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December 7, 2017

Sarria Final Stretch

By Maryanna Gabriel

“Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go.”
 – T.S. Eliot




     It was to be the last quiet stretch and I reveled in the silent hours. I passed a piper. He
was really magnificent and I again wondered at the Irish and Scottish influence upon this part of the world. As I passed Sarria there was a marked difference. Hoards had descended. Walking the last 100 kilometers still meant the reward of the certificate of completion and the forgiveness of the church. There were freshly laundered types with lipstick walking who looked like they had just come off of a golf course. Tour buses were pulling up. I passed a huge group of women wearing hot pink tee-shirts. I began to maneuver trying to avoid hoards of high school students. I was wondering if I had left my heart under that tree where I let everything go for my spirit seemed to have left the Camino. The Camino, however, had not let go of me. I felt infused with an iron grip as I walked with the tide and the magnetic pull to the final destination that is Santiago.

     A younger man named Tim from Germany had helped me in Burgos with directions and we had been seeing each other every day since. He made me laugh because he always made a face at  me and I would make one back. He caught up with me. "I hate this," he said. I had to agree. It was just not the same. I told him my story about Mercedes and Maria and he thought that day was a 36 kilometer day, much more than I had thought which explains a few things. Tim sped off trying to avoid as he put it- a crazy French woman. I walked more slowly. I was negotiating with a cold that had decided to invade my system. By now I had laryngitis and I sounded like I was on death's door but I still felt fine enough to walk. Pushing on I thought there was a surprisingly low number of cafes and bars to accommodate the numbers walking that I was witnessing. I was having trouble finding food that I felt I could eat. By now I was taking Ibuprofen much more often. The use of Voltaren on my knees, an anesthetic, was routine. As I turned in to a little place for coffee, The Man From Montreal and I were delighted to see each other  catch up on each other's Camino news. We were both in need of cheering up and arranged to meet for dinner. It was a fun evening and captured the spirit of the earlier part of the journey. Santiago was very close.