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Bidding Goodbye

Day Seven on the Camino – Viana to Logrono (about 12 kilometers, a measly three hours or so)

Jay and I feel sort of strange today. Not just because we are both feeling yesterday’s walk in a big way, but also because it’s the end of the line for us. When we took on this walk, we knew we’d only be able to dip our toes into the pilgrimage. Life wasn’t handing us 30 days to make it all the way to Santiago. We had to take what we could get.

So here we are, bidding our goodbyes to the triple-decker bunkbeds (no love lost there) and hauling our packs for the last day. I have my first real blister and am having the hardest time putting any pressure on my forefoot. It makes for a pretty odd gait. Jay’s left ankle is very swollen and he’s definitely a kilter.

No matter. We’re accompanied by the uber-walkers today. A pair of pilgrims whose path we’ve criss-crossed throughout our way. Tom has very long legs. I think they begin just below his ear lobes. His pal, the Dutch endurance queen, travels lightly and walks briskly—so briskly that it’s all I can do to quell my competitive urge and not hobble-run to catch up.

Jay shoots me a look and I calm down. It’s not a race. It’s just a walk.

Walking the Walk

Okay, let’s be honest. Anything I try to say or write about this pilgrimage is going to sound trite. It’s just a walk but it’s the best walk we’ve ever taken. We’ve met people we never would have met. We’ve engaged in conversations we never would have had. We’ve had time to think and to see—and to feel. Jay and I are both hurting but…what if? What if we waited to do this? Would our bodies have let us? Perhaps, but perhaps not so “easily.”

We walk through vineyards and Tom circles back to us with a picture-perfect cluster of grapes, dew-kissed and ready for their close up. “Here,” he says, handing them over. They are sweet, fragrant, and juicy—and of course, pilfered. Yum.

More vineyards, more golden bales of hay, stacked just so and adorning the fields like modern art. We move on and as Logrono appears before us, our souls dip. This is it. Really?

Tom and his pal slow down so we can catch up and we prepare to say adios. No, they say, coffee first. And we leave the path and wander into a fashionable part of town and stop at a café.

Over coffee, Tom tells us that they’ll be walking on and probably parting after the next stop. He’s been walking for four weeks or more and this is how it goes. You meet people, you walk, you part, and maybe you meet up again.

We nod in agreement. Yeah, that’s how it goes. And then, Tom’s eyes get a little teary. He apologizes profusely and we’re stunned. Not about the waterworks. It’s his apology, “I’m sorry,” he says. “People just touch me.”

What’s to apologize about? It’s best thing in the world. Again, a pilgrimage may start as a personal journey, but you’re never really alone. Everyone walks. Everyone struggles sometimes. We’re all in this together. Isn’t that what it’s all about in a big, grand, wonderful, messy kind of way?

Finally, we say our goodbyes and Jay and I go off to find the bus station and buy our tickets to San Sebastian where we’ll make our way back to France and eventually home.

The bus ride takes us on a major highway that intersects with parts of the Camino we walked. I’m shocked at how close we were to civilization—people with their busy lives, their commutes, their to-do lists and errands—and how very far away it all felt. I can see a pilgrim crossing a field in the distance and bid him (or her) a buen Camino.

We can’t wait to come back and finish the quest. Next year maybe. One thing is for sure; we’re not going to wait too long. The walking is just too good.

Day’s Wish List

What we’re glad we had: 

I should’ve mentioned bug spray. We did use it the day before (not that it helped much). Still, it would have been much worse without it.

On the more philosophical level, we’re really glad that we’ve had this chance and that we took it. Do not put off what you think you need or want to do. We’re so glad we just grabbed the time and went.

What we could’ve done without:

Blisters. But that’s not possible. We pretty much pushed it to make our flights back. I don’t know how anyone can do the walking we did and come away unscathed. Still, if you have time, pace yourself. Why not? Take it easy and enjoy the walk.

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