Wednesday, May 5, 2010
Day 36 Arca - Santiago (April 23)
We got up, showered, and were on the road by 8. We stopped immediately for a coffee. We saw a few familiar faces on the way ; young Annie and Andy. The weather is quite overcast and the path is moist dirt - not mud. Just outside of Arca we had a little bit of an ascent and then we paralleled the airport for a while. We passed a bar so we stopped for a cafe con leche, as someone mentioned it might be the last place to stop before Santiago. The way to Santiago is very crowded. About 4 km from Santiago it started to drizzle. We walked past a fairly large nature preserve. As we did we ran into Tomas, Luis, and Enrique. We walked with them for a while then they stopped for something to eat and we kept going and going and going. We didn't stop again until we reached the cathedral. It is a long walk to the cathedral once you arrive in the city. As we got closer we saw the 2 Spanish women. They had just gotten their compostelas and were so happy. They told us there was no line. We saw Urtzi, the young Mexican couple and their friend- all of them had their compostelas and pointed us in the direction of the pilgrim office. As we worked our way there we saw Dieter. He was the first Pilgrim we had met way back in Valcarlos and to end our pilgrimage together in Santiago was just perfect. We had a short celebration and then the three of us went to the pilgrim office together and got our compostelas. Next we checked our backpacks for 1 euro and got in line to enter the cathedral. We waited for about an hour to hug the statue and see the saint's tomb where we left the prayers and intentions written by our friends and family members. While we were waiting on line we saw Kaija, our Finnish friend. Dieter needed to find a place to sleep for 2 nights so we went to the tourist office and they were no help. Cullen remembered seeing the Pilgrim Travel Center on our walk into the city so we went there and they gave us a couple of places to check and they also told us getting rooms was very difficult because the Iceland volcano had caused a lot people to postpone their departure from Santiago until air travel resumed. We were able to help Dieter find a place for 2 nights. We had made a reservation for ourselves for 1 night at the Hostal Girasol, but had trouble getting a place for the second night. After calling a dozen places we went back to the tourist office and they suggested we go to the Santiago Office of Tourism and indeed they were very helpful in finding us a room at the Hotel Windsor. Once that was settled we walked around the city and ran into Tomas, Luis, and Enrique. Tomas suggested we have dinner at the El Pasaje restaurant, which we did. It was expensive, but delicious and we thought we should treat ourselves and celebrate our successful pilgrimage. Right before we left we saw Tomas, Luis and Enrique come in for dinner. Hopefully they did not spend as much as us!! We're looking forward to attending the pilgrim mass tomorrow.