This morning was a bummer. I’ve been chatting with Michael daily, and it turns out that a few days before he was due to fly over and meet me in Santiago (at the end of my Camino), one of our beloved dogs has become very ill. The vet has escalated the situation to a specialist, and Michael and I made the tough decision for him to cancel his vacation and for me to fly home earlier than anticipated. Our two weeks on a beach in Portugal is not meant to be.

Of course I will finish my Camino, but today my heart sat heavy thinking of Mr. Munro. It was the first day in almost a month that my mind was preoccupied with a single issue for most of the day. It was a good lesson to expend energy on something meaningful, vs trivial shit that I’ve obsessed on, in the past.

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We arrived in Caldas de Reis to a beautiful hotel with a pool and enjoyed a rest under the shade of the grapevines. This small City has had working, thermal springs for almost 1000 years, and the pool is fed from one of those springs. We ate dinner beside the river with some friends from the path whom we’ve run into the last two days – two crazy Irishwomen. Enjoyed their company and tried Pimientos de Padron (small green chilli peppers), a regional specialty, for the first time. A sweet variety of pepper, with a dash of Russian roulette – 1 in 30 are red hot. We were lucky that we skimmed by that experience.

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The next day we left early to take advantage of the cool morning temperatures. We walked about 6km before tucking into a chocolate croissant the size of Brazil, freshly squeezed oj and a coffee con leche – our typical 4 Euro breakfast. Another lovely walk on the Camino, and arrived into Padron on market day.

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Padron sits between two rivers – the Ulla and the Sar. This small City has deep ties to the Camino as one of the main places St. James conducted sermons, as well as the main Cathedral housing the original ‘ O Pedron’, or stone pillar that the boat carrying his body, was moored to. This rock was how the city was named.

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Many pilgrims push through to Santiago from Padron, but the 25km seemed too aggressive for us to manage in the heat so we broke up the distance and made it to Teo, a very small hamlet. Our last night on the Camino has us in a stone house where luxury abounds – a bathtub, full restaurant, two dogs, a beautiful room and best of all, a quiet refuge for those last rounds of contemplation.

As I write this, I tear up with sadness knowing that my journey will soon end, yet I feel excited to see how the Camino I live going forward will bring me happiness, keep me calm and most of all, enjoy life as the person I know I am – it’s hard to admit that I’ve been detached from that person for awhile now.

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