In prudent deference to the sunny and unseasonably hot weather (mid-80’s) I saw Christine off on a local bus to Ponte de Lima and walked the 18 km solo. It is a different experience for me, walking with her and solo… not better not worse, just different.
When we walk together, I talk, a lot. It’s stream of consciousness stuff, but having been married over 40 years means we often share the same “stream”. While it does qualify as a dialogue, I do most of the talking and she patiently listens, adding her valuable “2 cents” whenever she cares to.
As a solo walker I tend to turn inward and let the rhythm of my footfalls lull me into meditative contemplation. My feet have a destination, but my thoughts seem aimless. At times they are directed to the silly:
…Portugal like Spain is an eco conscious nation where the men’s toilet lights are frequently on motion timers… set for 30 year old bladders. Invariably I end up waving frantically with my “free hand” to re-trigger the lights back on! (Image thankfully omitted)
Then there are the more serious musings:
…What great nation in history has ever remained on the pinnacle of the world stage after surrendering to the siren song of xenophobia and isolationism?
We walk ever looking for the yellow arrows that give direction to the Camino. For the first couple of days this is intentional, but it becomes subconscious with the passage of time and distance. The active consideration of the markers returns to my attention when some inner voice says, “Hey, it’s been a while since you saw the last one.”
6 hours after Christine and I parted I near Ponte de Lima. We have communicated by text so I know that she has secured an upper room in an old Pensione that overlooks a town square that dates back to the time of the Romans. I see later that the room is timeworn but clean and comfortable. (I’m just timeworn, but a shower might put me on par with the room) S. Joan charges 35 euros (no breakfast) for the two of us.
I arrive in town, the mercury having gone north of 85 degrees F. Christine waits for me riverside at an outdoor cafe. Along with her smile she has bread, cheese, and a cold beer with my name on it.
Peace Everyone! Pete
PS. Christine has a well founded concern that our timetable to arrive in Santiago does not allow enough time to assure that she can walk the last 120 km. Therefore, we have transported ahead to Valenca at the northernmost point of the Camino before it enters Spain. This puts a day “in the bank” and gives us a safe margin of 9 days to cover the last 120 km.