Simon Benson & Alison Edwards
Our Last Camino Frances
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(Alison writes)

We are now only 140 km from the end and I am not feeling as sorry as last time. Galicia is as beautiful as I remember - all greens and greys and mist and some sun dappled fields. We have seen our first Galician granary, the churches keep getting smaller and smaller, and we are enjoying walking in the sunken laneways called correidors. I will not be sorry to finish as I am still bothered by the number of people walking - it is certainly different to any walking around Melbourne, barring perhaps a Mother's Day funrun. And for those, I don't believe you can send a pack on ahead by taxi!

It has been good to stop and not think too much, not need to plan ahead or decide what you are doing tomorrow. But even that is changing. Last month 27,000 pilgrims walked into Santiago, so this month that will increase to about 1000 per day. This almost certainly means we will have to pre book accommodation or stop earlier than we would otherwise or miss out on a bed. I am just starting to think aboit my new job and Castlemaine projects which for me is a sign that it is nearly over. I am not such a purist that I will walk all the way if I stop enjoying it but so far we have only taken the bus through Leon's suburbia and out of Ponferada. Ponferada was because it was raining and we were both feeling angry after Simon's walking boots went missing. We searched for 2 hours, the hospiteleros searched too but they were simply gone. Simon is walking in crocs - I know he could buy new boots but he says he doesn't want to - and it took us half a day to get over feeling angry, helped by several very nice locals we met in the next few days.

I thought coming home to winter would be hard but the Spanish weather is as crazy here as the rest of the world. It is cold - today I walked in a thermal top, a woollen vest and a windstopper and gloves - and even so I was freezing. Luckily tomorrow's forecast is apparently for more typical weather and it is due to stop raining and start being sunny again.

I am not planning to come back here again so it is lovely to get the chance to see some of these places again, and to explore other places we missed last time. I am looking forward to not having to moderate my English for other people and even more to understanding more of everything around me.

(Simon writes)

Now we are 40km from "the end" - but, unknown to anyone else, for us we are at the end. We are staying in Ribadiso, a lovely spot; but the last 40km of walking involves not just a lot of outer suburbs but also a lot of "day walkers" - people carrying either a small daypack, or nothing at all. On this morning's walk from Melide, less than 1 person in 20 was carrying their own belongings. And there were a lot of people!

Tbere has been a lot more of this since we last walked here but here, towards the end, it is intensifying. So tomorrow we plan to walk 2km into Arzua, stop at a cafe for breakfast, and then take a bus into Santiago, and then pehaps a train straight to Ourense. Not a traditional end to the Camino, but a practical one.

What I have found sad about the camino this time is that the sense of cameraderie there used to be on it has been much diluted; there is much more bag forwarding, taxi use, and advance reservations at hostels. More commercialisation in general. I am very glad that the municipal hostels will not take bookings at all, but sad that the private ones (the majority) will.

 

Simon's_Journal