Sunday, January 16, 2011

Another Crazy Adventure Comes to an End - Waaah!

Thursday, October 7th – Our last day on the trail. 13 quick miles to Santiago.
Friday, October 8th – Hanging out at the cathedral before flying to Madrid.

Jennie started out on her own with her flashlight early this last morning on the Camino. When Kathie and I headed out, it was still fairly dark.

We got a little disoriented finding our way around a school yard, and wondered if/how Jennie had navigated this area in the dark.

Later on, we passed a group of pilgrims on horses. The slackers. Their horses aroused the curiosity of a young horse in a field by the trail. Showing off, s/he went tearing around and through the bushes and trees in the field – fun!

Walk, walk, walk. Pose here and there.

After passing the huge development at Monte del Gozo, we rolled into the outskirts of Santiago de Compostela. “We’re here!” I thought to myself, not realizing there was another mile or three of urban confusion left to negotiate before we would find the Hotel Bonaval.

But find it we did. We cleaned up and had a lovely lunch in the hotel’s dining room, then came back up to our room to see this outside our window.

We found our way over to the cathedral – the ultimate goal of Camino pilgrims for the last 10 centuries. Truly a humbling and awesome experience.

The next day, we headed back over to the cathedral for the pilgrim’s mass. We took advantage of a little extra time before mass would begin to join the line of pilgrims going down into the crypt below the altar to see the tomb of St. James (Santiago in Spanish).

The line then proceeded up some steps to a secret little place above and behind the altar where we could touch the shoulders on the bust of St. James that faces out into the sanctuary. Hugging the statue is a pilgrim custom; most pilgrims say a prayer of thanks for surviving the trek, I suspect. I gave him a big hug and – for some reason - mumbled a little prayer for all the animals along the Camino. (What can I say? I was delirious - it just came outta me.)

Back down in the sanctuary, the pilgrims were gathering for mass. It was a bit crowded so we stuck close to JJ – nobody cuts in front of him. Standing there listening to mass, I studied the building’s interior. When my eyes reached the highest point of the ceiling over the altar, I nudged Kathie and pointed up. Painted way above us was the eye of God, watching us intently. Dan Brown would’ve been gratified.

Then, as the pilgrims queued up for communion, I was highly amused to see my Protestant sister eagerly wedge herself into the line. What the heck – we’re all just pilgrims.

By the time we went back outside, it was raining cats and dogs…and birds and mice and fish…again. We, and all the rest of Christendom’s pilgrims, headed for the shelter of a portico lining the front of a public building across the Praza do Obradoiro from the cathedral. From there we studied the cathedral’s very busy western façade.

Here are the happy hikers…

…and the traditional end-of-trail boots photo. I was not about to take mine off on that cold, rainy day, however.

After a bit of souvenir shopping, we caught some lunch and went back to the hotel to get packed up for our flight to Madrid. (Elene and JJ went to do some laundry; they would take a train to Paris the next day.)

So, it was over.

The skin on the bottoms of my feet peeled for weeks after the end of the hike.

I’m ready to go back, Kath – how ‘bout you?

Pat and Kathie’s Camino by the Numbers
200 miles
1,056,000 feet
442,400 steps
14 cans of tuna
1 lost toenail
A gazillion blisters
3 packs of moleskin
4 Vicodin (8 halves)
Almost 100 ibuprofen
Countless towns, villages, puentes and fuentes
15 pounds lost (7 for Pat, 8 for Kathie)
Pat’s feeling of accomplishment for not throwing in the towel – unquantifiable


Les said...

I know all good things have to end, but how many end with a rainbow? Thank you for letting others follow along behind you. I have enjoyed your pilgrimage posts.

Pat said...

Hey Les, I'm thrilled to know I have an audience besides Kathie - no offense, Kath! Thanks for stopping by.

Katharine said...

A very special trip. Part of me is walking still walking the Camino every day, the Protestant sister with the Catholic sister, a little Buddhist thrown in, and their groupies.

Anonymous said...

It was great to relive the trip in your posts. Even learned a few things - like Mom falling off the curb. THANKS!

Katharine said...

Isn't that how it goes? Go through a great adventure and the main injury comes from falling off a curb. Like that time I came back from a major Himalaya trip unscathed and badly sprained my ankle the next day jumping off a ledge.

Pat said...

It's that starving dog again, Kath.

Jen - it's a great story to share, eh?

Kappa no He said...

Gorgeous and I loved the stats at the end. Lost toenail: Owch!

Pat said...

Aw, Terrie - it came off gradually. Besides, what's a lost toenail tough women like us, eh? 8D