October 6, 2018
We are here. In Santiago! We got up early and were on the trail by 6:20AM. As we walked, we reminisced about our journey, marveling that it was about to end. The route was short (12 miles) and we were excited, so we walked quickly.
Our first sighting of Santiago from the hills:
We arrived at our albergue, Porto Real, around 11:00, just as it started to rain. We dropped off our backpacks, grabbed our ponchos and headed to the cathedral for mass. As we got to the plaza, I looked around, but instead of cheering crowds, there was a crowded spiral line of people waiting to get into the cathedral. It took almost 30 minutes to get inside, where mass had already begun. There was no place to sit. Mass was in Spanish, so I had no idea what the priest was saying. I asked Enrique, but he said he wasn’t listening…it was something about God. I wanted to see the swinging of the big incense ball, but the security guard said that they hardly ever put it in motion and no one knew when or if it would happen. Its significance is that when the pilgrims arrived centuries ago, they didn’t smell bery good, so the incense ball was used to mask their odors in the cathedral.
So we only stayed in the cathedral for about 15 minutes, during which time I thought about how fortunate we were to have finished Camino without any illness (many people got sick) or injuries other than a few blisters.
From the cathedral, we headed to the Pilgrim’s Office to receive our certificate of completion. There was a long line there, also. We waited over an hour and finally received two certificates, one in Latin (spiritual) and one in Spanish (distance).
Walking through town afterward, we ran into many Camino friends and had a chance to hug and congratulate each other before saying our final goodbyes. Many people are continuing on, walking another four days to Finisterre, also called, “the end of the world” because it’s a town on the western-most tip of Spain. We’re going there tomorrow, too, but in a rental car. I’m done walking.
I’m sure it will take me a while to process this whole experience. I’m glad I have this blog to look at because many of the cities we passed through are blurs to me now. I’m happy to have completed this journey and grateful not to be a pilgrim from the past. Once they made the pilgrimage to Santiago, they turned around and walked back home.