So we have arrived but missed The Pilgrims Mass at midday, and we are very tired.
We go to our hotel, which is of course another climb, but by this time I can’t complain!
We enter the room where we first dropped off our bags, and it seems like an age ago. I look at my suitcase sitting there and feel a sense of repulsion. I really do not want it. It’s baggage in the real sense of the word.
So having dropped our cases into our rooms, we go down for a well-earned drink in the hotel garden and enjoy every last minute! Caroline with her Alberino and nibbles, Nick and Robin with their beers and me with a GnT.
We have remained such good friends throughout our journey and we have had times we’ll never forget! But what happened on the Camino, stays on the Camino!
Caroline wants to have her Pilgrim’s passport stamped as soon as possible to mark the exact day of arrival and collect her Compestela (certificate of completion), so we go off in search of the pilgrims’ office.
Another long wait, and the GnT has made me slightly argumentative after I am told we could be charged for our certificate. “This is just an excuse to take money from us!” I say. “It’s commercialism at its worst! It ruins the whole meaning of the journey,” I complain.
Of course, when I am finally called to show my credentials, I am putty in the young man’s hands. He asks me where I am from and where I have travelled from and for what reason – eg religious, spiritual, sport etc. I answer his questions and tell him it’s for religious reasons and he dutifully issues my certificate – no charge!
“Well how lovely is that?” I rejoice. My faith is restored in this city of Pilgrims.
We amble along to the Cathedral. We have after all dropped off our best friends (our backpacks). We seem a little disconcerted without them clinging on to our backs after all this time. “He ain’t heavy, he’s my brother..” I sing to myself.
It’s been a few hours now, and so we decide to enter and look around the Cathedral. We enter from the side entrance which has a constant stream of pilgrims coming and going. We are immediately hit with the sight of a large, elevated icon of St. James and there is a line of people queuing up to enter and touch the icon.
Strange, really, as the relics of St. James are in a separate crypt in a silver trunk, which for me are far more mysterious than a gold icon.
I walk to another part of this cathedral, and suddenly notice confession boxes at the side of the aisles. Nick looks at me, and asks if I am going to go ahead, and I give him a scared rabbit look. He hugs me briefly and I turn and kneel in front of a young Priest. My mind goes suddenly blank and I am scrabbling for something meaningful to say. After a few seconds, a few things come to mind, and I’m off. I try desperately to think of more to say, but it just won’t come! The Priest is very warm and understanding and sends me on my way.
Phew! how wonderful I feel when I go and pray next to Robin in the pews. I look behind me and see Caroline confessing. My heart is filled with joy and I thank God for this amazing personal experience he has led us on.