Camino 17 – 4 October 2014 (Fin)
By Parson Thru
N’s alarm woke us at around half six in the morning. We needed to catch a bus to the airport. The flight was around ten.
We pulled on fresh clothes, brushed our teeth and packed our stuff away. Anything we still had that wouldn’t be going back with us was left by the bin.
Check-out was quick and easy – we dropped the key cards and said goodbye. I wasn’t sure what to do with my walking stick. It had been a gift from a café owner near Triacastela a week ago. It was old and battered and wasn’t collapsible like the modern ones, but it had seen me through real hardship – one of the greatest struggles of my life. It helped me to discover the depth of my physical and mental resources. The airline was unlikely to allow it on board – I wanted to pass it on to another pilgrim.
I looked around the darkened streets for somewhere to donate the stick. I could hear street cleaners working their way up. It seemed such a shame that it would end up being tossed into a refuse lorry. I couldn’t think what else to do, so left it on a bench in the street. The chances of it being found and used by someone were slim. It was more likely to be trashed by a street-cleaner. N urged me on towards the bus stop. My feet were sore as hell.
We took a final morning selfie.
There was silence as we left the city along the same route we’d entered with Kirsten, Ursula and Jurgen. I recognised the seat where we found John.
We began seeing peregrinos underneath trees to our right. They were making their way along the same broad pavement. They must have set off pretty early or perhaps arrived yesterday at one of the albergues just on the edge of Santiago.
The bus passed the end of the road that leads down from Monte del Gozo. We hadn’t seen Ziggy again after chatting to him there yesterday morning. He’d be bussing crossing France or Germany by now – soon to shave off his silver beard and hair and return to family life.
We were now off the Camino route for the first time in eleven days – no more peregrinos to be seen under the trees.
At the airport, a security man called N over. He gestured towards her walking-stick, collapsed down but sticking out of the top of her rucksack. We understood – it had to be checked into the hold. It wasn’t worth the cost. Reluctantly, N took it out and dropped it into a bin.
We gave each other’s hand a squeeze as we walked through into security.