On the last day walking in to Santiago I didn’t know what to expect. I was told by other pilgrims that it is an emotional experience to arrival into Santiago after journeying from St. Jean Pied de Port. Even pilgrims who walked just the last 100 km said it was a big deal.
All day long I thought I would have an urge to hurry, to get to Santiago as soon as possible. I thought I would feel like tearing off the wrapping paper of a long hoped for present. And yet it wasn’t that way at all.
I walked with my friend Viv, one of the walking wounded so we took it slow. You might even say we tarried along the way. I waited for that sense of urgency that never came. Instead I had the feeling that Santiago was saying, “Take your time. I’m not going anywhere. I’ll be here when you arrive.”
And so suddenly there I was in Santiago in front of the cathedral. The appropriate pictures were taken and familiars faces emerged all asking the same question, “How do you feel?”
The next day after being told a horror story about crowds at the pilgrims’ office and long waits to get our Compostela we set out to brave that trial. And still nothing stirring within me.
The Pilgrims’ Office is very serious about examining the credential to make sure that you have acquired the appropriate number of stamps in order to qualify. When I received my Compostela I was confused because my name was spelled “Michaelde”. So I asked about it and the woman said that is the Latin spelling. Ok. But then I looked at my last name. It was spelled incorrectly! And all of a sudden tears welled up in me from the depths of my gut. I walked 500 miles and my name is spelled wrong! I started to cry that big gulpy sobby cry. I managed to point out the error but I couldn’t stop crying. It was as if all the emotions of the past year of preparation and walking converged and came pouring out of me. It took me 10 minutes to get myself under some kind of control. A day later I still feel as if I’m in some kind of a post-camino daze.
I don’t have a picture of my Compostela because it’s packed away in a mailing tube but I will post one next week. For now I’m going to take some time off from posting but I will continue to write as the Camino continues to unfold within me.