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C#43 – 21st Oct, from Melide to Salceda, 25.3 kms

I pushed today to eat up some distance. We sent our packs on and walked without that extra load. It felt good to cover ground. I am wanting to finish. It feels like a lot of the historic and Camino related sites are now behind us. It is a march to the finish without a lot to distract us along the way.  We caught up with Ruby, a gorgeous young woman from Melbourne who, like me, got sick and thought all her friends were in front and finished. It was great to meet up and reassure each other that we are not alone!

C#42 – 20th Oct, Portos to Melide, 20kms

I was strong out of the blocks this morning which resulted in us completing 20kms in five hours – a new record.  Actually, more like a greyhound, says Tony!

Everything swished by so rapidly I only noticed this sign and insisted my very own Tony pose for the shot.

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And then I met this pilgrim…

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… and a bit later this rather gruesome dead guy in a box! A day of contrasts!  Tomorrow, we are going 25kms to speed up our journey. We both feel that it is time to finish. Three sleeps to go.

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C#41 – 19th Oct, Portomarin to Portos, 19.1 kms

We walked casually and arrived at our albergue early afternoon. It was far enough for me but didn’t wreck me. I’m feeling much better and have found my sense of humour again. Yay!

The day consisted of plantations of Eucalyptus trees, Roman ruins, cows, manure and a strong breeze….tried to stay up wind.

It reminded me of my rhetorical question … what is your church?

So I can say fairly confidentially now, having inspected many (read too many) churches, chapels, cathedrals and ermitas, that these spaces aren’t my church. They are bounded spaces. They require you to align your experience to the centre altar. Your gaze is drawn to the altar. The altar or altars, depending on the size of the space, typically includes a crucified Jesus, with bloody wounds, dead on a cross. The alternative is usually Mary with baby Jesus on her lap. No violence just, distorted realism. It is a concentrated, intense, singular experience. The artistic genre is not warm or welcoming – for me, anyway.  It is dark, brooding, intimidating. I cringe and move away. I appreciate that these religious pieces may invoke a completely different, even warm and loving response in others, but not in me. I wonder where the love is in these spaces? And then I leave. I’ve had enough. I go outside. I go out into the light, into the day, into the environment, into the sunlight, the breeze, the temperature, the noises of life … of animals and children and adults engaging. I breathe a sigh of relief knowing I’m back outside.  Back to walking, back to moving, back to being in the open, boundless space, free of constraint, free to be, free to do. I’m outside, in my church. The Church of Outside. So today I came to appreciate that my walk is worshipful, revelling in life and the world outside. No wonder I like sea kayaking! Amen.🙏

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C#40 – 18th Oct, the bakery to Portomarin, 14kms

Ok. So. We are back on the road again. Being sensible. A short walk. No packs and a comfortable, private hotel to aim for.  I’m feeling stronger and my appetite has returned.

Our walk was very beautiful. Rolling farm and woodlands. Arriving at a gorgeous town above a deep ravine. The story is the town was moved in the sixties when they dammed the river. But the river is so low that you can see the original bridge and the submerged ruins. Strange site to behold.

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They moved some of the buildings up the hill, including the interestingly square, historic church. You can still read the numbers on each stone so that they reconstructed it exactly.

As I walked, I kept thinking about the garden I want to grow when I get home….

We finished the day sharing a meal with two seasoned Camino women from Oz – Jenny and Anne. Talked about the madness of Australian politics at the moment. The Libs deserve to lose Wentworth! Kicking own goals is becoming their trademark move.

C#39 – 17th Oct, rest day 2 in Sarria, 0kms

Today was a day of rest. I had to fill my prescription and then sleep. I’m sticking to a simple diet… how about steamed octopus? It fits within the diet specs👍

We also had to follow up on an email from the PO saying our package we sent to Santiago has been returned to Pamplona. Eck. The email was a mistake. The package is waiting for us in Santiago. So nothing more to do than rest and sleep.

C#38 – 16th October, Sarria to Portomarin, oops … to Panaderia peruscallo bakery, 9ish kms.

Ok. The noise of the monastery drove us out early. We were walking in the dark and fog.

To be honest, I wasn’t feeling great. I had continued to expect (always the optimist) that I would recover from my tummy bug but after eight days and uncountable trips to the toilet or the bush -whichever was the closer, I wasn’t getting better. It was time to do something about it. We got to a bakery -a toilet and I decided I needed help. So we called a taxi and went back to the Sarria health clinic. Great service… and then a referral to the regional hospital! Hopped back into taxi and headed to Lugo. Got admitted to Emergency and was put through a battery of tests from 3pm until 11pm. Diagnosis? Gastroenteritis. Treatment? Antibiotics, stringent diet and rest.

So we are hanging out in Sarria. The antibiotics have kicked in and I’m feeling like a new person. I can’t compliment the Spanish medical system enough. They were amazing. We used a translator app and between the doctors medical English and the app we understood. The hospital was humongous.

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C#37 – 15th Oct, Fillobal to Sarria, 21.7kms

Having rested and caught up on blogging, it was time to head out. We marched out early and walked through rain and wind down the mountain. It was wild and black. No stars. No street lights. Just our headtorches to guide us. We met the Fire Salamander as we trod.

D945C355-D461-4F32-9B31-10D6D10B53BCThe weather cleared and the day became a lovely wander through farm and woodland. We met another bunch of cows walking down our path but we got out of the way in time!

So we arrived in Sarria. This was an important moment. We are now five days walk from Santiago. We now merge with many pilgrims starting from here to do the ‘short camino’- 100kms. From here on we must get two stamps per day in order to qualify for the Compostela – the certificate confirming a completed Camino. We stayed in a monastery – my bed was #233! Yep. It was crowded. Humanity in all its diversity and drive for basic needs. We had a group of Russian women (we think) who didn’t consider that their shouting might have disturbed others. At 10.30pm I turned the lights off. It quietened then a bit! The showers on the other hand were fantastic, hot and endless!