Camino de Santiago, Camino Frances, pilgrimage, Spain

September 30th, Day 29: Sarria to Portomarin ‘Cherish Every Moment’

Leaving Sarria.

Today didn’t start so well, and in ways it was one of the hardest days on the Camino, but it was also one of the most beautiful. I wake up in Sarria with a hangover. The wine was flowing like water last night, and I wake up with a heavy head and eyes like sandpaper. I reach for my phone and as I load my messages, Tammy peaks over from the top bunk and says, “Gill wrote.” I figured there would be an email waiting for us. I read the email all the way through in Gill’s voice and despite wanting to be mad, at the end of the email, I just feel very, very sad.

The lesson of the day.

I truly believed we’d have the chance to say goodbye to Gill, and that isn’t the case. I lay back down in bed and just let everything sink in…the hangover, Gill’s departure, fatigue and the sadness that the Camino is coming to an end. We have only three days left til Santiago, three days left of my five weeks of consistency, three days left with these people who have become my family, three days left until I have to face the reality of figuring out what is next. I lay in bed, and I let the tears flow.

Tammy brings me water and an ibuprofen. Ale had shown up late in the night and ended up in our room. She gives me crackers and sits on the side of my bed. She says, “It’s not your heart that hurts, it’s your will.”

For some reason, this soothes me and the tears stop briefly. I ask her to do some reiki on me, and she patiently sits with me for twenty minutes. She says a few words at the end and tells me everything is intensified on the Way and that I will get what I need in Santiago. I need to put my faith somewhere today, and I hold on to every word she says, and have faith that she is right.

We take our time packing up, and everyone else leaves ahead of us. I hug Ramon goodbye, knowing we will see him either later today or tomorrow, and then I say a final farewell to Jesse. Sadly, he is leaving us today too. Tammy and I set out for a coffee, pick up a few supplies, find at ATM and then head out of town.

Making friends along the way.

Today is one of the prettiest walks – rolling green farmlands, stone walls, small villages, farm animals and blue skies. Farmers chase bulls and we literally share the path with deer, crossing from one pasture to the next.

We walk at a slower pace than normal and are in no hurry to get anywhere. We just decide to go as far as our feet will carry us. We stop for a soda late morning, and in the small cafe hangs a map of the Camino. We are shocked at how far we have walked and how little we have left to go.

Lunch in Ferreiros

We spend the afternoon walking through tiny, picturesque farming villages, buy raspberries from a little old lady, and eat them as we walk along. We stop for lunch in Ferreiros, and find a lovely cafe with a tapas menu and outside seating. I order one of everything for Tammy and I to share – local cheese, empanadas, chorizo, peppers and ensalata.

100 km to Santiago.

When everything arrives, I dig into the peppers, excited for the salty treat. As I pop the first one in my mouth, I notice a few people watching me. Then, FIRE!! I had heard about this but hadn’t experienced it yet firsthand. It’s only one in a dozen that are spicey, but these things are HOT…The Germans next to us laugh at my reaction. I have learned my lesson and will be cautious with every future plate I order

Lunch is deliberately long. We could easily stay here for the night, and a siesta sounds glorious, but we move on conscious of wanting to reconnect with the rest of the group for our arrival in Santiago.

The afternoon walk is gorgeous and no faster than the morning portion. Other than a young group of Spanish schoolboys, we have the path to ourselves. We stop in a village with a population of one. Here, an albergue plays music by Diego Cigala, so we stop in for a tinto de verano. Gerber daisies grow in the garden, hammocks hang between trees, a picnic table overlooks farmland for miles and a few tired pilgrims nurse afternoon beers. We soak it all in.

Time for an afternoon break.

As much as I would have loved to already be finished walking, I love the soft illuminating light at the end of the day, and as we cross the bridge into Portomarin, the mossy riverbanks below us glow green and wild horses roam free. It is gorgeous and I feel a flood of relief after arriving here. The challenges have been different today, and I know a rest is going to do me the world of good.


We check in to an albergue and smile at the familiar faces of pilgrims we have seen on a daily basis. We shower and head up to the restaurant that overlooks the river below.
We order dinner and over our meal, we make some plans for Santiago. We book accommodation at the hotel Sean recommended to us during the first week of the Camino, and Tammy books her train to Madrid. We check the bus schedule to Finisterre. We have a vino tinto to toast our plans coming together.

Three days left to go.

It’s getting late and the crew working the bar are cleaning up and having their post-work drinks. They pour us a homemade coffee liqueur and we toast with them while watching an episode of Spain’s ‘The Voice.’

Rain begins to fall again outside, heavy soaking rain. I consult the map and see that because of our shorter day today, we are looking at 40 kilometers tomorrow. For some reason, we are not phased by this. With three days to go, we feel like anything is possible.

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