I arrived in Arzua shortly before 1.30pm to join a queue of pilgrims waiting outside the municipal albergue which didn’t open until 1.30pm. The queue was moving so slowly after about twenty minutes I threw on the backpack and walked a hundred metres down the street to Albergue da Fonte, a small private albergue which has excellent facilities for just a��10 per night. I figured I could be unpacked, showered, and have eaten before I was allocated a bed at the other place.

Arzua I wall to wall with pilgrims. It’s here that the Camino del Norte, the one I’ve been walking, meets the Camino Frances, the one I’ve walked three times before. There must be at least ten albergues in this town and all are full. Some pilgrims have moved on and others have had to find alternative accommodation. You can tell you are getting close to Santiago because this town has its souvenir shops. Why you’d buy a souvenir here and then have to carry it to Santiago beats me. If you want a souvenir Santiago is the Mecca.

Last night I briefly caught up with a pilgrim I haven’t seen since Deba, and that was day three. It fascinates me that we are all walking the same path and yet we can go a whole month without seeing someone. Today we caught up again at a bar near my albergue and chatted for about an hour.

The first hour and a half of today’s walk was on beautifully quiet forest tracks and country lanes that passed through the occasional village, but from then on it was bitumen roads or footpaths beside them all the way to Arzua.

Don’t look back. I’ve made a point on this and previous Caminos to not look back on the road I’ve just walked. Sometimes I do when I want to take a photograph or when retracing my steps to check a way marker. Looking back is where I’ve been. After it’s walked it’s part of my history. What’s ahead is important, but what is most
important is the here and the now. Everything we experience is at this point, not behind us and not ahead of us.

I’ve set myself a mental strengthening exercise this Camino. When I become aware of a pilgrim behind me I never look back to see who it is. My first sight of them is if and when they overtake me. By looking back about all we do is satisfy our curiosity.
The urge to take a look can be a powerful one, but so far I’ve managed to resist. It toughens the will power.

Early on in today’s walk I thought about some of the more emotional moments of this Camino. It didn’t take much to bring tears to my eyes. I wondered what my reaction will be when I finally reach the cathedral in Santiago. After all, it’s my arrival at the cathedral which will mean the end of this Camino. Entering the outskirts of Santiago and moving into it’s historical district is merely preparatory for that final moment when I know this journey will be complete.
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