Day 46 – 1st November 2015, Santiago de Compostela to Negreira.
Hello friends and fellow peeerrreeeegriiinnnnoooss!
My Camino two (the sequel), began this morning with a 22km -ish stroll (yes I am using another John Brierley guidebook) to Negreira, the first stage of the Camino Finisterre. It will take me about three days to reach Finisterre and then I estimate another one or two days to reach Muxia. I will return to Santiago next Friday, then fly home on Saturday.
Last night I managed to escape witches, wizards, zombies and ghosties on Halloween, although there were some seemingly unsavoury types hanging about the streets of Santiago, decked out in a variety of ghoulish garments. Today, on All Saints Day, I can say I am so happy to have continued my Camino. The beginning of Camino Finisterre has been an absolute joy with sunshine, scenery and solitude, what more could I ask for? This part of my Camino two has given me more opportunities to reflect on Camino one, everything I have learned on a physical, emotional and spiritual level and all the fantastic people I have met along the way, many of whom I sincerely hope will be lifelong friends. I also think about my lovely friends Alan Pritchard and Fiona Churcher, who chose to accompany me for some sections of the journey and who graciously put up with me and my many foibles and discovered their own purpose on the Camino. Wow what a journey for us all!
I left the quiet comfort of the Hotel Real B&B in the early morning light as I felt no compulsion to get up and walk in the dark today. I set off back towards the Cathedral Square and out at the right hand corner past the Parador to pick up the Camino Finisterre along Hortas and Poza de Bar out of the embrace of the city. The route gently undulated up and down slopes and through woodland. The sun’s rays bathed me in warm, dappled light as I wound my way through Parque San Lourenzo, through Sarela de Abaixo on the slopes of Monte Pedroso, across the bridge over the rio Fonte to Carballal and Quintans. I continued onwards through Alto de Vento, Ames, skirted round the Monte de Costa to Ventosa, Lombao, Augapesada and up and over the Alto Mar do Ovellas to Trasmonte.
After the busyness of the Camino Frances between Sarria and Santiago de Compostela, the peace and tranquility of this first stage of the Camino Finisterre felt, at first, a little strange, because I walked for miles on my own, without seeing another pilgrim soul on the road. However, I must admit, I relished this freedom to walk in silence, paying attention to every detail of my surroundings, learning more and more to live in the moment and truly enjoy being part of nature. I sensed at several points along the trail that I was never completely alone. Perhaps I could feel the presence of the souls of the company of ‘saints’, who had trodden the path before me.
At other moments, I became acutely aware of the butterflies, bees and birds, which seemed to accompany me. When I crossed over one of the small stone bridges, I spotted something dart across my peripheral vision. My eyes focussed in on a fox. This was my second encounter with a fox along the Camino, my first one occurred during my descent of Cruz de Ferro, and I intuited that it was a significant meeting. Some people say that animals are our guides in life and that our spirit animals or animal totems will cross our paths at crucial stages along our journey. I talk about the animal totems and other symbols I observed, as well as those I brought with me in another blog post coming soon, so stay tuned in if you are interested!
The cool, crisp, autumn air and the bright sunshine, lifted my spirits and re-energised me. How I love to walk! I’m convinced that the simple act of walking raises our vibrational levels of our bodies and therefore contributes to wellbeing and finding our natural flow. I reflected back on the many times I have perceived myself ‘stuck’ in life, particularly when I have allowed myself to become a voluntary ‘prisoner’ in an office environment. There, my chains have been my desktop computer and other technological devices, a multitude of time consuming and heavy bureaucratic tasks and countless unproductive meetings. My ‘stuckness’ manifested itself in my feelings of restlessness, low self esteem and self confidence, even boredom and stiff and aching joints and muscles from spending too long in a sedentary lifestyle.
Of course, my working life hasn’t always been like that. Being a humanitarian aid worker, certainly in the early years of my vocation, was a very physically active and demanding role. One in which I relished being in perpetual on the go and in perpetual motion. It is only in recent years, while working for larger and more bureaucratic organisations based in head office environments, where I have been less physically active.
My Camino walk, gave me a glimpse backwards in time to when I was happiest and allowed me to lift the veil on how I could co-create my future. I could sense that these four or five days would be significant in terms of me being able to consolidate my thoughts about where I have come from and envision a future, in which, along with Brett, we could co-create a lifestyle and working patterns that reflect more about who we are. A future which centres around what we value, what gives us the most ‘life’ and ‘energy’ and our cherished dreams of being able to travel and see the world, while we also contribute in positive ways to helping other people and the environment. I am excited!
From Trasmonte, I ambled down the gentle slopes, through the woodland greenery to a river valley at Ponte Maceira, with spectacular views up and downstream. I could feel the refreshing, water energy emanate from the river as it cascaded over the weir. I decided to take a leisurely rest stop here and drink in the views. I popped into the riverside cafe restaurant, the Ponte Maceira and ordered the excellent artisan hamburger in a poppy seed bun. Mmm delicious and just what I needed to give me an energy boost for the rest of my day’s walk.
Afterwards, I enjoyed a leisurely bimble through the Ponte Maceira Nova and along the valley to Chancela, after which there was a gentle climb up to the outskirts of Negreira. I had arrived in the early afternoon and had plenty of time to wander around to find somewhere to stay. I managed to get here in one piece, no sore knees and I didn’t get lost once! I clicked my way through the cobbled streets and weighed up a few accommodation options. I settled on the Hostal la Mesquita, and booked a room in the hostal side of the building. The room was OK but the bathroom was a little on the small side and it would have been better with the heating on!
Never mind! It was clean and comfortable and reasonably quiet. I pottered around the streets of Negreira again until sundown and then returned to the hostal for a generous pilgrim meal and wine. I sat opposite an Irish couple and we chatted amiably about our respective journeys so far. Like many pilgrims, they decided to walk their Camino in stages, so were just out for a couple of weeks or so. I collapsed into bed for a reasonably early night, wondering what the next leg of my Camino sequel would have in store!
Peace, love and light,