A good night’s sleep and one more night guaranteed in this room, then I have to move on. It looks as if it’s going to be a beautiful, clear day so no doubt warm to hot and I had a brief pang about not doing Finisterre but it passed very quickly. I could do a short loop to Padrón, where the stone boat that brought St. James’s body from the Middle East here, in a day or two according to the legend, beached. That’s only 20km.
However, the first act of this new era is to do what I failed to do yesterday: go and see the extraordinary cathedral and hug Saint Francis and then present my Credencial del Pelegrino at the Cathedral, actually, at the pilgrims’ office just behind the Cathedral, I now remember. That enables me, if they deem my voyage sufficient, to get it converted to a certificate. I think there’s important exploration left in these acts so the journey is certainly not over yet and here is my credencial.
It’s a concertina of eight pages of A6 size I think (hm, better check that, it’s about 6″ x 4″ in old units working on my old benchmark that my full hand/fingerspan is 9″). It opens up like this:
and you can see you get stamps from places you visit along the way.
The other side has some great maps (I confess, I hadn’t opened that side ’til now!)
The criteria for a “Compostela” include having done the last 100km if walking, or 200km if cycling. I think that’s in that second bullet point below.
I wonder if they’ve thought of electric bikes?! Perhaps more seriously, if this is some sort of criterion of effort, I think that walking/cycling ratio is very easy on cyclists: far easier to cycle 200km than walk 100km. Odd. Anyway, that prompted me to check and I’ve cycled 2,519.5 Garmin recorded kilometres so I guess I pass that criterion. I think they want to hear that there was some “spiritual” side to the journey which takes us back, importantly, to that discussion from earlier blogs and comments.
And that’s the other side of “it’s not over”. I’ve touched on this before but the cycling has been amazing, gruelling at times, and a vital and central part of this, as have all the sights and experiences, particularly the architecture. However, another side of this has, I will argue if they do want to explore it, undoubtedly been for me “spiritual” and a wonderful time to think and experience things like hymns and songs coming into my mind that weren’t random. I never thought I’d have a conversion experience and I haven’t I remain, as I sometimes used to put it “a confirmed agnostic”. I am musing still on something that struck me a few years back: that if I’ve had a belief system, a religion of sorts, it was a belief in the NHS and a commitment to it, and now I’m sort of lapsed NHS believer. That’s not true, I’m still a believer, I just have a deep disquiet with where the “organised church” of the NHS, actually the “organised church” of absurd faith in “market forces”, is taking it.
The whole process of digesting 34 days on the road (counting today and omitting the “divertissement” week with J) will take 34 weeks or 34 months, a lot of time certainly. Some of today’s continuing musing will be very much about how best to do that, or how best to let that happen.
OK. I’m off to find the cathedral and a quiet coffee somewhere (I just don’t do hotel breakfasts!) and see what happens.