Camino Santiago...as we near the destination.
Our Camino Santiago post 6
Written by my sister Mary-Lou Navaratnam
Read my previous post here
Another two days have passed and I’m very sad that this almost ideal, near perfect existence that we have had the privilege to experience is nearly at an end. It’s difficult to explain in words what we have so very much enjoyed and experienced.
Yesterday, was another short walk of 15kms. I had heard about peregrinos making a connection with nature. I’ve always loved plants, trees, flowers etc and always observed nature whenever I can. We were so privileged to walk through some of the most beautiful forests, woods and meadows. We passed through fields that appeared like rich, patch work quilts. Quilt upon quilt of lush shades of velvety green fields. Beautiful wild forest flowers, some fragrant. Lovely succulents and several varieties of grass. Bark naturally stripped from high trees swaying like curtains in the wind. Acorn lined paths. Leaves in different shades of green. Ferns in different hues of green - some just unfurling.
Beautiful spiders webs heavy with dew
Bright orange flowers bursting through grass.
Some tree trunks were so old and gnarled that they could possibly have been hundreds of years old.
How many peregrinos before us could have taken rest under?
We passed sleepy villages and hamlets. It’s very rare to see local people. We did see a few ladies working in the fields or with the cows. Nearly all wearing duster coats - sleeveless tabards buttoned down the front and it made us remember our mama’s dear friend A Theresa the only person we knew who always wore one to do her cleaning and always referred to it as ‘Duster Coat’. We passed several dairy farms and saw dairy cattle grazing.
We have been seeing hundreds of dogs! On farms, in houses and also just running around in villages. We’ve also met a few dogs who are making the Camino with their owners. One called Coco from Madrid is so cute and looks at us but only when we say his name with a Spanish accent! Coco walks very obediently but once he reaches a cafe he stops and refuses to budge. He stares longingly at the cafe in the hope of getting a treat!
Another dog Greta is a cute beagle.
We thought of all the aunties in Bandra that we know with the same name and that they would not be too pleased to be sharing their name with a lively dog.
We have had some amazing snacks and meals. The Galician pie is one of our favourites. It is a covered pie that looks like pastry but it’s a thin bread crust. The filling is almost like a chilli fry - tasty and flavours with onions and tomatoes and tuna. We have been drinking the delicious fresh orange juice by the gallon.
But again it’s the many many other peregrinos that have made this journey so special for us. Each peregrino so respectful of the other, every time a peregrino passes another they wish each other "Buen Camino". There is such a sweet serenity on the journey I cannot understand why we cannot apply this to the world outside. Just a little kindness or a little care and patience will solve so many world problems!
We met Shaun from Stratford upon Avon who did the whole Camino a few years ago and returned and bought a house right on the Camino path in Castaneda. He has a donativo table with cakes and soft drinks and let us use the toilet in his home. He works on a laptop as an electrical engineer when he needs money. The rest of the time he’s working on improving his house and offering space to peregrinos to stay.
We have made many friends like Val the loud, fun loving lady from Toronto who shouts out ‘Mumbai’ loudly when she sees us.
One of the outstanding experiences was attending the pilgrim mass held every evening in the churches in the towns along the routes. It’s always in Spanish but the pilgrims respond and say prayers in their own languages. At the end the priest calls all the peregrinos to the front for a prayer and blessing. He asks each pilgrim were they have come and it was lovely to be amongst peregrinos from Albania, Colombia, Guatemala, Philippines to USA and Venezuela amongst many other countries.
We chuckled when our friends said they were from the Isle of Man and the other peregrinos had no idea where that was and kept confusedly repeating Isle of Man in various accents.
As we entered Arzúa yesterday we passed a restaurant with a giant paella cooking in the front. Buddi put her brakes on and refused to move until we went in to try it. It was delicious and we also had razor clams which was very tasty. We stayed in a modern, trendy hotel. The first modern hotel of our stay. We had dinner in a lovely restaurant. You entered through a bar and then through a kitchen to get to a dining area in a separate room! A first for us to enter a restaurant via the kitchen!
Today we walked over 19kms. As we are getting closer to Santiago the towns are getting more affluent and the scenery changing.
In the woods we passed a man carving walking sticks and traditional wooden decorations. We saw a man playing the pan pipes. The sound of his sweet music staying with us as we walked along. We stopped at the 33kms to go mark where peregrinos from other Camino routes merge. It was a bit like the Bandra fair. Crowded, bustling and very busy. We stopped at a tiny shop run by a young woman. She sold the peregrino shells painted in the colours of various national flags. We met Walter and his gorgeous dog Flan. Walter did the 850km Camino with Flan and now lives in a camper van on the Camino path selling his book about his journey. He had a serene calmness that rubbed off on me when he gave me a hug.
Today when we got to our hotel to our great delight we found that we had a room opposite our friends from the Isle of Man. Later we heard a lot of commotion in the lobby and found that our five excitable American friends who are doing the same distance of Camino as us but over 11 days are here too. We had a great time catching up with them.
The nicest part of the journey for me is thinking about all my family and friends as I walk. Each and every one of you has been in my thoughts - my dear parents, my darling husband and daughter, Archie my joy, my siblings and their families particularly Buddu who accompanied me on this Camino and my in-laws and cousins in law and their families, aunts, uncles, cousins and their families, god children and their families, dear, dear friends in London and around the world and their families, each of you reading this and your loved ones. Each of you has had some impact in my life small or large and it’s been wonderful to think and pray for you on this Camino.
As Suzanne who we met on our first day says each step of the Camino Santiago is a prayer and I can tell you that there has been lots and lots of prayers.