30th Day: Palas del Rei to Arzua

The Camino is winding down. Santiago is only 43 kilometers away. Many people are looking back on their experience, trying to put all the pieces together from the last 30 days. Most people, including myself, use the Camino primarily for a self serving purpose – to get away, to enjoy being outside of a hectic life and to be, to some degree, inward looking. The Camino is a great place for those purposes. As I passed by all the crosses and graves behind an old church in the hamlet of San Xulian do Camino, I remembered what Dag said yesterday – that cemeteries remind us that we won’t live forever.

Matt knows that better than most. I caught up with him today a bit outside of Melide, which by the way, is known for the best Pulpo in Spain (Pulperia Exequiel is excellent!). It wasn’t the first time we had met each other. For the last five days we have ended up in the same village at the end of the day, often having dinner or a pint together. He’s a natural leader, (he owns five businesses) and at dinner time, you can often find an international crowd around Matt’s table.

A while back, Matt’s mom had lung cancer. It metastasized into brain cancer. She pulled through, amazingly, perhaps partly due to Macmillan Cancer Support. They provide nurses, mostly in a hospice role, that help care for cancer patients. Matt shared a statistic with me today, right before reaching Azura, the last big town of the Camino – 80 percent of their patients die. Matt was struck by the generosity of the nurses and after he found out that they depend on charitable contributions, he decided to raise funds for them by walking the Camino. He’s already raised 12 thousand pounds and the contributions keep coming. With everyone looking inwards, thinking about how they have changed, Matt looks outwards on what he can change around him.

If you are interested in donating, you can find his page here here.

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