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Album: photos:20021124

Arca (Pedrouzo) - Santiago de Compostela
24 November 2002
Day's km:
Overall km:

This last day of pilgrimage was beautiful. At first a little hazy but no rain and after a couple hours no clouds either. I started alone but joined with Alessandro after a couple hours. The others took a more intelligent, direct route back to the Camino. So I had to catch up even though I left before them. The Italian and I walked through the small town of Lavacolla together. This place has been the butt of many of our jokes as its name means "wash scrotum" in Latin. It's river was the ritual purification place for medieval pilgrims. I was a little disappointed to see the sign. I thought we had passed through already. not long after, we were joined by the Frenchman and German I had passed earlier. We remarked how four separate nationalities were hiking the final kilometers together, and I could not help but think it odd there were no Spaniards present.

Just before Monte de Gozo we took a break in the local bar/pulperia for food and drink. From this point it is all downhill walking through Santiago's suburbs. We did not have that feeling of completion until after we passed the modern sculpture on the summit and down the hill to the bridge crossing where we saw the Santiago city limits sign. Pictures were taken. Several more kilometers remained beforeour ultimate goal however. The weather stayed nice - beautiful in fact.

The first sight of the Cathedral was disappointing. We came from behind and to the right. All of a sudden there it was across a small plaza. I do not particularly care for Baroque architecture anyway, and this façade over the entrance was green with moss and other plants. I asked incredulously, "Is this the Cathedral?" So it was. The view from Obradoiro Plaza of the main entrance was better and we four sat down against our packs in the center to contemplate the journey, our destination, and watch the tourists.

After we received our Compostelas certificates of pilgrimage, from the Pilgrim Office we returned to the Cathedral to complete the age old rites of pilgrimage. We entered the façade to the Portico de la Gloria circa 1188 to place our hands on the sculpted Tree of Jesse under a statue of St. James. A deep handprint is worn into the stone by millions of hands through the centuries. Behind us, we heard people whispering "peregrinos" and from the corners of our eye saw them pointing us out to their companions. With our walking sticks, backpacks, and scruffy appearance, we were easy to identify. Next in a tradition known as "a hug for the Saint" we climbed a set of narrow stairs above and behind the high altar to embrace the 13th century statue of St. James. From there we descended to his sepulchre to view the silver casket which supposedly holds his remains and end our pilgrimage.

El fin.

p.s. Afterward, there were several joyful reunions with pilgrims that arrived earlier including Jeanette and Germaine (I still need their email address). Satoe had left by bus earlier the same day to see the coast. Eric had begun walking to Finisterre too.

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