We’re two or three days from Santiago, approx 65 kms. The bittersweet ending is near. Our time with Markus and the girls will be surely finished. That fact is always hard to swallow for me.

This close to the end, there are droves of vacation newbie pilgrims out for a 3- to 5-day hike through cow-smelling Galicia. We race these newbies to towns in hopes of catching beds at the donativo albergues. These people think it”s okay to wake up at 5 am, pack the bag van and then walk loudly until noon. We generally have to restrain Markus from … how do we say?… having a cow when we see the group of annoying not-tired Spanish churchies sitting in flip flops outside the only donativo albergue at 1:30 pm.


Do people in Spain not have noses? It smells SO BAD in Galicia. Last night, the intermingling of cow feces and pilgrim socks led the hospitaleros to walk the bunk room vehemently spraying deodorizer… which made the 120 bedroom smell like roses (covered in steaming carcasses of long-dead beasts of burden, spoiled milk that you just opened for a quick whiff, a hundred 20-year-old funky mattresses still soaked with ape sweat and toenail clippings … that, plus crap).

Kai develops loyalty to such strange inanimate objects. Today he asked if he should keep his smelly hat or not. “It smells so bad, but it’s like a monument.” Then there was the sitting bag he wanted to keep til Santiago, then the fanta bottle, then there’s the yellowed wife beater which he is saving to wear as he walks into the Catedral. His favorite is “little guy,” a perfectly circular blister which forms each day on his left foot and disappears as he sleeps. We’ve all become a bit attached to the little guy.