The day before we arrive, en la vispera, we walk to the albergue Arca de Pino where, technically, we will spend our last night on the Camino. On the way, we walked by a tree lined path. Neither Becky nor I recognized the bloosoms on the trees. The mysterious blooms turned out to be camellias! We asked two women who were out with their children, and they seemed surprised that we would not know what they were. Son Camelias, they said in unison.
As we kept walking we went by a memorial for Guillermo Watt, a pilgrim who died on the camino in 1993. So close to the goal! I stopped in front of the descanso, as it is called in New Mexico, and pondered his life. He was 69 and chose to transition right here on this spot, close to Santiago, but not quite there yet. I wondered who had erected the small shrine, who had placed the images and the stones at the base. I revernetly placed a stone as well. No doubt there will be others who come after me and also add to the growing pile. We had gone by other shrines, but none had impacted me the same way. Could it be because we were so close? And what about his family? Who was he? The details consumed my imagination. What happened? How was he found? Was he alone? So many questions!
As we walked this last stretch, I found myself enjoying the view and already being homesick for the wide open fields, the views of lush, fertile farmlands, alongside rivers. Here we could see it was still winter. In a few months, the trees would turn various shades of green, more like the the Galician panoramas I had seen before in my travels through A Coruña.
We stayed at the public albergue in Arca do Pino where we paid 5 Euros, the usual for the night in the staterun albergues in Galicia. It was a clean and comfortable albergue with hot waterfor showers but no utensils for cooking. There were few pilgrims walking with us, and we shared the albergue with two of them.
They were traveling separately, but seemed to konw each other. They also seemed anxious to leave early the next morning. So we all got up early and left on our last day of walking…the sunrise greeted us as we stepped out of the albergue.
As we approach the end, it is with mixed feelings that we go to bed. I want to end, to arrive, but I also fear that I will have finished the walk and not know what to do, how to go back to the world. Snug and cozy in my sleeping bags, I listen to the night noises and can’t sleep. but some time during the night, I do fall asleep. And it is in this sterile and not very spiritual setting that I have one of the most wonderful dreams of my life. In the dream, I am in a waiting room. I know that I have died and I await instructions with others who are in the same situation as I am. The room is full, but we are all patient as we wait to be called. Finally, I hear my name and as I go up, I am led into another room. Suddenly, I am aware that I can feel my father behind me. He has placed his hands on my shoulders the way he would do some times. I begin to weep because I am told I cannot turn to look at him. I hear his voice. I do not know what he is saying, though. He hands me a book! It is a large, leather bound book, and I know it is the book of my life that now has the Camino written in it. I know I must write about the experience of walking the Camino, of the small miracles and of the insights I have had and that I must share. It is part of my life’s plan.