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Wednesday, May 23, 2007 

Day 29: I came, I saw, I slept.

For the first time in the last 27 days, I finally slept through the night and was in bed until 9am. Dodo and I enjoyed talking & taking it easy in this wonderfully modern and new hotel that was in fact inside a mall.

We had our clothes WASHED and took our time (and a taxi) to the city. Had a brekkie at a lovely cafe and just the most amazing time talking & hanging out.

Its been a decadent 48 hours. :)

D is a kindred spirit. I have a feeling I won't see her again even though I'm staying in the same hotel in the city.

Mariette, John & Gen arrived a little later on Tues arvo, and I met up with them for tapas/dinner. Then M stayed with me in my modern mall hotel room (it was nice and totally worth it, really.)

Meanwhile, as I walk through Santiago, more & more of the pilgrims I see are coming in one by one. Its amazing really. I feel better than the first day I arrived and I think more emotional each day, as somehow I can be there to greet, hug, kiss the pilgrims I've met along the way & congratulate them, especially many of them who walk in alone like I did.

For instance, today, I saw the Hungarian woman who had walked so slow and had suffered so much. We had seen each other several times since then on the camino, and just a few days ago I saw her tackling a very steep downhill section in the forest. She is here on Santiago, much to my relief, & today we hugged & kissed each other on the cheek after the mass. Once again, there was this amazing unspoken connection. She is here, in one piece, and (as Kirstie from Finland mentioned at lunch today) she looks much younger. :)

I also have run into Benjamin, Luis Miguel, Brigitte, Denise, Kelly, Andi & Miklos! All within the last 24 hours.

Seeing everyone you've met in the last four weeks, those you've spoken to, and those you've only just passed and acknowledged silently, is a surreal experience. It goes beyond language and race and culture.

When I arrived, I arrived alone. Again, I don't know what I was expecting... A little parade? A fanfare? No, despite my emotional post about the camino and my final hours of walking towards Santiago, I will say it was anti-climatic, like every milestone I reached along the way.

But these last two days have made me more and more passionate. I have to say I arrived early in order to have the opportunity to be there for the pilgrims I have met and to hug and congratulate them on their arrival. There are many, and I've talked and hugged almost everyone, and it is one of the most beautiful feelings.

By Friday, I hope to see Vivian and Carol and maybe some of the pilgrims I started with in St. Jean Pied-de-Port. I may miss them as tomorrow I will bus to Finisterre early in the day and
then return in the evening.

As for Santiago, I've been taking it easy in the city. I've been eating and walking to and from the Cathedral. I've been to the pilgrims mass three days in a row now, and each day it gets more & more special.

Tonight I am in a restaurant/bar in the red light district (apparently) but I think its actually a small university pub where the food is cheap and in big portions and where one can order a beer the size of my head. Its great as it feel very very local. It's nice to feel human again.

Ok, one more beer....

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