In honor of finding my old journal, in honor of the very recent second anniversary of (my) Camino, in honor of the movie about Camino releasing next month, and mostly in honor of seeing that I am still walking it in my heart – I present to you the finale of mi caminar a través de España (here’s part 1 and part 2). And here‘s my pictures.

Day 10: Portomarín
The race is on: there over 300 beds in this town, and TONS of people are sleeping in the streets. The next town has a little over 100 beds, so we are getting concerned about finding places.
The walk today wound through peaceful countryside, which was a nice change of pace from being next to busy roads. It is amazing that with so many people walking, you can still be completely alone, unable to see anyone either in front of or behind you. If that happens in a patch where the yellow arrows are scarce, it can make you very nervous that you are lost.

There was a long line for the laundry sinks, so Jake & I went in with Jeanette & Esther to get a washer (rentable washers, like at a laundromat), but the piece of junk ate our money. Esther was hilarious.
My feet are healing from the blisters, although they still hurt really bad when walking. My hip, which mostly healed the day we went to O Cebreiro, chafed again from the Band-Aid so today I didn’t put anything on it.

Day 11: Palas de Rei
We booked it to make it here in time to get a spot in the municipal, which most of us did. We left half an hour earlier than normal, and the distance and number of beds are almost exactly the same as today, so I think we will do the same tomorrow. Some of us ate lunch with a French lady who is a swimsuit designer. Jake & I are not getting along at all.
I am ready to go home.

Day 12: Ribadoso
6 of us made it to the albergue in time to get a spot; everyone else was planning to go further. Then the albergue kicked out the first 15 people in line because they were a group – kids with chaperones. I hope they were able to find some other place to stay; that had to be stressful for the chaperones. But, they didn’t walk very far at all so I didn’t feel sorry for them having to walk more. This albergue is nice, actually (for an albergue) – our new definition of luxury. There are plenty of laundry sinks and more than enough space on the clotheslines. And, THE SHOWERS HAVE DOORS! The buildings are stone lodge style; there’s a lot of land, and it’s next to a little creek. So, even though the town doesn’t have much, we are glad we’re staying here. And, our little group of 6 is great – no whiners.
While walking up a hill with Esther today, she said, “I’m glad the guy with short shorts isn’t here.” About a minute later, I heard someone speaking Spanish to her behind me and then passing her. She squeaked, “Suzanne!” and I knew who it was. Sure enough, he came alongside me and I could see his white thighs out of the corner of my eye before he passed; then all that was left were his scrawny butt cheeks propelling him up the hill. We cracked up.

Things I am looking forward to:
1. not sleeping in a sports bra
2. paper towels, or any towels, in the bathroom
3. privacy while showering
4. not sleeping in a room full of snorers
5. wearing clean clothes
6. getting a full night’s sleep
“There is a vast, rich reality of obedience beneath the feet of disciples. They are not the first persons to ascend these slopes on their way of obedience to God, and they will not be the last.” – Eugene Peterson
This is the most striking thing about Camino for me – I am not the first to walk this, and I am not the last. We have been walking this path for thousands of years, all in our own way walking to God.

Day 13: O Pino (Arca)
It was overcast this morning and misting when we left. The last hour or so it rained on us. It was cold and wet and miserable waiting on the albergue to open, and it opened late because a girl collapsed or something right in front of the door.
The restaurant we ate lunch at was really good – prices were low, portions huge, food genuinely good, and waitress nice. Oh! and the bathroom had hot water, AND soap, AND paper towels. We are all really looking forward to arriving tomorrow and being FINISHED.
On Psalm 133 and community: “How great to have everyone sharing a common purpose, traveling a common path, striving toward a common goal, that path and purpose and goal being God…Living together means seeing the oil flow over the head, down the face, through the beard, onto the shoulders of the other – and when I see that I know that my brother, my sister, is my priest. When we see the other as God’s anointed, our relationships are profoundly affected…we are set apart for service to one another. We meditate to one another the mysteries of God. We represent to one another the address of God.” – Eugene Peterson
This chapter [from A Long Obedience in the Same Direction] really hit home for me. I love the idea of community but tend to shrink back from the reality. I want to pick and choose who my community is, but that’s not the way it works. In fact I have been intentionally avoiding relationship with some of the people God has given me to be my community. And even though I’m convicted about it now, I’m still not sure I want to do anything about it.

Day 14: Santiago
We got into Santiago around 11. There was no particular sense of celebration, because the walk here was itself celebratory. Our band of 6 walked more or less together the whole way, talking and laughing and taking our time. (Maybe this is how we should have walked most days?) We waited in line for about 2 hours for our compostelas, then ate lunch at Burger King. While we were waiting in line, an old lady came up to us and said we could stay at her house, so we did. This is not something I would have considered a few weeks ago, but seems perfectly normal now.

And there you have it: 2 weeks that changed how I think about God, my views on luxury and comfort, the way I give (and possibly more importantly, receive) hospitality, my approach to friendship, how I make it through hardship, my feelings toward seashells and yellow arrows. I was miserable almost the entire time, yet I wouldn’t trade this experience for anything.

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