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A 15 day cycle pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostella with a 2-year-old in tow
Dear Grandma and Grandad. Don’t worry, everything’s alright. We are very careful and Elisa has got used to the pilgrim’s lifestyle. We’re on Monte Gozo, just 5 km from Santiago. It’s here that, since the middle ages, pilgrims from around the world spend their last night before their arrival in the Sacred City.
For the last 15 days we travelled along the Camino del Norte, which follows the coast over 600km, and is one of the less frequented variants of the Camino de Santiago. This option meant a cooler climate, and, as it turned out, also less traffic. Since the coastal motorway was built cars have deserted the slower, winding roads. Still, along one section where the motorway is still unfinished, between Luarca and Navia, we have had to take the train. Our route then took us into Galicia, the mountainous land of Santiago de Compostella.
The camino usually leads us along small, quiet roads crossing traditional villages in the deepest countryside. This also means we have to go up more hills and we sometimes have to get off our bikes to push... The trailer weighs 15kg and Elisa almost as much.
As for the landscape we are surprised by how green it is, nothing like the rest of Spain. The reason for this luxurious vegetation is the wet climate courtesy of the Atlantic Ocean. Fortunately we’ve had a few days of sunshine, which we spent on the beach - Elisa LOVES the sea.
After the beach, we have some trouble to get Elisa back in her trailer, as naturally she wants to keep on playing in the sand. We don’t ever force her, she has to decide to get on board herself. This can last one or two hours. Once she’s in, she’s usually happy, especially when we go downhill fast. In her trailer her main activities are playing with her dolls, singing and looking out of the window. The best moment for pedalling is when she’s sleeping... in all positions imaginable. Unforturately we can’t vary the position of her seat, and it’s difficult to prop up her head.
We only cycle 50km a day on average - Elisa must also have fun. She increasingly participates in our adventure by looking for the yellow arrows and shells that show us the way. She knows we are going to "Santiango" and that we will see the "cathedlal."
In the evenings we don’t have much trouble finding a place to sleep. There are pilgrims’ hostels all along the way. They cost 5 euros each, and are sometimes even free. We have a tent with us so camping is always an option, or sometimes we stay in hotels. In the hostels the atmosphere is very friendly. In the morning, the pilgrims get up extremely early and we are usually the last to leave. To get anywhere on the Camino you have to learn self control. Pilgrims must fight fatigue, pain, the desire to stay inside when it’s cold and raining... Even the youngest pilgrims like Elisa must learn to control their urges, like that of wanting to stay on the beach.
The pilgrims are all very surprised to see Elisa. She gets lots of little presents and smiles. As we get closer to Santiago, there’s more and more people converging on the Camino, as if attracted by an invisible force. For several days now we have been travelling in the company of Laura and Manuel, two Spanish cyclists who make Elisa laugh a lot.
Now that we are so close to our goal, the last kilometres seem to go by too quickly. The best moment on the Camino de Santiago isn’t getting there, but the moment just before, when you know there’s still some way to go.
Lots of love, see you soon.