10/14 – after finishing a Camino, many Pilgrims take a final step by visiting Finesterre (or Fisterra in Galician), the westernmost point of Spain that juts out into the Atlantic Ocean. Long before satellite photos proved otherwise, this point was thought to be the End of the Earth, otherwise known as the Coast of Death for all the ships that sunk off its rocky shore.
Some pilgrims leave the Cathedral in Santiago and walk the additional four days to Finesterre. Many more, including us, opt to take the bus. A two hour bus ride up a breathtakingly beautiful coast brought us to the little fishing town. You’ll have to take my word for the views, as the weather up here is gray, overcast and rainy most of the time.
We checked in to a pension at the top of a hill, Mirador Fin da Terra, that afforded us views of the mountains behind and the ocean below. The first evening, the rain stopped long enough for us to catch a glimpse of the setting sun.
Now here’s a story. I kept walking west toward the sunset, looking for the next great picture, assuming that Jim was behind me. When I turned around in the gathering dusk, Jim was nowhere to be seen. No prob, thought I, I’ll just retrace my steps back down the hill. I followed the road back, then realized this was not the road I had come up. Nothing looked familiar, and it was getting dark. I looked for a familiar landmark, and found none. So, what to do? Our pension was at the top of a hill, so if I walk up this hill, I should be able to see it, right? Nope. I walked up promising looking streets until I was well and truly lost. Don’t panic! I made my way back down toward the lights of town, thinking to retrace our steps from the bus station. I found the bus station, but couldn’t find the road we had taken. I asked for help at several hotels, and asked to use a phone, but no one was willing to help. (as we had only ducked out of our room to take pix, I didn’t have my bag or my phone, so no GPS).
Finally, I went into the German restaurant where we had eaten our lunch earlier, and explained my plight to the only waitress who spoke English. She told me to go up the road and tell the owner of the pension that it was too hard to find. I had no idea who the owner of the pension was, so the waitress left the restaurant with me, and walked me up the street to a shop. She introduced me to the little old woman behind the counter, and told her to show me the way home. The woman obligingly left her cash register and walked out into the dark, motioning me to follow. Ten minutes later, I could see the sign for the pension, and, thanking the woman profusely, made my way up the right hill.
Jim, meanwhile, had given up looking for me with a flashlight, and was preparing to call the police. He had my passport in his hand when I banged on the door to be let in. Looking at my watch, I had only been gone for an hour, but it was the longest hour of my life. Moral: never let Jim out of your sight!