The final steps of a pilgrim

Friday, November 13 – Day 63

The bed was so hard. Hard beds are bad for side sleepers. I would wake up during the night because it was so painful, so then I would try to sleep on my back, but then I would snore and wake myself up. If I ever have a hotel, I will invest in good beds.

I was still not in a rush to get going. I had breakfast and was out the door at 9:20. It was another morning very much like the last few, chilly and a bit foggy.

I was alone for most of the morning, taking my time and trying to enjoy the walk.

It was actually a pretty nice walk. It was less industrial than I thought it would be. I went through quite a lot of forrest.

They apparently farm eucalyptus trees here. There are large stands of trees in various stages of growth. Whenever the trees are mature, they clear cut the whole lot and start over. I saw a field that looked ready to plant again.

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I stopped at a place about 11:30 and had some oj and another hamburger, and I got my stamp for the day. This hamburger was not nearly so good as the one yesterday. Oh, and that reminds me, I totally forgot to say this yesterday. When I was in the hamburger place, I was standing at the counter to pay, when Celsu came in. He didn’t recognize me and came up to me with a menu and tried to order something. It wasn’t until I said his name twice that he realized I was a pilgrim and he had met me before. It was pretty funny.

I am really glad it was only 20k today, because I was definitely feeling it. There were still a lot of hills, and my feet started hurting after about 10k.

I had to walk around the airport, just like going into Burgos, except this time it was much nicer. There were trees, and it was a dirt road, so much easier on the feet. As I was walking, I saw a cat up ahead. Apparently he knows English, because I said, “kitty, kitty, kitty,” and he came running. I petted him for a while, and then kept going. He kept running in front of me to get me to stop. I found a stump to sit on and spent a while petting and cooing over him. It wasn’t until another pilgrim walked by that I realized the little guy was very hungry. The pilgrim was eating something, and the cat jumped off my lap and went to him. He didn’t feed him and kept on going. I pulled some cheese out of my bag and the poor little guy couldn’t eat it fast enough. I gave him another wedge while I made my get away. I’m sure spreadable cheese isn’t the best food for cats, but it’s kind of like milk, right?

20k is still 20k, and it felt like it was taking forever.

Maybe about 5k before the Cathedral I ran into the group from last night. I caught up with them because they had stopped for a few drinks.

I spent some time walking with them into the city.

The first time you get to the cathedral, it’s from the side, and then you walk around to the front. It’s not quite what I was expecting. Unfortunately, the cathedral is covered in scaffolding to restore the outside, but it will look amazing when it’s done. I guess it has to happen sometime. One of the towers is completed, and you can really see the difference.

A French man came up and asked if he could take a picture of my backpack, because I have a shell on it that says Denise. Naturally, he thought my name was Denise. A lot of people have thought that. Only a few have recognized what it really is. It’s a shell for Denise, who was murdered earlier this year walking the Camino. She never finished, so I carried a shell for her. There is a place somewhere in town that collects the shells, so I will have to find where that is before I go. Maybe after Finisterre.

I saw Gabrielle and David in the square. It was 3 pm, and they were just now heading out for 20k on the first leg of the trip to Finisterre. Crazy guys. They walk fast, but they will probably still end up walking in the dark.

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I went to the pilgrim office and got my compostela and a distance certificate. The distance certificate says 1515km, which is definitely not correct. It’s ok, though. It’s too bad my fitbit died. It would be nice to know how much I actually walked.

It all feels like of surreal. I’m glad I’m spending a few days here. I’m planning on going to the pilgrim mass tonight and then again tomorrow at noon.

I checked into my hotel. I had requested an upper floor room, and I have a room on the top floor, like right under the roof. The ceiling slopes and I have a skylight in the bathroom. From what I can tell, the bed is definitely more comfortable than the one last night. The wifi also appears to work. I think it will be a nice place to spend a few nights.

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The group from last night had said they were going to meet in front of the cathedral at 6, so I might show up and invite myself along.

I also need to find a grocery store and get some cookies, and maybe a whole Santiago cake!

I did find them at 6, but they were just going to to a bar to get drinks before, so I wanted to explore a bit and said I would meet them after the mass for dinner.

I walked around. A lot. I did find a grocery and got a chocolate bar and some cookies. By the time I headed to mass at 7:15, it was already packed full. I found a seat on the base of a column on the transept.

The mass was beautiful. The nun who sang had the most beautiful, pure voice. At the end of the mass, I got to see the botifumerio! It looks smaller than it does in the movie. At the beginning of the mass they told everyone to turn off their cameras and phones, but when the botifumerio started to fly everyone had their cameras out. I guess it was ok, because it was after the ceremony. I recorded it too, because everyone else was! It was really special to get to see it.

There were so many non-pilgrims there it was hard to see anyone I knew. I did see Nicolo, but I also saw Maria at the same time, and I was more worried about missing my dinner party.. Oh well.

It was very fun to have dinner with them, but it certainly took forever. The place we went only had one server, so dinner took 2.5 hours. I got the menu and had a lovely salad, sardines, and apple cake. Usually, when I’m walking, I never get the salad, because there’s always something else, like pasta. But since I’m not walking tomorrow, I can get the salad and not feel like I’m starving! It was delicious. There were only two choices for the second course, sardines or pork. I’ve had so much pork, so I decided to try the sardines. Much, much better than the canned things. I was pleasantly surprised.

What a fun little group they formed along the way. Part of me is ever so slightly sad I didn’t have that kind of experience, but mostly I’m not. It never would have worked for me. Would have driven me nuts walking with that many people. I’m glad I got to meet them when I did and had some people to share my first night in Santiago with.

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2 Comments

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  1. I can’t believe you are already there! I am glad you fed the cute English cat. 🙂 I love that you carried a shell for Denise.

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  2. I’m so glad that you got to see the botifumerio! I was really hoping you would be able to.

    I may have teared up reading about you carrying a shell for Denise.

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