Wednesday, Oct 10, Arzua to Santiago - 20 km
I´m here in Santiago. I felt like I had to go through purgatory to get here though. I decided to try to make the 12:00 mass for pilgrims in the Cathedral, so I figured I could walk 20 km in 5 hours, and I did. But it was a challenge as usual. I left in the dark at 7 am, with my headlamp. The trail was through a spooky woods of eucalyptus trees - no birds, and lots of mud. It also was very difficult to find the trail at some turning points, and contrary to my expectations, there were not a lot of pilgrims on the trail. At times I felt very alone, and when I walked under the runway of the airport, with planes landing over my head, it felt very surreal. I had a cafe con leche at about 9 am, with only 13 km to go. The owner says she loves the Camino, but it has become very commercial, and there are too many pilgrims and not enough beds in the summer. When I came out of the bar, I could finally do without my headlamp, and I felt very strong from then on.
The rain held off until just before I entered the cathedral, at about 11:50- just in time for the mass. That was a very powerful walk, to accomplish today in 5 hours, and the whole thing too. Today is Oct 10, and I started walking September 11, so I spend 15 days walking, and 15 in Rabanal. Quite a feeling of accomplishment for me!
I was feeling rather empty in the mass, and was sitting on the floor of the cathedral - there were no seats to be had. I could see no one I knew, and felt connected to. It was all in Spanish, with some brief speeches from the foreign priests there. But just when I thought it was done, they swung the botafumero, and I started to sob. I guess then it finally hit me, that I was here, I am done, and this was part of the reward - as I didn´t see it when I was here in 2007. But it is going to be hard to stop walking.
I checked into the albergue, and made a list of what I want to do and see, as I have 3 days here. I have walked a great deal of the old town and I found several restaurants, and I want to try and get a free meal at the Parador. You have to line up, so perhaps I will check it out tomorrow. I am going to take a tour of the roof of the cathedral! I hope it clears up for the tour. It is so misty, and I am not sure if my laundry will ever dry - it is supposed to hang in the air shaft of the albergue! I had wet socks for 2 days, and they don´t smell too pretty - we call it pilgrim perfume.
So I am done this part of my adventure. I hope I can relax and enjoy the time here. I hope that the other 4 occupants of the room here will want to go to bed by 10 pm - light out are at 11. Santiago is a beautiful city, with fabulous buildings everywhere you look, so I have the time to really appreciate it.
Darlene, the complete pilgrim