Rua to Santiago

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We woke up to pounding rain AGAIN.  Everything was still soaked from yesterdays hectic rain / storm.  The girls and I decided to have ONE LAST PITY PARTY and then embrace the last 20 odd km’s to Santiago.  It was meant to be an exciting morning but the rain had dampened our spirits once again.  The mornings breakfast was at least tasty and possible the best breakfast thus far on this very challenging journey.  Our breakfast consisted of poached eggs, crispy bacon, toast and jam, honey, pastries, yogurt and cafe con leche, what more could we have asked for on our last day of walking.  We had no sooner left the hotel and thankfully signs of the sun peaked out at us through the dark clouds.  All three of us threw it out to the universe and hoped for the best.

Pics below of Cassidy and Tanika smiling about the sun!  HAPPINESS

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The rain was short and schweet and over and we had a very pleasant walk in sunshine till Lavacolla.  However, after lunch we walked in pouring rain till just before Monte Gozo.  It was okay and we kept our eye on the goal of Santiago being but a few hours away.  We passed a dad and his 6 year old daughter walking the Camino, moments like this that are so special and encourages one to continue against all odds with a hop in one’s step.  We walked behind them for a few km’s and even though we could not understand what they were talking about (they were Spanish) it was great to see the bond, hear the laughter and giggles, and most of all see a dad and his young daughter walking together.  We stopped at the same bar they did and the father spoke a little English and shared that the two of them had walked from Burgos.  Wow, what an achievement for a 6 year old.  Made the three of us think and we decided there and then that we would not utter one word about the rain, the crazyiness of the walk again — we chose only to focus on how blessed we were to be experiencing this journey together.

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Monte Gozo was the total opposite of what I remembered it to be from 2012.  My Camino in 2012, Monte Gozo was packed with pilgrims, busses, festivities.  Today there was no one in sight bar a small group of Korean pilgrims.  The cathedral was closed and there was no kiosk open for refreshments.

Big moment for the girls strategically placing the SA Flags they brought along on the walk.  Both the girls found it a little emotional standing at this huge monument and I put this down to the relief of having almost completed the journey.  Monte Gozo is 6km from Santiago so they knew the end was in sight.

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Cathedral that was sadly closed at Monte Gozo.

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Our final stretch to SANTIAGO, we were quiet and hardly spoke most of the 6km to the cathedral in Santiago.  I just thought “it is what it is” and just let it be.  I reflected back on the last few days and thought maybe the girls were doing the same.  The closer we got to Santiago the more their “spirits” started bouncing back.  We reached the outskirts of Santiago and our tummies were rumbling (mine more so for a cafe con leche) so we opted to stop for a snack before we walked to the cathedral.  This was a great idea and the girls questions just came pouring out about what they could expect when they got to the cathedral.  I chose not to reveal much as each one’s walk to the cathedral is different and I wanted the girls experience to be unique to them and there own, rather than mine or my elation and joy of 2012.   I also felt that if I shared too much it might create expectations that might not be true for them so carefully and cautiously shared very little about the last 2km’s to the cathedral.  I was feeling very strong emotions at this point, thinking that there were so many times I just wanted to throw the towel in for us as the weather conditions were so bad and we were not well prepared for the snow, hail and heavy rain storms and it was only because the girls insisted we continue to walk that we did.  This was meant to be a “holiday walk” not a gruelling experience for us and only due to the girls persistence and determination of — “we came here to walk to Santiago and that is what we are going to do mom” – we now had 2 km’s left and I was thrilled for their sake BECAUSE it is a big deal walking to the St James Cathedral.  I had two cafe con leche’s while the girls snacked on a pizza and then it was time for our BIG MOMENT, the final last 2km’s to Santiago!!

We did it!!!! St James Cathedral – nothing more beautiful after a Camino!  It’s very easy to underestimate just how hard this last day’s walking is. There’s a steepish climb up to Cimadevilla and then a long steady ascent from Lavacolla to Monte do Gozo. And much of the day is spent on hard surfaces – well packed paths, tarmac, and pavement when you finally reach the outskirts of Santiago.  The sudden shock of the cacophony from this vibrant city, full of students and weary peregrinos with tired feet and aching knees, and energy sapped, the overwhelming ‘pull’ of the Cathedral, the final stopping point, near to which you then join a short queue for your Credencial del Peregrino to be checked and then your Compostela to be formally issued is all very emotionally draining even though the highlight.  Not sure I am making any sense – one day hopefully when you walk this amazing journey you will understand what I am trying to say!

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What an adventure it has been and all ended on a HIGH NOTE of JOY and a great feeling of “we did it”!!.  Even though the Camino has so much to offer as well as the beauty of cosy intimate cathedrals, small churches and chapels, great food and cafe con leche’s it really is the people you meet that makes the Camino such an awesome journey.  Everyone’s following the same route so you’re going to find yourself next to a man or woman at some stage, asking, ‘How are you doing? Where did you start?’ How are your feet holding up? Where are you from? Why have you chosen to walk the Camino? What do you do? blah blah blah!  We did not get to meet many people as this time of year the Camino is not that busy however the few that we did meet along the way contributed to a warm and extraordinary journey.

A refreshing shower in the hotel, which by the way took us an hour to find and is literally 1km from the cathedral did re-energise us, enough to find a decent place for more tasty paella. The inevitable sightseeing tour of the city followed, exploring the narrow streets and the huge Prazo do Obradoiro facing the Cathedral, filled with exhausted pilgrims revelling in their achievement. The cathedral is massive, and you can file past the relics of St James, kept in a silver casket just below the altar.  Here are a few pics of the inside of the church as well as the girls enjoying a quiet moment in one of the side chapels.

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Now for the next Camino………

Who knows what route and when……….

…….putting the Portuguese Way in my space…………

Buen Camino x

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