Fall is definitely in the air here in Spain.
There’s a chill in the morning, and the countryside is alive with the colors of red, orange, yellow, and green.
Nearing the end of my trek across Spain on the Camino de Santiago, I’m now in the Bierzo region, a valley between two mountain ranges – one I’ve scaled, the other, the mountains of Galicia loom ahead, taunting me. I’ll be climbing them tomorrow, but today it felt like those last hazy, crazy days of summer.
After setting off on my Spanish Schlep September 6, I am absolutely astonished and a tad sad to realize I’ll be done with this nonsense in just …. wait for it….. Eight Days!
I can’t believe I’m in single digits – eight days. And it feels like that back to school countdown (for the kids, not the parents – two very distinctly different sets of emotions).
Climbing up the mountains of Bierzo I’ve noticed a change in my fellow pilgrims – gone are the days of those Herculean hikes; instead, all of us seem to be slowing down, breathing it all in, holding on because we all know, it’s going to come to an end very soon.
I noticed it first this morning, a woman pulled over from the trail, napping.
A few minutes later, another woman off in a cherry tree grove, reading a book.
Then at lunch, more pilgrims were lingering over their food and drinking it all in- the sun, the warmth, the beer.
You can feel the urgency to just slow down and to make every moment count. There’s more time now to just sit, paint something in a journal, take in the view.
And these hills are working with – not against our bodies. Yes, we are stronger but these hills, these views can leave you breathless – the colors are simply divine. The vineyards that cover them aren’t as well kept as those in the Rioja regions – and their wines aren’t as famous, but from the countryside to the villages you can smell them and you want to devour it all.
As I was walking through Cacabelos (easy to remember, rhymes with Taco Bell-ohs) I actually thought they had to be pouring wine in the streets – the scent was so prevalent. But no.
I came to a house with the garage door open and there were three guys making home brew.
I stopped and watched them press and sample the latest vintage. It must have been ok since the chief sommelier didn’t spit anything out.
Just like back to school season – there’s the shopping here on the Camino. Pilgrims are starting to load up on souvenirs; I can see a new walking stick here and there, or a new pin, even new patches adorn backpacks.
The churches here are smaller, simpler but grand in their own way. A nun welcomed me in to visit her small church complete with a fresco on the ceiling – not quite the Sistine Chapel, but what is.
I find myself thinking back about the miles I’ve covered and how close I am to the end – and just like every child staring down the calendar as a new year of a school fast approaches, I’m full of dread and excitement – I want my life back but I don’t want to give up the magic that can only happen in the summer or on the Camino.
Bonus: I walked through these fields for what seemed like an hour and all I could think of was “Monty Python”
“Someday son all of this will be yours…”
“What, the curtains?????”
I crack myself up!
15 Miles walked today
373.63 Miles traveled so far
(Ponferrada – Villafranca del Bierzo)
132.17 Miles to go
505.8 Miles between St Jean Pied de Port, France and Santiago de Compostela, Spain