We were flying by now.
Yes, our feet still hurt and at the end of the longest day of the whole trip, (41km, a choice so I didn’t have to stay in a dormitory…), I thought I would die. But the next day our bodies were as good as new. I was the fittest I had ever been, no knee problems, bunion issues, or back complaints.
Hiking shoes still going strong. The end was in sight and it was all at once exciting, amazing, and scary. We’d been doing this for nearly three months. It was hard to imagine what we had done, but equally hard to imagine stopping. This felt right.
Would I This Route Again?
A group of partying Brazilian women, one of whom had written a book on the walk, a group of Spanish men who did a different section every year.
A great slow food restaurant in Berducedo (one of the reasons my partner brought his computer was to check out the local gourmet options en route and we hadn’t been let down!).
Finally, in Melide, near Palas de Rei, the Camino Primitivo met with the Camino Frances, and we had no doubt we’d made the right decision going by the coast. Suddenly the day was full of pilgrims, some whizzing past on bicycles, others being dropped off by taxis to walk the last meters so they’d get the stamp. It seems that you need a Compostela in Spain to increase employment opportunities. I hope this was the only reason they were cheating. I somehow think if you turn up at the Pearly Gate He’s going to know.
I cried when I saw the Cathedral. I still shed a tear now as I think of that moment. I have done many things in my life – a six year university course for heaven’s sake so it’s not like I lack perseverance. I’ve had two children which is probably the single biggest achievement and that wasn’t without a physical effort over time as well as the finale.
But this was different.
It wasn’t religious or at least not in any conventional sense – I didn’t even get my Compostela as I wouldn’t lie and say I had done it for religious reasons. I had hoped it might be a spiritual experience, a getting in touch with the centuries of history that every step took us over. But it wasn’t that either, though it was part of it.
My tears were for the simplicity of the life we had lived and how enormously rewarding and fulfilling it was. We had needed so little and yet done so much. In a world where we in the west we have an abundance of everything, food, wine, restaurants, television, cars, iPads/pods/phones, I had needed almost none of this.
At home I had bought clothes weekly yet for three months I had survived on one change. Yes, we had eaten and drunk well, though at a fraction of the price we would have at home.
Yet the melting hot pain au raison straight from the baker’s oven still lingers on my taste buds, the pizza the best I’ve ever had. Even the third one.
The extraordinary experience of pushing one’s body beyond anything it had ever done, and even now, no longer as young as I would like, finding it thrived rather than crumbled. When I regarded the rest of my life and the changes I wanted to make, I knew I survive and thrive on these too.
After returning to Melbourne, Australia, Simone Sinna adopted this name as her pseudonym and resigned from her fulltime job. She now works two-three days a week in paid employment and four days a week writing.
I love hiking. From the Camino de Santiago to the West Highland Way in Scotland or simply a great day hike on the weekend. Hiking refreshes me, my mind, and keeps my body reasonably fit. So far I have walked three Camino routes and many other long distance hikes in the UK, Canada, and around the rest of Europe. One of the best was my hike up Ben Nevis.