Last time I came through León it was only a week ago. But it feels so incredibly far away. At least a month ago. I didn’t explore the city last, because my train got in too late. So when the girls asked me to meet them, I decided it would be an excellent break, a chance to explore the city I missed, and of course see old friends.
It was a great few days. We saw a bit of the city but mostly just spent time at bars, cafes, and restaurants with people I haven’t seen since the beginning. We ate everything, from local dishes at tapas bars, to pizzas, and sliders at a local microbrew. It’s so strange to see them all again, in my mind I imagined I might never see many of them again. They are all still more or less together, leading a far more social Camino life than I. All that’s changed is a few new additions, a few behind, more injuries, and a bit more drama, as it goes. I simultaneously miss that and feel slight relief at being on my own. I still maintain I made a good decision to continue on. But it did feel so good to see so many familiar faces.
I realized for the first time that this adventure is rapidly coming to an end. A quick train ride and I’m four walking days away from Santiago. After this break my body feels great, and I’m ready to get back on the trail. I know, when I reach Santiago I won’t want it to end. But will also be ready to go home. I only planned for this for a few months, I can only imagine what must be going through the minds of those who planned for years, for whom this was a lifelong dream.
For a lot of hikers, around now they realize that this long, and often painful, but also deliriously joyful experience is about to end. For many I know, they don’t want to go home because they had left something less ideal, looking for answers or getting away. To go home is to face real life again, not this small Camino world we all live in. Where simplicity and companion ships are the anchors to your day. For me, this isn’t true. Home is a joyful, easy place to be, even if it isn’t full of constant new experiences. But I can completely see why it’s so addictive, and how for some, despite a lot of pain and struggle, that there’s nowhere else they’d rather be. It’s impossible to explain this place, it’s so unlike anything I’ve ever done. And I’m so incredibly glad I pushed myself to do it.
I don’t know what these last few days will hold, but I’m going to try my best to savor every second of it. In an instant I’ll be on a plane headed to Dublin, exactly four weeks after I began. Some of the best days I’ve had traveling, four weeks that felt like a lifetime. In the best possible way.
On to Santiago!