Day 31 - Salcedo to Santiago de Compostela

Trip Start Sep 03, 2012
Trip End Oct 07, 2012

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Flag of Spain  , Galicia,
Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Kilometres walked today: 25km
Kilometres walked in total:
Kilometres left to Santiago: zero!

Pains: none.
Blisters: none.

It rained all day again. They say that rain purifies the air, but it didn't in my bedroom. It was like mustard gas without being able to open the window all night, and admittedly I haven't washed any clothes this last week with the end so close. So a slight smell of rotten cabbage lurks around my rucksack!

The last 25 kilometres finally here, such a long walk. And it seems the "freak" factor has increased with even weirder people passing by. There was a group of four teenagers walking by fast, totally intoxicated and with a beer bottle in the hand. No rucksacks, no rain jackets, just shorts and very wet t-shirts. No idea what their game was.

I stopped for a long lunch at Arzua hoping that the rain would keep going towards Santiago without me...and it did!

When I started walking again the sun was timidly looking through the clouds. The exit from Arzua was a confusing one as there was yellow arrows in all directions. The pensiones want the pilgrims and will make sure that everyone walks around their place. At one point there were pilgrims walking from four different directions. We all coincided in a crossing and started looking at was similar to pilgrim zombies dragging their feet at the end of the day with absolute confusion as to which way to go.

My best friends since I arrived in Galicia are all over this part of the Camino - the eucalyptus trees. Thousands of them planted in lines marking the way.

All along the path also the rubbish and clothes that pilgrims no longer needed. Every single small path that leaves the camino is litter with toilet paper (used), and there are sufficient empty bottles and cans to build an Empire State Building. The terrible thing is that there are loads of rubbish bins along this section of the walk. It seems like many pilgrims leave their sins and rubbish on the way to Santiago but keep their ignorance in its full glory. I have seen quite a few of the culprits and they come in all ages, sizes and nationalities.

Most annoying are the twits that abandon their old boots and trainers next to crosses or distance markers. First of all its rubbish, secondly its stinky rubbish, thirdly its a horrible sight and fourthly there are people leaving photographs of loved ones there and I'm sure the last thing they would want it a gritty old shoe to be stuck next to them.

I guess these air heads are thinking "how symbolic...the boots I have used and now I leave as a sign of respect". I think in turn "there is a better place where I would stick them...".

Ironically as I was thinking about this and looking for the sign for 10 kilometres remaining, I realised that after 10,5 kms there are no more signs. It doesn't seem to make much sense, which makes me think they were probably stolen often, or that its part of the torture to be imposed on the pilgrim. Luckily there are good signs of where one is - like a huge airport runway which has to be walked around.

The last 5 kilometres are not glorious, the Santiago suburbs, a motorway, several industries and the weirdest monument (huge) built on the Monte de Gozo. Apparently constructed during the last Jacobeo in 2010 and visited by John Paul II. A horrible piece similar to communist art.

I walked all the way to the Cathedral. I had walked this way quite a few times in my life, although never as a pilgrim, so I knew more or less how everything looked like. I assume this is where the last few steps are supposed to be emotional...but I was simply thinking of getting there, taking a picture and having a good shower. The humidity was unbearable.

So I arrived, took a few snaps, said "thank God that's over!" and left. Others were sitting on the floor, crying, laughing, and generally emotional. Perhaps next time!

Most guide books and people that have walked the Camino several times (why oh why?) say that the arrival is an "anti-climax". I disagree..for an anti-climax, one needs a climax, and that simply has not happened. And to be fair no one else seems to have had any climax along the way, with exception to the people who were already in a different dimension from the start - and they would have had one in Croydon!

I did collect my Compostela from the Pilgrim Office. Its all in latin (even my name) - so I have do everything that has to be done - only Mass is missing tomorrow.

All the t-shirts they sell around here and a lot of the silly graffiti along the way said "the Camino is only the start of your new life"...well mine started with pulpo, mejillones and ribeiro.

I walked around the old streets of Santiago and Santiago had one last fun vision for me to look at: a group of German old aged pensioners limping and struggling to walk after the Camino, lead by a German priest dressed in full "priest attire" except...he was wearing flip flops. Fantastic!
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