Well, actually, yesterday was tough. Today was a beautiful day – again! We had enjoyed the company of the young ones for a while at the lovely hotel the Choirmaster had booked for us. We had slept in the most comfortable bed we had seen since leaving home. And, ironically, I couldn’t use it but the hotel had the best swimming pool I had seen in two caminos!
The staff were wonderful, I had room service ice for my eye, and I had a bath to relax in. And just when we thought all visits to the Farmacia were over, my beloved trotted off down the street to find supplies for tending my injuries!
The taxi ride from the hospital yesterday suggested we were a long way from the centre of Santiago. We had no idea where we were until we looked out of the window of our room. It was meant to be!
There, streaming down the hill and over the freeway was the line of pilgrims. The very point of our exit was within walking distance and probably less than a kilometre away.
And so in the morning we slowly readied ourselves. I removed most of the weight from my pack and we left our luggage behind reception and headed out to finish this thing.
We arrived at the scene of the crime and investigated how it must have happened. There were actually a couple of missing pavers and a small stain of blood from where I had fallen. Pilgrims a day behind us were streaming by with determined looks in there eyes and enthusiasm in their steps. Just like me yesterday i guess!
Anyway we contacted friends and family online and let them know we were giving it another crack (well maybe not exactly!) We decided to take it very easy and call a cab if necessary. It wasn’t necessary! I kept hearing the Doors singing in my head “Keep your eyes on the road your hands upon the poles!”
We stopped a hundred or so metres away and had our photo taken with the Santiago city sign!
It was a short but emotional walk. I stopped every little while and sent an update to let everyone know we were close. Our friends from yesterday had mostly moved on or were attending the special 12 o’clock mass where the Botafumeiro would swing. We were not rushing. We would arrive safely and without haste!
My beloved was limping, I was bandaged and sported a developing black eye. We must have looked like extras in a movie! Old people were moving faster than us. It didnt matter – we were on the home stretch. Eight hundred kilometres done and dusted. Friends who were in Sydney celebrating a 50th called as we entered the old city. It felt like we were celebrating it too! Somehow elton John still had something to say. I was still standing!
After maneuvering our way past the tourists that were hovering around the back of the Cathedral we finally reached the gate into the old city, the Galician Piper dressed in traditional garb piped us into the square. It was magnificent. We were done! 800kms – probably more with all of our extras to albergues and back, the odd mistake and the zigzagging downhills. Even with the odd hypotenuse it was a long long way and we now could sit back and relax!
At the very moment we finished, Speedy Gonzales appeared like a vision from heaven, She had been hiding near the entrance and took photos as we finished! We hadnt seen her since she passed us on her bike outside of Burgos. It was already a great day but it was now getting even better!
We took some photos and sat for a few minutes absorbing the enormity of the challenge – especially the last couple of days. We then went around the other side of the Cathedral to discover our new hotel was even closer than imagined! The taxi from our last hotel arrived with the bag we had left and we went out again to celebrate and bid farewell to friends.
We had a lovely lunch in a small square with the usual unpredictable service, although this time a little more unpredictable than usual! The drinks came from one bar and the food from another! Speedy said a final goodbye and headed off to Paris, The Choirmaster, the English Medicine Woman and Dr Lovelace also said goodbye and headed off to Finisterre.
The Irish Girl we had followed down the wrong path out of Burgos was there and the Italians from Orisson dropped in again for another surprise visit. We caught up with so many others as the day went on.
We wandered down to the Pilgrim Office and lined up for our compostelas. The distance certificate said we had walked 799km but we knew better!
I eventually went back to sleep in a very quiet room in Hotel Rua de Villar our gorgeous tiny hotel right near the cathedral.
My beloved continued meeting our friends in front of the Cathedral and sent me photos to keep me informed.
We were done. It was a grand adventure that we will never forget. Wonderful new friends, unbelievable experiences and endless laughter – everyone should give it a shot at least once (a year!)