Today, and Tomorrow

Let’s start with yesterday: Lisa and I walked from Palas de Rei to Arzua, vía Melide, a town well known for its pulperías, or octopus restaurants. Pulpo Gallego is a popular dish throughout Spain. The octopus is boiled until firm but tender and then spiced with paprika and coarse salt and drizzled with olive oil. Served with a cold albariño wine, it really makes for a fine meal. I know that since Soul of an Octopus and My Octopus Teacher, some people have become very queasy about eating such an intelligent creature and prefer beef from dumb cows.

Melide is only halfway to Arzua and if we stopped to eat, pulpo or carne, it would have been a long day. And this was already going to be a 15+ mile day. So, at 2:30, we arrived hungry at the Alberge Santiago Apostal in Arzua and began a search for restaurants. We tried two recommended places, Casa Chelo and Casa Nene, but they told us it was “Impossible!” Other places were also full or closed on Sundays. However, as we went to our rooms for a shower and rest, we walked by a first class parilla, or grill, and the chef was throwing on ribs and veal steaks. Lisa and I looked at each other: “then here, said I, with a sudden cry, is our crematorium!”

Later we were feasting on churrasco, a variety of grilled meats and sausage, accompanied by our friend from Rioja, Ramon Bilbao. Pilgrims need their protein! And wine! After a not so good cafe con brandy, we figured we better make up for that with a round or two of orujo hierbas. After the long walk and the big meal and the digestifs, I did not feel the clarity of mind to write and post the days thoughts and events.

And that brings me to today. This is day 33 on the Camino. Tomorrow, Lisa and I march into Santiago. It will be a day of fulfillment, the end of a 500 mile journey over an ancient path along which have travelled the multitudes seeking revelation, repentance, release or, recently, recreation. In a very real sense, then, today is the last day on the Camino, the last time I check into a new hotel or albergue for the night; the last arrival beer and meeting up with other pilgrims to discuss the day; the last night of sleeping alone.

The Camino brought me to a lovely rural hotel for my final night. The room is comfortable with a clean bed and hot shower. Outside, I can hear traffic, but most of it is farm equipment, a bit noisy but so appropriate to the setting. And the hotel restaurant is one of those surprising finds where the food is finely prepared, proudly served, delicious to eat and with a great wine selection.

It will take a few months to assimilate this experience, but for now I reminisce: pastor Michael’s blessing in which he prayed to God to open doors for me, the long trip just to get to St. Jean Pied de Port, the beauty of the Pyrenees, the peaceful quiet of ancient stone chapels, the camaraderie of the caminantes, the dark early morning departures, Roca Rey, the solace of long lonely walks, the luthier’s workshop – and the luthier!; the sore feet – and the physiotherapist!; the alternative routes experienced by few; the Gallegos who allowed me to take their picture (and those who refused); today’s lunch; and so much more.

There are many things I wanted to talk about to give you a feel for the Camino which I either forgot or figured the day’s post was getting too long. Like how to figure where to stay or the the ins and outs of the Pilgrim’s menu. I did not play Wordle or do crossword puzzles or watch TV. I seldom checked the news (except to follow the war in Ukraine) or stock market or sports. I sang the same three songs out loud when I was walking alone. These are the topics of discussion over a beer sometime in the future. Sometime after I have walked into Santiago. Tomorrow.

Meeting friends
Opening doors
Crossing streams
My Way

10 thoughts on “Today, and Tomorrow

  1. As your pilgrimage comes to an end, I love noting how wistful and grateful you sound. A rebirth forged in the Spirit and formed with a strong spine and tough feet (God bless the insoles). Nods to both the soul of an octopus and Robert Service make me smile… the Camino is richer for experiencing Jim Carroll!


  2. Amazing to see that the journey is almost over. Its been a pleasure following your adventures into a known frontier; hearing the wisdom and lessons you’ve picked up on the way. Pops! You make your final descent tomorrow and finish what has been in the works for years. Pride, Excitement, and Envy are just some of the emotions I’ve begun to feel as your journey ends. Pride in my father, who shows me that no matter what, anything is possible when mind is put to it. Excitement to hear the many stories that didn’t make it into the blog (hopefully con cerveza). Also, Envy; I’m upset that this adventure was not with my feet and my mind- something I will need to mend in the future.

    You join the greats with your travels: Ibn Battuta, Don Quijote, Captain Kirk, Captain Cook, Rudyard Kipling, Marco Polo, Xuan Zang, Ernest Hemmingway, and of course St. James himself. I hope you’re excited for your venture to end and to take the proper time you’ve earned and enjoy the rest of Spain.

    Much Love Pops! You’ve truly added credibility to Jim Carroll being a true Romantic.


  3. Jim thank you for sharing your adventure with your wonderful inspiring words and letting me live your journey with you. Well done, my pilgrim. Can’t wait to hug you tomorrow! 💕


  4. Wow. Thank you so much for sharing with us. I hope, as the months go by and you continue to reflect, that you will keep writing, leaving us that follow in awe. Well done Jaime❣️


  5. Amazing Jim! What an (I’m sure life changing) accomplishment. It was so interesting to read about your adventures!! Cathy


  6. Congratulations! Well done, Cuz. You are an inspiration. Thank you so much for sharing your journey with us so eloquently. Much love.


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