I am 27 km from Santiago. Tomorrow, around 2 PM, I shall reach the cathedral. I've been waiting for this moment all my life. This is it. Bucket list number 1. To be honest, I don't know what to expect. I might not even like the place. It doesn't matter. Santiago is not a city. It's an idea. In a way, we're already there. The job is done, many days ago. I can tell from my friends. In Saint Jean we challenged our demons. For weeks we got punched in the face. In Burgos we licked our wounds and prepared for war. Because the real battle happens in the Meseta. Some go mad and retreat by bus. Others march into Leon as victors. The Croix de Fer is the coup de grace. Le chef left his flag here. And his war traumas. I can see it in his eyes. Morten found his answers. Ernesto is smiling again. And me? The biggest lesson is to live in the present. There's no such thing as rebirth. And that's ok. It makes us who we are. Sooner or later the demons will catch up. But tomorrow ... we shall celebrate our victory. 27 more km. 27 more km.
Traditionally, the last 100 km are spread over 4 stages, but I want to do it in 3. I am running out of momentum and I don’t want this Sarria circus to destroy my spiritual journey. Yesterday, I did the first 33 km leg. Today, I’m facing a dilemma. The villages are unevenly spread. I could sleep in Arzua, but that leaves 40 km for the final day. A little too much. Or I jump directly to Salceda, the next village offering accommodation, 10 km after Arzua. It will be a monster stage. But if I bite the bullet today, I’ll be all relaxed walking into Santiago.
Actually, it will be hell. It’s raining all morning, the Camino is one endless mud-fest. Yeah, it’s gonna be one of those days again. Too bad, because Galicia offers some of the finest landscapes. Right now, it’s one grey mess. All I can think of is a coffee in the next village. I have to dig deep. Only in Melide the weather starts clearing but I still have a very long journey ahead. I arrive pretty toasted in Arzua and we’re still not there. I’m starting to count down the miles, like at the end of a marathon. The signs only say: ‘Complemento.’ Normally, I don’t mind taking the longer, scenic route, but now I’m starting to worry. Am I getting closer to Salceda? I ask some Spanish pilgrims for advice. “Where did you come from?” they ask. When I tell them Palas de Rei, their mouths drop wide open. “You’re Loco. That’s more than 50 km from here. 60 even.” I’m starting to believe them. I’m totally exhausted, maybe I pushed myself too hard. I’m not thinking straight any more. I’m struggling to find the Albergue de Boni. I arrive there like a zombie. “Drop your bag, take a shower, we’ll do the registration later” says the hospitalero in surprisingly fluent English. Now I need to wash my clothes and have a shave. Tomorrow is the big day. And I want to look my best in Santiago de Compostela. 27 more km, 27 more km.
El Albergue de Boni, along the busy N-547, at km 75.5 (just past Casa Verde), Salceda - +34 618 965 907 - Open Mar-Oct, from 2 pm till 11 pm - 30 beds, 10 euro - stunning place, 4 beds per room. Lovely sitting area and super friendly reception. The guy running this place speaks perfect English and takes care of your laundry. Gracias.
Next episode: ‘Day 27 to Santiago de Compostela - Losing my Religion’