Sometimes I underestimate how hard something may be … it’s my nature and probably why I can take huge leaps of faith and am prone to rather BIG adventures. Lucky for me the luck of the Irish tends to be on my side! And today my luck literally came from meeting three Irish walkers from County Kilkenny.
An early start out of Muxia at 7am and the fiesta was still in full swing. Not kidding. The streets were full of people dancing and partying. They’d been there since the night before and it didn’t look like it was ending anytime soon. Oh the energy of young people. Me? I was happy to get out beyond the gaiety and into the bush under the moonlight.
As I mentioned I wasn’t super prepared given that I thought it would be a case of (simply) following the arrows backwards. Of course that sounds easy in theory except when there is a junction! And there were many. Thankfully, I had my friend Breda who I’d met the night before. She had a guide book that described the return trip and a head torch. We had to look for footprints, banana peels, toilet paper and any signs of the pilgrim path.
It was slow going as we had to take our time, not discounting any path that may be ‘the way’ and stop at each way marker. We knew we were on track when we came across this landmark, one of the longest hórreos in Galicia. A hórreo is the Galician style granary and the symbol of the Galician landscape. Every farm has one and often urban dwellings as well. They are spectacularly traditional and beautiful.
As the day got lighter we found a few more Irish hikers on the return walk to Santiago! Patrick and Catherine. They had taken three hours to find the trail out of Muxia. I think they nearly divorced in the process ;) joking. But getting lost hiking or not finding the trail is probably like navigating a car for your spouse … a recipe for niggling at each other. I really enjoyed walking with this lot and because the craic was so good we all found ourselves stopping to share breakfast together. Mine as always looked the same. Bacon and eggs. Camino routines, we all have our own.
On we walked, through the beautiful varied countryside, passing local camino characters along this ancient trail and past the 17th century church Iglesia de Santa Baia in Dumbria. Along the way we walked on from our new friends the Irish couple. They stopped for their next food break. Breda walks a bit like me, more walking less stopping. We all have different styles … it’s important to know yours, perhaps take the time to find yours but always to be walking yours (however that looks at any particular time on your camino).
We made it to Hospital. The 30km mark today and a bloody AWESOME milestone. Remember last time I was here, a few days ago? It was in the dark … I had to decide if I’d follow the guy with the head torch and go right or go left on my own. I went left. Today I returned via the trail the right (the road less travelled, cliche but true of this route). It’s also the point on the trail that someone started spray painting return arrows to Santiago. Life was about to get a whole lot easer. Well navigation wise! We still had 16kms to do today. First some chocolate and a cold drink to celebrate.
On we walked! Or perhaps plodded is a better word. The day was going to be a long one. We’d started at 7am and it was looking like a 7pm arrival in Santa Marina (SM) the village we were aiming for. It would take us just over the half way into Santiago. At about 5.30pm we stopped for another cold drink. The sun was harsh today (I drank at least five liters of water), the hottest so far and my feet were beginning to feel each step. Choice time. Do we stop here and put our feet up or make our way over the next hill towards SM?
We walked on. One of the great camino’isms for me was not to put off to tomorrow what I can do today. Especially if I’m already in flow and not harried, step by step, keep walking forward. I was hot, sweaty and yes my feet were sore but I knew I had the last 6kms in me to make it to SM. And if I’m honest I love to hike and I wanted the challenge. If I stuck with the flow I’d wake up tomorrow without a big hill to climb first up. Remember this is not a ‘normal’ camino. I’d made it to Finisterre and Muxia thus completing my walk across Spain to the sea. These last two days were purely about physical and personal challenge … could I walk back to Santiago? In a dress for One Girl?
One of the greatest sights on the camino are the plastic chairs! Seriously. When it’s time for a break or that time to hang your backpack for a night … those chairs are home. Oh man I was overjoyed to see ‘Casa Pepa’ in Santa Marina. We arrived after 12 hours of walking and there were two bottom bunks free. WINNING. There was really only time to shower, drink a beer (or two), eat a pilgrim meal and marvel at the day. We made it! We didn’t get lost and we were over half way back to Santiago. The WiFi was non existent so I excused myself from writing this blog post ;) We can’t do it all friends … can’t mess with flow. That would be counter productive. Right sleep because Breda and I have planned a 6am start tomorrow to find our way into Santiago.
Buen Camino dear ones … catching up now and a snap from dinner that I think shows my (big day) tired but happy eyes. Till tomorrow from Santiago (hopefully ;)),