** let me start off by saying that I am writing these diary posts from my cell . So please excuse the format, look, possible grammatical errors, and feel of this presentation for normally I would have a laptop but wanted to disconnect is much as possible while walking the Camino de Santiago

July 29, 2016: Sarria – Gonzar

Today started out stressful. I woke up at 4:30 a.m. to get back into my albergue but to no avail.  That is until one of the girls heard me yelling from the street and let me in finally!

From there we walked in the dark. It was the first time I actually needed my headlamp. Because we couldn’t see anything, the walk started out kind of boring.

Later, James and I met up with an Italian woman named Angy who talked with us a bit.  She was doing the Camino for religious reasons which was kind of refreshing to hear. She told me how at the age of 4 she received a personal blessing from Pope John Paul II and it changed her life.

Then we finally made it to the 100 kilometer marker. I didn’t know how to take this milestone. Most of the markers have been counting down and it’s kind of made me sad. There are two types of people that walk the Camino I guess, those that run to the finish line and those who love the race itself. I guess I’m the latter.

From here, we finally made it to Gonzar which is a rundown village but our albergue was a fun community set up. Everyone was hanging out at the little bar relieving the stress of their walk with friendship, laughter, and wine.

July 30, 2016: Gonzar – Melide

We started out at the butt crack of dawn and left in a cold heavy fog and darkness again. Although we walked through the darkness trying not to get lost, it was kind of fun.

There wasn’t much to see in my opinion accept other newer pilgrims entering the Camino. I keep thinking that if I had done just the minimum Sarria to Santiago which often Americans do, I would never want to come back because it’s kind of boring.

Finally we made it to Melide where we ate Pulpo and hung out with even more Irish people.  Melide is a cool small town what was hopping on the Saturday night as we came across several groups of Bachelor parties running around the streets.

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July 31, 2016: Melide – Salcedo

Today was another long rough day. I can tell it’s hard for everyone due to the fact that our bodies have been worked for 31 days straight, this last section is boring compared to the previous weeks, or perhaps we’re all just realizing that the end is near and it’s tiring us down.

We walked through many little Villages that offered some minor views. One of the nerdy highlights for me where these many shelters called Hórreos.   Essentially they are like little sheds raised up about 4 feet off the ground in people’s yards.  Historically they are used for storing corn in order to keep it dry and away from rodents. However I was told that sometimes pilgrims would sneak into them to sleep at night when they couldn’t find a place to stay. To me they’re very cool looking as they look like Cemetery tombs. Though they don’t seem to be of use anymore, they offer a unique look into the traditions of the farmers of Galicia.

Finally we made it into the small town of Salcedo.  Tonight will be our last family dinner before heading into San Diego tomorrow. The thought of this ending kind of saddens me.

August 1, 2016: Salcedo – Santiago

It was a cold slow-moving morning. I have never liked when a vacation, adventure, or anything fun comes to an end and this was no exception.

So we trudged from town to town in the cold stopping from time to time to eat, rest, or just because.  

One of the highlights is near the end called Monte De Gozo. It’s a monument to St. John Paul II and St. Francis of Assisi that overlooks the city of Santiago.

From there we made our descent into the city. We walked through the suburbs following James which is good since the markings were few and he had been there twice before.

Finally we entered Old Town Santiago. The old town is classic which I love. We would wander through the small streets amid the big crowds making our way to the cathedral. Finally we walked through the city arches into the main plaza before the cathedral. It was weird as I looked around at the random pockets of people and the million emotions that were flooding the streets. Some hugged their loved ones, others cheered, a few cried, and all while I sat in silence just observing.

From here we found our pensione and cleaned up before returning to the square to make our way to the pilgrims office to receive a certificate of completion.

From that point, James and I ran into previous characters from The Walk including Athena, Emily, Marie, Denis, Brian, and many others. It was great to see them all again and in such a happy moods.

That evening, James, Brian, Denis, and I celebrated with lots of beer and laughter as we all relaxed… Damn Irish!!

August 2, 2016: Santiago de Compostela

This morning was kind of a dream. I woke up around 8 a.m. and just kind of laid in bed. It’s kind of weird not getting up and walking. Around 10:30, I packed and went to the cathedral. It’s kind of an old-looking Cathedral inside compared to the others we had visited but it was nice nonetheless. After walking around, I got in line to see the Sepulchre of St. James. You enter from behind the Altar and climb first up to the big statue where I touched it while others hugged it. Then you go down beneath the altar to see the tomb of St. James.  You enter into a small room where you look through iron bars at his tomb.  To be honest, it was kind of anti-climactic for me. I guess I will always remember the walk far more than the destination.

Then I went to the pilgrim mass at noon. We were all there. The mass was nice but the highlight was at the end when they swung the giant incense burner.  As everyone watched it all, I finally felt something…a second of soft happiness.

After mass, I ran back to my pensione to grab my gear. It was time for me to leave. I said goodbye to Susanne and Ayeisha first and then James and Saoirse.  They all meant a lot to me on this walk and it was hard to say goodbye as I hug them. Perhaps I will be lucky enough to meet them again in life but for now, they will all be great characters in my life story.

Now it is time to walk the Camino Finisterre & Muxia.

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  1. I enjoyed reading your Camino series. It brought back memories, but was also different because you were walking a different season than we were .

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