Every day, we take anywhere between 29,000 and 36,000 steps, and that creates a whole lot of friction on the inner thighs. I walked like Tex Ritter around town, looking for something longer than bikini bottoms, but shorter than pantaloons, to wear under my hiking pants. But in Spain, where if a woman can’t wear a thong, she wears nothing. I had to resort to buying men’s underwear.
The saleswoman in the men’s department at the sporting goods store wrapped my purchase in a brown paper bag, wrote down the name of some "anti-friction crème", and pointed to a pharmacy nearby.
After determining exactly where the chafing was occurring (“Aqui?” the pharmacist asked, indicating halfway between the knee and the…not the knee. “Or Aqui?” she whispered indicating not the knee), I pointed to a spot nearer the knee, only higher, and explained through pantomime and Spanglish, that hiking the Camino all day, every day was causing the damage. “Ah!” she exclaimed with sudden empathy. Then she started doing the Salsa with incredible vigor in the middle of the pharmacy. Apparently, she had the exact same problem, but not from hiking. “Bailando!” she shouted. “Dancing!”
I loaded my backpack from a top bunk one last time, and crossed one last roman bridge. We were on our way. I felt melancholy that it would soon be over.
The final kilometer to the Cathedral is perfect. It winds up and down and around, keeping the Cathedral spires hidden from view until you are practically standing below them.
I walked in to see the Botafumeiro, the huge incense burner passing (flying!) just over the heads of the congregation through the entire transept. Whoosh!
The Botafumeiro hangs from ropes and an elaborate pulley system near the ceiling, 150 feet above. The sound it made, as the burner passed just feet from me, was incredible. Historically the Botafumeiro was used in the olden days, to exterminate the funk produced by all the heavily clothed pilgrims--some of whom had taken a year or more to walk from all over Europe to see the remains of St James. But seeing the incense burner in action, and feeling it as it flew overhead, moved me to tears.
“Shall we go get our Compostelas? You’ve earned an indulgence, you know,” Scott said.
If you hike the Camino in a Holy Year the Church rewards pilgrims an indulgence meaning, in the eyes of the Church, all sins are forgiven. I would be leaving Santiago with a “clean slate” so to speak.
“Are you kidding? I’m not going to turn that down! Let's go!” I said and we made our way to The Pilgrim Office nearby.
At the Office, one of ten officials checked our credentials, our pilgrim passports with the many stamps we received along the way proving we had walked The Way of St. James, and issued us Compostela certificates. Our certificates are different, because Scott went for the "Cultural Compostela".
“How was your journey?” asked the Church official as she filled in my name, in Latin. “It was really great." I replied wiping my tears. I could not stop crying! "And we arrived at the Cathedral in time to see the Botafumeiro fly.”
“You were very lucky!” she said. “The Botafumeiro only makes an appearance during special Feast Days, or if a group has made a large donation.”
Scott and Tris
Celebrating with champagne, Ruffles and chocolate, (as usual).