Saturday, October 11, 2008

The Pinball Method

I have returned to Santiago today by bus and am now staying at the ¨Other Albergue¨. That is, the Albergue that I didn´t stay at last time I stayed in Santiago. Queue Pink Floyd´s ¨Welcome to the Machine¨, because this place certainly is suffering from a lack of love and personality as well as possessing a scope so large that it would give cartographers nightmares. I mean, this place doesn´t just have levels, it has levels divided into sovereign territories. Finding my bed was a somewhat lengthy experience which require me to cross a great distance before I finally located it in Zone B of Level 2, Bed Number 2061, Serial Number x1123483.

The fact that I´m back in Santiago though means that this is my last night in Spain, and tomorrow I´ll be flitting across to Merry Old England, which I have been told has been voted the culture capital of the UK. I´m not sure what they are judging Liverpool against though to come up with a bold claim like that. Do they mean cultured compared to Paris or Rome, or did they deem it ¨cultured¨ by an English standard, which to be fair, isn´t something I go as far as to call culture at all?

We´ll see.

I arrived at my Albergue today after a short walk and a stop at a local Supermarket by something I call the Pinball Method. As I don´t actually speak enough Spanish to understand directions when given, and as most Spanish don´t actually speak English, I usually find my way from place to place by asking someone where my destination is, getting them to point me in the right direction, keep saying ¨Sie, Sie¨ until they finish giving me the directions and asking another person once I reach either an intersection, or a reasonable amount of time has passed. This usually works Ok as long as the place I´m after is fairly unique, and I know the name of it. I have discovered in the past that this method does fall through if you´re asking for something fairly general, like a Supermarket in a large city, as it can happen that each person will direct you to a different Supermarket. Hilarity ensues.

As for my walk to Finisterra, it was quite pleasant. I met a whole bunch of people that I had lost along the way on my way, as well some completely new people. This gave me a good chance to catch up, say goodbyes and spend more time walking which I´m getting a bit sick of at this point.

The walk to Finisterra was much less crowded than the walk to Santiago, as Santiago tends to weed out the majority of the pilgrims. This meant that the Albergues were much smaller, less crowded and it was much more peaceful on the road. I´ve also been told that it is only the ¨real¨ pilgrims that continue past Santiago. Considering I was planning to finish at Santiago, and only continued on to kill time for my filght I´m not sure I qualify. This does mean that after all that walking I now have two pieces of paper now from both Santiago and Finisterra to show for it. I believe the first certificate should hopefully shave 50 years of my purgatory, which is good news in any respect, though I´m hoping that this is transferable, as I think this that my grandmother would appreciate this a lot more than I would.

The end of the world is quite beautiful. If you´re wondering what I´m talking about here, the literal translation of Finisterra/Finsterra is ¨World´s End¨, which is somewhat fitting. After walking all the way past the lighthouse on the end of the cape, I watched the sun set over the sea with some other pilgrims and after, burnt my stick in what I´ve been told is the traditional pilgrim manner. One of the other pilgrims there also burnt a jacket they had that was falling apart, and another his diary as he felt it was a burden and no longer necessary. It was interesting to see what each person burnt, and what each person felt they no longer needed. It was quite amazing as well to see all that sea stretching in all directions, with no land in sight and watch the sun quietly slip below the horizon.

Considering I walked all the way to Finisterra, and including my backtracking down the camino, I have actually walked a little over 1000km total, which is a nice roundish number. The sandels I started walking with are definately showing the wear of walking this distance with only a few scraps of material remaining on the place where my feet rest, and the soles looking a bit worse for wear. I´ve fairly happy with them, as considering what they were required to do, they have definately gone above and beyond the call of duty for a pair of 20 euro sandels.

So, onwards to England then, and in a few days, back to Australia which is pretty exciting. A whole new adventure, and one that doesn´t necesarrily require me to settle down or stay in the country. Should be fun to see what happens.

I never actually met up with that guy that emailed me. Was too fatigued when I arrived the first time in Santiago to move much from my bed, and I arrived by bus too late tonight for me to think about doing anything that required actual effort without good reason. As I lost all but one of my t-shirts and as I am currently wearing a woman´s shirt that I found by the side of the road which is a few sizes too small, bright green and covered in butterflys to boot, it´s probably for the best. I´ve found a box of abandoned gear in this Albergue though, so I´m thinking of checking it out to see if they have any boy clothes in there that I can liberate.

Anyway, see you later. This is Andrew, signing off.

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