We left just before 8:00, the 4 Spanish guys leading the way with their flash lights. About 2 km down the road Riete and I stopped for cafe con leche and toast. We walked most of the way in silence, excited about getting so close, yet still feeling some pain from yesterday's long walk.
We stopped in Lavacolle for a break. Leona and her husband were there. We chatted for a bit. Leona had her credential out. Her husband said to her that she should put it away. We joked about how awful it would be to walk all this way and loose it at the last place you stopped before reaching your destination. They left and we followed about 20 minutes later. After walking about 15 min., we saw them coming towards us. Leona did not have her credential and they were going back to look for it (not funny!).
The path was crowded today. There were some tour groups that were just walking for the day to get a feel of 'walking the camino'. One lady was video taping Rieta and I and asking us all kinds of questions.
We arrived in Santiago around 2:00. It was about an hours walk before reaching the cathedral. As we were crossing a bridge, shortly after we got into the city, the 4 Spanish guys were standing at the bottom of the hill cheering us on. They hi-fived us and we walked to the Cathedral together. When we got there we weren't sure where to go or what to do. It was a bit overwhelming and we were confused and tired.
Riete and I decided to go to a restaurant, sit for awhile, and then figure out what we should do. As we were eating, Roger (can't remember where he is from) walked by and saw Riete (they had walked together for a few days a couple weeks earlier). He joined us and then became our guide (he had already been here for 3 days). We ran into Bart from Belgium. He told us he was staying at the seminary albergue which was only a 10 minute walk away so we decided to go there too. There was a mass at 6:00 which Roger wanted to go to. We thought if we hurried, we could go get our beds, dump our stuff and meet him.
On our way back to the Cathedral we ran into Jacques and Liz (from Quebec) who I had not seen in 3 weeks. I couldn't believe it. I was so excited to see them. I still think of them as my guardian angels. I met them on the 2nd day of my journey and saw them everyday for the first 2 weeks. Every time I needed help or was going the wrong way, they were there to help or point me in the right direction. They wanted to go for coffee but we only had 15 minutes before mass started.
When we got to the Cathedral there were so many people everywhere. Riete found a bench that had a couple seats. She saved the seats and I went to look for Roger and Bart. I was talking to Roger and a familiar voice behind me said "You're not suppose to talk in here". I turned around to see Steve from Texas. It was so good to see him!
Was very surprised at the end of the service when they swung the botafumeiro (You Tube). It is a massive silver incense burner that is said to be the largest in the Catholic world. It takes 8 men to tie the knots and get the massive apparatus swinging across the cathedral. This botafumeiro dates back to 1851. Apparently the original was stolen by Napoleaon's troops when they looted the cathedral. It was quite impressive. As it was swinging over the pews, it looked like it just skimmed the top of peoples heads and almost looked like it was going to hit the ceiling. They usually only do it at noon for the pilgram's mass, however someone told me if someone makes a donation they will do it at other services (it cost around 800 euros each time they swing it).
After mass, Riete, Roger, Bart, Steve & I went for dinner. It totally amazed me how we all found each other with hundreds of people around. We were done dinner by 8:30 and the Pilgrim's office was open till 9:00 so Rieta and I thought we would see if we could get our compostela (certificate proving we completed the pilgrimage). Can't believe how exciting it was and what a feeling of accomplishment. Roger and Steve took pictures of us. It really was a special moment and even more so to be able to share it with someone.
Was back at the albergue by 10:00 (had my own room). Even though I was emotionally, mentally, and physically exhausted I had a really hard time falling asleep.