Post 50 – July 19, 2016 – Every person’s happiness is different. Oh, please, be different.

The Camino de Santiago,
 the del Norte/Primitivo route.
Spain: From Irun to Santiago de Compostela, 530 miles.
Post 50; July 19, 2016, Tuesday.
Day 35: Arrived!! In Santiago. 11:34 a.m.
Every person’s happiness is different. Oh, please, be different.

 For me, happiness was always something that quickly morphed into wanting to do something important.
 But you can’t say that because it sounds presumptuous. And everyone around me criticizes because I can’t just . . . be happy. Happiness should just sit out there by itself, enjoying it’s own fruits untarnished by any other connection. To anything.
 So, surrounded by such great friends, I have to be quiet. But, there again, being “quiet” is not right either, because there’s something wrong, obviously. But, usually there isn’t. There’s calm.
 And, it’s okay.
 . . . I just had that sidebar discussion with a pilgrim friend as we have drinks together.
 And so, I sit here with my great friends, and we laugh and laugh, because there are endless stories to tell when . . . so many people, separately made a decision to take on a great adventure, all by themselves, and yet ended up in an amazingly cohesive group that: walked, trekked, and hiked together, and talked endlessly because you are on the path together for hours and hours, ate together pilgrims meals, washed your clothes together, slept together sandwiched into little albergues that were awesome at times and disgusting at other times, and soothed each other when all of us suffered from blisters, sore sore sore feet, ankles, legs, and other body parts, suffered mentally from the long long durations of endless walking on hot hot hot paths and roads, or suffered from endless rain pounding on us, soaking us, buffeting us with wind and chill chill chill, and tears at times from still seeing such a long road ahead, and a town with no beds, no place to stay, so . . . you still must go on . . . really?, but I can’t, we can’t . . . and we help each other, encourage each other, and mentally we’re all working on something to improve our life and we talk about it endlessly so we can see the pattern of what we say so we can test it a little to make sure it sounds right, and if it does you know you’re onto something . . . and then more and more sets in, and you know you want so much from your personal decision, so nothing’s going to stop you
 from making it,
 to . . . Santiago.

 And so it was that on Tuesday, July 19th, 2016 at 11:34 a.m. seven people were among the many many pilgrims walking into Santiago, with other non-pilgrims everywhere, music everywhere, sounds and smells, and enormous sites to see, and buildings that took hundreds and hundreds of years to build and yet, really? . . . these buildings are still being built, or refurbished, indeed, there is still scaffolding on the great Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela, which makes sense to us because our lives will always be . . . being built, refurbished and hopefully improved. Time to clean it up again.
 And so, we stood in front of the great Cathedral and thanked each other for helping us
 make it.

 and they were:
 1. Carole Schusselé, born Geneva, Switzerland, lives in Geneva Switzerland;
 2. Christina Antonarakis, born in Baltimore, Maryland, USA, lives in Geneva, Switzerland;
 3. Léo Schlienger, born Mulhouse, France, lives in Uffholtz, France;
 4. Carlos de la Cámara, born Miami Florida, lives in Coral Cables, Florida, USA;
 5. Willis Ochs, born Scharypowo, Russian Republic, lives in Regensburg, Germany;
 6. Serge Putavy, born Lyon, France, lives in Meyzieu, France;
 7. me.

 We barely had ten minutes to be . . . in the square in front of the Cathedral before the church bells began to clang clang clang telling us all to come to the 12:00 noon pilgrims’ mass right now, so we had to rush to check our backpacks into security, the backpacks we have lived out of for five weeks, our whole lives are in those backpacks, but we checked them in, so we could get in line to get into the church and the mass started on time at noon, and before we knew it . . . we knew that we had definitely arrived. Amen.
 And once inside the church there was singing, and praying, and a nun and then a priest speaking, in Spanish of course, and we listened, but eventually joined the line, or were drawn to the line that had formed to hug the statue of St. James, and so we were quiet, Carole, Christina, Serge and me as we walked the portion of the church that led to those incredible marble steps worn smooth by so many pilgrims over hundreds of years ascending the steps to go right behind the altar, during the service, to hug ever so briefly . . . St. James, express your thanks and private petitions, and then walk down the steps and under the altar where his remains are buried, and where we kneeled down, and carried on with what we wanted to privately express, all four of us, still in our pilgrim clothes, but, finally without backpacks, and then we went back up to the church, and for me, . . . renewed again, and ready . . . to start, my next Camino.
 And that’s what we talk about. When you finish your journey along the Camino de Santiago, you are really just starting your next Camino, which I think will be much easier, especially after this, my second Camino de Santiago. To end this Camino is to start the next, and we know exactly what that’s all about.

 And then we run into another Camino friend, Friederike Häuser, born Mainz, Germany, lives in Mainz, Germany who leads all of us to where we get our Compostelas. And we each get two, the official one, and one that confirms that we trekked 850 Kms, all the way from Irun to Santiago. Our proof and confirmation that we did this great journey, which for all of us was so physical, mental, and spiritual, and set the stage to do the next one.
 Then, lunch with all of us, including Friederike, and our Spanish friends, Maria Espejo and Pablo Pérez, both living in Jerez de la Frontera, Spain. We ate lunch by the side entrance of the great Cathedral. And more Camino friends came by . . . .
 The sidebars are what I like. The little mini discussions with the person next to you. One pilgrim said, the bottom line is that you cannot learn anywhere else what you learn by traveling the pilgrims’ way on the Camino de Santiago. And no further explanation is needed. And another pilgrim says again: tomorrow, my next Camino starts. And no further explanation is needed. And another pilgrim says I’ve never been happier than I am right now, in this moment . . .

 and every person’s happiness is different, and
 every person’s Camino is . . .
 Oh, please . . . be different.

 You start your next Camino by starting it, and keep going. And so, that’s what I did today. And, I hugged St. James. And it was good.
 . . . .

Arrival, Carole, Me, Willi, Carlos, Leo, Christina, and Serge

Last day of the trek to Santiago

Early morning trekking to Santiago

Inside the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela