My Camino has taken an unexpected detour to the wild and beautiful coast of Spain, the Océano Atlántico.
Question: what would you do if you were in my boots and had to take a break from the Camino or stop hiking? Would you go home or take a detour?
If I could, I would live by the sea, with my family and friends, in the salty air, fall asleep to the sound of waves and wake up to the music of sea life, with only my Camino possessions and be content and always ready for my next walk.
First I had to move away from the sadness and disappointment of interrupting my journey. This wasn’t my plan, all those months of mental and physical preparation, with a backpack and adding Km’s daily, rainy or blistering hot days, often training with my daughter, who will someday walk these steps. Not planning every detail, but knowing I belonged on the Camino, ever since I walked into Santiago last year.
Understanding I will always be on a Camino, no matter the physical surroundings, I hope to spend the coming days on or near the coast, breathing in salt air and gratitude. I’m choosing a detour and know there will be challenges and surprises along the way.
For me, Camino isn’t a vacation, but a time for practical and spiritual contemplation, distilling life, to experience the essence, away from daily distractions and needs. Carrying everything I need in my backpack. It is simplicity, forming relationships with people from all over the world, communicating with more than words.
What we share, our humanity, becomes more important than the Borders that separate us. We are more than the lines and policies, the political history we inherited. We share the spiritual, physical and emotional struggles, challenges and rewards of the journey of walking through life, one step at a time.
Am I still a Pilgrim when my steps are interrupted by pain or injury? The answer is simple. The Camino has given me the gift of knowing who I am.
A Coruña, is a city in Galicia, with a population of almost 250,000, only a half hour by train from Santiago on the breathtaking Costa da Morte, (in Gallego) like Muxia and Finisterre, which are very different and much smaller. They, too, are on my list.
Today on the promenade in A Coruña
2016 in Muxia after Santiago. Yes I’m wearing sandals. Hoping to return.
One of the Camino de Ingles routes starts here and I’ve already gotten a sello for my Pilgrim Passport and scoped out the starting point. I had hoped, with rest, I would be ready to walk this trail before the end of my journey. Maybe next time.
I’m staying in a centrally located hostal, close to port, beach and Ciudad Vieja and Praza Maria Pita. My room is modest, a few steps above San Martin’s seminarian’s former cells, which are above albergues for privacy. But… I think privacy is over-rated, as I love the social interaction of an albergue. Sleep, however, is not over-rated and is essential for our mind and body to function well, given the rigors of the trail. A mix of both, albergues and private accommodations, seems the perfect choice.
Sleep comes quickly in my quiet and private room, with the sea air and ice cream cure. I’m trying not to feel guilty for this break, spending my time writing, taking pictures, exploring, people watching and dreaming of the Camino.
And walking if I can.
I’ve experienced different challenges than on the Camino. The first two days I was disoriented by the weekend crowds, everyone seemed to be part of a couple or family and I was alone. I wasn’t sure what tapas to order or how to eat them. Fork and knife? Finger food? When are cafes and tapa bars open? Who takes a siesta and who works? My elementary Español that worked on the Camino, isn’t quite right for Galician in A Coruña. I know these are minor, but it took me a day or two to feel comfortable eating alone in a crowd, asking for ice for my ankle, even joking with strangers, trusting that perfection wasn’t needed.
I watched A family taking turns standing in these boots in front of a zapateria and they offered to photograph me. We all laughed together. These might be just what I need on the Camino.
Today’s flavor for a cucurucho pequeño (small cone) was chocolate and pistachio. Single scoop, two flavors.
Chocolate and churros, my favorite
Pimientos padrón and a salmon tapa
These pictures aren’t in any order, just the overload of so much to see and so little time. Mostly I just stroll and observe.
Pistachio and crem de caramel, decadent pre-dinner appetizer. The cow bench is for kids to sit on. One scoop, two flavors. The best helado ever!
What a beautiful and clean city, like so many I’ve visited in Spain. Lots of space for social interaction, dancing, music, community gathering, walking, playing, living together. Children with parents everywhere at all hours.
On the Camino and in Santiago I’m a Pilgrim and it’s easier to share conversations with other Pilgrims or strangers. The backpack and scallop shell are conversation starters, even in an airport. Here it’s challenging to connect with people beyond buenos diás.
In a city, a hostel or albergue might be just my style to meet more people, what I love about leaving home. I’ll think about that choice.
There’s a 14 km promenade around the beach and port, but I’ve just strolled some at the beach and around.
Even for shorter distances it’s a great walk.
While nothing compares to the Camino, this is where I am.
My next steps are a mystery. Ultreia. Irene