For the past three weeks we have been walking along or near the coast of Spain- first beside the Bay of Biscay and more recently next to the Atlantic Ocean.
We have passed through the Basque Country, Cantabria and Asturias. Although we dipped away from the sea from time to time it was always on our right.
Three days ago that changed.
We left the province of Asturias and walked into the province of Galicia.
At Ribadeo, we hooked a left turn and are now heading southwest to Santiago de Compostela.
We have left the cliffs and the surfers and summer behind us.
No more speedy little ferries to whisk us from one spit of land to another.
No more death defying bridges either.
For more than three hundred miles we have followed markers on which the “back”of the scallop shell has pointed us in the correct direction.
Go left again
And suddenly in Galicia the signs are switched. We now go in the direction in which the “fingers” point.
And sometimes two contradicting shells point you in the same direction .
Suddenly it is easy to get lost if the mind is wandering. And it is and we do.
However this problem has been mostly solved by a new set of concrete markers that tell you not only the direction to go but also gives the distance left before you arrive at Santiago.
Very clear, very visible and very satisfying to see the progress we are making .
Very demoralizing to believe you are nearly done for the day and discover the distance given for that stage is off by 10 kms!
Very nice -everything matches!
But even more noticeable than a change of province or direction or of marker style, is that autumn has come to Spain.
The green ferns of a month ago are now rusty red.
The lime green chestnut pods of three weeks ago are a dull brown and litter the path. The shiny chestnuts are glistening and popping out of their skins.
In the woods, the lush greens of summer have been replaced by the muted shades of fall.
The grasses are turning golden and the corn is being cut. Even the color of the clay under our feet has changed.
And as the seasons have changed, we have changed also.
Tanner, maybe a little fitter, maybe a little more bruised and blistered, hopefully a little wiser.