Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Day 28: to Santiago de Compostela

The end of the camino - though not the end of my trip. Awakened early by fellow pilgrims we set off into the dawn, just like on day 1. It was an easy and relaxed walk in, and the weather obliged with a beautiful bright sunny morning. Nonetheless odd as always to suddenly find yourself in a busy (and in this case tourist-heavy) city.

We checked in with the pilgrim's office to obtain our compostelas (official certificates) and then after a quick lunch Gary headed off to the airport. He's been such a great travelling companion and it's odd to say goodbye to someone you've spent so many hours with and may never see again.

I now have a couple of days of solitude which is going to be very strange after a month of 24/7 human companionship with all its joys and pains! To assist I have a small but perfectly formed room in a very central guesthouse, perfect for a day of gentle unwinding and reorientation.

You'll laugh but I really did well up on entering the cathedral. It's a beauty, and it is always touching to see prayer and earnest devotion going on amidst the noise of renovations and tourists taking photos. The huge incense burner which hangs from the ceiling is only swung on special occasions these days, but was originally used to defumigate and overwhelm the smell of pilgrims' bodies every day at mass. Even stationary it's quite a sight, as is the silver figure of Saint James which you sort of hug from behind. 

I have precisely two goals for the next 24 hours: to do something about my toenails, and to send my physio a postcard telling him I made it!

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