Charlie: we are still processing the fact that we have finished the Camino and what it all means.
When I walk to the store it is all about the destination, the walk is just the means. When I take a walk around the neighborhood it is all about the journey, there is no destination as such. Originally the Camino was mostly about the destination, to get to Santiago, to show your faith in God, to get the indulgence. The journey was significant only in that it was hard and a sacrifice and was a penance for your sins. For us, the Camino was all about the journey. We liked the day-to-day rhythms. We liked the fact that each day, each little town, each kilometer was different and interesting. We liked seeing the small towns and how the people lived. You can see things walking that you can´t see any other way. In this sense it was travel, a vacation.
Travel involves endless decisions, where to stay, where to eat, when to stop, etc. The biggest thing we learned was not to try to optimize every decisión, to accept what we got.
We also liked the rhythm: every day you get up, put on the pack and walk. It was always fun to get started. It was nice to be done at the end of the day.
Getting close to Santiago changes things. The destination becomes more important. It hit me when we had four days to go. They were all planned out. In a way we weren´t on the Camino anymore but walking to Santiago. I could not feel the day to day any more, it was all about the destination. I guess this is what all pilgrims feel when they get close to Santiago. It changes the trip. Another thing to learn on the Camino.
PS. I´m typing this on a keyboard at our hotel in Madrid. It is a sea of red underlining because the spell checker seems to be checking for Spanish. I noticed it added an accent to decisión. There are probably tipos. (Whoops it changed the shortening of typographic error to tipo.)
Charlie: Almost a silhouette. We walked back in the square until the sun was just behind the right tower. Easy to find the spot by looking at the shadow.
Wynette: Today we went to the pilgrim’s office near the cathedral to get our compostelas. We showed them our pilgrim’s passports in which we had collected sellos (stamps) that we requested along the way. The sellos are a record of where we started and where we had been. The office got some information about us (country, age, where we started, why we did the pilgrimage) for their statistics verified that we had walked at least the last 100 kilometers, and then filled out a certificate for us. Charlie’s name was converted to Latin but they didn’t seem to know what to do with Wynette so mine didn’t get changed.
Here are some very nice Germans, Brigit and Eric, we met on the Camino and then ran into at the pilgrim’s office today. They were walking out with their compostelas as we were going in to get ours.
Wynette: We arrived in Santiago yesterday afternoon about 3:45. It is rather strange to be here. We are happy we made it, happy we did it, and, well, planning our next camino, maybe through Portugal? We walked 412 miles according to Charlie’s GPS app. We walked 38 days and took 7 additional days to visit cities, rest sore feet, get over being sick. We took 2 taxis, 4 buses, and a train to skip some too-long or too-asphalty stages when I was having foot problems, for a total of about 100 miles skipped.
It is strange to be here because there was never any particular reason for us to come to Santiago except, to come to Santiago is why the wonderful Camino exists. Santiago is a nice city but very touristy in this old part of town where we are staying. The cathedral is surrounded by souvenir shops. Dozens of them. Actually, it reminds me of Old Town in Albuquerque, complete with a very nice church.
As we’ve been walking, I have been rereading three books, accounts of three American pilgrims of their Camino experience, reading about the places they passed through about the same time we passed through them. One, as I mentioned in an earlier post, is Following the Milky Way by Elyn Aviva. She ends her book with this beautiful poem written in 1911 by Greek poet C. V. Cacafy: Ithaca.
Wynette: Last night, we were sitting by the fire in our B&B (see Charlie’s post about Casa Brandariz below). We had our wet shoes there, hoping to dry them out a little. Two men sat down across from us. One was from Madrid (on right in above photo) and the other (on left) was from Argentina, currently living in the Canary Islands. They asked if we were pilgrims. They clearly weren’t (dressed too nicely) but the Madrileño said he’d done the Camino a few years ago and had written a book about it. We chatted a bit (I got to practice my Spanish) and then the Madrileño left. A bit later he returned and to our surprise handed us a copy of his book as a gift. He said he had it in his car. The book is called Ecos del Camino. His name is Manuel Fuentes. From the fly of the book I learned he is a law professor. It is a beautiful book and I look forward to reading it. It will take a while but doing that will help me learn Spanish. So far, I’ve read Camino accounts by at least seven Americans and one German. I am looking forward to reading about the Camino from the perspective of a Spaniard. He signed it for us. He addressed us as dos peregrinos americanos.
Note: Photo below is outside Casa Brandariz, taken the next morning, after the rain had stopped.
Charlie: Almost every albergue and hotel has wifi although they pronounce it wee-fee (like a small charge). We need wifi to download our pictures and videos. It takes a minute to download 1-2 seconds of video so we need a good connection. We only get that once in a while.
Often the wifi is weak in the rooms and only good in the common areas. A big day of videos need all night to download so that doesn’t work well for us.
We got voice and data SIMs from Vodafone. Data connections on the Camino are fair to poor. We get a letter on the status bar. H or H+ is great then G, F, E, D, and C. If you get C forget it, nothing will work. We had coffee in a bar that was about 50 feet from a cell tower and we got solid H+ from there with four bars.
You need a data connection for Google maps to work.
Charlie: We stayed at a nice casa rural last night. It was out in the country, off the Camino, so they picked us up and dropped is off at the same place in the morning. Excellent food. The public area had an open fireplace (without and with flash)
Over it the ceiling made a large cone where they hung meat to be smoked.
We spent a few hours there with our phones, talking to other guests and watching the kids playing.
Wynette: We’ve enjoyed walking through eucalyptus tree forests in Galicia. This grove we walked through today had some big ones.