So, as many of you know, this week's blog is actually about a week late, due to the fact that I have now been coined, "The Snail of the Camino" by my sister from another mister: Kiara. Not only did I take almost twice the amount of time to walk as I thought I would, but my blogs are about a week or two behind as well. Yup. I am pretty slow.

Last week at this time, I was on a bus from Finisterre in Spain (otherwise known as "the end of the world", to Santiago. I had already touched down in Santiago the week prior, but had to return to catch a plane to Barcelona the following morning. The last couple of weeks of my walk were absolutely magical; not that the first part wasn't, but there was a different energy that pervaded over the last little bit, as I approached Santiago. I ran into a few people that I started the walk with, figuring that most people would have been finished eons before me (most of them were), and the magic of the Camino not only reunited me with those people, but new kindred spirits too.

In Galicia, I met an amazing woman named Lioba, who ran the public albergue or hostal in La Faba, a tiny village. While there, she and I gathered chestnuts from her yard to roast, and made nettle soup. During dinner, I realized I had left my credentials (or pilrim's passport, with ALL of the stamps where I'd stayed, and got me into the public albergues), at the casa rural I'd stayed at the night before. I had a whole apartment all to myself so took time to clean and clear my bag, getting rid of old receipts and such. Within the pile of papers I'd put in the kindling pile beside the fire, was my credential. Oops. Luckily I had the woman's number so I called her to see if it was there. It was. Lioba took the phone from my hands and quickly made arrangements to drive down the following morning to pick it up for me and meet me in O'Cebreirosthe next day for lunch. What an angel. The next morning we did a yoga practice together before I headed out  on 3 hour hike to O'Cebreiros, without a pack. Liboba put my pack in her car and brought it to me at lunch. I can't tell you how amazing it felt to walk for a few hours (in the glorious sunshine, mind you) without any weight on my back. She is a true pilgrim and her family have history with the Camino, starting an albergue and walking the Way several times. She knew how important it was for me to get my credentials back. I was so grateful to have met her. She truly was like an angel for me, full of unconditional giving and love.

Fast forward a few weeks later: the last few days before Santiago were magical and I befriended two amazing women, Pepe from Menorca, and Andrea from Brasil.  We walked alone during the days, but shared a room at night, which meant that we could have a private bathroom, and not sleep with big hairy dudes who snore like nobody's biz: heaven. Another two angels that entered my life; Pepe had told me that there was one Sunday a month where they used the big Botafumeiro, or big swinging metal container holding incense. And we could easily make it by Sunday. The last couple of days we found ourselves walking a bit slower, hugging more trees than usual, listening to the sound of the streams and rivers for a bit longer...not wanting the walk to end. It did finally, and we celebrated in Santiago with champagne, pulpo (the Galician specialty of octopus) and we recieved our Compostelas, or certificates with our names in Latin, saying that we had indeed walked the last 100km of the Camino.

Pepe left on Monday for Finisterre, but I wasn't feeling great so I waited one more day to head out. I'm so glad I did because I got to see a sweet concert by the cathedral by Morag of Calgary, her beau and a couple of digeridoo players. I danced up a storm, and felt so much better by the end of the day. The next morning I headed out alone, ready to see Muxia, then Finisterre before the end of my trip. Unfortunately, I awoke the next morning sick as a poochie and had to take a bus to Muxia...there was no way I could walk, and my flight was already booked (note to self: never book anything until you are absolutely DONE your Camino, if possible.I digress. I ended up staying two nights in Muxia, which is absolutely stunning: the waves crashing upon the shore, the sacred rocks, the mellow people. On the second night I gave a little one-hour concert at the albergue whilst sucking on cough drops and sipping lemon water..."The show must go on!" That night, I was cursing the fact I'd booked my flight already, which meant I had to rush to Finnesterre when I wasn't feeling so hot. I looked at a poster on the wall and saw the words, "Are you ready to go home yet? Or do you need a few more days?" with a description of a post-Camino retreat in the country with a fabulous writer, and could stay by donation. I so wanted to stay, but couldn't get hold of the airline to check about changing my flight. In walked another angel: Manuel from Italy. Turns out he worked for the airline at one point, went online, and found a way for me to change my ticket so I could stay a few more days. With that, I booked my stay at the retreat...The next day I headed to the Little Foxy House" to stay with Tracy.

Her house was perfect...tea, warm, cozy, books, music, a huge bed, bathtub, cute cats and homey food. Perfect. I stayed for two days, and then Tracy (yet another angel) drove me to Lieres, where I would walk the last 15km to Finnesterre. I really wanted to be able to walk into the town, even though I wasn't feeling great. The weather was picture perfect 18 degrees t shirt and sun weather as I made it to the beach at 5pm in time to put my feet in the water and watch the sun set into the sea. Angels were with me that day giving me the gift of the sun.

The next morning I walked to the lighthouse and burned a few tokens of my journey: leaves, a journal entry, and my silk scarf I'd made from my sleeping bag liner. I decided to walk back the long way which I'd heard was more beautiful, to get the 3pm bus back to Santiago. Well, to say I got lost is a bit of an understatement...there were so many different logging roads and trails that I found myself at one point after walking over an hour, heading back to the lighthouse which I'd visited in the morning. I was swearing and cursing and coughing and just wanted to be back in town. It was at that moment I looked downhill and saw a makeshift house/tent and a squatter, putting up a tarp. I was a bit nervous to ask for his help, but at this point I was desperate and in a bit of a panic. So, I yelled an "Hola!" From the shelter appeared a bearded young man in his late 20s or early 30s with a smile that could burn away the Galician mist. He was a former monk and had been living in the bush for 2 months. He reassured me I was only 10 mins from town. When he found out I was from Canada he told me I had to go to the Hungarian albergue and say hello to Valentine, the dude who had been running the hostel. He was a good friend of Dennis' and was moving to Toronto in a few days. "You have to stop in and say hello from me. Please". I told him I'd try and meandered back into town with his directions.

I figured I woudn't have time. It was now 1:30 and I thought there was no way I could go back to the hostal to get my things, get my compostella for Finisterre and then catch the bus. I did all this and saw it was 2:45 by the time I was at the bus station. I glanced up the road and saw the Port Fin Hungarian hostal so figured I could swing by to say hello to this Valentine fellow for Dennis. I rapped on the door three times, and a moment later a young handsome fellow opened the door. I started speaking in Spanish, but he asked me to speak in English. It was Valentine. He invited me in for a quick tea and was so grateful that I stopped by with salutations from his friend, and contact info from me. He was moving to Toronto in a few days and didn't know a soul there. We chatted for 10 minutes before he walked me to the bus. It pulled up. We hugged. A beautiful heart opening hug. I didn't want to leave and so I looked at the bus and said, "I can always take the 4:45 bus". And so, we sauntered into a restaurant where I ate and listened to his amazing stories of his life, and his Camino. We shared such an amzing 2 hours just listening to each others' stories. Again, he walked me to the bus and this time, I had to take it to get to Santiago that night. We shared a beautiful hug, a sweet kiss, and I got on the bus, smiling. He told me that I must be an angel for just stopping by, and for offering to help him with Toronto life. So many angels entered my life on the Camino that I like to think I can be an angel for someone else. 

This for me has been the magic of the Camino. Sharing time and stories. Exchanging energy and helping one another out.  It is this lesson that I bring home to Canada, then to Antigua, then to Peru...the essence of when we give unconditionally, we find ourselves the recipients of this unconditional giving as well.

Question for You: When have you had an experience of TRUE giving lately in your life? When have you recently had something given to you and what did it mean to you?

As always, I look forward to hearing from you and thank you with all my heart for coming along on my Camino. Much love and light,

Sarah

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