Journal Entries from the Camino Fisterra (1/4)
I was able to take a week off in October due to some overtime the month before. I flew into Porto, spent two days there, and then took a bus up to Santiago de Compostela in northwest Spain. Santiago is the destination of thousands of people who undertake the Camino de Santiago every year, a historically Catholic pilgrimage and one of Europe’s most popular modern-day hiking routes. My mom and sister and I completed the 790 kilometer French Route of the Camino in 2015, but we did not have time to complete an optional extension of the route that connects the cathedral of Santiago to the Atlantic Ocean at a place called Finisterre. The lighthouse on the peninsula at Finisterre was once believed to be the westernmost point of Europe, or as the name suggests, the end of the world.
My plan was to spend four days walking from Santiago to Finisterre, take the bus back to Santiago, and the following day take the bus back to Porto for my flight to Casablanca. I didn’t really appreciate how ambitious this plan was until I was walking. It turns out that 92 kilometers is a lot of ground to cover in four days on feet that are only accustomed to strolling around 5 kilometers of flat city streets in any given day. Nevertheless I love mountains and forests with a simple certainty that I rarely feel about anything else, and so despite a lot of blisters and torrential downpours, I can’t imagine a better vacation.
For this post, I thought I’d share some notes and stories from the journal that I kept during the trek.
I’ve been on the Camino for two days now. I waffle between doubt and delight and I feel like I’m drifting in and out of my physical body. I’m always /aware/ of myself, of my knee and my ankle and the pebbles in my shoes and the appendages that once were pinkie toes, but sometimes I notice them acutely and painfully, and other times I observe them in a detached way, the same way I observe strangers.
The weather is windy and rainy, but I’m keeping dry with a massive black poncho, because Decathlon only carries sizes Large Man and Tiny Child. I like it. It’s less sweaty than a raincoat and I glide along the path like a cheerful dementor. “Beautiful day, eh?” I said to another hiker taking shelter under a bus stop. It was supposed to be a sarcastic, empathetic joke, but I kinda meant it, too.