E-MAIL, June 19, 2011
Hello again, everybody!
And yet not done...
I´m at a ciber cafe in Santiago, Spain, down the street from the Cathedral where Saint James´s dust is honored by the selling of every possible kind of knicknack known to humanity...
We´re staying at the Seminario Major across from the Cathedral, and this morning I saw that the hotel´s cleaning crew had gathered a pile of pilgrim detritus----sleeping bags, shoes, and the like, left behind when pilgrims checked out to go home...
I felt such a pang seeing a lovely hickory walking pole sticking out of a black plastic trash bag, I pulled it out and took it back to our little room (these are basically cells, formerly occupied by young men studying to be priests...). I will offer it to the friends friends from Sweden and Finland who we are meeting tonight to walk on to Finisterre tomorrow, in case any of them wants to walk with it.
I´ve been walking with two hiking sticks myself (well... titanium poles) and they help immmensely to bear the burden-- my triceps are bulging from helping take the weight off my knees, and my knees can still bend without screaming.
It´s odd to be here.
Santiago was the final destination of medieval pilgrims and still is for many many modern ones too, so I feel as if I´m DONE. People we´ve seen along the road for weeks have departed on Ryan Air or the train or bus back to their respective homes in Amsterdam, Cape Town, Cologne, etc.
And yet tomorrow we walk on to Finisterre, which many pilgrims are also doing.... so I am not done at all, of course. I´m HUGELY looking forward to reaching the ocean! And yet I´m sort of dreading putting my back pack back on. I´´m wearing flip flops rights now and have literally been prancing around town, feeling lightweight without my pack.
So, I feel mixed----I´m sure once I start tomorrow I´ll get back into the rhythm of walking, which is wonderful.
And someone told me they may have bonfires on the beach for midsummer´s eve, this Friday! Even if not, we´ll be there for that light long night.
By the bye, I am NOT lightweight! Once again I have proved that you can walk 500 miles and gain wieght on a diet of helado (ice cream) and patatas fritas (french fries) and cafe con leche, oh yes indeed. But I am STRONG and wish I could just pop over to Englad and do the Coast to Coast walk or something, to take advantage of my thighs of iron (and little toes of rhino horn),
rather than coming home and... funnily enough... going on a diet.
(Yesterday I was talking to a writer from Stockholm who said she´s been keeping a journal, but it´s mostly about food, so I am not alone.)
Here´s the scoop:
you can find the fruits of the Spirit in the roadside cherries a non-English speaking pilgrim picked, washed, and plunked on the table in front of us at an albergue, and then walked away.
This sort of kindness happens all the time on the road.
I asked Jose-Maria, a young Spanish man who worked as a volunteer "hospitalero" at one of the albergues, why the Spanish are so kind to the streams of pilgrims who must, after all, be sort of a nuisance (even if they do bring cash into the economy), and he looked totally baffled.
"It is normal," he replied.
It is normal.
Much love to you all. I´m home the night of the 28th.