The End of the World

On this long walk, I have only had one day with heavy rain and another morning with a couple of showers. That's it for rain! How lucky can one be?

Last night the rain came …… all night long!

But ……… while I was having breakfast ……. it stopped!

I was enjoying calm winds and brilliant sunshine for my 9km walk to The end of the World and back.

A statue of a medieval pilgrim is placed at a prominent place along the road. Unfortunately the features are in shadow.

 

The lighthouse Faro at The end of the World. Modern technology has made it redundant, but it still operates as a tracking station for shipping.

Sitting at The End of the World enjoying the day and thinking about the Camino and my life.

I feel very contented and loved.

For modern day pilgrims it has become a ritual to burn an item of old clothing or some written statement that includes attachments or habits no longer wanted or needed. The ashes of our past actions will then blow away “so that, like the Phoenix, we can arise anew and fly to ever greater heights”

There is a Peace Pole and according to John Brierley:

“Owing to its pagan past Finisterre has been largely excluded from the Samtiago story. But this exclusion has allowed Finisterre the freedom to become a beacon of light to welcome all people in its universal embrace. This inclusivity is evidenced by the planting of one of the first Peace Poles in Spain into the solid rock at the lighthouse. This internationally recognised symbol of the hopes and dreams of the entire human family stands vigil in silent prayer for universal peace”.

 

There are several monuments and plaques to the violent discovery of the Americas by European explorers. This one relates to Argentina, but unfortunately I don't understand the writing.

Here in Finisterre, there is a certificate available, equivalent to the Compostella in Santiago. This is only for people that have walked from Santiago to Finisterre. If you came by bus, you are out of luck. Some effort needs to be exerted to qualify. It is called a Fisterrana, and here is mine..

 

I am going to retire my boots and walking poles. Both pairs are totally warn out. They have given me excellent service on The 220 km Larapinta Trail, The 1000 km Bibbulmun Trail, the 100 km Great Ocean Road Walk trail and now nearly 900 km from France to The End of the World.

It would have been appropriate to leave them on the rocks with other people's items of clothes, boots etc., but I needed the boots to walk back. I will, however, leave them here at Finisterre.

There is not much rubber left on those heels, and the points on the poles were a couple of centimetres long …. once.

 

This also means the end of this blog. Tomorrow I catch a bus back to Santiago and the following day I fly to London for a week before going home to Perth.

 

The scallop shell is coming home with me. It's a Camino symbol most pilgrims display somewhere on their pack or panniers. I bought mine in St Jean Pied de Port and carried it on the outside of my backpack all the way to the end.

 

 

Posted in Uncategorized | 4 Comments

Cee to Finisterre

There was no hurry today – only 13 km to walk.

I took my time having breakfast and then made a detour along the bay of Cee to a neighbouring town called Corcubion. The weather was glorious sunshine and I just wanted to enjoy the day.

 

Once I had climbed the steep path up away from the bay, I had my first view of the lighthouse at Finisterre. My goal for tomorrow.

 

One of the small towns along the coast was called Sardinero and it was right on a little beach. I found a bar and enjoyed a coffee whilst taking in the bay, the beach, the sand and the sound and smells associated with this place. It was hard to leave this beautiful beach, but in the end I had to move on.

Finisterre, there it is! I can almost touch it!

 

I had a choice over the last 2.5 km. I could go on a boardwalk which followed the road, or I could walk on the beach right into Finisterre. You guessed it! I went down on the beach and slowly ambled my way to the end point of the Camino in the middle of town.

 

 

 

…………. and I was there!

I had reached the end of the Camino. I didn't actually find any marker to say this was it, but it didn't matter. I knew. And to arrive on a glorious sunny day was simply magic.

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Abeleiroas to Cee

There were two interesting sections today. Walking across the Galician 'morse' and coming into Cee.

The weather was misty rain which cleared half way through the day and finishing with lovely sunshine

 

This area is associated with the mythical Vakner, according to my guidebook.

“The Vakner is a terrifying creature, man-like, of a malignant nature, that lives like a troglodyte in the deepest and densest parts of the forests. It is suggested this mythical creature was used by the early Church to discourage the practice of pagan rites here.”

 

John Brierly, who wrote the guidebook goes on:

“When you are travelling at night in Galicia, you may in certain marshy places see flickering lights which dart here and there over the mournful landscape. You must now be very careful. It may be that you will find an invisible presence trying to place a lighted candle in your hand, and should you open your hand to accept it, you are lost – you have joined the Holy Company of Souls condemned to wander about purgatory with lighted candles until they can thrust their candle into the hand of some unsuspecting stranger. So it can happen that you may simply disappear from life and spend an eternity trying to get rid of your candle, haunting the moorlands and the waste places where the ghostly lights flicker, until at last you can lure some human being into the Holy Company and escape yourself”

Fortunately I didn't see any flickering lights or strange creatures.

 

Just granite rocks ……

Pretty flowers …..

 

And an entrepreneur trying to make a buck from passing pilgrims over this 12 – 15 km stretch without bars for coffee or food.

I also saw lots of eucalyptus trees and even a bottlebrush! How did it get here?

 

This way to The End!

 

But first the ocean and Cee way down below

 

 

It was very pretty walking down a very steep and rocky path from the highlands and straight into the seaside town of Cee. Beautiful town and harbour!

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Negreira to Abeleiroas

Many people walk from Negreira to Finisterre in two days. My plan was to do it in three and that was comfortable. I later met people that covered the 65 km distance in two days, and they were exhausted.

The guidebook is totally void of anything special to see or note on this first section, and I didn't see anything noteworthy either.

There were some pretty sections through forests and the weather was perfect for walking – cool and overcast.

 

Instead of bridges, churches and crosses, here are some more horreos – just for fun.


 

And a cemetery.

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Santiago to Negreira

I have become used to morning fog in these parts of Spain. This morning it was quite pretty looking back at Santiago and seeing the Cathedral all shrouded in mist.

On the day I walked into Palas de Rei I heard a lot of intermittent gun shots or firecrackers. This was June the 19th and someone explained to me that this was part of their Corpus Christi celebrations.

That's nice, but this morning the 24th I heard and saw daytime fireworks going through the valley near Villastrexe. There was also bagpipe music being played. Did this relate to Corpus Christi? No, the date was wrong, so what was it? A birthday perhaps? I never found out, but it was really nice to observe and experience. The fireworks was about every five minutes and went on for at least an hour – the time it took me to walk through the valley – and probably much longer.

 

This medieval bridge stretches over the Rio Tambre in Ponte Maceira.

The small town is one of the best preserved in Galicia with fine mansions lining the river bank and houses with armorial shields.

There is a legend relating to this bridge claiming that God destroyed the bridge in a single stroke to prevent Roman soldiers based at Dugium (Duio in Fisterra) pursuing the followers of St. James.

This enduring myth lives on in the coat of arms of the local council.

There is another legend relating to the heavy stone walls of the 14th C Pazo at Chancela de Abaixo. The Lord of this manor house left his son in the care of a nurse while he went on a crusade against the Moors. When he returned, he learnt that his son had drowned in the Rio Tambre. He demanded the nurse be beheaded and at the moment the axe fell her husband also knelt with her and both were decapitated together. They were buried amongst the pine trees and it is said the sighing of the pines here reflects their last embrace.

I believe these are the said stone walls.

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Santiago

Last night I caught up with my Braziliand friend and she took me to the place where I could pick up my Compostela, the certificate issued on completion of the pilgrimage to Santiago.


I was a little tired by then and didn't pay attention to what was written on my certificate.

 



It has my name as Helenam Bolton

I believe the document is in Latin, so perhaps this is how my name is written in Latin? Or is it an error?

I also got a certificate for distance walked (775km), and here my name is written correctly. Same person, one certificate after the other!

 

Every 100 years the Francistern order produces their own 'Compostela' to celebrate the pilgrimage of Saint Francis of Assisi to Santiago, which happened in 1214 – 800 years ago, and so this certificate is available this year (and there won't be another one until 2114).

So, here is mine

 

L

The monk, who issued the certificate and who allowed me to take his photograph, wouldn't sit still

Back in the Cathedral, it was a lot quieter than yesterday – better timing.

 

This is the back of a sculpture of Saint James, which is behind the altar, and visitors can actually touch the sculpture. In the past pilgrims would go and touch or kiss the foot of Saint James on a different sculpture. This has now been stopped as hundreds of years of pilgrim touches were starting to show. This sculpture is now at the entrance that is being renovated and it is situated too high to touch.

 

 

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

O Pedrouzo to Santiago

The day started with fog, just like the last few days.

Clouds in the valley

This poem was written under a bridge, a favourite place for graffiti artists and poets.

But I finally got there …… There was a welcoming bagpiper at the stairs leading into the Cathedral square. This I later noticed went on all say every day. Not the same piper and drummer of course. There appeared to be a roster system in place. I am sure the buskers made good money.

Just discovered that I can't upload the video to my blog. What a shame! If I find a way later on, I will update this post.

Unfortunately there was scaffolding covering a big part of the Cathedral but at 11am there were already pilgrims milling about, on foot or with their bikes.

 

A tired pilgrim with his loyal dog. Note the 'boots' the dog is wearing to protect his paws.

I made it to my hotel to deposit my backpack, which could not be taken into the Cathedral, and back for the daily pilgrim mass at 12 o'clock. However, I missed out on a seat. This did not matter for instead I lined up close to where I thought the action would take place.

By action, I didn't mean the priests, but the swinging of the Botafumeiro, which I am sure most of the pilgrims were there to watch.

I did, of course accept the blessing and the forgiving of all past sins.

 

But the Botafumeiro …….. that was really special to see. Again I recorded a little video, which I will add later if possible.

In the past, there were several churches in Galicia with such large smoke expeller, but I believe this is the only surviving one. The thurible has been replaced several times over the years, but the current pulley mechanism was installed in 1604. The ropes have also been replaced many times. I have read of accounts where the Butafumero came off the ropes and landed at the foot of royalty and another time where it went through a stained glass window and landed on a plaza outside.

The reason for the Botafumero was apparently to reduce the spread of disease and of course to sweeten the air. Historically pilgrims did not have opportunities to wash very much during their journey from home to Santiago.

The current Botafumeiro weighs 80kg when filled with its cargo and measures 1.6m in height.

The cargo consists of 40kg of charcoal and incense.

The current one is silver plated over an alloy of brass and bronze.

It costs about 250 Euro for each performance, so is not swung at every pilgrim mass. However, it does happen every Sunday (my reason to hurry back to the Cathedral this particular day, Sunday the 22 of June 2014). Many people also pay the church to see the smoke expeller in action on other days.

The top swing can reach 21 meters in height and it swings in an arch of 65 meters.

The Botafumeiro at rest the following day.

This explanation does not do it justice, it needs to be seen to be believed.

 

 

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment