Thank all of you for your heartwarming comments and support. I’m excited to continue my adventure with a few more walks and tales. Santiago was a mix of old and new, pilgrims celebrating the end of their Caminos and bus loads of tourists celebrating their pilgrimage or just admiring the sacred, the history and architecture. After solitude and quiet on the Camino, we are now in the middle of more action, noise, celebration, buses and crowds.
My Camino friends left yesterday and I checked into a very comfortable pilgrim and tourist hotel, a former Sixteenth century monastery, Hospedería San Martín Pinario Seminario Mayor. Home away from home. This imposing building was once a vibrant Seminario where young men came for religious education and training. Today, few come to study. It’s now a welcoming hostal (like inn or guesthouse, but this is 81 rooms) with fourth floor for pilgrims who want a bargain and some privacy right in the middle of Santiago de Compostela. Other floors are more upscale for tourists or pilgrims who want a little luxury. My simple small room, en suite, is on top floor with a breathtaking city view and breakfast reserved for pilgrims. Seems to be all I need. You might notice I use breathtaking in many descriptions. The Camino indeed takes my breath away.
The Parador Hotel near the cathedral offers a free dinner to the first ten pilgrims who earned a Compostela in the last three days. The line forms around the corner. I sat for about two hours, a little lonely, but soon other pilgrims joined the queue. Right next to me sat a seasoned Camino pilgrim from Canada, Darlene, who just finished her fifth walk, this last one with daughter and nine year old grandson.
At last 7:00 p.m. and time to enter the special worker dining area through the back door of the hotel. Like Upstairs Downstairs or Downton Abbey we filled our plates cafeteria style and paraded into a special room for our one hour dinner. We all toasted our Caminos with the language of vino and the heart. We met a young woman and man who walked from Poland, so far 3,000 miles of Camino, and French, Italian, Canadian, German and American pilgrims. In the meantime, my new friend and I connected, sharing birthday years and love of nature, family, humanitarian and environmental values. And she’s an intrepid Camino walker and hiker, leading walks and Camino programs in Toronto and a volunteer hospitalera here on the Camino.
I am blessed to meet and travel with so many amazing pilgrims. Darlene invited me to join her in taking the bus to a pilgrim retreat in an inland village in the area of Muxia and Finisterre, near The Rio Grande, in Carantonia, Galicia. Our bus broke down a few towns away. Not really bad luck because we taxied right to the door of our retreat.The proprietor/facilitator was called away and left another pilgrim and a friend in charge. I think these two fellows might be a bit more relaxed about time and order. It’s called Little Fox House, A Casa do Raposito, but could be The Big Cat House. If you’re allergic, better book elsewhere.
Today, after the first night, Paul, the proprietor, walked us a few Km. to a nearby village, Ponte de Porto, and we located the Camino we will walk to Muxia tomorrow, 17 Km. We will then move on to Finisterre, The End of the World, returning to Santiago next Sunday. Sky and breezes are breathtaking, Rio Grande, pequeno, nearby and growing grande. So much history and ancient architecture, farmland and those mystery buildings? They are Horreros, storage for dried corn. Off for more adventure by the sea and then back to Santiago. Buen Camino.