24
Dec

7. Buen Camino: 00.00 km

   Posted by: aman   in Other

E had told me if I have a day I should go to Cape Finisterre. I was to leave the next afternoon for Frankfurt, so I had a whole day. I decided to visit the place which, before America was discovered, the medieval world considered the end of the world and associated with Celtic rituals in pre-Christian times. E had told me that is where pilgrims burnt their shoes. I had only one pair, but I decided to go see. The problem was the previous day I had twisted my ankle.

So I go to the bus station where no one speaks English. I buy a ticket I can’t read. I wait for a bus which I can’t identify. Yet, the bus comes, I hop in and we start. The view starts changing. Hills roll out, the Atlantic begins showing itself. The trees become orange-red. My eyes were stuck to the bus window as the bus moved closer to a full view of the immense Atlantic. We reached Finisterre and I started on my walk to the lighthouse. I hobbled rather, I was in pain from my ankle. As the water shone in the setting sun, as the sheer brilliance of nature overwhelmed me I was singing Kumar Gandharv’s: ‘Udd jayega hans akela, jag darshan ka mela.’ (The swan shall fly alone, this world is a festival of sights.)

At the Cape before the magnificent lighthouse, just after the Cross, I saw the milestone that said: Santiago 00.00 kms. This is where my journey ended, or began. I have no words to describe the view except to say that I got a sense that how, before organized religion started its influence on the world, humans here might have felt this was the beginning or the end of the world, of life on this planet. I kind of knew why I did the journey. For this, for this! To be here! Traditionally pilgrims burn their clothes and shows at this shrine. I had already divested myself of excess baggage, I removed my shoes and touched the water. They waters were cold, but they gave me warmth.

As I waited for the bus, Sam tapped me on my shoulder. ‘I am from Sweden. You?’

‘India. What brings you here?’

‘I am going blind.’ I stayed quiet. ‘I was a coach driver, drove for 35 years across Europe. Then last year I was laid off.’

‘Because of recession?’

‘No. because doctors detected Glaucoma. I am blind in the left eye by 90% and in the right by 60%. I take 10 drops and 5 pills each day.’

‘Then here?’

‘I wanted to do Santiago before I go completely blind. I started from my home, my doorstep. I am going to Portugal.’

‘What?’

‘Yes, three months. Across the Alps. 2400 kms.’

I had nothing to say. The bus came, I patted his back. We came back in silence. On different seats of the bus. That is a Camino, I thought to myself while my foot throbbed. What have I done?

The flight from Santiago to Barcelona to Frankfurt was delayed by three hours. I missed my train to Cologne. Then I discovered my baggage hadn’t arrived. When I finished filing my complaint with Lufthansa it was 11 PM. Though I had no place to go to, and it was night, and I had no friends in town, and I was hungry and tired, the only thing that I was concerned about was Edith’s bag and the Compostella certificate. Less the certificate, more the bag. Else, I had been here many times this week. I knew nothing, but I felt safe.

I came out and started chatting in Punjabi with some brown skin taxi drivers. It took us 5 minutes and a cigarette to discover that they and I, if in soldierly uniform, were supposed to be enemies, from across the border: Pakistani and Indian. But here we were human, just like each other. We talked politics, we talked floods in Pakistan.

A Turkish taxi driver joined us with a bottle of Raki. At oo.30 AM I told them I had no place to go to for the night. It was much colder here than in Spain. They took me to Hotel Ramada where I slept in a suite with 8 pillows in Euro 50.

Luxury! One week from my life. Luxury!

Thank you Santiago! You showed me something in my own heart – faith!

I had not known why my heart had desired to walk. I could give myself no logical reasons. Yet, I had walked and in the walking I had found my reasons to walk. Follow your heart and keep your faith, even in adverse times. Who knows you may find yourself blessed. :)

For Finisterre pics see …

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