Monday, February 11, 2013

Day 27, Santiago, part 2

After mass, we went to the Peregrino Center to get our official certificates, after showing our fully stamped credentials as proof.

Yena led us to a guest house she stated at after she finished the French route. There were 7 other Koreans there who all just finished the French route. Some looked like they'd just returned from war. I wondered if we looked the same to them. They'd almost all started individually but ended up at the same place mist nights. Among them were two recent high school graduates, doing the trip in winter before university starts in March. Gyueon was very impressed by them. I was too. I don't think I would have done that at that age. Others had recently completed their compulsory military service. They did it in the winter because they figured if they survived Korean military duty, they will have no problem with the French camino in winter.

We found out that a luxury restaurant next to the Cathedral feeds 10 peregrinos free. It sounded shady but Mark had three meals there last year. We took our hungry selves and our new certificates and went to the basement parking lot of the restaurant to meet the man in charge if free found. There were already 7 people there (including Mark, who was doing his own thing), we made 11. One German guy had started 5 months before from Germany!

There was some discussion about how to settle this. Three more people showed up. The German guy suggested that whoever had eaten here should step aside for those who hadn't yet (peregrinos can get three free meals). That disqualified him and 3 others. Problem solved. Free food guy came, gave a voucher and led us outside, through the main entrance, past the well-dressed patrons and posh tables, through the back, down a hallway, to a back room, totally our of sight of paying customers.

We went up some stairs to a private kitchen where a chef prepared cafeteria type food for us. We put it on trays, grabbed wine (and stuffed our pockets with fresh fruit) and enjoyed a nice meal back downstairs. I counted. Somehow an eleventh pilgrim had snuck in.

After, Mark stopped by our guesthouse to have a glass of champagne. We toasted to new friends and adventure.

But we did not toast to the end.

Traditionally, most pilgrims, seeking closure and a peaceful end to the journey continue to the sea, to Fisterra or Muxia, or both (adding up to 111 km and 5 days of walking).

Mark and Yena (individually) were leaving tomorrow, going to Muxia then Fisterra (4 days). We were taking a day off then walking to Fisterra (3 days) and possibly Muxia. We didn't realize at the time that we'd see Mark and Yena in Fisterra.

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