We made it to Santiago de Compostela a couple of days ago. Honestly, arriving at the cathedral holding the remains of St. James was a little underwhelming. Maybe it's because I'm a bad Catholic, (due in part to the fact that I'm not Catholic), or maybe it was because the final 10 kilometers were through the industrial part of town and then through a congested city. Those certainly contributed, but I think the real reason I was nonplussed was that all of the pleasure of the pilgrimage was in the journey, not in arriving at the destination. I'm already scheming of a return trip to do more of el Camino.
We arrived the cathedral just in time for the lighting of the botafumera during the Pilgrims' Mass. The botafumera is a giant (5 ft tall) incense burner that they swing back and forth across the cathedral at the end of the Mass. If the rope it hangs from were to break it would certainly kill a few people. While it has it's spiritual meanings, it's size is attributed to it's effectiveness at masking the odor of all of those stinky pilgrims gathered in the pews. It worked quite well at that, but only for a little while.
Our final stop out of town was at the Pilgrims' office where we could get our final Credencials to prove we'd made it all the way. They were very serious about the affair, closely inspecting each stamp in our passports and asking us where we started, how much of it was done by bicycle, where we stayed, etc. I sweat more during the interview than during the ride.
Our pilgrim days aren't over yet. Next we're off to where it all began for more two-weeled pilgriming. Since we were going to Jerusalem I asked the priest at the cathedral in Santiago if he wanted me to take James' remains back to where they came from. I don't think he understood me because he got really mad and told me to get out of there. Must have been a language barrier.