Sunday, September 23. Escape from Rosa and her mincing farewell to us, scout out a nearby café for tea and tostas, headed for Arcade. We have mapped out our route, cutting some of the stages in half because of their length or difficulty, and choosing one more town in which to spend a second night. This time it’s Ponte Vedra, for tomorrow night and the next. If our plan works and I don’t fall down or otherwise crash, the timing for reaching Santiago is just what I thought it would be. Saturday, September 29, arrival at the Seminario Major, aka San Martin Pinario Hospidaleria. My favorite converted Seminary, elegant but simple, friendly, and right across from the northeast entrance to the Cathedral. Good plan. Only a plan, though.
The track today, now that I’m completely off the coastal way, is very hilly, but a shorter day and quite manageable. My thoughts float, as they always do, though I find I’m more anchored to my life back home than I typically am while on Caminos. Business to take care of no matter what, and these are not things my daughter can do for me, as she usually does during these times in Spain.
A new type of ad is popping up on my Facebook and Tiny Beans sites . . . advertising funerals, asking, “Do you have your funeral plan in place?” Not just one pop-up of this sort. Continuous funeral plan ads. Is that a hint?
While I am on the trail today, though, I am musing in that direction . . . thirty years with Neil and no sign of any real deterioration for either of us, but for the usual aging, lines, creaky joints more evident. But I watch people around me, not so much on this trail, but in the towns, moreso than I can or do in my daily life, and see dowager’s humps, limps, a crutch or wheel chair, vacant looks of those whose aging is catching up with their brains, etc. Some couples still hold hands, others act as though they wish they had never met . . .
And I wonder . . . how will we end? Neil and I. Of course, I would choose to be fairly healthy until I crash, but everyone hopes for that, and it doesn’t always happen. Protracted illnesses or deterioration, or just a heart attack in one’s sleep . . . none of those is optimal.
So often I reminisce, either with photos or in my mind or listening to an old Al Jarreau tune, about our former young and vibrant selves, beginning as a couple, so actively and passionately in love,and look at old people passing me, wondering, “What did THEY look like when they were young and newly in love?” And I can see them now, 30 or 40 or 50 years later, often feeble. But while I can imagine in detail how Neil and I were years ago, I can’t picture us in 10 or 15 years, but for a scene that is pretty much like we are now, only more wrinkled. I don’t picture me helping Neil with his walker, or him with his hands gripping my wheel chair, though intellectually I don’t kid myself about the absence or presence of those future possibilities.
What dreary thoughts to have while walking a lovely countryside. I even listen to a recording of a few poems Neil used to recite to my answering machine, but it doesn’t give me more energy for walking as it used to do. Still the dreamy voice, reciting love poems but I’m in a different space in my thoughts now.The music I put together years ago to be used someday for my memorial party does cheer me up and put bounce in my steps. I don’t understand that. Walk on, Joannah.
I have secured a decent hotel with a balcony, in Arcade, again near water, but a river this time, and once I have arrived, I see Ria, always the energizer bunny, waving to me from the balcony like Evita or Juliet.
The reception young woman draws me an incomprehensible map of the town, so I can scout out a Laundromat and the post office (another small package of things I realize I won’t need, lightening my load). Necessary and a way to get a look around, though there isn’t a lot to look at. And Ria would like to find a café on the beach, but there is nothing. So we stop at a restaurant on the main street, but unfortunately, the kitchen is closed. This is the way pilgrims spend the rest of a short walking day. Dealing with normal things, not lofty thoughts and discussions.
The restaurants don’t open until 8:30 for dinner. They must not get many pilgrims stopping here who are very, very hungry long before they hit the village . . . so we wait . . . and at 8:25, we walk down and out the front hotel door to a large canopy covering the hotel’s restaurant. Padron peppers again, yum yum, tomatoes and soft cheese (sort of a Caprese), and I finally find my eggs. Scrambled with champignons and “cured ham”, which I discover after I nearly break my tooth on one bite.
Vino tinto, of course, and excellent bread. Some sort of mediocre dessert. And that’s the end of the evening.
Tomorrow is another day. Laundry for real, not just in the sink, the Correos (post office) to send my little package, and on to Ponte Vedra.