Tou­ching the End of the World!

MANY PIL­GRIMS OF CA­MINO DE SAN­TIA­GO STRETCH OUT THEIR WALK TO FI­NIS­TE­RRE, A PLA­CE CHARACTERIZED BY AWE­SO­ME SCE­NERY AND LURING TRADITIONS

Excelencias Turísticas del caribe y las Américas - - Historia / History -

The le­gend goes that the dis­ci­ples that ca­rried San­tia­go's body tra­ve­led to Du­gium –to­day's Fi­nis­te­rre– with a view to ask per­mis­sion to the Ro­man aut­ho­ri­ties to bury the apostle in a pla­ce that cen­tu­ries la­ter be­ca­me San­tia­go de Com­pos­te­la, the fi­nal des­ti­na­tion for many pil­grims now.

This is the most ac­cep­ted ver­sion that ex­plains away the reason why the rou­te was stret­ched out be­yond the ico­nic cat­he­dral, or the ori­gin of the Fi­nis­te­rre's Path that many peo­ple set out to co­ver in th­ree sta­ges for a grand to­tal of 90 km. It's a rou­te that runs th­rough towns per­ched on San­tia­go's in­land country­si­de, towns that still rely on a far­ming cul­tu­re and boast tre­men­do­us eth­no­grap­hic in­ter­est, pla­ces that let pil­grims en­joy the many ho­rreos –fa­ci­li­ties built and equip­ped to dry, cu­re and sto­re corn and ot­her ce­reals be­fo­re they are pod­ded and ground-, the cru­cei­ros (sto­ne cros­ses) and ot­her exam­ples of Ga­li­cia's lo­cal and most ru­ral ar­chi­tec­tu­re.

The num­ber of peo­ple to want to reach out to the sea is on the ri­se with each pas­sing year, the rea­sons to stretch out the rou­te vary. So­me are dri­ven by re­li­gious faith; ot­hers are mo­ved by the desire to comply with heat­hen ri­tuals. Ho­we­ver, all of them are com­pe­lled by the illu­sion of li­ving a peer­less ex­pe­rien­ce right in the same pla­ce that was on­ce con­si­de­red the end of the world be­fo­re the dis­co­very of the Ame­ri­cas.

For many pil­grims, get­ting down to the sa­cred tip of Fi­nis­te­rre, just 3 km away from the town, means a sym­bo­lic way to wrap up the Ca­mi­ño das Es­tre­las (Path of the Stars), which equals to star­ting a new li­fe af­ter ha­ving cast away all the sins and the bur­den of the ma­te­rial world.

On the tip of the na­rrow strip of land that sli­des in­to the sea –the tra­di­tion goes- is whe­re the pil­grim falls down on his knees sha­ken by emo­tion, and then burns his boots and part of his clot­hes as a pu­rif­ying ri­tual. This pa­gan­roo­ted act –the lo­cal city hall has even tried

Ca­da año crece la ci­fra de quie­nes bus­can lle­gar has­ta el mar, y los im­pul­sos pa­ra alar­gar el tra­yec­to son va­rios. A unos los mue­ve más la fe re­li­gio­sa, a otros el afán de cum­plir ri­tos más pa­ga­nos, pe­ro to­dos lle­van la ilu­sión de vi­vir una ex­pe­rien­cia in­com­pa­ra­ble en el lu­gar que an­tes del des­cu­bri­mien­to de Amé­ri­ca era con­si­de­ra­do co­mo el Fin del Mun­do The num­ber of peo­ple to want to reach out to the sea is on the ri­se with each pas­sing year, the rea­sons to stretch out the rou­te vary. So­me are dri­ven by re­li­gious faith; ot­hers are mo­ved by the desire to comply with heat­hen ri­tuals. But all are com­pe­lled by the illu­sion of li­ving a peer­less ex­pe­rien­ce in the pla­ce that was on­ce con­si­de­red the end of the world

be­fo­re the dis­co­very of the Ame­ri­cas

to ban it due to the da­ma­ging ef­fects on the en­vi­ron­ment- is the sym­bol of a born-again li­fe.

For many years, this pla­ce was be­lie­ved to be the si­te whe­re the sun used to go out every night –the Fi­nis Te­rrae. The­re­fo­re, it's cus­to­mary for many pil­grims to watch the sun­set right on that spot. This might not be the most beau­ti­ful sun­set in Eu­ro­pe, but it's de­fi­ni­tely the most mys­ti­cal of all. As they watch the sun sinks in­to the sea, they ho­pe to ma­ke out the fa­mous “green ray”. In the mean­ti­me, the lo­cal light­hou­se is tur­ned on and every so of­ten rounds of ap­plau­se break the silence.

Sin­ce 1893, this is the wes­tern­most light­hou­se built in the Old World, and the­re­fo­re, the clo­sest to the Ame­ri­cas. The es­pla­na­de pro­vi­des breath­ta­king views of the ocean and of the en­ti­re Ría de Cor­cu­bión. It's al­so a bea­con for whoe­ver wants to che­rish graphic keep­sa­kes re­la­ted to the rou­te, such as pho­to­graphs of the “0” mi­le mar­ker or the end of the road, or the scul­ptu­re of the pil­grim's boot that's car­ved in the rocks.

Tho­se who com­ple­te the Ca­mi­ño for Ch­ris­tian re­li­gious rea­sons, most of them walk all the way to the Church of San­ta Ma­ria das Areas, lo­ca­ted by the road that leads to the light­hou­se. It's the­re whe­re they wors­hip the Holy Ch­rist of Fi­nis­te­rre and traip­se past the Holy Ga­te on the north wall of the tem­ple and oc­ca­sio­nally open du­ring the Ju­bi­lee Years, in an ef­fort to re­cei­ve in­dul­gen­ce.

But the­se are not the only traditions that feed the pil­grims' souls on Ga­li­cian soil. One of the most co­ve­ted ri­tuals among visitors is the bath at the Praia de Lan­gos­tei­ra, though so­me peo­ple just do it at the Mar de Fó­ra, ea­ger to sha­ke off the dust be­fo­re step­ping on­to the sa­cred tip and put an end to their long walk.

Be­fo­re hea­ding back ho­me, the­re's a bunch of de­tails that should ne­ver be pas­sed up. One of them is the man­da­tory vi­sit to the Al­ber­gue da Fin do Mun­do (The Inn at the End of the World) to get the Fi­nis­te­rre which, just li­ke the Com­pos­te­la­na han­ded over when the pil­grim gets to the Cat­he­dral of San­tia­go de Com­pos­te­la, is the do­cu­ment that of­fi­cially cer­ti­fies that the pil­grim has com­ple­ted the path.

And sin­ce Fi­nis­te­rre is a town of ma­ri­ne traditions, you can­not help by drop­ping by the mar­ket­pla­ce at the end of the har­bor and tas­te the best fish and shell­fish caught in the choppy wa­ters of Cos­ta da Mor­te, just anot­her man­da­tory vi­sit and a genuine gift for all

the sen­ses.

El pe­re­grino que­ma sus bo­tas y par­te de su in­du­men­ta­ria co­mo ri­tual pu­ri­fi­ca­dor. / The pil­grim burns his boots and part of his clot­hes as a pu­rif­ying ri­tual. Du­ran­te mu­chos años se creía que es­te era el Fi­nis Te­rrae. / For many years, this pla­ce was be­lie­ved to be the Fi­nis Te­rrae.

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