“The sea, once it casts its spell, holds one in its net of wonder forever.”
– Jacques Cousteau
Most pilgrims and hikers on the Camino see Santiago as their destination. But for me, the walk was always about reaching the ocean. I would walk west until my feet touched water, and there was no more “west” to walk.
Santiago was a nice stop, with lots of great traditions, but it wasn’t the end. I didn’t get sentimental or reflective there, even as I watched the botafumeiro swing and hugged St. James himself.
But on the rocks of Finisterre, watching the sun set over the ocean that I’d only ever seen from the other side, the journey felt complete, and the enormity of what we’d done finally hit me. We had walked to the End of the World.
We lingered in Fisterra (the town that is closest to Cape Finisterre, which explains why people get the words mixed up) for three days, and in hindsight, I wish we’d stayed longer. Every night we walked to the lighthouse and watched the sun set. Those were some of the best moments of my Camino.
So it’s no surprise that this week I’ve sought a similar view, albeit on the other side of the globe. I’m holed up, alone, in a hotel not on the west coast of Spain, but on the west coast of Washington. It’s just me, my laptop, my Camino story, and the sun setting over the ocean. (Well, in theory. It’s been raining since I got here.)
I’m watching the rain and the waves, and trying to recreate what it’s like to be outside 16 hours a day, walking across the shadeless Meseta, lingering in sweltering towns made of mud and straw.
These beach moments, and the time they offer to reflect, are great gifts in a world that happens at warp speed. I don’t take them lightly. Thanks to all of you on the blog for joining me on the journey.