Currently at the Madrid airport after a quick subway ride. We are awaiting our first flight of the day to London. Yesterday we had a great day walking around Madrid with lunch in Plaza Mayor and a stroll along the Prado.
And so tomorrow we board a train to Madrid. Today we attended the Pilgrims mass at noon. It was amazing and surprisingly, they swung the Botafumeiro (https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Botafumeiro) which is only usually swung on special occasions and Friday evening mass if it is sponsored. It was therefore quite lucky that we were there. Also the South African Priest who I mentioned in an earlier post was part of the service. Again we were lucky that we ran into him this evening and had a chance to chat. I am sure he is an amazing leader in his parish. The rest of the day was spent wandering Santiago(slowly due to blisters ) and having lunch with our Romanian companion and an American who we have seen most nights since before Villafranca. We dined alone and have spent some time thinking on the journey both physical and spiritual we have been on these last two weeks.
I have never felt both so utterly elated and profoundly sad at the same time. Elated at arriving safe and mostly in good shape, and sad that we are not walking to the ocean and that we are leaving the Camino tomorrow.
We will miss the people, scenery, cool quiet mornings climbing above the mist, hot asphalt, the weird sensation entering towns and villages after hours on paths, the feeling of accomplishment at the end of the day, the kindness of other pilgrims who always offered help, the chatting of other pilgrims in too many languages to list, the simple joy of seeing a spot along the trail to stop for a coffee and a beer, the fact that taking off boots and socks and discussing blisters while eating lunch on the trail is what you do, the taste of a cold beer and feeling of a shower once you put your pack down at the end of the day, being happy that your socks dried overnight, the dogs, cats, chickens cows and goats, the singing of the birds, the smell of eucalyptus forests, 8 euro pilgrim meals with unending wine…..
One thing is for sure, if I am able, I will walk to the ocean.
My GPS data indicates a total of 299.38 km walked. However guide books put the distance closer to 265. I believe the difference is that GPS captures every single move. 265 or 299….who cares. Not bad for 13 days of walking. And on that note, good night from Santiago. Pilgrims mass tomorrow at noon!