Day 56 of the trip, day 50 walking
On Monday morning we breakfasted well in Ponte Ulla 20 kms from Santiago. We were keen to get going but also reluctant to leave. This was the last day of a long camino in which we had walked almost 1300 kilometres in 50 days. During the last few days I’ve felt like an astronaut returning to earth. Whilst deep in the pilgrimage everything seemed very simple. The daily routine. The simple pleasures. Walking mile after mile through the heat and rain. Being rewarded with good company and cold beer. Praying regularly and realising that life can be simple. Two sets of clothes. No suits, no ties. I also realised this time apart would not be special if I lived like this all the time and in the last days my mind has gradually filled with a kaleidoscope of camino memories I want to write about, the usual family concerns, bills to be paid, things to be arranged, starting work in the Pilgrims’ Office, planning music in Pontevedra.
Some of the stages were demanding but stamina grows quickly. After the flat plains of La Mancha we walked up to the village of Cerebros where hang gliders soared above us. The next day saw us going as high as them as we reached the top and the half way mark on our journey.
However on the last day as we approached Santiago such humble thoughts were cast aside as we marched proudly into the city. We passed through a pueblo where flags adorned the streets and people danced in the Plaza to live music. “How did they know we were coming today?” We joked. In reality it was a village fiesta. Then over the rise of the hill we saw the spires of the Cathedral. Just as our pace quickened fireworks boomed and exploded high in the sky. We laughed at the scale of the celebration of our arrival. Then we realised it was the rehearsal for the fireworks display on the Feast of St James on 25th July. One thing however which must have been God-sent just for us was the bagpipe tune Scotland the Brave the gaitero played as we entered the great Plaza Obradoiro to mark our final destination.
The Saint hugged, tomb prayed at, final sellos and Compostela obtained we made off for a celebration drink. Joaquin, the cathedral organist, popped in. We told him of our triumphant entry into the city. “Ok,” we said, “flags, bands, dancing and fireworks might just have been a coincidence ... but the bagpipes playing Scotland the Brave must have been meant just for us”. Ever the realist he replied, “I don’t want to disappoint you two brave pilgrims but he’s been playing that tune over and over for days. I’m sick of it.”
Until next time. Thank you all for your messages and support.