Day 43 – O Pedrouzo to Santiago de Compostela

The final 18km! We start the day with mixed feelings! We’re almost there! Also, gosh! We’re going to miss this routine!

I’m walking today, probably a really bad idea, but I muster up all my strength and adrenaline! The knee isn’t great and the Achilles’ tendon on my right foot is playing up! John is in top shape and probably dreading the slow walk ahead of him!! Nevertheless we lace our Columbias and head out of the Pension after a breakfast of toast, coffee and orange juice. We’re grateful for the well stocked kitchen at Pension Peregrina 3!

The path is full of people! A couple of familiar faces and the rest, new! I see a few limping, so don’t feel completely out of place. There’s a lot less noise today and people seem to be quieter and more introspective! The final stretch and you’re thinking about when you started and what the whole walk has done for you!

Two things stood out for both John and me:

1. Our ability to be in the “now” for 43 days at a stretch, focusing each day on our destination for the day, focusing on the path, focusing on the canvas we walked through every day – an ever changing canvas created by God and tended by man, focusing on the body’s needs to get us through the challenge of the day and finally focusing on our Faith and the graces we received each day.

2. The people we met everyday were inspiring! The locals in villages across the breath of Northern Spain who’d opened their towns to us, made us feel loved and included. The owners of the establishments we stayed at or ate at, who always went the extra mile to make sure we were well taken care of and never forgot to wish us Buen Camino! The fellow pilgrims we met from across the world who were also fully present! We all shared a common goal of reaching Santiago and that united us, making us kindred spirits. We looked out for each other and shared in each other’s joys and pain. Never before had we felt this kind of fellowship within such a short time with such a diverse group of people! It made the Camino special!

You catch sight of Santiago from the adjoining hill! It’s heartening to know your final destination is close by. You pass through the new city for about 5km before you see the Gothic spires of the Cathedral de Santiago de Compostela. The last time I was here in 2017, it was drizzling and cold. Today it was a toasty 25 degree C, much to John’s delight! The cold makes him miserable!

We pass the Cathedral on our way to the hotel. They don’t let you into the church with your backpack. Since we’re here tomorrow too, we decide to go to the Pilgrim Office tomorrow morning, to get our final stamp and our Compostela certificate.

John meets up with Chris and Sarah for a drink close by. Everyone’s elated. Both Chris and Sarah, like many others, plan to go on to Finisterra and Muxia. Chris talks about his remarkable experiences over the period of the Camino. Some of them are really moving!

We’d met Chris in Trabadelo and he was really out of sorts with a bad pain in his leg. Apparently later in the day, as he was sitting outside for a smoke, a biker came by, asking for a cigarette. The biker on seeing Chris wince in pain suggested Chris massage a specific point above his knee and that immediately worked wonders. Chris didn’t have that pain again! Another time, Chris reaches a village after a long walk, and can’t find any place to stay. As he was walking through the streets and enquiring at many places only to be told that they were all completely booked, out of the blue, a door suddenly swings open and a nun walks out, walks straight to him and asks if he needs anything! On understanding that he’s in search for a place, she whips out her phone and gets into action calling up places and stressing on the fact that she is the nun of the village, uses her influence and finds a place. It so happens that the place is quite a distance and seeing Chris exhausted, she pulls out her car keys and drives Chris to the place! The Camino truly provides!

The next morning we meet Chris for breakfast, after which john and I head to the hospital to see a doctor. Isabella is our translator and after X-rays and an examination, the doctor says there’s just some inflammation which will come down with anti inflammatory meds and rest. Continue doing what we were doing! No ultra long walks.

From there we head to the salon for a haircut and shave for John! And then to the Pilgrim Office to collect our Compostela and distance certificates.

The English translation of the text is as follows:

The Chapter of this Holy Apostolic and Metropolitan Cathedral of Compostela, custodian of the seal of the Altar of St. James, to all the Faithful and pilgrims who arrive from anywhere on the Orb of the Earth with an attitude of devotion or because of a vow or promise make a pilgrimage to the Tomb of the Apostle, Our Patron Saint and Protector of Spain, recognises before all who observe this document that: …………… has devotedly visited this most sacred temple having done the last hundred kilometers on foot or on horseback or the last two hundred by bicycle with Christian sentiment (pietatis causa).

In witness whereof I present this document endorsed with the seal of this same Holy Church.

Issued in Santiago de Compostela on ……… of …………… year of our Lord ……….

The Dean of the Cathedral of Santiago.

We spend some more time exploring the beautiful old town of Santiago before our journey towards home. Next stop Madrid, then Milan and finally home!


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