Emotions are high as we´ve reached the official end of the earth, Fisterra. We arrived in Santiago, the official end of the Camino de Santiago Tuesday, July 16th. The cathedral was breathtaking and somewhat emotional as this was the culmination of a 500 mile journey across Spain that started in St. Jean Pied de Port in France. We felt strong and like we had really accomplished something. After a couple rest days we continued on the Camino da Fisterra, what was at one point thought to be the true end of the earth as the root of the name reflects.
Upon our arrival to Santiago, we gathered in the Praza, or square, outside of the cathedral with friends who we had met along the way, and high-fived as we congratulated each other. There were a handful of us who had started and finished around the same time and we had grown to know each other well over the 500 miles walking, and sharing drinks and meals together almost every day.
Our core group consisted of mostly men including two Hungarians (Kasmeer who spoke zero English and surprised me one day when he said ¨Hi¨and Peter who spoke excellent English and did a lot of translating), an Austrian (21 y.o. Marcos who was so cute I actually had to pinch his cheek once and described him to people as a young guy so cute you just wanted to cuddle him), an Italian (Lucca who had just retired from being a professional soccer player for Italy because of a bum knee) and Libby, the only English speaking woman who we saw consistently along the way. Libby is a 23 y.o. woman from New York, and
turned out to be the toughest of our bunch as she started near the same
time as us, finished on the same day as us, and had an attack (or 2) of bed
bugs and a severe blister type allergic reaction mid-way through. She
didn´t let that stop her from completing the trip despite visiting the
hospital twice, and almost every pharmacy along the Camino. She jokes about writing a tour guide of hospitals and pharmacies for the Camino!
It should be noted that we saw another Italian guy, known affectionately to us as ¨The Italian¨, all along the way who
wore khaki shorts embroidered with flowers and a pink hat. All we were able to communicate
with him was ¨Ciao¨ but we grew to appreciate his strength very much
and when we met at Santiago beneath the Cathedral we exchanged hugs. He said ¨Buono Fortuna¨ which even I could understand so clearly that when he said it, I initially thought he was speaking English to me. I looked at him as though he had tricked me into thinking he only spoke Italian this entire time, then I realized that he was still speaking Italian. It was a Santiago miracle!
We had met many other people along the way whose company we enjoyed, but most were not covering the same distance as we were each day. That is not to say that people weren´t as strong as us because there were MANY people who were covering more distance than us. Phil Sly and Tristan were runners who made us look like wimps but who we were honored to share some drinks and a meal witht, but they would keep going for many miles! We heard later that Tristan completed a 127 kilometer day in the midst of completing 70 km days. Before this trip he had never gone further than a marathon! Older women put us to shame. At least two French women and a Spanish woman, if I were to guess, I´d say late 50s or early 60s, at the end who had beat (it´s not a race!) us to Santiago and they represent strength and health to me and inspire me deeply!
After a day of rest in Santiago, we made a final grunt to Fisterra. We covered just over 90 km (55 miles) in a day. The plan was to run it, but that pain in the quadriceps flared up again. Tim and I had already arranged to go our separate ways if this were to happen, but when I gave him a kiss at the point where I would go ahead, I immediately developed the ugly cry at the thought of finishing this thing that we had travelled so far together. We immediately adjusted our plan to finish together, but turning a 55 mile run into a 12 mile run and the rest would be a brisk walk. Lucky for me, Tim´s walk is really fast, and I would had to do a run/walk to keep up with him. I took on the role of pacer, and when we finished, we had reached the end of the earth together.