There are many roads to Santiago, and there are many reasons for walking there. Equally, there are many circumstances for how we all, as individuals, choose to walk the Camino.
Today we arrived in Santiago, around 1:45 pm. We ran into people we knew in the plaza in front of the Cathedral, and snapped photos happily away, in a dry moment on a day that saw rain showers interspersed with sunny skies. Poncho on, poncho off. Or in my case, tent on, tent off.
My lovely bright green LLBean rain poncho, as well as the advertised rain gear/tent-in-a-pinch, and the unadvertised usage as parachute in strong winds, could also well serve as a portable changing room. Sharon added that the poncho might work as a portable outhouse too! And then the kicker from Sharon, that had us giggling for quite some time: my poncho could also serve as a Spanish glass recycling bin! (Preferably for full bottles of Rioja, Albariño, or Ribeiro, please!)
We left Padrón early this morning, around 7:30 am, before the bakeries are open, and before the sleepy Spanish roosters are crowing. It was another beautiful day, with very little travel near the highways, but enough winding through sleepy villages to muster the occasional café con leche, which we have learned to order grande, por favor. Rain, sun. Rain/hail, sun. Beautiful countryside and vineyards. And one church with open sarcophagi… a Zombie movie waiting to be made!
After arriving in Santiago, with toes just about ready to be out of walking boots, we made our way to the Pilgrim Office to get our credentials submitted, and our official Compostelas, the Latin document confirming our having completed the pilgrimage. As was the case last time, there is a long line to wait for your Compostela, and we were unfortunate enough to coincide with a gaggle of English-speaking pilgrims who may not put the best face out to the world for England, Australia, or the United States. They were loud, and they were not proficient in Spanish. The
bumbling fool large fellow behind us was telling the friends that had met him in Santiago (arriving by car to meet him after his journey), that for the most part he knew everyone in line for at this Pilgrim Office. Then he lowered his voice, and with a sublime sense of superiority, he said “Except the people who just walked the last 100 km in so they could get the same piece of paper as me.”
It is really too bad that after more than 33 days of walking, this fool could not see that everyone walking the Camino is different. This fool could not see that the older woman who gave him two kisses on the way out is retired, and is free to get away for over one month. This fool could not see that the majority of the everyone that he knew from the Camino was about his age, still with minimal life responsibilities, no mortgage, no bills, and a Mom and Dad to take care of maybe his goldfish or his dog while he was away.
Then one piped up with “Siesta, then fiesta!” It was a college fraternity party, apparently.
Or maybe I judge them as they have judged me. They did make the entire trek from St. Jean Pied de Port in France. I give them credit for that. They also did stay in pilgrim hostels, with bunks and bunks of snoring pilgrims. They were imitating one such snoring pilgrim, making the entire line laugh. This experience for them may take time to process, and it may be something that only makes sense when they look back on it, as they begin to feel the responsibilities of adulthood.
We got our Compostelas and went to the Vinoteca O Beiro we visited on our first Camino experience. The owner recognized us, and explained a bit more about the catalán rojo grape. (Too acidic to make a good wine, and more of a vague name for what might only be wine made for home consumption.) Tapas of local chorizo and cheese, as well as excellent wine, and then wending our way through pedestrian streets to our hotel.
Yesterday ended with a great “WOW” moment! We visited the cathedral in Padrón, which houses the ancient mooring post where St. James tied up his boat when he came to preach in Spain. The mooring post was an even more ancient Roman altar to Neptune. And since it was on the river, the church was built directly over the mooring post/altar, right on the river.
We have heard the enormous incense burner, the botafumeiro, will be swinging tonight at 7 pm, so we will head to the Cathedral to watch that incredible scene. Tomorrow we are off to Madrid.
Camino de Santiago, round 2, unfortunately has ended.
Anyone interested in a round 3?