Today will be our last day on the Camino and we should enter Santiago by this afternoon.
Yesterday morning while we and our fellow pilgrims at El Albergue de Boni were packing up and getting ready to leave Tom and I started chatting with one of our dorm mates, a young Spanish organizational engineer. He said that he’d quit his job and was walking the Camino to have some quiet time think about what he should do next with his life.
“I’ve come up with ideas,” he said.
This youngster’s story was another variation of a common theme among pilgrims along the Camino: successful professionals who’ve quit their jobs after eight, fifteen, twenty years and have come to the Camino to find their souls.
A few days ago we talked with an Australian pilgrim, an advertising executive who’d worked in her field for twenty years, quit her job and was trying to decide whether to return to advertising or seek a new vocation. After five weeks on the Camino she was still undecided. “And now I’ve only got four more days ‘til Santiago to figure it out,” she sighed.
I hope she did. I hope everybody who came to the Camino to find something finds what they were looking for. As for me, all day long as I walked along the words of an old “Mr. Rogers” song kept going through my head:
Look what I found without looking.
Yesterday we managed to walk a whopping 23 kilometers from Salceda to Monte del Gozo.
After about an hour outside Salceda we came to a bar we remembered from our last time on this stretch of the Camino as being the most charming little place,
….where we’d had the absolutely best plate of sunny-side-up eggs and fries. We decided we wanted to re-live the experience.
So we did.
Later along the way we met up with some old Camino friends with whom we stopped for chats and photos.
We also met a young pilgrim couple from London who’d been doing the Camino since Leon with their cute three-year-old son in tow
I asked them what kind of stroller they had that could roll over the rocks and mountains. They said it was a mountain stroller with super suspension.
Who knew there were mountain strollers?
Several hours later it was time for lunch, so we stopped at a nice café in the town of Lavacolla where the barkeeper, a friendly Galician lady, told us naughty legends about the origins of the names of the towns of Lavacolla and Monte del Gozo and where we had our standard delicious cheese, tomato and olive-oil sandwiches – the cheese in Galicia is extraordinary – and split an also delicious ensalada mixta,
...with tarta helado –a slice of ice cream layered with chocolate shell – for dessert.
In spite of all the calorific fortification we’d taken on during the course of the day, by the time we reached the San Marcos xunta – as the municipal albergues in Galicia are called – at Monte del Gozo at the too-late hour of 6:30 pm I was dragging, sagging, and making a real effort not to start ragging.
The San Marcos xunta, located only about 4.5 kilometers from Santiago, has 800 beds at 6€ each spread out over about a dozen buildings on a campus that resembles an army post.
Though on the inside the buildings resemble college dorms.
Only one building was being used when we arrived yesterday, and about half the rooms, which have four bunk-beds each, were occupied, and mostly with young pilgrims;
…here sharing a community meal in the xunta kitchen.
The older pilgrims tend to spend their last night on the Camino in one of the hostels or hotels in the area rather than in the 500-bed xunta. Perhaps this is why when the friendly, jovial xunta hospitaliero saw these two tired-out, bedraggled-looking old pilgrims come schlepping in at 6:30 pm he led us down the long hall past all the occupied rooms and gave us a room all to ourselves.
Or maybe it was one last schpritz of Camino Karma.
A romantic comedy of errors.
Lots and lots of errors.
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