Map: Day 36
Complete Map: All Days
All I have to say is WOW! We freakin’ walked 500 miles. There were days when I was so tired I didn’t want to walk anymore. There were days when it felt like it was a job. However looking back, I’m glad we kept at it and finished. It’s a huge sense of accomplishment. I do wonder when I will be able to get up without being stiff or when I can completely feel the bottoms of my feet again. I also wonder if we’ll keep in touch with everyone. (Thanks to social media, it’s much easier.) It’ll be interesting to see if I have any “a-ha’s” as everything sinks in and we head home. Only time will tell.
Because the pilgrim mass is at noon in Santiago and we were still 20 km away, we were out the door before 6 am. Lots of other pilgrims had the same idea. It rained a bit on the walk but cleared up for the walk into Santiago.I’ve seen pictures where it shows lots of pilgrims descending into Santiago and it ended up being nothing like that. It was actually quite anti-climatic. We walked into Santiago and then had to walk through the entire town to get to the cathedral. I kept thinking at any moment, there would be cheering in the streets for us. After walking 500 miles, it seemed like it would’ve been appropriate. We didn’t even really get very many “Buen Caminos” from the locals. They’re just going about their daily lives which involves seeing lots of pilgrims every day.
While making our way through town, we ran into Doris. We hadn’t seen her in a few weeks so it was great to see her. She had been in Santiago for a few days already.
It seemed like forever to get to the cathedral. And I’m not sure whose idea it was to make cobblestone streets but they are so hard on your feet when you’ve been walking and walking and walking. Clearly the roadmakers haven’t walked the Camino.
As we neared the cathedral, Liz and Alex and their crew of about 10 were standing there cheering everyone on. It was exactly what we needed and very much appreciated! Then it was on to the pilgrim office to get our compostelas and check our bags before heading in for the noon pilgrim mass. We barely made it and by the time we got into the cathedral, all of the pews were taken so we had to make do with sitting on the pillars. I went to Catholic school for eight years but it’s been a while since I’ve been to any sort of mass and it was in Spanish so it was a bit hard to follow. The one part I did recogize by the rhythm of the dialogue was the “Peace be with you” part. (I’m sure there’s an official name that I should know after going to Catholic school but I don’t remember.)
The best part of the mass was the botafumeiro (giant incense burner). It’s only guaranteed to be used at the Friday evening masses but for whatever reason, our mass had it too. We’ve heard that if someone (or a group of people) pays 350 Euros, they’ll bring it out. According to the guidebook, it was originally used to “fumigate the sweaty (and possibly disease-ridden) pilgrims”. It was amazing to see how high it swung. It was almost to the ceiling and in a cathedral, that’s incredibly high.
After mass, we shopped for souvenirs and just wandered around. It was fun to see everyone and shared lots of congratulatory hugs. It was like a reunion because we saw people we hadn’t seen in days, or even a couple of weeks.
And we had the best lunch. We found an Italian restaurant and ordered some pizza and pasta. It was delicious. Towards the end of our meal, a couple from California sat down next to us. They finished a day or two before but had started in Le Puy France and had been walking since the end of April. It was fun to exchange stories with them. That’s one of, if not THE, greatest things about the Camino….the instant friendship and camaraderie amongst the pilgrims.
As we continued to wander around and run into friends, we asked everyone where they were staying since we still didn’t have a place to stay. We knew we didn’t want to stay in an albergue. We were ready for a hotel room with our very own bathroom. We finally settled on San Martin Pinario which is an old monastery.
After getting settled into our room, we headed back out for more wandering around and ran into Philip, Herman and Ruth (from Holland and Germany) so we went and had dinner with them. Okay, we had wine and snacks. I’m not sure it really qualified as dinner. But it was lots of laughs. It was midnight by the time we went to bed which is incredibly late compared to the past five weeks.
Encouragement along the way
Crosses in the fence
A pretty flower
Monument commemorating the visit of Pope John Paul II in Monte del Gozo
Santiago is finally in view!
Sign as we entered Santiago
Heather and Hamza
The Botafumeiro in mid flight
Cathedral of Santiago. Lots of restoration work is happening right now.
Look who we ran into. The Oregon ladies – Marinela, Alyssa and Melinda. We stayed with them in Orisson and hadn’t seen them in forever.
Dinner with Philip, Herman and Ruth