Stage 26: Samos to Portomarín
Official: 36.57km // iPhone Step Count: 36.8km
Stage 27: Portomarín to Palas de Rei
Official: 24.67km // iPhone Step Count: 23.5km
Time plays an interesting role on the Camino. Waking up at 6AM and walking until 2PM or 3PM on long days, rarely seems like 8 or 9 hours. Each step passes by with little notice. A hundred steps pass in seconds. Fifty-thousand steps pass in a blink of an eye.
“Time is very slow for people who’s waiting. Very quick for people who are afraid. Very long for people who complain. Very short for people who are partying. But for people who love, time is eternity.”
For a month, we have walked a leisurely pace. We’ve passed from town to town returning to the ancient rhythm of our ancestors. In these first 700 kilometers, we have come to know our bodies and felt the effects of time, sun, sweat, and pain. In these 700 kilometers, we have come to know one another though laughter, tears, frustrations, pain and love. In these 700 kilometers, we have walked together through time.
Time and pace has quieted our hearts and minds and slowed our rhythmic lives to a calm ease. The fast paced driven world we came from, feels centuries apart.
People often struggle with “finding time,” yet on the Camino, time flows like a gentle stream. To experience time, one must only casually dip a cup into its waters and taste its refreshing presence.
In the minutes it would take us to drive the same distance, hours flow casually. Trees greet you in the distance and slowly the leaves wave as you pass by. Cows moo, curious of the approaching stranger, and then comfortably wander towards the fence for a casual pet. Wind rushes against your back and the wheat bows as you walk along.
What takes years for relationships to develop, on the Camino it takes merely days. In the slow progression of time, stories flow with a freedom that otherwise would have been restricted. Memories that have been suppressed, become unlocked with a simple question. By day’s end, entire life narratives are unfolded with profoundly intimate details.
It is this gradual pace of the Camino that gives the Way its essence. By allowing the pilgrims to slow down and breath, each step peels away the stress, struggles, and anxiety of everyday life.
With less than 100 kilometers remaining, time is quickly running short. What felt like an endless flow of time is gradually becoming a trickle. Miles of isolation are transformed into mere meters of solitude. Familiar faces known intimately are shuffled into mere faces in a crowd.
The transition back into reality begins well before we reach Santiago. Albergues book days in advance as new pilgrims arrive and distrust that the “Camino will provide.” Tourists looking for a thrilling adventure commercialize the final legs. Large school and church groups gather along the route for “authentic Spanish meals” ready made from their personal rental cars.
The essence and time of the Camino now flows at a different pace.
Yet, it is not the Camino that changes, it is the pilgrims. For centuries, time has forever stood still along the Camino de Santiago. The Way has remained unchanged, it is only the pilgrims who have changed because of their graced filled time along its timeless path.
For 700 kilometers we have waded through a thick timeless experience. The stories, pains, people, and moments have etched themselves onto our lives. While the time along the Camino may be ephemeral, what has transpired is permanent. As we unwind our way into reality, we weave what has been integrated into our lives.