Good greetings to you from Oviedo, Spain. Here I sit, in a fairly large library in the old part of this city, waiting until 5pm for when the pilgrim hostel opens! Outside is market day, where little kiosks are set up with clothes and umbrellas with very cheap prices enticing the tourists to look for a good bargain. My eyes glances a few times, but what do I need? I am just a pilgrim, with my home on my back, life is simple, only carrying what I need. It´s beautiful in its simplicity, though my trail shirt is slowly thinning, an dbeing worn away, I feel that it will carry me through to the end!
What a week it´s been, travelling alongside the coast of the Atlantic ocean, trails that at times wound along the beach (yes on sand even) up on cliffs to overlook the ocean and reaveal phenomenal bluffs, sea birds, boats and all kinds of exciting beach life. True to the beach lifestyle, folks begin to set their chairs out in the early morning sun, lazing oon the sand, and occassionally, going into the salty water to cool their skin, before returning to their lounge chairs for more bronzing. I got my perfect opportunity in Santoña, to take a refreshing swim in the ocean, after a long hot sunny day of walking. But the trail has been exciting. Twice, I have had to take a boat to cross the water in order to meet back up with the trail, and another day, was required to take the train, one stop in order to cross a large river. Kind of exciting to shake up the day a little. I loved the boat rides, being able to sit and watch the surfers in the wavers, paragliders flying about off shore and the coastal winds rushing through my hair as I took it all in! Phew! Yesterday, after much ho-humming, I hopped a bus from Llanes to Oviedo.
This past section along the north coast, has certainly been one of beauty and have felt like I am on a lovely holiday, but I was beginning to feel the strain of too many cities and too many paved roads. It was hard to make the decision to skip a portion of trail especially this far into the journey, but there were two reasons why I made this decision! First, my trip up until now, has been filled with very long days and distances, and second my time is running out. I want to savour the last 2 weeks on the trail, drink in the experiences and landscape and make it to Finnesterre. For me, walking to Finnesterre holds more importance than being along the coast. I want to see the end of the world and feel like I have reached where I set out to go. So I move away from the northern coast, which was lovely, but now I turn to the mountains and then join with the main route to Santiago and onwards to the end of the world ! This route (the primitivo) is the first pilgrimage trail, and winds through the Absturian mountains. The trail I have heard is more rugged (compared to the highways and paved roads of the past week, this will be a relief for my feet!), and the camino winds up and down and over and through the mountains, revealing small villages containing a more rustic vision of Spain. The Camino del Norte, goes through a lot of larger towns and cities, making it challenging to feel like you are on a great journey, and not just walking from one big place to the next. But the journey continues to be amazing it is just different and for me to see some of the smaller villages will be a treat!
Over the past three days, I again made some friends and had the pleasure to travel with them. Both were from Germany, Oliver and Anna. I only got to walk with Oliver for one day, before he fell back due to an overwhelmingly heavy bag and the foot problems due to carrying so much. Anna and I continued on together for another two days before splitting in Oviedo, as she wanted to drop down onto the traditional Camino Frances. We plan to meet again, in 10 days time, when the two trails join, taking us on towards Santiago! Pretty neat. If it all works out, I look forward to be able to have a familiar face to finish with in the end, and share of our two very different trail experiences!
Today, my final rest day of this trip, has been one of transition, preparing for the last leg. I can now feel that Santiago and my time on the trail is winding down. It´s crazy. Spain is certainly very different from France. I have found that there are very few who speak English. The spanish, it is clear to see, are proud of their country and their language! It doesn´t matter if I tell them I cannot understand, they just wave their hand as if to say, that doesn´t bother me, and continues on speaking in spanish, happy to share information, stories, directions. Me not able to really understand any of it, though I try. Instead I have come to nod my head, or try to dicipher hand signals to the best of my ability in order to maybe create a small idea of what is going on. It´s rather funny, and have gotten good use out of my little phrasebook, stumbling over small simple phrases. Downside, is ask a question in Spanish its hard to know what the answer is for lack of language skills.
Everyone is so kind along the way, pilgrims and spaniards alike. Everywhere, an excited face greets you in recognition of being a pilgrim. I love how along the trail, you can meet other pilgrims and easily stop to talk, or join together walking for a short bit and share experiences, thoughts, ideas or give information to the town ahead. I feel lucky to share the trail with so many interesting people! I met my second group of Canadians over a week ago. A group from Lethbridge, Alberta actually and we happily fell into conversation about our homeland. There was 6 of them, and this was their 8th year on the Camino, doing small two week sections. Next year, they hope to reach Santiago. Can you believe that? 8 years, flying across the pond, picking up where you left off?! Inspirational and incredible...my head and heart always seems to be filled with the stories and feelings of amazement.
So, as I move into the last weeks out here, I am excited to see and walk through the mountains, to have days where I can just savour the time on the trail and not have to rush through the day, and to see the end of the world will be a moment that I feel will bring tears to my eyes! To each of you, you are always in my thoughts, I feel the pull towards home and am looking forward to the visits that will be had and the stories to share. Enjoy the sunshine, the fresh fruits of August (its peach and berry season!!!! not to mention pie season!)
Until the next, big hugs and cheers!
If you wait to do everything until you're sure it's right, you'll probably never do much of anything. -Win Borden
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