Monday, May 05, 2003

October 29, 2001
Santiago (sunny)

After the pilgrim's breakfast at the hotel with B, Z AE, AG, and L (the French girl), MC and I walk to the train station. We stop at the English bookstore and I buy a book for the train. When we get to the station we find an office that helps travelers plan their train trips. You just tell them where you want to go to and they will figure out how to get you there. When I reach the counter I tell the man sitting behind it I want to go to Masstricht in the Netherlands. He makes a quick grunting noise and picks up a paperbound book of train schedules and flips through it. Why do I have the feeling that this is going to turn into the same experience I had at the Pilgrim Office.? He sets the book down and gets a key out of his pocket, pushes his chair over to a side cabinet, unlocks the door, and pulls out a laptop computer. He works at the computer for about ten minutes, writes for another five minutes, and then hands me a stack of tickets.

I leave Santiago tomorrow morning at 900A and arrive at the Spanish/French border town of Hendaye at 850P. Then at 1045P I board the overnight train to Paris arriving in Paris at 710A the next morning. Since I have to go to another Paris train station to continue my journey, I hop on the Metro to the Gare du Nord station. When I get there I will catch another train to Lille, Flanders that leaves at 858A and arrives at Lille at 1000A. Then I catch the 1025A train to Liege, Belgium, arriving at 100P, where I connect with my last train, the 119P train to Masstricht, arriving in Masstricht at 149P, where my sister will pick me up. The man has been kind enough to write this information out as a time line, all the destination points across the top of the paper, with the arrival and departure times underneath. Just look at this schedule makes my tired.

When we get back to the old city we meet some of the others for lunch at a cafe on the Plaza de Quintana behind the Cathedral. While we are talking J comes up and sits down looking very subdued. We all say hello to him. He is very quiet. Someone mentions that the airfares to Paris are very cheap. I put my hands over my ears and say, "I don't want to hear this. I just bought train tickets." J looks surprised and asks, 'We aren't going to drive back?" I tell him no that I want to get back to my sister's at quick as I can. He looks disappointed. Being a coward, I say nothing about how what happened last night has affected my decision. Later J tells B and me that he is leaving today to go to the airport and pick up a car to drive to Paris. We tell him we will meet him at the hotel when it is time for him to leave. We are both sorry that he thinks he has to leave earlier ( we all planned to leave tomorrow).

This afternoon I spend some time getting souvenirs for my family, calling my sister to let her know what time I will be arriving in Masstrict, buying food for the train, and walking around the old city. I still get lost because I have not figured out how to read the map I carry around. This is because I cannot get sense of which direction I am facing at anytime. I grew up in Denver, Colorado with the Rocky Mountains to the west and those mountains had a big influence on my sense of direction. Since I always knew where west was, I also knew which direction I was heading at anytime. Without the mountains to anchor me I am always getting lost. The other reason I am having difficulty with reading the map is because I have not figured out what street my hotel is on. All I know is that if I turn left after leaving the hotel I will reach the Plaza in front of the Cathedral.

I hang out in the Plaza in front of the Cathedral for part of the afternoon and see the Swiss boys, Ian and R, an Australian girl, F, who we crossed paths with along the way, and Tony. Tony is with the Swiss boys. When I go to congratulate them for making it to Santiago, Tony ignores me. How amusing.

After I see F I go back to the hotel with B where we meet J and start walking back to the Cathedral. He asks us to join him for a last cup of tea at a little bar near the hotel. We sit and share out last cups of tea together and then continue to the Plaza. When we reach the archway/tunnel at the side of the church we say goodbye. B and I watch for a minute as J walks away and then turn and make our way to the Plaza. B say she feel she should have walked J to the Camino Gate but we decide that since we did not meet until we each reached St. Jean, it is only right that we all go our own way when we each leave Santiago. B is catching a bus in the morning. We picked up her tickets at the bus station when we went to the Mall.

Our last meal together is a communal affair with, B, me, Z, AE, AG, MC, F, and a couple of other pilgrims we have met. After dinner we stop at a bar and have farewell drinks. We toast our first and last days on the walk. Then the party breaks up because the people staying in the refugio have to get back before the doors are locked for the night. B and I walk back toward the Cathedral and when we reach the tunnel I pull out the tin whistle I have been carrying. Everyday I have seen different musicians play for money while standing in the tunnel. They have all sounded great because of the acoustics of the space. When I heard them I made up my mind to play Amazing Grace here. I decided to do it tonight because it is my last night, and also because I knew no one would be around. So I play, and I sound good, and it is as fun as I thought it would be. After I am done B walks with me to my hotel and we say goodbye. As I watch her walk down the street I feel sad. We came together effortlessly at the beginning in St. Jean and we seem to be leaving Santiago the same way. This adds to the dream like feel of the walk for me.

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