Lately, our conversations have been about answering the question “What does the Camino have in store for us today?” Our answers are usually wrong… What we think the Camino has planned for us is never what ends up happening. God’s plans for us are not what we expect. Today was no exception. We figured a few ups and downs at first, then flat for a while, then down to Santiago.
The first part of the Camino today was up and down between groves of Eucolyptus trees, ferns and oaks. Then we were in and out of small villages. Finally we were walking alongside the highway for a stretch and took photos in front of a large stone with “Santiago” carved on the front of it. We thought that we were close to entering the city, but we were completely wrong.
We were walking along a forest path when suddenly we heard a jet engine, as if we were standing on the tarmac. Turns out that although we were only about 20 feet below the highway, on a path covered with trees and vines, to our left was the Santiago airport! If it weren’t for the noise of the jet engines, it seemed we were in the middle of nowhere in a beautiful forest. Once passed the airport and started our descent.
In the distance we could see a large modern monument with a glass cross on the top. There it was! The Monte de Gozo. The place where pilgrims to Santiago are first able to see the city of Santiago at a distance. This is the place I’d been waiting to see! The three of us yelled “Ultreya!” as we walked onto the flat grassy area next to the monument. That moment of realization that finally, after 12 days of walking we were really in Santiago was great. After taking photos from all angles, we stamped our credencials and continued on our way to Santiago.
I was not prepared for the rest of the walk down into Santiago and to the cathedral. It was long and hot. We crossed highways on overpasses, walked through a number of different neighborhoods and finally made it down to the historic city center. All the while, we tried to keep the cathedral spires in view.
The side of the cathedral had a large plaza and a musical group was playing. We decided to get our credencial stamped immediately and receive our compostela. The pilgrim office was on the first floor (2nd floor if you are from the USA). There was a short line and we were taken care of right away. Our compostelas have our names in Latin. We felt an enormous relief and joy that we had arrived.
Our hotel was close to the historic city center, across the street from a grade school on a busy street. It was a hotel that had been recently updated, and was clean and comfortable. It was quite warm and most small hotels in Spain do not have air conditioning.
We spent the afternoon wandering around the city, looking in shop windows. We asked the hotel receptionist about where to eat. She recommended a restaurant called Los Fornos, which was FABULOUS! We ate a variety of seafood dishes and rolled out the door to our hotel.