It is one month ago today September 18, I drove to the airport to catch a plane to begin this journey. Since leaving Lisbon, I have not been in a vehicle, only walking on my two feet. Today, I walk my final miles to Finisterra, "the end of the earth".
It is dark and windy when I get up. My albergue is on the edge of town, so I head out without breakfast walking along the coast road, till the markers indicate cutting up and over the inland hills. I have a decent walk today, somewhere in the region of 20 miles or so, not exactly sure. It ends up being just over 22. Kirsten had given me a small bag of nuts she had carried and never eaten when she left yesterday.
I soon end up on wonderful tracks with blue skies above and warm weather. But no cafes anywhere for breakfast. I am glad for the nuts as the morning wears on and my bottles of water.
I cross an old bridge, and below me is how they used to cross the river, now submerged. The tracks are narrow, but I am walking on a track that has recently been newly repaired with tar macadam. I realize after quite a long way, this is so a house can be renovated in the middle of nowhere. I wonder what the road/track cost as I walk on.
The views are wonderful, here I can see the sea in the direction in which I am walking, over there is Finisterra. Not sure how long it will take to get there, but I am hungry, and feeling weak without my coffee and pastries.
This part of the trail has duelling signs between Muxia and Finisterra. One signs points to Muxia with an arrow, the other to Fisterra as it is called in the local dialect. Usually they are not as close together as they are here.
The views of the coast are very close at times, here are two corn cribs I saw many of these today along the route. I mentuioned that I got my compostella for walking to Muxia yesterday, there is another one I can obtain for walking this route between Muxia and Finisterra. But, I have to obtain a stamp at a small village in the bottom of a valley at a church. I have been told by several people this is the only spot on the route today to get the stamp and it is not obvious where it is. I walk down into the village and there are signs for cafes, but they are an additional distance walking off the trail and as hungry as I am, I pass them by. I find the church, but cannot find the stamp, until I ask someone, who shows me a small garden across from the church where the stamp sits on a table under a tree. I mark my pilgrim passport and walk on, wondering where if anywhere I can find something to eat. I am feeling weak and the nuts are almost finished. My knees are hurting big time today, and I generally feel weak, not sure if it is just pschological as this is my last walking today, but I have no choice but to push on.
A coupleof people mentioned this "hippie" place alongside the trail. Some said they walked past, but others mentioned they had stopped. As I approach there is some rock music playing and another pilgrim going in the direction of Muxia passes me as I climb the steps. I am greeted by two people. A young woman, and an older man, both French speakers. The young woman, from the French islands in the Carribean offers me coffee and food, toast and tomatoes, and a little cheese. It is wonderful and I am very grateful for the hospitality and leave a donation in a jar they have by the door. Whilst I am here, the man, Marcel is walking slowly along the back wall which is covered with CD's of all different music. He plucks one from the racks and will play just one track. Each is different, but somehow it also feeds me, and strengthens me, lifting my mood and my energy. I only realize this as I get up to leave and think about it for the afternoon. As I am about to leave he puts on a Frank Sinatra track I recoognize from my childhood, my Mum was always playing Frank Sinatra and I walk away with a new burst of energy for the final miles and a sense of not judging anyone or anything by what it looks like.
I sense I am almost there, but there never appears, always there is another turn in the track, or another hill to climb. It was 1.15 when I left the "hippies", I do not know how much further I have to go, but I am tired and my legs hurt and I hope it is not much further.
Finisterra is quite big and it takes a long time to walk down, and down into the town. I see plenty of hotels, but cannot find the municipal albergue. Eventually after asking directions for the umpteenth time I find it, only to find it is full. However, I also have to get my compostella which I do before I head out into town to find another place to stay.
I had been given a flyer by a man when I was looking for the municipal albergue and I decide to stay there. It is not that nice, but it will do for one night, and I am tired and still need to walk out to the lighthouse on the cape to reach the end of my journey.
After dumping my bag at the Albergue, I stop at a cafe and have coffee and cake to refuel my energy levels. I head out to the cape, realizing it is quite a way and I have at least another half hour to forty five minutes of walking ahead of me.
It is past five o'clock when I get out here, it is a delight to walk without a pack as tired as I am today. Here I am by the 0.0 Km marker, both Finisterra and Muxia have these as they are both end points, and if you remember in Santiago de Compostella I showed a mile marker with two distances on it to the two towns what seems a week ago.
The place is packed with tourists, many who have taken a bus tour here. As do some pilgrims from Santiago who are short on time. There is a lighthouse and a restaurant and small hotel which is boooked months and even years ahead.
I find it very emotional to be here. Before I left a friend had given me a small piece of costume jewlery of a bug, to represent all the things that bug me in life.
There is a tradition on the Camino Frances of carrying a stone with you and leaving that on the top of a mountain to leave behind your problems. I had not felt till now that it was right to leave this bug anywhere. Traditionally, pilgrims came here, and burn there clothes, or an article of clothing, but there are signs everywhere saying not to do that. I place my bug on a light fixture, which several other people have left items on.
I sit on the end of the cape, below the lighthouse, trying to record a video as I have done throughout my journey. But I cannot record anything as I am in tears and it takes several attempts before I can catch something without me breaking down. Unbelievably I have a signal and can call home. But the same thing happens, I can hardly speak. I realize I am going to have re-enter life in a few days. This lifestyle of getting up, walking, eating, finding somewhere to sleep, washing your clothes and then repeating on a daily basis has been extremely liberating. I feel my life has shifted and I do not really know how to explain what I have been through.
I sit here thinking about the hike, the people, the places and my thoughts along "the way". I did it, I completed my journey and tomorrow I start my trip home, a bus back to Santiago, then the next day a bus to Lisbon, and then a day to enjoy Lisbon and then a flight home. I wonder what it will feel like to travel on a bus after a month of just walking.
I bump into the two Dutch guys, David and Yuri and we all hug, they can tell I am emotional and they and some Dutch women they met all give me big long hugs. I need it, but I don't know why right then.
On my way back to town I pass this statue of a pilgrim. I do not realize that the journey I have completed is just the beginning of a long journey I will be taking in the coming year. And there will be times when I need to dress for the journey as the statue is in the photo protected from the elements.
Tonight, after completing 22.5 miles, I treat myself to a good dinner of octopus and shrimp with crusty bread.
These last few days have been very emotional, and I am tired and looking forward to going home and sleeping in my own bed in a clean house with a decent shower. I have walked 862 Kms in total so far, that is 532 miles.
Thank you for joining me on this journey, I never thought I wouldn't finish, but I have never walked so far on one journey in my life. It pales slightly as I saw yesterday a young man from Kiel in Germany had walked to Santiago de Compostella covering over 4,000 Kms. But, I realize, we are all on a journey, and every day we have the opportunity to see those around us, to be open, and to listen to others and enjoy the sights and nature in front of us. I hope you take the opportunity to do that today. It is worth it!