Past Challenges,  Santiago 2018

30th June 2018

Dear Humphrey

Well, apart from getting to the bus station and then to the airport and persuading Ryanair to take my faithful stick on board, the journey is over.

I am overwhelmed by the support I have received and the donations coming in. It all seems a little unreal. Many others including my dear brother Tom have covered this distance and much more. Indeed the supervisor in the office in Santiago handing out the certificates said to the lovely lady from Ireland who was producing mine for 2400 kms, ‘we get one of these every ten days’. Well I am pleased to be part of that ‘elite’ if it means more profile for the Carers. We still have got some way to go so don’t let that put you off. For these purposes I am prepared to accept any suggestions of being a ‘real hero’!

Now I should say that I write this after a wonderful celebratory lunch with friends most recently met, including Lewis from Bolton whom I met when  lost about three days ago,  and then a small team he had befriended and to whom he introduced me on arrival in Santiago. Then there is Matt the Kiwi professional rugby player whom I first met in St Jean  Pied de Port and guided out of there up the Pyrenees. I had not seen him  for two weeks since when he had met up with a beautiful Texan Lauren. What a delight to see him here. I had beaten him in by 24 hours I am proud to say! The Camino has a strange way of ensuring it all ends on a positive note.

This morning I bumped into Chris the Indonesian who now lives in Sweden and he guided me to a haircutter! Also I went to my favourite cafe to get breakfast. From there one one can see new arrivals coming through and who should be there but my hardened French ‘Caminadors’ whom I have introduced before.

Yesterday on the day of my arrival it was, by choice, a very low key affair. I met a lovely Scotsman who works for the BBC in Glasgow on the way in. He has done a number of different  Caminos and had the grace having taken my photograph nearing the end

to allow me to enter the square on my own understanding that it is a pretty emotional moment.

Thereafter it was time to oneself for a while reading all the wonderful messages from you all and trying to understand why, as it all seems a little unreal. I am here but how on earth did that happen!!

Thereafter I joined the queue (40 mins) to get my Compostelle (proof of distance) And then wandering out to find Lewis ftom Bolton keen to introduce me to all his mates and give me a drink!

Eventually I found my air B&B booked by Edwina. Great! Off with the back pack and into a lovely shower and then to the Cathedral for Mass and that angelic singing.

I wish I could insert the music but that defeats me!

On my way back to the B&B about 10 pm in the rain I saw in amongst a crowd of people enjoying the evening an older lady with a back pack making her way in. I am ashamed to say I did not think quickly enough to cheer her on her way. I hope she had someone to greet her and a bed to go to.

But What a day and how well I slept!

Today I wondered what was I going to do, if not walking . Well after breakfast, a haircut and shopping, I bumped into the crowd with whom I had lunch and the ‘rest they say is history’!

I did attend the final mass this evening and the Bishop did say something in English which resonated.  He said all those who embark on a long journey do so with some trepidation and fear that the distance will overwhelm them, but if that journey has a destination and a purpose, step by step you will get there. And that just about says it all!

A Final Enough.

Thanks for all your support, Humphrey

your friend and master

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