“I love the Camino, I hate the Camino, I am the Camino.” ~Unknown member of Camino Forum
Today, my last full day on the Camino, I hated it. “Hate”, of course, is a very strong word. But it feels like the perfect one. I spent the bulk if the day wondering why I was doing this…the first time this question has arisen for me in the 30+ days I have been walking.
And perhaps it is a question that bears contemplating. Why have I been walking for more than 30 days (with the notable exception of 7km from Leon to Virgen del Camino), staying in albergues full of snoring people and sweaty clothes? What has kept me going all this time?
Whatever it was, whatever the fuel, today the tank went to empty and my mind felt ready to explode.
I wish it were as easy as saying I were homesick and just wanted to get back to my “real” life (which begs the question, “what is ‘real’?“) But to say so would be completely disingenuous. I still don’t want to return to the U. S. It feels more like wanting to return to the days when the only goal was to walk and seemingly endless days of walking remained ahead.
What made today so different?
Nothing has been the same since leaving Sarria, where great numbers of new peregrinos, mostly young people, joined the Camino to walk the last 100 km. Not that I have anything against young people in general but there is something disconcerting about giant groups of 20-something’s when you are on the 50-side of 45.
Today was hot and humid and stinky and there was a stretch when I was walking next to the airport and 747s were taking off and landing next to me, and a section next to the freeway, and a creek so polluted with chemicals that the rocks were all orange, and a long stretch of woods where I was all alone for an hour except for a creepy guy in a car who scared me. I actually had the thought that I could die on this Camino and no one would ever know what happened to me. Oh, and when I swallowed a fly that flew into my mouth there was a moment when I thought it was a bee and what if it stung my throat and I ended up dying of anaphylactic shock?
By km 35, all I could think was that I wanted the Camino to be done. I’m tired of walking, tired of short showers, and tired of long greasy lunches. I’m tired of snoring and headlamps and noisy plastic bags. I’m tired of the clickety clack of my walking poles on the pavement and of washing my clothes by hand in a sink every night and of wearing the same two shirts day in and day out. I’m tired of the graffiti all over the Camino…the markers and signs and beds and fences. I’m tired in every way imaginable.
And I can no longer imagine walking to Finisterre and Muxia. Bus maybe. Walk…I’m doubting. Perhaps tomorrow after a, um, night’s sleep and a 5km walk to the cathedral, I will feel differently. Perhaps not.
I suspect that walking 37 kilometers in one day wasn’t the best idea, especially since I didn’t stop for lunch until 4 (although I did have “flat” bread, literally, at eleven). Low blood sugar never helps anything.
It’s 8 now and I ate the other half of my sandwich and a giant chocolate bar for dinner. My eyes are heavy with sleep. “Tomorrow the Camino ends,” says the voice in my head as I rest by myself on a sofa in the giant lounge of the albergue.
Suc and the two Spanish girls are in the last big town, 15 or so km back. I have no idea where Yeni, Ana, and their mother are. Antonio is with the lovely Andalucian girls plus a gaggle of other youngsters. Bernardo and Kyeong disappeared long ago. It’s been ages since I’ve seen Olalla and Pavel and Armanda and, of course, all the people who have come and gone over the past month.
I know plenty of people; the crowd I met in León is here, Sophie and Miriam too, but it’s a whole different feeling than that first night in Orisson in the beautiful green Pyrenees when everything was fresh and new.
Pues nada, as a friend of mine says frequently. Tomorrow is a new day on the Camino; who knows what the rising sun will bring.
Distance: 37 km (23 mi)
Accommodations: Albergue Monte do Gozo
Notes: I won’t walk this far in one day again after multiple long days!