We knew that this would be an early start day as our fellow peregrinos in our hostel were set on arriving in Santiago with enough time to attend the noon daily pilgrim’s mass. We were not planning on attending mass today, as our goal was to get checked into the pilgrim’s office, obtain our compostela and find our hostel. We are planning on attending the pilgrim mass on Monday. We were out on the trail before sunrise this morning.
There were some really interesting parts of the way this morning. This section had huge man made walls on either side of the camino. The tops must have been 30′ above us. When the trail finally rose out of the cut we could see a very old abandoned town complete with trees and vines inside the old houses. If we had the time I could have really had some fun exploring this.
We again hiked through some huge eucalyptus forests. The cool early morning temperatures caused an air inversion and the smell was amazing. Spain imported these trees into the country for their paper/pulp industry.
After a few more kilometers we came upon Santiago’s airport. We knew we were getting close!
This drying shed was interesting with the date on top of it and the little sparrow sitting on the cross.
We were hiking really quickly today as we heard that yesterday’s tally of pilgrims checking in was 1,400. We thought if we could arrive during the mass we could avoid the reported three hour lines at the pilgrim’s office. We did stop at three locations along the way for our passport stamps, refreshments and bathroom breaks. This place was interesting as people left their small coins on the rock walls inside.
The typical €3 pilgrim menu consists of buttered toast and a cup of coffee. This photo shows the usual options available for a few extra euros. It is all very tasty.
We came upon these horseman on the trail today. They parked and took a quick coffee break.
Just as one starts to desend down to Santiago you pass this huge sculpture dedicated to Pope John Paul. There were also a couple of large buildings where the state run TV broadcasting studios are located. While we were there, I could not help but notice two plain clothes police officers carrying backpacks (apparently trying to look like pilgrims). Their city shoes, sunglasses and hyper vigilence gave them away.
Here is the first glimpse of Santiago from the camino. As we were just past this point and moving down the small road, several marked police cars passed us heading uphill. I thought, how nice that Santiago PD has such a keen police presence along the way. A few minutes later, a large black van pulls up next to us and a driver, dressed in a very nice suit, asks if we speak Spanish. I tell him “poco”, but I speak english. He asks, if I know where the TV station is and I said, yes it’s up this road. He thanks us and before driving away. Sandy notices there is a oriental man in the second row and an oriental woman in the back row. So, they tear off uphill. Next, a little ways down the road we see a national polizia van full of uniformed officers blast by us up the hill, then back down the hill, then back up. I tell Sandy, those cops are lost. All the while a police chopper is overhead. Something was up, but i had no idea what. Well, come find out the prime minister of Japan is in town and did a TV interview before attending today’s pilgrim’s mass. It was pretty funny how we got right in the middle of the whole thing just minding our own business hiking along the camino.
After a while we came upon the first dried corn storage we have seen. I know, anti-climactic after our prime minister episode but I really like corn.
We are getting closer to the cathedral! Just one step in front of the other.
We are in the older part of town before we can finally see the steeple.
Just as planned, we arrived at 1230, so the 1000+ pilgrims were inside the cathedral for mass. We proceeded directly to the pilgrim’s office and were pleasantly surprised to see only about 40 other pilgrims in front of us. We had our passports checked and received our final stamp and compostela in about 30 minutes. So much faster than yesterday’s 3 hour wait. After mass the lines lengthened considerably.
Happy couple…proud to have been able to complete the camino.
Tomorrow we will tour the cathedral and will also attend mass.
As mass let out, we met up with our friends. They arrived yesterday. It was good to see them again. Bo will arrive on Friday.
Our feet at the last step on the camino.
Fitting words for what we were able to accomplish. Just do it!
Tomorrow we will post about the church service and show sone of the really high levels of synergy in the city of Santiago.