Camino de Frances, Camino de Santiago, Personal stories

Garin Writes

[Wednesday, July 23, 2014]

Hey all!

We sent an email to you when we were in Portomarin. We arrived in Santiago on July 20, right on our desired date. We managed to plan our hikes so that our last day was only about 10 kilometers, allowing us a relaxed walk into Santiago in the morning. We walked in with our good friends Billy, Simone, and Matt, whom we had hiked with the last few days.

Coming up to the cathedral evoked a lot of emotions, from relief to excitement to sadness. Many pilgrims spend lots of time sitting in the plaza, Becca and Kelsey included. We went to the pilgrims’ Mass … We happily got our compostelas [certificates of completion], and special compostelas from the Franciscan church about a block from the cathedral, because this year marks the 800th anniversary of St. Francis walking the Camino. It was quite impressive during the pilgrims’ Mass to see the botafumeiro [incense pot] swinging and to see the mini bonfire inside it.

So, in Santiago, we saw so many of our friends that we met along the Camino and we were all talking and comparing stories of various sections of the Camino. It was great to see basically everyone we had met [along the way] all in one day. Kelsey and Becca went out at night to enjoy a Tuna group [see ] playing traditional Spanish music until midnight.

During our time in the cathedral, we hugged the statue of St. James that is overlooking the altar and saw the relics of St. James. We just chilled out in the adoration chapel there.

We were talking about walking to Finisterre but Matt, Billy and Simone were taking the bus and Jill’s feet protested another 86 kilometers, so we decided to bus in to Finisterre with them. We are currently in Finisterre and plan to walk 28 kilometers to Muxia tomorrow.

When we saw the ocean in Finisterre, it was so refreshing and we all loved it. We stepped off the bus and we were waylaid by people recruiting us to stay in their albergue. We followed one of them who led us to this really nice hostel.

Seafood is so popular here in Finisterre. Our second day in Finisterre (July 22), we had dinner with Matt, as Billy and Simone had left earlier that day. We went swimming in the ocean ad walked out to the actual end of the world [Finisterre means “end of the world”]. The town of Finisterre is not actually [at the end]. On our way back to the town, we stopped at the ruins of an old hermitage that overlooked the whole landscape of the isthmus that Finisterre is built on.

We had originally planned to be in Muxia today but last night, we all decided that we didn’t want to leave Matt, so we stayed in Finisterre an extra day (which is today). We are very relaxed but are getting restless and are excited for the walk tomorrow. Our bodies are protesting the lack of exercise of these last few days and we miss
the Camino.

It was a bittersweet end and we already see some differences in our lives beginning with our friendships with Billy, Simone, and Matt. Muxia has been highly reccommended to us by several people as a quaint, non-touristy, and religious location. Afterwards we will return to Santiago and catch an 8-hour bus to Fatima. Post-Camino life has made us homesick, as our life for the past month has ended.


Camino de Frances, Camino de Santiago, Personal stories

Day 32 — Portomarin

[from Garin, July 16, 2014]

We are in Portomarin in the last 100 kilometers!!! Ever since Rabanal del Camino, we have started to travel with a motley group of Irish, Scottish, Danish, and American people. We enjoy their company a lot.

Today, a lot of new people were on the trail because to get a compostela [certificate indicating that you completed the pilgrimage], one needs to walk the last 100 kilometers, therefore many [people] start in Sarria, which is the closest big city to the last 100 kilometers. The trail was SO crowded today! We all felt claustrophobic. Becca wanted alone time, so she walked ahead of us in the morning only to find hordes of new pilgrims everywhere she looked and ended up joining back up with us and appreciating our company. We can’t believe that we are only 4 days away from Santiago! After the mostly rainy meseta, Galicia has been SO hot and humid! It is supposed to be the reverse, with the meseta hot and Galicia raining. However, Galicia has so far provided some of the best scenery along the Camino, with the fog rolling over the lush green hills and beautiful tall trees providing much appreciated shade! The cuisine has also changed and now we can get a torta de Santiago as a sort of almond cake since entering Galicia.

Rabanal del Camino was so far our favorite town, being so serene and quaint. The albergue there provided tea at 4:30 (made by English women) and cakes, and a herb garden available for pilgrim use. Also available for our use was a kitchen, which we utilized to make a communal meal with our adopted family. We made the most delicious salad … with SO MANY FRESH VEGETABLES!! Our albergue was right next to the church and we went to a vespers with Gregorian chanting in original Latin, and evening prayer with a pilgrims’ blessing. One of the hospitaleras described the sound of the priestĀ“s voices as a hug, due to its beauty. There Kelsey and Becca made friends with an 11-year-old Spaniard whom they enjoyed talking to due to her simplicity of vocabulary and her patience with their broken Spanish. The day after Rabanal del Camino, we passed Cruz de Ferro, best known for its heaped pile of rocks, some ground-down into sand. The rocks symbolize peopleĀ“s burdens that they carried with them on the pilgrimage. They can lay their burdens at the foot of the cross and let go of them, literally and spiritually. Personally, I carried about 10 pounds of rocks and everyone was joking about how big my burdens were! The rest of them were extremely happy to get rid of that extra small burden in their packs which they had brought with them from home.

Los Peregrinos plus Simone (Danish), Billy (Irish), Matt (Texan), and Tom (Scottish)