Friday, October 27, 2023

Day 5 - 26 October - Cee to Finisterre

As Elkie Brooks famously sang;

Every night I pray
Tomorrow brings a sunny day and happy things
Just like the way it used to be for you and me
I want to see the sunshine after the rain
I want to see bluebirds flying over the mountains again
Sunshine after the rain
Oh where is the silver lining shining at the rainbow's end

We were warm and cosy in our hotel room overnight, in stark contrast to what was happening outside. The rain was battering our hotel room window, seemingly intent on getting in to have another go at us. There was no point rushing to get away early this morning.

We ventured downstairs to the hotel bar at around twenty past nine for coffee, croissant and complementary cake. The rain was still teeming down. The coffee was very strong, too strong to contemplate a second one and so, with the rain still teeming down, we left the sanctuary of the hotel bar at ten o’clock to face the elements.

Mrs C was kinesiology taped up to the eyeballs (well, kneecaps really) and we only had seven and a half miles to our accommodation so we had a relatively straightforward walk ahead of us. Within fifteen minutes we were out of Cee and approaching its next door neighbour town of Concubine (it may actually have been Corcubión but I prefer Concubine). We were up and through Concubine’s narrow passages in no time and a post-coastal cigarette would have been apposite except for the fact that the rain was now teasing us, ranging from very nearly having stopped to let’s get these buggers very wet again.

Around two miles in, we reached Alto San Roque from where you can catch your first sight of the cape of Finisterre and the lighthouse. Despite the rain and the mist, we did indeed catch that first sight. 

All was good. The rain was easing as we passed through Estorde and then on to a beautiful pine forest track towards Sardiñeiro. But then the rain suddenly wasn’t easing and the pine forest track was more bath than path. And then it eased again.

The bath path suddenly delivered us to Miradoiro de Talón, a vantage point from where stunning views are to be had across the bay to the town of Finisterre and the cape beyond. Here we happened upon two peregrinos taking the compulsory phone snaps of this vista. They seemed nice guys and after a brief chat, I felt it only right that I should offer to buy them a beer were we to meet up later in Finisterre.

Our wild death (as opposed to wildlife) tally increased to four species with the sight of a dead seal on the beach at Praia de Longosteira. It might feasibly have been a sand-filled sack but we weren’t inclined to undertake a detailed investigation so we’ll stick with the seal option. Apart from dead seals (or sacks), the beach at Praia de Longosteira is a mile and a bit of loveliness and leads you right into Finisterre itself.

Amazingly, as we entered Finisterre, the rain stopped, the clouds parted and the sun came out, Russia called it a draw with Ukraine and the EFL (English Football League) apologised for deducting six points from Sheffield Wednesday a couple of seasons back and agreed to give them the points back plus six more for good luck. Okay, two of these three scenarios didn’t happen but the one that did was very welcome and not a little poetic.

We found our accommodation and got ourselves sorted over the next hour. We weren’t finished yet. We had the lighthouse to get to, another two miles away. By now, the weather forecast was for nothing worse than strong winds and we set off once again, this time minus rucksacks and wet weather gear, tempting fate admittedly but who doesn’t enjoy doing so from time to time?  

Climbing out of Finisterre, the marked route tracks the AC-445 road to the lighthouse, a gentle incline alongside huge pine trees on the steep and rocky banks between road and sea. As we were walking up to the lighthouse, so other peregrinos were walking back down, one of whom was one of the guys I had earlier promised to buy a beer. It would have been rude to pretend this hadn’t happened so I reiterated the offer as we passed.

Not long after and we were approaching the lighthouse. I am not an overly emotional sort of chap but I was hit by a great sense of pride and indeed happiness that Mrs C and I had been able to achieve this together. That said, I’m not actually convinced as to why walking a long way should even be thought of as an achievement? Discovering penicillin, landing on the moon, writing the theme music for Crossroads, these are all achievements. But walking a long way? Anyway, who am I to argue with my own sense of pride and happiness. Deep down, I know this really all stems from being able to do this together with the lovely Mrs C. 

We sat on the rocks below the lighthouse, looking out to sea and empathising why the peregrinos of old considered this place to be the end of the known earth. I have read how peregrinos of more recent times have ritualistically burnt their walking clothes at this spot and swum naked in the sea but aside from the lighting of fires understandably being discouraged by the authorities, does anyone seriously think I would subject my Mexican Lucky tee-shirt to such a fate? And the sea looked a bit cold anyway.

So how to celebrate this auspicious moment? We had a beer! At the site of the lighthouse there is a little bar so we had a little beer and after which we headed back down the AC-445 path towards the town. The rain had attempted a couple of half-hearted comebacks but even the forecast windy conditions didn’t materialise any more than one might expect on such an exposed headland which left us only to enjoy plenty of blue sky and sunshine - and a rainbow! -on the two mile walk back to Finisterre town.

It was around half past five when we got back into town and we started looking for a bar in which to make the most of our celebratory mood. This duly arrived in the shape of El Galeón bar where we sat inside, by the window, looking out to the harbour and sea beyond. We were just finishing our first beers here when who should walk in but the guys I had promised to buy a beer. A promise is a promise and beers were duly purchased. 

Alistair (Ali) and Peter are from Bristol and Antwerp respectively, and met on the road just a day or so back. Ali has walked the Camino Frances from St-Jean-Pied-de-Port in the Pyrenees and Peter has walked the Portuguese route from Lisbon, for both their first experience of walking the Camino de Santiago. When you’ve done it, you get it! It’s like a secret club and difficult to articulate to others why you’ve done it, what you got out of it and how it changed you. Deep man. We had another beer and then said our goodbyes.

Food was calling and we set off to find a restaurant recommended to us by our accommodation host. Restaurante Os Tres Golpes was an unpretentious bar in a small side street, specialising in fish but pretty damn good when it came to meat too. Fabulous meal. What a way to finish our Camino!

Tomorrow we will be tourists, not peregrinos, so that is it for this Camino blog. I hope that you have enjoyed reading The Adventures of Mrs C. She has enjoyed the main character role. I think.

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