Day 48 – PAYDIRT! The MotherLode!

Day 48 – the day of PAYDIRT and the Motherlode!  Santiago was in our sights (Vicki’s and mine – 2 very amiable pilgrims who’d encountered each other over a family of mushrooms!) and I should warn you right now – we nearly didn’t get there.

If you squint you can see that Santiago was only 17 kilometres away from our greedy clutches.

Vicki and I had left Ponte Ulla and I saw this sign 3 ks into our "stroll" (for Vicki -  but my usual speed)
Vicki and I had left Ponte Ulla and I saw this sign 3 ks into our “stroll” (for Vicki – but my usual speed)

We quickly got off the highway and up into some very picturesque mountainy hills.  Since I was reminded of The Sound of Music, I suggested that Ms V take a pic of my Maria.  et voila!

Maria walking to Santiago de Compostela! (not)
Maria walking to Santiago de Compostela! (not)

Little did I know that I’d met the most phobic pilgrim in the world where it comes to taking pix and having her photo taken – but eventually I bullied and cajoled and persuaded Vicki to take part in making our moment “sing”.

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Remember we were chatting so effortlessly and constantly.  I had planned way back in my home town 2 months prior to this miraculous day that when arriving in Santiago I would play this exact piece of music…..

It has a very quiet introduction so stick with it – it captured my heart back in Australia, it’s a Galician band and it had accompanied me on my solitary practice walks around my town. This is my particular favourite of this band – Galician, my Camino theme song.  I can’t quite convey what this music meant to me – so I hope you will actually click through and listen.  And yes, the Celts did settle in Galicia and left behind them a rich Celtic musical tradition after they left for Ireland.

So, anyway, it never happened – my little musical tribute.  Why?  Because Vicki and I were chatting and joking and laughing and walking and I wouldn’t have swapped it for the world.  Our best moment as now-seasoned walkers, (this wasn’t Vicki’s first completed Camino BTW) was coming up in one of the tiny groups of houses just out of Santiago.

We’d been gassing along the path that brought us to an intersection and a local Spanish woman stopped us and Vicki spoke some Spanish with her – but Galician is a different dialect to Spanish and so their conversation was rather a jumble.  I think we were wanting to know where the next sign was pointing us on our way.

Well, we continued straight ahead, leaving the other woman behind, probably scratching her head.  We walked for about an hour (?) up and through a forest of tall pines without seeing a single flecha to show us our way.  Nada!  So close to Santiago, you would have thought there’d be bloody signs for shattered pilgrims who’d grown slightly tired of walking, day in, day out???

Vicki raced on ahead looking for signs, and it suddenly occurred to me, slow poke bringing up the rear, that the sun was IN THE WRONG POSITION on my face.  It was hitting the side of my head when it should have been whacking me full-frontal.  I think Vicki came up with the same idea and we both realised that our little excursion into the forest was a total waste of time!  Bugger!

We turned around and hoped we hadn’t walked too far as we were going to retrace every damn step to find that invisible sign.  And wouldn’t you know it?  The very spot where Vicki and the local woman had been chatting, there was the sign, pointing west, under a bit of hedge on a garden wall.

After a few choice words and both blaming each other in laughing joviality, we trod off in the right direction towards the outskirts of Santiago de Compostela.

This is the western entrance and there’s no great Iron Cross to lay a tribute at.  It’s fairly banal.  Except there was a railway bridge that we had to cross that seemed to feature a lot of pilgrim mementos so I added my Skechers, that I’d stopped wearing since Ourense.

Tragically, it turns out that there’d been a massive train crash so the site was really a memorial to all those who perished there – so please forgive my lack of understanding.  There were pilgrim mementos there which is why I added my own.

Anyway, once inside Santiago, we pretty much just legged it for the Cathedral Square.  We’d both stopped talking so much and my focus was on getting there after 20 ks (with a couple of extra chatty ones) and sore feet.  Vicki was zooming ahead a couple of paces at least.

I must warn you – it’s mundane arriving.  Banal.  Ordinary.  No trumpets, fanfare, just crowds of other pilgrims who have magically, wondrously been on the same route or any of the many Caminos around Spain, and they all arrived on the same day you did.  No one claps you on the back and says “Bravo!”.

So you make your own celebration!  I grabbed someone, a complete stranger, and made them take my photo – remember my lovely friend’s phobia?

Paydirt!  Motherlode!
Paydirt! Motherlode!

It was DONE!  Approx 50 days and 800 kilometres out of 970 walked!  I’d done it!  I’d made it!  No more walking for a very long time!

And that was it.  Vicki rushed off to the albergue to grab a bed, I went to the magnificent Paradore which is on my right in the photo above and we’d agreed to meet up for dinner that night.

That’s how ordinary that moment is.  But you definitely have fireworks exploding inside!

More on my 2 days in Santiago in the next post – stay tuned.  There’s the Pilgrims’ Mass to go to – don’t miss that!

Buen Camino,

Nancy

About Nancy Liddle

In 2014 I walked from Seville to Santiago de Compostela in Spain, some 800 ks I walked, aged 56. I learnt that no matter what age we are, our bodies are strong work-horses. Ageing doesn't have to be the nightmare that our culture feeds us. We can be strong and vital and energetic! And meditation exercises our minds. Clearly these discoveries have impacted my life deeply.

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