It’s difficult to describe how it feels to complete a Camino in Santiago. It’s definitely exciting to begin the final day’s walk of “only” 23 km to Santiago, and to catch the first glimpse of the cathedral spires from the top of Monte de Gozo. And after several kilometers of city walking and a few false turns (how is it possible to lose a cathedral?) to finally arrive in the plaza. The atmosphere is celebratory, with a steady stream of pilgrims arriving, snapping photos, and plopping down on the flagstones to enjoy the view and to watch the show.
I even saw a couple of burly guys shed a few tears. But then reality sets in. You still have to find a place to stay, get in line for your Compostela certificate, do laundry, and get food. And then, you’re surrounded by tourists, bars, and souvenir ships selling Camino t-shirts and shot glasses and anything with a shell on it. It feels a bit like finishing a pilgrimage in Times Square – not at all contemplative, and a bit of a letdown. So, after paying our respects to St James and taking a rest day, we decided on an alternative but also traditional end to our Camino.
We laced up our boots and kept walking to the Atlantic ocean, to a rocky coast that the Romans named Finisterre – The End of the Earth. At this point, what’s another 90km, right? As our guidebook puts it, “The act of walking literally until the trail meets the sea can be helpful to shift gears and process the experience.”
Over the course of four days, we walked through farm lands and eucalyptus forests, past stone hórreos, and picturesque bridges. The Galecian municipal albergues are kind of dumps, so we stayed in some pleasant private accommodations. It’s been lovely to see the ocean again after all this time. And think about it – we can now say we’ve walked across an entire country!
Last night we walked the final 3.2 km to the 0.0 km marker at the lighthouse at the tip of the Cape.
We watched the sun set into the waters of the Atlantic Ocean (with hundreds of our closest pilgrim friends) and reflected on how lucky we’re been to have this adventure.