The end of the road at the end of the world.
The Romans believed that Finisterre (from the Latin Finis Terrae meaning ‘the end of the earth’) was the western terminus of the known world. For millions of pilgrims, this view of the Atlantic Ocean is the end of their Camino journey. But, for one lonely Australian hiker on Day 34 of his adventure, it felt like a beginning.
Camino de Santiago Diary – Day 34
I began my final day, much like Day 33, as I’d anticipated the whole trail to be: walking alone. I’d always been a solo hiker who’d enjoyed uninterrupted contemplations of the world; however, this adventure had revealed the soul-nourishing benefits of pilgrim communities.
With this additional headspace, my head mulled the past month – all the pilgrims I’d befriended, the locals I’d met, and the generosity I’d encountered. I brimmed with gratitude – the kind only a humble pilgrim can understand. Even on the most challenging days, when the sun was hot, the wind was strong, or the rain was dense, appreciation for the everyday was easier. Positives are everywhere. This is the life of a pilgrim and how we should spend our lives, always.
Over 34 days and 869.2 kilometres, I met hundreds of pilgrims from 40+ countries spread across six continents. We began the Camino with little in common, besides our backpacks and boots; soon, we grew into a tight-knit family. The moments we shared, whether astonishingly sweet, painfully bad or mind-numbingly indifferent, were always special.
Blessed are you, pilgrim, because you have discovered the authentic Camino begins when it is completed.
The sky had barely spat out a droplet since the Pyrenees downpour on Day 1, but the morning’s darkening cloudscape looked ominous; destiny had bookended my journey with summer rain. Nevertheless, I continued my oscillations through the region’s mountains, and soon, my first view of the ocean glinted in the distance. This vast blue was a long time coming, and I could feel my pace quicken toward the fishing village of Cee.
Despite the now-cavernous hole in my budget, I couldn’t help but sample the best of Camino cuisine one last time. I indulged in puplo (paprika-spiced octopus), jamon y melon (honeydew melon with cured ham), a spread of regional quesos (cheeses) and, of course, a customary cerveza (beer) from a local brewery.
Spits of Galician rain continued to chase me through the seaside communities of Corcubión, San Roque and Sardiñeiro until I reached the final dot on the map, Finisterre. Drenched equally with rain and sweat, I threw my bag onto my Albergue bunk and prepared for the last push. The end of the road at the end of the world was mere footsteps away.
The shadows had lengthened considerably by the time I began my march toward the Cape Finisterre lighthouse and the 0.0-kilometre trail marker at the end of the peninsula. Thankfully, the day’s clouds had dissolved, and a sunset finale looked possible.
The 40-minute trek along the windy coastal road took longer than I’d hoped, but I arrived as the sun bled its way toward the hazy horizon. The sky flickered from amber to mauve to navy before fading black. I’d have to complete the return leg in the dark, but first, I had to offer my tribute.
My trusted walking stick, which had supported my wearied frame since finding it in a Pyrenees forest, had further to go. Just because my path had ended didn’t mean the journey had to finish for everyone. With a lengthy run-up, I javelined my faithful accomplice into the Atlantic Ocean and watched it float into the darkness. With that, my duties were complete. My Camino de Santiago pilgrimage had ended, but with my perspectives shifted, the Camino de Josh had years to go.
All the details.
Trail distance covered
Galician bumps and a long haul from Finisterre to the lighthouse, but oh so worth it.