Group 2 — Maureen, Savannah and Wesleee
Today was our last day in León and our last day before beginning the Camino proper. Since the start, we’ve been taking buses and trains from city to city, staying multiple nights in each place. But now the real pilgrimage begins. Our slow pace has been fun and has allowed us to explore in Barcelona, Roncesvalles, Burgos, and León. It’s given us time to relax and immerse ourselves in the local culture, get to know people, and stumble upon great holes-in-the-wall.
But all the while, our feet were itching to keep going. A pilgrimage means movement, moving on and moving forward. In the back of our minds, a call for progress cried out. We began this trip with a goal, and that goal refuses to be forgotten. It is Santiago.
It’s interesting because we’re still aware that the closer we get to Santiago, the sooner the trip will end. Saying goodbye to this place will certainly be difficult but it is also part of the journey.
As William Melczer explains:
“Pilgrimages are circular. Like sacred processions — whether around the Ka’aba in Mecca or with the Torah scrolls in the Synagogue or around German country-churches at Christmas — they are progressions in a circle — one comes in order to return, not in order to stay… All in all, the circular quality of the pilgrimage, of any pilgrimage, presupposes, on the level of human experience, nature’s essentially cyclic mode of regeneration: the two beat alternation of death and renewal…”
— The Pilgrim’s Guide to Santiago de Compostela
To embark means to move on and to move on means to finish and go home. We began it to end it, some of us even signing up for it with credit hours and major requirements in mind. Many had ideas of what we could get out of this trip, who they would be upon returning home. So here we are and the end of the beginning and the beginning of the end.
We started today by gorging ourselves for the second morning in a row with the delicious continental breakfast at Hotel Quindós. We all had some last minute things to take care of in León, knowing it would be our last day in a big city for nearly a week. Several of us wandered town in search of a postal drop to send off postcards to our loved ones at home. We wondered if our messages would beat us back to Florida.
At 2:45 pm, we boarded the train to Sarria. With the stopover in Monforte, we arrived close to 8:00 pm, tired from being cooped up all afternoon. As we sat at the hotel restaurant waiting for our dinner, we discussed our plans for the next morning — when we would wake, how long we would leave ourselves for breakfast, how we’d pace the hike. As we take in the cool evening, we wonder what is in store for us tomorrow on the trail. All we know for sure is that we’re anxious to get moving.