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.
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.