June 3, 2007

6/3/07 Santiago de Compostela

"All things connect. Man didn't weave the web of life,
he is merely a strand in it." Chief Seattle

A late start by perigrino standards. Large waves of us made our way down into the city covered by a thick fog. It is Sunday and the city is still very much asleep as we walk the five kilometers to the cathedral.

The final stretch

Following everyone

I think we all were in a state of expectation. Knowing that we were on the verge of something but not quite knowing what.

There was a long line of pilgrims down the stairs and out the door of the Office of Perigrinos as we waited patiently to get our Compostela, the official document for completing our pilgrimage.

Ran into Sid & Jill near the cathedral

I went back to the Albergue Acuario. It's a private refugio on the outskirts of the city. The owner Ala has a wonderful haven here. It's quiet but more laid back. Definitely different than the usual albergue. I arrived with Vanesa, from Australia, who started with Alexandra from St Jean oh so long ago.

By the time I got back to the Cathedral, the sun had come up and it was going to be a glorious day. Almost immediately, I saw Henriette. I hadn't seen her in ages. What a great surprise.

I hadn't planned on going to the mass but went anyway. The cathedral was packed to standing room only for the Sunday service. Everywhere I looked were more perigrinos that I recognized.

I was about to leave when Jean-Yves, a Canadian I met a yesterday said a beautiful German girl was up front looking for me. Almost up to the alter was Alexandra with Tomoko. She literally just arrived, with her backpack at her feet. I was so happy to share this moment with her.

At the pilgrim mass

The rest of the day is a blur of hellos, handshakes, hugs, and kisses. I can't even begin to count the number of pilgrims I saw and congratulated. Had lunch with Henriette, dinner with Alexandra, Tomoko and Vanesa, and then drinks where the pilgrims outnumbered the regular patrons.

Henriette is so happy to be here

With Tomoko, Alexandra & Vanesa


Henriette & I say goodbye to Alexandra

Even though I will continue on walking to Somport in a few days, I will not experience the pure joy of this day. I said goodbye to Tomoko and Alexandra tonight as they are going to Finesterre tomorrow so I won't see them before I leave on Tuesday. Alexandra started to cry. I will miss her so much. But I told her that I will make it to Germany some day to visit her.

The whole day has been like a family reunion where you met people you thought you'd never see again. Those of you who know this feeling know exactly how hard it is to put everything into words. I am blessed to have been here in Spain, to have walked where I walked, to have made the friends that I have made. There is no way to repay that but to keep the spirit of the Camino alive in my heart every day forward.