As if one time wasn’t enough, I did it again last May. I walked the same 125 km of the Camino de Santiago… from Sarria to Santiago. Only this year a few things were changed. This year, with a new group of women, we took a bus from the airport instead of a taxi. We bussed from Santiago to Lugo and explored this beautiful town with a completely intact Roman Wall surrounding Lugo (a Unesco World Heritage Site)… and then we bussed from there to Sarria where we spent the night before starting our walk the next day. This year I also added an additional night at the end so that we could pamper our weary paws… that night was at a Relais Chateaux where we literally took over the spa. It was perfect. The only downside to the Relais was that we were outside of Santiago and couldn’t wander the streets and explore Santiago.
Walking the camino this year, for me, didn’t come without it’s challenges. In late March, I broke my foot walking down the street in Barcelona. I had a cast on my foot for 11 days and then a walking boot that literally came off the day before we flew to Santiago. (Ironically enough, my foot doctor’s wife was on our flight as she too was walking the Camino with friends). All Spring I worried I wouldn’t be able to walk the camino with the girls. And was even more worried I’d let the ladies down that had already made plane reservations, etc. I really wanted to go and contemplated simply driving from town to town to meet the women at the end of their daily walks.. I rented a bike thinking it might at least be easier… but thankfully… I had recovered enough to walk the Camino! And after the second day, I decided I shouldn’t push my luck and I paid the 3Euros to have my backpack shuttled from the hotel for me each day.
People often ask me about the Camino and I find myself telling people time and again that the thing I love MOST about walking the Camino are the people you meet along the way. The people that may have blisters all over their feet, but stop to help you with yours.. or people who are living in the homes along the way offering “free hugs” or fresh fruit and juices.
But this year, more so than last had a profound effect on me. One of the women walking the Camino with us was carrying the ashes of two people for whom she had lost the year before. And she, of the 7 of us, suffered most from blisters, blackened toenails, and bleeding feet. When tears weren’t streaming down her face from the pain, laughter abounded. She thoughtfully placed photos and notes along the way in memory of her mother, father and best friend. It wasn’t until the final day of walking that Niki found the perfect resting place for her loved ones. Together, as the sun rose, we helped her make a cross out of tall grass. We placed photos, letters, pictures in and around the cross. We said a prayer for Niki, her parents and her best friend and silently continued our walk in to Santiago.
I put together a slideshow of our images from our walk. This year I carried my 70-200 zoom lens. I wanted to be able to capture the faces of the people working in the fields, etc. But this camera was kind of a communal camera. Since 4 of us were photographers, we mutually shared the camera.. so this is a collection of all our images captured throughout our walk.. enjoy! xo
PS Here’s our itinerary Camino Hotel Itinerary Booked-2-2a of the places we stayed and how we broke our walk down. I think if you mention Arzua to anybody, you’ll likely get a pained face.. as that was the longest, most painful day of walking for all of us.