Having not seen a blue arrow for 40 kilometers, I duck into a Casa Rural looking for a bed. The owner opens the door, and seeing me (female, alone, tired, pilgrim) and noting that complete darkness is on the fast approach, decides to take advantage of the situation by proposing 40 Euros for the night. I say thank you and goodnight and sigh in sadness. After all, I have a tent to sleep in. But HE has his conscience to sleep with. Hey…it’s not ALL golden on the yellow brick road.
I walk back into the night, scouting a soft spot for the tent, and there in front of me, the Blue Skipper has left his mark.
“Where have you been!?” I demand. “I thought you’d jumped ship! After I have spent one day following your madness in circles and then another doing the same — in the rain. Oh no. Don’t think you can just walk in and out of my life like this. Showing up right now…all bright and blue and determined. No. It’s over between you and I, Blue. I’m moving on to bigger and better blue! I’m off to the Atlantic Blue!” And with a kick of my boot, and a hastily blown kiss, I turn West, never looking back on Southbound Blue.
Like a raindrop, I always return to the sea. And it’s a quick walk, with the sea salt in the air like a carrot on a stick.
Everyone stares at the funny girl on the beach with the backpack and the clanking metal cup and the big walking cane with funny stones in it…after all, there are no pilgrims in these parts of Portugal.
I pay no attention.
I wade into the water, find a perfectly warmed rock, bask upon it, and rest my soul in the breeze of the sea.
And then I simply realize, “I’m done walking.”
And suddenly I feel the need to move….fast.
So I get on a bus, which takes me to the metro, where I hop onto a train, and then jump into a taxi –which takes me to a small youth hostel in the middle of a pine forrest on the beach of Central Portugal.
And in this hostel, I brush my hair for the first time in ten weeks. I take off the pants that I have been wearing for some 1,200 Kilometers and smile at the secret stories behind each stain, hole, hand-stitch and burn. And then I say goodbye.
And thus my walking pilgrimage has ended.
And my camino wanders on….