Day 42: Finisterre and reflection

Technically I completed my camino. But what I really wanted to do was end at the “end of the world” where the pilgrims used to come and burn their belongings. No, I didn’t want to burn my belongings (as it’s not allowed anymore) but I wanted to see where the pilgrims used to think it was the edge of the world.

Some people continue to walk out to this destination (another 3 days I believe) but since Luc and I only had 1 day, we took a tour bus out the coast.

I was covered in bed bug bites (100+) so it was a fairly uncomfortable day but the sites were incredible. It was so soul refreshing to see the ocean again and feel the breeze on my skin. It was cool in the morning but warm by the afternoon. I would highly recommend taking a day to do a tour out to Finisterre and surrounding area. We had a delicious seafood feast accompanied by some yummy beer. I had some antihistamine to stop the itch but it hadn’t really kicked in yet so it was a fairly challenging day as everywhere on my body was itchy.

It really was the perfect way to end this monstrously transformational journey. I know that I’m still processing everything that happened while I was on the way. Being in this place, really had my heart sing while the waves crashed. I took many reflective contemplative deep breaths. I remember telling myself “I did it.” “I’m so proud of you.” “This is now a part of who you are and who you are going to be.”

If you are at all thinking about doing the camino, the camino is for absolutely every single person on this planet. This walk is a walk that will connect you to you. Do it alone. Or do it with someone and meet up at the end of the day. This place is a place of growing, healing, transforming, uplifting, soul filling, breathing, walking, hiking, joy, laughter, music, transcendence, love, and acceptance.

You will have challenging times. That’s for certain. But in those difficult moments, you will learn everything you need to learn. You may ask “why must this happen to me? What is there to learn in this moment?” And the answer might only come later.

You will meet people who will change you and your outlook on life. People who will make an incredible difference to you by caring for you even though you don’t know them. Those people will remind you of your humanity and love.

You will see incredible vistas that connect you to the earth.

What you want to create, will be there for you to create. If you want to live outside your comfort zone, this will be it. If you want to heal, this will help in the healing process. If you want to learn more about yourself, all there is to do is learn about who you are. If you want to be closer to god or spirit, the way will provide this to you. If you’re looking for love, love is all around. If you desire deep connection, friendship and partnership is there for you.

Whenever I hear that someone is going to go on their first camino, I get a little teary eyed just thinking about what an incredible opportunity awaits them for whatever it is that they are going for.

Please reach out to me if you want to discuss more. I love to talk about my experience.

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Day 41: O Pedrouzo to Santiago de Compostela

20km LAST DAY. As a lot of you probably saw from the Facebook live video, We made it to Santiago!!!! I’m overjoyed that this part of the journey is complete. Although I read something yesterday that said “this is not the end, only the beginning”. I get shivers and a little emotional when I think about that. I’m going to blast us back to 6:30am when I woke up. It was a rough sleep: felt sick, room was hot and I had to pee 14 times (ok not that many). Then I got up and with my head lamp I noticed the tell tale sign of bed bugs… small brown spots on the sheets. Not sure if it’s their poop or my blood. Then I looked a bit more and there was a bug on my bed. “Fuck” I said out loud and told Luc to get out of bed cuz there was bed bugs. The woman beside heard me and she got up too. Up and out of the albergue. Well we said we wanted one more authentic pilgrim experience. We got it. No bites started to present on me until we got to the hotel that night and now it’s become the biggest smorgasbord I’ve had the whole Camino (we think over 100 bites). My whole right side is ravaged and some of them have even turned into blisters. Never had that. I’ve been using tea tree oil which really helps and I have some antihistamine pills left over. But it’s not enough. Luc, of course, is unscathed. Probably because they were like “hey there’s this sweet red head down here no need to go up top”. I’m surprised too since I slept so poorly, how and when did they attack? Anyway, one last gift from the Camino. I walked with my backpack again starting in the dark. Night hiking is really kinda different. It takes on a different kind of appeal being close to the stars and the moon. There were a lot of people today. I might have made some dominating hand gestures to a woman who looked like she was going to try to get in front of me for the bathroom. I spent a lot of time looking inward, I had a lot of pain in my feet today. Searching for how I was feeling knowing that I was literally moving closer and closer to the finale. There was peace. Later on in the night Luc asked me some questions like “who was I the most grateful for?” And “what was the most memorable experience?”

And every time I had this feeling of contentment and joy wash over me when I think back to all the amazing experiences I’ve had. It’s not about the destination, it’s about the journey. Although I remember back when I was sitting in my hospital room all alone wondering “will I make it to Santiago? Or will I go back to Switzerland or even Canada?” And so the tears washed over me when I finally got infront of the magnificent cathedral that I made it. I did it. I fucking did it. So while it is about the journey, the destination is also important to me especially since I really had no idea if I was going to make it. We stood in line to get our official document for about 45mins. Then headed back to the cathedral. And then over to our hotel room. Showered and headed off to wash and dry our stuff in a laundromat while we drank beer (see photo). Returned to the room and then headed out to check out the shops. I wanted to see the inside of the cathedral so at 10 past 8pm we walked inside and mass was on and what I thought I had missed, came true. They swing the botafugio And not 5 mins after being in the crowded cathedral did they swing it. I can hardly believe my luck. The universe provided exactly what I needed. How special a moment to see this. I’ll provide the video separately. We had a wonderful dinner with a beautiful bottle of red Rioja wine special for completing our Camino. I’ve been thinking about all of you as well who have been following and supporting and cheering me on. I’m so grateful to have so many people in my life who have been there for me along the way. Even if you have been reading but not commenting I can feel your energy and that has helped to move me through this epic journey. When you have the love and support of your friends and family, you really can do anything. So I thank you ?. It almost doesn’t seem enough to say thank you. My mom and aunty for doing this 3 times, being my inspirations and for guiding me in all the different directions. It meant so much to have you both close by every single day.

And I want to say a very special thank you to my husband and best friend. He made it possible for me to go on this journey by helping violette get adjusted to school, Switzerland, new friends, everything. And when I needed him and was crying and moaning from the pain, he listened on the phone and loved and cared for me when I felt so alone. I love you to the moon and back my love. Thank you for coming and being a part of my Camino. ♥️♥️

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Camino: Day 38-40

Day 38 – Puertomarin to Palas Del Rey

4 days left. I CAN NOT BELIEVE ALL THE PEOPLE!! This was a long day filled with some discomfort and pain in my bladder area. Also given the amount of water I was supposed to drink and the effects of the medication, I had to cop a squat almost once every half hour – mostly in the bushes. And I might pass a little judgement here but sooooooo many people (mostly women) leave there toilet paper behind so there’s these places where the forest floor is covered with white paper. Come on people. Pack it out. Put it in a bag and toss it at the end of the day. Anyway, I’ll get off my soap box now. It was a very windy day. Still sunny but since I sent my bag forward I don’t think I packed enough clothes! The weather is definitely changing. We trudged on with the droves of people. Incredibly, we seemed to go up all day long. I was also taking 600mgs if Ibuprofen for the pain so I think my feet benefited from this. Somewhere near the end (3kms left) the pain is getting worse and I just want to get there. The problem is (or maybe it’s a gift?) is that you’re the only one who can walk the steps to get you there. I notice now (since Luc is here I didn’t notice this before) that I go inward and quiet. Finally we get to this cool albergue with beds in the wall. It reminds me of train compartments. Shower and chill for an hour or more and then we head out to buy bottled water and get some dinner. After searching a bit for food we end up at this place and a Danish couple (who we think might be following us ? – they think we’re following them) invite us to sit down with them. Beside us on the other side are two women from holland. We enjoy talking about our countries and joking and connecting. And now new contacts in Denmark ?? who have invited us to stay with them. We super enjoy hanging out with them. I really enjoyed my sleep in the train ? compartment. 

Day 39: Palas Del Rey to Castaneda

I woke up with no pain. We walked in the dark for a while until the sun rose and we grabbed a cafe con lèche. I forgot my poles for the 138,362nd time. It was a pretty up down kind of day. The leaves and walnuts are falling from the trees. The wind was cooooold in the morning. It’s so fascinating how much the temperature has changed in just 100km. But the temp swings are pretty extreme now. It’s 6 degrees in the morning and up to 25 during the day. We met up with Eugene from Poland. We’ve chatted with him a few times but this was the most. We had a great time learning more about each other’s countries. He said that in Melinde we had to stop and eat octopus ?. It’s famous in this land locked town. So we did. I can say I tried it now. Not a big fan. Anyway we walked and walked. The kilomètres crawl by. Doesn’t matter if it’s a short day or a long day, I’m hating life the last 1.5 km and can’t get there fast enough. We arrived at our casa and oh. My. god. Bedroom, bathroom and our own living room for 40€. Living the life of luxury – definitely not a pilgrim. So we decided for tomorrow we would do one more bunk bed night for the last “authentic” experience. We showered, relaxed and napped until dinner. Dinner was over and I went straight to sleep. I’m so thrilled that the pain has left (for now). I’m constantly wondering now if I passed the stone or it’s going to come back or what. The end is so near… I can taste it. It’s bittersweet like the dark chocolate I’m eating right now. Tomorrow O Pedroso

Day 40: Canstaneda to O Pedrouzo

2 days left including today. I had a terrible dream and woke up and couldn’t really sleep after that so I got up and started getting ready for the day. Since we had a private room everything was everywhere. At half 6 I woke up Luc. We walked out into the darkness and alone for once (although not for long as the Camino Norte joined the route today so there was even more people around). Today must have been more flat because we made excellent time and I didn’t hurt too much when we got to the albergue. Today I dressed more warmly with pants, tank, long sleeve shirt and jacket. I’m continually surprised at the rapid change in the temperature since Luc joined on. Today I remembered back to some funny things that happened along the trail…. everything feels like so long ago. The scenery in Galicia is extraordinary. As you can imagine I’m starting to feel the feels of it being over. Every kilometer I’m reminded of how much closer I’m getting to completion. Currently I’m busy processing all that has happened, all that I’ve learned about myself, in the ways in which I’ve grown. Where I want to go next. I feel so incredibly lucky that this happened at the beginning of my year off. For some reason the timing is perfection. Thank you universe. Luc asked me today how do I feel my spiritual journey went. This was difficult to answer and put into words. It’s a great question that has me thinking about what my spiritual journey has included. I will post more in the following days. Tomorrow Santiago de Compostela. (I might be tearing up writing this last sentence.)

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Camino: Day 35-37

Day 35 – Las Herrerias to Fonfria

Today was O Cebreiro. We left in the dark. I was a bit cold and eerie in the dark hiking up the mountain. The moon was bright and the stars were clear. We got to the first town and I had the most delicious crepe with hummus and tomatoes. Wow! I couldn’t get over it. Then it was light out and up up up! It was beautiful walking through the countryside and up the mountain. Everything is green with sweeping vistas. So incredible. We walked into O Cebreiro where there was a lot of tourists. It was cute but I was happy we weren’t staying here for the night. Then up some more (I swear I thought the up was done when I got to O Cebreiro but nooooooooo……) the day was wonderful. Up and around these beautiful vistas. I so enjoyed being with Luc and listening to his stories. I also thoroughly enjoyed making new memories with him. I know how much he appreciates going to new places and experiencing new things. I’m honored I get to do this with him. And now we’re in Galicia. The food, views and trail are much better in Galicia. Then there was this HELL hill. Omg. Right before some place called A Puerto (which was not a door or a port). Then into Fonfria to an albergue where we got a bottom double bunk (I’ve only seen these in Australia). We had an amazing dinner with a lot of people and the food and the wine kept coming. Lots of connection and sharing. I so enjoy listening to Luc speak all the languages he knows, even if I don’t understand them. I knew he would love this place – everything about it. I had a terrible sleep. But they say “all you need to do is walk the next day so who needs sleep?” ? the best part about tomorrow is we’ve rented a private room so I can sleep without 30 other strangers. 

Day 36 – Fonfria to San Mamed

We started out around 6:40am. Still dark. We could hear a dog barking for at least a km away. We turned off the headlamp and enjoyed the moon light to guide our steps. Eventually the sun began to rise and it was a beautiful sun rise full of warm colors. Galicia is incredibly beautiful. I couldn’t stop oooohing and ahhhhing at alll the beauty. More up and a lot of down. The down is just murder on my metatarsals. Then we came upon this little oasis in a small village. Fruit, juice, coffee, cookies, nuts, while people played guitar. Beautiful quotes written everywhere and a calming energy. The guy that ran it came from Australia ?? he had been there for 4 years. We pressed on hoping the wild boar, wolves and bears didn’t jump us. Ok it’s a bit of a joke but true that they live in the forest. I will tread more aware when I’m hiking through the forests in Spain in the dark. We rented a private room with bath in this great albergue. We did laundry, chatted with Vivi and relaxed before dinner. We planned the next two days and where we’re staying. We’ve got 5 days to go. I can’t believe it’s less than a week until we’re finished. Tonight we went around the table, introduced ourselves and said what we were grateful for. I was surprised when a young girl who looked familiar, said she was grateful for me. She said 3 weeks ago me and Sherri and Leena invited her to the top of the mountain where the statues are and will mills for sunrise. She said since then, she’s tried to be near the top of mountains for sunrise as she enjoyed it so much with us and she’s passed this onto other people she’s met. It was so moving to hear the positive impact that this small gesture has had on her and others. Every day I’m met by people who share themselves with me and I gain something from them. Tonight I was touched by a beautiful soul and so happy our paths crossed again here and now after 3 weeks and the last time seeing her up on a mountain.

Day 37 – San Mamed to Puertomarin

Wow what a day. Furthest distance I’ve walked in one day. We started in the dark and had our first coffee in Sarria. And then some friends I haven’t seen since the meseta walked by. I love it when that happens. Wow. The amount of newbies on the trail. I’ve got some feelings about that. Luc and I spent a lot of time talking about all the new people who joined today and who send their packs forward. Weirdly, even though we were looking for it, I missed the 100km marker (sigh and foot stomp) but got the 99km marker. I have less than 100km to go!! We walked and walked and walked. I’ve been having some pain in my metatarsal on the right foot. Walking on pavement starts to really irritate it. After a little cry going down a massive hill, and then over a bridge and up so many steps and a few more hills, we made it to the albergue where we had another private room booked. And thank goodness because I started to feel some pain in my bladder area. I started thinking maybe I had a UTI. I discussed with Luc if I should go to a doctor. Eventually, Luc asked the albergue owner if there was a doctor we could visit. She said in the next town was a clinic. So we took a taxi to the clinic at about 5pm. I’m so thankful Luc is here. He was able to speak and understand what the doctors and nurses were saying. They think that the kidney stone might still be in but moved down. I’m still not drinking enough water ?. So Luc is on me now to drink more water and evidently I need to drink bottled water from here on out in Spain. I got a shot in my ass for the pain and was sent back home in the same taxi ?. Luc was a sweetie and bought a pizza for us to eat in our room. I’ve been laying in my bed the rest of the night with some pain and discomfort. I’m ready to be done this walk. 4 More days until Santiago. 6 more days until we’re back in Switzerland ?? 

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Camino: Day 32-34

Day 32 – Riego De Ambros to Camponaraya

I hiked in the dark this morning with 5 other people who spoke French but that doesn’t mean they were from France. What I love about the Camino is you choose the language that most people speak and that’s what you speak. The other day I was speaking with an Italian who spoke French so that’s what we spoke together. I STRONGLY suggest you learn Spanish before you get to the Camino. Meeting so many people from different lands has inspired me to learn at least two more languages. Eventually, the guys in front took off and the older people were at the back so I ended up hiking down the mountain essentially by myself. Which was perfect and serene. I found the guys in the next town and I had coffee with them and then walked with them (fastest I’ve walked so far) to Ponferrada where I wanted to slow down a bit. I took it easy walking out of Ponferrada and threw on the head phones. I danced and sang at the top of my lungs the last 5Km. To be honest, when I do that under the sun by myself I feel so alive and in my essence. I love it. I’m in a little albergue in a room with two bunks and me and another red head named Katie from the USA are occupying the bottom bunks. We’re going to leave together tomorrow around 6:30am. We had some good discussion tonight about the USA political state. Very interesting. Also, Monica and Jörg found me and we all had dinner together. Tomorrow it’s a short day to Villafranca del Bierzo (15km and I’ll carry my pack tomorrow for the first time in a few days) where my package was delivered 2+ weeks ago and where I’ll find the love of my life around 6:30pm. Tomorrow is the last day I walk alone and then I will be in a team of two. I’m ready.

Day 33 – Camponaraya to Villafrance de Bierzo

First day of carrying my pack again. I haven’t had any discomfort and it was a smaller distance so I figured let’s go for it. I walked with Katie from the states. 24 years old. I really liked her. We started at 6:30am (dark until 8) and chatted the whole way to Villafranca where we parted ways around 11am. I love leaving early when it’s cool but I still have a fear of walking in the dark by myself so I usually asked if I could tag along with those who left early. Wow! Villafranca! What a great little town. I got the box I shipped a couple of weeks from the albergue I shipped it too. Took out what I needed/wanted and shipped it back to Switzerland ??. I did laundry in a proper machine (had to be clean for when I saw Luc!) and then headed over to the hotel/hostel that I booked. It was a proper room with my own bathroom. It’s been a while since I’ve had my own room (hospital?) I had a lovely shower and then relaxed on the bed for a couple of hours. I maybe should have discovered the town but I was more content resting and enjoying the room alone. Then I headed for a drink and off to meet Luc at his bus stop at 6:30pm. It was hard to wait all day!! But oh man, so incredible that he’s here now. I feel this safeness, security and love wash over me. I guess that’s who he is for me. ❤️ We went back to the hotel room for him to shower and park his bag and then headed off for dinner. It was. nice to get reacquainted with him and share my experiences I’ve had. Also, the things I’ve learned about myself. I’m not the same person who started this journey. I’m more the person I want to be. They say the Camino is a metaphor for your life in many different aspects. From the people who I have talked to, my journey may have been the most challenging that they have heard. I also know that these challenges I’ve faced have created something new in me. I experience the upset less intense but the contentment and pure joy in my life is more accessible. Love is a constant and to have the love of my life by my side, is the most incredible gift.

Day 34 – Villafrance de Bierzo to Las Herrerias

First day hiking with Luc. It was a very flat, on the road kind of day. I’d say a perfect introduction to the Camino. I only wish it was so easy for me. ?? the weather was overcast (what?) I loved walking with him and hearing about violette and how she’s adapting to school in Switzerland and with her grandparents and making new friends. Luc was so curious about the plants and fruit and the cute towns. I realize that I had missed this along the way or I had forgotten and to see it through his eyes was beautiful. He asked a lot of questions about how things are and what I’ve experienced and I really enjoyed being able to share my experience. We stopped in Las Herrerias, this cute little town that had a tree where you could tie your dreams onto. And a beautiful little river where I cooled off my feet. Luc’s first experience in a bunk bed room and I have to say it was a pretty clean nice place. Although… there wasn’t a window and typically what happens is the door gets shut. So with 10 people in the room I woke up at 11:45 sweating and had to get out of the room. I sat on the stairs and shortly a man cane down from upstairs. I didn’t want to scare him but inevitably I did. He was heading outside to get some fresh air and smoke a joint which he invited me to partake in. I politely declined. I’m so enjoying Luc with me my pack is still heavier than his but that’s my choice. Tomorrow up and over the last mountain O Cebreiro and into Galicia. 

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