Hot Damp Lumps

Today we crossed the marker that is 100 kilometers from Santiago: we are very, very close.

Now, there are new people on the road walking the final 100 kilometers required to acquire a compostela in Santiago. Now, there are tour buses. Now, we must be careful not to be smug and think our blisters are badges of superiority.

Now, the albergues are more expensive and less welcoming. We stay in the xunta albergues (the X is pronounced SH), which are the cheapest. They are sterile and cramped. The bed frames rattle and the hospitalero gives us paper sheets. The showers are defective and communal. The kitchens are bare so the restaurants get more business. The food’s not great if you go out. If you make your own it’s worse.

Today we bought a packet of American cheese and some salami. When we took them out of our packs after a few hours in the heat, they were hot damp lumps. We tried to go to a nice donativo in Ligonde but it was closed so Sarah and I went ahead to the next town, Airexe.

The xunta albergue’s kitchen had one plate. I put our tomato on it and sliced it, and we ate our sandwiches with bare feet and putrid armpits. We extolled the virtues of hot American cheese, which also tastes like mayonnaise and is therefore a double bargain. I wondered why my knee was swollen. Sarah wondered if there would be enough beds for the three friends behind us. If you didn’t know any better, you’d think it was a dismal scene.

It’s just dismal that the camino will be over soon. It was with such pleasure, such joy, that I looked at the map of the French Way in Zabaldika before Pamplona, and saw that even after walking so far, I had only just begun the walk.

And now it’s going to end. My budget and bug bites and aching feet are ever before me. As is the reason I set out in the first place.

It’s warm today. Now, we are lazily drinking wine under a tree that rains acorns on our heads. The acorns, walnuts, and chestnuts are hail all day as we walk through the woods of Galicia. The blackberries that disappeared on the Meseta are back, and the ones that aren’t dead for the season are small and juicy.

Laurynas laughs when the acorns hit our heads. We are quiet and avoiding direct sun. Soon, it will be time for dinner. We are deciding where to walk tomorrow.

I don’t want it to end.

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