Day 24: Santiso to Santiago. 300km and a long walk finished.
Today’s walk took us through Australia. The towering Eucalyptus forest was like a small slice of Oz. Thin trees, shedding bark coming off in pieces like shaved Parmesan, curling towards the ground, the floor covered in a carpet of spear shaped leaves, some dead, some dying, the air filled with the light scent, sweet sharpness of eucalyptus oil. We slept in a little the plan for the day to walk until we rejoined the Camino then walk onto Monte de Gozo.
The day’s walk was beautifully reflective. The sun shone and we both walked well. Cheeky’s knees still ached but she put that aside as she enjoyed the walk. The walk gave me time to reflect and it surprised me how different the Camino was for me compared to last time. For one I walked 800km compared to 300km this time. Last time I was physically challenged as i walked hard each day this time I didn’t find it anywhere near as physically challenging. This time my body held up well, only a few aches and no blisters. Last time I had massive blisters and many aches & pains. This time I shared the Camino with Cheeky and that added a sweetness lacking in my last walk. It’s true then the saying that each Camino is unique. I wished we could have walked more but, saying that, we would have missed out on staying longer in key towns and experiencing them in a way I failed to last time. This time the Camino felt more like a holiday (albeit with 300km’s of walking shoehorned in) compared to the last walk which felt far more challenging. This Camino was in some ways harder though as I saw Cheeky struggle through her pain. I felt both sorry for her and, somewhat strangely, guilty. Guilty that I was not feeling any real pain and even jealous, jealous of the pain because a Camino without pain seems a Camino only half deserved.
These and many other thoughts ran through my mind as we walked. It is truly one of the joys of the walking is that you have time to think and let your thoughts run in whichever direction they will for hours on end as your body just walks on and on. It’s a unique experience and mentally it’s fantastically refreshing.
A few hours of walking later and we found ourselves at Lavacolla where i quickly washed my hands in a ritual going back a thousand years and then, before we knew it we were on Monte de Gozo. The hill that overlooks Santiago de Compostela.it was here that we decided just to push onto Santiago a mere 4km away. And so we strode off into our very last section of the walk.
As we arrived near the Cathedral, where the Camino ends, we took a few minutes to sit around the corner, a mirror of my last Camino, and enjoy a laugh in the sun and think about our long walk. Then we hobbled, appropriately enough, to the plaza in front of the Cathedral and, with many other peregrinos just sat. It was a satisfying moment and I took pleasure in sharing Cheeky’s achievement. This had been a hard journey for her and yet she had pushed through and completed it. I revelled in her achievements as we sat in awe in the sun at the front of the Cathedral.
Then we walked on. Got our compostela from the peregrino’s office and then went to find the nice hotel we had booked for the next few nights. The next part of the holiday will be in France. Only half planned but part of it will be in Paris the rest in the South of France. Only this time we’ll be going by car – it’s time to rest Cheeky’s knees.