After a six-hour train journey from Santiago de Compostela, I’m now at the Madrid airport, waiting to board a ten-hour red-eye to Delhi.
I spent the last two days wandering Santiago in slow motion, hoping to ease out the remaining kinks in my hips and legs.
A final act for pilgrims is to enter the cathedral and “embrace the apostle” (aka hug a silver statue of St James from the back). Not interested in that aspect of the Camino, and in no part due to the long and winding line of people waiting to do so, the idea slipped my mind. Then, with extra time before a massage appointment, I wandered inside the cathedral and found myself almost all alone in the cavernous structure. I wandered here and there, snooping in small corridors and corners until I found a narrow stone staircase going who knows where, so I clambered up it and found myself behind the apostle, in embrace position. Two men stood in the cramped alcove behind the statue, working rosaries; when I attempted a question, one put his finger to his lips and whispered, “silencio” but with a friendly face. He motioned to the statue, indicating it was mine to hug, but I declined, to his surprise, snapped a possibly forbidden photo (he’d shrugged when I pointed my camera at the statue’s broad back), and hustled down another narrow staircase, passing a chamber with a young man, most likely fresh off the Camino, on his knees, weeping. It was a long walk in a new country for me; for others, obviously, much more.
Anyway, here are some final photos of Spain. Hope you enjoy them.