After a short day on Tuesday of 10kms, on Wednesday I was able to go a full stretch again. It turned out to be the most amazing day. I was free, full of life, open to my surroundings, appreciating every km and trusting that eventually the full 33 kms of that particular day would bring me to a bed.
My feet brought me all the way, not only to a bed, but also to be reunited with many of the walkers I'd met weeks ago (some of which I didn't think I'd meet again). It was quite a special evening in the hostel; the most communal feeling I've had on the whole Camino. I'm not sure why. Maybe because the journey had been so 'up and down' up until that point and on that day I felt I was being welcomed back in to a family with open arms, especially by Irish Mary and her Spanish and Italian companions. How unexpected, but so precious for our paths to cross again.
The next morning I decided to walk with them. They'd invited me before but I'd pulled back, wanting to go alone. At that stage however, it felt right to let myself be apart of a group. I realized, during the 28kms on Thursday, that walking together in a group, if the pace is right, is just as special as walking alone.
Thursday evening I suddenly saw the end of this part of the Camino, drawing closer; Salamanca was only a 24km-day away!
I´d been contemplating walking another 70kms, from Salamanca to Zamora, before flying to Ireland on Tuesday morning (the 30th). Because a part of me didn't want to stop moving. But I realized the largest part of myself, wanted to take a breather, to catch up on some rest, to step back from the experience and to cool down properly and process. I didn't want to be running off the Camino trail and on to a Ryan Air flight! Before starting the walk, I'd planned to stop walking in Salamanca, to visit the city properly for an extra day and then visit Madrid before flying back to Ireland. So, with great relief, on Thursday evening I decided that arriving in Salamanca on Friday would be the final leg of the journey, for the time being. I also chose to walk the last 24 kms from San Pedro de Rozabos to Salamanca, with the group.
It´s quite fascinating how this particular group became like a family to me; Mary from Ireland, her Spanish friend Hugo (from Cadiz in the south of Spain), Mari and Jose (from Barcelona), the beautiful Russian Sasha and Angelo from Italy. The amount of language barriers there were, didn't stop me from becoming quite absorbed. Friday afternoon, after reaching Salamanca, we spent the day with the 7 of us, roaming the streets of beautiful Salamanca, taking in the city vibes and celebrating we'd made it so far.
Yesterday I was still very much in the 'Camino' bubble. This morning, after saying goodbye to the group, it started to open up. Mary, Hugo, Sasha and Angelo have walked onwards and will continue to, until they reach Santiago (another 500kms north west). Mari and Jose went back to Barcelona this morning. As for me, I'm in Salamanca, taking some time to start stepping into whatever will come next.
There are hundreds of reflections, insights and feelings that have come to me throughout the previous 3 weeks, and the nearly 550kms I´ve walked - both alone and in union with other walkers. To sum it up for now... I think the biggest revelation is that LIFE itself is a CAMINO (camino meaning ROAD in Spanish). The biggest issues we stumble upon as we walk these routes, are the issues we're actually dealing with during our daily life. However, in our daily life, we're not always faced with them so 'sternly'. On the CAMINO, there's no escape.
Throughout the passed week, I was feeling as if this walking was actually bringing me to be walking AWAY from myself. But the consciousness that these walks have almost forced me to place on my physical body, tells me what I'm dealing with most in my own life, but was unaware of. It's true that, not until we start challenging ourselves in ways that our daily lives don't challenge us, do we realize our shortcomings. I realize mine... I've given those shortcomings my attention and made them a priority on this Camino. I've learned the importance. I've felt the satisfaction that comes when the phyiscal body brings us further than we ever imagined. However, I've felt the fear, when it doesn't. I know my mind and my core are so powerful. And the house in which they hold their space, is just a relevant, sustained, strong and invincible yet vulnerable all at once.