I started off at 7:45 from Pedrouzo through eucalyptus forests in the dark, but unlike yesterday, many pilgrims accompanied me on the trail. The sunrise was beautiful. Pilgrims were posing by a roadside scallop shell sculpture, and we took turns taking pictures.
I continued walking through San Antón down into the Amenal valley over the rio Xeimar and under the N-547 túnel. I then walked through a woodland path and then on a wide forest track around the perimeter of the Santiago airport, leading eventually into the ancient hamlet of San Paio.
There, I stopped for coffee with Stephanie and Joann from Connecticut at Casa Porta de Santiago, which marked the last 12 km of the path. Stephanie told me she had been praying for my loved one; I felt so blessed that she had remembered and kept him in her thoughts. I saw a church there but it was closed. Anyway, I was anxious to move on.
Pedrouzo (Centro) to Amenal (túnel) (3.5 km) to San Paio (3.9 km)
At Lavacolla, where medieval pilgrims came to wash (lavar) and purify themselves in the stream before entering the sacred city of Santiago, there was a big Neoclassical-style parish church, Iglesia y Cruz de Benaval, but it was situated such that it was difficult to get photos.
San Paio to Lavacolla (Igrexa) (2.2 km)
I crossed over the access road to the airport, then over the small famous stream, then steeply uphill and then down and over another stream. I walked through endless suburbs and industrial plants, including Radio TV Galicia. I stopped at Camping San Marcos & Café to eat Galician soup.
Lavacolla to Camping (San Marcos) (3.6 km)
At Monte de Gozo there was an enormous monument erected to commemorate Francis of Assisi and the visit of Pope John Paul II in 1992. Gozo means “joy;” the name was given to this high point because euphoric medieval pilgrims wept with joy when they spotted the spires of Santiago Cathedral from here. Nowadays, because of the woods, urban sprawl, and apartment and commercial complexes around the city, the Cathedral is not easily sighted.
I popped briefly into a small chapel: San Marcos. This was 5 km from Santiago. Then I walked by an unsightly sprawling dormitory and recreational buildings — a Xunta (municipal albergue) with 400 beds — but it seemed to be closed.
Camping (San Marcos) to Monte del Gozo (2.1 km)
I entered Santiago over the A-9 autopista and through Santiago’s suburbs and endless businesses. There was a huge monument to notable historic figures connected with the Camino. All of this area was quite ugly.
Monte del Gozo to San Lázaro (2.0 km)
As I approached the medieval part of the town, I fell into step with Helen from Ireland. We followed the scallop shells embedded in the pavement, which seemed to disappear from time to time, to Praza do Obradoiro, the “golden” square of Santiago, filled with tourists, pilgrims, street artists musicians, and dancers. Once we finally arrived at 2:00, we took pictures of each other in front of the dramatic west facing Baroque façade of the cathedral. St. James looked down at us from his niche in the central tower.
I had made it! I didn’t feel those tears of joy that so many pilgrims experience upon reaching Santiago. That would come later. I was exhausted and coming down with a sore throat, so I was happy that I hadn’t been waylaid by what would later become a vicious cold.
San Lázaro to Praza Obradoiro (Catedral) (2.5 km)
I checked into my hotel, PR Libredón. It was a perfect location near the cathedral, and it had a bathtub! After soaking in the tub, I met Darina in the square where she took some pictures of me in front of the Cathedral. Darina had arrived the day before, and she had already figured out the lay of the land.
We went right away to the mass presided over by the German bishop. It was supposed to be at 4:00, but at 3:45, it was already in progress and there were no seats. We stood for the whole long service in the side aisle. The normal pilgrim mass is at noon each day; as I was too late for that one, I would attend the noon mass the following day.
As the mass was so long, I sneaked off into the crypt to see the relics of St. James. I knelt down before the casket and said prayers of thanksgiving for my safe journey.
Because I had arrived late, bathed, rested, and then attended this unusual afternoon mass, I didn’t do the other normal pilgrim rituals, so I would have to finish them up my next day in Santiago.
It was a long sermon, all in German, followed by communion, and then at the end, all the pomp and celebration of the Botafumeiro! Eight men (tiraboleiros) in heavy red robes solemnly put the incense into the giant burner and lit it. As the incense swirled into the air, they pulled in tandem until the Botafumeiro was swinging through the aisles, almost to the ceiling. I took a short video but I stopped because I wanted to experience the emotion of it all. I watched in awe as the Botafumiero arced enthusiastically toward the vault of the cathedral, and to the heavens.
It was an emotional and breathtaking experience after walking 800 km over 44 days (with three days stopping in cities). I wept; Darina and I hugged. Stephanie from Connecticut looked at me lovingly and said assuredly, “All your prayers will be answered.” We hugged each other, as I did other pilgrims — her friend Joanna, and even Ellen from Germany.
The swinging of the Botafumeiro was originally used to fumigate the sweaty and sometimes diseased pilgrims.
After the memorable service – so much pomp and ceremony – and beautiful music by the German choir, Darina accompanied me to buy a ticket from the Cathedral Museum for the rooftop tour, tomorrow at 4:00. She had already booked her ticket for the next morning.
We then took pictures of the German bishop, priests, lay people, and congregation. Of course, we had to jump into the photos.
We met Darina’s friend Dana, who I’d never met before. They had started the same day in St-Jean-Pied-de-Port. We took a selfie together. I also met Lisa, who was originally traveling with her brother, but after he went home, she continued on alone. I ran into Steffie, who I had met with the Japanese lady Keiko one evening on the Meseta.
I was so blessed to have Darina there at the end. We had started around the same time, but she walked faster and further than I did each day. I was lucky that she had stopped for a week in Navarette for a meeting with her colleagues, so that we could end up finishing around the same time. So many other pilgrims I’d started with or met along the way had finished well ahead of me.
Darina and I went to dinner at Restaurante Camilo. The service was excruciatingly slow. I ordered prawns but they were tiny ones and took forever to peel and eat. I also scarfed down some French fries. In the restaurant, I ran into Janice from San Antonio, who had fallen out with her married couple friends somewhere along the Meseta; she had reunited with them and they seemed to be enjoying their dinner.
Darina and I went back out to Praza do Obradoiro and took some selfies together, then asked a bystander to take a photo. I will cherish these photos forever.
I couldn’t believe I’d finally made it. It was strange to think that I didn’t have to walk anymore, unless I felt like it.
By evening, the irritating tickle in my throat was suddenly accompanied by a nagging cough and general exhaustion. After dinner, I went back to my room and took another hot bath. I was exhausted from the emotion and the physical stress of it all, but it had been an incredible journey.
*Day 47: Saturday, October 20, 2018*
*32,239 steps, or 13.66 miles: Pedrouzo (Arca) to Santiago (20.1 km)*
You can find everything I’ve written so far on the Camino de Santiago here:
On Sundays, I post about hikes or walks that I have taken in my travels; I may also post on other unrelated subjects. I will use these posts to participate in Jo’s Monday Walks or any other challenges that catch my fancy.
This post is in response to Jo’s Monday Walk: Aveiro & Surrounds.
I feel like I was with you every step of the way, Cathy. Sadly, we both know that prayers are not necessarily answered- or is that sacrilege? He works in mysterious ways is perhaps more appropriate. I’m proud of you for making it through, and I’m sure there are many aspects of the experience that you will never forget. Many thanks for sharing it all with me. I hope that you can find peace this Christmas. Sending hugs 🙂 🙂
LikeLiked by 1 person
Thanks so much, Jo. I don’t know if prayers are not answered, or if they’re just not answered in the way we expect or on the timeline we want. I guess only when your life is near the end and you can look back, can you truly say whether prayers have been answered. I think yes, God works in mysterious ways, and ways beyond our human understanding. I know that my prayers at this time seemed temporarily answered, but then they all fell apart at the end of the year. So we don’t really know, do we? I do know that when I was standing there under the swinging Botafumeiro and Stephanie said my prayers would be answered, I felt more hopeful than I’d felt in a long time.
I was proud of myself for making it too, Jo. It was one of the great accomplishments of my life, I think. Thank for your peaceful wishes. I hope I can find peace. It’s a constant struggle, or a constant letting go, I should say. I’m working on it, and still saying prayers and trying to trust. Happy holidays, Jo! 🙂
LikeLiked by 1 person
Well done! What a marvellous achievement. I will miss your journey, as I am sure you will
Thank you so much, Candy. I will miss it too, and I wonder if I will ever do it again! I used to say NEVER, but now, I’m not so sure. 🙂
Congratulations Cathy, what a great achievement, one you will never forget. Even though you finished with a cold I’m sure you must’ve been so incredibly fit after that constant walking
Thank you so much, Pauline. It was very rewarding to do this walk, and I’m so happy that I did it after many years of thinking about it. I was fit when I finished, but it didn’t take long for me to lose all my fitness gains, or rather to gain all I lost (in weight!). 🙂
LikeLiked by 1 person
I keep telling myself I’m going to do more walking, it is certainly the way to get fit. But I never get round it it, maybe a New Years resolution coming up…🏃🏽♀️
Sounds like a good one, Pauline. I’m planning to keep walking in the coming year, and I’m adding two days of Pilates a week too. 🙂
Congratulations on accomplishing your Camino experience. And thank you for sharing all aspects of the Walk, along with opening up your inner vulnerabilities to all of us along the way. Your honest reflections on the ups and downs helped us “participate” in your journey on a more personal level.
It is amazing how adrenaline can carry us beyond our limits. Your body was truly exhausted and coming down with a bad chest/head cold those last few days. If you were at home you would have spent those days sleeping in bed and sipping on chicken noodle soup, but you managed to push on to the end. Way to go EB (Energizer Bunny to those who recall the old commercials).
Thank you, darling. And thank you for supporting me through this pilgrimage. It was an amazing experience, and I think one you would enjoy as well. I really do think you should consider doing it solo when you retire. I’m glad you enjoyed reading about my personal struggles and my interactions. I was so glad my body held up before breaking down in a bad cold after I finally made it.
The End. I am going to miss these weekly journeys as I am sure you will too. What an amazing achievement Cathy, I hope you feel extremely proud of yourself for the strength and determination you showed along the way. I hope that things have come right for your son and that you have an enjoyable Christmas. And dare I ask what’s next? 😍
Thank you, Jude, and thanks for coming along. It was one of the most rewarding accomplishments of my life and it makes me want to do it again, believe it or not. Even after I swore I would NEVER consider doing it twice. As for my son, all remains to be seen. Things are always up and down for him, and who knows what will ultimately become of him. All I can do is hope and pray, as there seems to be no convincing him to do anything he doesn’t feel like doing.
I hope our Christmas is enjoyable, especially after a big downfall right before Thanksgiving that ruined that holiday. I can never count on anything.
As for what is next, you’ll see my goals for the year on January 1. No treks for the coming year, but I do want to do another one in the next couple of years (maybe Wales or France or another Camino route??). There are also the Dolomites too. I guess I better do these things sooner rather than later as I’m not getting any fitter or younger! 🙂
The Dolomites are lovely, but seriously hilly trekking! France would be nice though.
I’m sure you’re right, Jude. It might be too strenuous for me. I have been dreaming of the Via Francigena through Italy though. But not for two more years, at least. And the France pilgrimage would also be very nice; I heard from many pilgrims along the Camino who had also walked through France. 🙂
LikeLiked by 1 person
Well. Felicidades. I think I can understand being disappointed with the ugly, I’m thinking modern aspect you encountered on entering the city. You’d spent so much time, after all, in quaint and antique places. The cities and suburbs never seemed to grab that much. I’m happy the final arrival, though, was moving. I’ve little doubt Saint James was watching over you. That is in the ministry of a saint.
Thank you so much, Christopher. Yes, I knew to expect an ugly approach to Santiago, as I’d already read all about it. Still, it was jarring after so much peaceful walking in the countryside. I did feel someone was watching out for me, especially during that amazing mass and the Botafumeiro. There, I certainly felt the presence of God. 🙂
LikeLiked by 1 person
An incredible journey indeed. Thank you so much for letting me travel with you so gloriously. What next, on this scale?
Thank you so much, Meg. It was an amazing journey, and I’m so thankful for all the people like you who followed along. As for something on this scale, nothing for at least the next couple of years, but soon, I’d love to do a walk in Wales along the coast, or another route on the Camino (the northern route possibly) or even the Dolomites or the Via Francigena in Italy. You’ll see my goals for this year on January 1. I’m solidifying them now. I hope most of them can come to fruition. 🙂
[…] (Camino day 47) Pedrouzo to Santiago […]
Magnificent achievement! Please imagine me playing you a trumpet fanfare here.
Awww, I love that! Thank you, Anabel. It was a great experience. 🙂
LikeLiked by 1 person
You did it! And even completing all these posts has been a marathon. I’m so glad you’ve shared all your experiences along the way with us. Well done!
You’re right, completing all the posts took me nearly a year, so it’s been quite a marathon too. Thank you so much, Carol. It was an amazing experience. 🙂
what an incredible journey, thank you so much for sharing with us.
Thank you, Becky. It was a great experience. I loved it! 🙂
LikeLiked by 1 person
I admire your energy and fortitude! Congratulations on the accomplishment. I imagine the meaning of it all continues to evolve. And Happy Solstice to you! 🙂
Thank you so much, Lynn. And thanks for dropping by. Doing the Camino was one of the highlights of my life. I said I’d never do the same route twice, but now I see why it’s so beguiling. And yes, the meaning does continue to evolve. Happy Solstice to you too. 🙂
Comments are closed.