Sunday 4/29. On our way from Tricastella to Sarria . It was raining lightly but we still chose the slightly longer route on the hillside rather than taking the road. This way goes to the town of Samos where there is a beautiful old monastery. The winding trail was beautiful and very quiet. All we could hear was the river, birds and our own feet on the path. We saw no one but a farmer and two cyclist until one busload of people were dropped off in Samos. They were happily walking for the first day of their Camino from Samos to Sarria and were very energetic and excited. When Colin and I stopped to rest we ended up getting off their schedule and had what would turn out to be our last peace-filled day on the Camino.
I know now why most people took the shorter route along the road; our path was several miles longer and tougher on this rainy day, but I am grateful we had that last precious quiet walk together before the storm of the crowds to come.
Monday 4/30. On our way from Sarria for the last leg of this trip. About 113 km and probably 4 days or so. What a difference there is today. There are many people starting the Camino from this point. Sarria is the last place to begin your walk and still get the requisite number of km in order to get a certificate. There are hundreds of additional pilgrims, many dropped off by bus.
The change in atmosphere is drastic and it feels like a completely different vibe. In some ways it is nice to see all of the happy, smiling people beginning their journey, but it certainly takes away from the enjoyment of our experience of having space for quiet reflection. It is hard to imagine anyone can feel at peace when someone is playing a bagpipe chanter, a tour bus of high school students descends excitedly on the trail and hundreds of people walk and chatter loudly in several competing languages. It almost feels like we (and the others who have walked for 30+days) were on a secluded island but discovered today that our beautiful island was actually part of a theme park.
Within the hoards of people today we met our friend (I don’t even know his name) who has been on the same route with us for days. We can’t communicate well but we already have a bond. He always says, “ciao bella” when he sees me and usually kisses my hand (he is an older Swiss gentleman if you are wondering). Today he greets us with his usual words and gives me a very heart felt hug. He, like us, is very happy to see someone who feels like a recent family member amongst all of the new strangers and wonders if we landed in a different world than we left yesterday.
Also during today’s walk we found Monique and Simon; a couple from Australia we have seen several times over the past week. We end up walking together and feel a bond and comfort as we navigate around all of the others. I am slow as usual and we get to our destination- Portomarin- a bit later than we probably should have. The town is packed and beds are hard to find. Monique and Simon get the last two places at one of the albergues and the wonderful host there helps us find another one up the street. He and this older couple (I think they must be related) are so helpful to all who come by. It seems crazy that people are still coming to town three hours after us looking for beds. We feel sad for people who feel lost and are wondering about where they might sleep. I can’t imagine having this crowd during our entire trip and I am glad we began walking a month ago before the season really started (even though we had snow).
Well, for tomorrow we have reserved four places in an albergue with our new friends. I guess the days of blissful wandering may be over but I’ll update you later on. Either way we are experiencing all aspects of what this pilgrimage has to offer. Ciao Bella and Hasta Luego!