Monday, August 13, 2012

Day 39 Camino de Santiago Aug 13 Santiago

      Well... here I am, 40 days after landing in St. Jean Pied du Pont, France.  What an incredible expedition.  Thoughts - It was raining as I entered the plaza in front of the church today and there were many many pilgrims and tourist milling about.  I did not have the feeling of falling to my knees and kissing the ground, but I did feel the need to pat the cathedral, the one that was always in the back of my mind for the past month.

    I did wish that there was someone there with me, not to celebrate, or to say, "We did it!", but to just... just share the moment.  One of those, no words necessary.  No speeches or need to say something prolific.  Not to belittle or exonerate the Camino, but it is nice to have someone in the fraternity.  I've always been envious of people in the military and how when they meet up, they don't need to share war stories because... well, because they just know.

    There was also the feeling of, "Okay, how am I suppose to feel?"  I was tired from fast walking for four hours, I think I did 18k in little 3 hours and 10 minutes.   Okay, that's bookin' speed.  And I was hungry as well.  So after feeling sorry for myself in the plaza, I got a room.  As luck would have it, the first place I stopped was only 32 E, a great room, and is only 100 meters from the plaza.  Check out the sticker on the toilet that let's the person know that the toilet has been cleaned.

    I changed clothes, gave a bag of filthy laundry to the desk clerk and set off to get my Compostela.  . It wasn't nearly as bad as people had made it out to be.  In fact, it was quite organized.  The lady was super friendly and helpful.  I left from the office and went to celebrate.  I was going to get a beer, but declined because a) I wanted a clear head to experience the day, and b) drinking alone is about as much fun as playing baseball by yourself.  So I stopped at a chocolate shop and had a few delicious dark chocolates.  Muy dad gum bueno!  That's the chocolates in one hand, and the Compostela tube in the other.  That's my name in Latin.

     I was like Mr. Efficient as I went about my business for the day.  I remembered that 30 days ago, when I was in the town of Estella, Kevin and I had taken a day to rest our bodies and took time to mail unnecessary stuff to Santiago.  I went to the office and picked up the green box and then decided to walk a bit around the town to stretch out a bit and to see if I could find anyone that I knew from the trail.

    I was also looking for a place to eat and found a restaurant with outside (terrace) sitting, which means that it costs more than if you sit inside.  There are often three prices on a menu - ouside - most expensive, inside table - second most expensive, and standing at the bar - least expensive.  I sat on the terrace hoping to see someone.  I figured with the 2000 people going by me every minute, I'd know someone, but nope.  It began to rain hard... and it was good that it did.  Look to my left to see a man who's daughter and friend finished the Camino... from Sarria - five days back.  That's their Dad who is picking them up.
     As I was walking to the Cathedral when I arrived in town I heard the most incredible male opera voices singing classic Italian songs.  I was like a moth drawn to light and went to hear them sing.  They were in an alcove and had great personalities to go with their equally talented voices.  It's amazing to think that earlier in the day, I could have seen them in a store or on a park bench and never guessed that they had such talent.
     Afterwards, I went for a walk and I saw someone that I thought was Kevin, but I figured he was in Finestera.  I almost didn't say anything, and then I thought, "So what if it isn't him??"  and yelled, "Hey Kevin!"  He turned around and sure enough, it was Liverpool Kevin, one of the originals... The guy who nearly cut his arm off in the shower.
   He's been traveling with another Liverpoolian and a kid from Vienna.  Still Kevin!  He gets up to go smoke about every hour and when he came back he had Richard and Nora, the two who had the paella dinner with us one time a long time ago in some family's pension.  So we sat around and reminisced about crazy times together and before you know it, it was 11:00.
     this is a picture of a huge monument/statue about 5 k before entering the town.  It's as if the town elders said to the artist:
elder - Ok, Miguel, we want something to kinda summarize the Camino
artist - Ohhhh... you want a crucifix...
elder - No, not another crucifix.
artist - Ohhhh, that's too bad, cause I'm really good with making crucifix

       I realize that I'm going backwards chronologically for the day, but entering the Plaza kind of dwarfs the significance of the day.  I walked past the airport and the runways.  I'm so awed by the sound and sight of a 747 flying 200 feet over my head.    On the fence keeping us out, which was over 150 long, people had fashioned crude crucifixes from nearby branches and twigs and had affixed them to the chain link fence.

I have taken so many photographs of the cemeteries, but for some reason, they don't usually come out.  This one does give you a feel for how they are so orderly and kept immaculate!
   This was the first view of the cathedral.  I had to tell you that so that you would not think that this was the first view of the dog!   Normally, you should be able to see the cathedral from farther away, but the clouds were very low and it was raining.

Nope!  That is not me!  I don't have white shoes or a brown dog!