I was already working out the wording of how I would write up this blog post without stressing Mum out too much.
“Tonight was the first night I slept outdoors…”
Nope, I’m sure she still would have freaked (as would Karen and a few others, I’m sure). I wasn’t too keen on the idea myself.
On the other side of Santiago, with the large majority of all pere/tourigrinos having finished their walks now, the streets are eerily quiet. Hairs prickling on the back of your neck eerily quiet. And that’s in the early afternoon – let alone the thought of a night spent out under a tree or in a doorway somewhere by myself. The dark, unfriendly skies probably didn’t help either.
I’m all for camping solo, but it just felt a teensy bit unsafe and unwise tonight.
I’m sure I would have made it through – always do – but I’m thanking the Lord I didn’t have to.
And I’m thanking Tomomi. That beautiful Japanese girl is my own Camino angel.
My feet dragged this morning. All of me dragged. I didn’t want to walk; I have no real motivation to keep going now that I’ve reached Santiago. And most of my Camino family has dispersed back to their corners of the world – which does nothing to help my lack of drive.
I slept in (and loved it), I had as much as my stomach would allow at the buffet, I painfully packed my bag again and eventually left Santiago after 1PM.
Side note: while I was waiting for the cheese to melt on my toast at brekky, three familiar faces walked in. Mary! Eileen! Sean!
Domenico and I had the honour and delight of encouraging this mother, daughter and son trio on their first day out of Sarria. I was so proud to see they had made it to Santiago, and absolutely stoked that I got to see them here!
Talking with them about their walk made this breakfast one of my favourites and will be one I remember. Sean had wanted to send me this photo of his mum and sister with Dom and I after we first met – still a bit gobsmacked that we bumped into each other over Coco Pops and I was able to get it! What a blessing this family is!
I really didn’t want to walk on. I knew that walking after Santiago would be a totally different vibe, and I didn’t want to step out into it.
But I did. I said I would, and I can’t back down.
Seriously, why do I inflict this upon myself?
Good question, Naomi.
I reached Negreira after 21ish kilometers. I had planned on 33kms, but seeing as I left at 1PM, let’s be honest, there was no real chance of that actually happening. Plus I was pretty worn out. Hanging out in Santiago yesterday kinda ruined me – my body had lapped up the rest and resented having to start up again.
I got here, and didn’t like the feel of the first albergue on the edge of town, so kept walking to the next one.
I saw a paper sign sticky-taped to a telegraph pole informing pilgrims it was COMPLETO (full!), but I didn’t believe it, and trudged down anyway. The sign wasn’t lying: this albergue was completo.
I went to the next one. It was full too.
I was tired, so walked into a nicer hotel, willing to pay more. They had one double room left for 35€. I wasn’t willing to pay that much more.
Pretty sure there were six or seven places I went into – albergues, pensións, hostels, hotels – and as I made my way through town, I kept seeing the same word: COMPLETO.
I was at peace knowing God would have a place for me to sleep somewhere… I was just hoping that somewhere didn’t mean off the side of the road or on a park bench.
The sky got darker.
And as my phone ticked past 6:30PM my hopes started dwindling and my mind began running through different possibilities and options.
Turning back was something I have not yet done, and resolute enough that it was something I still would not do.
I reached the end of town and kept going. The next town was 12km away – I could make that in around two hours if I pushed it – hopefully there would be a bed somewhere. I just wasn’t too keen on walking after sunset. Or in the rain. Like I said, the afternoon quiet was bad enough.
But twenty minutes down the road I saw a new sign: ALBERGUE PEREGRINOS ➡️.
Thank you Lord!
As I walked in, most eyes diverted from mine and others looked at me concernedly. Three beautiful Polish girls – Magda, Vicky and Anja – came up to me and kindly explained this albergue had filled up hours ago, and the hospitalero had gone home.
Still about 10km to go.
But there had been a lot of people already come through and forced to continue. So beds further on? Doubt it.
I used the bathroom, took my boots off to wiggle my toes, bought a very questionable vending machine coffee, and sat down to eat a sandwich I had wrapped up in napkins from this morning’s buffet. #pilgrimlife
No point in rushing. God’ll just have to look after me. This was the moment I started thinking up that opening sentence for a blog post about curling up in a doorway.
I sent an emergency text to two of the others who I knew were walking behind me and also in need of beds: “If you find a bed, take it – have basically walked the whole town and have to keep going on this end; not turning back now 😞”
The Polish ladies struck up conversation and invited me to share some of their freshly made crepes before walking on. I agreed to, and joined them. What a pleasure! They helped drown out the anxiety that was trying to beat its way into my heart and were a breath of fresh air. I took my time at the table with them.
And then Tomomi replied: “I found beds at Albergue LUA, centre of town“.
The ONE place I hadn’t asked.
She saved me one. Camino Angel, see?
I’m at Albergue LUA right now, sprawled across a couch – showered, fed (with more leftovers in napkins), wifi gloriously fast, Jess also here and writing these last sentences before I climb into bed to close these sleepy eyes.
Someone has written on the wall, HAKUNA MATATA. It means ‘no worries’ – not ‘no problem’, but same same I guess.
Hakuna matata indeed.