Arrival day in Santiago creates a special kind of energy that allows any pilgrim to walk those final kilometers without restraint. Today we were feeling that energy as we departed our pension just outside of Ponte Ulla. We had roughly 21.5 kms to go to reach Santiago. Today’s weather was a carbon copy of yesterday’s, chilly in the morning and much warmer later in the day. The morning mist clung to the hillsides filtering the daylight that struggled to both illuminate and warm us. We made our way into the nearby eucalyptus forest enjoying its fragrance and started climbing towards Santiago. The day passed by as we wandered through and then out of the forest and then down into the outer suburbs of Santiago. It was a vigorous walk. Robin and I typically don’t take many (if any) breaks once we start walking, but today at the 5 km to go mark we threw in the towel and stopped for a coffee break. 15 minutes later we were back on the trail and climbing again. We finally crossed under a freeway that we viewed earlier from a great distance. Progress was being made. We had been in the grind out the kilometers mode for awhile. This mode is perhaps best described as just walking until you bump into the cathedral. But, this afternoon, before we bumped into the cathedral, we saw it over some rooftops. We were definitely in the home stretch.
We love this city with all its myriad pilgrim activities, and moss covered stonework. We have made some great friends and have discovered new promising paths that have directed our faith journey. All while we have enjoyed the bounty of this beautiful country and the spirit of hospitality that generally abounds. What’s not to like about that.
So we arrived in front of the cathedral, snapped a photo and headed off to the Pilgrim Office to sort out our paperwork and receive our Compostelas (certificate of completion). We then stepped across the office entryway and into the pilgrim chapel where Robin and I offered our prayerful thanks for arriving safely. Immediately after that we walked a few steps up the street to find a plate of pulpo and two very cold beers.
We then checked into the Parador (our usual post camino indulgence), dashed off to the laundromat, met some Portland friends for a drink, did some shopping, arranged a lunch with other friends for tomorrow, and confirmed a lunch date for Thursday with our friend Kathy from Portland, who is now living in Ourense. We will attend the Pilgrim mass at the cathedral tomorrow at noon, and make sure we give St. James a big hug. We have much to be thankful for. So with a busy day behind us and some enjoyably busy days ahead, I think it is time to sign off from Santiago and try to get some sleep.
Peace be with you.