My walk over the last big mountain is done. Galicia is beautiful and I hope I’ve caught just a little of that in my photos. I didn’t get to see my wolf, but I did get to spend some of my favourite time ever in my head. It’s fun in there.
Galicia is an interesting region with an interesting history. There is a strong Celtic influence, the Celts first settling here in the 11th century. As a result there are things that might normally seem out of place, like listening to people playing the Bagpipes or the Chandler, which I have experienced on three occasions.
The mountain villages are quite isolated and travelling through them and staying in them has been a genuine highlight of the walk. There are some places in the path where it has been worn down with the millions of pilgrim’s footsteps over time. This sometimes leaves the path two or three metres below the surrounding terrain. It is still stirring to me to think of the millions of pilgrims who have taken this journey through the centuries, including one of my personal heroes, Francis of Assisi.
I’ve met some interesting travel companions over the last few days, a Spanish police captain (I was well behaved), and a tour group who were doing it all in style. They were staying in hotels and had a bus carrying their luggage from point to point. They had a tour guide who was a friendly chap and knew his stuff. Now I know that there are the “purists” out there who think that it has to be all suffering and snoring, but you know what? They were having a great time, seeing great sights in good company and in a manner that was suited to them and their abilities. We each have our own Camino. I’ve had a few friends message me and say that they would love to do the Camino but they’re a bit intimidated, maybe this would be a good way to try it. This group was called Fresco tours, but I’m sure there would be others. I’m planning on putting a page or two up when I finish with some tips and tricks for those who want to do it the traditional way. Of course feel free to message me if you have any questions.
The Catholic Church has designated that a pilgrim must either walk the last 100Km into Santiago or cycle the last 200Km in order to receive their Compostella. I am currently in Sarria, which is 112Km from Santiago and therefore a common starting point for pilgrims wishing to comply with the 100Km requirement. As a result I expect things to get busier on the trail from here. A bonus however is that the trail is better serviced and I can stop more regularly for coffee…and the ensuing toilet breaks. It also means that I will likely have to carry less water. I mean in water bottles, NOT water retention.
Which brings me to a story and a thought. A couple of weeks back I was walking a stretch where there was some significant distance between villages and the last two villages did not have drinking water. As a result I was down to my last 200ml or so with still at least a couple of hours walk to the next village. It was also headed toward sunset, and to be honest I was getting a little nervous. I didn’t think I was going to die of dehydration, but I did think that I might be in for a very uncomfortable evening, when in the distance, a water pump appeared. No it was not a mirage.
It was a little off the track, but I walked down to it all excited about replenishing my water supply. I happily pumped the handle, giddy with the anticipation of plentiful sweet water, and of course the prospect of putting my head under said water. But nothing came out. More spirited pumping yielded the same result. It was then that I spotted a small note next to the pump. This pump requires priming, you have to put water in it.
You probably have heard of these pumps, and I’ve seen a few in my time. They need water added at the start to form a seal and make them work. Often protocol with such pumps is to leave a water bottle or bucket beside the pump for the next user. You use this water and replenish it from your pumping. This had not happened here.
So an interesting conundrum. This pump is asking me to bet my last water with the promise that it will give me more in return. I must admit that I tarried a bit before finally deciding to take the plunge, and happily it worked.
With some walking still ahead of me and room in my enormous brain for ruminatin’, I came to pondering about the nature of the bet, and indeed what else am I either asked to bet on or choose to bet on. I would have described this as a small bet in the overall scheme of things. If I had lost I would have been uncomfortable and thirsty and would have likely forgotten the discomfort a few hours later.
But there are bigger things that I also have a flutter on. My education, work, relationships, love, spirituality, Coke v Coke Zero. I’m sure you get the point. All of these things come with either a promise or the hope of a promise. In my life journey, some have paid off while others haven’t. For some the bet is big, really big. I tarried for a few minutes over 200ml of water, and yet I can go for months or even years not spending five minutes over something like a life well lived, or spiritual truth. How short sighted and carnal I can be.
Still, at least I’m not thirsty.