Almost impossible to believe it’s been six months since J’Nell and I finished walking the Camino de Santiago.  While hiking across Spain during September and October last year, I gave scant thought to it ending.  It was all about loving the here and now, enjoying each step, kilometer, and mile to the next town.

The Camino was not like running a marathon. 

In a long-distance race it’s all about enduring and finishing.  While reaching Santiago de Compostela and then the coast of Spain were our goals, getting there meant that the magical world we were living in would be over. You didn’t want to think about the end.

With this much time to look back, it’s clear the 550 mile hike was as much mentally challenging as it was physical. But maybe not in the way you might imagine.

We trekked an average of at least a half marathon every day with a 20 pound backpack, and your feet, legs, shoulders, and other parts get taxed in many ways. That being said, your body acclimates. From a mental standpoint, I never had a day where I didn’t want to continue.

However, making the decision to leave your regular life behind to walk from France to the end of Spain is something your rational brain doesn’t easily accept.  But once it does, the synapses and neurotransmitters want to keep this new world together as long as possible.

Six weeks didn’t seem long enough. 

Thankfully for J’Nell and I, it wasn’t the end of our travels.  With a 90 day visa to Europe, we were going to squeeze every bit of it out before heading back to America.  Portugal was next, and I’m going to share in this blog the next part of our journey.

But before I do, here’s my last journal entry before leaving Spain.  As excited as I was to go on a new adventure, it was still a bummer to leave España.  I fell in love with the country and I look forward to the day when I can return.

November 3, 2019 (Sunday)Bar Mariquito, Fisterrra

In Santiago, when we were doing research on whether to walk to Fisterra or Muxia, we read the former was touristy and built-up while the latter was rustic and quaint. I can’t comment on Muxia because I’ve never been there, and maybe things are different in the summer in Fisterra. But I absolutely love where we are now.

This place is charming, relaxing, and not at all touristy. We have interacted with far more locals than visitors. There is a terrific vibe and energy in Fisterra with its great people, ocean views, restaurants, and bars. 

While we’ve been to lots of truly special drinking establishments in Spain, my absolute favorite now is Galeria Bibliotaberna.  It is run by the vivacious owner Ramon, who wears a cool hat and has a bushy mustache.  

We were there last night when the power went out, and he told a ghost story by flashlight to the children (there are always kids at bars in Spain as it’s part of the family culture, which I love).  J’Nell and I understand an okay amount of Spanish so we could almost follow along, but not quite. But it was still a highly enjoyable story for us due to the way he told it (voice, inflection, body gestures, pauses), and it kept the rest of the crowd, especially the little ones, enraptured.  He also had everyone giggling when he would repeat the word tutti frutti

Since arriving in Fisterra we’ve been to Galeria Bibilotaberna three times, and we would be there now except its closed on Sundays. 

How could you not love this town, with its narrow streets and maze-like alleyways and the great sea smell? This is the absolute perfect spot to finish our Camino!  Contemplating, catching up in our journals, eating great food, collecting sea shells and sea glass on the beach, drinking wine, and hanging out with Jeremy and Butterfly at the “end of the world” has been wonderful.

We also love our room here at the Mariquito, with its floor-to-ceiling window facing the ocean where we can see great rooftops and the seagulls squawking and swooping down into our view.  I could stay here for weeks.  I’m so grateful we were able to continue on from Santiago to here. 

So what’s next?

We could go up the coast and check out Muxia.  While that would be nice, we have walked to every place we’ve been to in Spain and we’d like to keep it that way.  Our pilgrim days are officially over.  Getting to Muxia would mean a bus trip, and both J’Nell and I are in agreement it’s time to head down to Portugal. 

We’re both super excited for the next part of our adventure.  We have no place to stay yet in Porto, and we actually don’t even have a bus ticket yet.  When we get back to the room we’ll sort out the logistics.

Right now, let’s do a toast to Spain.  As I sit here at this bar the night before we are to leave the country, I’m not sad the Camino is over. I’m just truly thankful it happened.

During these last three days in Fisterra, I’ve finally come to terms with the walk being finito. However, trying to wrap my brain around the entirety of the experience is a whole other process.  Maybe I never will get there.  A journey of this length doesn’t lend itself to easy encapsulations. 

But I can say the Camino was challenging, rewarding, cultural, historic, new, interesting, social, introspective, romantic, fun, awe-inspiring, cool, lovely, charming, and overall tremendous.  But also at times frustrating, hilly, wet, cold, hot, and daunting.  I’m sure there are a host of other adjectives to describe my feelings, but I can truly say I wouldn’t want to change a thing.

I tried to write as much as I could in this journal and capture what I saw, smelled, tasted, touched, and heard on the Camino. However, for every one thing I wrote about I probably missed at least five memorable ones. Recreating the experience via words is an impossible task, though I’m glad I tried. This journal will be my best souvenir of the adventure. 

With the blog I’ve been doing, I hope to give someone who hasn’t walked the Camino a tiny taste of what the experience is like.  And for those who have, especially our friends we met along the way who read my posts, it would make me happy if my words bring back some flashes of fond memories.

Buen Camino!

Our Fisterra Compostelas, the certificate of completion

8 Comments

  1. Walking Camino de Compostela must have been an unforgettable experience, one you remember in years to come! I would love to embark on such a life changing journey once the pandemic crisis are over. Thanks for sharing and inspiring 😀 Aiva

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much! Just checked our your blog and looks like you’ve been on lots of outstanding adventures! You should definitely add the Camino pilgrimage to your list when travel becomes possible again. I look forward to reading more of your posts. Cheers!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I haven’t walked the Camino, I’ve just taken some of the tracks that make up the Camino in the south of France. But I have read several accounts and each time I am captivated by the particular relationship that one develops with regard to the walk as a whole and not just moment by moment as we do on an ordinary trip. It’s not an addition of snapshots, but we are fully aware that there is something superior that is worth more than the sum of them.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Hi Mike.
    I must firstly congratulate you on your successful proposal to J’Nell. An amazingly symbolic gesture to mark the end of your journey along this famous pilgrimage route across Northern Spain. I wish you both all the very best for the future.
    When asked I tell people that my experience of walking the Camino from St Jean to Fistera was stupendous. But I don’t believe even that particular superlative does justice to it. Such a profoundly moving and emotional experience can only be felt, deep within my heart, deep within my own soul. They say the eyes are the windows of the soul. So as I tell them about the Camino I believe the look they see in my eyes ‘says’ much more about how it was for me than the words that enter their ears could ever do.
    It was meeting all the different people that left the greatest impression, as I didn’t visit as many churches or ermitas as I maybe should have done, given the religious foundations of the Camino. My first encounter with Butterfly was the result of one of the Camino’s quirky deviations. As I have since told her… ‘that was the day that an already excellent Camino got even better’.
    I am finding it very difficult to ‘come back down to earth’ upon return to England. A situation made worse by the lockdown and by the negative impact that the virus has had on travel this year. So the Camino 2019 remains very much fresh in my mind. In a way I feel as though it is still reaching out to me as though it’s wanting me to write (somewhat belatedly) an account of my journey along the Camino Frances. I certainly would have a lot to ‘say’ and I know it’s something I must attempt. All I now have to do is figure out how to set up this blog stuff.
    I must say Mike that it was a real real pleasure for Rachel (Australia) and I to have met with yourself and J’Nell in the fogs and mists AND the rains of Galicia, and not forgetting that enjoyable seafood meal with everyone in the Os Tres Golpes restaurant on that final Friday evening.
    Very Very Best Wishes to You Both
    May the Power of the Camino remain with you for ever.
    Terry

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Terry! So nice to hear from you! Really appreciate you reading my blog and your thoughtful and kind words here. I am very grateful I got to meet both you and Rachel, walk with you in rainy yet beautiful Galicia, and have that terrific dinner in Fisterra together. You both were such wonderful people.

      I found it difficult as well getting back to normal life here in Hawaii, compounded of course with the terrible pandemic that we’re all contenting with in 2020. But I can tell you that writing about the Camino has helped me greatly, and I’m sure it will do the same for you! Since returning I’ve also sought out and read other people’s blogs/articles about their Camino experience, and I would love to hear about yours.

      WordPress makes it pretty easy to get set-up, and I wouldn’t worry too much about the technical side of blogging. You have a great story to tell, and that’s all that matters. Looking forward to reading your blog once you get it going, and please send me the link. Would be great to keep in touch, Terry!

      -Mike

      Like

  4. HI Michael – You are an incredible storyteller! Thank you for sharing details of your amazing experience. What an incredible journey for the senses! My heart was pounding imagining the emotional anticipation of your proposal. What a wonderful exclamation point to end the first book of your trip. Thank you for allowing me to experience all the wonder of Spain. It was a feast for the virtual senses.

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.