Stage 30: Pedrouzo to Santiago de Compostela
Official: 19.16km // iPhone Step Count: 20.6km
Writing on the Camino was so natural. The fluid repetition of typing clicked along with our heels upon the pavement. Each step offered a new moment for discovery. While we waited for our clothing to drip dry, our daily routine allowed for topics and dialogue to easily drip upon the page.
Arriving in Santiago de Compostela puts an abrupt end to the pilgrim’s scheduled story.
Standing beneath the Cathedral where the lines through Europe converge, pilgrims clamor unsure of how to assess their emotions. Some weep. Some fall silent. Some laugh. United in this one place, pilgrims who have been passing one another daily, celebrate the arrival of each friend.
For days, weeks, months—over mountains, through mud and rain, between highways, along city sidewalks, under bridges, through dense forests, across barren fields, between yielding crops, through deserted towns and busy farms—each step has been a choreographed effort to reach this pivotal point.
Now, with no more golden arrows, what are we to do?
There are no kilometers to walk, no clothes to wash, no meals to cooks, no legs to stretch, nor any routes to plan. In an instant, all those hours were liberated.
The confusion is obvious in the elation of the pilgrims. Wandering haphazardly through this ancient destination, coffee shops, bars, and restaurants and filled with familiar faces as we curiously spend our newly discovered time.
Like children being called home by their parents for dinner with the turning-on of street lamps, this city “beneath the stars” has been calling us towards another sacred meal.
Pouring wine slowly allows the stories to spill fourth. Slicing bread gradually spreads the lessons learned. Laugher and tears served over hours of eating allows for each person to reveal the hidden stranger within that they discovered along the way. We pilgrims are now those Spaniards who loudly fill the streets until the early morning hours.
The joyful days spent in Santiago cultivates an energy felt nowhere else. In no other city could people from all around the world walk and recognize each face. People we met only briefly with a passing “Buen Camino,” heard tale of along the trail, or spent days opening our hearts to are concentrated in this sacred place.
The city of Santiago de Compostela is alive with the energy of pilgrims past, present, and future. The continual flow of pilgrims bonds each person in union with one another. We are each responsible for the success of the person who walks behinds us. Our prayers, steps, stones, and markers helped pave the way for their arrival to this place.
The story of the Camino de Santiago is made possible by the stories and characters met along the way. Each chapter of this story contains a page written and read by every pilgrim. Our lives recorded in the annals of each life. The arrival into Santiago may mark this chapter of the journey completed but stories will forever cling to golden lined pages.