A ti, abuelcita

Day 34: Parga Natura ➡️ Goimil. DM: 28.4 mi. 

Day 35: Goimil ➡️ SANTIAGO DE COMPOSTELA. DM: 20 mi.

Total Mileage: 650 trail miles

My grandmother died unexpectedly last September. 

I just so happened to be back in the States when her health started to decline. We got a call from the Carmel hospital on my second morning back in New York — her lungs were filled with fluid — a sign of heart failure.

Here I thought she had a heart too big to fail. 

The doctors told us she had a good deal of time left, but we flew across the country to be with her anyways. 

I visited her twice in the hospital. During the first visit, she made a request.

Can I give this to you to wear for the next day or so? I look at her neck and see the cross necklace she has worn since her son, my godfather, died 28 years ago. 

I don’t want them fussing with it — she says, as she secures it around my neck. They had to run a quick pre test on her that afternoon before the minor operation scheduled in 3 day’s time.

During the second visit, she made another request.

Can you cut up some watermelon for me just the way I like it? It’ll be something to look forward to after the operation.

Anything for you, Gramme. I’ll bring it to you right after.

The watermelon that I meticulously sliced sat in the fridge. She did not make it through the operation.

I have not taken the cross necklace off since. 

One of the main reasons I chose to do El Camino, instead of the PCT or the AT, is because I know Gramme would have wanted me to. Religion doesn’t play a role in my life right now, but it did in hers. 

She would have gotten a kick out of my adventures the last 5 weeks. She would have done all the research about El Camino ahead of time — unlike me — and told me that it’s one of the most special times to do it — a Jacobean year. 

She would have been riddled with anxiety when I shared the gory details of the VDP. 

She would have sent me joy-filled texts after I decided to switch to the CdN— I can finally sleep now, Carolyn. 

She would have reprimanded me for almost fainting — be kind to yourself, Carolyn.

She would have told me how blessed I am for having a friend join me on the trail — may the Holy Spirit guide you both.

But Gramme, remember Sol’s Jewish?

She would have been over the moon about my writing a blog — Just don’t use so many curse words, though, ok?

She would have said a rosary each day for me — you’re always in my heart, Carolyn. 

Today, when I walked across the plaza up to the Catedral de Santiago, I held her cross necklace close to my heart.

Likewise, Gramme.


What next, you might be wondering? I’m off to Finisterre! It’s 100km from Santiago.

Am I walking? Hard no. Time to take the bus.

I’m incredibly grateful to everyone who has supported me through this thing. I couldn’t have done it without you!

Some SHOUTOUTS in no particular order:

Paul and Ciaran – for being the best Camino trail mates I ever did meet. Thank you for your companionship on the VDP, for your dinners, gear, and countless recs 

Sol – no hay palabras! Gracias por su energia, amistad, las sonrisas, y conversaciones. Patagonia?! 

Los padres de Sol – gracias para Sol! Y para leer mi blog. 

Decathalon Spain – for being located so conveniently along the CdN. If you need a brand ambassador, lemme know. 

Anna and Ryan – for the bottle of wine in Iten and for being the most dedicated blog subscribers

White noise app – for getting me through some long nights of snorers at albergues

Señora Iglesias – for giving me intermediate Spanish proficiency. And for putting up with a teacher’s pet

Noelle – for picking up my call 

Random luggage storage hombre in Santiago – for tracking down my suitcases when they got lost 

Dilanthi and Yash – for convincing me to do a blog 

Author of VDP guidebook – for corresponding over email and telling me I was crazy for attempting the VDP

Woman at the Santiago CORREOS – for spending hours tracking down my lost jacket

Whitney Houston – for the groovy tunes

Elijiah – for introducing me to snickers as fuel for long distance runs/treks

Bain – for hotel points 

Katie – for inspiring me to, at long last, use hiking poles. Game changer.

Spanish tortillas – for powering me through marathon mornings

Doc at the Fuentes de Cantos centro de salud – for treating my blisters and letting me borrow your crocs for a day

Grace, Laura, Hailey, Khalyani, Dileas, Haley, Soph, Kate, and anyone who reached out to me at any point — for your encouragement

Mom and Matthew – the trail felt much lonelier without you. For your endless love, last minute problem solving, and patience — especially over this last year. You’re the real heroes.

Sponsored by Cliff Bar.

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