Sunday, June 24, 2012

Movies of the Botafumiero in Santiago

These are three short videos that really capture the Incense burner called "Botafumiero" in the Cathedral de Santiago on June 9th and 10th. Each video shows different views of the church and the swinging incense burner. We were lucky to see it twice as it does not happen everyday.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Santiago de Compostella

Entering the outskirts of Santiago

The last day walking into Santiago was cold and rainy and seemed longer than some of the days before but still a great experience. Passing the airport and outskirts of the city was a reminder that our camino was not the one of the pilgrims of hundreds of years ago. Still, it was solitary for most of the way and for me, a prayerful time of gratitude for all the things in my life that have taken me this far...especially my health, wealth, Ricardo, family, friends, fortitude, higher power, determination, creativity, flexibility....I guess I could go on and on but these are some of the major highlights that I thought about. There were also several alters to persons who died along the camino which brought the family and friends who have passed on into my mind and I thought of each of them.

I arrived and just before starting to look for where we had reserved a hotel, Ricardo was waiting for me in the street. We had a nice simple hotel with the luxuries that we had missed along the way....sheets, towels and comfortable bed with no sleeping bag and it was nice to spend a few days in one spot.
At Monte do Gozo just outside


The Cathedral in Santiago


Our friend Charles from Spain who read during the service


releasing the Butafumiero

During the Sunday mass

Santiago is a great small city and the energy was very high with hundreds of pilgrims walking in on Saturday and Sunday. There are several rituals that become important for all of us and we did it all...getting the compostella which is the certificate of walking at least the last 100 K. Not sure why all the ones before do not count but that is the rule of the camino. They check our credencials for stamps along the way and we had to get at least 2 for each day of the last 100K. I got a compostella and Richard got a different certificate as he had walked over 300K but not the last 100. I loved getting the stamps and each small bar, restaurant and albergue as well as all the churches had their own stamp. This is a great souvenir for us to remember our "Way".
My Compostella and RichardÅ› certificate

my passport or "credencials"
Next it is on to the Cathedral which is an amazing place, again with the energy of pilgrims, tourists and locals. There is a large statue of St. James and we all walked behind the alter to place our hands on him. It is suggested in some of the literature that St. James may, indeed, have been a brother to Jesus, not only an apostle. ¿Quien sabe? (Who knows?) Anyway as a non religious person with my own spirituality I was quite moved by all this ritual and connection to some form of religion and spirituality of many. For me this was not an end to my journey but a beginning of trying to be an even better person than I have been and to remember my connections to my own internal spirit and to the spirit of my "god" which shall always be with me.

There is a crypt below with the body of St. James which we visited as well. We attended a mass on Sat. night and then again the special pilgrims mass on Sunday at noon. Each time we were able to see the special "Botafumiero" which is the very large incense that swings from one side to the other of the sides of the church. It takes about 5 men to release the rope that it swings from. In todays times it is an event but in the olden days it was used to coverup the smell of the thousands of pilgrims who had been walking for days with no means to shower or clean their clothes. I am grateful that I walked the camino in the current situation as even that was less than the normal of situations of our lives.
Our friends from "down under"

octupus (pulpa) which we did NOT eat

scenic village on the coast

small granaries that hold corn
We had time to catch up with our friends from Australia on Sunday evening and then went on a tour of the lower estuaries (coastline south of Santiago) to several cute fishing villages and other little towns. It was a nice restful way to end our trip before heading to Barcelona and then to Madrid. More about that trip to come.

Friday, June 8, 2012

June 8...just one more day until arrival in Santiago de Compostella

My first morning out before daylight

At the 100 K marker

The countryside in Galacia
Granaries in Galacia where we are now
I have so much to say but first will note that it is me, Susan writing of my camino. I shall leave it to Richard to write his own thoughts as we are now on slightly different paths. A bit of review since my last post. We started out after our rest without packs and walked for one week from Leon to Villafranca and things were going very well for me but Richard was having discomfort due to his sciatic problem in his leg. The last day was a very hot day and very long and I guess it was just too much so after a few days off we decided together to take the bus to Sarria which is the closest point to the last 100 kilometers of the Camino. Here are pictures of our last week walking together. From Sarria we decided together that I would walk solo and he would take the time off for himself and that we would both be OK with not having to do what the other wanted. If he walked, he would have done it for me and if I did not walk, I would have done it for him. This compromise was perfect as we could be ourselves and follow our own camino.
A view on the way to Cruz de Ferro
friends along the camino
one of my new friends from Spain

Cruz de Ferro ... the place where
pilgrims bring stones from their
home towns to place in this now
very large pile of rocks. It was
a moving moment as one could
feel the spirit of the thousands of
pilgrims who have walked this path

Richard placing his stones

my two heart from NC and
one from Mexico

typical small of so many
we have walked through

We are in cherry country in Spain

Richard´s red bandana


massage in our albergue in Villafranca -
painful but helpful for sure. No pain since then!

Rose garden in Villafranca

Dance fiesta in Villafranca

Monestery in Sarria
For the last few days I have left the albergue very early...usually before 6 so that in case it was hot I would be finished before it was too hot. Instead, it has been cool and one morning pouring rain. Each morning brought me a new adventure as it was a bit earie being alone in the dark. It is also hard to find the yellow arrows when it is dark (though I do have my headlamp). As I have mentioned, the camino always provides what is needed so each day a different camino angel appeared and we helped each other navigate the darkness until daylight. The first day was Marcel from France who spoke no English and had no headlamp. Since it was my first day I was really nervous in the woods in the dark so we walked together silently for over one hour and then when off on our own. The second day was another man from France, though much older than me (probably close to 80). He did not have a clue where to go but with my headlamp we found our way and then smiled and thanked each other in French and Spanish and we have seen each other for the next few days and always a smile for each other. Then yesterday I started out and within 5 minutes came a big downpour and I came upon Elizabeth from Spain and we walked together for several hours. We almost got lost at first but she had a phone and called someone to help us figure out our way out of Palas de Rei. Now we see each other and I have met her friends and she has met Richard and we feel very connected because of our rainy morning together figuring our way in the dark. lessons....I love adventure and have looked forward to each morning and what it will bring; I am not afraid as I have faith that things will work out; I like being alone on my walks as I can go at my pace and talk when I want to and be alone when I want to; I am stronger than I thought I was and my determination to finish this camino was important to me (as long as my body was able). I have completely recovered from my earlier shin problems and arrive every day feeling great with no aches or pains. I am grateful for this, for sure.

I am also very grateful that Richard has given me this gift to travel my own camino as it was important to me. We have much to talk about each day with regards to letting go as he needed to let go of his worry about me and I needed to let go of  my worry about him. Now we are stronger as a team as we are learning a few new things about ourselves and each other.

I feel sure that more lessons are coming after more thought and some time of rest. I have written a journal everyday and look forward to reviewing it for my important thoughts. Right now I am excited for tomorrows arrival and for the Sunday mass for Peregrinos in the large cathedral. We have made some new friends from Australia and will see them in Santiago as well. In fact we hope to see several of the folks we have passed along the way. We will head to Finestere (the coast) for a day and then go meet our friend Helen from NC in Burgos and travel with her to Barcelona before returning to US at the end of June.

Stay tuned for Richard´s thoughts and for our final days of this trip in the next blog.

Thanks to you all for sending updates about your lives as it is so important to us to keep connected with all of you. We love you.