Camino de Santiago: Day 24 (Christina)

From Sarria to Portomarin (22 km)

I dilly dally this morning and don´t get on the road until 8:30.  I had a great sleep in my private room last night and actually sleep in until 7:30.  I pop into the Albergue that did my laundry to check my email and then I stop again for breakfast.  I couldn´t resist the breakfast buffet on offer, such a nice change from the usual breakfast of coffee and white toast or croissant.  There was fresh fruit, yogurt, granola, an assortment of juices, cakes and toast.

The weather is strange this morning.  The air is quite crisp, and there are big clouds in the sky, some even threaten rain.  But when the sun peeks through, it is quite hot.  I can´t get comfortable this morning, I am either too hot or too cold.  And it doesn´t  help that the trail is still very hilly, so I get really hot as I go up, and then cool off as I go down.  The scenery is just as beautiful as yesterday.  But today I feel quite tired and I walk more slowly than usual.

View of Sarria as I leave town.

The Camino is very crowded today. Sarria is about 110 km from Santiago and many people start their journey here.  It feels very touristy all of a sudden where people are wearing their city clothes and city shoes, they look and smell fresh and clean, they are talking on their cell phones, carry little day packs or even handbags.  You can easily spot the pilgrims who have been walking many days….we don´t look too clean, and we probably don´t smell all that great either.  Our packs are larger and definitely more worn out.  Everyone I talk to today is talking about the change of atmosphere on the Camino….and we are very disappointed with this change.  It seems like we are in the middle of a tourist attraction now.

The 100 km marker is popular – everyone wants a picture of it.
I can’t believe I am so close to Santiago, but still days away. 

Five km from Portomarin, I run into Arpad, one of my new Camino friends and one of the pilgrims I had dinner with a few nights ago when Alex was trying to get a rise out of me over taking the bus.  He is still walking very slowly, but I decided to slow down to his pace and walk into Portomarin with him.  We have such an interesting conversation along the way.  First he observes what a spiritual person he thinks I am based on the way I handled Alex and the bus issue. We talk a lot about being in the present, in the moment.  We hear this so much these days, but it really is difficult to practice.  He talks about not being attached, which he believes is the way to real happiness and contentment.  He follows the teachings of a spiritual leader named Eckhart Tolle, a German who lives in Canada.  He is surprised I have never heard of him. I must admit I find many of the concepts he is talking about quite difficult to grasp and he urges me to listen to Tolle.  I am quite fascinated by these new ideas.

Even though we are walking so slowly, time flies as we are engrossed in such a deep and meaningful conversation.  Once we arrive in Portomarin, he continues on and I look for a place to sleep.  The first Albergue I look at also offers private rooms and again I opt for my own room.  It costs twice as much as a dorm bed, but it is still cheap at 20 Euros.  I notice that I am in a self-nurturing place and I am happy I am taking such good care of myself.  This journey has been long and hard, and I am tired now.  So a little bit of comfort goes a long way to making the remaining days easier to cope with.

After the usual routine, I settle on a patio for some food and drink.  Here I meet new pilgrims, it is so easy to meet people and start a conversation because we all have this common bond, the Camino.  As I finish my meal, I notice Frances and Glenn walk into the main square.  I head over to say hi and mention where I am staying.  Sure enough, they check it out and take the private room next to me.  We are all laughing about how they now know to just hold back and let me stake out the rooms because I always seem to find a good one for all of us.

A group of tourist pilgrims which is what I call these new, not so serious pilgrims on the Camino check into the Albergue.  I hope I don´t sound too judgemental, because I don´t mean it in a negative way, just to distinguish those who are walking the Camino as a tourist attraction versus those who are walking it for other reasons.  Well, the tourist pilgrims take over the entire downstairs dorm including the garden.  They are having a big party, and are cooking up a storm at 10:30 at night.  Now you have to understand, most Albergues have lights out at 10:00 and they rigidly enforce this rule.  Besides, we are usually so tired that many are already asleep well before lights out.  I am really surprised to see this new group having a party and I feel very sorry for the few pilgrims in the dorm who are trying to sleep.

It is so noisy now and I am feeling a little irritated.  I go to the hospitalero and ask what time is lights out.  She says 11:00, but I doubt this party is going to end as it is just revving up.  At 11:30, this group are well on their way to getting drunk and are hollering and yelling in the garden.  I am so not impressed.  I get the second pillow and put it over my head, and practice my deep breathing which has become a very effective way to put myself to sleep.  Within moments I am fast asleep, and sleep right through the night in spite of the loud party below.

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3 Responses
  1. Angus says:

    Pretty cool that even the “tourist pilgrims” plan to walk 110 km. That’s still very impressive for most of us mortals. Must make you and Chris feel pretty good about what you’re achieving.

  2. Kathy says:

    Hi Christina,
    What a fantastic journey you have had on this pilgrimage! It seems that you have had personal revelations on all levels – spiritual, mental and physical – amazing! Thank you for sharing these with us. I am so happy that you are finishing the Camino with taking good care of yourself. I hope that you are able to continue to be kind to yourself and not forget that you are the most important person in your life. I look forward to experiencing the rest of your journey through your blog.

  3. Jurgen says:

    Hi Christina,

    I recommend you read Eckhart Tolle’s already classic book “The Power of Now.” It’s my favorite contemporary spiritual book with tons of deep and profound wisdom. He uses the the term Being instead of God since God is over-used and has all sort of mythic religious baggage associated to it.