The trail provides.
One age-old proverb, muttered mainly in jest, had followed my conversations throughout the pilgrimage: the Camino provides. It’s certainly not without merit. If you’re hungry, you’ll find food; if it rains, you’ll find shelter; if you’re lonely, a pilgrim will cross your path; if you’re summiting the Pyrenees in a storm, a man selling hot chocolate will appear in a well-equipped van. The trail kept delivering challenges and, just as quickly, offering remedies. By the time I reached Day 29, the solutions would arrive before the problems had time to materialise.
Camino de Santiago Diary – Day 29
At the end of Day 28’s 25-kilometre ramble from Ferreiros, I realised I missed the companionship only the Camino can provide. So, I set off from Ligonde with a game plan: catch my pilgrim pals before Santiago. One big final push today would deliver me back among a familiar face or two and make the pre-dawn kick-off worth the effort.
On early start days, my stomach expected its ‘second breakfast’ around 9:30 am. And didn’t it let me know about it? This morning grumble signalled I had walked a sufficient distance since ‘first breakfast’ and required a snack. At 9:20 am, I entered a secluded parcel of dense old-growth forest, only to discover a fully-stocked roadside kiosk. The Camino does, indeed, provide. There are few places where one can wander through a mythical forest only to be greeted by an innovative entrepreneur peddling sweet treats. I loaded up on traditional Tarta de Santiago cake and continued my journey.
References to Tarta de Santiago stretch back to 1577, when it was referred to as ‘royal cake’. However, the first traditional ‘almond cake’ recipe didn’t appear until 1838.
This peaceful green strip may be the last bit of pure serenity before the final 50 chaotic kilometres heading into Santiago. The number of section-hikers had grown exponentially over the past few days. Busloads of clean-cut holidaymakers had found their way to Galicia, searching for a slice of Camino magic. Their fresh energy was easily distinguishable from those who had begun their expedition east of the Pyrenees.
These repugnant newcomers skipped along sporting their designer clothes and dainty daypacks while the trail’s thru-hikers plodded on in their sun-streaked rags. My appearance undoubtedly reflected the latter. A month of sweat, blood, tears and mangled beard growth had corroded my face and skewed my stride. Nevertheless, I had never felt happier.
The Camino’s long-distance hikers may appear like dishevelled vagabonds from afar, though, within our ranks, we are blissful. After weeks of delighting in hearty Spanish delicacies, postcard-ready scenery, and non-stop Vitamin D, the knowledge of our limitless freedom elevated our souls.
I finally caught my Danish mate Marie as we entered the day’s final town, Arzúa. She had joined with a band of effervescent English and American pilgrims, and I was welcomed with open arms and a much-needed vino. A jug of sangria soon followed, and a new Camino fellowship blossomed. Even after a month of tireless walking, my energy stores again overflowed. This tight-knit community would fuel my final days, including the march to Santiago’s doorstep on Day 30.
All the details.
Trail distance covered
Albergue Los Caminantes Arzúa
Enjoy a couple of agricultural and forest-filled bumps before sailing downhill beyond Arzúa to Santiago.