May 30th, 2018. Satiago de Compostela. Camino de Santiago.
I slept in until 8 am (!!) before wandering the ancient city. I went to Pilgrim’s Mass at the Cathedral and saw the botafumerio swung from the ceiling. It’s one thing to see YouTube videos of it but it’s another to feel the whoosh of wind as it escalates over your head, the smell of incense filling the room.
And the thousand cameras catching the swing. Funnily enough, I was so mesmerised by the mass of people enjoying the moment that I didn’t realise that I’d forgotten to hit ‘play’ on my own camera. I have photos. That’s enough, because I remember the moment more by being present in that moment, not by filming it.
I waited in line with other pilgrims for two hours to get my Compostela (which looks to have been written by a 13-year-old girl, by the way) along with a Distance Credential (which I think was miscalculated).
I’m disappointed by these two documents. They are not as significant as I anticipated. I look at my Credential, the document I carried across Spain with me, with it’s many stamps from the various Albergues and Restaurants and I hold that one with much more significance.
I had dinner with Camino friends I’ve walked with along the way, celebrating our epic accomplishment. The wine was flowing!
It’s magical to be in Santiago post-wander, watching people arrive.
Many are emotional. Many come in holding hands with people they may not have even known a month ago. Many chant. Some throw their boots. People sing. People dance. People hug.
And everyone takes photos.
Today, Jerry, Sharon and I welcomed in Helen, our Camino sister we made about two weeks ago while staying at #casasusi. We stood in the piazza and clapped as she arrived before delivering celebratory hugs. It’s such an intense moment and always good to have a familiar face to share that moment with.
Most of my day was relaxing, window shopping and catching up with Camino friends. I spent hours sharing stories over coffee or wine, with people I may have walked with for only a few hours, a few days, a few weeks or meeting new friends I didn’t meet on the way, but know I will have a connection with for a while to come, due to our mutual journey.
Tomorrow I will write about this journey in my fresh journal now I’ve had time to absorb it a little more (and have had sleep). Then I’ll drink more wine and share more stories while I continue to catch up with friends I have made along the way.
I doubt this journey will ever end for me. And I’m thankful for that.
Reality is starting to seep in… people are beginning to head back to lives outside of the Camino, so now it’s moved from celebrations to goodbye dinners. But don’t worry, we are now store from laughing so much over Camino stories!
My Camino Wander has officially come to an end. I leave Spain for more adventures in the morning.
My boots have been thrown out as they did their job protecting my feet over rocks, through streams, up and over three mountain ranges…for over 700 km.
I have sent my walking poles and down blanket back to Australia. I won’t need them for the exploring I will be doing in the coming months but they aren’t being thrown out either. I see using them again… the question will be when.
I have my Compostela and my credential, my Camino shell, along with my handwritten journal where I documented my journey every single day, the ups, the downs and the amazing things I saw and felt in between. Those I will keep with me. A reminder of where I’ve been and how far I’ve come.
I return to reality lighter physically (both me and my backpack!!) and emotionally.
An old friend said to me while I was wandering the Camino:
“When I look up the word ‘perseverance’ in the dictionary, I will see your name, Tara”.
Somehow that comment carried me through many kilometres. It became the word that I held on too. Perseverance. In hearing that, I felt supported along this journey, not only by my friend Cindy, but by people I walked with, those at home and also by my circle beyond.
The Camino was a journey I didn’t think I’d be able to make – certainly not after throwing my back out in Burgos, getting pneumonia before Rabanal, or dealing with allergies to wild lavender near El Acebo de San Miguel! But I did.
Then I’m reminded of the bracelet one of my oldest friends gave me a few years ago. This is the inscription:
‘She believed she could…so she did’
Indeed I did.