What better way to wile away a Norwegian Airlines flight delay to Barcelona than to get started on yet another blog post about yet another bimble along the Camino de Santiago? Of course I’m being unduly glib. It’s impossible for my excitement levels to rise much higher than they are now, especially while I’m still firmly planted on Gatwick tarmac.
The thought of completing the Camino experience I started 2 years ago, finally reaching the end of the earth and throwing myself and my filthy gear (it’s the same gear – wait till you see the photos!) into the sea, has been prodding at me like a precocious toddler whose Peppa Pig peppered IPad (try saying that with a mouth full of chorizo) has been requisitioned for take off.
Ever since I decided to abandon my ambitions of completing Saint Jean>Finisterre thanks to my walking partners infected blisters back in 2015 (I’m still working on empathy), I’ve been promising myself a glorious return and famous end to this epic journey by wading into the sea at Finisterre and burning my belongings in Muxia as every time honoured, traditional pilgrim (who needs an excuse for a new wardrobe) does.
The above itinerary allows for no rest days, no injuries or sickness and certainly no infected blisters! With a good headwind, favourable weather and a lot of luck – it’s just about possible to dash the second half of the Camino within an acceptable period of annual leave (a two week holiday). To achieve my target I’ll need to roll a couple of Brierley stages into one now and then (there’s ground to be made up between O Cebriero and Palas De Rei) and pull a couple of 40k days out of the bag to hobble into Santiago and kiss the saint on the Monday and then return by bus four days later from Muxia, via Finiesterre.
Before I start my Camino I must complete the arduous task of getting there in the first place. Tonight I will arrive at the Hotel Fornos in Barcelona around midnight. The hotel is on the Ramblas next to to the once insalubrious Placa Reial, then home to Barcelona finest drag queens, now home to the city’s finest restaurants *ahhh progress*. Unfortunately I’ve already eaten two Pepperamis and a vegetarian New York sandwich (I’m very confused) from Pret at the airport.
On the ‘morrow i’m attending to some fairly dull business in my broken but improving Spanglish and then meeting one of this blogs biggest fan (singular) for a few drinks before catching the sleeper train from Barcelona Sants to Leon railway station.
I’ll arrive in Leon at 4.30am and then plan to catch the bus to Hospital de Orbigo and begin walking (well, after breakfast and a coffee, I’m a human being). Here’s the dilemma! The bus for Hospital de Orbigo leaves two hours after I arrive in Leon and sitting on my lonesome, at dawn, watching other pilgrims click clack their way past me would torment even a saint – and maybe that’s the point.
If I can sit there for two hours and wait for the bus I’ll greatly improve my chances of completing this Camino. If I decide to walk i’ll have to catch up three stages within the last ten stages of Leon>Santiago as the Finisterre/Muxia route has far less albergues and forces the pilgrim to walk long already.
And here is likely to be the first lesson of this Camino, patience vs trust. And knowing that whichever I choose i’ll be sure to regret that choice! The human condition weighs heavy on every pilgrim who first steps onto the Camino – I feel blessed knowing that relief is but a night train away! The Camino de Santiago is a road of sanctuary, a soothing mind balm for the mental terrorists of the 21st century who subsist on a diet of comparison derived, status anxiety. Simply knowing this road exists, that I can return for another slice of salvation, that people have walked for a thousand years and are walking even now brings comfort and today, great excitement.
Who will I meet? What will I learn? Will I ever find a decent racion of pulpo outside of Santiago? Will that hole in my favourite Asics hold my toe in place till the end or will it burst free Alien style? All these questions are sure to be answered in the next exciting instalment of … Sarah does the Camino – again! Assuming this plane ever takes off… Let the walking commence!