Ok, once again I have learned that you must not judge by appearances. We spent a torturous night at the Sisters of Poverty; between mosquito bites, a rock hard bed and the heat, it was cruel... We even left the door to our room open in hopes of a cross draft, but to no avail. Both Sylvia and Gisella got up twice each to have cold showers... I must have been sleeping then because I didn't even know they had gotten up. But as I mentioned, I have very good ear plugs so I don't hear much.
We were up at 0600 anyway, and on the final leg to Rome half an hour later. As expected, our walk today was almost exclusively on the road and it wasn't long before I was dialled in to my music, paying attention only to the VF senales and traffic as required. There was really nothing to see until we got a park about 5 km from St Peter's Square and then....wow, from the height we were at, all of Rome lay before us. It was a nice moment for everyone and the last bit of peace that we would encounter all day. Soon we were making our way down and through the crowded streets for St Peter's to get our testimoniums and attend the Mass there at 1200. Not being a Catholic, for me it was more of a cultural observation than anything else. One of the things I noticed was the all folks working there. First, they were all men, there were a lot of them and, they were all very good looking!
The Vat Pack, as I thought of them, came by way of Vatican Police, Clothing Monitors (your shoulders and legs must be covered or you will be turned back), Administrative Officers, Lay Priests, Priests, Money Collectors and other general Dogs Bodies. They were all beautifully turned out, as well. A spiffy bunch and altogether handsome! Do you think it is intentional that they hire all these handsome men, or have I been on the road too long?
After the rituals were over we walked to our Albergue, yet another run by the Confraternita di san Jacabo di Compostella, the famous foot washing hospitaleros. This time I was prepared for the rituals and immediately accepted the offer of refreshment from the Hospitalero who met us at the door. Bruno, who closely resembles someone from a painting by Rapheal and Father Christmas, served us lemon and mint water. As a result of compliance, the entire signing in process was much faster and I was able to get myself into the shower in a reasonable time. I am learning, albeit slowly. And, to my delight the 1 kilo package I posted from Siena was here for me, meaning I had something clean to wear! Maybe next time I will choose a hotel, but here there is the company of my fellow pelligrini, and a very nice meal prepared by one of the hospitaleros, not to mention a stifling dormitory. Much better than an air conditioned hotel room, and as it turns out, technology has prevailed here and we have a fan in the room. Perhaps tonight we will not be bathed in sweat afterall.
For all intents and purposes, the walk is over. I feel happy, relaxed, sunburnt, blistered, tired and about 3 kg lighter than when I started. However, I still have 3 days before I return home to Canada and like any good adventure, there is still plenty of time for interesting things to happen. Tomorrow, the Colosseum awaits and then it is time for some sandal shopping. After that, who knows?
As I look back on this trip from its inception, I recall it was fraught with indecision and uncertainty. Should I go to Italy, a country I don't know anything about? Should I travel alone, again? Would I get lost? I had heard that the way was not well sign posted... And now, I understand that there was nothing to be concerned about. I like to think I have learned a little more about trusting both myself and others. Things have a way of working out. We meet the people we need to meet, and have the experiences we need to have. That said, I am enormously grateful to all the people who took the time to speak to me, to offer a word of encouragement, the gift of conversation or company. And I am particularly grateful to my my camino family; we have accompanied each other with care and good humour in four languages and as many cultural perspectives.
Thank you too, for taking the time and care to read my posts, and for all your comments. I am glad you enjoyed the writing and the photography and the words. Feel free to stay tuned for more postings... I will be checking in again before I go home later this week.
Ciao ciao... Miranda