Wow. Colin and I arrived in Santiago Friday. Over the past 35 days we have walked together and with so many wonderful people, young and old, from around the globe. We have walked very close to 500 miles, worn out our shoes, outlasted some of our clothing, ate at least 30 pilgrim meals, slept in rooms filled with strangers (some who have become friends), walked through large cities and tiny villages and we finally made it to the bustling city of Santiago.
The last two days of walking were beautiful, peaceful and joyful walks as we could feel the destination coming closer. As the numbers on the kilometer markers decreased, we began to anticipate the end of this journey. In some ways I am ready to move on. I am tired of course, but also truly appreciate the life that I am happy to return to back home. For me this pilgrimage was never about finding a new meaning in my life or making a drastic change but more of a reminder to take time now to experience new and interesting things, to slow down and be present as I walk (and as I live). This trip is a part of the bigger picture. Don’t get me wrong, this was a powerful experience for me and every day there was some reminders about life and reflections on what is important. But mostly I want to live my life in a way that I feel reflects on who I am no matter where I am; here, there or on the next adventure.
Here are a few things I am hoping to remember about walking and about life when I get home.
* Sometimes changing a small thing makes a huge difference to how well you can walk. (Like shoe laces, padding a blister or eating a bite of dried mango). Changing small things in life can be powerful too.
* As we see others walking in the same direction they are still experiencing their own journey. We don’t have to get to know everyone, speak the same language or even like the way they walk, but smiling and saying Buen Camino is simple to do. Simple kindness in life and on the Camino goes a long way.
* I don’t need to rush or keep up with everyone. I can take care of myself as I walk and live.
* It is amazing to have someone in your life who will slow down to walk with you for a while. Thanks Colin.
* Having less stuff on my back (and on my mind) makes me feel free. Decluttering will continue back home. I plan to purge and donate to others who need what no longer serves me.
* I am sure I will want to write more about this but for now I want to put this to the side and write more about coming into Santiago
As we came into the square and walked through town we saw some familiar faces and many more new ones. We reunited with some we have come to know over the past month and saw others we passed on the road yet had never spoken to. Here in the center of Santiago all of us somehow seem connected. It is really wonderful to see so many happy, joyful and deservedly tired people experiencing the end of their individual Camino together.
As I write this blog today I am waiting on a long line with hundreds of other pilgrims. We are waiting to receive our Compastella (a certificate to say where you came from and how far you have come) it will take over 90 mins to get to the front of the line but it is part of the experience we decided we should complete. Earlier we attended the pilgrim mass with the infamous incense wafting through the large historic cathedral. Both memorable rights of passage at the end of this experience. Now we are tired and getting ready to begin a shorter Camino to Finisterre (the end of the earth). Colin’s brother, Mike will walk with us. He met us here today and it is sure to be a nice trip together.
Buen Camino again. Now, on to The end of the Earth.