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Day 32: A Reflection from the Cathedral

Staying present as we close and move on to the next chapter (Candace and Andrew)

O Pedrouzo to Santiago

Distance: 13 miles (21 kilometers)

Total Ascent:  290 meters

Difficulty:  2                        

Calories Burned: 2,146

We’ve done it! We’ve completed the Camino! And in honor of this accomplishment, we have a three-part post for you today.

First, a review of the stats:

Total Days of Trek: 32

Total Miles Walked: 500.0 (Average Daily: 15.6)

Total Kilometers: 804.6

Total Ascent: 11,030 meters (Total Descent: 10,875 meters)

Total Calories Burned (for Candace): 107,921

Total Spend: $2,958 (this includes our several splurges thanks to friends’ wedding gifts, but still falls within our goal of $3,000 for the month)

Next, we thought it would be fun to do our own version of the Camino Awards for posterity:

Best Province

Candace: Asturias - we were able to walk along the coast, see amazing ocean caves, and see some of the most beautiful countryside.

Andrew: Galicia – Rolling, verdant be-farmed hills with less development than any of the previous counties. Perks included Albariño wines and rustic, cozy stops along the way.

Best City

Candace: Santillana Del Mar – this medieval city stole my heart with its historic charm and town square (complete with harpist).

Andrew: Castro-Urdiales – The Church of Santa Maria de la Asunsion took my breath away as did the next door Templar castle. Good company and food only heightened the experience.

Best Albergue

Candace: Best: Izarbide, 5 kilometers past Deba. Former dilapidated cowbarn restored by the owner, Nerea, who stole my heart with her warm welcome, hearty home-cooked meal, and attention to detail with her modern amenities. Worst: Municipal albergue in Cadaveda –  where I am convinced that I got bed bugs.

Andrew: Best: Guemes, Between Laredo & Santander. The proprietor Ernesto was a warm, welcoming host who has dedicated his life to making a warm, comfortable place for all peregrinos coming through. Sustained only by donations. He told his story to all, had a small art collection and library on premises and reminded us all of the different caminos we walk every day.

Favorite Pilgrim

Candace: This one is hard because we met so many amazing pilgrims along the way. From the Austrian couple, Louis and Gusti, to my early German friend, Lisa, to the Irish father/daughter team, Angie and Noel, to the Canadian family, Joclyn, Roland and Nicole, to the young Spanish conversationalist, Alejandro, to the young American on a mission for purpose, Austin, I truly feel that I’ve made some amazing lifelong friends along this journey. But I feel that I had the closest connection with James, our British ginger. Even though we only met him a few days before the end, I was honored to know him, and really felt that he added so much to our conversation and days (he may have also won because he was willing to sing with us).

Andrew: My favorite pilgrim was Joclyn, the younger brother of our three Quebecois friends, who we had the fortune to cross paths with regularly throughout our entire Camino. He was erudite, conversational, funny and just a pleasure to be around. We sat inside the monastery courtyard of the Sobrado des Monxes Monastary lasting into the night, sipping rich Spanish brandy conversing and laughing about what a remarkable thing we have had the chance to be a part of.

Favorite Food/Drink

Candace: I loved our “Santiago Sammies” that we made every day for lunch, consisting of bread, unpasteurized cheese, chorizo and a tomato slice. They will always remind me of our first Camino.

Andrew: Spanish continental breakfast. A slow start to the day with café con leche, flaky pastries, warm, full toast with butter and jam, along with a bit of meat or tortilla is just an amazing way to start the day. What’s more, it usually was served with warm and welcoming hospitality.

Most Valuable Item Brought

Candace: My boots, without question. I had never owned a good pair of hiking boots before this trip, but I am convinced that I wouldn’t have finished without them. They have truly been a gift from God.

Andrew: The leatherman my friend Alan gave me as a gift 4 years ago. It helped on every picnic we had, came in handy with repair, making makeshift walking sticks etc. Plus it reminded me of a great friend and guy every time I put it to use.

Favorite Song Sang

Candace: While I did love what Andrew called “Prancercising,” which is dance-walking with headphones, where no one else can see why I’m walking so strangely, to Disclosure, I have to say that my favorite musical moment was learning the duet, “I am the Captain of the Pinafore” with my man. We made time for it nearly every day, and it always lifted my spirits.

Andrew: Hmmmm. I loved Pinafore too, but I will have to go with “Seven Drunken Nights”, that stalwart of Irish drinking songs. When I first sang it to Candace on the road (on the day she was practicing silence) she nearly fell over laughing…for 5 minutes. Gut-busting, snorting, spitting laughter.

Most Intriguing Animal

Candace:  I had a chance encounter with a cow early on in Basque Country, where the cow licked my hands, arms and legs. I had never felt the roughness of a cow’s tongue before, and consider this particular bath to have been a personal gift.

Andrew:  Cats. Cats. Everywhere.  I think heaven must be something close to being a barn cat in Galicia. So many ruined structures, tall grass, other animals etc. Always a pleasure to see them fully in their own world in a beautiful place.

Most Memorable Romantic Moment

Candace:  Okay, so prepare yourselves for this (it is a bit graphic).  When on the Camino, you do not always have the best opportunity to relieve yourself, and one day, I had to take a poop on the side of the road with no toilet paper.  Now, later the same day, Andrew decided that we were going to have some romance in a nearby field.  He put his rain jacket out for me to lay on, but the whole time, I was cringing at the thought of him seeing my dirty underwear.  Sure enough, just as we were ready to move into action, all was revealed and the mood left the building.  That happened.

Andrew: Candace and I had the chance to spend a lovely Friday evening in Guernica. We visited a few restaurants around the main square and just drank in all the noise from the kids everywhere – it was as if they ran the town. And it reminded me how grateful I am to be married to and to hopefully become a parent with Candace.

Weight Lost Along the Way

Candace: While I’ve burned an ungodly amount of calories on this trip, I have no idea how much actual weight I’ve lost, but thought it would be fun to recount the items lost along the way: We sent my 16kg backpack on the first day, so I won’t count that. But I did lose one Chargers sock, a pair of black leggings, fingernail clippers, and several bottles of shampoo and conditioner.

Andrew:  No big casualties. Just a couple plastic bowls, Candace lost her water-bottle (by entrusting it to me, of course) and I consciously dropped the tent/pads when I realized how little we'd get to use them (and to ease 9 kg of weight.)

And finally, this post wouldn’t be complete without sharing the gratitude we feel for being given the gift of this Camino with our beloved. We feel so blessed to have traversed this beautiful path, crossed by millions of other pilgrims over hundreds of years, to share the nature all around us, to pass a smile, a hello, a “buen Camino” with strangers, and to accomplish a goal we’ve never come close to before with the person we will spend the rest of our lives with. It is not often that we can take a month away from life (much less six!) to focus on our spirit, the world around us, and the things in life that matter most. We feel so very blessed to have been given the opportunity to build this amazing foundation for our family.

Thank you, God.