Camino de Santiago – Day 27
Walked from: A Rúa (outskirts of Pedrozo)
Walked to: Santiago de Compostela
Date: 29 October 2017
As I entered the old town of Santiago, approaching the very end of my 800km walk across Spain, I heard clapping and cheering, the boom of celebratory music in the background, and someone shouting hysterically into a loud speaker. Turning the corner to the Cathedral, I was met with celebratory crowds. This truly was the way to mark the end of one of the world’s most famous walking journeys. I didn’t let the fact that the carnival atmosphere was everything to do with a local running event and bugger all to do with me completing the Camino de Santiago stop me from enjoying my entirety unexpected welcoming committee!
For old times sake, I started my walk this morning just before dawn broke (an hour earlier than yesterday, due to the clocks changing) hoping for one last glorious Camino sunrise. I didn’t get that, but was rewarded with beautiful misty scenes as the day gradually lighted – mysterious looking woods, and fields filled with white clouds. Beautiful.
The final approach into Santiago was a bit of a slog, but I felt so happy that I was completing my epic walk, albeit one shared with so many others, that I didn’t care. At breakfast, around 10km into my walking day, I’d seen Reme (pictured with me, below), who I hadn’t seen at all for several weeks. Reme was on his 80th, and final day, of walking – after travelling by foot all the way from his home in Switzerland. The joy and satisfaction I saw in his face and heard in his voice when we spoke of his achievement was incredibly moving; I didn’t cry, but as I parted from him it’s entirely possible my eyes were a little moist.
After a bit of trial and error, and thanks to the help of a local policeman, I eventually found my way to the pilgrim office, where I walked straight in (at other times of the year they must be incredibly busy as they had an elaborate queuing system in place),showed them my Pilgrim’s ‘credential’ – which I’ve been getting stamped at places I’ve stayed along the way – and was granted my Compostela. It’s all Latin to me (quite literally) but I’ve been told it absolves me of all my sins to date, despite the fact that, in my case, my journey wasn’t spiritual or religious. A long walk AND absolution to boot? Now there’s something you don’t get on the Pennine Way!
People walk the Camino for many reasons, and start in many places. While I did the main ‘French’ way there are many others, and while I don’t plan to ever walk the route I’ve just followed again, I’d love to explore some of the other Spanish or Portuguese caminos in future, and discover more of the fantastic Iberian Peninsula. Equally, while I wasn’t one of those pilgrims completing the walk for a religious or spiritual purpose, I greatly respected many of the people I met that were doing it for that reason, especially as many of them faced significant physical challenges while doing the walk. And there’s no doubt that the simple act of putting one foot in front of the other, day after day, until I’d crossed much of northern Spain was meditative. I don’t know exactly where I’m going, but I sure know where I’ve been.
I’ll be back blogging in a few weeks… the next stop on my gap year adventure is a walk to Everest Base Camp, starting in mid-November. Buen Camino for now x