Forgive me if I have written this before, but most pilgrims approach the cathedral from the back. Built in 1100 (so some say) the town grew up around it, crowding up close to the building. There is no vast vista where one can see the entire building from afar. So, the pilgrims come on a stone street ( no cars here) that slopes towards a small tunnel or arch. Just inside this arch, at least while I was there, a man stand playing the bag pipes, his strange and piercing music adding mystery to the scene. Just past him there is a set of steps, and at their bottom pilgrims turn left into this huge square, bond on all sides by mideval structures. As they come into the square, they turn left and see the face of the cathedral. It is a moment of such complex emotion - so much celebration or joy or even deep weeping.
Last Satruday it was a square full of activity. First were the large groups of tourists being escortd by their tour guides. I'd guess there were twenty to thirty of these groups. On the edge of this mass some sort of antique car show was being organized. Wonderful cars from the20s and 30s, 40s and 50s were driving in on a side street and being parked so all could see them. There were the vendors selling their Camino wares, some dressed in period costume! It was very festive"
I stood just at the bottom of the steps where I could extend a final Buen Camino to theilgrims as they emerged into this scene. It was a ot of great joy, and I wanted to express my admiration for each but not intrude on their own experience. I loved standing there and being a part of the end of their caminos. For me, there is so much joy and wonder in that exact spot. My heart felt full, and I was SO GLAD to just be right there.
Later, it was time to is my few souvenirs. I did not want or need much and am coming home with vey little that was bought. I, packed up pack, walked to the bus stop and headed out to the airport. Back in the real world I guess....rush rush, tickets, security, wait in line, wait for the plane, the confusion of the airport in Madrid, finding the hotel shuttle then repeating all of that agin this morning.
Now I am on the plane, headed back to Charlotte. This flight seems endless. I am not used to being in a metal cylinder, cut off from the sky and the earth. Six hours have passed, and in that time on the Camino, I would have seen so many things, talked to many people, and would have just walked. Here there are babies crying, people stuffed too close together and not much conversation. The young man sitting next to me is traveling with his acting troupe to Santa Monica where they will perform Henry VIII in Spanish. He does not speak much English or just wants to be left alone, so we have not talked much.
On the other side of the plane is Polly, a woman from Wilmington who walked the last 65 miles of the Camino. We had such a great connection in the airport, but our paths diverge. Still, I am glad to have felt the energy between us and grateful for our usual u derstanding.
Before I left the square in front of Santiago, I ran into Kiwi, the young woman from New Zealand who walked up that challenging mountain at O Cereberio ( I really don't understand why I cannot remember how to spell this). She and the two Italians, Gianni and Merino looked after me on that tough day. She has run into them the day before and they had asked her toscay hello to me. How I would have loved to see them one more time - to thank them, to share the vast space of our connection even for a minute. They, of course, know I would feel that way and we all know that we have become an important part of each others' lives. I know they would have liked that moment evy bit as much as I would have.
When I was flying over back in August, I met Dave in the aiort in Dublin. I even walked with him a couple of weeks ago. I was sitting at a table in the Santiago Airport having a coke, and I spied him out of the corner of my eye. He slipped away, but I found him shortly. We had one more good chat before he was off to his flight to Dublin. The Camino continues to give, and I suspect that will be true in unexpected moments for a long long time.
So, in about three hours will be home, and tomorrow I will go see my doctor about my toes ( Did I mention that my toes look terrible!), and my life will go on. Thanks for being a part of this with me. You have boosted me along more than you would ever guess. I don't imagine I will write more in this blog. But, I sure do hope I get regular writing back into my life.