Magic of the Camino

Before beginning my pilgrimage, I came across several accounts of ‘Camino magic’. Books, movies, TV series, podcasts and articles all reference this mysterious charm. Every year pilgrims travel from around the world, some multiple times, to secure their own slice. And while all individual experiences differ, all seem to encounter a sense of mysticism; though, many struggle to explain the phenomenon. Finally, on Day 30, after several weeks of deliberation, I defined my Camino magic.

Camino de Santiago Diary – Day 30

As a result of scrambling to catch my mates on Day 29, I unwittingly surrendered my 8 am slumber the next morning. For the first time since leaving Villafranca del Bierzo, my day began at the pace of others. Our bags were packed and we were out the door shortly after sunrise. Thankfully, this small sacrifice provided the companionship of six bubbly hikers for the trail’s final haul.

We left pilgrim-packed Arzúa with 40 kilometres remaining until the pilgrimage’s sacred finish line. If we pushed through the nomadic crowds, we could arrive at the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela before sunset. But, with such little distance left to enjoy and the daunting prospect of a bed race awaiting us in Santiago, we decided to pad out the trip an extra day.

Arzúa holds 6,200 regular inhabitants and is regarded as the final substantial locality before arriving in Santiago de Compostela.
santiagoways.com

A day of quickfire conversations immediately flowed. Walking in the company of jaunty pilgrims, whose chatter flittered between delicious (and not so delicious) comfort foods, hometown tales, and cunning word games, brought joy from the first step. It took me until this moment, 770 kilometres along The Way, to realise my Camino was about the people.

Another peaceful walk through eucalypt forests.

I began my pilgrimage with little expectation of camaraderie; resolute to hike my own hike. But soon, somewhat oblivious to me, expanding my horizons with new languages, nationalities, and intimate stories of those sharing the path became my magic. My transformation from a solo hiker to a card-carrying member of the Camino family was complete. I was a believer.

Due to the day’s enriching conversations, the familiar scenes of forests, fields and quaint hamlets passed inconspicuously. Even summer’s searing heat didn’t feel as wilting. Before long, we rounded Santiago-Rosalía de Castro Airport and marched into Lavacolla, another 29 kilometres in the can.

Stop and smell the hydrangeas.

So, for the final time on the Camino Francés, we washed our clothes and prepared our hiking gear. Day 31 would be short, sweet, and, undoubtedly, emotional.

All the details.

Trail distance covered

29.1km

Accommodation

Albergue Lavacolla

Price

€12

Terrain

A couple of little bumps to Lavacolla, nothing you won’t be able to handle by now.