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Day 53 - 2,382,084

Tue 7th Nov., Vedra (Santa Cruz de Ribadulla) to Santiago de Compostela, ~19 klms, 28/30,000 steps

The pilgrimage ended in the rain and with a whimper, a slightly angry one at that, which I guess is a fitting metaphor for the journey at large. More shortly ...

Zero klms to go.

We had a modest 19 or so klms to walk into Santiago de Compostela this morning. We were never going to make it to the midday mass, not that that was particularly important, but we did need to get to Casa Ivar before their 2pm closure to collect the various goodies we'd despatched from Sevilla and places in between. For all 19klms, apart from the last 300 metres, we were accompanied by sunshine and blue skies. The morning views were mostly quite spectacular, as the photos below will show. I enjoyed the walk, and as I've said previously, I think that we're both now marvelously fit, and so 19/20 klms is no more than a stroll in the park.

So whilst we were strolling, more importantly my thoughts were occupied with wondering how I'd feel as we walked into Praza do Obradoiro, the iconic square in front of the cathedral where thousands - millions - of pereginos have stood and gazed at the cathedral facade and contemplated what they had done and why. I recalled that the first time I did this, on October 12th 2015, having just completed the ~800 klm Camino Frances, I was quite overwhelmed and unexpectedly emotional. As I walked along this morning I recalled that I had written about that experience, and I've gone back to that post and re-read it. It's here if anyone's interested.

The second time, or the third time, of almost anything is probably never as good as the first. The first time is surrounded by uncertainty and mystery; for the second and subsequent times that mystery has gone, and so it cannot be the same. But even so, we'd just completed a 7+ week journey, with a couple of challenges along the way, so I did wonder how I'd react to the completion of the journey.

As we approached the centre of the city from the south, the imposing black clouds drew a bead on us and approached from the north. 300 metres out the skies opened. Perhaps the intention of the rain gods was to remove any potential for euphoria. Whatever their intentions, that was the impact. Almost no-one was in the square, apart from a handful of pilgrims who, like us, weren't particularly bothered by getting wet. So we got them to take some photos, and then we followed them up with some selfies, and went on our way.

And what was I feeling? Not much really. It might have been a "glad that's over" response, or perhaps simply a slightly worn out one, but whatever it was, it was devoid of emotion - nothing, zilch, nada. It just was. I smiled for the camera of course. And then moved on. I can't really figure it, and perhaps I ought not overthink it. Just accept it for what it is.

It didn't help that fairly shortly afterwards, when we went to collect our compostelas, there was a mind boggling display of something (arrogance, haughtiness, embarrassment [at having stuffed up], who knows?). It left Janet in tears and me absolutely flabbergasted, and which obviously helped to take the shine off a non-shiny entrance into this quite magical city. I won't go into the detail - on balance it doesn't really matter - but the woman behind the counter at the Pilgrim Office was absolutely out of line, and I would opine really should not be undertaking the receptionist role she's in. (I'm not normally so black and white in my judgements, which says something in itself.)

OK, let's get back to 2,382,084.

Step counters cannot help but be inaccurate, and so let's not be too precise, but our two counting devices (her watch, my phone) have recorded that combined we've walked 2,382,084 steps. I called my first Camino blog One Million Steps; maybe I should have looked into the future and called this one "Two And A Bit Million Steps"!!

Using some potentially dodgy assumptions, 2,382,084 steps equates to a little under 900 klms. Intuitively that's ouabout right. The Via is a little over 1,000 klms. We skipped/bussed something in the region of 150/200 klms, and on top of that did a lot of wandering around the towns/cities we visited. So 900 klms sounds fairly accurate. A pretty good effort really, despite whatever I said above.


update follows


And that leads onto some other thoughts. I said yesterday that over coming times I'd aim to record what I'd learned. Related to that, as the walk ends, let me record some positives and negatives.

The positives are these:

  • the people we met. Very different to the CF as I've said previously, as over 7 weeks we met in total the number of people we'd meet in a day on that walk. But the relationships we formed, if only very fleetingly were Jonathan (from British Columbia, Canada), Dave and Jackie (NZ), Annalies (Belgium/Australia), Juan (Seville), Juan (Columbia), Bruce & Mary (Albuquerque), and Sarah, Jill and Janet (Blackheath, NSW x2 and UK respectively). We’ve swapped a couple of FB connections already and beyond that whether we keep in contact with any of these folk only time will tell. But the interactions, even though brief, have been enjoyable in all cases

  • the scenery along the way. I've not yet had a chance to go back and look at any photos, but I've developed the kernel of an idea to do something with them, so stand by

  • the things I've/we've learned. This directly relates back to yesterday’s post, so I won't expand on it yet

  • the accommodation we experienced. It was very varied, and a couple were perhaps a bit sub-standard, but most were very adequate and some were marvelous. (A few days back I was going to write a dedicated accommodation post called "gems". That moment had passed, but I'll still produce a detailed accommodation list for my own satisfaction and also to share with anyone who'd like it - a couple of folk have asked already.)

  • the fact that we actually succeeded in the walk, or at least the vast majority of it, as I articulated above. I think in this world of "shoulds" and "should nots" it's easy to overlook that achievement

  • and lastly, and most importantly, the time Janet and I spent together. We do get on remarkably well normally, but spending 8 weeks together (if I add in the first few days in Sevilla), with almost no other company/distractions, moving from town to town, room to room, with hardly a cross word, well, that's quite wonderful.

The minuses (and this really puts things into perspective):

  • the weather, at times. 'Nuff said

  • I have to say that I was disappointed at the comments from the two people who reacted with what I took to be some vitriol to my "Disappointed, Saddened" post of October 14. No more than disappointed, but I did expect that people who walk Caminos, or plan to, would be broad enough in thinking to accept others' viewpoints without resorting to what got close to personal attacks. That they were just 2 out of a standard readership of 130 or so is the counterpoint of course.

So in hindsight, 6 "macro positives", and a couple of negatives. Says it all, really ...

Now, to close out today's very long post, here's a few shots from the day. They don't require any explanation.

Tomorrow's a new day ...

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