Day #30 El Camino
Thursday 12th October
O Pedrouzo > Santiago de Compostela
Distance walked: 18km-ish
Today’s the big day. It’s been 30 days, well, 29 of walking, I had one rest day and 2 other days where I did 11km each day. So, all in all, without being too cocky, I’ve fucking smashed it. There were times my body paid the price though and my legs have been smashed. They’re still not 100%, nor are they 60%. A dose of tendinitis still lingers in the left shin, my Achilles were screwed for some time and both upper knee muscly bits have been giving me grief. I had some decent and painful blisters in the first few days, these stayed and eventually just disappeared into the comfort of the shoes. I was alternating between two different pairs of shoes until my new ones wore in and since then I’ve only worn one pair. My fake crocs have been a great help at the end of the day but never walked in them beyond a rest day.
I never weighed my bag from the beginning, nor did I weigh myself. The idea is that you carry about 1/10th of your body weight, I knew I was carrying more but it never felt overly strenuous. I threw a way a few things here and there and the pack got more comfortable. I reckon I’ve lost a lot of weight too. I’m a slim person to begin with and when I travel I find it hard to keep on weight, but when you’re exercising in the heat every day I guess you shed the weight a lot quicker. There’s only so many coffee and croissants you can eat and they don’t really build the muscle.
It wasn’t a race at all, but 800km in 29 days of walking is pretty good going and I’m stoked. That’s 27.5km on average per day, carrying 10kg on my back. That’s 29 half marathons in a row or 14.5 marathons in a month! Or 60 ¼ marathons, or 120 1/8th mara… whatever, you get my drift. I’m a legend and you should all bow down to me.
It’s been a long way and my body almost collapsed on several occasions. It hasn’t been a walk in the park, it’s been a long walk in many parks. But mostly on highways and gravel paths. I haven’t enjoyed it all the time, in fact, a lot of the time I thought the surface I walked on and the scenery sucked a giant bag of dicks. It’s a journey so they say, but one I’d maybe rather have done in short doses in other destinations. Overall it has been mentally draining as well as physical and I’m glad this part is over. I took my time getting ready today, leaving after most people did. It was around 7.30am when I took off and it was still dark but getting lighter. A whole bunch followed the road directly out of the city, I spotted the actual arrows and went down a dark forest road, for a second I thought I went the wrong way but others were ahead. This was the right way and a dark scary way, fog filled the air and nobody was around for a short moment. I loved it. Many years ago I’d be shit-scared to go down a path like that, but there’s a sense of security when you see a yellow arrow painted. It just says, you’ll be fine.
I stopped for coffee in some town on route and the masses of tourists doing the last stint were overwhelming. I tried at times to ignore their loud voices and avoid the groups but I couldn’t. I instead just chucked the iPod in and pumped up some tunes. There wasn’t any emotion for me today, well, some emotion, but not tears or excitement. The emotion was a simple ‘meh’. The outer city didn’t impress, the view of the cathedral at the peak as you enter the 5km mark didn’t wow me. Perhaps if I were religious or I’d achieved a hell of a lot more hurdles to be here I’d well up with emotion. But no, all I wanted to do was get it over with. I walked quite slow today, just to soak it up. Even though I knew I had more to do beyond Santiago. I even found a nice new stick some pilgrim had left against a tree, assumingly they were taking a pee and walked off. I was back with 2 sticks and picked up the pace. Entering the city I’d been told from previous pilgrims that there’s a sense of excitement as you enter and people are clapping and cheering you on. Nope.
I saw a regular town that perhaps is done with it all. The locals were on their phones, the homeless and nutjobs were talking to themselves and nobody looked at all interested that I HAD COME A LONG WAY AND WHERE’S MY FUCKING MEDAL!? My mum and dad didn’t fly over to surprise me, no school groups were holding banners, there wasn’t even a committee set up to give out free bottles of water or slices of oranges and banana. I half expected something a little more.
All I found was a fuckbucket load of tourists in the plaza outside the cathedral taking photos. Some beggers, a busker on bagpipes playing traditional pop songs and a few pilgrims collapsed in the square taking selfies in front of the cathedral covered in scaffolding. It was very underwhelming for me. I’m not being a party pooper, just telling you my experience. I know others were jumping for joy, crying and high fiving. I just didn’t feel any sense of anything right there and then.
All I could thing was ¿Que mas!?
A Dutch guy appeared who I’d met briefly, he was in town a day earlier and just hanging about so we went and grabbed a couple of beers. As we did, we clapped pilgrims entereing the town, I thought if I can’t get a welcoming pat on the back, I’m going to give it to others! We even started clapping strangers who were just holding ice creams or doing their shopping. It became a fun little time and we put smiles on faces. We high fived people, we may have even confused a few. But fuck it, some of those people walked a long way and deserved a proper congratulations!
But not those fuckers who just walked 100km with no backpack. They can get stuffed!
I checked into my Albergue in the late afternoon and joined some others for dinner with intentions for a big night. I was in bed at 10pm. It’s been quite a journey and there’s still a lot to go…
The diary, and I, will continue to Finisterre…