Total distance (part 2) = 284.5 km
The urgency of the pilgrims on the final stretch to Santiago is unreal. The ‘elbows at dawn’ attitude reminds me of dinner time on a cruise ship; and yet there is still something of the pilgrim’s way about the ‘Buen Camino’ followed by a bit of a ‘grrrrrr’ as we passed by slower walkers.
The trail out of Pedrouzo takes you very quickly to a forested route and this in the darkness has an eerie quality with pilgrim headlights shining then fading to nothing, leaving only the trees and their folds of darkness in their wake.
When dawn broke, the unseen mist revealed itself, settling on the pilgrims to create a cool start to the morning and with it, the journey manifested this as a spiritual trip. Santiago could not be seen in the distance but the pilgrims marched onwards with their believing hearts and blistered souls, tethering their hopes to the final waypoint of Santiago and the apostle, St James.
What hope did I have on this way? Huge hopes; I had loved on this trip, and laughed on this trip and cried on this trip. And as I finally rolled into Santiago, my thanks were readily on my lips. I had been given an opportunity and I had taken it as far as I could go, physically and emotionally. I may be going onwards with the feared conclusion but I knew I had tried.
Extravagantly booked into the Parador, we ventured out into the streets, only to bump into a German couple who we had come to know during our trip. We hugged them, exchanged congratulations in our own languages, wished each other joy and Buen Camino and went on our way.
And there I waited for the end. But my ‘goodbye’ hug? It didn’t appear though I waited, braced, scared. Instead, we negotiated the tricky bits of Santiago; finding the Cathedral entrance at a time when renovation is taking place and finding that clutching the apostle from behind does not get you into the Cathedral for the pilgrim mass – no, for this you enter another door. But this is Holy Year and maybe that is why?
The pilgrim’s office is another joy to behold! A queue of over an hour finally gets the Compostela in your hands! I was so very proud of my efforts, so unbelievably proud!
But it was my anger which surfaced first that evening; the sarcastic jibes and spiteful asides. And then the sadness, the overwhelming grief flooding me. We had been such close companions again; we had talked about being together again on this trip.
I searched my partner’s eyes, his face, his soul. And found only the wall that he raised before me.