Sunday, July 26, 2015

Arca O Pino - Santiago de Compostela

Camino Primitivo / Camino Finisterre day 15.
Distance: 20.0km (358.0km), time spent: 5:12 (112:26).
Weather: Overcast, some rain.


In the night, it sounds like the man in the bunk next to me is dying, repeatedly, irregularly. It is impossible to sleep, just as I can feel the sleep close my eyes the man is about to be strangled. In my quiet mind, I give him the name of 'the camino death rattler'. The walls are resonating by the snoring. Deep into the night I have had enough, I pack together my belongings and sneak into the other dormitory where there are some empty beds and quiet.

Flaming morning outside Arce O Pino, before the clouds swallowed them.

When I wake up in the morning, it is still quiet in the room and no one has risen yet. In my original dormitory, the lights are on and there are no one left, except 'the camino death rattler', everyone has gone. I can hardly hide the fact that I escaped to the other room when I bring back the pillow and bedbug cover. A message from Douglas woke me up, in which he said that he had started walking, he thought I had already gone when he woke up. It is a big yawn that sit and eat breakfast in a bar in the morning.

After Arca O Pino, the route goes through a magnificent forest with tall and amazing twisted trees.

The last walk into Santiago de Compostela is really something of an anti-climax. There is actually very little special or exciting about it, except the fact that you will be at the target you have walked towards for so long. The trail is most pleasant in the beginning out of Arca O Pino when it goes through a forest with lofty eucalyptus trees, but when you come to Labacolla, the airport of Santiago de Compostela; it is mainly an eventless walk.

Pilgrim paraphernalia on the fence to the airport of Santiago de Compostela, Labacolla, marking that they are almost at the end of their walk.

The worst of what the Camino can offer is not what I want after this sleepless night. Where I yesterday did not have any problems walking among the many pilgrims, I do have it today. Today, I meet the groups of youths that only walks from Sarria (100km is the minimum distance you have to go to get the Compostela) and they are making a lot of noise. A lot of noise. It is as if they cannot do anything without noise around, they are hollering, screaming, laughing and singing falsely in high voices.

On the way to San Marcos and Monte de Gozo, grey clouds in the horizon.

I am suddenly walking in the middle of such a group and to get away I have to pick up my pace, which I rather would have been without. At Labacolla, I sneak down to one of the bars, hoping that the kindergarten continues further. I wash my hands in the river that runs through Labacolla; for pilgrims of old, this was the place where they washed themselves before they walked the last part to the grave of apostle.

San Marcos, the last village you pass through before you come to Santiago de Compostela.

Towards Monte de Gozo, there is a long line of pilgrims on their way. I can hear yelling and screaming from that direction and seek refuge in the bar at San Marcos for a beer to calm my nerves with. Which almost are stuck in my throat, when Frank comes rushing, almost flying. I think I barely has seen such a purposeful pilgrim before. As Douglas and I thought, he was not ready to stop so early in Lugo and had rushed on the following days. Now he wanted to reach the pilgrim's mass in the cathedral.

Once in Santiago de Compostela you can finally put your feet up in the air and say you have done it, these feet has carried me around 360km from Sebrayo to here during 15 days.

It would be nice to attend the mass. The last four kilometres from Monte de Gozo to Santiago are very little exciting, so I do some rushing of my own as well. This has maybe been the worst walk so far on my Camino, but when I walk through the streets in the old town of Santiago de Compostela, the experience fades away. I get a sort of exalted feeling, but not in a religious way. It is only the realization that I again will be standing in front of the mighty cathedral in Santiago and has completed another Camino.

Amusement park in Santiago de Compostela, a lot of noise compared to the Camino Primitivo, not so much noise compared to the Camino Frances.

To walk into the Praza do Obraidoiro again feels like a worthy ending, only that for me this is not the end of my walk. Tomorrow I will be on my way again. There are significantly more here now than it was when I came together with my dad in the fall 2011. Spread out on the place there are pilgrims sitting, having finished their walk. I sit down, takes of my socks and boots. The pilgrim's mass in the cathedral has begun, but I am satisfied just sitting here outside of it. I can however not enter the cathedral with my backpack. A parade walks by. Pilgrims walks by. Tourists walks by. I stay sitting on the Praza do Obraidoiro for almost an hour.

Chandelier in the cathedral of Santiago de Compostela.

The queue to pick up the Compostela is long. Walking through the streets of Santiago de Compostela again brings back several memories from last time. The city and the streets are still just as nice as then, but there are considerably more people here now. There is an amusement park in the park just above the hotel that I am staying in, Hostal Alfonso (a very pleasant small hotel), which was not there last time (maybe it is only here during the summer). As a pilgrim, there are also certain rituals that you have to do (such as resting on the place outside the cathedral upon arrival). I visit the cathedral and gives the statue of St. James a solid pat on the shoulder.

Celebrating the Camino in Santiago, from left: Frank, me, Francisca, Joe, Annie, Douglas, Joanna and Joanna (Michal, Jose, Madi, Lucy and Mateusz are missing in the picture).

In the afternoon, we gather to celebrate the endpoint of our Camino, where Frank leads us on a merry chase to find a place to eat. I suffer of total sleep deprivation after the night's snorequake, and is for a moment a little bit out of it. Michal saves me and after a beer, I feel better again. Around the table are Douglas, Frank, Annie, Joe, Francisca, Joanna, Joanna, Michal, Mateusz and Jose. Afterwards, we ends up at a dancing place of things, to see pilgrims dance after walking for so many kilometres is rather strange.

I also got to say goodbye to Pablo, Caty, Rocio and Maribel.

On the way back to my hotel in the evening, I find out that I got a message from Pablo and Rocio about where they will eat dinner and that they have reserved a seat for me, the message is several hours old. Luckily, they are still in the restaurant and I guiltily have to apologize for not seeing the message until too late. I was however very glad to get to say goodbye to Pablo, Rocio, Caty and Maribel as well. Despite that I was very tired it was a fantastic evening and ending of the Camino Primitivo.

When I slips into the realm of the sleep in my quiet room at the hotel, my days on the Camino Primitivo are over. An adventure is over, another begins. Tomorrow it is up and on the way again, then I embarks upon the Camino Finisterre and the end of the world.

La Compostela.

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