Day 28: The Forest of Enchantment

When little kids wake up, they cannot wait to start the day. Everything is a new adventure and everything is exciting. They explore, explore, explore, and open themselves to new experiences. They stop when they tire, sleep, and look forward to the next day again.

Somewhere along the line, many adults begin to lose this sense of wonder and excitement, dreading waking up and starting “yet another day.” They forget what it’s like to walk through the Enchanted Forest, where beauty and magic lie around us.


The Camino is often like the Enchanted Forest, both figuratively and literally. We climbed (again) through the winding trees, and it is hard to ignore the beauty around.

The Camino is getting crowded, with many people coming for the last 100km, which we now have reached. It is rather a sight to see shiny boots and clean-smelling packs, along with scout troops wearing matching shirts. The noise also gets louder.


B went ahead and walked with Peter, a young Dutchman, who walked the Camino the first time at the tender age of 16 when he needed a way to alter his life a bit away from getting caught in the mischief of adolescence. A mature university student, he hopes to join the army one day. It is clear he will make a fine man. They chatted about everything, from crime and punishment to the U.S. debt crisis. Peter mentioned that he has noted a difference betwen Americans and Spanairds. He said that at first, Americans will say they are doing fine. The next time he talks to them, they begin to reveal how in pain they are, lost, and unsure of who they are,what thy’re doing, or where they are going. He said he has only met two who has not seem to be dissatisfied in one way or another.

Have Americans become so caught up in a race that they no longer see the shining leaves on the trees, but only the roots sticking from the ground, threatening to be a stumbling block?


B and Peter stopped for a bite and waited until Kat and Z came through. They had stopped for a quick photo at the 100km marker. 100km left.


Finally, B entered Porto Marin and settled in, seeing familiar faces telling her that even well before noon, places were being booked up. The Camino has decidedly taken a different turn. The ambiance is no longer the same. There are many, many tourists here who are doing this for a few days to get the Compostela, carrying tiny backpacks. There is a definitely more commercial feel to things now, and our little family agrees it is simply not as pleasant.


Kat showed up 45 min later, and she and B went to wait in line at the municipal albergue. Z was having a tougher time, so Kat went back to get her. Like a comedy of farces, B went too and ran into Fabrizio and Nacho, who hadn’t seen Z. They tried to call Kat, but no answer.


B continued, back down the hill, over the bridge, about three-quarters of a kilometer. At the bottom of a massive hill, she ran into Alex and Juan. She reached Kat on their mobile and learned that she had found Z a while ago – guess they took another way to the albergue. Humph. So back went B up the hill, across the bridge, up the steep stairs.


The great thing was, though, that we knew we had friends on the Way who would watch out for each other. It’s people like Alex, who is one of the sweetest people ever (he makes balloon animals for kids undergoing chemotherapy) who make these moments worth all the while. It’s seeing two cows “chat.”


It’s calamari stew.


Speaking with our little family – Juan, Alex, Nacho, Fabrizio – and new old friends – Andrea and Gemma – it seems everyone was having a tougher time with this influx of tourist-pilgrims who seem to be doing this for the Compostela. Kat and Gemma found this to be the toughest day mentally. Kat’s saving grace was her two cortados.


We are having a tough time finding places to sleep, as the albergues and hotels are getting pricier and fuller. Tourist-pilgrims with their shiny walking sticks and tiny bags are making reservations ahead of time, some traveling via bus for part of the Way. It seems the Camino for some have become a trendy thing, rather than an enchanting journey with oneself and friends.

Those of us who have been walking with each other one way or another – including the young Spanish Englishman with tendinitis who has decided to do the final 100km after some rest days – have a bit of history together and nostalgia for the days when the magic was clearly evident. We also have to remember that everyone’s Camino is different, whether people have 3 days or 30 days, it is the intention and the spirit with which they walk, not the length of time or toughness of the calluses.


It is now ever important these last 90km to find the child within, overlook the commercialization of this journey, and find the enchantment along the Way.