Via de la Plata – Day 33: LAST DAY, Ponte Ulla to Santiago de Compostela

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22 kilometers, 3 hours and 30 minutes. Through Outeiro, A Susana, O Pinero da Igrexe, and suburban countryside entering Santiago.

Though I greatly enjoyed those many days walking with my Camino family, I also enjoyed walking that last day by myself, reflecting on the previous month on the trail, looking back on what it had meant to me, what I’d learned. And thinking about how to sum it all up.

Considering a conversation with an acquaintance of mine in a tent in a snowy mountain camp some years back, I decided to focus on three salient points of my current journey. Just for conversation that night, she asked me about the book I was reading and to identify three key points in my reading so far. As I walked those last kilometers into Santiago, I looked back at my recent Camino in much that same way.

My Personal Goal: I am driven by accomplishment. I use that drive to get me out there and to challenge myself, to push past not only perceived physical limits but—more important to me—to push beyond my natural shyness. Close friends don’t see that now—that’s the point. But the thing I learned in this regard comes from someone I met on that Camino. He said in an email following some previous discussions we’d had that the great Joseph Campbell wrote, “The privilege of a lifetime is being who you are.” That advice could not have come at a better time, Mike. Thank you for that.

The People I Met: I am grateful to have met many wonderful people on Camino, especially the members of our sagrada familia (our little “holy family”) and extensions of that group, Mike and Cici, Juan and Mercedi, many other travellers, and the different hospitaleros/hospitaleras (hostel hosts), such as Marite, Annalena, José Almeida, Luiz, and others. Very few people I met on Camino did I not get to know at least a little something about. Sure, we had a common purpose, which made it easy to strike up conversation, but even in very small contact, there was a bond created. Grateful for that, I am.

The Camino Itself: I was awestruck by the beauty of the trail, the grand views, and the amazing history of it all. I loved the Roman history, the vast farmlands and vineyards, the oak and cork forests with wild boar, and the beautiful cities of Cáceres, Salamanca, and Zamora. But all that led up to the grand finale of Galicia. Whether you walk the Camino Francés, the Via de la Plata, or one of the many other Caminos, when you arrive in Galicia, it is completely different. Green and more green, with beautiful rolling hills, native and cultivated forests, wonderful homes, and especially the culture—so very different. A different history, a different environment, a different outcome.

For slideshow, click on imagine.

I stayed that night and one other night at the Hospedería San Martín Pinario, next to the cathedral. Fantastic place to stay and to meet other pilgrims that had just finished their respective Caminos. Thank you, Laurie, for suggesting I stay there.

I’ll cut this here, quite sure I’ll write more about specific subjects in the future. If you stayed with me for this journey, God bless, you are a better man than I, Gunga Din (Thanks, Eric del Camino).

Costs: €23 for a room and the breakfast buffet at hospedería (another type of guest house) in Santiago and €30 for wine and tapas and later a mixed salad, as I searched out a decent Wi-Fi connection.

For slideshow, click on imagine.