The night before, we had decided to leave O’Pedrouzo very early. We wanted to make sure we would have enough time to get our completion documents and go to the cathedral for the noon mass. At 5:15 AM we left our the last pensión, B&B Arca. Manuel, our host, had put together a small bag of food for our trek as we would be missing breakfast at the inn. The kindness of our hosts throughout our journey has been beyond our expectations.
Walking in the woods so early in the morning was eerie. At one point, I started to question our decision. My fear of the dark began to make me anxious, so I focused on something I’d heard many times over the course of our journey, “The Camino provides what you need.” And did it ever! Unexpectedly, there was a flag of Puerto Rico on one of the markers on the way. At that moment, a feeling of calm washed over me. That flag helped me realize that my grandparents and parents were with me, protecting and guiding me as they always did in life. Everything was going to be okay.
We walked in darkness, and fog, with our headlamps for just under 3 hours. As we were approaching Monte de Gozo, it hit me that we had started this journey in fog and here we were ending it in fog. The difference between the two was that on our first day, we had no idea what we would face in the Camino. Now at the end, we did not question but instead had faith. Faith that the Camino would get us to our final destination.
As we were making our way to Praza de Obradoiro, where the cathedral is located, our anticipation was growing. We were teased at one point when the church towers peeked out from the top of some buildings, but soon they disappeared. It felt like an eternity before we started walking the cobblestone streets of el casco antiguo. The same streets that would take us to the cathedral.
We were just about to get to the church when we saw our peregrina friend Yzaura. She had arrived the day before so she already knew the lay of the land. We hugged, so happy to see each other. She had been expecting us she said and just like that became our guide to the church and the Peregrino office. She waited for us to get our documents as well. Her generosity warmed my heart. At that moment we knew we had to see each other for dinner later in the day. Saying goodbye at such a climactic moment was just not possible,
After we got our documents, we quickly made our way to church as we did not want to miss the noon mass. It was standing room only! Not only were there many Peregrinos attending but there were just as many locals attending as it was a national holiday. We wound up sitting on the church steps inside as there were no empty pews available.
Mass at the cathedral was beautiful. The botafumeiro, incense cauldron, was a glorious moment to witness. Everything about this day was more than I could have ever imagined. I was humbled. The day went on with continued joy and awe over what we had just accomplished.
Then this morning on the tour bus to Finisterre and Muxia it finally hit me. I started to cry. I turned to Jim and said, “It’s really over.” His response was, “I know.” I never suspected I would fall in love with the Camino but that is exactly what has happened. I fell in love with the places we visited, our Peregrino family, the hosts of the places we’ve stayed at, and with the beauty of this land. I fell in love with this journey and do not want it to end. But my friend Joyce Densmore Thomas wrote to me on FB these wise words, “The end is just an opportunity for a new beginning.” You’re so right Joycee!