Day 12 The Road to Santiago

Day 12

June 10, 2019

I have been roundly criticized for not providing a final day synopsis of my previous Caminos. There are significant reasons for this.

I’m not going to get into this….except to say this Camino was completely different. The pretext was positive unlike my previous walks.

Last night I stayed in the Municipal Albergue in Padron. As I explained this was also a religious Holiday….and believe me the Spanish people take their religious holiday pretty seriously. Many of the restaurants, shops and supermarkets were completely closed. I had some bread, half a tomato and a small bag of olives left over from dinner the previous night…..so this became dinner last night. I’m not a big eater at night normally so I was quite happy.

I decided to hit the hay around 9pm….and after trying unsuccessfully to negotiate the Internet access again….Gave up and turned it all off. You may be able to see from the picture I posted yesterday there is an inch and a half barrier between you and the person beside you. Basically a wooden slat wall. The gaps are large enough to get your arm through….if necessary. (I don’t know why this would be required…..but you could)

As it turns out my “neighbor” is a rather shortish gentleman and apparently he likes to sleep on his back. The next result is he will certainly snore. I know this….well, because he had a nap in the middle of the afternoon…siesta time, and was at it already. By going to sleep early I may be Abe to avoid the worst. A couple of days in my own room has softened my ability to withstand the nocturnal opera going on in the dormitories.

So I got to sleep while the diminutive tenor was out……and woke up at 1:30 when he was apparently taking centre stage……not really loud, but when the performance is literally 18” from your ear…..unavoidable. I was fighting to go back to sleep but it was about 3am by the time I dropped off. I buried my good ear in the pillow….and the less efficient ear to the full brunt. The thinking is to sacrifice one rather than having two bad ones.

Ultimately I did get back to sleep, and according too my FitBit I had almost 7 hours of sleep. This, for me, is a good night’s sleep.

I was able to get of the Albergue just before 7 am and started hunting  for markers leading the way out of town. At times the markers can be obvious, exactly when you need them, and others barely available. My walk today is roughly 27 km….so I don’t want to have a mess up resulting in a 30 km+ day….It can happen really easily.

Today is partly cloudy and 8c when stepping out. There is a dew on all the cars and the grasses at the sides of the road are soaking. This isn’t a difficult time to walk, staying warm isn’t difficult when you are lugging your pack. Staying warm is the least of your concerns when your start hitting hills. Then the issue becomes sweating. I try to layer….but don’t have the clothing to do this properly…..so I sweat. The big decisions come when it is time to take off my outer layer and then I’m in a sweaty T-shirt. A little breeze makes it feel like January in Toronto.

There are a number of good size climbs during the day. Lots of time to warm up. So much of the day is torturously slow. Time warps as you get closer and closer to Santiago. Each kilometer takes hours instead of 15 minutes.

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There are so many little hamlets with narrow passages. Interesting, but at the same time not indifferent from the last little hamlet….maybe it’s the same place…..they all start melding into one…..and time slows even further.

After one significant climb I decided to have a tuna tart (don’t think what you’re thinking) and Cola Cao (basically hot chocolate….European style) This isn’t too sweet and at 10am a great time to have breakfast. Stop-eat-get back on the trail….. 10 minutes….and it was really good. This place had Tabasco sauce….a great addition to any breakfast.

I walked solo today meaning I wasn’t talking to anyone….my Music play list yesterday included the Blues Brothers, BB King, and Handel’s Messiah. This really helps dissolve walking time for me. Today I was all about Bette Middler. She has a couple of songs I think I would like to get a grip on….unfortunately I won’t sound anything like her…..but the songs are fabulous.

I estimated my arrival to around 1:30pm. My feet are perfect today….absolutely no PF….no heel issues…..should/neck pain almost totally gone….in fact I forget about it almost all day.

Walking into Santiago is a bit of a shyte show. There are so many ways into the centre of the old city….there are arrows pointing everywhere. Many time you don’t see anything….and when you check google maps you discover you are 1 km from the official path….then you see an arrow, or a marker…. just plain goofy.

Finally walking into Santiago from the Portuguese way is an uphill slog. Lots of city streets, sidewalks, traffic, crosswalks and not a lot of arrows or Pilgrim directions. If time was slow coming into Santiago, it is at a virtual stand still when you enter town….. and on, and on you go. After about 100 hours pass you are feeling no closer to the Cathedral square. And suddenly you are there. I arrived right on schedule, despite traveling through the time warp….and there are a couple of thousand people there to welcome me.

The number is roughly correct….but I don’t see a single familiar soul….not unexpected. A coupe of pics of the Cathedral….this is the first time I have seen the Cathedral without scaffolding. Quite impressive….looking really clean, and all the parts appear to be in place. Interesting to note there is virtually no way to enter the church itself. The outside renovations have been completed on the front, but now the interior and back of the Cathedral are being renovated. Quite honestly a long time in coming…. on previous visits it was easy to see the wear and tear on the building and artifacts contained. There is a way you can visit the remains of St. James and climb behind the alter….but there’s no impulse to see this again….

I de Ide to go to the Pilgrim Office to investigate the fabled lineups for a Compostela. When I arrive I can enter the building immediately. Wow, I was told these lines can stretch out the door. So I walk toward the lines. I can see what appears to be the end of the live at the end of the entrance corridor. When I get to the end of the corridor, I can see they keep the corridor path clear. There is a lineup waiting to get to the lineup apparently….but still, maybe 100 or so people in total….so I go for the end of the line.

Yup….

When I get to this line I see the next line….and it stretches out the back door. I wave to all the pilgrims….turn around, and leave as quickly as I came. A piece of paper isn’t this important to me.

I have used some things on 3 Caminos and it’s time to get rid of some of this stuff. I walk over to the Pilgrim Centre….a small place where you can get all sorts of good information and there’s a place to kick back, get things printed (boarding passes, itineraries) and a really quiet place to sit a chill. Oddly no one is in there….wait a minute. Of course no one is there….they are all in the Pilgrim Office standing in lineups.

Nat, and American living in Santiago for the past 8 years prints a bunch of stuff for me and accepts my water system, walking pole, Brierley Guide, and anything else I can contribute…. This will be used by needy pilgrims, and people looking to just cut costs.

I decide to head for something to eat since I will be in transit for a bit and head to an Italian place I have visited after each Camino. As I am walking through the narrow streets…I hear “Cam!” It’s Miriam from Germany. She’s Looking great, was just arriving this minute and was walking to the Pilgrim Office…. We chatted for a couple of minutes as people buffeted us….and after a great big hug were were both on our ways.

Thirty seconds further on my way to the Italian eatery I hear “Cam!”. This time it’s Patti from Whitby….she spotted me in the crowd….and I joined her for a glass of red wine, and 1/2 of her Bocadillo. (sandwich) Patti swears she wasn’t going to eat it….so I devoured it. My Tuna tart with Tabasco sauce had worn off round about 12:30….

UWe chatted about the many people we knew….Anna was a day behind because she had taken a diversion to stay in a convent….or something like that, and I also learned Dianna from Germany had walked a 45km day….and had been bitten by a suspected bedbug. he ended up needing hospital care…..We all are sending positive energy for a fast recovery.

Patti treats me to the pre-lunch, big hug, and we’re both on our ways.

Finally made it to the restaurant, ordered a soup, penne Arrabbiata, and a glass of Mencia. Perfect ending to this Camino.

Then it was time to go to the airport…..

About to hope on my flight and the only notable event involves the fellow in front of me……The smell of alcohol was thick on the jetway….in the lineup he turns, takes a deep breath and empty’s to contents of his lungs displaying his impatience with the lineup. OK, now let me tell you why this is notable. When he exhales an alcoholic vapour trail I inhale, and automatically “blow over” on any roadside breathalyzer. This guy must be totally pooched. Hope he’s not beside me.

Turns out I am no where near him.

Although not a direct flutter home…this Camino has come to a close.

I will write one more entry to this blog. A summary…..a very positive Camino experience, not only from a people, experience, and memory stand point….but definitely on a personal realization. 

It always seems to happen.

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