My Camino friend Viv bought herself a beautiful silver ring to commemorate her Camino journey. It’s lovely and has all the Camino symbols around it: shell, arrow, even an umbrella for those rainy days. It was so beautiful that I decided to get one also.
When I looked I picked one out with all the symbols. However on the other side of the ring is the word Ultreia.
I didnt notice this word until after I had picked it out. I asked the shop owner what it meant. He didn’t speak any English but he gestured a lot and said “Camino” several times so I figured it was some variation on “Buen Camino”. Ok, I was more interested in the Camino symbols so I thought I’ll just wear the symbols side up.
When I got to my room that night I sent my friend a picture. I wasn’t paying attention so “Ultreia” was prominent. She texted back and asked what it means. I did a little research and found out that it another greeting on the Camino. It’s meaning is “beyond”. The real sense is to encourage a pilgrim to go “beyond” the physical act of walking the Camino.
If you click on the word “Ultreia” it will take you to a link with a better explanation than I can give.
But getting back to the point at hand (or finger I guess), I like it. Ultreia. Go beyond just walking Michelle. Go beyond.
Only two more days of walking. Tomorrow I will reach Santiago late in the day. I don’t know how I will feel.
It seems that the closer Santiago gets (or rather the closer I get to Santiago) reality crowds out the imaginings and leaves me with…something undefinable.
I look around the breakfast room this morning. It’s filled with other pilgrims. Some of them are chatting happily and others are silently contemplating their breakfasts.
I started this journey on September 1st and suddenly Santiago is in sight. I have to say “Santiago”. I can’t say the end or the goal or anything that implies that this journey is finite. I think Santiago is just a pause along the way.
Today I’m going to stand on my soapbox and make a statement about energy consumption.
I just got done doing some laundry. In my broken Spanish and the manager’s broken English I managed to find out where the hotel washer and dryer are. The washer is next door at the albergue (hostal) and the dryer is the rack set up on the hotel veranda where guests can sit in the sun and enjoy a late afternoon drink. Apparently they don’t mind sipping a glass of vino tinto while my bloomers flap in the breeze.
Everyone has a clothesline in their yard. The few apartments we’ve stayed in have washing machines but not dryers. They did each have a rack to set on a balcony or inside to dry clothes.
Couldn’t we cut back a little on energy consumption and hang our clothes in the sunshine? Think of the added benefit of how good clothes smell when they’ve been dried outside. You can even exercise while hanging laundry. Put some wrist weights on while you hang your wash.
Now that we’ve taken on the laundry we can start working on motion detector lighting in hallways and bathrooms.
Yesterday we walked to Palas de Rei on the Camino but were unable to get accommodations so we taxied off the Camino to a b&b with the intention of taxiing back in the morning to pick up where we left off.
As it happened the b&b was located right on the Camino Primitivo. It is said that in the 800s when the bones of St. James were discovered, Alfonso II (or Alfonso III, or the Bishop of Cluny, no one is sure who) went to Santiago to pay homage and the Primitivo is the route he took.
The Camino Frances has been really crowded with lots of new people arriving at Sarria and walking just the last 100 km. The quiet of the path is suddenly disrupted with excited new pilgrims. So walking the Primitivo today has been a dramatic change.
It has been so quiet. As we stepped into the primitivo a man passed us by
and with our presence the the Camino the population just increased 300%!
The Primitivo is very diverse. Within 2 kilometers you can walk through a pine forest, pastures, an orchard, a town, and an area that resembles the Blair Witch Project 😮. Spain is truly a beautiful country.
And one more thing…
Melide is known for its octopus so we went to one of the top two restaurants for lunch. Octopus is really delicious 🐙. It’s sautéed with a little hot paprika and drizzled in olive oil. Yummy!
When you spend an evening with friends that you’ve known for a long time your conversation is comfortable and dwells on the every day bits and pieces of lives: your children, your grandchildren, shopping, a new recipe, what’s going on at work and then sometimes just to spice it up a little bit you’ll hit on the topic of politics just to see how much you can rile up your friends. Because you know they’ll still be your friends at the end of the evening. But when you’re on the Camino you find yourself in situations with people you’ve never met before in your life.
Last night we had dinner with three complete strangers. This is a different kind of conversation. You are, to be honest, unlikely to see each other ever again and yet you find that you want to know each other on a deeper level. So you gloss through the mundane and settle quickly into bigger subjects.
We sat down to what is possibly one of the best meals of the camino at a bed & breakfast that exuded comfort and hospitality. Two older couples and one young woman (at different tables) shared our spiritual hopes for the Camino and experiences we have had along the way. A spiritual director would be asking the question, “Where is God in all this?” It was truly a spirit filled meal.
The chicken in a white wine sauce with rice was to die for. And my sardines on toast were delicious.
Once again the air is filled with the sound of foreign voices. They’re excited, they want to talk. Sometimes they ask where I’ve started. When I say St. Jean I hear a little sucking in of the breath and then a low “Wow, you’re doing the whole thing.”
And I say to myself, “I have been doing this for quite a while.” My rhythm is that of the Camino.
Tonight I am in Sarria. This is the beginning of the last stage of the Camino. In order to receive a Compostela a Pilgrim must declare at the Santiago Pilgrim’s office three things…
1. The Pilgrim walked the last 100 km.
2. The Pilgrim carried all of his/her belongings.
3. The Pilgrim is walking the Camino for spiritual reasons.
I never wanted to make this walk about the Compostela and yet it is looming large in my mind. Even though I’ve taken three days off of the Camino and taken a cab at the end of two other days I have walked nearly all on the Camino.
Now is the final push into Santiago. I feel some of the same fear I felt leaving St. Jean Pied de Port. But there’s no time to dwell on fear. The first steps have been taken. All I need to do is continue on.
I am back on track for a short 9 mile day to Triacastela. We are really and truly in Galicia the province where Santiago is located.
Apparently Galicia is the land of one million cows and here are just a few.
It has been a rainy, misty day. I walked mostly alone. Time to think about the last stage of the Camino. On the one hand I am anxious to return to my bed and my own cooking. On the other hand what will I do each day when I don’t have to walk. What parts of the Camino will come with me and what will I leave behind?
It’s late and I’m tired despite it being a shorter day.
Today’s post will be very short. Once again I had to take a day off for my ankle. In addition it was a steep climb to the next hotel and by the time I arrived the altitude was really effecting my head. So I laid my pack on the floor, crawled into bed and slept. Tomorrow is a shorter walk and hopefully I’ll be back to 100%.
Thank you for all your prayers and support.
BTW I’ve been spelling Buon Camino wrong. It’s BUEN CAMINO!
We are only 2-3 days away from Sarria which is the 100 kilometer mark from Santiago. The Camino seems more crowded but it’s not the same people we have been traveling with. The Australians, New Zealanders, Germans, Dutch, Norwegians, and French have gotten either ahead or behind us.
This fresh crop of pilgrims are newer to the Camino. We’ve seen the buses stop at the hotels and watched them debark. They’re cleaner and less worn looking. They smile brightly, wave heartily, and call out “Buon Camino” in a cheery voice.
Some of these pilgrims are rejoining the Camino where they left off last year. After all not everyone has six weeks to do this. Some of them don’t have the time but want to reach Santiago so they start in Leon or Astorga or even Sarria. And some are part of a tour trying to capture the Camino experience. They have smaller daypacks and the tour company provides them a gourmet lunch to have along the way. The sag wagon is available for pilgrims who get tired along the way. I’m not judging them. This is the way I bicycled through Tuscany several years ago.
I biked a few hours to the first test stop and then rode the sag wagon in to lunch and awaited the rest of the riders while drinking an aperol spritz and writing postcards.
It was the way I wanted to do the ride just like everyone does the Camino in his or her own fashion.