Friday, June 2, 2017


Finesterre, literally translated as finis terrae, means Lands-End, or End of the World; that is precisely where CJ and I marched this morning. I'm not sure why all the best things require long climbs, but I suppose if these journeys were easier the sense of accomplishment at the end wouldn't be so great. So as many of our mornings do, we started our walk up up up along the coast and out onto the cliffs until we found ourselves on a secluded cliff peninsula jutted out into the ocean, standing under the shadow of the lighthouse. We had arrived at Faro de Finisterre, the 0,0 kilometer marker, the end of the world. 

Three years ago I had not known that the way continued to the coast, and I had not left myself enough time to complete the journey. Last year, again time got in the way, and we did not reach the coast. But this time; this time it was happening. This time we were trekking to Finisterre, to the end of the trail. 

On one hand, it felt like closure, like the completion to the journey I started all those years ago; as my life changes and I continue to grow, my life has become the pilgrimage -- I know that whether I'm walking the Camino in Spain with my backpack or the sidewalks in my neighborhood with Bernie, it's all about the journey, the experiences, and the opening of my heart to God's will and my feet to God's path. 

And on the other hand, I felt a little like Forest Gump after he decided to stop running: time to turn around and walk back home. And that's exactly what we did. 

CJ and I arrived at the lighthouse early enough to have the whole place to ourselves for a while -- free of other pilgrims, free of souvenir booths and music and tourists; just us and the peaceful present and the immense sense of history shared by pilgrims of the past. How many hundreds of thousands of pilgrims (if not millions) have walked the paths I have walked to stand in the very spot that I stood and look out over the ocean crashing into the rocky coast below. It is tradition to burn your boots when you arrive at the end, another symbol of cleansing and leaving behind your old self (much like the act of swimming in the Atlantic). CJ and I were adamantly anti boot burning ... so we skipped that tradition. When we had our fill (and as other pilgrims began to appear and vendors began to set up shop ...), we turned around and walked back the way we had came -- there is nowhere else to walk; we reached the end of the earth. Here are a few photos: 

We put our trust in the Lord -- and the signs He puts in our path. 

Views like this make morning hill climbing worth every step. 

Pilgrim statue on the way up. 

Selfies at the end of the world. 

There it is: faro y 0,0 kilometers. We did it. 


Bronze boot overlooking the end of the world. 

Let peace prevail in the world. 😍✌πŸΎπŸ’š

Con mi amante. ❤

After we made our way back into town, we took a bus back to Santiago then walked from the bus station into the town, checked in at our albergue, did some laundry (you're welcome, fellow plane riders) and went out to do a little shopping, a little dining, and a little reflecting at the foot of the cathedral. 

And now, we are back at our albergue, getting ready for bed before a day of travel tomorrow (that starts with our ride to the airport at 4:30 am). 

Buen Camino. 

Thursday, June 1, 2017


Today may have been the best day yet! We slept in this morning until quarter to eight then rolled out of bed, packed our packs, and moseyed into the town of Cee to find breakfast -- no surprise that we had tostadas con marmalade y mantiquilla. After a little bit of a turn around leaving Cee (a sneaky albergue put up Camino signs that lead to their albergue instead of to the actual route) we were climbing up and into the mountains. The path was gorgeous, shaded, weaving in and out of the trees along old stone walls covered in moss and vines; the occasional waymarker let us know we were on the right trail. And then -- the ocean reappeared, at first only a glimpse on the horizon, then the whole horizon, then ocean for as far as the eye can see. We came to the first beach in Playa de Estorde where we stopped for Aquarius and tortilla. Here we ran into the pilgrim from Montana (today is her birthday) as well as a tourist group from Germany and two guys from England (we've run into them a time or two before -- they're pretty funny). We walked out onto the boardwalk, but not onto the beach; we wanted to get closer to our final destination before spending time on the beach. 

We kept walking, climbing back into the mountains then down again -- and that's when we saw it: the perfect, secluded beach just waiting for us to climb down and explore. Now it was a bit of a trek down to the beach (read as: very steep beach on the bottom of a cliff) and it was off the trail a little -- but oh was it worth it! For a while, CJ and I were the only two souls on the most beautiful beach in Spain. The sand was the lightest brown speckled with sea shells, the clear blue waves crashed gently on the shore and danced among the boulders and rock formations. The only sounds to be heard were the sea gulls in the distance and soothing rhythm of the water. It is tradition for pilgrims to swim in the Atlantic when they reach Finesterre, to wash away the blood, sweat, and tears and be cleansed by the frigid, salty water. Who are we to break tradition? At first it was just our toes that were baptized in the ocean, but seeing as the beach was empty and the air warm and the waves inviting, we decided to go for a swim -- the coldest swim of my life! Refreshing doesn't even begin to describe the shock of the water! CJ was a real trooper; I told him we had to go out far enough to dive under water, that then we had fulfilled the tradition. And so we did. The next hour we spent sunbathing and drying out on a giant rock formation as more pilgrims began to trickle down the mountainside to join our private beach. 

I could have stayed on that beach forever -- but Finesterre was in eyesight and just three kilometers away ... so reluctantly we climbed out of the canyon of our beach and continued on our way. About one kilometer before Finesterre, who should we run into but the sweet old couple from Sweden! They had take a taxi the other day when we left them, but now they were on the mend and walking; and that's how it came to be that we walked into Finesterre, our final destination, the newly weds from los Estados Unidos and the senior love birds from Sweden. 

The views all day were amazing -- the mountains are gorgeous and the ocean is majestic, but when the two combine: be still my heart. Pope Francis was right to put forth his encyclical on the protection of our earth; God's creation is so beautiful, so breathtaking and inspiring. I want to be a better person when I am surrounded by nature, and I am my best person when I'm surrounded by nature. 

It took a few tries to find a place to stay for the night; apparently albergues and hotels and hostels fill up quickly here! But finally we found an albergue high up on a hill to drop our bags, hang our boots, and lay our heads -- we curled up for a well deserved nap, the deep sleep that comes after a day of walking cross country, treading through sand, swimming in oceans, and soaking in sun. We woke with a mission: get our Fisterana. (This is the certificate that declares you arrived on foot to Finesterre from Santiago.) There isn't s pilgrim office like in Santiago, but rather they are given inside an albergue. It took us a surprisingly short amount of time to find the correct albergue! And that was that: no line out the door, no waiting for hours; we walked in, walked up to the counter, and within minutes had our Fisteranas. 

(Insert deep sigh of satisfaction and delight.)

Next it was time for dinner -- we were famished! We found a place near the marina and ate dinner facing the ocean. After dinner, we went to get ice cream. And who should tap my shoulder while inside the ice cream parlor but the pilgrim they took to the hospital two nights ago -- she is feeling much better (though is finishing her journey via bus from here on out). I am so so glad she is doing okay! I was really worried about her. Such a sweetheart, her and her boyfriend saw CJ and I in the shop and wanted to stop and say thanks for all the help the other evening. I'm so relieved to know she is okay -- there are some stories we never know the ending to, but I'm glad this isn't one of those! 

And now we are back at our albergue, taking it easy and planning for tomorrow when we walk to Faro to the lighthouse: the true end of the world. 

Here are some pictures from today: 

I think I could walk this path forever. 

The first beach -- plays Playa de Estorde. 
The first glimpse of our secluded beach! 

These boots sure have carried me to a lot of beautiful places with a lot of beautiful people. #adventure #thirdcamino

I love this beach. 

Pre-Atlantic Ocean swim ...


Post Atlantic Ocean swim! 

Cross at the top of the hill in Finesterre. 

Not a bad dinner view! 

Our Finsterans -- aren't they beautiful?! 

One last beach pic -- I loved that beach! 

And now it is time for sleep. More adventure awaits tomorrow. 

Buen Camino.