters – I feel like I could walk forever. It’s so different from anything I was ever used to, this Camino. Waking up, getting ready, doing “pedicure”, having breakfast and then out to walk.
Arriving at the albergue, getting my stamp, the stamp that means you’ve arrived. You’ve done your job today, you’re one day ahead, one day closer to your goal.
Shower, laundry, dinner, sleep. Such a simple life; I’m going to miss this so much!
Today is another day of beautiful landscapes. We stop in Amenal for lunch: I get a delicious codfish with chickpeas but I am not hungry: i’s the feeling of getting closer to the end.
I start walking with Kieran while the others are still chilling. Our walk is shaded by some eucalyptus -it’s really beautiful- and we quickly go back to our deep talks.
I enjoy the walk, which gets tougher after a while. My map didn’t show it, but it’s all climbing, and we have no idea where we are. We pass a couple of villages where a few old people cheer at our arrival “Anda, que ya estáis en Santiago!” But who wants to arrive?!
A few kilometers later, a car stops and a guy comes out and starts to film… us. But before we reach him, he’s already gone…
The albergue in Monte do Gozo is a series of weird-looking buildings, half of which are now closed. It reads Ciudad de Vacaciones. José explained that it was built when Pope John Paul II came to Santiago, or something similar – I can’t really remember. Anyway, the place used to have a lot of facilities, but all is left now is the gloomy bar where we had our dinner.
The block next to ours was hosting the group of high school kids we first met in Portomarín. They were now outside, standing in two lines. Their teacher, or monitor, was giving them instructions to do different things. Curious, I started to observe them from my window.
They first had to hug the person if front of them and say thank you for having done this Camino together, and because after tomorrow they might not see each other again. I guess then they didn’t necessarily know each other since the beginning.
Another activity they were doing involved passing through a “human tunnel” one at the time, while everybody would whisper something in the person’s ear. They should say something about a moment they shared on the Camino, or, if they really didn’t get to know the person, just say thank you or Buen Camino.
I found all this very beautiful and I really hope that these kids can also see this as an activity that helps them grow up and not just a silly one.