Good news! Remember that we recently wrote about the Antarctic Way? Well, since the 7th of July, it´s a reality. The ´pingüigrinos´ (penguin-pilgrims) of the Hesperides Oceanographic Research Vessel recently set foot on the Obradoiro Square, completing the first pilgrimage to the city of the Apostle via the longest route traversed thus far: 14,075 kilometres from the 'Gabriel de Castilla' Antarctic Base.
Their adventure began on 28 February, when the vessel began its journey back home after completing the annual Antarctic Campaign. They took with them the commemorative pennant of the Federation of Societies of Friends of the Way, a gift given to them by this organism in October of 2015, shortly before the Hesperides sailed from Cartagena.
Closing the Antarctic Way in the Obradoiro
After navigating thousands of kilometres for 5 months and a few stages walking down the Spiritual Way which links the Portuguese Way with the Arousa Sea route, this pennant and the group carrying it half way around the world have come to the end of the road.
And they haven´t exactly been alone: since rolling out in Pontevedra last Monday, they have been accompanied by the Army, representatives of the Federation (including José Luis Guitiérrez Perrino, the current chairman) and local authorities; in their last stage, they have also been joined by representatives from the National Geographic Institute, the Xacobeo and, of course, Correos Postal Service. Our postmen and postwomen have also kept an eye on our travellers and helped them by carrying their backpacks between stages.
Before taking the family picture in the Obradoiro, you should know that it is much more practical to leave your backpack in our left luggage, as the pingüigrinos have also done. Shortly after we went together to the Obradoiro amidst much attention from other pilgrims and the media. There, the expedition was received by the mayor of Santiago, Martiño Noriega.
Performing the pilgrim rituals, they entered the Cathedral through the Holy Door, embraced the sculpture of Saint James and attended a mass officiated by the Archbishop of Compostela, Julián Barrio, where the flight of the Botafumeiro was not missed. An unforgettable reception!
The commemorative pennant symbolising the end of this journey has been delivered to Monsignor Barrio and will become part of the collection of the Museum of the Cathedral, where you´ll be able to see it shortly.
Correos and the 'pingüigrinos'
We love travellers and do what we can to help them share their experiences and stories with others. This is why we enjoy the Camino de Santiago and want to make it possible for pilgrims to get in contact with their families, with other pilgrims and with the places they pass along the Way.
We liked the idea of the Antarctic Camino from the very beginning. We also knew about the work of the BIO Hesperides thanks to a special postmark dedicated to this vessel.
Since we knew that the idea was moving forward, we´ve been following the progress of the expedition through social media until the 6th of july, when we could finally see the members of the expedition in the flesh.
We joined the group for a dinner in Milladoiro, the last stop before entering Compostela. Besides enjoying the food, company and endless tales of travel (if the 800 kilometres of the Camino Francés provide countless stories, imagine 14,000), we were able to deliver the shirts that El Camino Con Correos made to commemorate their feat.
What does the BIO Hesperides do in Antarctica?
This is the million-dollar question for any of us common folks. Antarctica is practically another planet and it is hard to understand how someone could work, let alone live there. But if fact, two Spanish bases have been operating there since the late 80s. Antarctic Campaigns are annual scientific research missions involving scientists, researchers, the Army, Navy, etc. and are carried out on these bases. Check out some of the amazing pictures of their daily routine ;-)
The BIO Hesperides is one of the logistical support vessels for these bases. But it's so much more: a floating laboratory prepared and equipped to investigate oceans in the most extreme conditions.
Greetings, pingüigrinos! Thank you for opening new Ways to Santiago and for your commitment to better understanding the world around us.
And to all of you pilgrims on the Way, we hope this adventure has inspired you.
Buen Camino and see you next week!
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