Romans 15:24 I plan to do so when I go to Spain. I hope to see you while passing through and to have you assist me on my journey there, after I have enjoyed your company for a while.
Day 38 — 11.65 Miles — Pedrouzo to Santiago de Compostela, June 4. On our last day of walking, the rain returned before 7:30 am. We were on the home stretch after walking for 37 days. It was difficult to come to terms with the knowledge that our journey was ending. The last 37 days have been difficult and body strengthening but most of all heart warming.
Our feet seemed to erupt with blisters as if we had hives. Bandages, Vaseline, sock liners and numerous other “fixes” were tried. The blisters started about the same time on The Way for everyone. They started at the steep downhill walk into Zuburi. One man broke his leg on that section of The Way. Bridgett fell. Her head wound required stitches. We managed and survived together with other pilgrims.
The cold and the heat also tested us. The cold was not as bad for us as the heat. Living in Idaho, we were accustomed to cold mornings so we had gloves and layered our clothes. Others were not as well prepared. The heat with no shade was difficult. With the heat came early mornings starting at 5:30.
The emotional and physical support received within the pilgrim community is what makes the walk heartwarming. One is never alone. The bonds with others that we have formed will last out lifetimes. These words do not come close to describing the feelings generated by The Way and this journey. We were hoping to see those who have touched our lives one more time in Santiago.
With joyful and heavy hearts, we arrived in Santiago at 11:30 am. Pismo Beach Kathy and her sister Karen were walking in front of us. We said good bye just before reaching our hostel. They walked on.
We checked in our room and left our back packs while we continued to the Pilgrim Office or in Spanish the Oficina del Peregrino. The office is located near the Cathedral. Guards are stationed at the entrance to the office. Only pilgrims are admitted. We walked into the building and were directed to get in the queue. The queue went down a hallway, turned right and continued down another hallway. It then went out a door, across a courtyard and down a flight of stairs to a large patio/park area.
As we were walking to the end of the line, we walked into Ian and Patricia from Wales! They had rented bikes in Burgos. We had not expected to see them again. The feeling of elation we felt at seeing them was unbelievable. We gave hugs all around and made plans to meet for dinner. Our place in the queue was at the bottom of the stairs. It was about 12:45 pm.
After standing in line for about 15 minutes, something began to happen that other previous Camino pilgrims have mentioned. People who we did not expect to see again or who we had not seen in a long time began to appear. Pismo Beach Kathy and Karen arrived. They were about three people behind us. Yoel was behind us also. We had met Yoel in another village. He asked us to watch his backpack while he went inside a cafe. Yoel was born in Mexico but he now lives in Georgia. We all stood in line for 2.5 hours so we had time to really talk with him. Other people who we might have talked with one or two times in a cafe or restaurant appeared.
When we finally made registration desk, the process was fast. We were required to complete a form with our name, country, age, sex, profession and the starting point of our walk. We were given two certificates. An official checked the stamps on our Peregrino Passports to ascertain that we had the required stamps. The official wrote our name on a beautiful certificate that verified in Latin that we had completed the pilgrimage. A second certificate that verified the number of kilometers walked was also issued. We purchased tubes to protect the certificates and left. It was over…..but we were smiling.
Our dinner with Ian and Patricia was at 7:30. We did not make it to the dinner. Google maps works really well in the US but not very well in Spain. We got so lost that we went into a cafe and asked them to call a taxi. Even if we were just two blocks away from our destination, we were fine with paying a taxi. The taxi driver could not find the address either. Patricia emailed us with more directions but we still could not find them. My phone’s battery was almost dead and it was past 8pm. We decided to go back to our room. Disappointment is a mild description of what we were feeling.
Hungry and disappointed, we decided to eat in the restaurant attached to our lodging. We sat down and the kids from Missouri walked in. The sight of them cheered us immediately. They are from Southwest Baptist University in Bolivar, Missouri. They invited us to eat with them. Camino stories were exchanged with laughter. Camino stories were told that strengthen one’s faith. It had happened again. We had not expected to see the kids from Missouri again. Their youthful spirts are bright lights in this world.
Two days were planned for our stay in Santiago. Day 39 was cool and drizzling. We walked to the Cathedral area as there was to be a Pilgrim Mass/Blessing at 12 noon in the Convento de San Francisco. The Cathedral of Santiago is under repairs and will not be in use until 2020.
I waited in at the back of the Cathedral of Santiago while Ron walked back to a cafe that he had noticed. As he walked inside, there were Frances and Rene from New Zealand. It had happened again. We were hoping to see them so email addresses could be exchanged. We were all smiling as we parted again.
The mass at the Convento de San Francisco was in Spanish but it was a nice service. The large church was full. People were standing at the sides of the pews. We saw Norbert from a distance who had been traveling with the Boston College kids. Unfortunately, there were so many people in the church, we were unable to find him after the service. While we were watching for Norbert outside the church, Peter from Germany walked out. It had happened again. Peter mentioned that he was going to a birthday party tonight. We were meeting Steve and Susan tonight for Steve’s birthday celebration. Tonight we celebrated a birthday and reunited with other pilgrims. We also met other pilgrims for the first time. Their pictures are below. Steve was also able to give us Marshall’s email address. Marshall lives in the Boise area. We have not seen him for about two weeks.
There is one cross remaining . It did not call to me on The Way into Santiago or in Santiago. Maybe it is supposed to travel back home to Idaho with us. We leave for Madrid on Thursday June 6th.
In a town of about 100,000 people with over 500 to 600 pilgrims arriving daily, it was difficult to believe that seeing any of the people who walked with us would be possible. It had happened and we were glad. We have walked 523 miles or 843 kilometers in 37 days. This has been one of the hardest endeavors, physically and mentally, either one us has ever attempted but we would not give up a minute of our journey.
To all of you who had the confidence in us that we would complete our journey, we say thank you. Your spiritual and emotional support accompanied us on The Way. We will forever be grateful.
Buen Camino. Sharon and Ron