Day 39 – Sarria to Portomarin

This is our last leg now! And we eased through the first day 🙂 It started off with a drizzle before turning into heavier rain for about half an hour. That meant sloshing through mud. There was some parts of the track where the path was no longer visible, probably submerged in about 4 cm of water which meant the feet had to wade in some water for a little bit.

But it was no big deal – it’s only water, right?

The track was busier today, which was really refreshing to see. Many more faces and a different type of energy. The energy of people who were only starting so it reminded us fondly of our first day!

There was plenty of chit chat and buzz around…. Which has certainly been different for us as we have been walking with little noise around us for the past 35 days or so!

And it certainly took some getting use to. It is like we are slowly being integrated and reintroduced into ordinary life again.

So what is that teaching us?

That our lives are filled with routine and we need to ensure there is variety and new things introduced. We can be creatures of habits and sometimes change rattles us a bit but mixing things up creates a little excitement and intrigue. Different and new doesn’t necessarily equal a change for the worse. It probably should be seen as fresh and revitalizing.

So with an attitude of welcoming change, imagine all the different opportunities and experiences that can occur. And if not, well at least life won’t be boring or dull!



Day 37 – Triacastela to Sarria

It was a “short” walk through mystical and enchanted forests today if you believe in fairy tales! There were toadstools and ferrets and spiders to see 🙂 What was beyond the green foliage, we cannot tell you because we stayed on the track, following the yellow arrows.

As always, we had rocky paths to climb up, entering villages and farms along the way. And then we have to descend… treading carefully to not slip and end up hurting ourselves.

We were graced with beautiful blue skies  and sunshine once again, although the weather has begun to turn cold, and the autumn leaves are visible on some trees.

And now we are in Sarria, we have our last rest day tomorrow before we take on the last leg to Santiago! This is when apparently the numbers and crowds increase as this is the most popular section to do…

We have continued to greet everyone with Buen Camino, Buenos Dias or Ola and sometimes a combination of all three… 🙂 And we have maintained our enthusiasm and cheeriness from the start!

A fellow pilgrim said to us the other day, “When everyone is saying Buen Camino to one another, we all look at one another in the eye.” And that is a very true point he makes. It is because we are in the present and we are showing each other the respect we all deserve.

So today got us really thinking about how we say our greetings to our fellow pilgrims.

When those words are spoken, do we really think about what we are saying or are we just saying it?

And to be fair to ourselves, we say it with sincerity most of the time except for when we are caught off guard by feather feet people who have crept up on us. Actually when we hear people approaching from behind, we will stop, step aside and be sure to look at them as we wish them with one of the above greetings.

Ok, so we can honestly say that we do on the whole, think about the words we speak when we are on the Camino but what about outside of the Camino life?

Undoubtedly there are times where we say things purely because it (1) seems like the right thing to say, (2) is what is usually said or (3) appears polite to say it!

How many times have we agreed with someone else just because it is easier to? Or asked someone a question because it rolls off the tongue but we haven’t really thought of the question? A great example of this one is; “Hey, how’s things?” And if we were really mindful of that question, than we technically could be prepared for any response but sometimes we are not, especially when the response is “things are not going well”. Uh-oh, didn’t expect that response!

Likewise, with listening, we need to be more active and mindful. Our minds are busy and noisy and sometimes we are not fully present. If we learn to be mindful when we speak and mindful when we listen – our communication and interaction will not only be more sincere but the interaction will surely become more meaningful and real.


Now when we speak or listen, we will try to be in the moment. Our undivided attention will be on the current conversation to absorb what is being said and what we are trying to say – who knows, we might learn something new or understand something better or just appreciate what the conversation has to offer.

We now understand for us the biggest lesson of life from the Camino is to LIVE AND BE IN THE NOW! From this one main key lesson, many other lessons branch off.


Day 36 – O Cebreiro to Triacastela

It has officially sunk in! We will be home in 2 weeks. It is all becoming a little surreal that our walk ends in exactly a week’s time.

Where has the time gone when every day seems so long and the nights do as well. But here we are one town out of arriving at Sarria where many pilgrims start the walk which qualifies for the compostela (i.e. walk at least 100km).

To think we have come this far… that means walking over 650 km or so. Really?? When we decided to do it, it was kind of on a whim and then as the time approached, there was a little anxiety and “fear” about whether this was achievable. Knowing that for thousands of years, millions of pilgrims have embarked on this same journey, why couldn’t we?

Then we started worrying about whether we would get lost. How will we know where to go? Did we carry too much? What if we get stranded with no water or no food? All the worse case scenarios were dominating our thought patterns. And just the anxiety of whether we were fit enough to not only walk those distances per day but also whether we could climb those massive hills and then have to back it up day after day.

And ultimately, we committed to doing it and we are doing it! And there was nothing for us to really worry about at all. So why did we let those worries or fears plague us before we even started. Maybe because we didn’t believe in ourselves as much as we should. Maybe because we let our mind/fear get the better of us. Maybe because what lies ahead is unknown to us.

But as it turns out, the unknown doesn’t have to be scary, or ugly, or nasty, or negative! In fact, the unknown in this walk for us has only revealed itself to be beautiful, majestic, magical, rewarding, harmonious, uplifting, enlightening…and the list goes on. Throw in (1) meeting many great people, (2) teaching us lessons about ourselves and life, (3) an opportunity to truly have some time alone with our mind and thoughts; and (4) getting back with nature and appreciating everything that has been given to us on this earth. And what do you get when you mix all these together? The Camino – and us coming out on the other side with not only a different outlook on life, but a more positive attitude towards ourselves, one another and those that surround us.

We won’t get ahead of ourselves yet because we still have about 130-odd km to walk but the lesson we want to share is NOT LETTING FEAR guide our thoughts.

Fear can hinder the decisions we make because then we begin to speculate. Fair enough, if we want to be scared of running through an African safari with a lion chasing us. There is legitimate fear and then there is fear which is created in our minds based on no evidence.

So until we know for sure something BAD is going to happen or is highly likely to happen, there is really no need for us to worry so much in advance about something that “may” happen although as unlikely as it “may” be.


Day 35 – Ambasmestas to O Cebreiro

So what is better than sloshing through mud for 2 hours? Sloshing through mud, dodging cow poo and cows, walking on slippery rocks and going uphill for about 10 km in 2 hours. All while hoping it doesn’t rain. Yeh, sounds awesome right? And it seriously was!

Today we were blessed to not have any rain for the climb and we were graced with simply amazing views across the countryside. The clouds came and went as did the sun. But the entire morning was lovely. This morning when we woke up, we had packed our right attitude. We are now in Galicia at O Cebreiro and the climb was certainly one of our easier ones.

We are now in a room above a bar where we had read reviews on Tripadvisor about “rude staff”. We have read these type of service reviews often in our travels and have learned to take it with a grain of salt.

We are not travellers that expect that where we travel to, will be like it is at home. Because the reality is, it won’t! We don’t expect similar food options that we are familiar with. We don’t expect local people to be able to speak English. We don’t expect there to be air-conditioning etc etc.

But admittedly, we do get a little put off when people are rude to us sometimes! We may try to speak the language in a restaurant or hotel but get very little back from our waiter or reception staff.

We were speaking to a fellow pilgrim the other day who said something rather true. Who are we to think that we deserve to be treated “a certain way”? That certain way is by a standard that the community has set in our own countries.

So the fact that we are David and Le counts for nothing?? Who?? That’s exactly it! Everyone is the same and everyone local or tourist or expat are alike. We don’t need amazing wonderful service or need people to be serving us! They are working just like what we do when we are at home. This whole ridiculous notion that “the customer is always right” has been fed to certain societies to make US think we have a right to be right. Which for some people think it also allows them to be demanding!

Let’s just stop once in a while and ask what our expectations are for when we are being served in a shop, in a restaurant or on a bus. Does it really affect our experience? Of course it does, but maybe that’s all in our heads. And really we should be thinking about what we are really getting out of it. We still walk out with the dress we came in to buy, or the meal we came into eat, and the bus got us to where we needed to be.

We are not suggesting that rudeness is acceptable. But maybe the person serving us, had a bad day or just had an awful customer before us. Or maybe we have had a bad day ourselves and have subconsciously expected that everyone should therefore be nicer to us!

So before we are critical of the service we are getting anywhere or start complaining, we need to stop and really think about why we care so much. And so what, if we didn’t get the service we expected? Maybe we are caring for the right reason, then that’s ok! But if we are caring just because we want to have something to whinge about…. Then maybe we need to think twice before complaining!

Check our attitude before we blame someone else’s attitude! And sometimes, it’s better to say, “So what?” and move on – life is too short to worry about not getting the service we expect!

Day 34 – Villafranca del Bierzo to Ambasmestas

In our heads, we thought today was going to be one of the easier legs but we were wrong from the word GO!

Within the first 5 minutes, we were walking up an incline at what felt like at 60 degree for 3.5 km. Then the fog and mist were completely surrounding us just before the drizzle started. We had light rain on and off for most of the day. So on went the ponchos, then off came the ponchos, up went the umbrellas, down came the umbrellas. At least we got to put our rain gear to great use 🙂

Next, we trudged through mud before getting lost and needing to backtrack because we missed a track turn off! Which subsequently was downhill on loose rocks AGAIN! Our knees are never ever going to forgive us for this. This all happened JUST before the rains came – hard and fast!

And of course, for majority of the day, we did not see a single other pilgrim until the final 3 km. So we did feel like we were all alone and lost in the world.

It was a mentally trying day more than a physical one, that is for sure!

But guess what?! Whenever we got to a point where we needed help – the Camino provided! There was either a place to stop for lunch, a yellow arrow to redirect us or local people available to help us.

Our experiences on the Camino have centered a lot around giving. Whether it be giving someone a wave, physically giving someone something, just giving someone a hand or giving some advice.

The last few days in particular it has really been accentuated for us. A few days ago, we had stopped for a bit because of a cramp in Le’s leg. This lovely fellow pilgrim walked past and offered if he could help in any way and we explained it was just a cramp. He wished us well and on he went before turning back after 40 metres or so to give Le an energy bar that had Magnesium it in. He insisted we hold on to it.

Yesterday, we woke up for our rest day and when we opened our bedroom door, we saw a wine bottle with a note scrawled on it from a Camino friend who thought of us when he enjoyed a glass of the wine.

It was such a pleasant surprise even though we don’t drink alcohol but not for a second did that even cross our minds. What crossed our minds FIRST was what a wonderful gesture!

Then we went for lunch with some other Camino friends in Ponferrada after we visited the Templar Castle. And one of them said she would buy us lunch. We didn’t have her buy us our lunch.

And this is when it got us thinking. Not about her buying us lunch but about giving and receiving.

On the Camino, it is about giving and receiving and it’s about losing and gaining. And it does feel right regardless of whichever side you are on.

In society, some people love to give and while receiving sometimes feels unnatural for whatever reason, whether it be because we don’t want to appear like we are taking advantage of the situation or that we need help etc etc.

But the reality is, why is receiving so hard sometimes?! Is it our ego/conscious mind being too proud and not wanting to appear vulnerable, weak, or greedy? ? It actually doesn’t make any sense when such an act of kindness is rejected!

If someone is genuinely and sincerely giving us something, what is the harm in us saying thank you and accepting it?

There are ENDLESS stories of giving on the Camino and they are all heartfelt in some shape or form. They are such a natural act to witness. And it’s not just about giving someone a pair of shoes or an umbrella, it’s about giving so much more. It is about giving the recipient hope, shelter, warmth, love, compassion, kindness, security…. And the list goes on for the abstract things! But at the end of the day; To give, there needs to be someone on the receiving end. And that person on the receiving end, sometimes just needs to accept.

We need to be more gracious and just appreciate that someone cared ENOUGH for us to want to help or give us something. Even if it is buying us lunch. Maybe it is their way of showing us that they are thinking of us.