I was happy to be back on the track. I could only hear the noise of my trekking poles on the pavement.
I had some difficulties to find the track out of Santiago, but it did not matter. Before the hamlet of Sarela de Abaixo, I could see the towers of the Cathedral of Santiago on the horizon behind me. The sun was rising and its rays emitted an aura behind the towers, making the Cathedral look even more magical and mystical. My heart was beating powerfully as the realisation that I was leaving Santiago hit.
Why was I going to Fisterra and Muxia, apart of the fact that I had agreed to it when I first enrolled for my pilgrimage in Vezelay? Was it because of my desire not to stop?
I crossed eucalyptus forests, the familiar smell of which was intoxicating. Soon, I would be back to Australia where they are plentiful. As I walked to Fisterra, everything around me was fresh and green after the rain. There was gentleness and soothing harmony in the countryside.
In Santiago de Compostela, I had lost myself among the crowd of pilgrims. My ego had been boosted since I had led the simple life of the path in which my only worry was to find a bunk or a mattress for the night. I had worked hard and had a simple life, yet the new me was craving an even simpler one.
It was mid-July, but freezing when I reached Olveira. This part of Galicia is more rugged, its streams are very plentiful, and as I walked I could hear the lovely sound of rushing water. At the top of a plateau, I saw the Atlantic Ocean for the first time – the famous Costa da Morte. I related to the feeling of awe that the Romans and the pilgrims from the Middle Ages would have felt after walking so many months across mountains and then seeing the ocean for the very first time.
I arrived to Fisterra and walked to Cape Fisterra. There is a ritual that dated back to pre-Christian times. The pilgrims would burn their shoes as well as some of the clothes they had worn along their pilgrimage, signifying that they had reached the end of their journey. The burning of the clothes was symbolic for the pilgrim, as after the burning, a new person could emerge the next day and I caught sight of the landmark which reads: ‘0 kilometres. THE END’
I crossed many hamlets to reach Muxia, soon it would be all over. The emotions of Santiago flashed back. I was very distressed, I felt lost with my conflicting feelings. Would I be strong enough to go back into the world, away from what had been my life for the last three months? Would I be a lost soul among the crowd, drifting like a boat taken by the treacherous current, with the waves smashing it again the cliffs? How could anyone understand what I was feeling? I was in turmoil. Just like a snake, I had shed my skin, replacing it with a new one.
On 19 July 2010, I walked back to the Church of Nosa Señora da Barca and sat on a rock close to the coastline. The waves were beating fiercely against the rocks of the shore. Every part of my body was aching. In fact I was in agony and heaviness engulfed me and against my will, I capitulated, surrendered and bowed like a soldier in front of the enemy : ‘ I would walk no more’ . I climbed Mt Corpiño, it would be my last climb, but at the summit, I had to perform one last act…..
On Saint James’ feast day on 25 July 2010, with many, I passed through the Cathedral’s ‘Door of Forgiveness’. My journey was not finished: it was time for a new beginning, but a different one.
This path with its special energy and strange experiences is for anyone who wants to unlock their heart and unleash their past.