Mavis Davis and the pious pilgrims complete the tour in Santiago de Compostela – famous for camino walkers and religious reliquaries – and nearby Spanish coast
The Princess and I were still elated after the spectacle of experiencing the massive incense burner cleansing the souls of the congregation in the Cathedral of St James at Santiago de Compostela. However as we were on the last legs of our pilgrimage, our elderly group were starting to feel a little sad that our tour would soon draw to a close.
The tour allowed four days in that pilgrimage town with mostly free time apart from a tour of the Cathedral, its ghoulish and extensive reliquary and rich treasury that are riddled with scandal and politics. We were able to walk under the impossibly magnificent altar to view the alleged relics of St James, their mystique enhanced by the disparity in the stories of how the relics came to find their final resting place.
After a quick snack, the rest of the evening involved trying to get our clothes dry due to the constantly damp weather. Again this required the use of the trusty hairdryer to finish off our smalls (larges) so we could pack them away.
The Princess and I, accompanied by the ‘Quiet Achiever’ and the ‘Saint’ booked ourselves a tour of some wonderful fishing villages on the western coast of Spain. It was a fabulous day tour consisting of views of the coastline of Death (named due to the 1000 shipwrecks – often caused by pirates) including stops at Muros, a gorgeous little fishing village; Cascade of Ezaro (pronounced with a lisp: Etharo); Muxia (remember the lisp) – another divine little fishing village and views; and finally the bridge at Maceira.
On the coast was an old church that had been almost split in two by lightning, but none the less spectacular with the waves breaking close to its charred doors.
Wanting to get as much out of the last few days as possible we felt inspired to do the last 98km from Santiago de Compostela to Fisterra (Finisterra) or land’s end. This last leg of El Camino is tough but no less tough than the 700 odd km route that starts at the Pyrenees.
Up and down hills and rough roads, the Princess and I went relentlessly in the rain, sometimes accompanied by groups of pilgrims singing Galician songs. We eventually made it to the marker with 0.00km to indicate the end of the Way of St James and the lighthouse to get the last stamp at the western most point of Spain. What a tough bus ride!
Lunch was magnificent as seafood was plentiful- the razor clams very tasty. The day finished with a lovely buffet dinner at our hotel where we had being staying for 4 nights. A tip for our wonderful waiter Miguel was rewarded by a kiss on each cheek. He made us old birds feel special.
We were shocked to find that while we were happily touring, one of our pious pilgrims, Mr ‘Stinky’ had been very unwell. Mr ‘Stinky’, who had succumbed to the temptation of a few too many extra cream buns and sweeties, had been found hallucinating and sliding under his dinner table, minutes from a diabetic coma. Luckily FIGJAM found him and called the ambulance immediately, no doubt concerned that his reputation as a tour guide might be in doubt.
Mr ‘Stinky’ was stabilised and was luckily able to make the flight home. We were not looking forward to 600km bus ride to Madrid to make our connection and 24 hr flight to Melbourne but did not realise that the journey home would take 40 hours of buses, waiting at airports, flights, customs and final cab ride on the pilgrimage home.
By the end, the Princess and I were like wild animals, barely able to grunt, let alone speak to the surly customs officers and indifferent cabbie. We nearly kissed the front door of the Princess’s modest home as a final ritual to end a deeply moving and adventurous pilgrimage.