I’ve been writing this post in my head for days, but it has been different from any expectation I had.
But First, last night in O Pedrouzo. I decided to stay somewhere different this time (Pensiòn A Solaina) so the memories would get mixed up. But I decided to eat at the same place as Margie and I ate 4 years ago (the logic may escape some). Same bar, same terse owner, same beautiful wine, same good food. But this time I had to reserve. It’s Bar Pedrouzo. And before that, there was a pilgrims’ mass in English in a little chapel down the road. I read the Psalm, there were about ten of us, mostly Americans.
I left at 6 this morning in the dark, by the light of my cellphone, just as we did 4 years ago. But this time I whizzed along, desperate to meet Silas before midday mass.
I got in about 10:45, ahead of expectations, and was alone in the Plaza, something I had feared, but in fact it was completely right. I’ve done so long in my own, I really needed to wallow in the endingness of it. Then I made calls, to Margie, Victoria, Derek, Xavier and the French team.
Then things got interesting. I had got in touch with Marc Saerens, the Flemish guy from the Vézelay Route and he had said he was in Santiago but would stay another day to catch up with me, we’d have dinner. Great. So I went into contacts, “Marc Pilgrim”, yes, that’s him, dialled and said I was in the square, the reply was I’ll see you in 5. So 5 minutes later there’s this guy looking vaguely familiar looking for someone. “Marc!” I say. “John” the reply. But this guy doesn’t look like Marc and has a French not a Dutch accent. Oh dear. I can hear Liam making negative comments at this stage, about bad ideas. So have I arranged to have dinner with a Frenchman I hardly know? I floundered, promised a perhaps pre-dinner drink and made an exit to catch up with Silas, who is walking to Finisterre immediately after Mass. We do catch up at the Mass in St Francisco church (no Masses at the cathedral at the moment) which is largely tourist-free. Silas and I are both tearful, this is the end of the Camino, and it was a hard one for both of us. His plea: “Don’t forget me!” It’s a strange phenomenon that people share intense and intimate times then just move apart or ghost each other. I won’t forget you, Silas.
So what about Marc Saerens? Well, my phone has been off for an hour during a long multi-lingual Mass, and there are messages. He’s been searching for me. We finally catch up for lunch. It’s good to see him. Again, we shared a lot, not so much on the road but evenings, lunches, coffee breaks, breakfasts, drinks. As with Silas. Actually, I never walked with Silas, no one did. He prefers that. I walked a bit with Marc, though. He’s off back to Belgium in the morning.
So all in all an unusual day. But it was always going to be so.
And although I went briefly into the cathedral, I still haven’t visited Santiago himself. I don’t want to queue for an hour for that so I’ll do it tomorrow. He’s waited long enough for me, one day more won’t hurt.
As I came under the Bishop’s arch this morning, I videoed my entry into the Praza Obrodoiro (this is my actual entry). Although I’ve done it before, it’s even in repeat, an extraordinarily moving experience. Picture if you will and endless walk, you go down some steps in the dark, the piper is playing and then you break into the open and the light, turn to the left and you’re there, that’s it! See for yourself.http://johnstravels.co.nz/wp-content/uploads/2019/07/img_1972.mov