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Learning to Walk, Learning to Stop Walking. Friday, November 4th, 2022. Finisterre/Fisterra

November 4, 2022

Here is my view as I type this:

If you are a friend or family member or connected with me on FB, then you know I had to stop walking almost a week ago. Last Saturday (was it Saturday? I think so), I made the climb up to O Cebreiro, the highest elevation I had to tackle since the Pyrenees. It rained all day. And it had rained all the previous day. The path was very wet and muddy, and it times it was like walking up a very shallow stream. I made it just fine. Then, when I got to O Cebreiro, I fell down the two wet stone steps into the restaurant of the hotel where I was staying and sprained my ankle. On the one hand, I am glad I did not fall on a remote path and have to be rescued because I couldn’t walk to the nearest village. On the other hand, it seems the height of irony to have walked for almost two months, with all the rocky, tricky ascents and descents I had, and then fall on the steps going into the restaurant. I knew at the time it was probably a Camino-ending injury, but at first I hoped I might be able to start walking again after a couple days rest. The staff behind the bar supplied me with ice that evening and the next morning, and called me a taxi to take me to the nearest medical clinic 4 km away. They examined my ankle and knee, which I also wrenched, saw no sign of a fracture, gave me an anti-inflammatory injection and told me I could start walking again in an hour and a half. I knew better. The same taxi took me to my next destination—Triacastela—where I already had a room booked for the night at Casa Simon. If you are a planning a walk, please consider staying at Casa Simon when you get to Triacastela—it’s a pension rather than an albergue, but if you would like a lovely single room in a beautiful space with welcoming hosts, I highly recommend it. They were so kind. I ended up staying two nights while I figured out what to do, and while I was there I saw an amazing physiotherapist who worked on my foot, ankle, knee and leg for an hour and a half. I am convinced that the reason I am healing more quickly than I would have thought is because of all the work she did. She also confirmed that it was indeed a serious sprain and I could not continue walking.

To say I was disappointed is an understatement. Though I already knew that and had accepted it, I burst into tears when she confirmed it. But, onward. Ultreia and suseia as they say on the Camino—which roughly translates to onward and upward, or further and higher. It usually refers to continuing to walk, but in my case, it meant onward to plan B. I just had to figure out what plan B was. I knew I needed to rest my ankle and knee so that when I flew to Paris on 11 November I would be able to walk around the city. My close friend of forty years, who is like my sister, is joining me in Paris for ten days before I return home for Thanksgiving. I did not want to be in Paris for ten days unable to move around the city.

I decided what I needed was a week at the ocean. I have always found the ocean to be the most restorative place —especially rocky coastline—so I started researching Air BnBs in Finisterre and Muxia, and found this beautiful place with this spectacular view of the water and the mountain across the bay. Finisterre is where many people end their pilgrimage. As its name says, it is the “end of the earth”, the farthest west you can go in this part of Spain. I haven’t walked to the lighthouse yet, where pilgrims end their pilgrimage if they go beyond Santiago. But I hope to be able to do that before I leave. I have been walking down the hill to the village each day, and that’s probably enough for now. But there is an old fort/castle in the village, right on the water, and below it are rocks with crashing waves. Perfect.

I took a bus from Triacastelo to Santiago on Tuesday. It felt very strange to be entering Santiago de Compostela by bus rather than on foot. I went to the square to see the Cathedral, since I stayed in the former monastery that is right there. I decided that even if I cannot get the Compostela—the beautiful certificate that says you completed the pilgrimage, I have earned the photo in front of the Cathedral since I walked across France and part of Spain. I don’t like the one I took last Tuesday, so I’ll get a better one when I return on Wednesday. But here is the Cathedral at night:

It is massive.

When I learned that my friend Amanda from Canada, who I met in the first week in France, and who has been on a similar schedule as me, including foot injuries, was also looking at places to stay in Finisterre, since she also had to quit walking, we decided to combine forces and she has been here the past couple of days. She will leave tomorrow, and I will have a few days on my own, reading, writing, reflecting, staring at the water, and healing. And enjoying this amazing, charming German bakery:

I can’t promise how much blogging I will do the next few days. There is wifi, but not the best, and it takes forever for photos to upload to WordPress. But I’ll try to catch up a bit. I am grateful to all of you for following along and for your words of encouragement. Several people have suggested I write a book. I’m not sure the world needs yet another book about the Camino. But I do want to do some writing of some kind. Maybe just more blogging. If I’m going to continue this in some form, I should probably learn more about what I’m doing. Tech stuff is not my forte.

We are going to walk up the hill to see the sunset on the other side of this peninsula. Don’t worry. It’s a short walk. Shorter than the walk down the hill into town. Here is how the light has changed since I took the photo at the top of this post:

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4 Comments
  1. What a wonderful post Bev, ending on such a note of hope. I had always associated Finisterre with The Shipping Forecast and not given any thought to its meaning. You should keep writing; your blog and reflections have been wonderful to follow. Learning Not to Walk is a big challenge. Coming to terms with our limitations is never easy. But your photo next Wednesday will be testimony to an amazing achievement. Brava you! xxx

  2. Nan Hawley permalink

    Stunning photos, as always, Beverly! Thanks, too, for catching us up and providing reassurances to the moms/worriers among your followers. I would have cried too; but I am glad you thought to find a good rocky-coasted ocean to visit. Enjoy gai Paris!!!

  3. Leah Berkowitz permalink

    Feel better! Your walking is AMAZING!
    Can’t wait for your return to hear all of your adventures! Perry and Leah

  4. I am so very happy to hear from you…and your adventure wraps up . .with even more adventure!. oy….I’m so sorry for your pain in leg and heart, but you are amazing and your boldness and courage will stay in my heart to turn to when Life demands more of me than I may have. Love to you and respect for your choices in life.xxx

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