Day 36 Santiago de Compostela
I am in Santiago de Compostela, the end of my journey, giving myself a few days to savor the Camino finale.
Yesterday, I walked into the square in front of the Cathedral around 1:00 pm with great emotion. The last miles had seemed endless, as I walked them in silence, alone. The first glimpse of the Cathedral’s spires brought tears to my eyes. My happiness in completing the trek was made sweeter when my friends met me there to celebrate. It was amazing to spin around and see all of the other pilgrims who had completed their journeys on the same day. So much dedication and perseverance in one location. My feelings were a combination of excitement and relief.
I have two and a half days in Santiago before I fly back to the US. I’ve got a few things I need to do and then will have some time for touring and visiting with friends.
I’m rooming with my pal Micki again and so happy to have this time together. On the first night we were roommates (Day 21), I said that if anyone had told me I’d be sharing a hotel room with another woman whose last name I didn’t know (we had walked together for three days, but things like last names don’t seem important), I’d have said they were crazy. Now, it feels as we have known each other forever.
The view from our hotel room is amazing. Hard to believe all of this history is right outside our widow. This morning, my first priority was to go to the Pilgrim’s Office and pick up my Compostela, the certificate of completion for the Camino. I arrived at 8:00 when they opened and only faced a short line. I had a quick flutter of anticipation as the officer reviewed my Credential, a folding leaflet where I had collected stamps on each day of the trip at cafes and albergues. Two stamps per day were required to receive the certificate. I had heard that some people were denied if their stamps were not in proper order. Not to worry. I got the certificate with a written acknowledgement that I had done the walk in memory of Sam. That’s one proud possession.
Next I went into the Cathedral, where I lit a candle for M., asking for mercy from her health struggles. Then I went to “embrace the Apostle”. I followed a sign offering this opportunity, went up a small set of steps, and had a chance to hug a larger-than-life statute of St. James around the neck. I wasn’t expecting it, but it felt good.
Afterward, Micki and I took a rooftop tour (in Spanish) of the Cathedral. It felt odd to be walking on the roof of the sanctuary on sloping, but very sturdy, stones. We didn’t understand the commentary, but loved the opportunity to see the campanile and statues from a birds’ eye perspective.
We walked to the city market and bought fresh fruit, then returned to the small square in front of our hotel where we ordered wine and cheese. We asked for a sharp knife and cut slices of perfect, fragrant peaches and plums to eat with our cheese. Perfect lunch. So European.
I attended the 7:30 pm Pilgrims’ Mass at the Cathedral. I had a tip from the rooftop tour guide that they were going to swing the Botofumeiro at this service. It is a huge silver incense burner that is used at the end of certain services. It is suspended from a pulley installed the dome of the Cathedral in 1604. It takes 6 men to swing the device and I wanted to see it. Wow! I went right over my head with burning coals and smoke. http://trishdeford.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/img_1898.mov
I’ll be back to the Cathedral tomorrow, but that was a great way to close out the day.