Remembering My Journey

Sarria to Portomarin – 23kms (plus an extra 2kms for missing a turn.)

What a tough start to the day. It started raining heavily within moments of walking out the door, Riley made me feel like crap before storming off and within 10mins of walking, I was walking up an incline with a body that weighed like cement and struggling to stop crying. I’m not even sure I was managing a km an hour. Elderly ladies were blitzing past me!

I was angry at myself for letting Riley get to me. I was upset for feeling like this when I have had five weeks of feeling removed from these kinds of issues and upset that it was impacting my Camino experience.

I finally made it to Casa Barbadelo to stop for breakfast and get out of the rain. By the time I walked in, the person in front of me took the last croissant, leaving me with the only option of a heavy, stodgy tortilla. I only managed a quarter of the slice before I had to push it aside. I was already feeling like cement, I didn’t need my stomach to add to the mix.

Riley was waiting there and I told him not to wait, but he stayed. I don’t know whether he was feeling bad about the way he had been or simply isn’t aware of it and had completely forgotten it with the walking, but I was still feeling a little bruised, so as soon as I was done, I left him to it.

While I was gathering all my things, I ran into Sanne, a lady from Denmark who had joined us for dinner all the way back in Belorado! We chatted for a little bit before I got on my way.

My heart felt so heavy as I walked up the hill, battling the instinct to be with the child that is here, with honouring the child that isn’t. Again, the tears came.

Once again, the Camino provided in a very unexpected way. As I reached the top, with tears falling, right in front of me was a rainbow. I instantly felt I was being told to remember why I was here. This is about me and about Bree. While it means the world to me that Riley is here, I need to let him walk his own Camino and not let myself get caught up in the typical parent/child (teenager!) angst.

The view around me was beautiful and I once again felt connected with the Camino. Thank you Miss Muffet.

It was a much easier walk after this and with Riley walking in the same vicinity. My mind may not have been 100% back though because we followed a road about a km down before it didn’t feel right, so I pulled out the App and sure enough, we needed to go back.

When we got to the point where we should have been, the number of arrows were like neon flashing signs!

This was more like it.

It was time for second breakfast and the one place available in Morgade was packed with pilgrims all thinking the same.

I really wanted a fresh orange juice (no joy here), but as I was waiting in line, my eye was caught by some kind of pastry that looked homemade compared to the croissants etc. I ordered two and oh, my, goodness. It was the most amazing thing I have tasted on the Camino! If any of my Camino friends know what this, please let me know. It was kind of syrupy, like baklava, but far softer pastry and no nutty taste. Heaven on a plate.

Sara and Evan arrived with Sanne right at the time we were leaving. We said hellos and goodbyes at the same time and I highly recommended the pastry thing.

The pathway has been mostly woodland forest trails, but every now and then we’d pass an open field, taking my mind back to the Meseta. Strange how much of an impact this section had on me.

Unlike Cruz de Ferro, I had been pre-warned about the 100km milestone having lots of graffiti etc, so I knew I wasn’t going to leave one of Bree’s hearts at that point. This would be my last heart along “the Way” before the final one in Santiago, which seemed a bigger deal than the whole journey! I knew I would find a spot that would bring me peace.

I did at the 104km point.

What a journey it has been in memory of Bree, talking about her and continuing the bond I will have with her for the rest of my life. Maybe I needed today to remember my journey.

After a seemingly endless 4kms, we finally reached the 100km mark. There was a queue of people taking their photos but there was such excitement in the air.

What an incredible feeling to be in the home stretch with nearly 700kms completed and less than 100kms to go. It still feels surreal and a little incomprehensible that I have done this.

Just after the 100km marker, was the marker for 99kms and a sign advertising a 100km stamp for your credential, 50m up the road and up a hill. There would have been a time, my feet would have said no to the extra 50mts, but this was one stamp I wanted.

We all trooped up, got our (enormous) stamp and it turned out, continued on without having to backtrack, joining the other path further along, straight into more dogs.

Oh man, even I wanted to take these guys home…

We stopped at a lovely little home that was offering a huge range of food and drink by donation including crepes with chocolate, cheese with quince and fried egg on toast amongst other things.

It was so nice sitting in the beautiful garden, enjoying home cooked food and having a drink in the sunshine!

Riley grabbed a Shandy, not realising it was alcoholic.

We moved on quickly though as dark storm clouds looked threatening above and we were trying to avoid being caught in it.

Of course it was more of the Camino messing with you. I put my raincoat on, backpack cover on and…. didn’t need either so was in my own personal sauna until I stopped and took off the raincoat.

There was still 5kms to go and my feet were really starting to feel it. We’d seen a sign for a vegetarian bar (2.4kms) but arrived at Vilacha (3kms away) with no sign of the bar and wondered if the cafe at the top had been it. The concept of walking back up the hill simply wasn’t an option, so it meant now having to walk on to Portomarin.

Right when I thought I might be at the point of shuffling, I saw the sign for the bar! We hadn’t missed it, it was just a typical Spanish measurement!

I had an amazing vegetarian burger while Riley had a crepe with nutella. I took my boots off and pressed them against the cold stone floor. It was the perfect break to get me to the end.

Walking outside, we ran right into Sara, Evan and Sanne so walked with them for the final bit to Portomarin.

We came to a section that provided two options – a shorter route and a route with a dangerous bit. Riley, of course chose the dangerous bit route and we all chose the shorter route.

Midway, it started to rain and it looked like the settled type, so we all stopped, pulled out our rain gear, covered up, loaded our bags on our back and started walking again… only to have the rain stop two seconds later! (I spoke to Andee later and she is convinced it won’t rain at all now because she has just forked out $50 for a new rain jacket! I did thank her for her sacrifice for all of us.)

The pilgrims of the past were clearly being punished for their sins on an ongoing basis because after a long day of walking, you arrive at a destination where you then have to climb steps!

I spent the rest of the afternoon with my feet up in our accommodation while Riley went out exploring.

At 7pm, we met Sara, Evan, Sanne, Andee and Tiara for dinner at O’Mirador and scooped up John and John, a father and son I had walked with earlier in the day, making it a table of 9.

It was a great dinner. Riley and son John bonded over cars and gaming so they spent the entire night completely absorbed in their own conversation while the rest of us laughed and shared stories and talked about the last few days left for us.

It’s the home stretch now.

9 thoughts on “Remembering My Journey

  1. Karen have just finished reading the amazing description of this part of your journey with Riley. Hard to believe how far you have come and now only less than 100kms to go. I love your honesty, your reflecting of the moods you are and have experienced on the good and not so good days. Weather, Food, Buildings people you have met and of course your amazing photos of the paths, sunsets, sunrises, clouds paths bridges etc. Fantastic photos of you and Riley today.Very special. I think you know my story about rainbows as Darrens sign so that made me happy to know he is near by looking out for you both. Thank you for making me feel part of this incredible journey. love and hugs to you both xx Pat

    1. Thank you so much gorgeous lady. I think we are down to just 70kms now. 15kms to go today and then just 3 days left. Just too surreal after all this time.

  2. Karen, while I am delighted that you are almost there, and that your beautiful little Bree is being remembered by so many, I’m a bit distraught at not being able to read your daily blog once you finish! I look forward to each stage.
    You have the very best of wishes being sent to you from Scotland, what an achievement. How proud would your daughter be of both you and her brother.
    Its difficult to feel that I don’t know you a little after your amazing journey, which of course, is still ongoing.
    Feel free to add me on Facebook if you’d like ( I’ll look out for Bree’s hearts when I go) Buen Camino !

    1. I knew there was a reason to be drawn to you Deirdre! I LOVE Scotland!!
      The journey will continue for a little longer as I head to Ireland after Santiago and will be catching up with Irish and then to the UK to catch up with Francoise, so I will be drawing out my Camino a bit further by being with my Camino family. After this, I still have a bit of free time to decide if I can make it back to Scotland. I did so love it there.
      Thank you so much for these amazing words. They brought tears to my eyes.
      Much love
      Karen

  3. Amazing Karen to think less than 100. I hope the Camino has been everything you wished it would be . It’s funny just when you think it is going smoothly it throws you another curve ball.
    I have had that cake ? Only once somewhere on the Camino . I also had 2 pieces and I don’t know what it was called . Maybe just YUM 😋
    Wishing you a wonderful trip down memory lane of your first steps onto the Camino and your journey thus far as you travel through the remaining K’s. . Your journey has been wonderful to follow and sending you love 💓 for the rest of your journey. You must be so proud of yourself with all of your accomplishments on this path. ❤️😘

    1. I feel myself wanting to drag my heels, but the time still keeps going super fast! I can’t believe I am saying it, but I don’t want it to end! For so long, I couldn’t comprehend people doing this again but I can already feel myself forgetting the pain and tough days.
      It has been an incredible journey and I am more proud of myself than I have ever been.
      Thank you for all your care and support to get me here.
      So much love and hugs xx

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