I slept well under the open sky. Waking at about 6am as it got light, the fog still covered me like a blanket. The fog was dense and the air heavy with moisture. I packed up and went back to the road unsure of exactly where I was. The fog was so thick that it was disorientating. Luckily I had been carrying a compass ever since Le Puy en Velay and finally it was time to use it. I knew I was south of the Camino, and I knew from where I had arrived the previous night. The road headed west so I set off. It was a bit disturbing after a few kilometres when the road changed direction radically and headed South. It was so confusing in the fog. There were no cars to wave down and no people to ask for directions.
After a few sorties up some side roads I found a bus shelter. It was always a good sign. There must be a town nearby. Continuing along the road there was a junction with a sign post to Arzua which I knew was on the Camino. Unfortunately it was 8km to Arzua. I was really quite a way off track!
The walk along the road was wonderful through tall eucalyptus forest. The mist came and went amongst the trees and there was total silence. It was comforting that I was finally heading back to the Camino. Last night had been an adventure but it was time to regain the goal. Entering the village there was the strange sight of a man leading a sheep, a cow and a horse along the middle of the deserted street. Incessant barking of chained up dogs surrounded me – a feature of the North of Spain that I found disturbing.
Finally in Arzua there was a good cafe to stock up on coffee and pastries. By now the dense fog was starting to lift and on leaving the cafe the sky was blue. The old town was small and interesting. It would have been good to stay there in a warm bed last night! Sleeping outside had been very comfortable none the less.
Still I was excited. Tomorrow I would complete the journey to Santiago de Compostela. After over 1500km kilometres, the goal was in sight. It was a mammoth walk and soon it would end. There was happiness and sadness in equal measure. A feeling of achievement with the feeling of regret that it would soon be over. I was however prepared for it.
Now the distance to go was marked every kilometre. A reminder that the journey was coming to an end. In As Calzadas there was a smart modern cafe playing soft jazz and charging a fortune for a coffee. I stopped and spoke to a man from Finland and his Polish walking companion. They talked frantically all the time and often both at the same time. Eventually I had to leave before my inner peace was disturbed!
It was not long before Santa Irene. Rory and Nicholas who I had first met in Triacastela had decided to stop there. I wanted to do a few more kilometres. Soon I arrived in Pedrouzo, a single street town on the main road to Santiago de Compostela. Here there were many albergues and hotels. It was a bit touristy with designer cafes and restaurants along the street. The municipal albergue was full. I was told that the sports centre had mattresses on the floor for €3. When I got there there was a loud crowd of screaming and laughing school children in the vast sports hall. In contrast with the peace of last night, it was too much for me! I back tracked and booked into a private albergue in town. Vincent was there and it was good to meet up again! He had left his horse Cameron in a field nearby and was meeting his wife tomorrow in Santiago. They would then drive back home – the pilgrimage for man and beast completed.
The albergue was comfortable and warm and it was wonderful to have a good bed after last night’s ‘bedroom in a field’. I took advantage and bedded down knowing that the goal was now so close, and that tomorrow would see it achieved.