After cruising around the Southwest (taking lots of pictures of vintage motel signs for future paintings!), we've landed in Southern California. When I collected my waiting mail, I had a surprise waiting--my watercolor and ink painting, Parque Mexico, won an honorable mention in the national juried AZ Aqueous Show! What an awesome welcome back to California.
Somehow, I didn't get a ton of photos of our walk into Santiago and the two days we spent there. In a way, I'm glad. The last day of the Camino was one totally spent in the moment--excited and partially astonished to have made it and sad that the end is approaching as we knock of one kilometer after the next. We stopped at every cafe--took our time. We people watched. We enjoyed the last of the Camino sunrises and scenery. I limped into Santiago so so grateful my feet carried me this last day without something popping loose like a wonky spring in a clock.
The cathedral was under construction inside and out, but it didn't matter. The perfect photo backdrop didn't matter. What felt good was to arrive with friends and to watch other pilgrims arrive throughout the weekend. It was a lovely time sightseeing like a tourist, having meals with friends from the way and waving hi to somewhat recognizable faces. Santiago is a beautiful city for arrivals.
We also visited the Pilgrimage Museum behind the cathedral with gave me a frame of reference for an accomplishment I still don't quite comprehend.
Leaving Rabanal to climb to the Camino's highest point at La Cruz de Ferro.
I really liked Leon and almost immediately upon leaving knew I'd have to return someday. It felt strange to me to look forward to a bigger city after the small towns of the Meseta and yet only have a few hours there to look around. I had a conversation with a woman I walked with almost every day from Astorga on--Natalie from Denmark, about how hard it can be to turn off tourist mode in your brain and just accept pilgrimage mode. In other words, it's in my nature to want to see everything I can--always on the look out for interesting little museums, wanting to see the historic buildings and wander the streets, reading up on the history or the famous foods of the area. Instead, on this journey, you are always simply passing through. The physical path of the Camino is what you get to know so well and you have to learn to ease your grip on all these interesting places you pass through.
Well, my app didn't end up working so well and, as it happened, I got more wrapped up in the walk as it went on, which is a good thing. During the second half of the walk , things began to click for me, despite the fact that my body was ready to reach its destination and began to voice big, loud complaints via my right foot and ankle. All my wretched limbs held together though and I hobbled into Santiago with friends on October 7 after 35 days of walking. I'm home now and just beginning to wrap my head around the experience. Did I dream the whole thing?
I'm sprucing up my sketchbook which I will post, along with some more thoughts on the Camino and some practical things I learned. Despite years of researching this trip, there were still things I hadn't thought out that would've helped me before I left. It just goes to show that each person's Camino is a different animal and despite that, we all have a shared journey. It was a horrible and wonderful trip and that's the only way I can think to describe it. Just like a month and a half of real life, there are good and bad and many in between days. I have to imagine that each is valuable, even if I can't see it yet.
This week, though, I will continue to share some images from the 2nd half of The Way.