Camino Day 39

Sarria is just over 100km from Santiago de Compostela and is where a huge number of people start their Camino walk from. You see there are rules.

So back in medieval times doing the pilgrimage to Santiago was a penance that washed away your sins and gave you fast-track entry to heaven as well as certain privileges in churches back on Earth. To prove you’d done it you were given the token of a scallop shell.

But people cheated – presumably St Peter saw through the cheating, but back on Earth rules were needed. So now we have the Credentials which have to be stamped along the way to demonstrate you actually walked what you said you did. Stamping is easy as every bar, hotel, shop, and church has a stamp and many are quite proud of them. At the end of the process you get judged on the stamps and given a Compostela or certificate saying you have completed the Camino.

Sarria monastery

But it’s a bit more complicated than that – to get the Compostela, and fast-track heaven-access, all you really need to do is walk the last 100km, which pretty much means walk from Sarria. (And then, somewhat ironically, do a lot of queuing to actually get the Compostela itself.)


If you’ve been following along you’ll know we walked over a mountain to get here. The last place we stayed in before that has another out – the church has a special door for those who can’t complete the walk to Santiago. Go through the door on a holy year and you still get the Compostela. See, there are rules.

Newly cut hair

Anyway, from our point of view Sarria has been a good place to stop and do the washing, get a haircut, and organize a few things back home.

By the way, getting a haircut in a foreign language with different terminology to home is a high-risk undertaking so I was quite proud of the effort (the communication, not the haircut itself). The barber and I even chatted about not being able to see anything without our glasses on. The thing making everything harder recently is that people are speaking Galician (impossible) or Spanish with a thick Galician accent (very difficult).

Tomorrow we start the last 100km.

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