Homer's Travels: Camino De Santiago - Cee To Fisterra

Thursday, November 03, 2011

Camino De Santiago - Cee To Fisterra

My last day of the Camino.  My last day of walking.  It felt a little surreal.  Today was day forty which I found a little ironic as I'd originally planned to do the Camino in forty days.  I just hadn't expected that would include a rest stop in Burgos, a day in Santiago de Compostela, and a walk to Fisterra.

I followed the arrows to the next town, CorcubiĆ³n.  The markers took me to a church and then ... I lost the scent.  I assumed that they would take you back to the main road but, after walking along that main road for a while I realized I wasn't on the Camino anymore.  I looked at the map on my GPS and realized if I stayed on the road I was following I would eventually reach Fisterra.  I also guessed that the road I was on would eventually have to be crossed by the Camino.  It turns out I was right and, after a short distance of walking and worrying (I always fret about something), I reached an intersection of the Camino with the road and before you could say Buen Camino, I was on the Camino once again.  I celebrated by downing the chocolate bar I was carrying in my backpack.

The rest of the walk to Fisterra was gorgeous.  Forests.  Ocean views.  A nice village or two.  I climbed a hill and turned a corner and there it was in all its glory: Cape Fisterra.  The view wasn't perfect - the skies were overcast - but that did not diminish what I was feeling at that moment.  In a way it was more satisfying than reaching Santiago de Compostella.  It had a more final look to it.  You couldn't walk farther west if you wanted to.

My first view of Cabo Fisterra.
Faro Fisterra (Lighthouse Fisterra) can be made out of the tip of the cape on the left.
[Click on picture for a larger view]
The Camino took me down to a road, then detoured a bit as it headed down toward an isolated beach ... steeply .. before climbing ... steeply ... right back up to the road.  The Camino redeemed itself for this strange detour by following Langosteira Beach - a beautiful 1.2 miles (2 km) stretch of white sand.

The view of Langosteira Beech from Fisterra.  The clouds that were there earlier were long gone.
[Click on picture for a larger view.]
I entered Fisterra and followed the main road to the albergue.  It was way too early to check in, naturally.  I debated what to do for the three hours before it opened and decided to finish the walk once and for all.  I walked back up the street and followed the signs to Faro Fisterra (Fisterra Lighthouse).  The lighthouse was another 1.86 miles (3 km) up the road.

As I got closer I stopped to look for a geocache (Finis Terrae - Cache at the end of the world) on a side road within sight of the lighthouse.  It took me a while but I found it.  I'd carried four travel bugs with me and I dropped off a couple of them - Pilgrim's Companion and Hazard - Perry County Tour III Geocoin.  Both of them have since returned to the North America (the first is in Canada, the other in the United States).

I returned to the Camino and ran smack into the Canadian and his Japanese Girlfriend.  We talked as we approached the lighthouse.  The lighthouse was ... closed of course.  It's only open on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.  It was Thursday.

I walked past the lighthouse and walked out to the farthest point of the cape.  There was clothes, boots, walking sticks, and other stuff all over the place.  As I mentioned before, the custom is that the pilgrim is supposed to burn or throw into the ocean, their worldly possessions.  I didn't have any matches or lighter but when I got out to the end I found some matches beside some clothes.  I pulled out my Columbia shirt and GV's sock.  I wondered how hard it would be to burn them since most clothes these days don't burn well, especially merino wool.  I looked around and realized that the brush on the cape was all burnt.  It was windy up there.  In my head I saw the headline: "Crazy American Pilgrim Sets Faro Fisterra Ablaze."  I thought about the festival later that night.  I was concerned that, if I was wrong about the festival, the clothes would never be destroyed.  I put rocks in the sock and the sleeves of my shirt.  I swung them around my head (the image of David slaying Goliath passed through my mind). With a mighty heave I threw them at the ocean ... and missed (the image of Goliath pounding David into the dirt passed through my mind).  Neither the sock or the shirt got even close to the water.  They just fell down the steep cliff side and were probably sitting on the rocks below.  *sigh*  Not exactly the end I was hoping for but it would have to do.

I asked the Canadian to take my picture beside the last marker (It's on Facebook).  The marker said 0.0 km.  This was the end on my road.  I headed back to Fisterra.  The Canadian and his Japanese Girlfriend convinced me to stay at the hotel they were staying at.  I'd passed it on the way up to the lighthouse.  I checked in and plopped down on the bed.  The toilet ran.  The place was a dump but it was cheap.

I did my chores and then headed to the albergue.  A sign on the lighthouse had said, if it was closed, you could get a lighthouse stamp at the albergue.  I stood in line, got my stamp, and was asked if I wanted a certificate.  I hadn't heard anything about certificates so I said sure.  She gave me a really cool certificate saying that I'd reached the Costa da Morte (Coast of Death - what they call this part of Spain) and had completed the Camino de Santiago.

I crossed the street to a German restaurant and ordered a plate of pasta and some ice cream for lunch.  It tasted good.  I wandered around the town.  There was a small beech where pilgrims were wading in the waves.  I took off my sandals and let the Atlantic ocean wash over my feet.  It felt like I'd made it.  As I left the beech an old pilgrim stripped down to his skivvies and went for a cleansing swim.

During my wanderings I ran into the Canadian and His Girlfriend again and I showed them my certificate.  They got excited and went to the albergue for their own certificates.  They were heading for the beech (the one I passed on the way in) and I tagged along.  We took the hard way over the rocks along the water.  I'm amazed I didn't hurt myself, especially since I was wearing sandals.

The beach was amazing.  At first I thought it was covered with stones but on closer inspection they were shells just like the pilgrim's shells.  Thousands of shells as far as the eye could see.  I picked up a few as a souvenirs.  The Canadian and his Japanese Girlfriend were having fun in the water.  I walked over to a derelict fishing boat, sat down, and wrote in my journal.  I walked back to the hotel.  I forgot to give them a card with my contact information - They lived in Japan and they could have watched for my butt on Japanese TV.  I never saw them again.

That evening I had ... a hamburger completo (yep, one each day on the way to Fisterra).  I bought a shirt and a magnet and went back to the hotel.  It is customary to watch the sunset but I realized that sunset was at 10:00 PM and it was on the other side of the cape.  To see it, I would have to walk back to the lighthouse.  I decided against it and went to bed at 9:00 PM.  Another underwhelming ending ... but of my own choosing this time.

Day forty - the last walking day - the end of my Camino.  My adventure wasn't quite over yet, I had four more days in Spain, but the walking was over ... and I would miss it very much.

Total Distance: 11.30 Miles (18.19 km)
Total Time: 3 hours 41 minutes
Total Elevation Up: 1,639 ft (499.57 m)
Total Elevation Down: 1,333 ft (406.30 m)

[Click on map for a larger version]