Camino de Santiago Day Thirty-four to Thirty-six
Gonzar to Melide to A Salceda
Today we completed two 30km days in a row and we are within 25km of Santiago. We've walked over 700km from Saint Jean Pied de Port, France, for more than a month.
And after two days of rain, the sun came out and the sky was clear and blue.
We stopped in Melide for the night where we found an amazing vegetarian-vegan restaurant Casa Alongo run by Concha. She was happy to speak English and share her passion for fresh, local food. After a Camino of meat and typical pilgrim meals, it was a great find. She served us grilled vegetables with avocado aioli and tostada de pulpo--Galician bread toast with local cheese and octopus.
One bar along the road has bottled their own La Peregrina lager and invites pilgrims to write something on the bottle and decorate the patio.
We walked our second to last day with friends we met a week ago--John, Norbert and Agnes. We talked about our families and what it's like to make friends on the Camino.
Everyone is a blank slate and you can start a conversation with where are you from, where did you start or where are you going, and never get to what do you do. You realize everyone has a story--they are running from something or to something. The majority of people are kind and generous and appreciate acts of kindness.
And as different as we are from each other, we have a common goal of completing the Camino.
These three found each other early on became Camino friends--walking together, supporting and encouraging each other--and were finishing the Camino together. We met just outside Sarria and had dinner and breakfast together. It wasn't till breakfast that one asked what I did for work. When we bumped into each other a few days later, one said he had me pegged as a CEO and another was convinced I was a architect.
But I didn't know that night that he was a retired British officer, and son of a general who has served all over the world. He told some great stories of time with Prince Philip and the Queen and his rank order favorites in the royal family. We had the time to talk about grandchildren and faith and gratitude for all our blessings.
I walked with Norbert and talked about each of our two sons, faith and the political climate in Germany and the US. Amy and I ran into him multiple times in the previous days because he was slowed down with sciatic pain. We would spot him, stop and ask how he was. Amy empathized with the pain and encouraged him to rest. He was in pain but determined to walk slow and finish in Santiago.
We stopped for the night in A Salceda. Everyone is planning their last kilometers into Santiago. Some are making it in one 25km stretch and others will stop a short distance from Santiago so they can enter in the morning, get their compostela certificate and make mass in the cathedral at noon.
It's all about preparing ourselves physically and spiritually for finishing well after five weeks of the journey.