Day 45: Am I allowed to be myself? – Finisterre

At some point for some pilgrims, the Camino becomes less about the physical path and more about an inner journey of personal significance. Although the specific details differ for each person, this interior Camino involves coming face-to-face with one’s own Achilles heel and an attempt to resolve the issues underneath it.

That thing you’ve been hiding or avoiding most of your life? There’s enough space on the Camino for that to show up and even heal – if you allow it.

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Day 44 (part 3) Sunsets and “Dolphins” – Completing the rituals of Finisterre

On a narrow, dusty path, I followed the woman who was my heart’s undoing. Meg and I had walked side-by-side since Santiago and we were finally reaching the very end together. Wispy clouds raced above us as we proceeded to the 0.0km sign, past the lighthouse, and to the rocky point of Cape Finisterre. We could walk no further.

Located on the Atlantic in northwest Spain, Finisterre means “end of the world.” Many mark the journey’s end with time-honored traditions full of symbolism. One is burning a piece of clothing in a pit reserved for that purpose. Another is watching the sun set. The very brave take a dip in the frigid water. All are rituals symbolic of closure, purification, and renewal.

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Day 44: Diving into the water and the luminous shell – Finisterre (part 2)

Long before I left Oregon to walk across Spain, even before I had purchased airfare, I had decided I would sing a song called Farthest Shore when at last I stood at end of the world – Finisterre – the literal (or at least historical) western-most beach in Europe.

I’ve referenced David Wilcox’s music on my blog before, but if you haven’t listened to this song, consider it my Camino anthem. For me it carries a potent message about what’s essential in life and what can be safely (if sometimes painfully) left behind.

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Day 43 & 44: Celebration – Playa de Estorde to Finisterre

My mystery illness must have been catching up with me. That’s the only thing that could explain the immense fatigue that had come over me, slowing my steps and making my breath remarkably labored. My whole body felt bone tired and we hadn’t even arrived at Finisterre yet.

My body’s issues aide, the beauty of this area continued to stun me with its craggy coastline and white sand beaches that dissolved into a gentle surf of aqua, turquoise, teal, and cobalt. Among the native pines, coconut palms had been planted giving the landscape a carefree, Mediterranean air.

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Day 43: Learning gratitude… again – Logoso to Playa de Estorde

The two hospitaleras seemed stand-offish at breakfast as they hustled around making cafés con leche, warming up thick wedges of tortilla, and wiping their hands on their stiff, white aprons. But as we sat at the tiny counter, Meg used her admirable Spanish to engage them.

As they set coffees before us, Meg inquired how to say thank you in Galego, the language of the land. Suddenly, these industrious, reserved women became animated.

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Day 42: Going with the Galician flow (Part Two)

On our way out of the silent village, I stopped at a farmacia to stock up. Thanks to a steady supply of cough suppressant, fever-reducer, throat lozenges, and sheer willpower, I was holding the mystery illness at bay.

As I mentioned in my previous post, Meg and I had spent most of the day either actually or nearly lost. Having eaten only a few morsels since breakfast, we were both feeling woozy. The situation wan’t dire, but definitely disorienting.

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Day 42 – Going with the Galecian flow (Part 1) – Santa Mariña to Logoso

Just when things couldn’t get more fun or weird. We got off the Camino’s beaten path – okay, lost – first on purpose and later by accident. As a result, we experienced all kinds of uniquely Galician surprises.

To begin with, walking from Santiago to Finisterre feels different from the Camino to Santiago. Late starts are normal. Crowds are rare. Only a small fraction of pilgrims walk it. It felt, at times, like we were walking alone.

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Day 41: Rain and mayonesa, laughter and confessions – Negreira to Santa Mariña

Just to recap: At this point in the journey, I was walking to Finisterre, managing an unidentified illness that included a fever, and feeling powerfully attracted to my walking partner, Meg, despite having a spouse at home.

Enter rain, stage left.

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Day 40: Seeking the Farthest Shore – Santiago to Negreira

My body felt achy. I noticed it as soon as I woke up. As I pulled my green hiking shirt over my head, the fabric slipping over the skin on my back caused mild pain, which usually happens when I’m running a fever. My cheeks were a little flushed and warm. In the days previous, I’d had hints that something was amiss. Over dinner the previous night, I was barely hungry and noticed a cough-inducing tickle in my chest and a mild sore throat. Anyone could connect the dots.

But I couldn’t imagine not walking with Meg. I wouldn’t dream of missing it.

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Day 39 – Sleepless in Santiago

If the Camino is replete with unexpected angels who help you, guide you, inspire you, then Meg was an archangel.

This is a long post. I hope you’ll hang in there with me.

On the day after I arrived in Santiago, everyone was leaving to see Finisterra by bus except me. After a leisurely breakfast of coffee and toast with the guys in the albergue‘s modern kitchen, they vanished for the bus station to return later. After 38 days of walking, I had earned a day of rest, but had no plans.

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