40 DaysJune 13, 2017 in Spain
My plan was to reach Santiago on Wednesday. I'd already booked a room a few miles outside town, so I could get to the cathedral early.
But when I woke up Tuesday-- just 25km left out of 800, and feeling strong-- I knew I'd be blowing past the hotel, and completing my walk in 40 days. Something good about that span.
I headed out under grey skies, the Camino tossing one more day of rain at me. (Who knew a sweat-laden poncho could get that smelly after a week's confinement?)
The crowds I'd seen a few days before were gone, and for several hours I had the damp forest paths almost to myself.
As I passed Santiago's airport, the woods gave way to neighborhoods and the clouds lifted, revealing sunny skies two hours earlier than the dramatic cathedral square entrance I'd scripted
The temperature rose quickly as I started the climb up Mt. Joy, the site where pilgrims traditionally got their first glimpse of Santiago. The rays remained strong on the downhill, and through the long westward walk across suburbs and new neighborhoods.
Finally, I reached the Old Town, entering the cool shade of densely packed buildings. I wound through the ancient streets-- one blind corner, one yellow arrow at a time-- knowing that the cathedral square was close by, wondering when it would appear.
And then, a final archway and I emerged onto a massive plaza, before a giant cathedral swathed in scaffolding, but sitting there confidently, as it had for years
I smiled, and my eyes watered a little, but it was quiet satisfaction and not exhilaration that filled me. Was this because I was tired? Because the square was uncrowded, and I'd yet to reconnect with the friends I'd made along the way? Was it mixed emotions, knowing that this journey had ended, knowing that I was stepping back into the world without the grand "This is what I'm doing next!" insight I'd hoped for?
I didn't know. Days later, I still cannot answer it clearly. What I do know is that I accomplished something big, something difficult I'd set my heart on, something that forced me to grow far past earlier boundaries. Maybe the answers will fill that new space, sometime, when I'm not looking for them.
Thanks for sharing the journey with me!Read more