Camino Day 72 (Mélide to Irene)- 25K #CAMINO #HIKING

I woke up early, having not slept well for most of the night. It didn’t help that the Magician’s other Brother spent 30mins doing yoga in front of me. I know some people really enjoyed this, but it’s not really my cup of tea having a bloke do this in front of me at 7am in skin tight leggings. After the aerobic display we eventually set off from the albergue in search of breakfast and ate the most delicious and overly expensive pastry I’ve ever had. The Magician even thought it might, just might, be equivalent to a French croissant. High praise indeed…

After this we set off to walk as a trio, with the continued discussions in French though, I purposely slowed my steps to separated myself. I wanted to be alone in my thoughts, feeling more and more isolated from the Magician and his other Brother. I felt strongly my input wasn’t wanted. This hit me hard, so I spent a lot of time focusing on my isolation, eventually realising that I missed asking myself the question- How do I want to actually end my Camino? The walk into Santiago felt like my spiritual end of the Camino. Running through these questions in my mind, the thought came to me, as if it was a mirage in the desert. I wanted to finish my Camino the same way I’d started it. I wanted to finish it in contemplation, alone, preferably in the early sunshine of the day.

The walk through the day was flat and extremely uninspiring, but at least it was surrounded with greenery. Eventually the Magician and his other Brother decided to stop in a park in front of me for lunch. I wasn’t really hungry at this point, so I purposely decided to keep walking further by myself. I was feeling pretty stubborn by now and wanted time alone. I eventually settled further on, by a stone wall to just sit and watch two cabbage butterflies circling each other. Watching them floating round each other helped me to feel the peaceful and circular nature of life. I relaxed more and more, till the Magician caught up with me. And we sat and talked for a little while. I was honest and said I wanted to feel like I had a voice in what and how I walked my Camino, and I wasn’t feeling important at this point. And for a moment, I could see some of the tension creeping into the Magician. I started to see I’d assumed that the Magician would immediately re- kindle his strong connection with his other Brother. But it didn’t seem to be happening as he’d expected.

As we’d set off so late and walked slowly through the day we eventually got to our resting spot for the night in complete darkness. Wondering round the tiny village we quickly saw the Albergue’s that said they would be open this time of year were actually all closed. At this point, we walked further in complete darkness along a main road looking for some where to eat, re- group and think through what to do. Settling for some food at a local bar, the owner kindly helped us talk through the different options, whilst getting us some simple burgers and fries. Here the other Brother talked excitedly that we should walk through the night. At this point, I knew I had the energy to do so, but I took one look at the Magician and could see there was no way he could keep walking. We needed to find somewhere to sleep. But the other Brother kept pushing his point, wouldn’t it be exciting, wouldn’t it be wonderful? A night walk into Santiago? I don’t normally put my foot down, but I wasn’t having this. The Magician would walk himself into the ground, to make anyone else happy (especially for people that he idolises). Putting an end to the discussion on it and we found a local hotel with a 3 bedded room we could take. So on we walked for several more kilometres in pitch dark along the main road till we found the hotel. My decision to walk into Santiago alone in the morning was bubbling through my head. I hadn’t told the Magician yet and I was running out of time.

Collapsing into the hotel, the Magician and the other Brother grabbed a celebratory beer. I just wanted to have a shower and get into bed at this point. But it was too late… I had to tell the Magician I would finish my walk alone into Santiago and would be leaving as soon as I woke. Blurting it out to him, I could see the confusion and immediate hurt I’d caused. Having not talked him through the majority of my feelings of isolation through the last few days, or that I’d felt left behind, this came as a complete shock. Like a true hero, after blurting this out, I ran off. I hoped that he would accept my decision, but with him following me up the steps minutes later I knew this wasn’t really the case. A long conversation later, and the Magician understood that I wanted to take the final steps into Santiago in contemplation, but that didn’t change the fact I’d hurt him with my decision and how I’d decided to tell him this. Curling up into a ball I spent the night tossing and turning, questioning whether my decision was right or wrong, and contemplating the end of my walk.

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