We walked the last 21 kilometres of the Via de la Plata into Santiago on Wednesday. The goal was the Plaza de la Obradoiro, the huge square in front of the cathedral. This is considered kilometre zero for pilgrims from the Caminos Frances, Primitivo, Portuguese, Ingles, Invierno del Norte, and, of course, Via de la Plata. There is a steady stream of pack-carrying pilgrims, most of them soiled and haggard, into the square. After the necessary photos, many of the pilgrims, including Dave and I, take off their packs and flop down on the ground to soak up the incredible feeling of having finished a challenging journey.
We found our room that we rented and enjoyed a hot shower and a good meal. The next morning, we went to the pilgrim office and received our “Compostellas” official certificates that we have completed a camino or portion of one. Since arriving in Seville on March 10th, I, like every pilgrim on a camino, had been collecting “sellos” (rubber stamps) in my “credencial” from every albergue, hostel, cathedral and other significant stops along the way. I had filled my credencial with stamps and it was proof that I had actually walked the Via de la Plata. I now have a compostella for the Via de la Plata to add to my ones from the Camino Frances, Camino Primitivo and Camino Portugese.
We attended the church service in the cathedral and then met with couples from Holland and Australia that we had met and walked with along the way. This cameradry is such a special part of the camino and, in the last two days, we have encountered many fellow pilgrims that we had met on the way. Today we even met a woman from Vernon that we hadn’t walked with but whose father and mother I knew well.
Tomorrow, we fly to Madrid, from which Dave flies to Ireland, where he will meet his wife, and I head home. If all goes well with the five flights I will have to take, I will be home on May 1. It’s been quite the experience.