Day 13. Santiago

Lavacolla to Santiago
Distance:  11 kilometers
Steps:  14,281
Stairs equivalent: 15 floors
Agony level: 1

The magic of arriving on the plaza in front of the cathedral never gets old.

The Credencial or Pilgrim’s passport. Necessary for admittance into the albergues.

The bagpiper was playing in the portico as I passed through. One left turn and there I was, on the plaza, one of just a handful of early arriving pilgrims in a sea of clustered tourists. I eased my backpack to the ground and stood there thinking about the last two weeks. After a bit my eyes started to well up so I closed them. When I opened them I was surprised to see several tourists with their cameras trained at me. I can just imagine the stories they will tell in China or Japan when they go home. What better way to bore your friends and family.

Compostela. Evidence of having completed the camino.

There was no queue at the Pilgrims Office and I was able to collect my compostela in about two minutes. When I noted that my name was wrong, the lady behind the desk said the names are in Latin now. Interesting. It’s the first time I’ve been an Elizabeth.

The pilgrims mass at noon has changed a bit, but since it is in Spanish and is a catholic thing I can’t quite say what was different. I’d say it was better, partly because there was a new cast of characters from the previous two years. The singing nun had a better voice and the priests (once again dressed to the nines in that catholic way) seemed genuine, even friendly to the 1200-1500 people squeezed cheek by jowl.

The Whoosh-Whoosh just starting to swing.

The botafumeiro was readied and I had a wonderful view of the incensor and the rope pullers from my seat on the base of a massive column.

I’ll be having dinner with some of my Camino buddies before heading to Burgos in the morning. A bit south of Burgos is a monastery that houses some monks with amazing voices. I plan to spend a couple of days there soaking up the chant, walking the cloisters and just hanging out.

Best. Camino. Ever.