El Camino Day 32 & 33 -Camino Friends, Steak and One big Cathedral

Melide ➡ O Pedrouzo ➡ Santiago

We were awoken early the following day on the upper story where our albergue was situated to what we thought were pilgrims. The clocks had changed, and we assumed on this early Sunday morning that we must have slept in! We were very mistaken. It was in fact young local Spaniards still partying from Saturday night. We wove through the crowd of drunkards at the bottom steps of the albergue, intent on getting out of town and back onto the road. We had set ourselves up for a big day of 32 kms to put us in O Pedrouzo and to catch us up with previous Camino friends Bret and Eduardo.

We were pushing hard through the morning, power walking, a great stride that I hadn’t been able to manage until now. Finally, I felt fit and ready for anything, walking briskly through the shade of trees where we actually ran into Bret, Eduardo and their companion Chris. We had caught them!

Through the trees we walked with our companions sharing tales of our adventures, I talked slightly ahead with Chris, a Canadian man with an enormous backpack. We talked of the state of the world, ideas and Camino revelations. this is what I would come to miss the most, the ease of speaking to a stranger. Two people only met minutes previously and we aren’t trying to make idle chatter or gossip inconsequentially. We move straight into topics with depth. Speaking of emotions, revelations and concepts those that can be or have been altered by ourselves. Or things that we have no control over but our own thoughts. I marvelled through the trip at the brilliant minds we had encountered. Here Chris was yet another, and we chatted right into the gaggle of pilgrims sitting down for lunch at a bar on the roadside; including Samantha and her crew, (John, Emily and Paul) and Gui. Royce and I sat down with a drink (sangria and Galicia beer) and we chatted and ate a well received hot lunch.

We headed off again on our way to O Pedrouzo, outstripping a mob of day Camino walkers as we entered a vastly different landscape. What was in my opinion very similar to New Zelanad, a lush green tree filled path, dotted with farm animals, switched to something far more tropical feeling. Giant Gum trees towered above us as we moved through a plantation being harvested and the afternoon shone warmly even with the clouds overcast. It felt more like walking in the Australian lush bush now than in the rolling hills of New Zelanad. O Pedrouzo changed the green into a concrete jungle as we rolled into town and found our Albergue for the night. Having spoken to Bret about a rendezvous for that night. Our last night out before Santiago!

After a round of drinks at one bar with more fellow Camino walkers, we found ourselves sitting at a long table in a steak house amid a host of Spanish and Portuguese speaking pilgrims, Bret, Chris and Eduardo included. We drank wine, ate amazing steak. So good it rivalled some of the beef I had grown back in New Zealand. It was deliciously tender! We laughed till our mouths hurt, drank till our words slurred, and we shed even a few tears as we shared our innermost thoughts and growth brought about by this journey we had all embarked on. It was a beautiful way to spend our last night on the road. We all went to bed with heavy hearts, knowing we were at the end, but also with rich anticipation at finally arriving at our long awaited destination.

Day 33 dawned bright, and Royce was feeling a little worse for wear. Having stayed out late again, I had to leave a window for him open as he missed curfew. I myself was also partially feeling the effects of all the previous night’s wine, we spent the first part of the morning in silence as we strode out of the town and back into the path of trees which turned from black to grey as the day dawned. With no decent place among the trees to get good sunrise shots, we kept walking till we found coffee.. I may have developed a slight addiction. We sat down with our drinks and croissants and curiously watched as the small cafe quickly filled with wet pilgrims… the clouds had eventuated to rain.

In a break in the weather we having doned jackets once again strode out. The clear weather however did not hold and though we didn’t even have 20kms to walk that day, as we entered the city proper the rain fell in earnest soaking up through as we would our way through the city streets of Santiago de Compostella. We were one of many in the procession of pilgrims that trudged weary feet along the concrete path, watching the cars swish past and Spaniards just their umbrellas. The old city rose in front of us, telling us we were getting close. Majestic buildings of grand architecture framing palaces and the back of the great cathedral towered over us as we entered under the archway that lead to point zero.

We walked the final few steps in the drizzly weather into the square all around us was a turmoil of people and emotions. We turned and to our right rose the megalith of the Santiago de Compostela Cathedral of St James. it was enormous, and overwhelming and underwhelming all at the same time. My emotions flooded to the surface of my fatigue, I felt tears in my eyes. I was here; I had done it. Is this really it? Royce and I having made our way to the centre stood in front of the building and just stared, letting our feelings flow over us, just taking in our surroundings the many pilgrims that dotted the square all in similar sensation to ourselves. It was Gui who broke our reverie, having arrived some time before us. We said our hellos and subsequent goodbyes. as this was after all the place where we would part ways with all our new companions. Then strode down the rode to collect our certificates the final deed in this long journey.

El FIN.

Thank you, everyone for sticking with this tale of our adventures from St Jean Pied de Port all the way to here Santiago, the end of the road. Or it was for many. Royce and I however were not content to finish in Santiago and carried on walking to the Coast. to Finisterre and Muxia. the road to the coast is a separate pilgrimage though part of the original pagan pilgrimage. if you want to find out how we got on at the coast, you will have to stay tuned or better yet subscribe. please leave a like and a comment, we would love to know your thoughts on the tale and share your own Camino experiences. If you have been following our adventures on Instagram, you will know we are in the process of converting Chester the transit into a campervan and I will be taking a break from regular blog writing to help Royce get this finished. Blogs will still come out, but possibly not with the regularity of the weekly Wednesday post for the next little while. Again thanks so much for reading and I will endeavour to get the journey to the coast out as soon as possible.

Mucho amor y Beun Camino

From The Travelling Shepherds

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