This is a list of seven things (one for each day of the week, maybe? Yeah, I’m poetic like that) highlighting the differences between my first day on the Camino and the last day on the Camino.
Day One: Apprehension (Crap. What am I doing??), nerves (What if I never find an arrow? Will I fall off a cliff and be eaten by vultures?), and worry (why the HELL is my bag so heavy? Did I forget anything??)
Final Day: Reaching the Cathedral in Santiago was very anticlimactic for me. My first thought was, “This is it? This can’t be it.” I actually had to ask someone if this was THE Cathedral. My next few thoughts were along the lines of, “What do you mean I’m done?” and “What do I do tomorrow?!”
Day One: If you start at St. JPDP like I did, your first day is tackling the Pyrenees. St. JPDP is a sweet little town with red roofs and the Route Napoleon takes you through some bucolic landscaping. I was seriously lucky that the Route Napoleon was open the two days I took to go through the pass (it had only just recently opened and it closed again a few days after due to weather issues). Overall a gorgeous walk.
Final Day: Mostly various stages of civilization and barely dry weather. But both things didn’t really register as I was so focused on getting to Santiago on time for Noon Mass. Also, by that time, I was used to tramping through civilization and in all sorts of weather ranging from hot to snowy. Overall, not so gorgeous walk.
Day One: I knew nobody but most people were willing to talk, especially if one stays at a place like L’Espirit du Chemain. People are friendly and no one actually looks apprehensive – though I think most really secretly are – and excitement is definitely in the air! I think people start to make connections based on how you each plan to tackle the Pyrenees – going only to Orisson or going all the way to Roncevalles.
Final Day: Social people generally walk into Santiago with friends made along the Way. The rest of us, though, tend to tell our new friends that we’ll see each other once in the city and until then, “Buen Camino!” I chose to spend my last walking day by myself. It was how I had always imagined arriving in Santiago and I don’t regret it one bit. As selfish as it may sound, it was my time and I didn’t want to share my arrival with someone else’s tears/hugs/cheers. I also think I was feeling a little sad (and when sad, I’m extra not-social) because this was coming to an end.
Day One: Quite frankly, I wanted to die. Uphill and I have a mutual hatred for each other – I was thinking “oh my god, oh my god, oh my god, oh hey pretty view, oh my god, oh my god, oh my god” the entire multi-hour 8km walk up that mountain to Orisson.
Final Day: I pretty much sped walked from O Pedruzo to the Cathedral in Santiago. I covered 22km in about 5 hours, with only a couple short food breaks. I made it to the Cathedral about 11am, got my Compostela by 11:30, checked into my hotel by 11:45, and collapsed onto a pew just before Noon Mass started.
Day One: No blisters! Yay for proper shoes! But my muscles were about to go on strike – yay for living in a flat area! I started to worry that my small tube of Voltarin wasn’t going to be enough…
Final Day: Muscles have accepted that achy is the new Mode de Vie. I never did put stretching into practice…
Bag and Boots
Day One: No matter that I’ve used my bag before and broke in my boots, I still didn’t trust them fully to not betray me somewhere along the next few weeks. I gave them the stink-eye rather often.
Final Day: They are my bestest friends ever!
Day One: Seriously? You want me to eat ALL of that??
Final Day: Seriously? Is that ALL you’re giving me?!
Whoo! Item #53 on my List of Adventures achieved!