Day 34 – to Santiago
I’d met up with a couple of pilgrims I knew the night before and thought I’d start the day off with them. They took too long to get ready, so I finally decided to go off on my own.
Spain had an incredible array of very old buildings. The house above was so beautiful, I couldn’t resist posting the photo. Was it a metaphor for doing the best that we could with our emotional, physical and psychological baggage? Possibly.
Monte de Gozo
Before I knew it, I’d reached Monte de Gozo, only 5 km before Santiago. This town, I’d read, overlooked Santiago. With this in mind, I’d planned to stop at a café and contemplate my destination while admiring the view. I would ponder my journey, I thought, and write important lessons learned and record noteworthy moments.
There was nowhere to stop. Pilgrims went past the monument, down the hill, and I was soon crossing the rotting boards of the bridge into the city itself.
Welcome to Santiago de Compostela! I couldn’t have planned a less-eventful entrance. I was not only disappointed, I was angry.
Cafés dotted the street on which I walked. I picked one and went in. It took a while to drink my café con leche, and I momentarily contemplated turning back to Monte de Gozo so I could ponder the way I’d planned.
Eventually, I had to keep going forward. I dropped my pack off at an albergue on the way and wandered down to the pilgrim office. The Cathedral could wait.
The Camino wanders past the museum entrance of the Cathedral complex, so I took the photo above. The Cathedral is around the side of it.
The Certificate was a two-minute affair. The lack of ceremony at my arrival was not what had triggered my anger. It was the fact that I’d wanted to continue to Fisterra, to the end of the world, and I wouldn’t have the opportunity to go. And I didn’t want to stop walking. My body craved to continue.
A few days before, I’d mentioned my reticence about getting to Santiago to another pilgrim. She’d shown me her journal where she’d recorded sayings from the Wall of Wisdom before O Pedrouzo.
As soon as you start to love the road, you hate the idea of getting there. In that moment, I realized, one of the lessons the Camino Francés had taught me was this. I loved the road.
The Santiago Cathedral outdid most of the cathedrals I’d seen, maybe even Notre-Dame de Paris. I went in many times to sit in the pews to admire the beauty, take in the feel of the place and got to see the butafumeiro, or incense burner, being swung back and forth until it nearly hit the ceiling.
I wandered around the rest of the city, the remainders of the day. There were green areas and gorgeous streets, everywhere. I loved it.
Outside of the two days off, I’d walked every day for the last 36 days. And now, I had no destination to reach. Parque Alameda became my default place to get rid of energy. I went around in its circles until I felt somewhat depleted of the urge within me.
You might ask if there are more pilgrimages in my future?
Without a doubt!
The Camino del Norte is a possibility, as is the LePuy section to St-Jean. The latter is known as one of the most beautiful arms of the Camino de Santiago. Or there is always the Via Francigena. Failing this, Nepal still calls.
See more Camino photos: http://www.elcaminophotos.com/#intro