Tuesday, September 24th

Seems odd that tomorrow I'll be in Santiago. This the second last day of walking. Today's destination is Arca, then Santiago tomorrow. And that's it. The Destination. For nearly three months I've been walking to Santiago and I'll have finally arrived. Where an abstract noun becomes a Proper One. When the concept, the idea, becomes real.

Still in Arzua
Cafe Ameixa, and you just have to admit, the planet could do with a few more names with the letter 'x' in them.

So far mostly walking along a wide forest track, through some villages, uphills and down, crossing some streams at the bottom of the downs, then uphills again, nothing too demanding.
Pilgrims passing, some solo, some in groups, some taking an interest in what Chris is painting. This particular hill, lined with what I think are elms, moss covered, with branches overhanging the way, leafy and green, and slowly becoming day behind us. The pinkish yellow clouds boding a good day.
Another solo pilgrim walks by, a scallop shell around his neck, his trousers artfully patched. Now another one, a two-stick specialist, older, grey, smiling, but carrying a heavy pack, "gracias, trés bien," as he goes by.

The bar, and it's really ordinary. Was hoping for something cute, but whatever. The woman serving sneezing and spluttering over the Tarta de Santiago. So, it's just the coffees thanks.

Another memorial to a fallen peregrino.

Guillermo Watt

There's been a few long The Way. I suspect the sneezing woman at Salceda may be responsible for a few. I'd suggest avoiding the Tarta de Santiago there.

Oh Lordy, here's another one:

Mariano Sánchez Corisa Carro
Peregrino a pie
Falleció aquí 24.09.1993

Hell, it's the anniversary of this peregrino's death.
Must've withstood the toxic Tarte a little longer than Guillermo.

a little later



And like a vision, a Coke machine appears out of nowhere. A shrine, a miracle. Better than holy water ...

First, and I think only bar in town. Been following another "pilgrim path" of cobblestones leading into town. Awful to walk on, give me gravel please.
But I'll settle for this coke, from a machine that works, and a zangana thingy, like a miniature swiss roll.

Have a headache you could photograph, maybe brought on by an overdose of 'ola' and 'buene Camino' to every single pilgrim along the way, or maybe brought on by a note left on one of the kilometre markers, "the way to your heart is the true Camino", well then, peregrino, why bother walkin'? Seems a real pity that some airhead pilgrim had the flash of realization that it's a complete waste of time. Bejaysus, you could be finding The Way just by sittin' still, on yer lounge floor, and listenin' to yer Enya records. That crap was also an argument put forward by Saint Augustine, to destroy the legitimacy of the Camino itself, by stating that the only true pilgrimage was an inner one, thus, in one stroke, destroying the legitimacy of any idea of external pilgrimage to any particular place as a valid spiritual exercise. This reinterpretation, of what pilgrimage actually means, was based on political decisions made by those who saw advantages in the destruction of the Spanish economy at the time.

Maybe the unsignposted directions to the albergue. Most towns have yellow arrows leading to the albergues. Arca doesn't. I suspect you're just meant to somehow know that you turn left at the main road, then keep walking about ½km, with no reassurances that you're heading the right way, even though you're actually heading out of town.

Maybe it's the other pilgrims, and some are just so full of shite, the young ones with the skimpy backpacks, the slightly less young ones who pretend they've had great insight and flashes of self-realization. Sorry, guys, but you wouldn't have a feckin' clue between yourselves. Then there's the peregrino's who turn up utterly clean, totally devoid of even a speck of dirt on their backpacks. I don't know how you managed it, must never have put them down, anywhere.

Well, that's about it. Tomorrow's 17kms ends at Santiago.
Chris is asking how I feel, and I still don't know. A little sad, maybe, that it's nearly over, and maybe a little glad for the same reason. It's been so simple. Get up, walk, walk some more, arrive at some destination, find a bed, sleep, then repeat the entire process the next day, and the next, and just keep on doing it 'til it's over.