Well, we made it to O’ Cebreiro! The climb that has loomed before us for weeks has now been conquered! After checking in to our albergue on top of the world, getting settled in and taking care of our arrival duties, we went for lunch. Ryan and I had the Galician soup which was delicious! Scott had a pasta dish. Scott and I each had a cervesa with lemonade which is really quite refreshing.
By then it was 3 PM and that could only mean one thing….SIESTA! With what strength I had left, I climbed up on my top bunk. My sleeping bag had the familiar and comforting smell of analgesic cream. I snuggled into my bag amidst talking pilgrims who had made the same climb. I considered putting in my earplugs and donning my eye mask to shut out the noise and light. Somehow, I couldn’t. Much like the analgesic cream, there was something comforting about the buzz in the room. I heard Miriam, the German girl I got the giggles with one night at a communal dinner in our albergue, visiting with a friend. I heard laughter rise from Doris, one of Ryan’s and my first roommates the night we arrived in St Jean Pied de Port. I heard other exhausted but happy pilgrims chattering in other languages and greeting those just stumbling in from the day’s climb. I lay there wrapped in this beautiful experience called the Camino de Santiago. I felt whole and happy and it wasn’t long before I drifted off.
Tomorrow we start the descent and the final days of our walk. It’s time to start processing the fact that this experience is coming to a close. In the past few days, the topic has begun to come up. When it has, we all manage to touch lightly on it then quickly change the direction of conversation. It’s inevitable that these random paths that have converged in Spain will all head back from where they came. It will be very sad to say goodbye but when we do we’ll each take the richness of friendship and experience with us.
I can’t help but wonder if each of us returns home with a bit more understanding and care for our fellow humans. Maybe the Camino has a way of showing us we’re all the same regardless of race, nationality, gender or religion. We all want to be loved, understood and accepted. My hope is that I come home with the fragrance of the Camino on me and it permeates my life, home and community.