Saturday, July 4, 2015

Camino de Santiago - Part 13 - Pedrouzo (Arca do Pino) > Santiago de Compostela

Camino de Santiago - Part 13
Pedrouzo (Arca do Pino) > Santiago de Compostela

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Day 31 / Tuesday, June 16, 2015
Pedrouzo (Arca do Pino) > Santiago de Compostela
21 km / 5.5 hr
Hostel: Mondoalburgue / San Clamente 26 / Tel: 981 58 86 25 / 14 - 16 Euros
          

Day 31 / Tuesday, June 16, 2015
Pedrouzo (Arca do Pino) > Santiago de Compostela



Early in the morning of our final day of walking, everyone left the alburgue at an insanely early hour in order to be in Santiago in time for the early mass. Everyone was out the door by 5am, but Tin Tin and I were the last to follow, except, we didn't know where to go to get back onto the camino trail.

I noticed on my map that if we just followed the road out of town, we eventually would cross the camino trail. The added benefit of walking on the road, aided by streetlights most of the way, was a welcome bonus.

Several kilometers down the road we ran out of street lights, but it was still easier to walk on the road. The group that had left before us were walking in the dark through the forest.


We made great time traveling on the roadway. We finally found the point where the road crossed the camino path and we got back on the trail. The path led around the perimeter of an airfield and then at the next village I needed to take a poop. I slipped behind a dumpster and did my business. As I was back there I heard voices coming through the woods.. so I hurried to finish. I could see strangers coming through the trees and I wanted to get out from behind the dumpsters so I didn't look like a stalker if they had found me.

As I stepped out from behind the wooden wall, I saw Jomayra burst through the trees with Sanna and Elizabeth. then Jomayra screamed at me "FORREST, WHAT ARE YOU DOING!!"

Tin Tin and I merged with the ladies and walked the rest of the way to our supposed meeting point at the campground at Monte do Gozo, and about every 20 minutes Jomayra would start laughing again as she remembered me running out from behind the dumpster.

Apparently the ladies were terrified as they walked through the dark words, holding hands, because they were absolutely certain that I was going to be sneaking up behind them to scare them half to death. The fact that I was actually so far ahead of them came as quite a shock.




Monument on the Monte do Gozo

From this monument over the centuries, millions of sighs of contentment have been uttered by people at the first sight off the towers of Santiago cathedral. However.. it seems impossible to see the cathedral now from this location as the city has built up quite massively over the centuries.

The tradition used to be that the first person from each group to catch sight of the cathedral towers would be called 'pilgrim king'.



SANTIAGO de COMPOSTELA

This final destination on the Way of St.. James is, next to Rome and Jerusalem, the third most popular place of pilgrimage and one of the most significant destinations for pilgrims in Christendom. Created by and for the cult of St. James, the town is today an architectural and cultural synthesis of artistic styles - but in no way an open air museum, far more a very vital and modern university town.












  



 




As we were standing in line, waiting for our turn to go inside the pilgrim office, show our pilgrims passport and collect our certificate the feeling of accomplishment was overshadowed by a feeling of regret that we were now done and we would soon be saying goodbye to the family that had become so intensely close over the past few weeks.

Of course everyone is chatting with everyone, and I sparked up a conversation with a group of university professors that where studying the camino. I had been doing incredibly well, holding the swell of emotions in check, but as these professors started asking me basic questions about the camino, as I started to tell them how much the experience meant to me, I could feel my walls breaking down.

"What was your favorite part of the camino experience?" one of them asked me. From someone that hasn't done the camino this seems like a perfectly reasonable question. But someone that has done the camino knows that in just the one month of walking the camino you have had almost a lifetime of experiences. What came out of my mouth though surprised even me.. and it was absolutely the truth.

"The PEOPLE." Though walking the camino was the realization of a lifetime of desire to explore ancient cities and to see Europe up close.. it was 'the people' that shared this journey with me that made this one of the most intense experiences in my life. I could see this came as quite a surprise to the professors asking the questions.. but as I started to talk about my camino family, and as I called them over one by one to introduce them, I could see the inquisitive look in their eyes collectively turn to admiration.. and then to awe. There was such an intense, emotional energy as we talked about our experiences and each other, that these professors could only bask in our stories, but they knew they would never fully understand because they hadn't walked the camino.

The professors had been standing in line to go in to the pilgrim office and get their card stamped. They had only walked a very short segment of the camino, but for novelty sake, they wanted a stamp on their pilgrim passport just showing they had arrived in Santiago. However, after hearing our stories and realizing the the camino is so much more than rubber stamps, kilometers, blisters and exhaustion. Without discussion, they nodded to each other, left the line and thanked us for taking the time to speak with them.

The camino stamp that they were looking to obtain would have been a kitschy novelty. Purely through the way were were talking about our experience, they didn't feel worthy of having the stamp. I do hope that they were inspired enough to try to do the camino some day.


 















 






 


Something I had never seen before.
A menu giving all of the allergy precautions in a nifty little chart.









 


MY CAMINO FAMILY





My final photo leaving Santiago was of Cindy's backpack.. and the shell I had made her. Cindy and Elizabeth had already left on their way to walk towards Finisterre.. and I missed them and the rest of my camino family so much already.