Wednesday, October 28, 2015

10/31/15 Camino de Santiago Wrap Up

Happy Halloween!

There is probably no such thing as a "final wrap up" after walking the Camino.

When we reached Santiago we unpacked the box we had sent ahead in the 1st week of our walking. We learned after the 1st leg of our journey in the Pyrenees that our backpacks were far too heavy with "seconds" of things and unneeded stuff that seemed necessary when we bought it and packed it. A heavy backpack gives one a heavy laden feeling in an already challenged long distance walking situation. It was funny opening the box and unloading things that were so hard to part with but getting rid of took a lot of stress off the body and we hardly missed any of it! This box had "stuff " from Mariah and I in it. I had previously sent a duffle bag of "just my stuff" before we got started the 1st day! One of my ahas on this journey is my desire to simplify! In packing to come home I was still getting rid of stuff! I left some of my things at the pilgrim hostel  for a pilgrim in need of some stuff!

We enjoyed being in Santiago for 2 days after we arrived ! Here is a pretty downtown photo. Santiago has specialty shops for almost everything and the locals meet their needs by going to individual shops. We enjoyed the pastry bakeries for a treat ,fresh baked bread bakeries, the cheese shop for some Dutch cheese for Mariah, the coffee bar shops for cappuccinos. People gather downtown in fun, casual and social ways
as they go about eating, having coffee and snacks, lunch, dinner & shopping for their everyday needs.

A Real Estate Shop! 

The Pilgrim Mass was the final Camino  event for us. The special Pilgrim Mass takes place daily, year round at noon honoring the pilgrims who are finishing their pilgrimage in Santiago. Pilgrims are given the front row sections all the way around in this incredibly large, ornate and historic Cathedral de Santiago de Compostela.

It is important to to get their early, Mariah waiting and watching many pilgrim friends arrive. This will be the last time we will see most of them. With some it was a casual "hi how are you" on the trail and with some a more personal interaction and friendship generated with exchange of e-mails to keep in touch. It's wonderful to have new friends from around the globe!

There are 2 botafumeiros ( large incense burners) hanging in this photo below. The smaller one is silver and the larger gold. There is a special ceremony at the end of mass where the smaller of the 2 ( still very large) is filled with incense and swung wildly through the cathedral. It takes 6-8 monks each with both hands on individual ropes to put this in motion and keep it in motion. If you saw the Camino movie "The Way" with Martin Sheen you will remember the scene of the swinging botafumeiro. Amazing to see in live action! I have a video of this event if anyone is interested but the blog page won't let me load videos. Unfortunately  I got carried away with the video and didn't get a good picture of it swinging but it went from one extreme side of the cathedral to the other over people's heads.

This is the gear on Cathedral ceiling to handle the swinging botafumeiro

Huge organ pipes above our heads. The organ music resounded through and through us!
2nd set of organ pipes

Mariah's great panorama of cathedral ceiling and organ pipes taken from our seat

The monks preparing to set the botafumeiro in motion, getting the incense going. Loved the velvet outfits!

Each monk grabbing hold of a rope getting ready to put it in motion

Incense flowing out as the swinging slowly subsides,  the designated monk grabs on to it & holds on with all his body weight to bring it to a complete stop....Impressive!

After the service the silver botafumeiro hanging above center of alter

Wow... What an experience! Beautiful singing and resounding pipe organ to add to it all!

Closeup of botafumeiro

Reunited after the pilgrim mass with our Lithuanian friends Julia and Meta we had met on the trail

St Francis of Assisi Statue and San Francisco Cathedral in Santiago next to the San Franciscan Hotel all with rich historic significance . In addition to our original document upon arriving at Santiago,  Mariah and I received the 800 Year Celebration Document honoring pilgrims who walked  the Camino 800 years after St Francis of Assisi walked The Camino de Santiago from Assisi, France arriving in Santiago ( now 801 years ago). We received it in the San Francisco Cathedral.

San Francisco Cathedral

Our friends Larry and Kristina from Pennsylvania arrived in Santiago before us and we enjoyed a reunion when they found us roaming the streets of Santiago.

Courageous Mariah drove us to the village of Finisterre in the wind and pouring conditions persisted the entire day including the entire drive time! Local people would comment "this is typical Galician weather, escalated at this time of year."  These window wipers never stopped!

Finisterre was named by the Romans as
Finis Terrae " the end of the earth"

Finisterre is a fishing village with a small harbor/ port , it attracts pilgrims and tourists, has specialized seafood restaurants and is known for making fine chocolate. Finnistere has a history with the Celts, Romans and Christians. 

Mariah & Mary stand at the  "end of the earth".... on the Atlantic Coast in Finisterre..... the end of our journey in  Spain is upon us.

Early Pilgrims and many today have reached Santiago and decided to continue walking to the Atlantic Ocean & Finisterre as part of their Camino. 
Not only the Romans but the early pilgrims in history believed they had reached the "end of the earth" when they arrived on this bluff and looked out at the great Atlantic. 
Mariah and I enjoyed driving to Finnistere at the end of our Camino journey. Though we were out of time and energy to walk to Finisterre ourselves (3-4 more days of walking), we wanted to see the "visual" of such a finish line for those early pilgrims. Somehow coming from the Pacific Coast I felt a sense of completion to stand on the windy rainy Atlantic shoreline having just finished my long walk through Northern Spain. 
I like to think of "ends" as "beginnings." So rather than grieving the end of my Camino experience I am taking the treasures I found on the Camino and using them to bring fresh vitality and broadened perspective into my life at home.
So you maybe wondering what my Camino treasures are? At this point it is hard to do it justice in word form. Ironically I shipped the book "The Art of Stillness" to Santiago as part of lightening my backpack. I picked it up to read on my flight from Santiago to Paris. It beautifully expresses what I am experiencing sitting in my Paris Airport Hotel room preparing to fly home tomorrow and wanting to wrap up our blog in a meaningful way.  The author, Pico Iyer , travel writer and adventuror, said that his travel experience acquired meaning and grew deeper "after he got home" and in sitting still he "converts the sights he has seen into lasting insights"! These are comforting and inspiring words. I suspect when I get home and review our Camino blog, read my journal , look at my special pilgrim passport with stamps from across Northern Spain and in sharing stories that the subtle & profound memories and insights will imerge & unveil themselves in unexpected times & ways. 
So today my wrap up highlights rest in the joy & freedom I experienced in the "simplicity" of being contained in a backpack and walking through beautiful countryside, river, mountain and forest communing with nature in an intimate way.  
I felt it a real gift to be meeting people from around the world in this naturally free & beautiful terrain with few worldly distractions. The level of communication, even with language differences, was refreshing, authentic and bonding. 
The Camino presented challenges to many of us walking and I learned to have more patience with my humanness as I experienced physical challenges in the strenuousness of the continuous daily hiking and adjustments to being out of the physical comforts and ease of home life. I realized the importance of being able to laugh when there was nothing left to do about an issue. We laughed a lot at ourselves & the ridiculous predicaments we'd found ourselves in.... Mariah would always say... we'll just figure it out! ... and we eventually did! 
Things don't always work out as planned and I learned acceptance, patience and a willingness to make a new plan. This was major for me to let go of preconceived ideas about how it was all supposed to go on Camino and let it be what it was.... new and changing every day.
I had "ahas" regarding taking care of my body, appreciating it holding me up and getting me from village to village and over mountaintops. The importance of listening to my body when it was time to stop,take off the weight of the backpack and give it a rest , a snack and maybe a nap.
Most importantly in all the walking I had time to let my mind wander and contemplate. I realized at a new depth what a blessed life I have to live and enjoy...especially in the areas of life that are most precious to me .... Spiritual, mental, emotional and physical health and well being, love shared in relationship with my husband, family and friends, the gift of community and my ability to participate and contribute in meaningful ways. 
So for now I am off to pack for my last leg of the journey. 
I will see what new  "insights" surface as the days pass after returning home.
I Look forward to seeing you all soon!
Buen Camino!

From Mariah.....
Some final thoughts on the impress upon our children and grandchildren that life can be full at any age....always find ways to challenge yourself your dreams and stay connected to your family, friends, and sense of self! Find ways to bring out the goodness in people....Never stop learning .. and share the wisdom you acquire. Appreciate everyday and everyone and embrace life's challenges...Keep your sense of humor! P.S. This was a very long walk!!!!
Love you all !    Mariah

Grannies on Camino.... Over and Out ... Thankyou for sharing this incredible journey with us!
It warmed our hearts to know the home team was with us in spirit each step of 
"The Way!"


  1. Mary - Welcome Home!!! What an amazing experience and I am so pleased that your are back on the island safe and sound. I look forward to meeting someone that walked the Camino! I am in awe!! Mary

  2. I am so glad that you found this a profoundly satisfying experience. When you are next north to see your daughter I hope we can connect. But my biggest hope is that you carry the kernel of stillness within you as you resume your everyday life. Hugs, Sue

  3. Thank you Mary! Look forward to sharing some of the amazing experience!
    Hi Sue, I will be sure to meet up with you when I come to Bremerton. A great reminder to keep the peace of t

  4. ( cont'd) to Sue. Loved your reminder to keep the peace of the Camino trail at the core of my daily trails I walk at home!

  5. Enjoyed your blog. We, too, are in our 60's and were on the Camino Sept and Oct. I can't get enough of reading others' stories and seeing different views of the same photos. If you suffer from the same post Camino affliction, our account starts here:
    Thanks for sharing.