What a Long Strange Trip Its Been
July 5, 2014
We got started late on the morning of July 2, 2014. Later than we usually do, but it was our last day of walking and Abby’s feet were burning with the rash. The pharmacy wouldn’t open until 9:30, so why hurry. Plus it was raining. A drizzle, not rain, but enough of a mist to get you wet. So at 8 am we set off from Monte do Gozo.
We had to walk across a Fwy overpass. Ahhhh…the semi trucks were whizzing by on my right side of the surface street. The cars below were creating wind turbulence causing to structure to sway. The wooden planks to walk across were wet, soggy and I could see through them to the fwy below. A low railing on the left was all that was supposed to keep one from plummeting over. I kept freezing up as I made my way across the Great Divide.
We kept walking on. A large rainbow welcomed us into the city and appeared to be over the Cathedral. What a welcome mat. We found a pharmacy and picked up creme and pills for Abby’s feet. We ran into Irishman Phillip and had a nice chat with him. We were stopped by another Irish guy who directed us to go to St. Francis church to get our certificate that is issued only every 100 years and they were only opened for a couple of hours at a time. We got lost. We had to ask two elderly men in Spanish where to go, but they kept directing us to the Pilgrim’s Office. We did find the church. It was right in front of us!
Afterwards, we went to the Pilgrim’s Office to collect our Compostela. We only had to wait for a short time in line. That was that. No fan fair. No fireworks. No nothing. And we both looked at each other and wondered what we were going to do now. What is next?
All along the Camino, mass amounts of people walk in unison, being drawn by an unheard song, like Pied Piper leading the children out of the town, to Santiago. I was thinking about the movie, “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” where the main character is caught up with a fixation that involves musical notes and the shape of a mountain. He HAS to figure out where this location is in order to be taken up into outer space. Here we all were, walking to this one destination. People drawn to it from all over the world and so focused on the destination that once they reach it, that is it. And then what?
For over a month we/ I, have been walking everyday following the shell and the yellow arrows, directing me forward on a unknown path. I have had a scripted map. I knew each day that I would wake up, pack my bag, strap it on and head towards the next Albergue to unpack, take a shower, hand wash clothes, find food and go to sleep. It was a simple pattern that became a habit. I knew where I was going, how I was going to get there and the reason why.
Now…now that I’m finished…the question Abby and I both asked each other was, “What do we do now?”
That is a big question. It is a loaded one. I have been asked if I will come back and do the Camino or a different route again. Why? I have accomplished what I set out to do. I had a lot of time for self reflection and pondering. I have lots of thoughts, ideas to write many articles about. I didn’t start this pilgrimage with the assumption that I would receive one huge “Ah-ha!” answer or great spiritual enlightenment or a burning in my bosom feeling of a reply to some deep question I have been soul searching for. My Camino was for me. Just for me. Along the way I learned a great many lessons that I will be able to reflect upon and write about. The journey gave me plenty food for thought…a smorgasbord.
My daughter’s and my relationship continues to remain strong and in good standing. We grew to understand more about one another, but nothing earth shattering. We know our differences. We recognize our areas of strength and weakness. Walking the Camino together is just one more thing that we will have in common that we will be able to talk about for the rest of our life. But even though we each walked the Camino together, her experience is different from mine. Her perspective will differ from mine. But the bond of having shared this experience will be there forever.
In answer to the question, “Now what?” Well…we continue. I continue. The pilgrimage didn’t come to an end with the presentation of the Compostella. It continues for one’s life.