And so, on the thirty-fifth day, God gave us a lie-in, rest and relaxation, and all is good with the world (well, it’s very good in my world, and that is all that counts for today!)
Ella and I purchased breakfast supplies and ate them on a sunny bench by the harbour. I then left her to walk to the beach at the entrance to town. a two kilometer stretch of white sand, backed by sand dunes and covered with sea shells.
It must be every pilgrim’s duty to search for their own scallop shell as a reminder of reaching the end of the world. There are plenty of the domed shells, but almost none of the flat ones. I have managed to find two incomplete ones and one which is pristine, albeit very small. It will do for me, unless of course I find a bigger one, when I continue my stroll along the beach. I have collected a few additional pretty shiny shells for my grandson Mikey, but I doubt he will appreciate them.
The scallop shell is the symbol of the camino de Santiago, and is given to pilgrims by the pilgrim office in St Jean Pied de Port. According to one version:
……….After James’ death, his disciples shipped his body to the Iberian Peninsula to be buried in what is now Santiago. Off the coast of Spain a heavy storm hit the ship, and the body was lost to the ocean. After some time, however, the body washed ashore undamaged, covered in scallops.
The scallop shell also acts as a metaphor. The grooves in the shell, which come together at a single point, represent the various routes pilgrims traveled, eventually arriving at a single destination: the tomb of James in Santiago de Compostela. The shell is also a metaphor for the pilgrim. As the waves of the ocean wash scallop shells up on the shores of Galicia, God’s hand also guides the pilgrims to Santiago.
The scallop shell also served practical purposes for pilgrims on the Camino de Santiago. The shell was the right size for gathering water to drink or for eating out of as a makeshift bowl.…….
I think I would be rather hungry and thirsty if I depended on the shells I found this morning to serve as eating and drinking utensils.
After such an arduous search, I had to stop and lie down in the sunshine to recover. I changed out of my trousers and into the denim shorts that I have carried for about 950 km and have only now put on for the first time. There are very few people here, just a handful, and it is fabulous. Tomorrow we return to the city and I am making the most of this wonderful solitude with the sound of the sea lapping thirty metres away, and nothing else to disturb the peace other than occasional birdsong.
After an hour or so I make my way to the far end of the beach – just because it’s there and I can. It was lovely walking across the deserted sand and I must make the effort to visit the beach more often when I return home.
I turned and sauntered back towards the town to see if I could find Ella, and lo and behold she was sitting on the sunny terrace of a harbour side bar/restaurant with Sheila. I joined them and had a glass or two of wine and a menu del dia consisting of calamares, followed by grilled fish and ice cream. Way too much for lunch and I could only eat half the fish.
I left the girls and returned to the albergue to send off yesterday’s post and suddenly felt completely drained and fell into bed for a siesta, the first that I can remember in five weeks. It just goes to prove the point that doing nothing is exhausting.
I was planning to catch the sunset again tonight but couldn’t summon the energy. Been there – done that – and have the photos to prove it!