Yesterday afternoon at 5.30pm, we walked up the steps to the south door of the Santiago Cathedral, which was used by medieval pilgrims travellingthe Camino Portugues and is the oldest doorway in the Cathedral, dating back to the 11th century. We touched the door with our foreheads, and our Camino was over. It has taken us 2 attempts, 22 months, nearly 1300kms, 64 days of walking, a couple of dozen blisters and lots of Voltaren tablets.
We had intended to walk another 4 days and 80kms to Finisterre (‘The End of the World’), on the west coast, but I was somewhat less than enthusiastic, and Greg kind of lost interest after learning that in fact it’s not the westernmost point of the Iberian peninsular. So it seemed like a bit of a waste if we both didn’t really want to do it. Greg’s shoes probably don’t have another 80km of tread in them, and his feet or ankles won’t cope well if he keeps on wearing them …… he’s planning a whole post on ‘Why not to wear lightweight shoes to do a Camino’ at some later stage. So instead, we’re flying to Barcelona this evening for a few nights, followed by a few nights in Madrid, then home early next week.
The stuff that hung off our rucksacks has been removed, our walking poles are packed inside, I have thrown out my yucky socks and some clothes that I didn’t really like anyway (but they dried fast, so were good to walk in), and we have changed from pilgrims into ageing backpackers. We spent some time this afternoon sitting at a cafe which is on the route to the Cathedral. We watched the passing parade of people – locals, tourists and pilgrims. The pilgrims who were walking the last few hundred metres of their Camino were such a varied bunch – some walked very fast, some limped, and some almost floated past us. I hope they all felt as happy and relieved to be (almost) finished as we felt yesterday.
And now, here are a few words I prepared earlier. I actually wrote most of the following back in 2010, but didn’t get to use it then.
- To our family and friends who read this blog, left comments and emailed us while we walked
- Barbara and Bryan, for first telling us about the Camino and igniting the spark
- Our parents, Sam and Brianna, and my brother Phil, for keeping an eye on our place and ‘doing stuff’ for us while we were away.
- The guy with the yellow spray paint can, for those arrows which were often our only guiding light, and which were the difference between us staying on track and ending up hopelessly lost. Greg’s GPS helped a lot too.
- The pilgrims and the friends of the Camino we met along the way, for sharing their stories, and for listening to ours.
- Greg, whose kind words and actions gave me wings when my legs felt like lead. Muchas gracias mi amigo. Thanks for sharing your Caminos with me, and for being part of mine. I couldn’t, and wouldn’t have done them without you.
To future pilgrims who stride, walk, stumble, limp and hobble in our footsteps, we wish you all a BUEN CAMINO