Admittedly we arrived in Santiago several days ago, but it has taken me a bit to process all the feelings associated with that event, and ultimately it will have to make up several posts, rather than one.
We set out from our final hostel stop giddy with the knowledge that we would arrive in Santiago that day. We were jubilant in the fact that it was a short walk (about 12 km.), and confident that we could do it easily. We made random stops that we would not, did not make on other days. Our “pride,” if you will was bolstered by the number of pilgrims that met us on our way, both those on foot and those on bikes. And when we first saw the spires — well I felt like running that last bit. Except that it was in the rain, on cobbled streets, up a hill and I had a pack.
Climbing that last hill, steep and slippery, took loads of energy and confidence from us. I am not sure that it was a hill that I could have managed only a few days eariler. We stopped for a couple of “breathing breaks” and one woman even motioned and told us “Pereginos arriba! (pilgrims hurry). And at the top — a hiccup. A t intersection not described in our directions. We had come so far and had not been lost even in the wood, to almost arrive at our destination.
It was the anti-climax to our earlier climatic entry to the city. We did eventually find the Cathedral and our lodging, and the climax was attending the mass that evening. One of the highlights of the pilgrimage is the Pilgrims mass when they swing the incensor. Not any incensor mind you, this thing takes 2 men to launch and 10 men to swing the length of the cathedral. Typically this is done at mid-day, so we were surprised to be witness to it during an evening mass. And the closing Ava Maria was sung by a young pilgrim from the Czech Republic whom we had meet in the line to receive our compostolo.
It was a thin place indeed.
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