I’ve been trying to process how I feel about this journey coming to an end. I walk around the city of Santiago and left and right I’m seeing pilgrims I know or recognize. I also hear my friends speaking of other pilgrims we know arriving. Lots of hugs, high fives and lots of laughs have been shared over the past day and a half.
My body was happy to be done but my mind is having a hard time accepting it’s over. When your daily life involves getting up early, walking for most of the day, getting settled into a new place to live and getting dinner with new friends, it’s hard to imagine doing anything else. I miss my life in Seattle but still it will be hard to leave this beautiful country and all the new friends I’ve made.
We stayed only 12km outside Santiago, so our walk in yesterday morning was easy. Other than singing songs that have become our theme songs, we were all pretty quiet on the walk in. Maybe it was days of exhaustion catching up to us, or maybe we were all trying understand what this day meant. Luckily everyone in our group is staying in Santiago until the 29th, so we have time to enjoy some last meals and last laughs together.
We arrived at the cathedral around 8:30. Some tears, some high fives and lots of pictures took up the next half hour. Then it was off to the pilgrim’s office to get our Compostella. We collected stamps in our credentials the whole walk. You only need two stamps a day for the last 100km to qualify but the stamps collected along the way show many of the stops I made along the entire walk.
After a quick breakfast we headed to the cathedral for the pilgrim’s mass. We were fortunate enough to see the Botafumeiro – which is when they swung incense through the church. This usually only happens on the Friday evening mass, but attendees can pay a hefty fee to have it for their mass.
Tomorrow a few of us will hop into a rental car and drive out to Finisterre out on the coast. Santiago completes the Camino, but many walk on or take a bus to Finisterre to finish the journey. If I had more time I would walk there, but that will have to be saved for another day.
I am sad to say goodbye to all my new friends the day after tomorrow. But I feel so fortunate to have had this opportunity to open myself up to all these amazing people. I know many of them have become lifetime friends despite living worlds apart. I know I’ve been forever changed by this experience. But only in the best ways – with a more open mind and a fuller heart.