As soon as my Camino ended in Santiago de Compostela on October 20, my body collapsed; a cold came on with a vengeance — an irritating tickle in my throat, a dry and unproductive cough, a general exhaustion. My voice was raspy and disappearing fast. My health worsened over the two days in Santiago, so when I headed to Muxía by bus on Monday the 22nd, I was feeling quite miserable.
At the bus station at 8:00 a.m., I ran into Sheryl, John and Sharon, a threesome I’d encountered many times along the Camino. Theirs was a odd situation. Sharon and John were married, and Sheryl had come along with them, although she didn’t know Sharon very well. Sharon had done the Camino 4-5 times before, and had arranged Sheryl’s trip for her, booking rooms in hotels that the three of them shared; they often transported their bags ahead. Sheryl knew Sharon’s husband John when they both worked on ski patrol in the mountains of Washington State. I talked often to Sheryl, but the two of us never connected enough to share contact information.
On the bus, Sheryl and I talked to Brian, a slender handsome man with a bandana on his head, and Tyler, a young bald man wearing opaque sunglasses (at first I thought he might be blind!). Co-workers at a start-up tech company in Orlando, Florida, they had just completed one week on the Camino Portuguese. Brian was quite the talker. From Detroit originally, he had no love of Florida, and we commiserated about our mutual dislike of it. As we talked, Brian, who looked very young, revealed that he was 48, married, and had two sons, 23 and 21. His coworker Tyler, who had worked with him for two years, was shocked to discover all of this information. Tyler, a mere 27, was under the impression Brian was in his 30s; he had no idea Brian had grown children, nor that he was married! Brian said he hated his job and would love nothing better to run a café along the Camino. We talked for a long time about his belief in natural remedies to health problems, and our mutual distaste for our current government.
The bus ride was a couple of hours through gently rolling hills and small whitewashed villages, but we were mostly too busy talking to notice. We spilled out of the bus at the “Don Quijote” bus stop in Muxía, which was just a sidewalk in front of the “Don Quijote” café. A frigid blustery wind was blowing from the harbor into town, and I was anxious to get to my hotel, Habitat Cm Muxía. I had been having cramps on the bus, and that manifested itself in diarrhea as soon as I checked into my hotel. I was lucky I had made it without incident on the bus ride!
After a bit of a rest, I went to A Marina, which seemed to be the only bustling restaurant in a town that was quite deserted. There, joining Brian and Tyler, I had a lunch of croquettes with limon cerveza. As we commiserated about our adult children, Brian said his wife was not very maternal; she had put up a big calendar in their house marking off the days when each her sons had to be out of the house. Brian said they didn’t give their kids any options. They told them they had to be out of the house at 18 and go to college. Listening to him, I felt admiration for his absent wife, who had opted to go on a holiday with a girlfriend rather than do the Camino; I have never been very maternal and have been judged harshly for it over the years. What I loved was how he spoke of such fondness for her, with no judgment about this aspect of her. I have often wondered if maybe I shouldn’t have had children, although of course I love them dearly and now couldn’t do without them. I am simply not made for motherhood, but I hoped I could be. I raised my children the best I could, but I never had much of a role model in my own mother, and I can’t say I was much of a success at it. I am who I am, and I really appreciated Brian for supporting his wife being just the way she was.
Muxía is part of the Costa da Morte, the Coast of Death, named for the many shipwrecks along its rocky shore. On the way from the town to the sea, about a one mile walk, I passed the Igrexa Parroquial de Santa María and its charming cemetery. I could see windmills on a ridge across the bay, and on the point, the larger and more famous church of Santuario da Virxe da Barca, or The Virgin of the Boat, which stands on a rocky ridge above the surf. Legend has it Muxía was the landing place of the stone boat that carried the Virgin Mary when she arrived in Galicia to help Saint James convert the locals. Sadly the church was closed, but I was able to see inside through the barred door.
On the shore next to the church is the sculpture A Ferida, or The Wound, by Alberto Bañuelos. It symbolizes the damage done to the sea by the spilling of 66,000 tons of oil when the Prestige tanker broke apart off the coast on November 13, 2002. The sculpture is 11 meters high and weighs over 400 tons.
I walked up to Monte Corpiño, where I could see down to the church and the sculpture at the western point of the land, some ruins to the south, the playful sea, and the town and harbor of Muxía to the east. The cold blustery weather didn’t do much to help my cough and cold, but the scenery was good for my spirit.
In the movie The Way, the main character Tom, played by Martin Sheen, and his cobbled-together group of pilgrims walk three days to “Finisterre” after arriving at Santiago de Compostela. Except in the movie, the setting is not Finisterre but Muxía. At this spot, Tom scatters the remainder of his son’s ashes into the sea.
After I moseyed down from Monte Corpiño, I traipsed around on the famed rocks and watched the sea churning and dancing; I admired the lighthouse surrounded by lichen-covered boulders. I sat and lost myself in the antics of the sea and contemplated the end of my Camino. Well, almost the end. I’d be going to the actual Finisterre by bus the following day.
After my walk and a long bath in a coveted bathtub, I headed back to A Marina, where I enjoyed a dinner of langostines (large prawns) with salad and bread, two glasses of vino tinto, and tiramasu for dessert. I never again saw Brian, Tyler, Sheryl, Sharon or John.
“ON JOURNEY” INVITATION: I invite you to write a post on your own blog about the journey itself for a recently visited specific destination. You could write about the journey you hope to take in the year ahead. If you don’t have a blog, I invite you to write in the comments.
Include the link in the comments below by Tuesday, February 19 at 1:00 p.m. EST. When I write my post in response to this challenge on Wednesday, February 20, I’ll include your links in that post.
This will be an ongoing invitation, once on the third Wednesday of each month. Feel free to jump in at any time. 🙂
I hope you’ll join in our community. I look forward to reading your posts!