Stage 35, Oct 10, Brea-Rabiña to Santiago de Compostela, 26.2km, total time 7:30hrs

Santiago! At last.

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A non glamorous reception from the holy city, under a torrential rain with no quarters. Actually the closer Luigi and I were walking to the center and the impressive cathedral, the stronger the downpour was becoming. The entry in the cathedral, instead of being full of pathos for the encounter with the Apostle, was more a necessity to find a shelter. Many other pilgrims thought the same way and were using the secular naves as a collective undressing room leaving poodles of rain dripping from the multicolor ponchos and raincoat all over the place. It needs to be said that after the purity of the gothic cathedrals of Burgos and Leon, the rich baroque of the cathedral in Santiago strikes a note of excess to the limit of resulting rather disturbing and with no atmosphere.

Since the weather forecast is calling for continuing showers also for tomorrow, we decided to rest tomorrow to visit the cathedral with more devotion and attend the Mass at noon with the Pilgrims’ blessing and the ceremony of the swinging incense burner across the whole cathedral.

I offered Luigi to share a room and we found a suitable accommodation at the Hospitale of the Greater Seminary, where they give to pilgrims as rooms the actuall cells of the monastery. The accommodation is basic, but the location is central and facing the cathedral.

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The trail approaching Santiago is crossing woods of eucalyptus trees, which in the crisp and wet morning were diffusing a very intense aroma reminding me of the medicine my mother was giving me when I was calling in sick with nasal congestion.

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Everyone has mixed feelings about having reached the journey’s destination. Most of the pilgrims are walking slowly or taking extra breaks in part because of the rain but perhaps also to prolong this strange feeling of freedom of being always on the road.

The arrival under the thunderstorm is not preventing us for getting to the pilgrim’s office to take our own copy of the Compostela certificate. Now all the long hours on the road, the many kilometres under our shoes, all the mood swings, the excitement and despair, the immense solitude and the hundred if faces encountered every day are all volatilized in an instant.

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A special sense of inner peace is now pervading me, with a mix of satisfaction and surprise for having accomplished so much, and at the same time the incredulity for having completed such an undertaking apparently with no superhuman effort.

After tomorrow, we will resume the walk for the last 4 stages to reach Muxia and finally Finisterre. There I will accomplish the last part of the ritual: throw into the ocean waves a special stone given to me by my dear friend Massimo, and leave behind my shoes under the lighthouse in Finisterre, as a final memento that one say, one time I was there and I did it.

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