Monday, October 31, 2011

Surprise Arrival In Santiago

Me in front of the cathedral in Santiago, day after arriving.
Santiago Cathedral from Alameda Park. 
Last Thursday evening, around 7 PM Spain time, I arrived in Santiago de Compostela. It was a day ahead of when I´d been planning to get there. I left the town of Arzúa super early (still dark) on Thursday morning, planning to go only as far as Arco--but ended up tramping 40km through rain, mud, and liquid cow dung nearly all the way into the holy city of Santiago.
Early morning, after leaving Arzua. Looks like a promising day, huh?

River-road day I walked into Santiago.
My friends Jeremy and Garth taking shelter from the rain.
Whatever came over me? A fellow Midwestern woman named Carla is the answer. Carla and I had met the night before in Arzúa. We met again in a bar/café somewhere after Arco. I was practically collapsed there, collapsed and soaking wet, after walking with an English friend to Arco, unkowingly passing Arco, and then telling Jeremy, my English friend, and a silent, soldierly Italian man intent on getting to Santiago that I couldn´t go farther. I would take a break at the bar and stop for the night at the next accommodation. Jeremy left me with a hug and a promise to see each other in Santiago and then walked on. I dropped with a thud into a chair inside the bar.
Then Carla came in. Carla from Michigan. Carla who speaks my down-home Midwestern American language. Carla really wanted to get all the way to Santiago that day. If I help you get there, will you help me get there, she asked me? "C´mon, girl! We´re nearly there!" In the whole time I´ve been walking the Camino, no one has spoken to me like that. So straightforward, so encouraging, and so sisterly all at once. So American.
Continuing on, like a true pilgrim.
The sky behind us as Carla and I kept going towards Santiago.

Mixed messages from the sky.

The sun finally coming out ahead of us.

Me, nearly there. (In Monte de Gozo.)
So Carla and I went on. We walked 40km that day, eventually leaving the rain and dark clouds behind us and walking into Santiago with the sun breaking through the clouds ahead of us. We ended up even overpassing my friend Jeremy and his Italian buddy, who I found out the next day only got as far as Monte de Gozo. After getting to Santiago and checking into an albergue, Carla told me something. It was her birthday. "Thanks for getting me here tonight, René," she told me. And here I thought it was her who got me to Santiago. 
Santiago!!!! The Emerald City.

On road walking into Santiago.
My cheerleader Carla and another good Camino friend, Belinda, in Finisterre.
In any case, greetings from the holy city of Santiago de Compostela. Greetings and blessings...and more to come soon.

The Cathedral of Santiago.

Looking out from the Cathedral.
Me with my compostela. Official peregrina.


  1. "You must do the thing you think you cannot do." Eleanor Roosevelt got it right when she said that. And René, so did you by your most recent accomplishment.

    You are one fantastic and awe inspiring woman. We love you and cannot wait to welcome you home.


  2. What an beautiful and spectacular ending to your courageous and inspiring journey! Goosebumps. Thank you Rene'.
    In gratitude and with admiration, Terri