Camino as World Building

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Charlie. The thing we loved about walking the Camino was that it was like being in a little world. You start out, say at Roncesvalles, as we did on our first Camino and you have 790 km to Santiago (see the photo in the blog of our first trip). 790 km is so far it seems a long way off and it is hard to think about getting there.

You walk 20 km, find a place to stay, do some laundry, write in your journal or blog, look around the town, have dinner and go to bed. You wake up the next day and you have 770 km to Santiago and it seems just as remote. So you do the same things again and the next morning you have 750 km to go. As this goes on you realize you are in the little world, a socially constructed reality. You do the same things every day and it seems like it will go on forever. The towns change but are more the same than different each day. Your only job in this world to do the things I mentioned plus have adventures, notice things and talk to people. It is a delightful world to inhabit.

The great thing about the Camino is that the world is already constructed for you. Most of the towns you pass through continue to exist mainly to serve pilgrims. There are thousands of other pilgrims sharing the world with you. When you talk to people on the Camino you have the standard questions: What country are you from? Where did you start? Where did you start today? Where will you spend the night? How are your feet doing? And the implicit question: what interesting Camino experiences have you had? What you do back home comes much later, if at all.

The reason we went on a second Camino was to go back into that world and continue exploring it. We didn’t want to recreate the experiences we had, we wanted to recreate the world we were in and have new experiences in that world. The first time in the world we did not explore it as much as we wanted. There were new experiences to be had.

We often thought about experiences from our first Camino, not to try to recreate the experiences but for the joy of reminiscing. We turn a corner and remember that last time on this stretch we met a couple from Alberta and that the man was legally blind and they tried to buy bread off a bread delivery truck. This time on another stretch we meet a couple from Australia.

It was very satisfying to walk the Camino again: to think about our past experiences, to do things we had wanted to do, to plan a bit better than last time.

Bus to Santiago

There are five or six buses a day from Finisterre to Santiago (and as many the other direction). We expected the bus to take the autopista (freeway) but it was a local all the way. Instead of going straight to Santiago it followed the jagged Costa da Morte. There is a town at every inlet with a beach, usually every 5-10 miles. The bus serves the locals who need to go along the coast and to get to Santiago. People could just flag down the bus. The trip took three hours (an hour longer than advertised) but the scenery was interesting the whole way. You see the coast and lots of interesting little towns along the coast.

Waiting for the bus:
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Pilgrims boarding the bus before us:
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Our bus driver had a great face:
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Snapshot from the bus window:
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Finishing Up

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After you have made it to the end of the earth what is left? Getting to Finisterre was a goal. We had planned to go on to Muxia (another two days) and then see some other places for the last week. But foot problems, while not preventing going on, made it sound less fun. We talked about various tourist places to go, mostly along the north coast of Spain but that would involve switching to “tourist mode” from “walking mode” and we weren’t in the right state to make that switch. Also some minor issues came up at home.

So the upshot is that we decided to come home 10 days early, a 46 day trip instead of a 56 day trip. We switched our plane reservations and took the bus to Santiago, the train to Madrid and the plane to Albuquerque. We have been home a week and are just getting over jet lag.

Overall we were very happy with the trip and are already planning our next walking vacation.

Question: What is Finisterre all about?

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Wynette. Santiago is the primary pilgrim’s destination, the end of the Camino. However, once pilgrims reach Santiago, some choose to continue walking on to Finisterre and/or Muxia.

Finisterre is about 55 walking miles west of Santiago and is on the Atlantic Ocean. In ancient times, people thought Finisterre was the end of the earth, hence its name. Even then, people made pilgrimages to Finisterre as it was considered to be a spiritually powerful place. (At some point in history it was determined that a cape in Portugal is a little further west than Finisterre and is the westernmost point in Europe.)

We walked part of the way from Santiago to Finisterre and bussed part of it. We are staying in Finisterre for 3 days. We have seen lots of pilgrims here. There are quite a few staying in our little hostal and most are here for several days. We’ve had fun sharing tea and stories in the kitchen.

We walked out to the end of Cape Finisterre today. (Photo above.) The Cape is about two miles past the village of Finisterre. Photo below shows return into village.

From Finisterre, we plan to spend two days walking up to Muxia. Muxia is another coastal town, 18 walking miles north of here. We think we’ll stay in Muxia a few days as well.

Muxia is where Martin Sheen and his Camino buddies ended up walking in The Way, where he left his son’s ashes.

We’re not sure but we might walk back toward Santiago after Muxia. Not all the way, but a day or two. We love walking through the little villages and it is hard to give up the pilgrim lifestyle.

For more, search for Cape Finisterre on Google. The Wikipedia article is nice. (I would include a link but think I only have mobile site url.)

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