Camino de Santiago - Brian's Update No 17

In which Brian anticipates the end of his Camino

Days 91 to 96

Sunday 26th June

This evening I am in Arzua, a small town just 37 k from Santiago. I intend to walk tomorrow for about 20k, and then see about hiring a Mini-bus, I'll stay in Santiago until Bernadette and her 7 companions arrive I'll then act as a back up to them and finish my Camino with her on the 9th July, we will all walk on from there to Finisterre and return home on the 14th.

Son Peter, Heather, Brenainn, Tiarnan, and Oisin, are due out sometime during the week of the 2nd - 9th, so we will be together as a family, and hopefully walk into the square of Santiago together on the 9th, attend 12.00 mass in the Cathedral, and later in the evening have a hooley!

I'm looking forward to that. I know I'll be joined by Eddie and Leila, Pat and Eilis, Bernadette and her friends, Rowan Hand, and hopefully some others! Unfortunately, all of the people I have now met on the Camino will have departed for home. The last to leave, I think, will be David, he leaves on the 8th, we met at Eunate and have become firm friends ever since. I'm looking forward to welcoming him and some of his children to Rostrevor whenever he comes to visit me.

We had a wonderful evening a few days ago now. My son Brian, together with his friend J.J. Were here, and they had a car. It was terrific, they alternated at walking with us, and they transported the luggage, making walking so much easier. Anyway, we had separated from our friends, who were walking at a slower pace, but David telephoned, then I got in touch with Barbara and Brigette and we arranged to meet for dinner. It was complicated.

Barbara and Brigette were in La Fada, a very remote place, only one way into a mountain valley and the same twisty, small road out. Another friend, Gabriele was in Trabadelo, we were in Samos and we hadn't heard from David! We thought he would probably be in Villafranca.

Son Brian did great work, we found La Faba, picked up our two friends there and then went on to pick up Gabriele and from there we went to Villafranca.

I should tell you a little about Gabriele, she is an amazing lady. Born in Germany, now married and living in the USA, she is walking the Camino on her own. I have met her on innumerable occasions along the Camino, several times perhaps even in the one day. Being a seasoned walker, I walk a little quicker than her and I can cover fairly longish distances in a day, but I have been continually amazed at this lady.

I would be having a break for a bite to eat perhaps, or having booked in for the night sitting enjoying a beer, who would stroll along, none other than the undaunted, unfazed Gabriele, with her beaming smile, lighting up her whole face. You know she's glad to see you. A hug and she sits down and recounts the day's events. She has been in to most of the Chapels along the route, she knows more about what there is to see as you go along, and see it she did! She telephones her husband every day, and her father who is now well advanced in years.

Her husband has several books published; his latest just released this week, 'In Search Of Divine Reality' by Lothar Schafer. A philosophy, although I think he is a Mathematician or Physicist by profession, I intend to read it.

We had a great evening, catching up on our various travels and guess who was there - David! It made the evening complete.

My friends from Eunate, Frances, Gabriele, Brian and J.J. were all there; we finished up with a bit of a singsong. I sang of course, Barbara sang, she has a beautiful voice, Gabriele translated her song for me and I have the words, it reads very much like some of our 'Irish blessings'. I wonder do we claim them as ours whenever perhaps they are World Wide? Gabriele then read a modern day Psalm, a very fitting conclusion to our evening. We did not get back to Samos until 1.30, not a very proper time for Perigrnos! I wonder how our friends fared on the following day!

Tuesday 28th June

I am within 18k of Santiago. I am staying to-night in a hostel, San Paio, in Lavacolla. I have hired a car for a few days; I will get a minibus whenever Bernadette arrives. I will walk this last 18k with Bernadette & her friends; we will enter the Square, in which the Cathedral dedicated to St. James is located, together. Bernadette has already walked sufficient mileage in Ireland to warrant a 'Compostela. Herself & her companions however, are going to walk the minimum 150k, from El Cebriero to Santiago to entitle them to a Compostela - the certificate which you are given whenever you present yourself at the offices in the Cathedral, with your Perigrino Certificate correctly stamped at the various stopping points along the route.

Your name is then recorded and all who completed the pilgrimage have their names announced at the Perigrino's mass on the following day. I look forward to that day with great joy. I

have walked through some of the most stunning scenery, and beautiful walking country this last week and more.

The Masetta, I found boring, long stretches of mainly flat ground, no shelter or shade from the sun, just a hard slog. Crop along the route mostly grain, stretching away into the distance. But once you get off the Masetta, you are into a beautiful wooded countryside, mixed farming and forestry, wonderful brooms, which have a magnificent fragrance.

Whenever we walked this route, we were fortunate to have a gentle breeze, which brought the smells of the broom, or newly mown grass & honeysuckle to us. We could find shade along leafy paths removed from the road. All along our route, wild flowers were in abundance on either side. Beautiful walking and the kilometres dropped away.

Not easy mind you, always seemed to be going up.

Days 97 to 102   

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