Camino de Santiago: Day 28 (Christina)

From Pedrouza to Santiago de Compostela (20 km)

I awake this morning at 6:30 to the sound of walking sticks on the street outside our window.  As I lie in bed and listen I feel quite excited about the day ahead.  And I think that I want to walk the final 20 km alone.  I know Chris will be disappointed about this because yesterday we said we would walk into Santiago together.  I lie in bed considering my choices – walk with Chris as planned and deny myself what I really want to do, or walk alone and disappoint Chris.  I decide it is important for me to walk alone.  This has been a solitary journey and I want to end it on my own as a strong and confident woman.

When I break the news to Chris, he is not happy but I hope he understands as I say good bye and tell him I’ll be waiting for him at the cathedral, in the courtyard.  I feel guilty about leaving on my own, but this is something I feel I must do.

I head down the street to where I think the Camino starts but I notice everyone going in the opposite direction.  I stop a girl to ask her which way is the Camino, and it is Veronica.  We are both surprised – for some reason we never recognize each other right away when we see each other, it’s very strange.  Anyways, she tells me I am going the wrong way so I turn around and we walk together.  She wants to get to Santiago for the noon Mass which is a special mass dedicated to the pilgrims that arrive each day.  We must walk quickly to get there in time so we step up our pace and soon we feel like we are flying, passing everybody.  We both feel energized and excited about getting to Santiago and I think adrenalin is spurring us on.

I haven’t had my morning coffee yet or breakfast for that matter so I know I’m going to need to stop at some point soon.  Veronica loves a good cup of coffee too so we make two quick stops along the way.

We both feel very strong, very empowered as we march confidently towards Santiago. We don’t talk too much this morning; we’re both absorbed in our own thoughts.  She does share with me another lesson she has learned on the Camino.  Since she lives in Burgos, and the Camino passes right through her city, she realizes she can walk the Camino at any time and in fact, she plans to do this whenever she needs to find clarity or to figure things out.  She can even just walk for a couple of days on the weekend.  This gives her comfort and confidence to face her future with optimism.  She tells me about her relationship that ended just before she began to walk the Camino.  She has come to terms with what has happened and is ready to face life again.  Such is the power of the Camino.

When I see my first glimpse of Santiago in the distance, I am so excited.  I am almost there.  It’s a long walk through the suburbs into the historic centre of town where the cathedral is located.  Just before I reach the cathedral, I see Sabina who had arrived yesterday and is now looking out for friends that are arriving.  We speak briefly but then I say I must go, the cathedral is just around the corner.  As I walk into the courtyard in front of the cathedral, I am overcome with emotion: relief, joy, happiness.  I am so happy to be here.  And then I see Chris in the centre of the courtyard and I head over to him.  I can’t believe he arrived before me.

Santiago in the distance…..almost there.

It’s a long walk through the suburbs.

I stand in the middle of the courtyard looking at all the people.  I stare at the Cathedral which certainly isn’t the most beautiful one I’ve seen but it certainly is the most significant one to me.  I actually feel a little dazed, maybe even confused.  Veronica leaves to find a bathroom, as does Chris and I am standing there alone.  A Camino friend sees me and offers to take my picture in front of the Cathedral.

I then head into the Cathedral where is is jam packed with people, tourists and pilgrims alike.  I manage to find a seat next to Chris.  I don’t see a thing and I don’t understand anything as it is all in Spanish, but I do feel it is important to be here, to show respect for the first saint who did a pilgrimage to Santiago.  Later, I walk to the Pilgrim’s Office to get my Compostela which is the official certificate issued by the Cathedral to all pilgrims who have walked at least the last 100 km of the Camino. I didn’t think this piece of paper would matter to me, but for some reason I treasure it and I buy a tube to protect it.  You see it is now official, I am a pilgrim.

And so ends my Camino journey at the steps of the Cathedral in Santiago de Compostela.  Thank you to everyone who has been following me on this journey and offering me words and prayers of support along the way.  You have no idea how timely many of your comments and emails were, often giving me just the right amount of encouragement when I needed it the most.

When I began my Camino, I had no idea how it would unfold and I certainly didn’t expect the journey to be so raw, so personal, so emotional and so spiritual.  It challenged me in ways I never could have imagined.  I learned a lot about myself, and I think I have healed some old wounds in the process.  I have a feeling of peace and inner contentment which I hope I can continue to nurture.

While the Camino may have ended, our round the world trip is still in full swing.  So I hope you tag along for the rest of the journey.

 

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11 Responses
  1. Marc says:

    CONGRATULATIONS TO YOU BOTH FOR COMPLETING YOUR CAMINO!!!!!!!! :-)

    Wow, I’m reading you final post at the office and almost felt like yelling out to everyone that you did it, but managed to contained myself.

    I feel so priviledged to have been able to follow you through this incredible journey! Chris, Christina, thanks for sharing it with me (and eveyone else too!).

    Even though we know each other very little (Chris we met only once at a Christmas party!) and Christina from work, you have given back so much to everyone. You have shared deep thoughts along the way – and let me say that that takes courage! – and gave many of us food for thought in our own lives…

    Again, thank you :-)
    And I will be following you around the world as long as you’re out there!

    Marc

  2. Douglas says:

    I have to thank you and Chris for bringing us along on this journey, for sharing insights as to what makes us people. Thank you.

  3. Angus says:

    Hi Christina,

    Congratulations on a great accomplishment and thank you for sharing and being so open with your experiences along the Camino.

    Cheers

    Angus

  4. Jurgen says:

    Congratulations to both you and Chris on finishing the Camino! What a powerful adventure.

  5. Pauline says:

    Congratulations!! I’m so thrilled for you both :) xx Roll on London!

  6. Jennifer Wells says:

    Hello Pilgrim!
    I read with awe of your journey – following closely the last week or so. Thank you for sharing it with me – I feel blessed to have “accompanied” you.
    I certainly will stay with you!
    Love
    Jenny

  7. Kathy says:

    Hi Christina,
    Congratulations!! What an amazing accomplishment! You have had such diverse experiences on your round the world trip, I can hardly wait to read what happens next!
    Cheers,
    Kathy

  8. Hi Christina,
    I am happy to read that you and Chris finished your Caminos. Hurray for you both. It’s been interesting to follow your journey so soon after my own Camino. You have been through a lot in these last 28 days. Thank you so much for sharing it.
    Buen Camino for the rest of your journey.
    Barbara

  9. sonja says:

    Congratulations Chris!

    This is really a huge accomplishment. Reading about your journey, there were a lot of ups and downs and it seems many ‘aha’ moments. The time alone certainly gave you lots of time for reflection on life and what you want to do with yours. I do hope you have found answers and that as you continue on your journey you are able to bring your dreams and goals to fruition!

    I look forward to continuing to read about your experiences and place you visit.

    Cheers,

    Sonja

  10. Sinead Murphy says:

    You are AMAZING!!! I’m so delighted for you and you have been on an incredible journey. I know I had only had the 10 days on the Camino but I found myself turned inside out and felt raw and upset by the end but came full circle when I reflected on what I had learned about myself a long the way and left Spain feeling energised and grounded. I’m definitely going back next year to complete it.
    Please try an make it to Ireland, we’d love to see you. You have a bed here of course and it’s not a bunkbed or a mattress on the floor!! xx

  11. Veronica says:

    Christina!!!
    Hope the energy we felt in our last km to Santiago is still with you!!It was very nice to share it with you! We should recognize each other next time we meet!Enjoy the rest of your trip!!XXxxx