We were 4 days from Santiago! The end point for the Camino (although the Magician and I were planning on continuing walking together after this point onto Finisterra and Muxia). Sarria is known as the starting point for Tourino’s (Tourist Pelegrino’s). Starting here allows people to spend the minimum amount of time on the Camino, but still allows them to pick up the certificate to say they’ve walked the Camino. Tourino’s generally have a bad reputation and the Magician and I were worried about the route suddenly being swarmed with hundreds of them. But as we crept out to find a café for breakfast we were surprised at the empty calm cobbled streets which had mist drifting round our ankles. Sarria in pre- Roman times served as a fortress for the Iberian House of Seurros. King Alfonso IX founded the town (as well as Triacastela) and died here in 1230, on his pilgrimage to Santiago.
After we left Sarria we started walking out to winding streets, small villages and fields. Reaching at one point an old man, who was walking his grandson. Speaking in Spanish to us, he asked if we were pilgrims, after confirming that we were he offered us some of his orange. Then looking between the Magician and me, he pulled out this thin reed of a stick. Passing it to me, he asked me to take it to Santiago for him. He told us every year he liked to give a stick to a pilgrim to take on their pilgrimage, as he could no longer make the walk himself. This was an awesome moment for me. During my entire Camino I joked and laughed with the Magician, as he’d found his stick right at the beginning of the Camino (which quite frankly suits him completely). As a good girlfriend, I was continually trying to steal his stick. Me however, I’d had a pair of hiking poles that I’d given away over the French Pyrenees to a suffering pilgrim who looked like he needed them a lot more than me. It was right at the end, my stick found me. Soft, supple, that would bend like a reed gently to pressure, but surprising strong and resilient to my continued pressure on it.
Stopping for a late lunch in a small restaurant, we met our first Tourino’s. They were a pair of American’s who just started this day. They were clearly very nervous about the walk and talking to other pilgrims. They were exceptionally sweet and seemed completely amazed that we’d walked so far already. I found their reaction quite funny, as although we were getting close to having walked 1,000 miles, we were walking with other pilgrims who were getting close to 2,500 miles. And quite frankly its all relative. Everyone has a different Camino that they complete and do in different ways.
The walk was a lot of ups and downs in beautiful green valley’s, but still fairly flat compared to the Compostelle in France. We stopped for another break in the surprisingly beautiful Portomarín (which is a town created in the 1960’s as the historic village there disappeared under water when then damn was built). The churches in the old village were transported brick by brick to their new location. A pretty epic feat!
Reaching Gonzar was hard for me, as we’d had to say goodbye to my Brother (to meet our flight times home). We’d said goodbye before, not sure if we’d see him again. But as more and more time passed, and we got closer to the end, the chances of re- walking together became less and less. Compounding on this sadness, by walking into Gonzar also meant we had less than 100K to go to Santiago and we would be meeting the Magician’s other Camino Brother tomorrow. Right at a formal end of our Camino together, I felt like I was being put to one side for someone else. My stomach a knot of dread about whether I could really enjoy what should be moments of pure joy and celebration with my Magician, when he wouldn’t be available to me. Jealousy is an ugly thing at the best of times, but now it permeated me with its stink. This only built up greater waves of it within me, as I tried over and over again to lift myself away from it, just to find my feet stuck in it, like a dinosaur stuck in tar.