Wednesday, September 25th
Sitting out the front of the refugio, and been awake for a while. Chris has been awake even longer, "hours," she says.
Groups are leaving.
Another two pilgrims leave. I recognize one of them, from much earlier in Spain.
And now another group, five guys, one of whom has a light attached to his head. And there go two more, now another one, a bikie, and he's blowing snot out of his nose.
And now another bikie, also blowing snot. Must be some kind of bikie ritual. There's another two leaving, looking fresh and up for it, and one of them is carrying two walking poles strapped to his backpack. And over there, another two.
Now it's our turn, but only as far as the first bar. The only one in town. Coffees, and KitKats.
After passing the Santiago airport, we've arrived in Lavacolla. The place where male pilgrims are meant to wash their balls. It's apparently what the name means anyway. I'm not sure what bits the female pilgrims were meant to wash, as the Wife of Bath doesn't specify.
Still, we're in the bar here. First things first. Second, later, wash the balls.
Monte do Gozo
My guidebook says it's 4kms between Lavacolla and here. Shite. It doesn't take me two hours to walk 4kms.
Ugly statue, really ugly.
On this hill, Pope John Paul II gave a Mass, in the Holy Year of 1993. Written on it, engraved, is "Juan Pablo II, Peregrino de Compostelle".
I'm wondering which refugios he stayed at. Did he complain about the smell of El Cebreiro, or about the pilgrim shite on the walls at Palas de Rei?
a little later
Saw the spires of the Cathedral, and gave a tiny, very quiet, whoop for joy.
Outskirts of Santiago.
"All Right !!" from the middle of the Square in front of the Cathedal itself.
In the Cathedral
Thought it appropriate that as my Pilgrimage began with a service at LePuy, in the morning, that it should end with a service at Santiago, in the evening.
There's a man
in a box to my right who's waiting to hear my sins. My sin is my thoughts
about the tourists who have just taken a place, and
one of them
is holding a walking pole that he's just bought from one of the souvenir
shops. The handle part of the pole is still wrapped in it's blue plastic
The altar is lit. Vespers. Starts at 7:30.
Have done all the right things. Placed my hands on the column underneath Saint James in the porch, into the grooves worn by a millenia worth of other hands; walked behind the Apostle, and given him a hug, resting my head on his; then underneath, where the apostles remains are in the silver, bejewelled box.
The altar is brilliant, except for the huge pink angels that appear to be holding up the top part. Did these sculptors learn nothing from Michelangelo about proportion? But I could just sit, in this pew, for ever.
Cathedral images taken by Mike Smith, used with permission