“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” – Mark Twain
By 7:15 we were out the door, we had to get to Santiago today, as tomorrow we had to make our way to Barcelona. It was chocolate croissants for breakfast and a few other sweets. We thought today we will follow the white arrows of the road, which are intended for the cyclist. Not so many trails and less flats on the bici’s.
If I ever do this trip again, I will avoid the white arrows, I have not reached why they are there, but my belief is to give relief to the congestion of the trial by the walkers. The white lines on the road took us from village to village, it had many hills, we pushed our bikes a lot and knowing that we had to reach Santiago today made it harder for me, I was worn out, I never needed a day of rest so far on this trip but if we had not had to be in Santiago today I would have taken a day off, my body was just beat, my shoulders were hurting, specially the tightness on my right shoulder blade from tension. It took Jessica to keep pushing me; she was determined to get the ride finish.
On the road we saw very little pilgrims, in fact at one time when we thought we were lost , I stopped at a house to ask directions and was told that it was a longer route.
We again had a couple of pizzas and patatas and lots of fruit throughout the day to keep the energy level up. As before every bend on the road, gave us new hope that it would be the last or at least a flat run for a while. After about five and half to six hours of riding we finally reached Santiago but on the south side of the town which has the highest elevation climb to the city center and the Cathedral.
It took us almost half an hour to go the last 2 kilometers. Once we arrived we took a few pictures in front of the Cathedral and hugged each other , we had finished this incredibly challenging journey.
For me personally the tears were simple, I think it had not hit me yet of the actual accomplishment, perhaps I was just too tired.
We rode our bicis over to get our Compostela, the certificate for accomplishing our trip, as we lined up with other pilgrims; we shared stories of our trip, the difficult parts, the painful parts as well as the parts which were eye opening. They asked us were we had started our trip, and we received our certificate, it read that we traveled about 790 kilometers, but we knew we traveled far more than that.
We were almost out of time, we needed to get organized. We needed to find an albergue for the night, I had been told to get a place to rest as you get in town, as they fill up fast. We needed to return the rental bicis, we needed to reserve the rail tickets to get back to Barcelona, and we needed a restaurant to have a rewarding dinner after 14 days of riding. I needed to sort out my clothing; I had not been able to find a bag for my clothing since mine had been taken the first day of our journey.
The bike return was to an albergue, so there was no rush to return it, as they are open all night. The train tickets we needed. I had been told that there was an overnight train back to Barcelona, which meant we could sleep on the train and spend all day in Santiago. But after talking to the representative RENFE we only had the 8:34 in the morning option, the overnight train had been sold out for days. So our day tomorrow to explore Santiago was gone, we would be on the train all day.We rode over to return the bicis and looked at each other and could not believe that we would not ride any more on this trip; the bicis had been a part of our daily routine. We locked them away and I kept looking back at them as saying goodbye and thank you for bringing us here to Santiago. We now walked back to our albergue and looked for a place to eat.
We had a nice dinner of Pizza and Pasta and a few drinks; we would miss out on the pilgrims mass the next day. We ended up buying a couple of t-shirts at our albergue. The last stamp is the name of our albergue; it was 16 Euros each, which was 3 times the usual. But we did not have the energy to keep looking for another. We did receive our final stamp on our pilgrim’s passport, and now it was complete.
We were thankful the journey was over; it challenged us both physically and mentally. We each made many adjustments along the way and were very conscience of each other’s feelings and needs.
Jessica was incredibly strong along the whole journey, she continued with great courage even in the days of pain. I told her many times that she had the strength to make it.
As we sat at the restaurant having dinner watching Mexico play Brazil we talked about the trip, we saw so many Nationalities doing this Camino with us; I hope it will be one of many journeys Jessica will take.
This trip will have an everlasting impression on me; I have seen us overcome many difficulties together.
Final thoughts on the trip will come over time, as we now are home and challenges will come in everyday life that will remind us on days on the road or even climbs.