|Port of Fisterra|
|Pilgrim at The End of the World.|
|Wild Galacian coast.|
|A pod of granite bottlenose.|
There are a few last shrines to visit for the finishing pilgrim. The places where boots are burnt and tributes made. These burn pits may well may have served the same purpose a thousand years ago as elements of the Celtic pagan traditions fought to survive against the overwhelming pressure of the Church. But look closely at the mass today , my pension host advised. "You'll see how traditions melted together like burnt shoe leather and wild sheep's wool."
|Ceremonial burn pits for boots and gear.|
|Memorial to hiking boots.|
|I'll study the white-washed shelves at home for more species .|
|Signal stones, monolithic way marking.|
|A cattle and sheep road above the cliff.|
|Stonechat and mate.|
|Fishermen's salvation retablos.|
|Memorial to those taken by the sea.|
I followed the church goers back into town and found some lunch by the harbor. Tour buses were filing in now and I wondered how the little village, much expanded recently with new housing , albergues , hotels, and eateries was faring. I thought about the fishing towns on my side of the Atlantic, mostly resorts, cluttered, congested, cookie-cutter versions of ocean towns up and down the coastline. There are few wild beaches left and of those, hemmed in by vacation home sprawl and outlet shopping strips. There is still Lewes, Henlopen, Chincoteague. But there is nothing like Galicia left on the U.S. Atlantic coast - not anymore.
My hike continued with a climb to the summit to Monte Facho, wild, windswept, hot. From the heights I spotted my destination and finish point - a wild pocket beach suspended in the hollow between Facho and the craggy fins of San Martino shores. A major conservation area, Mar de Fora is wild dunes high into meadows and an arc of brilliant shell-sand. It was where I had planned to spend my last Camino hours to watch the sun set over the Atlantic.
The trail clung to the westward slope and led by steep road, some it old Roman stone and clay, to a vast saddle of high dune. A conservation boardwalk crossed the delicate ecosystem of prostrate plants, delicate blossoms, and a universe of multi-colored lizards. The beach was a shining half-moon of shimmer in the eight o'clock sun. I dropped my pack, leaned into it as my back rest, and joined a few other pilgrims spread far apart to wait for the sunset.
I waded into the cold water of the Atlantic and stood as long as I could, which wasn't long. My legs and feet were soon numb! I detached the scallop shell that has been tied on the back of my pack since Roncesvalles at the foot of the Pyrenees. I gave it water and let it warm in the hot sand. Some pilgrims down the beach were burning their boots. I promised my boots I wouldn't do that to them!
As the sun dipped lower a few dogs came down the boardwalk, their owners far behind. Within minutes a bright, happy soul joined me for some fetch into the gentle waves. After a while, a tall young man approached and introduced Fila properly. " She was a Camino dog left behind by the pilgrim she had followed. I took her in. She loves playing with pilgrims." I noticed how all the dogs were playing with everyone! I wondered about Bell and her Canadian pilgrim and if he might be going to Toronto or dropped off in some end-of-the-road village. "This is a nightly ritual for the dogs! They love it!"
The sun slipped into the sea. My Camino came to an end on a wild beach in Galicia. Five-hundred and fifty miles walking until the trail ended at the ocean that binds our histories and people together.
|Twin capes and wild pocket beach of the Atlantic side of Fisterra.|
|Looking west from a high summit meadow.|
|Mar de Fora|
|The scallop shell that has been attached to my pack since Roncesvalles.|
|A playful soul to spend late hours with.|
|Sunset on the Atlantic.|