In various levels of disrepair, with blisters, swollen feet, swollen knees, and some pretty serious hat head – but high spirits – we arrived in Santiago de Compostela, and have completed our pilgrimage! The wet walking shoes can now be stowed in suitcases, and the stinky socks will probably only come out again stateside, directly into a waiting washing machine. (Please!)
Today was supposed to be cold and rainy, as was the forecast yesterday and the day before. Once again, the Galician weather surprised us. We started our day with light rain, but within 20 minutes of starting out from Arca, the rain let up. By the time we reached Monte do Gozo, the hill that allowed ancient pilgrims to first catch sight of the towers of the Cathedral in Santiago, the sun blazed. Álvaro got out his soccer ball and kicked it around for a bit, leaving other weary pilgrims stunned and shocked at his energy level!
In Santiago, the group gathered in front of the Cathedral. They deserve to be proud of their accomplishment! 170 kilometers, on foot!
We meet tonight for a group dinner, for shared nourishment as well as further reflection on what we have experienced over the past week. I’m not sure how well class will go tonight over dinner. You see, last night’s class in Arca was one of the most cathartic experiences I have had in my 23 years of teaching.
Imagine a bunkroom, and let’s be honest, there are mostly girls in the group. There are clothes and opened bags and suitcases everywhere! I found a stool at one end of the room, and we began working through the news (Liliana), details on this Saturday’s HUGE soccer game (Álvaro), and some philosophical thoughts (me and José Ortega y Gasset). We moved on to the reflection topics for the day, and details about the next day’s walk. From there, discussion circled around and back, punctuated by a lot of laughter, and some true sharing. One thing I have found when teaching classes abroad with students is that there are moments when everyone is able to be authentic and real, and a shared bond grows that seldom can happen in a traditional classroom.
Santiago de Compostela may seem like the goal of our walk, but we have all learned that the true goal is the journey itself.
Ultreya! Onwards! Walk on!