We've finally made it to Santiago, the final leg of our trip in Spain! Although I got in some much-needed naps on the bus ride, I did manage to wake up to see the highlands of Bierzo, the grasslands and rocks of the Valcarce Valley, the stream at Lavacolla, and the summit of Monte de Gozo that we've been singing about for months now. It was so satisfying to finally see the places I only knew by their names, and they were magnificent. But the best surprise was when we got out of the bus and Gabriel told us we were going to walk the last few miles into town on the Camino, all the way to the Catedral. It was really moving to enact the lyrics of our final song for our concert tomorrow.
A lot of people in Glee know that I've wanted to do the Camino for a long time; I'm also an Outdoor Action leader and I'm working toward a medieval studies certificate, so I'm pretty excited about this stuff. I loved being able to see inside the Catedral, which I've been thinking about since the location of our tour was announced. It was so beautiful and so different than anything I've seen before. I want to visit again tomorrow, but I don't know if any amount of time I spend in there will ever be enough! It's a place where you can feel the power of its long history, and it certainly affected me.
We beat our hands against the walls of heaven. ("Burgos," Path of Miracles)
In the buildup to this tour, I listened to the Path of Miracles song cycle on repeat as often as I could. It often served as the soundtrack to long nights doing papers or reading, and I always wondered what singing in Santiago would be like when we finally got there. Now that I'm here, I don't know what to expect tomorrow, but I liked that we had to do so much walking today (and not just because I'm a hiking junkie). It felt like the journey on foot was a necessary piece to get us where we were going.
I often tell people that one of the best things in life is the first shower you take after a long backpacking trip. Santiago de Compostela feels like that for me, like I've had to complete a ton of coursework and travel across oceans and the beautiful country of Spain to get here. Everything along the way was beautiful, and I'll never forget this trip. But it's always in the back of my mind that this is my last chance to really breathe before my senior thesis is done in April. This past semester has flown by even faster than I thought it would, and I know that one day I'll wake up and it'll be graduation, and it'll feel like no time has passed at all.
Princeton sometimes feels like a pilgrimage for me. It's easy to get bogged down in the drudgery of everyday tasks and the struggle to meet deadlines, and it's hard to remember what it's all about in the end. I often get the sense from my fellow seniors (and I often have thought this myself) that we're just waiting impatiently for it all to be over, for our theses to be bound and for the schoolwork to stop and to have jobs or other post-graduate plans. To finally end our journey and arrive at our destination singing and dancing in the streets. But that's not what it's really all about, is it?
We only have one more full day left in Spain. I can't believe how fast this trip has gone, but I know I can't focus on that, or the fact that this is our last stop. Instead, I'm just trying to enjoy being here with my friends for one last music tour, doing something I enjoy and might not get an opportunity to do again for a long time. I think I'll be crying at the concert tomorrow night, but it'll be for the right reasons. That's what this trip is all about.
- Valerie Wilson '18
images courtesy of Valerie Wilson '18 and Anna Dong '20