21: thud

‘And then I woke up, and it had all been a dream.’

When I was at school, we used to get told off for finishing stories off by making out they had all been a dream. But as soon as the wheels hit the tarmac at Stansted airport, it really did feel like that strange dozing period between wakefulness and sleeping.

On the descent, I looked out of the window to see nothing but solid cloud. And as soon as I stepped out of the plane onto the ladder to the terminal building, the dull grey September sky sapped what I had thought was a glorious tan out of my skin and made me look similarly grey. I waited in the cold for a bus back to London which got stuck in traffic around Hyde Park because of a demonstration. The other passengers started remonstrating with the driver to let us off, and soon I was sitting on the Tube, on my way back to Clapham.

At home, everything was how I had left it – it was like I had never been away at all. The beautiful eternally sunny camino world, populated with our peregrino family was no more. Tomorrow I will get up when my radio alarm goes off, listen to John Humphreys give today’s politician a hard time, walk up the road to the bus stop and travel in to work. I won’t walk 20km or stop at a delightful cafe bar for a croissant and coffee. I won’t turn a corner and see the two Belgian brothers striding towards me, checking to make sure I’d crossed the road properly. I won’t spot Julio Ferrer sitting on a rock gazing at nature looking for inspiration for his poems.

The days will run quickly again, the traffic will speed past, life will pick up pace, and where time stretched elastically in Spain, back in chilly Northern Europe the clock will wind itself back up to full speed again. But like a dream you remember to recount over breakfast, I’m fairly sure the story of the camino will stick with me for a long time yet.

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