Morning sunrise to Santiago
It wasn't without its challenges, but we did it. 800 kilometers. 500 miles. We walked from France to Santiago. I can't wrap my head around the thought. If I hadn't documented it with photos and video, I probably wouldn't believe it.
There was a lot of camino magic that day. We woke up at 4:30 to walk the 20 kilometers to Santiago by 11am and make the noon pilgrim mass. Our group of 6 got split up, so it was really disheartening that we couldn't walk in together, but those feelings were replaced by excitement when we found out that the butafumiero would swing during mass. The butafumiero is a large 60-ish pound silver container that hangs from a rope in the center of the cathedral. Hot coals are put inside to burn incense. A group of men pull on ropes to swing it back and forth. The was done in early times to counter the smell of dirty pilgrims. At its peak, it swings so high that it looks like it will hit the high ceiling, and there is a story that this did happen once. It is truly a magnificent thing to witness. These days, they only swing it on rare occasions and when someone makes a large donation, so I really didn't expect to see it. It felt like camino magic that it happened.
It was a little sad walking in to Santiago that we didn't see any of the faces we had been walking with. Just before mass I was telling Linda who I wished to see. As soon as mass ended, we saw Mitch standing in the door. I had met him night 1. Mitch is a charming man, mayor of the camino. And then we saw a bunch of other faces we knew. We saw practically everyone we hoped to see, and it was unexpected. Camino magic. It brought tears to my eyes I was so moved by the gathering. And so - there was much excitement in the air and celebrating. We had reached Santiago.
The high comes down quick though, and it is best to keep walking. The next morning was extremely emotional as we said goodbyes, the hardest to Taryn and her partner Kim. Kim joined us a week and a half ago, but Taryn I had met before day 1. I met her on the train from Bayonne to St. Jean. In St. Jean we stayed in different hostels and I thought I would never see her again. Day 1 she sped past me up the hill and I really thought I would never see her again. But she stayed at Orisson where I stayed, and we found ourselves walking in our camino family. I shed many tears saying goodbye.
Last night before Santiago with Taryn and Kim
And we started walking to Finisterre and then Muxia. Another 6 days of walking. It is very different, not to be headed to Santiago, but I'm so glad to be going to the ocean. I think it also would have been hard to leave after Santiago in having such an abrupt finish. Walking to the ocean allows us to ease out of it and walk through the emotions of beginning to let go of this way, this life, these people, this freedom.
But even when it is over, it will not truly be finished. The end - that is when they say the camino really starts.