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Published: October 5th 2019
We had a lovely apartment right on the Camino route in the old city. While the apartment was very modern, the back wall of the second bedroom was the wall of the city, dating back to the Middle Ages. We really felt steeped in history.
Unfortunately, an unintended consequence of being right on the route and just down the street from a number of active bars was that overjoyed revelers were out in the streets once the bars closed and they reveled at high volume. Until 4:30 AM. Right under our windows. Despite double paned glass and thick stone walls, nothing could block the buzz of loud conversation and yelps. Note to self - if you decide to do another lovely, contemplative Camino, DO NOT book your final nights inside the city walls.
We rose, rather bleary-eyed at 7 AM, intending to reach the Pilgrim’s office by 8 to get our Compostelas. Walking through the foggy streets before sun up gave us a slight chill as we shuffled along in our flip-flops. We weren’t alone . . . People filtered out of side streets with the same goal in mind: get there early before the crowds descended.
we arrived, we were sent out the back door and down the street to get our numbers. Although we got there by 8:15, we were numbers 218 and 219 in line. The guard at the office said it would probably be an hour at least before our numbers were called, so we went down the street to have a cup of coffee and wake up.
After half an hour in the cafe, we started catastrophizing: what if more windows opened and the number suddenly jumped up? What if we missed our turn? We had heard about people whose numbers were called when they weren’t there and they had to go get a new number and ended up spending the whole day in the Pilgrim’s Office waiting room.So we hustled down to the waiting room, where the number being called appears on a screen. It was only at 123!
We had resigned ourselves to waiting when I suddenly realized they would want to see our passports and I hadn’t brought mine with me. I had no choice but to run back to the apartment to get it.
Now it’s important to mention that Santiago de Compostela is on
very steep hills. To get to the apartment required the equivalent of running up one side of a pyramid and down the other. In flip-flops. Tired from lack of sleep. And panicked about missing my number. But I walked as fast as I could.
Zooming into the apartment, I grabbed my passport and ran out again. Gotta catch a cab, I thought and I ran outside the city walls to the ring road and hailed the first one I saw. “To the pilgrim’s office!” I ordered. He pulled over to the side of the road, turned around and asked “‘Pilgrim’s Office,’ what is this?” You’ve got to be kidding, I thought. We are in a city that exists mainly for the pilgrimage and a cab driver doesn’t know where the Pilgrim’s Office is? Or maybe he’s just some kind of weird sadistic Robert Deniro cab driver.
“Talk into my iPhone,” he said, and I did. He started up, following the google maps route and slowing almost to a stop for each speed bump. In the back seat I was tapping my foot, picking my cuticles and counting minutes. After what seemed like hours (but was only 15 minutes),
we got within a block of the Pilgrim’s Office and I jumped out as I tossed him a 5 euro bill. Running down to the waiting room where Katherine was calmly catching up with impeachment news on her iPad, I looked at the screen: 145! I could have CRAWLED to the apartment and back.
About 10:15 we left the waiting room and went up to the hall outside to office where each time the next number came up, there was a little “ding” and the assigned window showed. Kind of like a cross between passport control and checkout at TJ MAXX.
We didn’t have to wait long before our numbers were called and we went to our assigned windows. We were asked where we had begun walking, on what date, and then our Credential, with its daily quota of stamps from the route was scrutinized. We filled out a form with name, age, country and city of residence and purpose for walking the Camino. Finally, our name, dates and number of kilometers were written in by hand on the beautiful Latin Compostela. The true end of the walk!
We agreed we both needed some sleep, so carried
our certificates back to the apartment. Before collapsing for a few hours, I had one more mission to finish. My hiking shoes were shot and I had heard you could donate old shoes to Pilgrim House. This wonderful organization exists to help Pilgrims process their journey, what its personal significance is and how the Camino experience can be woven into life going forward. They also help the poor and it seemed like a fitting end that my hiking shoes would help someone who needs them.
That mission accomplished, it was back to sleep for a few hours, then a pleasant sunset stroll through Santiago en route to paella dinner. A fitting end to our Camino adventures.
Data: 5.2 miles, 21 floors
Tot: 0.44s; Tpl: 0.053s; cc: 12; qc: 27; dbt: 0.0195s; 1; m:saturn w:www (188.8.131.52); sld: 3;
; mem: 1.3mb