Saturday, July 2, 2011

So Close and Yet So Far

Yesterday, we were very close to Santiago--only 5 or 6 miles away.  We decided to walk a longer distance and quit outside of Santiago, in hopes that we could arrive early in the city and find a place to stay.  We went thru our daily rituals of showering, washing clothes and napping.  When we awoke about 7pm, we went down to dinner and my mom mentioned that she was not feeling so good.  She tried to eat her beautiful salad, but her stomach would not allow her to finish.  She decided to head up stairs and go to bed early.  I, on the other hand, finished my huge steak and french fries:)

During the night, she began to feel more nauseated.  We were worried because several of our Camino friends had similar symptoms and became very ill.  She did not sleep well and continued to feel nauseated.  When the alarm went off, she announced that she would have to take a taxi into the city.  I agreed that it was a good idea.  Then, I began to think about how close we were and I didn´t want to take a car after coming all this way.  I suggested that I walk and meet her there.  She said that this was the most important part of the trail and really wanted to give it a try.  She got up and started to pack.  After about 5 minutes, she forfeited the attempt and agreed to take the taxi.  She went back to bed and I left with my pack.  We agreed to meet in 4 hours in front of the Santiago Cathedral.

I´m not sure if I ran or flew, but I made it in record time!  As I came into Santiago and made my way thru the large city, a thought came to my mind... Here I was all alone, in a foreign country, not able to speak the language well, without a map and had never been to this place before---but yet, I was completely at peace.  I had no worries about where I was going or when I would get there.  I felt completely safe and comfortable.  I followed the yellow arrows and trusted their direction.  I walked thru alleys, neighborhoods and busy intersections--all with no cares in the world.  Finally, I arrived at the main square and laid my eyes on the Cathedral for the first time.  It was so massive and the detail was amazing!  It was still very early and there were only about 5 others besides myself in square.  I stood there quietly and peacefully and thought about our accomplishments over the last 5 weeks.  That in itself was just as amazing as the cathedral.  I still can´t believe that we´ve come so far--by foot!

I hadn´t eaten breakfast and was started to hear grumbling in my stomach.  I decided to wonder around and look for a bar (cafe) and order a croissant and cola coa (hot chocolate).  Right away, I ran into some ladies that we met weeks earlier.  They are from South Africa and invited me to sit with them.  I told them about my mom being sick and how I had walked in alone.  They suggested that I go right away and get my Compostella (certificate).  I left and made my way thru town looking for the Pilgrim´s office.  Within minutes I was at the office and presented my pilgrim´s passport.  This has documentation of my travels with stamps from every city that we´ve stopped in.  They handed me a beautiful certificate with my name written in Latin and offered congratulations.  With a big grin I said,"Muchas Gracias!" and accepted it.

I went back out to the square and again ran into other pilgrim friends.  We all hugged and offered congratulations to one another.  Within a few minutes, my mom came walking around the corner.  We were both very surprised to see each other there so early.  I was glad to see that she was feeling well enough to make it to the Cathedral.  She had taken the taxi and already checked us into our hotel.  I felt bad that she was so close, but yet too far to walk in her condition.  At noon, we headed back to the Cathedral for the Pilgrim Mass.  The inside of the Cathedral is beautiful!  It was standing room only and we had 2nd row seats.  As soon as it was over, my mom decided to go back to the hotel room and lay down for a while.  She definitely needs rest for a speedy recovery.

Unfortunately, I don´t think she is up to walking to Finesterre.  We would have 3 or 4 days of 30-34 km--IN A ROW!   As we have watched our pilgrim friends recover from this bug, they are not up for walking such long distances.  So, as of now we have decided to stay one more night in Santiago and possible go by bus for the remaining 50 miles.  If we had more time, we would give it a try--but at this point, we would not make it in time for our flight home.  Sure there is some disappointment, but when I think about what we´ve accomplished, we have nothing to be ashamed of!  Especially my mom, as this is her third time to walk the entire Camino!  Walking any futher could cause her to become more ill and that´s just not worth it.

I´ll keep you posted and let you know how my mom is doing.  If I get a chance later this eveing, I will post some photos.

Buenos Dias Amigos!

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