So Saturday is it. The final 23km march from Arca into Santiago followed by a purported two hour wait for the compostela, essentially a (hard earned) certificate of completion. After nearly 800 kilometers or thereabouts on dusty, rocky and uneven paths what’s another couple of hours of idle time?
Right now, with my bum leg up on a plastic chair as I nurse a cerveza, my bunk made and clothes laundered (rinsed, but likely not really clean) one final time, I’m not quite sure what or how to feel.
Relief? Why not after a long, long walk. Accomplishment? I suppose but when you see others with far worse physical ailments owing to blisters and injury but pushing ever onward, it creates the proper and fitting kind of Camino context. In no way are the mega-kilometers about the brute physicality or rocket speed or swanky gear. It is, as Tom and Richard and Vince told me time and again, rather in the simple doing. That is truth. Harder to define is the defining charge of the Camino, the spiritual presence. There is no flash of enlightenment, no clap of thunder to announce heavenly intervention. Rather, it is the weight of days applied to your shoulders which overwhelms your thoughts, mind and what you see and how you process what you see. It is the totality of day two piled atop day one and day 30 piled atop every other preceding day.
I have wished for, and wanted, absolutely nothing in my days in Spain. The U.S. has been completely shunted aside in favor of the task at hand (or at foot). If there was anything I expected or could control it was to stay aware, eyes and mind open. True pilgrims seem to know this before they take their first step. It takes days for some of us laggards to come to a this realization.
The Camino has exceeded my expectations. I didn’t have many but the ones that I did have have been blown away like so much wind blown dirt and grit along the Spanish trails. Yet with one more day to go there’s no telling what other realizations may come to light. I suppose that’s why any of us are here; to find out what has awaited us from the first day to the last.