Day 32. Salceda to Santiago de Compostela. 28.2km
I awoke before 5am. Energy pulsing through my veins. Today I was to reach Santiago de Compostela.
Returning from the bathroom, I stopped Lisa, “Can we go? Can we start walking!?”
In a defiant whisper, “No, I’m going back to bed.”
“But it’s like Christmas,” I muttered. “The sooner we leave the sooner we can unwrap our reward in Santiago!” Rolling her eyes and returning to her bunk, I was defeated. Reclining to my circumstances, I laid fully clothed tapping my fingers to my chest counting down the minutes until we would leave.
By 5:30am, most of the room had awakened in a unusually loud fuss, that everyone had no choice but to began the day. While others casually stuffed their sacks, I was elated and out the door in minutes.
We were on our way by 6am. In 28.2km we would arrive at the gates of the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela. Within the first few kilometers our joints were loosened and out muscles stretched that we were soon moving at a casual sprint. Up hills and through valleys we weaved through the hoards of newcomers who had planned to complete only the last stage. Jetting past towns and villages leading into Santiago, much of the morning was a hurried daze. Before long we were passing into the final town before Santiago, when we met a women we had shared an albergue with on our first night in St. Jean Pied de Port. Our story has moved full circle.
By 11:45am we had reached the outskirts of the city, the Cathedral steeples looming in the near distance. My pace quicken to a near run, slowing only to avoid crashing into people and cars. Rolling down the final hills and winding around the city alleys, we were mere meters away. My mouth was agape with the widest smile.The city was alive with excitement, pilgrims filled the roads, street performers danced and played for our hearts’ attention, and in the center of all of this rested the body of the Apostle, St. James.
With the bells tolling half past noon, there we stood before our destination. My smile widened, covering my entire face, joy filled every bit of my being until it could no longer be contained and my eyes began to water. I made it. After 780 kilometers, I had accomplished something I had initially thought impossible. My body no longer hurt. My mind was at peace. My heart was full.
Walking into the Cathedral, you are amazed by the sheer majesty of its grander. While initially bemused by the thought, placing my arms around the goldened-statue of St. James, I offered my prayers and hope to him, one of Jesus’ closest companions and friends, and relaxed in his arms knowing I had followed his path and arrived safely at his tomb. Tonight, I sleep beneath the “field of stars” knowing I have finally arrived.