After Laura, Felicity, and I woke up to our 10 alarms we had set (to prevent against dying phones losing us our place on the excursion.. not that that had ever happened before…….), we boarded the bus to Finisterre along with our 12 other sleepy classmates and sunk into a comatose-like stupor as the tour guide’s lulling, soothing voice told us about where we were going.
We stopped in a little town after about an hour on the bus where we popped into a cafe and drank some much needed coffee. While walking back to the bus, Cooper and I were stopped by an old man asking us where we were from. When we responded that we were from Virginia in the United States, he smiled and proceeded to tell us about how he had sailed to Norfolk when he was younger and how he had been in the Chesapeake Bay. He was a really cute old man and he was so excited to have met young Americans who knew where he had been and was very happy to share his experience with us. He was extremely (and surprisingly) well spoken in English, and his enthusiasm was tangible. After we were yelled at by our professors that we were leaving, we had to say our good byes, but it was definitely a great start to the morning.
After trudging back onto the bus, we drove for about 15 minutes and arrived at the edge of a river with a waterfall down a little path. We walked to the waterfall, which was absolutely gorgeous, and stayed there for a bit; just hanging out and enjoying each others company, listening the symphony of water collapsing into the flowing river behind us, echoing throughout the banks.
After another bus ride, we finally arrived at Finnisterre. Finnisterre is the official end to the Camino de Santiago and many pilgrims walk from Santiago de Compostela to this point. It’s a place where there apparently are many spiritual revelations and where people find peace. It’s tradition to burn clothes on the rocks at the edge of the water, before the huge drop-off that plummets into the ocean, but our tour guide advised us not to do this, and to just write any burdens we had down on a piece of paper and burn it to symbolize the lightness on our hearts that the Camino brought to us. It was a really beautiful place, huge rocks forming a small peninsula jutting out above the ocean, with large cliffs on all sides.
For lunch, we stopped in a small town called Muros (I think). It is a small town known for it’s fishing. We went to a very small fishing museum where a very animated old man explained the different fishing techniques used to catch various types of seafood. He was really passionate about what he was talking about and he threw in random English words that he knew amid his rapid-fire Spanish to help us try and understand. It was really refreshing to listen to him explain about something he was very knowledgeable about even though it may have seemed insignificant and simple to other people. We definitely learned a lot about traditional Galician fishing and learned that it is a lot more complex than we had originally thought.
There was a cute little beach on the edge of the town too. We spent a lot of time walking on the sand that was littered with stones, shells, and bits of sea glass. Many of us were fascinated by these little pieces of glass that had been bashed against the sand by the waves so many times that it had become smooth and collected bags full of it.
I also conquered the taxing challenge of skipping stones. For years, I have been trying to perfect the art, but always become frustrated by my rock consistently sinking to the bottom of the water after a pitiful plop on the surface. Luckily, Cooper had had a lot of practice at this fine activity at Smith Mountain Lake, so he was able to teach me. After a few pathetic attempts where I threw my signature failure, I finally got the hang of it and spent a good 30 minutes skimming the surface of the water with round flat stones along with several other classmates. It was addicting.
We were called back to the bus and begrudgingly boarded, already mourning the beach with it’s sandy banks filled with opportunity to skip rocks and find sea glass, but were excited for our final stop: Muxia.
If you’ve seen the film, The Way, you’ll know the area I’m talking about. It’s part of the final scene of the movie, when Martin Sheen is on a beautiful rocky beach, tossing his son’s ashes into the frothy water. This is where we went. And it was absolutely breath taking.
Our tour guide spoke to us for a few minutes about the significance of the area and some of the history behind it. She expressed that we take caution while on the boulders since the water can make them slippery and the waves can get fairly big. A few seconds after her final words, we were off. A few of us quickly jogged to the end of the grass and joyfully leaped from rock to rock until we reached the edge. We proceeded to scramble up a fairly tall, completely dry rock beside the water, figuring that no wave would be high enough to reach us. Oh how wrong we were. Felicity, Eli, Cooper, and I all received a little (huge) spritz with the ocean water as salty shower covered us at the crash of what seemed, to us, like a tidal wave. We found another dry rock (very far from the menacing sea) to attempt to dry off and catch some “sol”.
Apart from that funny little mishap, Muxia was incredible. It was so beautiful and full of history and Christian legends. It’s a place of peace and reconciliation. It was really lucky that we had the opportunity to visit it. I would not have wanted to miss out on this beautiful place.
It really was a great day and an amazing final excursion to end the trip.
Today was a excursion to multiple places including a waterfall, Finisterre and Muxia. The morning was sunny, which promised for a wonderful day. After a pit- stop, we visited the Cascadas at Ezaro.
The waterfall was probably about 40-50 m tall falling into a river below which we could wade into if we could bear the cold water. There were huge boulders which many of us climbed to get a better view of the water fall and river. The sun had warmed the rocks while lighting up the water and the spectacle left many of us speechless. I think we were all sad to leave after a short while. Afterwards, we drove our way up the coast to Finisterre, also known as the end of the world. We drove up to a cliff overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. Many other pilgrims were there, sitting on the rocks with their boots off. One could smell the faint sent of smoke. After a few minutes we realized why; there were many mini ash piles dotting the rocky landscape of the cliff. Pilgrims and visitors can write a personal statement or a prayer on a piece of paper then burn the paper in one of the many ash piles. Thus, their thoughts and hopes will float up to the heavens and wait to be answered. People in our group wrote their thoughts and prayers on anything they had. Many made the act of lighting the paper on fire a private matter and found a solitary ash pile. For me, this was a profound moment. Here I was, at the end of the world, lighting my written thoughts on fire and letting them burn in a pile of other peoples hopes, dreams and prayers.
I think it is safe to say that everyone in the group felt a connection to Finisterre. A few brave souls even wandered down to the cliffs’ shore to see the water. Some pilgrims had left their boots sitting neatly on the rocks as a symbol of finishing the Camino and walking to the end of the world.
We left the cliff to visit a fishing museum in the town nearby. Afterwards, we had about an hour and a half of free time. There was a small beach right below the museum which I made a point to visit. The beach was littered with unique looking rocks and sea glass. I probably spent a good hour hunting for sea glass and enjoying the sun and water. The town was nice and small, with many little cafes to eat at. I can easily say that Finisterre was my favorite part of the excursion and after our stop at the cliff and the beach, I felt so relaxed and tranquil.
Our last stop was Muxia, which was also on the shore. There was a beautiful church right next to the shore. If anyone has seen the movie The Way, Muxia is the last place that Martin Sheen goes to in the movie. It was a beautiful place with strong, dark aqua waves crashing on big boulders on the shore. There was also a light house right next to the church. It was simple looking and painted a sandy color. It wasn’t as warm here as it was at the beach in Finisterre because there was so much wind. If you looked within the shallow pools of water in between the rocks, you could see very small tad poles swimming in the water, which struck me as oddly funny. There is a rock called the Virgin’s Boat right in front of the church. Apparently, if you crawl underneath the rock 9 times, any back problems that you have will be cured (I thought it was worth a shot). Today’s excursion was easily one of my favorites thus far. I feel like we have been able to see many different parts of Galicia, from the mountains to the ocean. The natural beauty is enough to make anybody fall in love with this beautiful part of Spain.