Eighteen miles on foot is a long way, especially in Galicia where the summer weather can be fickle. This would be the first time during our pilgrimage where it rained. Halfway through the final leg of the journey ‘Mother Nature’ reminded us of who was in charge. While the rainstorm was brief, our shoes and socks were now soaking wet and we’d have to complete the journey with damp feet. Undaunted, we pushed onward to Santiago.
In this the sixth day, nagging injuries were taking a toll. Slow turned into slower yet it gave us more time to savor the beauty of this verdant landscape, the foggy mist rising up out of the hills and forests, the rustling of leaves, the sun’s breathtaking images of hide and seek with the clouds.
We human beings were not meant to be alone. Without our fellow pilgrims we’d still be working our way to the finish line. There was Daniel, the young man from the Czech Republic, who filled the first hour of our trek with his reason for walking the Camino—trying to figure out a complicated life in a peaceful surrounding and Nikki the black girl from London with the easy smile. I can still hear her calling out to us in the distance, “I’ll see you on the next hill.” There was Mike from Chicago pressing forward on one crutch because of a twisted ankle. There would be no denying him the final prize.
That’s the Camino for you. When we thought we could go no further, when we thought our wheels would go out from under, we once again came into contact with our new friends– the Darka Girls Club from Lisbon. Their youthful energy was contagious and without it, I’m not so sure we’d have finished. To see their schoolgirl faces when the cathedral’s spires came into view, to hear their joy…well I look back on it now with a tear (or two). As we posed for photos in front of the great cathedral and said our goodbyes, I felt a peace unlike any other…the peace of passing the baton of hope and dreams to the young. Buen Camino!