|Signs of the times along the way.|
By day 18, the road was wearing on the crew. Still, we had some hiking to do. I woke in Tricastela, ready to wander to Sarria, where I'd meet the rest of the gang. And we'd make our way Barbedelo, just 25 k ahead for July 27.
Roosters and chickens greet me as I make my way out of town. The girls have gone ahead for a night. I'll meet them in Sarria. It’s a quiet peaceful road out of town through the ancient walking path.
There are so many things to see along the way. The straight path would leave so much behind. We are done with mountains for a while. From now on its flat ground. Yet, the hills still roll along with our feet. Crickets and trees greet me as I stroll through the countryside.
People make art; offer free coffee, and open spaces everywhere.
Walking through a Balsa, I see Occupy signs, with messages on cardboard.
One door is open to a courtyard with couches, people sitting about.
“Did you squat this place?” I ask.
“No we rented it. Want a cup of coffee Ben?”
“No thank you.”
“There are a lot of old homes you can find in Spain.”
Along this route, they were open for us all to see.
Some of the elders walked through the old town, seemingly oblivious to the kids along the way.
Another sign beckons pilgrims to a gallery full of objects, minerals, barn tools painted, the whole place a work of art, extending from the home out into the fields and trees, taking us back to the route.
I keep passing a young Italian woman, Carla, who I’ve seen for days. We see each other all day, greeting and walking. Sometimes we talk, sometimes just passing.
We all meet for lunch in Sarria, for the final 120 k stretch of the hike. The girls saw the funny Americans the night before, laughing together.
The noonday giant is always near. But we never know when he’ll grasp us, making another step forward feel impossible without a good night’s sleep.
“There’s no choice here,” number two reminds her younger sister. “We have to walk it out. Everyone wants to finish this.”
“Everything is a choice,” the nine year old retorted. “Even to live is a choice.”
They’ve decided they want to finish the final 100 k in three days.
Really? I think to myself. 100 K in three days means at least 33 a day. But usually four. Thus far in the walk. 20 k days are still work. 25 are a lot of work. And 30 k days are epic. But we’re in shape now. And everyone wants to get to Santiago and free themselves, ourselves of the hike.
We had make a reservation at Casa a Carmen, but when we see the sign for a pool at Casa Barbadelo, we change plans, taking a room there.
Most of our friends are there, sitting at the pool, drinking pints of beer, Americans, Germans, an couple from Ireland, California. Gradually, the four gal hiking together start to show up. Everyone enjoys a laugh and a plunge in the pool. There are moments when the Camino is grand. And this is one of them. We drink and take in the sun, swimming and sitting.
“Its about over,” notes a young man from Germany, reflecting on his month on the trail. He’ll go back to Berlin after the hike. But for today, the pool feels great.
Two women from Amsterdam sit up on the hill. Everyone hangs their clothes on the clotheslines. Dinner is lovely.
We share a room with two Italians, who come in hours after we go to bed.
By one or two in the morning, the bed bugs plague the gals. At this point in the trip, Caroline can’t sleep until she is sure they are not there. Even then, she doesn’t really sleep. On this occasion, she goes out to sleep in the field with the kids. They stay there until a dog starts barking in the distance. And they come back in, hustling and bussling, as we walk.
“Shhh…” I implore them.
We have a ton of walking to day in only a few hours.