As I neared Santiago, I could almost feel the excitement rising. Each arrow was one step closer. Once I got into the city, the arrows became hard to find, but I found two other pilgrims and we found our way together. I finally arrived at 11:55am. I couldn't believe it. I could barely walk but it was worth it. Lenny and Lydia had arrived just a few minutes before me and Lenny was on backpack duty. I dropped my bag with him and headed in to the pilgrims' mass in the cathedral. It's an incredible feeling to be in such a beautiful service designed for people just like me. However, I was so determined to get there that I hadn't stopped to drink or eat all morning. About 40 minutes into the service, I began to sway and get dizzy. I didn't want to pass out so I ended up leaving before it ended. This would've been fine but then I found out that they swung the pumaferia at the end!! (They only do it if people make a large donation and so seeing it is pretty much all chance. I missed it last year too.) I was sad, but I doubt I would've seen it anyway because I would've passed out. Haha
As I was walking back to Lenny, I saw Milou. She is Dutch, and we had parted ways the day before not knowing if we would see each other again. So we went to the pilgrims office together to get our Compastelas! The rest of the group (except the Italians) had arrived while I was in mass and were getting their Compastelas when we arrived at the office. It was so good to congratulate everyone and celebrate our arrival! The line took a while so by the time I was finished, the Italians had arrived and were in line! It's so fun to see pilgrims meeting up with friends from previous parts of the Camino. Such a special and unique experience. All the Italians and I gave hugs and enjoyed the feeling of arriving. You don't know it until it happens.
Some people from the group walked around, but I just sat and enjoyed the moment of finally being in the city. I didn't spend a single penny on souveiners (unless you count olive oil). We took pictures before heading to the albergue.
After mass, we all went to a restaurant near the cathedral and ate our last meal together. It was so fun but also sad because we knew it was the beginning of a lot of goodbyes. After we ate, Francesco and Magrone sang one last bout of "Good Morning!" with Alissa and me. (I got it on video. It's one of my favorites.) We said our sad goodbyes to the Italians before heading back. As we were walking back to the bus stop, there were men playing music so we stopped to dance. It was so fun to have one last night of celebration. We arrived back at the albergue and went to bed. It was a long day. But so so good. I still can't believe it's over.
Our friends who are continuing on to Finisterra.
Our friends who are traveling home.
Our group beginning to make our way back to the States via Porto.