Today I began the last leg of the Camino. This section, from Sarria to Santiago de Compostela, is the minimum distance that a pilgrim can take and get a credential that they walked the Camino. Before I began the Camino, I expected that there would be quite a few people traveling with me. The Camino has gotten quite popular recently, and the weather in September is usually perfect. The huge crowds of the summer have dissipated, but nevertheless I expected that this time of year would have decent sized crowds. To date, however, while I was never totally alone on the trip, there were many times when there was no one in sight.
Today, what a difference! Perhaps because it is a Sunday, perhaps because of the glorious weather… Whatever the reason, there were crowds of people on the walk today. The morning started with a climb up the stairs in Sarria, called Escalinata Maior. The number of people at 8;30 am!!! (see picture below!) At one point later in the day, as we were descending a rather steep hill, I felt like we were cattle — complete with loud “hoof” beats, as our feet hit the ground. It was quite comical. Thankfully, there were some moments when, somehow, I was alone on the path as well. It was not a problem but it was quite the change in mood. There was a group of four that I encountered frequently where one of them had a boom box blaring! Buses were on the road, picking up and dropping off groups… I have entered a new Camino.
All the distractions forced me to stay focused. I tried not to judge (there have been pilgrims on the Camino since France – I am an arriviste too!!) and tried not to let the added noise and different sounds of the walk take me too far away from my purpose and staying in the present. I tried to remember that peace comes from within. And that focusing on the abundance that nature was providing, rather than the abundance of people on the path, was a way to peace as well. And there was so much abundance! The sky was a beautiful blue, the landscape continued to amaze and the cows still made eye contact with me!
This part of Spain is Celtic. One thing that reminds me of the Ireland I just left is the same stone fences throughout the countryside. Apparently bagpipes play here, although, unlike in Ireland, I have not been out to the bars and pubs to witness this myself at night. Hopefully one night I will…
A bountiful day – both with my fellow pilgrims and with what nature provided.