Today was the penultimate day and no matter how I did the maths there was no way out of doing a minimum of 24km. For some reason I thought the last days into Santiago would be a pleasant downhill stroll but a quick glance at the elevation chart proved otherwise. A steady climb out of Ribadiso followed by some sharp climbs and descents. And worst of all, the crowds were back!
We set off early and puffed our way up the first hill. The weather forecast was overcast but little chance of rain and that makes for very pleasant walking. We made good time and spent a large portion of the day discussing the fact that tomorrow was our last day. The walk was mostly uneventful, as was the scenery. There are lots of eucalyptus forests planted in this region and we often found ourselves wandering through them as we reflected on the last 40 days.
It’s hard to believe we’ve done nearly 800km.. and it’s harder to believe it’s coming to an end. If nothing else it’s shown me that even a large challenge can be overcome by nibbling away bit by bit.. 25km one day, 18km the next.. day by day I nibbled my way across an entire country. And in doing so I met some incredible people and experienced some amazing places. Nearly every aspect of this walk has been positive, the sense of achievement, forging new friendships, witnessing acts of kindness between complete strangers. People from all around the world walking together and most sharing the same goal. There isn’t many times where you will encounter such a large group of people all sharing the same space and all going in the same direction both physically and, dare I say it? Spiritually.. (I use that in a very loose sense). For me there wasn’t any huge revelations, I didn’t find Jesus (At one point I thought I had but it turns out it was just a German guy with a beard). But, despite the lack of hallelujah moments I still feel like something has changed.. maybe something small and maybe it will fade but there’s definitely something different and as soon as I work out what it is you’ll be the first to know.