Lessons in life
Day 31 Finisterre – Muxia 28.5km THE END of my Camino TOTAL 914.5km
I woke at 6:30am and left alone. I knew Jess was heading back home to Santiago today and I knew that if I wanted to get the bus back to Santiago I needed to get to Muxia by 2pm. So off I went. I must say that my head hurt as I’d drunk a little too much wine the night before and didn’t get enough sleep.
It was so dark at 7am. I was the most scared I had been the entire trip. There was no one in sight. I passed San Martino De Duio. It was very scary walking past a grave yard in the pitch dark. Soon after I freaked out when I saw a man in the bush cropping corn. What the? Such an odd time. It scared the crap out of me. I sent a text message to home just so someone knew that I was alone and so that they had somewhere to start searching if something did happen to me! Crazy really… Totally freaking myself out for no reason.
It didn’t help that the arrows were hard to find too. They were faded and almost impossible to see in the dark. I got lost at one point and wasted a good 30 minutes going back and forth searching for an arrow. I finally found one. I had my walking stick ready to use for defense if needed and I kept telling myself to breathe, that it was okay, to let go of the fear and trust that I was safe.
Needless to say, I felt relieved when the sun started to come up. In fact, I felt AMAZING. I loved being alone with no one in sight, the sun beaming on my face with the ocean in view. It was so pretty looking back towards Finisterre. Part of me was sad that I was missing the sunrise there but I knew Muxia was calling me.
As I walked along there were a few different arrows and I took a wrong turn. I went through Barbullas by mistake. Grrrr. I nearly cried when I realised I had stuffed up. I trusted though that people would show up. I continued walking until I came to a street with houses. I approached a couple of men who were working on trackers. “Muxia?” I asked and they kindly pointed me in the right direction. I’d easily done an additional 5km. I felt frustrated and alone and stupid for making the wrong turn. I quickly pulled myself on these thoughts and trusted that I was meant to go that way. Finally I saw my first pilgrim for the day walking in the opposite direction. We greeted each other and exchanged positive vibes as we both continued on our way. I was surprised that I hadn’t seen Dave as I knew he too was walking to Muxia. The fact that I hadn’t run into anyone made me think that I must have been the first to set off today.
Later I walked through a little town. I only had the 700ml water bottle and I was feeling pretty thirsty. A beautiful old man appeared and started talking to me in Spanish. I replied in English but unfortunately he could not understand me. I said, “Gracias” and he gave me a fresh apple. It was like gold to me. I felt frustrated and disappointed that I couldn’t speak the language and talk with him. He seemed like such a cute, old man.
As I got closer and closer to Muxia I realised that I’d still have enough time to make the bus if I wanted to. Then when I saw Muxia I cried. Not just a little tear… I cried my eyes out! I was so overwhelmed with joy, it was so beautiful. I felt so happy. I couldn’t believe that I had walked 914.5km!! WOW! Even though I had met many people along the way, I loved that I had been able to walk solo today and arrive at my destination on my own. I felt at peace, so much more relaxed than when I had started the Camino. I didn’t care what was happening next, I just felt so content in the moment.
Muxia is a coastal district in la Coruna and it is the most westerly point of mainland Europe. It was such a beautiful place that I decided to stay the night. I’d only just made it there by 2pm and I really didn’t feel like rushing off back on the bus. I chose to stay in the albergue Bella Muxia Hostel for the night. The owner of the hostel was lovely. After I settled in, I searched for a swimming beach and enjoyed a swim, not caring that the water was cold. I wrote in the sand and felt what I needed to feel. The swim made me feel WOW, so alive, so excited.
Later, as I made my way back to the hostel, I met an Aussie woman Simone whom I chatted to briefly. She shared the history of Muxia, telling me of the feminine energy that was here and how people from all over the world come to visit the fertility rock. I was amazed that I could feel the energy.
I went and handed in my passport to receive my certificate, now very excited to have one for Santiago, Finisterre & Muxia.
I decided to check out the fertility rock that Simone spoke of. It turned out to be one of the main tourist attractions of Muxia. It is an oddly shaped stone that sits on an outcrop of rock, sandwiched between an old church and the ocean. It is claimed that the stone has everything from healing powers (relieving kidney pain) to assisting in the conception of children, and all achieved by simply standing or crouching beneath it. The shape and position of the stone allow you to stand quite easily beneath it.
I sat on the rocks next to the church to watch the sunset. I couldn’t believe just how beautiful it was. I sat there by myself and wrote in my diary. As I watched the sun go down I could not keep the smile off my face. I felt so content in this moment, so grateful. I realised from my experiences with others along the way how positive, loving, caring, motivating and fun I am to be around. I realised how happy I was in myself and that I can love myself. I let go of my judgments of others and the need to control the uncontrollable. I made a promise to myself to work on being more flexible, to only use my bossiness in a positive way and to accept things as they are. The biggest goal I’d had on the Camino was to feel happy in the moment. I had the biggest shift sitting on the rocks, taking in every emotion and thought and feeling content in the moment.
I’d been searching for clarity on a number of things and I’d made a number of decisions about these. Firstly, although I had gotten a two year UK work visa before I left, with the possibility of staying on longer than the eight weeks, I decided to go back home. I wasn’t ready to let go of my business that I’d worked so hard for. I couldn’t imagine selling my home and getting my family to look after my dogs. I didn’t want to run away from people that had hurt me. I knew that I loved travelling but I also knew just how much I love the Sunshine Coast and doing what I do. I felt inspired to go home and make my business bigger and better than ever before.
On a personal level, I felt content on following my heart back home. Without expectations. I knew in my heart that I could easily get hurt or be let down again but I was okay with that. The risk didn’t scare me… I trusted that I knew what I needed to do for me, to be true to myself. The Camino had opened up my heart, my mind, my life. I was filled with immense gratitude for the experience.
As I was finishing up on the rocks, I saw a few other pilgrims arriving. I ran into Dave and gave him a big hug. I felt so happy to see him and he was just as emotional as me. As I left him to have his moment. I knew that I might never see him again and that was okay. I would be forever grateful for his friendship and his gift of kindness.
After going out to dinner with Simone, I headed back to the hostel. This would be my last night in an albergue. At least I wouldn’t have to worry about bed bugs for a while.
I was so excited about having finished the walk. I didn’t care about the next day would bring, or the one after. I had total trust that everything was exactly the way it was meant to be and that if anything changed it would be okay. I trusted in my journey. I trusted in my purpose.
I was ready to wake up and catch a bus, yep a BUS. It felt really weird not having to prepare for walking the next day. I had no idea where I was going to next or how I was getting there. And that was okay. All I knew was that I just had a return flight home on the 9th of November. I was excited about the unknown.
Awareness Gained Along The Way
The fear was a gift of staying present in the moment.
The solitude was a gift to process who I am.
I was reminded of how my lack of preparation in learning the language and caused me to miss opportunities to communicate with the locals.
The arrival into Muxia made my heart feel complete. It had known from day one that my Camino journey would end here.
The swim was like a re-birthing. I let go of anything that wasn’t serving me.
During my moment at the rocks, I felt like I’d been stripped down to total rawness. I had been at my most vulnerable self the entire trip. I had been challenged emotionally, physically and mentally. Although I felt completely exhausted and sore, and although I was alone, dressed in my daggiest clothes and with no makeup, I felt the most beautiful I had in my whole life.
I found the meaning of being content in the moment and that is the gift of happiness.
I loved my own company and had arrived at a place of self-love.
Day 30 Cee – Finisterre 16km
I slept in until 9am, feeling tired but happy and excited. We made a start by 10am. While Jess and I were off with the fairies with excitement, Dave was in his own world again.
The beautiful view of the ocean and rain made it the most amazing walk today. Knowing that it would be shortest day I had done on the entire Camino journey felt bazaar.
We got a little confused at the town before Finisterre. We thought we could walk along the water but ended up getting a little lost. We had to back track which was funny and frustrating at the same time. The anticipation was huge. We couldn’t find any public toliets yet we came across some exercise equipment which Jess had a go of.
When arrived in Finisterre, we took our shoes off and enjoyed a walk along the beach. The sand felt amazing on our feet. So many other pilgrims were doing the same thing. We had so much fun collecting shells. I couldn’t believe how many clam shells there were. I picked out some of the more beautiful ones to take home to my special people as gifts.
Finisterre is on the coast of Costa da Morte, also known as the “Coast of Death” because of the many shipwrecks along the shores. It is a magical location. It is an ancient fishing village and port with an amazing lighthouse at the tip of Cape Finisterre overlooking the Atlantic. It is a ritual to watch the sunset at the lighthouse and burn any clothes worn on the walk. It was raining but we still wanted to go up there.
Jess and I decided to live it up and get a hotel room with an ocean view. It was so cheap – only 20Euro. Compared to 10Euro, the cost of a typical albergue, it was a bargain!
We had the most fun expereince. As we were enjoying a wine at a bar, a charming Spanish man named Alex started talking to us. He was so interesting. He was an actor and showed us some of his work. After many laughs it was time to go watch the sunset. As we were running out of time, Alex drove us to the lighthouse in his convertable. It was so unexpected, so bazaar and fun. We couldn’t stop laughing.
At the top of the hill where the lighthouse stood, we took some time to have a moment alone. I took the opportunity to throw a heart-shaped stone that I’d carried with me all the way from home. I read a letter with it sending my love and happiness to all the special people in my life, including the people who had hurt me. I felt so much gratitude and love for the all. I’d let so much go on my trip. I felt lighter, I felt more love. I was feeling very happy and content.
We ended the night with more wine and I enjoyed a very expensive but delicious scallop.
This was the end of the walk for many which was ironic considering that Finisterre was known as the “end of the world” until Columbus proved otherwise in 1492. Imagine what that would have felt like! Although I’d thought I’d finish my journey here too, my heart was urging me to continue to Muxia. I wanted to see the sunset there and I felt like I had more to go. Knowing that I would make my way to Muxia the next day, I decided to get a good sleep.
Awareness Gained Along The Way
I felt at peace with so many things. To be able to forgive certain people and send them my love was a huge thing for me.
I felt excited about being able to collect shells and to be able to share the feeling of my way with the people that were special to me back home.
Even though my feet hurt like hell, the ocean and the feeling of having nearly completed my journey was just amazing.
I felt lighter for being spontaneous and living in the moment. I felt content with trusting my gut, trusting my feelings about other people’s intentions.
Day 29 Negreira – Cee – 52km – Sunday 21/10/2012
WOW what a night, myself and Jess nearly started walking at 1am, seriously worse night sleep EVER, firstly it took forever to get off to sleep as the group got louder and louder down stairs the more wine they drank, plus we were paranoid about bed bugs and kept imagining they were on us, I remember turning my torch on about three times checking. When everyone finally got to bed, it was like an orchastra the entire night, it was so bad, Jess was loosing it, and I actually was laughing, I couldn’t believe how bad it was, even Dave was snorning and he hadn’t snored yet so far. We thought about walking in the middle of the night but chose to try to get more sleep as we didn’t want to miss the views if we walked in the dark.
We decided to walk early around 6:30am, it was freezing, it was dark, even Dave got up and got ready to walk, we were all tired. Dave was a little bit distant today, he had stuff going on for him so I let him be and enjoyed my own space and talking to Jess on the way.
We planned to walk the 30km and because we started so early, we were on a roll, we knew it was only approx 12km to Cee which had the ocean, the idea of ocean made me feel funny inside, like I was closer to home, something about the ocean made me feel so happy we all came to the conclusion if we pushed through it would mean it was only a 16km the next day to Finisterre so it sounded perfect, it was by rights the last big day.
I made some calls home and was starting to get excited about seeing my loved ones.
Awareness Gained Along The Way
I have a massive connection with the ocean, I feel at home
I could feel the positive change within myself with the crazy weather
I could see even though I had such a poor night sleep, I chose to only see the positive
I was getting confused about excitement for home and seeing certain people rather than the clear reality of what every thing is
Day 28 Santiago – Negreira 22km Saturday 20/10/2012
Started off the day with clarity about things back at home and felt excited about continuing my walk, the great start was the princess style breakfast at the hotel again, AMAZING after what I had the last month.
It felt so different today, just knowing it was extra, knowing it was a choice to continue on, knowing not that many people walk this walk, it just felt really awesome, plus the walk was beautiful, very green, very lush, loved being in nature today.
We chose to stay at the Municiple, there were vacancies and we just needed a bed, sadly poor Jess had fleas biting her all night and were they got in everything, this meant she had to wash all her belongings. We both couldn’t stop iching and were paranoid about bed bugs. The bed set up was about eight beds in each room, not bunk style, we were wanting an early night as planned for a early start as our goal was 30km tomorrow.
Everyone was getting right into the red wine, however, myself and Jess decided to go upstairs to crash. Excited about the adventure tomorrow.
As going off to bed, I thought about how much I loved travel, how much I would love to do more, I also loved doing it solo and I started thinking about sharing it with someone special in the future, the idea was nice.
Awareness Gained Along The Way
Body was grateful for the previous days rest
The ability of the mindset, the different focus of starting a walk with a goal of around 100km instead of 800km
I was becoming aware of warning signs and clarity ringing in my heart about decisions to be made at home
Day 27 – Santiago Rest Day – Taking in the moment of completing 796km
After a long sleep in my beautiful hotel bed, I felt so amazing when I woke. My body was stiff and sore but it didn’t matter, I had made it, I was there. The breakfast in the hotel was AMAZING. I felt like a princess enjoying the delicious, quality food.
I caught up with Dave and we went and handed in our passport to receive our certificate. What a cool feeling. It was awesome running into other pilgrims around the Praza Do Obradoiro, Albert, Ann and Jess were just a few we met. It was the most amazing experience walking through the Cathedral. I felt so funny inside, very emotional. We all joined in the 12pm pilgrim mass and the priest read out the countries from where the pilgrims who’d finished had come. It was exciting to hear Australia mentioned as I was the only pilgrim that finished from my home country today. We were so grateful as the enormous 80kg botafumeiro (incense burner) swung from side to side filling the cathedral with a beautiful aroma. There was so much energy, absolutely amazing. People from all over the world visit the cathedral to experience this sensation.
The cathedral’s history was overwhelming. In the centre was the Throne of Jesus and St James surrounded by the twenty-four elders of the Apocalypse and a pantheon of Apostles, Angels and Saints. Unfortunately the famous kneeling statue known as Santo Dos Croques was closed to the public. Traditionally, pilgrims touched it three times with their heads hoping that some part of his genius would rub off on them.
I searched around for the Post Office as I wanted to check that my bag, which I had sent ahead of me at the start of my walk, had reached its destination safely. I showed my passport for ID, it was all that I had, and with great relief they handed me my bag. I said “great” and convinced the post office worker to keep my bag for another four days so I could continue to Finisterre. Although he didn’t understand at first we finally came to an understanding. I was really looking forward to wearing my pretty, clean clothes on my return.
I caught up with Sandor for a wine afterwards. He was sweet but the language barrier was still there and I just didn’t have the patience to try to communicate with him. So I said my goodbyes and off I went. I felt grateful to have met him and for his gift of showing me that there are beautiful, kind men out there who are happy to give and be kind without expecting anything in return.
I continued looking around the city and enjoyed eating Churros alone. It was nice just to sit in a cafe and watch the people passing by.
Later that day we all lined up eager to receive the FREE dinner that the Hotel Hostal Dos Reis Catolicocs gives away each evening to the first 10 pilgrims who line up at the back door. We were winners! It was so cool to enjoy a huge, delicious meal at a five star restaurant… so so yummy. We all indulged and savoured every mouthful. We enjoyed the wine at a bar and tried a delicious chocolate yoghurt, yummo!
I came to the decision to walk to Finisterre and possibly Muxia with Dave and Jess. The plan was to leave by 9am. It seemed crazy not to walk the extra 100km after having already come so far – 796km! I felt I had more in me. I knew deep in my heart that I was not finished yet.
I decided to stay solo in the hotel again to enjoy some ME time.
Awareness Gained Along The Way
I appreciated the timeout on my own more than I ever had before.
The feeling of accomplishment was huge.
I was excited about wearing my nice clothes again but at the same time didn’t feel attached to them. I didn’t care too much about it at all.
I feel excited about future opportunities to achieve more. If there is opportunity to do more then I feel drawn to challenge myself.
I have a strong desire to give my everything in all that I do.
I almost felt incomplete. I knew I had more in me and that my journey wasn’t finished.
The pleasure of achieving my goal outweighed the pain from the walk.
Day 26 – Melide – Santiago 53km -Thursday 18/10/2012 – 796km in total
When I woke up, I was overwhelmed with the idea of reaching Sangtiago by nightfall. I’d planned to do the journey in two days but why not finish it today if I could? My feet were sore and I hadn’t had the best night’s sleep but I pondered over the thought as I set off in the cold and dark with Dave at 7:40am.
It became more evident at this stage of the journey that a number of pilgrims only come to do the last 100km of the Camino, to receive the certificate and be able to say that they have done the pilgrimage. Their experience would have been completely different to that of my own. As I walked past I could smell that some of them even had perfume on! It made me laugh as I felt so disgusting at this point.
At around the 25km mark, coming to a place to rest and eat, we chatted to our Korean friend Albert. He too was struggling with sore feet. He had red wine in his water bottle to help with the pain which I found very funny. He asked where we were walking to and when I replied that we were considering Santiago he laughed and said, ‘Noooooo you can’t do that!’. ‘Why not?’ I asked him.
We continued on our way and not long after, Albert caught up to us again with a Canadian friend of his. She said it would be impossible for us to walk that far in one day. Dave and I looked at each other and in that instant I knew that I was going to reach Santiago by the end of the day with or without him. Thankfully he was driven to get there too, his desire only fueled by the Canadian’s comment.
I bought extra chocolate to fuel my body. My feet and body were extremely sore but the desire to see Santiago and to not have to stay in another albergue was so great that I pushed through the pain. With every 10km traveled we became more and more excited with getting that bit closer towards our goal. The walk was amazing. The scenery was lush and green, just beautiful.
It was a quiet journey. A lot of the pilgrims had stopped walking by late afternoon. As we continued on our way, we passed a French man, Michelle, who was heading in the opposite direction. We asked where he was travelling to and he replied that he was unsure. He had been walking in the same direction as us earlier but, without knowing where the next albergue was, he had started to backtrack. I encouraged him to join us to Santiago. We were so close.
We shared food, excitement and an overwhelming feeling of accomplishment as we made our way closer and closer. The last 10km seemed to take forever but we finally arrived in Santiago just after 8pm. It was spectacular to see the sun setting over the Cathedral and to hear the pipe players playing as we made our way into the city. It felt awesome to have the locals come up to us and shake our hands and call us pilgrims. It was such an amazing experience.
The moment I stood, or collapsed I should say, at the front of the cathedral was AMAZING. I felt so empowered, so content, so ALIVE and exhausted all at the same time. I felt so grateful.
I could see the Hotel Hostal Dos Reis Catolicocs, 5star hotel to the left of us. I considered hobbling over and paying the 200Euro to stay there but I knew that there was a cheaper hotel about 300m up the road. Dave wanted to stay in an albergue and I was happy for him to do so as I was so excited about having a room all to myself. It was worth every bit of the 70Euro. I felt like a princess staying here. I relaxed, had a warm bath and enjoyed being able to walk around the room naked. It was such an amazing feeling. I phoned home and shared the amazing news with my loved ones.
By this stage it was very late and I was keen to get some sleep. The cathedral had been closed when we arrived so I couldn’t wait to check it out in the morning.
Awareness Gained Along The Way
If someone tells me that I can’t do something, it challenges me and drives me to achieve it.
Once I get an idea in my head, I cant let it go, I need to go with it.
If I set a goal I will make it happen.
It’s amazing seeing the MIND over MATTER principle in action.
Day 25 – Hospital – Melide 28.7km – Wednesday 17/10/2012
After sleeping well, we started the day’s journey at around 7:30am. It was dark and raining, the heaviest it had rained so far on the Camino. Although we walked together, Ann, Dave and I were in our own worlds listening to the rain, taking one step after another, reflection on our trip and coming to the realisation that it was coming to an end.
We arrived in Melide at around 2:30pm. Although the walk was very wet and testing, especially when we saw a sign for a taxi (it’s funny that people would actually pay for one on the walk!), the scenery was lush and beautiful. A lot of pilgrims had decided not to walk today because of the rain but I had wanted to experience it. I wanted to experience the painful feet, to challenge my boundaries, test my body and my mind. It was a quiet walk and I found myself missing people from home and playing possible scenarios over and over in my head about some of the decisions I needed to make when I got home.
I received a message from Sandor saying that he had finished his pilgrimage to Santiago and that he may still be there when I arrived. It was nice to hear from him but at the same time I was only interested in a friendship and it was obvious that he was keen for more.
When I arrived in Melide I knew that I had done enough walking for the day. My feet weren’t going to allow me to go any further even if I’d wanted to. After the teary day I’d had the day before I was starting to realise my limits. The rain was certainly testing my limits too – it hadn’t stopped raining all day. Ann however, decided to continue on and we said our farewells.
Dave and I had a look around the place. We met a really nice American guy whom, I must admit, I found extremely attractive! He just oozed energy and had a mysterious charm about him.
We enjoyed a salad and pasta for dinner and decided on having an early night. As I lay in bed I started looking forward to Finisterre. I wasn’t sure yet if I would walk or bus it there. All I knew was that I wasn’t looking forward to going back to work or my normal life – I just wanted to travel more. Only next time with more financial freedom to stay in nicer places. I was getting over the yucky showers and beds.
I couldn’t believe that there were only two more days left – a 33km journey and 20.9km one.
Awarness Gained Along The Way
I had a moment of clarity. It’s time for me to stop worrying about what everyone else is doing and let go of what I can not control
I learn by being challenged.
I am too competitive to miss the obvious signs.
Day 24 Sarria – Hospital 35.6km Tuesday 16/10/2012
Awareness gained along the wayInstead of listening to what my body was trying to tell me, I got really frustrated with my feet.I am feeling a little anxious and excited about the walk coming to an end.
Day 23 O’Cebreiro – Sarria 45.7km – Monday 15/10/2012
I woke early after not sleeping very well. As expected, there was lots of snoring throughout the night!
The walked started off cold and dark but as the hours passed the beauty of the scenery became more and more apparent. We were surrounded by lush greenery and fog. There were many cute animals that just made us smile and stop to take in the moment.
Probably as a result of not having enough rest during the night, Ann and I didn’t keep up with Dave today. As we walked together, the two of us shared many deep and meaningful conversations. I really appreciated being able to talk to her about some of the things back home that I was trying to find clarity on.
We later caught up with Dave at Tricastela and the three of us continued along together. Everything was so green and quiet. When we arrived at Sarria, I went searching for foot pad inserts. My feet were aching after the day’s massive walk.
We stayed in a lovely albergue and Dave cooked up a delicious pasta and salad. I later tried a Mistela shot as we sat talking around the fire and the wonderful Dave massaged my aching feet.
Awareness gained along the way
Sharing stories with relative strangers can give you a different perspective on things and help you to seek the clarity you are after. It is easy to manipulate responses from the people you know by only telling them the positive in situations.
Day 22 Villafranco – O’Cebreiro 30.1km- Sunday 14/10/2012
We woke early and started off in the dark. It felt like Christmas morning. I was so full of excitement not knowing what to expect at our goal destination. Although it was dark and raining and extremely cold in the mountains, I felt alive.
The last 10km was steep, windy and foggy. It was amazing. The wind felt awesome and I could feel change happening within me.
It was snowing and freezing cold when we arrived at O’Cebreiro at around 3pm. We were grateful to be out of the cold and enjoyed an early dinner about an hour later. We had the most delicious Galicia soup and a yummy hot chocolate. We discussed our plans for the next day and decided on a 40km journey. My feet felt sore just thinking about it!
I knew that my Pop’s funeral was taking place at 3am my time so I decided to go to the 7pm mass at O’Cebreiro to say my farewell. It was very overwhelming. I thought of him as I lit a candle in his honour. I felt his presence and much love. The priest spoke in Spanish so I couldn’t understand a word he was saying. I had a little giggle as I imagined Pop laughing and saying, ‘I can’t understand a bloody word he is saying!’
All in all, it was an emotional yet fun and empowering day. I went to bed hoping for a good night’s sleep but didn’t like my chances. The albergue in which we were staying contained 60 beds and they were all full!
Awareness gained along the way
The unknown excites me.
I believe that crazy strong winds are a sign of change.
A church can be a beautiful place in which to feel love no matter what your beliefs are or the religion you follow.