Cathedral, St James and Certificate

The exterior of the cathedral had many, ornate stone carvings, statues and gargoyles. It looked a bit dark and had yellow leeches growing all over, in some places grass growing out on the side. It would need a good scrubbing as well and window cleaning. The were so black, one could not see through. (Maybe they should ask for some Pilgrim volunteers?) We went inside and I was surprised that there were not many people there. It was  Sunday and surely other Pilgrims had made it? No one came and applauded our accomplishment, either. No matter, we knew. The main altar was richly adorned with gold and flowers. In the middle a life size statue of San Diago. The famous, huge silver orb hung still, unmoving on thick ropes. A 9 man team swings this orb , filled with frankincense through the cathedral but only used on special occasions. Like, the pope visiting, or a holy year. (In 2010.) In long ago past, the reason for this, was to cover the stench the many unwashed, unclean Pilgrims brought with them.

A small staircase went up behind the altar, the steps hollowed out in the middle from millions of previous foot steps. The statue was draped in a large, gold cape, richly decorated with jewels.   Most everyone touched the back, silently wishing? praying?  Or just glad to have arrived and giving thanks. Some more devout people cried as they did so.

Below the altar, is a small room. Placed into the recess of the wall and protected by thick glass, is a richly decorated, silver coffin. It is said, that it contains the remains of St James.

There’s also a small prayer bench to kneel for a short prayer as people are lining up to get their turn. Also, attached to the bench is a large donation box. They are everywhere.

We had met Rene again and he chatted happily as we made our way to the pilgrim’s office to receive our Official ‘decree’, in Latin no less, certifying that we have done ‘the way’.

Not only a piece of paper.                       






As we made our way through historical, busy streets, a man came up offering us a room for 50 Euro’s and as he kept repeating, ‘very, very quiet. He offered that we could look at it. We went with him and there were several rooms with a fully equipped kitchen.   Well, I wouldn’t have time to use it much.

The owner helped us through the maze of many streets as we still had to pick up Quasimodo for the last time.  Suddenly, someone grabbed me and screeched ‘Meine Guete, schau mal wer da ist?’ (My goodness, look who is here?) I turned and it was Barbara. They’d made it there just a little while ago as well. Her husband had surpised her for their 26th wedding anniversary as they’d never been apart on that day. He had walked the last 3 days of her camino with her. As I shook his hand, I remembered at the Albergue where we had met the second time, when she told me about him. She said, in that lovey, lilting bavarian, ‘jo mei, I hoab ihn hoid nu so liab’. (Well yes. I still love him so much.) This sincere tribute, after 26 years really touched my heart. We couldn’t stand in the middle of the street with the landlord tapping his foot and we quickly asked if they would go to Finisterre. She told us that the bus would take 3 hours, one way. We said, we’d see them then. Later, we decided with heavy heart  not to go after all as it would be more time than we had allowed. I feel sad, that I didn’t ask for her address. I sure hope that they will have another, happy 26 years.

On we went and then saw the Monastery. You guessed it. Up a high hill and a very, steep incline. But, finally we were all reunited. Carrie offered to carry mine and Cameron carried hers, as it was really heavy. By that time, we had not had any food since early morning and then only a piece of white bread. Our Carrie, who has never complained , suddenly turned into a bear, nearly fainting from hunger. Finally, to our room and then quickly back the cobble stone streets, old, ornate buildings, street musicians, beggars and many cheap souvernir shops.

Cameron and she devoured a pizza in a few minutes while I still had to wait 40 minutes, since the waiter forgot my order. After some sight seeing and Cameron using free WiFi, Carrie and I went back to the cathedral to just sit and look. The sun was setting and it was a peaceful, beautiful moment. I felt disjointed, sad that it was over. The ‘way’ was finished.

Up early next morning, we took a cab to the bus station to go Porto. The ride would take 3+ hours.

Next morning, we drove to the bus station to go to Porto.

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