Big Girls Don´t Cry

Santiago de Compostela Travel Blog

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5.00am Unable to sleep, packed and ready for my last day as a pilgrim

Part 1:

21st July, I have arrived but today is just too emotional to get my thoughts straight. I was walking in to the city this morning and thought I might  call my Santiago blog by the title above. I am sitting here in an internet café and that same song has just come onto the radio. There has been too much Camino Magic lately. I simply cannot get my thoughts together to write today. I´ll update tomorrow

Part 2:

It is now the 22nd July and I am back to Earth again.

Yesterday was totally overwhelming and I was awake for a total of 24 hours! It all began on my last evening in Outeira with Beatriz. We had a wonderful chat about how we felt during the Camino and both agreed that we were not looking forward to the next day and finishing the Camino.

Taking it slow, a sprig of jasmine for company
Both of us had spent a lot of time during the day in recollection and shedding a multitude of tears. Here is a small exerpt frm my diary that evening:

´There are now more questions to ask myself. It has been the journey of a lifetime and also the journey about a lifetime. I am not the same person and my life will never be the same again. Who will come and who will go? What will cease and what will begin?´

My walk into Santiago was ¡sola!

It was perfect for me and the morning passed slowly as I expected. It was as if my body knew it was the last day to walk and had already started to slow down. My mochilla weighed a ton, my shins felt like they were studded with glass and I just couldn´t get into a rhythm.

Entry to Santiago
As soon as I entered the cobbled pathway into the old town, all changed and I was a Peregrina for the final kilometro. The entry to Praza do Obradoiro was slow, deliberate and breathe by breathe. It is difficult to describe the feeling as seven weeks of emotion welled to the surface and propelled me forward to a place in the middle of the plaza. Here I stood and just accepted that I had dome a marvellous thing. It was a huge adventure and deserved the pride I felt in this achievement.

Around me were dozens of young Catholic kids, in high spirits from the 100 km thay had walked (the minimum to obtain a Compostella from the Church). Other faces were solemn or ecstatic: groups, couples and other solo pilgrims experiencing their own version of ´arrival´.

Pilgrims arriving
I could feel the energy of the sea of happiness and elation and soon waked the long walk up the front steps of the Catedral de Santiago.

You must pass through 2 entry portals, the inner one is several hundred years older than the ´new´facade. Once inside, the first pilgrim tradition is to place your hand on the Tree of Jesse in thanks of a safe journey. There have been so many pilgrims touch this exact place over centuries that a handprint has been worn in the marble! To my horror, the Tree was enclosed by a barrier due to maintenance work. It is one tradition I could not carry out but I followed this with the final 2 acts of ´arrival´.

The first is to walk past the crypt and pass the casket with ´remains´of Santiago taking a few precious moments for thanks.

Completing the journey for the Knights of Santiago
This I did with a prayer for all my family and friends who have joined me on this marvellous pilgrimage. The second act was to climb the narrow stairway behind the grand gold Altar and reach the top of the statue of Santiago. High above the altar now, pilgrims hug Santiago from behind, again in thanks for a safe journey. At this point I was holding the three tiny piedras (painted stones) given to me by my Knights of Santiago. Now we have all completed this Camino de Santiago.

I was still wearing my mochilla and reluctant to take it off. I exited the Cathedral briefly to get my Compostella and new Latin name fro the Pilgrims Office. My new name is now Gratium Bennett! I have my Compostella tucked safely in my mochilla. Back to the Cathedral in time for Pilgrims Mass at 12.

The altar in the Cathedral in Santiago
00 every day and the wonderful tradition of swinging the giant Botafumeiro (incense burner). If you are computer literate, there are dozens of U-Tube clips of this, have a look.

Mass itself is in Spanish and it was amazing that the prayers were sung by the same nun as my previous Camino. The Cathedral is absolutely packed with tourists, locals and pilgrims; some having just taken their final steps straight into the mass. How can I possibly explain the atmosphere? There is nothing like it I have ever sensed before. I use that word on purpose as it is a compete opening of all your five senses. My life on the Camino was now complete but I will always be a Peregrina. . . . and I will always cry

Besos, Gratium

MermaidLilli says:
My memory is failing me... lol. I just reread your blog in its entirety.... again, apparently. Well, I enjoyed it again. I think what I like about yours is the amount of stories of time spent with locals. That is something I also did a lot of and felt it was what fed my spirit the most. Now on to the next adventure.
Posted on: Nov 17, 2008
MermaidLilli says:
Hello, Grace, I met you in Zamora and left the next morning, but you were staying another day. I got home today, to FLorida and someone sent me a link to your blog, and was smiling as I realized we had met. Camino magic. I met Marketa and Raul in Puerta de Sanabria. Thank you for sharing your story, it made a great read. Cheers, Lillian
Posted on: Jul 22, 2008
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5.00am Unable to sleep, packed and…
5.00am Unable to sleep, packed an…
Taking it slow, a sprig of jasmine…
Taking it slow, a sprig of jasmin…
Entry to Santiago
Entry to Santiago
Pilgrims arriving
Pilgrims arriving
Completing the journey for the Kni…
Completing the journey for the Kn…
The altar in the Cathedral in Sant…
The altar in the Cathedral in San…
Cathedral - Santiago de Compostella
Cathedral - Santiago de Compostella