October 18, 2002

10/18/02 Finisterre

38 km

The nights are getting pretty cold. Since the Camino is more rugged now, most of us decided to wait for light before setting out. At the bar, many of us gathered for a morning cup of coffee or cocoa. The woman who owned the bar was very cheerful despite the early hour.

As darkness faded with the first rays of sunlight, you could see it was going to be another great day. In this wet and rainy country-side, we have been truly blessed with these last days of beautiful weather.

As we walked down more remote farm roads, you could see blankets of fog in the valley and hear the crash of mountain streams below. Then, as the sun peaked over the mountains, that golden glow touched everything.

Our only real obstacle of the day, besides our long mileage, was a stream crossing. There might have been a bridge or stepping-stones once, but not now. So we all took turns fording the icy waters to the other side.

Part of the morning I walked with Max, but mostly I walked alone except with my thoughts. As I finish this pilgrimage, I realized that even though most of us are in some sort of transition, and that most of my group are younger than I am, they've all taught me something. The hard part will be to remember and keep learning once I'm at home.

Outside of Cee, while still high above, I thought I saw the horizon of the ocean, but Max thought it might be clouds. We didn't have to go much further before we both realized that, yes, we had reached the Atlantic Ocean at last.

Town of Cee

Our route took us through many large and small seaside villages, complete with colorful boats bobbing in the harbour and white sandy beaches. But it's a long walk to the 'end of the earth.' Got lost once and started to follow the road, but some nice people showed us a shortcut through gardens and back alleys to again find the Camino.

The surprise of the day happened when I stepped off the path to get a better picture of some boats. Down below on a rock overlook was a backpack and a guy with red hair. Instantly I knew it had to be Isaac. He knew today was special and had taken the bus from Santiago to be here with his familia de perigrinos.

We finally see Finisterre!

In Finesterre, the alburgue was still closed, so we all decided to keep our backpacks and head to the lighthouse another four kilometers away. Everyone seemed to have an almost giddy excitement about them as we came closer to the end of "the way."

This working lighthouse helps protect ships from the 'coast of death' as it's called around here. We dropped our packs and carefully began the long difficult climb down the cliffs to the water's edge. We had truly reached the "End of the Earth".

That way to America

Most of the afternoon and evening, I spent just gazing out over the ocean and thinking of home just across the water. As the sun got lower and lower, more of my fellow pilgrims began arriving. Many found quiet spots among the rocks for their own special time alone. But eventually, with the pull of "the way" released, we all shared in many an embrace and a few tears. I was very happy to be done but a little sad because all too soon, we would be continuing on our way in different directions.

Sun setting at the end of the world

Our last dinner together included Mary, Jessie, Josué, Max, Christopher, Patrick, Annette, Larissa, Vincente, Camille and Isaac. Also with us was James, a homeless man who found himself on the Camino as he was trying to make his way south. Our hospitalero lifted curfew for us so we could really sit down and have a good meal without having to rush back.

The whole gang is here to celebrate!!!