From coffee in Melidé to tiny Ribadiso da Baixo – the usual 20 houses – 5 picturesque ruins – the others revitalised by Pelegríno traffic 👍🏼
Dinner with the Marias’ – well 2 of them , – the 3rd Maria ( Maria Scouse) way ahead now – & Paco ,Sara , Carolina , Tomás & Jeán the French Guy
And my new favourite food from “The School of Tapas” .Yes ! Pulpo y Padron – ( Octopus with padron pimiento peppers in olive oil and sea salt – lush with a G&T !!👌💋
As those in the know giggled at me – I learnt there’s a saying that goes “Pimientos de Padrón ,unos pican y otros no” – (Padron peppers, some are hot and some are not. 🤣 ) – Culinary Russian Roulette for me – jokes on “Iron” as my name is pronounced by all.
Before we hit the road – the following day – we wait ………..as after an amazing 100k walked in 3 days- 5.30am starts , the intrepid duo Martin & Brigitta catch up along with their gang. An amazing feat 👏 🎉 👏 🎉 👏 . Tough people 🙏🏽
On now – fast – I’m on wheels remember – heading towards O Pedrouso – the last nights stop before Santiago. I take a big detour to see some quaint villages and silent candle lit cool chapels. It means the my lot will be ahead of me later so we can stick together on these last days.
……… stop after 2 hours in a fab wayside bar and pinchós hut . Meet Tom and Daughter Ally from Ohio – never met them before – they ask me the usual Q’s – how, why, injuries etc — but stop my reply after 10 secs ….. “we know you !!” and relay my saga of feet , horse , bike , bar , etc . They’d got the info’ from Taz Lass – Donna Brown 2 nights ago. Small world on Camino – what a laugh.
In fact spend too long laughing – so get to know José – the owner too .
………. head back to “The Way” ….. and sure enough after 10k – talking loud and proud in her native Hungarian in a shaded valley by a stream is Brigs – she’s found 2 fellow Hungarians – a rare sight . One a rather sociable hermit called Roland ( guess which 😆 ) who lives there and a random Magyar pilgrim.
Wayside markers start the countdown as the rain sets in ….. a deluge ☔️ ! ….. I’m off …..
And – on again to 3k outside O Pedrouso to a likely looking stop for late lunch 🥗. Turns out to be a legendary lunch – as Paco , Angel and Maria “Flamenco” are there . A memorable “Camino Moment” – a 5 Canã / 5 Tapas lunch playing 🎶 Santana , Chet Baker – ( Gave Paco “la piel de gallina” – Goosebumps!) , Dire Straits , Ella Fitzgerald , Stairway to Heaven , Dave Brubeck , Gary Moore – Parisien Walkways , Mellow Ibiza 🎶 . ……. We talk for hours – share photos , family , the walk – and this totally brill’ pic of Maria “at work” 💕👌💕👌
As the heavens open again ☔️☔️☔️ – the dedicated top team show up …. I buy the beer 🍻 …. they so deserve it ….
It’s getting late ⏰ – Paco , Angel , Maria F ‘ leave – Big goodbyes 👋 we hope to meet in Santiago – Cathedral Square tomorrow- let’s see 🤞.
One more hours travel and we check into our Alberque- 19k outside our Grail .
Hearty Dinner – the Unusual now Usual – Guy – Czech , Tiān -Hong Kong , Tina & Zara – Italy , Maria 4 😆- Spain and finally the United Colours of Benetton ……..
( That’s Us !🍻💋😎)
The Final Dawn ……. and The last Multi Bunk room I’ll see . Exhaustion and Contemplation
….. as Coffee and vast pasties launch me through the lush Galician forest – ace to see Sara “Malaga” on way .
I want to walk into Santiago – so design my final day around this . Feet still a bit “dodgy” 🤨
I push it as fast as I can through dark wooded paths , past singing large groups of Pilgrims – loads of excited Teenagers in School groups – and am 7 km outside Santiago by 9.30am.
I want to see first distant view of Santiago from the huge modern monument at Monte do Gozo.
It’s not so inspiring- bit of a monolith – but walk 10 mins to these 2 Acuña Pelegrínos – same sculptor whose statue we sat on in León in front of the Parador – and the view is usually better .. ( but not today 😆)
…….. and the lovely Donna Brown arrives !! – that girl gets about 👍🏼.
I push the bike and walk with Donna a bit – discussing her Charities – she’s aiming for $5000 Aussie Dollars 💵 for 2 mental health and suicide prevention charities…… Lend a hand to Hugo and Speak up – Stay Chatty encourages men to talk about their issues ….. great causes .
I push on and catch first site of the magical Cathedral .
I mentioned I’d had to design this last day . So avoiding the traditional end point in Cathedral Square – ( I want to save that moment to be with my fellow travellers ) – i return the bike . I Double the foot pads and strap up my feet , backpack on – find my boots fit after a week of swollen double size clown feet – hurrah ! Grab a taxi and head back up the trail . This is one day I need to walk.
I meet them 3 hours out – and we start the final 15000 steps
And we start to see sights
As Carolina hugs trees …………… Trees hug me 😆😆🤣😆🤣
And past historical buildings and quaint streets we arrive at this tunnel …….. heart 💓 pounding – after 800 K and a million steps …… the end is through it .
The very moment ………..
A magical meaningful moment , last steps walked with Brigs – ……. with me from Camino #1 – the very beginning in the French Pyrenees ……..thanks – its been a blast …… and I’m there ……. 💓💓💓😢😢😢😢😢 – hard to breathe..
So are many familiar faces – ( We missed you Carmen😘)- it’s a Camino reality that however unpredictable the way is – you’ll end the day with friends.
And the photos , the relief , the celebration , tears , hugs , sheer disbelief, joy and sadness shared , lifelong friends , pain , endurance , searing experience, laughter , memories – flood out & out , and on & on .
…….. The fantastic 4
And finally – That picture !! The one you hope for . If everyone you had really spent time with ; on Camino , not just acquaintances , those you REALLY talked and shared hundreds of kilometres with ; deep hot happy days with ; was there – this group would be 48 dear friends , happy pelegrinõs – MINIMUM
……. You know who you are .
….. Love you all X