Day 33 – The Towel handover

Day 32 I took it easy in Santiago. Wandered around, took some photos, did my blog posts.

Day 33, Sunday, I handed back the towel to Balazs. It was the first time I'd seen him since that morning 30 days ago when he left Pamplona, and I stayed back, nursing a knee the size of a football. Wrapped in Balazs' towel, with ice.

I had walked hard the last 10 days to get there in time to hand him back his towel. (He's leaving first thing in the morning.)

It was emotional. He never thought I would make it.

Later, we were joined by Rosa and Lazlo. It was the four of us that shared a cab from Biarritz Airport to St. Jean on April 9th, an eternity ago. We hadn't all been together since.

The Camino engenders such strong friendships, and emotions. We'd all been through so much since that taxi ride.

We then all went to the Pilgrims' Mass, and as we were jockeying for a position in the crowded Cathedral, I saw a South Korean couple – mother and daughter – that I hadn't seen in weeks.

The last they'd seen of me, it was west of Burgos and I was in great pain and struggling kilometre after kilometre.

The daughter, Nayoung, pushed her way through the crowds to come over and speak to me. Amazed, she said: You made it. You took bus?

I laughed and said no, I never took a bus or taxi. I walked every step of the way. And then she burst into tears, and hugged me.

At the end of the Mass, they swung the Botafumero.

Later, we theTaxi Four all went to lunch in a small local eatery, and we allowed ourselves the indulgence of saying that we'd achieved something…

And I felt happy. I felt really happy.


26 thoughts on “Day 33 – The Towel handover

  1. I’ve enjoyed your blog from day one to now. And happy you should be, you have accomplished so much!! Buen Camino from a fellow peregrina.
    Happy trails to you!
    Coordinator of the Old Pueblo Chapter of American Pilgrims


  2. Hi Bill,
    You’re courageous happy ending is our arduous start. You have inspired us to the end. Now it’s our turn to experience what ever the Camino has to offer. Thank you, thank you for your blog.

    We will be watching for more of your blogs on the trail. Congratulations on your journey, Joe and I are so happy for you! I would love for our paths to cross some day.

    Nancy & Joe


    • Dear Nancy & Joe, thank you too for making it worthwhile for me to blog each day. Your kind and generous comments helped encourage me so many times.

      You will have an extraordinary experience – whatever the Camino presents to you – and you will meet some truly wonderful people.

      I too hope our paths cross some day.

      bb xx


    • Hi Julie – yes, I had to crank out some miles to make sure I got there in time, but yesterday, with the reunion of my friends, will go down as one of the special days of my life. Bill


  3. Thank you for being so meticulous in your words and pictures. I am sure I will return to it many times as I prepare for my own journey!



    • Thanks Kathy – I still have a few more posts to do. Some photographically, and some analysing the deeper aspects of the journey. Bill


  4. Thank you for this blog and the beautiful pictures Bill … I will greatly miss following you on El Camino.



  5. Fantastic!!! I am overjoyed to read of your sense of happiness and the bonds you and your taxi team have developed. I admit I was a bit troubled to read of the emptiness you seemed to feel on your arrival… Hearing of your journey, the ups the downs, the good the bad has continued to inspire me. Fantastic Bill!!


    • It’s interesting Nicole, I’ve spoken to many pilgrims since who’ve felt that same emptiness on arrival. And then later, something else triggers the emotion – whether it’s going to the Mass, or a reunion with a friend – but the emotion is there, it doesn’t always reveal itself at the exact end of the journey. Bill


  6. Many congratulations on making it to Santiago! I’ve really enjoyed reading your blog and it has been so refreshing to read your entries from your open and honest perspective, with no pc nonsense. Your photos have been magnificent and if you put them together into a book, I’ll certainly purchase a copy. All the best on your journey to the end of the world.


    • Thanks Dan. Not going to Finisterra. My knee wouldn’t appreciate it! Thinking of an ebook. We’ll see. In the meantime, thank you for following my ramblings! Bill


  7. Hello Bill, I’ve been following your blog for the last month, and really enjoyed it. Your blog has helped me to firm up my wish to do the Camino into a resolution to do it after I retire – I have 6 years to prepare, hope it’s long enough. You had said in an earlier post that you would like to experience a Mass where they swung the Botafumero, and then you didn’t say anything about it for a while, as I guessed you thought it was not likely to happen. So when I read they had swung the Botafumero at your Pilgrims’ Mass, tears came to my eyes. I was very happy for you. I’m looking forward to the rest of your posts. Go well, Elizabeth


    • Thank you Elizabeth. A strange thing happened at that Mass. Because I’d come in to Santiago on the Friday, I went to the Pilgrims’ mass on the Saturday. And then I went again on the Sunday with my taxi mates.

      I was standing though, because it was so crowded – and when it got to that part of the mass when Catholics take mass, if that’s the correct term, I decided to leave because my knee was aching.

      But I couldn’t get out. They’d closed the doors at the back, and it was too crowded to get out the side exits, so I decided to go back to my friends, where I’d been standing before, and wait until the service was finished.

      And then, they brought the Botafumero down, prepped it, and swung it! It was like the Cathedral hadn’t let me get out until I’d seen it!



  8. Bill, in a previous reply I mentioned that perhaps the pilgrim mass would awaken something special for you. Am so glad it did. The Spirit works in strange and wonderful ways, often when least expected. The spirituality of the yellow arrows, the golden cord, friendship, it what you will. To me, who is yet to set foot on the sacred ground, can only hope that something of that spirit will be experienced in September. Go safely, in peace and fulfillment. Anne
    P.S. I miss breakfast with Bill!! ( checked your blog every morning as I ate breakfast)


  9. Oh,Bill, that was so great that you were able to catch up with Balazs and return his towel. It is also wonderful that you were able to meet up with others whom you hadn’t seen from the very beginning of the Camino. I guess every one kind of moves along at the same time.
    It has been so interesting to see the change in your writing over these last few weeks. I am so looking forward to my own Camino in 2014.

    When you get back home, would it be possible to re-post all your postings day by day in the reverse order. So that when we want to read them from beginning to end we don’t have to scroll backwards? I know I will want to go back and re read your posts several times between now and September 2014. You did a wonderful job and I woke up every morning in anticipation of the next installment of your adventure! Thank you so much for sharing it.


    • No worries. Yes will try and do that when I get back. It’s very annoying with blogs that they post first last.

      Thanks for the kind words on the blog by the way – much appreciated.



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