(May 22, 2013) It is the day before I reach Santiago and the anticipation is beginning to mount. I can see why some people want to do longer days now and hurry it up - like a child wanting Christmas to come early. My friend Perry compares it to the excitement of New Year's Eve. I agreed, but said it is because we will now start to look back on our journey, the way we do with a passing year, and then look ahead to what will come after. Hopefully, our experience has brought us new insight into ourselves and the world around us and we will all return home refreshed and renewed.
When we have traveled through many of these old villages, they have often talked of the old pilgrim hospitals, which no longer exist. I can't help but imagine what this journey was like 1,000 years ago without proper footwear and gear, no place to buy food and exposure to criminals and disease. It must have been extremely arduous and people must have suffered greatly. It does give you an appreciation for our current lives.
But just watching the people work in their fields today is impressive, too. I saw a man cutting weeds along the road with a scythe and then piling them up with a fork made from a tree branch. It looked well worn. Another man was disassembling an old stone building rock by rock and cleaning each one of debris as he went. He carefully stacked them on the scaffolding for future use.(photos 1, 2) I'm afraid we in the US would just bulldoze it and throw it in a landfill.
Much of the path was as beautiful as yesterday, with the tall trees forming a canopy over the trail (photo 3). I learned that the ubiquitous eucalyptus trees are not indigenous but were brought in for the pulp business.
But the tree that impressed me today were these palm trees. How do you grow those in a climate like Kentucky's? (Photo 4)
I met up with Michele and Perry and we walked most of the way together. At one of our stops I saw my German friends Bridgit and Peter who have the relative in Louisville. I want to look up the relative and show him this photo (#5).
We arrived in Arca about 2:30 after about 13 miles and several stops. It was a gorgeous day and we wanted to enjoy it. We checked into Hostal Platas, which turned out to be very nice for 55€.
Tonight Perry, Michele and I had a very simple dinner and talked about our day tomorrow. We will not arrive until early afternoon but will probably attend an evening mass.
We will also go to the Pilgrim's Office to show them our pilgrim passports in order to receive our certificate of completion, our Compostela. I forgot to mention earlier about the passports. All along the way we collect "sellos" or stamps from the hotels, bars, churches, etc., to prove we were there. I made one just for my lodging so I could document each day. Then I have 2 others with random stamps from the trip. (Photos 6,7) They are fun to collect. For me, the small booklets will be a great memento of the trip.