I am standing at the only internet terminal I could find -- about 500 meters away from the municipal refugio of Monte de Gozo --- the little town on the hill outside Santiago. Tomorrow I shall get up at 6am and walk down the hill --- (and over the two more hills I saw coming here tonight!--- NOTHING is flat in Spain!!) and at dawn I shall stand on the square in from of the cathedral of Santiago.
I have done it!
800 kilometers in 36 days (or, 836km if you count in the twice I got lost and did the extra 12 and 24 kilometers) and here I am. And not even a chair to sit on in front of the monitor so standing on my two sore feet writing to share the moment with you all!
The last two days were quite eventful.
They say that everyone cries at least once on the camino. Well, you all know me --- I have cried many times --- mostly from joy and awe and wonder and being overwhelmed. Once in despair when my feet were such agony I could not give one more step and the refugio denied me entry as they were renovating. A couple of times in anger and quite a few times in sadness or sorrow.
These last few days it was almost as if those many many waves that came over me daily and left me feeling completely overwhelmed over the last 36 days, turned tide and washed over me once again but from the other direction and accompanied with such a strong back wash that I found it hard to stay grounded.
I have left so many things behind me on this way under the stars and over the stones. (I did mention the stones, did I not?)
I have carried my own stones with me and left them on the way. I have carried stones for just about everyone I love with me and left those along the way as well. I have learned things about myself that are sometimes frightening, sometimes joyful, almost always surprising.
I have found so many answers to questions that I never even knew I had.
I have made some very special friends, met some very interesting people and learned much about mankind I never knew before. And I have finally found my faith --- the answers I have sought for more than half a century were here on the Way, and I am so eternally grateful that they were waiting patiently there for me to come find them in my own time and in my own way.
and hey! I almost lost a hand in this whole process!
Well, not exactly a hand, but almost two fingers.
Well --- OK! not two fingers --- but two chunks out of two fingers! They say never to look a gift horse in the mouth. Should be never leave a gift in the mouth of a horse. I was walking along through this beautiful eucalyptus forest when I came upon a lovely horse. As I had not encountered anyone other than a few cyclists (Hola! Buen Camino!) and passed or let past a few groups of tourigrinos (as opposed to perigrinos) for a number of hours, I of course stopped to talk to the horse. He was very happy about that and came and stuck his head through the wire fencing, nudging my chest as he did so -- which I assumed in horse language meant "What do you have for me, perigrina?" As it happens I carry with me little packets of sugar ----which I get every time I have a hot chocolate for breakfast somewhere in a little place on the way and take with me to have with my lemons -- which I also collect on the way, but not in the same legal manner as the sugar----, so I took one of these out and poured the sugar in my open palm to offer to the horse. Humph! He liked the idea of this -- but little did I know his preferred tidbit is "Human hand con sugar" --- seems the two go very well together. It was not really funny. A horse´s bite is definitely worse than his neigh. He has big teeth. And a strong jaw. And everything I shouted and tried to get my hand out of this vise like grip was in vain. And do not laugh, but only when I knocked him on the nose and threatened to write to the king of Spain about this when I write to him about the dogs, did he let go (I know --- sounds far fetched, but far fetched things happen on the camino) -- but alas, he let go go, but not without taking two chunks of my meat with him to chew on later, no doubt -- with the last of the sugar grains left in his cheek. So, at last the one thing I had not used from my backpack as yet on the entire journey has come in handy -- the Mercurochrome! My thumb and pinkie will never be the same, but look quite dashingly dramatic all covered in red!
I had a call from Kamil yesterday!! He called from the door of the cathedral of Santiago´--- he made it!! You remember my telling of little rotund Kamil -- the doctor from Berlin who, when I met him on his first day (he started in Pamplona) he was inconsolable and crying --- his backpack was gouging holes in his back, his feet were covered in blisters and the insides of his legs were so chafed raw that they almost bled. --- Well --- after a good meal and much advice from fellow pilgrims, we got his feet fixed up, him wearing his pyjamas to protect his legs and his backpack frame removed to stop the broken bits sticking into his back --- and he walked the distance and reached Santiago! He made me promise to let him know when I am near so he can be there to welcome me in the square tomorrow. Brilliant!
It will be wonderful to see who is there in the square tomorrow --- at this stage I am not sure at all who is behind me and who is in front --- but I know we will al be meeting this weekend. I lost Mike (Marcus Antoine -- the Brazilian restaurant owner I met a few days ago and who calls me La Principessa and has been leaving messages for me all along the way) but I think he has gone on to Finisterre and from there down to Lisbon. The Canadian couple David and Marilyn are still a few days behind I believe, and the three Latvians and Patrick and Chris and Klaus should be there already. Amazing how exciting the thought can be to meet these fellow pilgrims again....
I shall also miss Thorsten and Akira --- darn it, you two!! You should be here waiting for me in Monto de Gozo tonight to walk into the square together tomorrow morning!
I still wanted to tell you about the scarf that has shrunk and the camino on a C.V. and crossing the roads and -------------------- well, lots lots more, but I have three minutes left on the machine and no money on my purse and my feet are saying Rest Time! --- so until the next time --- from Santiago itself! ---
Stay safe and happy and Hamba Kahle and Buen Camino!