For the last part of this Camino, there was another way, the spiritual version. It is a little longer and has more altitude gain, but I was in the mood for a new path. This variant was really beautiful and included everything. On the first day, we headed back towards the sea and then uphill the whole time. There was a beautiful view from the mountains. The next day we went downhill again through a fairytale forest and followed rivers the whole time. Normally you can then take a 25 km boat ride back to the "official" route, but we decided to take the slightly cheaper train.
Then in Patron the last stage started for me. Another 26 km on foot. Since Lea and I were in the mood for adventure, we thought we'd try to be at the big church mass at noon. That meant we rolled out of bed at 4.30am and walked for 3 hours through the cold and dark. Due to our euphoria, however, we were well on time and arrived in Santiago de Compostela shortly after 11. On the square in front of the cathedral we had a small reunion. The Italian girl waited for us with an elderly lady from Argentina, she unfortunately had to change trains after a fall. Our Bulgarian friend also made it before 12 and the 3 Spanish guys were a bit late. Unfortunately, we didn't make it to the mass, as we still had to get rid of our hiking backpacks. In Santiago we ate, drank and tried to discover the city with as little walking as possible and as many stops as possible.
30 h after our arrival, we did make it to the pilgrims' mass. I couldn't help but notice the contrast. Pilgrimage is a cheap version of traveling compared to other other versions of travel. But it is also supposed to be so that pilgrims of all income levels can afford it. The church itself, however, just sparkled with money, in this case wealth in the form of gold, but many beggars squatting in front of it.
As the priest continued with his sermon, I drifted into thoughts of my last few weeks. The journey had many ups and downs for me. Especially in the first weeks, when I trudged up the coast alone, sweating, I went through many emotions in a single day. From sad, to angry, to disappointed, to relieved and to happy. I tried not to be ashamed of any of these emotions and just let them all out. There was a lot of sweat, tears, frustrated screams and laughs. After a while I noticed how more and more burden was lifted off me and some things became very clear to me. I was finally able to put many things behind me and to handle and accept new problems better. On this way I have found myself again, met many new friends. I have learned lessons, found ideas, fulfilled wishes and got to know my body anew. You would think that after 4/5 weeks all the blisters, sore muscles and pain would finally be gone, but surprisingly, even then there was still a lot of pain. Some of the pain just migrated to other places, some days it was almost gone, others very present. I'm looking forward to a little rest, but not too long. And I am already excited for the next journey, I am sure it will come soon.
I am also impressed by how clearly you need so little. Because believe me, if you carry everything you own uphill for several hours, you think 10 times about taking it with you. It also becomes clear what the really important needs are. Water, food, warmth and a bed. Often, not everything was immediately available at the moment you wanted or needed it, and that made me appreciate them even more when I got them. But now I also look forward to other "luxuary goods". Like my own bed, a hot shower and a kitchen where I can cook. But even more, I look forward to familiar faces, my cat purring in my arms and the hugs and kisses of my friends and family.
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