The Penultimate Day

Day 32

So here it is, the next to the last day.  And it’s a bit of everything.  Both the weather and the walk.  And assuming all goes anywhere close to plan, at this time tomorrow I’ll have walked 800 km (500 miles) across Spain.  Mind boggling.

Saw a couple of long-term friends as I headed out into a bit of mist that started to clear.  By the 4th kilometer, I stopped for a snack and some rain started.  Just a brief shower.  

As I sat, several others walked by and waved.  So nice to know others on the trail that I’ve met along the way.  And so nice to see them in the morning & be so friendly.  And I also saw a number of the new pilgrims, though not in the droves I saw a couple of days ago.

Rain stopped and I was back on the move.  Actually, it rained on and off until I got to O Pedrouzo, my destination for the night.  Had a quick stop with the folks from Nashville and another friend and we strode into O Pedrouzo and found a pizza place.

I’ve now settled into my room, laundry done and shower taken.  This is an interesting pensione – it’s an apartment where they rent rooms for the night to customers.  There are 3 rooms, and I know two are taken (mine and another).  I have a private bath, the other rooms appear to share a bath.  There’s a small kitchen and some fruit and packaged food, so I can eat something before leaving in the AM.  I’m fine with that.  Fancier inside than last night, but the apartment building and lack of staff makes it less friendly.  

I’ve already talked of the weather.  The scenery was much the same as yesterday 40-45% forest, 40-45% farm & pasture, and. The remainder towns.  Really nothing that is different from yesterday.  More scenery, much the same.  The cafes and bars are similar to the others & that’s a good place to catch up with others.

As I ponder the end of this walk – and it’ll take some brainpower processing to work through it all the next few weeks – I find myself with Justin Hayward/Moody Blues tune “I know you’re out there somewhere” stuck in my head.  In my warped sense of thinking some of the words apply to this journey and this adventure.

I’ve been reflecting a bit on the long hike and talking with some of my other friends about it.  When we started, we all had ideas of why we were doing this.  I’ve outlined mine earlier.  And we had a pretty good idea that we should follow the path markers, but other than “Santiago” we weren’t clear where they would lead.

It has become much clearer now: we don’t need a lot of the commercial, transactional stuff that the US has become.  We can dispense with some of the trinkets and things that are promoted incessantly.  

It’s about the relationships and the self-sufficiency.  We can help, and be helped, from the relationships we build and the strength from within.  When we look forward to our friends, we see how we can help them and we draw energy from them.  We lose stress – and we know that others share struggles as we do.  The only obligations are the things we commit to along the way.

Likewise, we see beyond the map and weather forecast, which may or may not be accurate, to find our destination… it’s now clear how to get there and see the way ahead.

Thinking about all the things that were important but really weren’t… all the stuff we own… all the “make work” stuff we do… the churn….  It seems so much simpler to pare our lives and belongings down to a 9 kg backpack and a cell phone to maintain touch with loved ones.  We can have and get what we need.  

And there are plenty of folks to help us along the way.  Not just our friends, but those that support us, like the folks that help the pilgrims on the Camino and those that run the hotels/pensions/albergues & restaurants/cafes.  They are not empty – they are full of compassion, caring, love… and life.  Certainly they need to turn a profit, but it is not the maniacal, never-ending focus on “maximizing profit” that B-school teaches in the US.  In the end, the transactional lifestyle we have in the States leaves us empty, compared to the relationship based lifestyle elsewhere.  

So, when I arrive tomorrow, what emotions will I feel?  Will it be a happy dance?  A big smile and satisfaction of accomplishment?  Relief?  Reverence?  Overwhelming?  Will there be a greeting party from the ones that plowed ahead?  All of the above?

Regardless, there will be celebration.

It’s a question I’ve pondered but cant answer.  Watch this space.

I do have to wonder if someday I’ll be in an airport somewhere and near someone from the Camino call my name.  Or have one of the folks I met walk up and greet me on the street or cafe in Lisbon, Madrid, Paris, Rome or elsewhere.

Hopefully the memories and lessons of this adventure will stay with us and grow over time.  And hopefully the bonds we built will be like few others in my life & we will remain friends going forward.

“The words that I remember

From my childhood still are true

That there’s none so blind

As those who will not see

And to those who lack the courage

And say it’s dangerous to try

Well they just don’t know that”….

…rewards for kindness will not be denied.

(Justin Hayward, “I know you’re out there somewhere”, the Moody Blues, intended under fair use with my own twist at the end)