Santiago… Is that it?

I should have known better…

But I’m a hopeless old romantic, wondering if somehow a miracle would drive me to my knees on the steps of the cathedral in this city of pilgrims, where millions have walked this road, probably as long as time itself.

Maggie and I stand bewildered at the steps of Santiago Cathedral.

Maggie and I stand bewildered at the steps of Santiago Cathedral.

The mist hung damp over the city as Maggie, Jeremy and I completed the final few kilometres to the steps of the famous cathedral. This was the fifth day of rain and mist and we rubbed shoulders with day-trippers and mobile phone camera users,while standing somewhat bewildered in the huge vacuum of anti-climax.

I burst into tears on discovering that it wasn’t possible to place my hand on the statue of St James anymore… That the Catholic Church inc. had turned the experience into a money making enterprise; payment being necessary. Some reward for more than seven hundred kilometres of walking. The noise, vulgarity and crude, blatant capitalist exploitation of simple pilgrims upset me greatly, leaving me wanting to keep walking towards Finisterre immediately.

Ah well, back to the true religion... Tree hugging!

Ah well, back to the true religion… Tree hugging!

As I sat in the drizzle on the steps of the cathedral, my mind drifted back to all the memorable events and incredible folk who I have shared this Camino with. However I always knew that my heart would belong in that odd little Donativo run by the Saint David just before Astorga, ‘La Casa de Los Dioses’, where we huddled together by an open fire as the wind sung in sympathy. As we sat and quietly talked, it became apparent to me that this was my ‘Santiago’, and that nothing would come near this moment.

The mighty, male-dominating, dogmatic religions of the world will never be able to take away the simple honesty and beauty of the human heart and its personal interpretation of spirit and soul. The sacred heart of Christ belongs to us, his people… The humble, simple, bereaved and dispossessed. Even the Bible says it… ‘Turn over a stone and you will find me there’.

All along the Camino, small stone altars stand to the memory of the millions who have passed this way, and each stone a small prayer to a loved one or a lost friend. Heart shaped stones of passion litter the path that runs beneath the Milky Way, and I am glad to have shared such a legacy to purity and truth. For me, it is the wild oceans and the towering mountains that are my church…

And so it is onwards to the end of the world… Fisterra.


About Viking Queen

I am a sailor and I live on my boat 'Free'. I have no home but originate from Tyneside. I have no allegiance, just a desire to do no harm and live with courage and an open heart.
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15 Responses to Santiago… Is that it?

  1. christain says:

    we have these dreams and expections and then disappointment but wow the building, pity the money thing is now there as know people will pay it, could you go at all to look around?

    • Viking Queen says:

      I did look around and in a worldly way it was very impressive. A triumph for tourism and a sad reflection of so-called spirituality in its religious form.

  2. Michael Murphy says:

    Keep going….

    Yours, Mike (in Lille)

  3. Niamh says:

    I made it to Finesterre with the ashes of five of my pups that had died over the years to throw into the water…I enjoyed being with friends in Finesterre but I think felt as you do in Santiago…
    it was not the resting place for my pups…I continued on to Muxia for just one night. Stayed in Bella Muxia there and that was my end…

    Buen Camino Poppy!
    You’ve done great!

    • Viking Queen says:

      Thanks for you understanding Niamh. At least it isn’t just me. I felt a little foolish in the rain among all the mobiles. The noise was horrendous and frightening. What a lovely thing you did. I appreciate you sharing….

  4. Lynda Hulme says:

    Oh Poppy, you’ve made me cry! I feel for you, I really do sweetheart. What ups and downs you have had on this journey but you are made of strong stuff (coming from the North of England!) What a disappointing finale for you. Oh well, onwards and upwards my little friend. God Bless. Lynda xxx

    • Viking Queen says:

      I know, big sister… I wanted it too much maybe? I still believe in fairy tales, see? Ah well, onwards to Fistera and the end of the world!

  5. Well said, Poppy. It is so disappointing. Modern vulgarity.

    • Viking Queen says:

      Yes, right down to the ugly scaffolding over the entrance… I should have known better to expect that pilgrims matter to the Catholic Church.

  6. cornishtim says:

    And you are there at a quiet time! Imagine arriving in August with the tour busses, the three day hikers, the posing ‘pilgrims’ etc. It must take a great effort to accept that eveyone’s reason for being there is valid. Hope at Finisterre you can throw those negative feelings into the sea.

    • Viking Queen says:

      Good point Tim, I did consider it… You wouldn’t get me within ten miles of the place. It’s just not me…. I can only be honest with you.

    • Viking Queen says:

      I tried so hard Tim… I really did, but in the end I decided to say it as I found it… It’s rubbish.

      Thank goodness for Fisterra and Muxia. As you say, a chance to wash this all out of my hair…

  7. markp says:

    I’m in full agreement with your comments. Be kind to yourself. markp

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