Monday, 24 August 2009

Homeward Bound... Part Four

Leaving Fernanda’s and starting the long journey home via Castello Branca: what an amazing drive where there is literally no-one to share the road with you, to Cácares, to Merida, to Sevilla, (if you are driving the Ruta de la Plata: they’ve made it MUCH easier in the last few years though I feel for the villagers whose roads no-one ever travels anymore) eventually to Ronda and (almost home).

Goddess Gladys, I salute you at any time, and anywhere because you take care of me. Most people won’t recognise you in the little Cadiz village of Benamahoma but it is there that I worship you, and I had made a promise.

Thanks to Fernanda I had enough gasoline not to have to worry about the drive home and I had a vow to keep. It is not far off the direct route to Ronda and so I took it.

I won’t go into how I first encountered Goddess Gladys (“Goddess Gladys, full of grace, help me find a parking space!) nor how I actually came face to face with her in Benamahoma many years ago now; but I know that she travels with me. Call me an idiot if you wish, I spend every first week of September in her environs and I had promised a visit on my way back from this Camino, just to say thanks. I was expected in Marbella, but I took a chance.

She was fenced off. I didn´t care. I immersed my tired and swollen feet in her “fuente” and said, “Thank you for staying with me, for always being with me” before a local lady told me that I would be fined for such things. I said I didn’t care “Vale la pena!” I said, and directed her gaze to a plaque just underneath the “Santa”:
It says:

Nacimiento de Benamahoma

Un Romano Peregrino
Nos narra a continuacion
Una historia del Camino
De su Peregrinacion

“Vine Galicia a Roma
Desde Galicia a Jerez
y alli en Benamahoma
Andando campo a traves

Todo el Camino sedento
Rechesandome la sed
Para gozar la sed
Hal retarme el nacimiento”

I have never tried to exactly translate this but I’ll try in my own way here:

A Pilgrim from Rome
Once told us about his sacred journey
A story of the Way
Of his Pilgrimage:

“I travelled from Galicia to Rome
From Galicia to Jerez
And there to Benamahoma
I travelled once more

The whole Camino I was dry
Saving for myself the thirst
For the joy of being thirsty
To return to this source.”

I love this.

Perhaps my translation is faulty but it is how I perceive this pilgrim’s thoughts: saving his real thirst for the time that he quenches it in this “fuente”: this “source” of the River Majacete, a place I know well, and love well. Find me in the first week of September and here I will be....year after year. It is one of the few things in my life you can count upon.

I did this, as a promise. And I share in his joy! And mine...

The local lady who had questioned my right to bathe my feet in this river, not only understood, once I had pointed out not only my swollen feet but the message, went to get me some of “Gladys’” water to take home with me. I had made a contact and I hope added something to the faith in this remarkable statues’ fame. Certainly every time I have seen her she is garlanded more and more.

“Gladys”, your homely face brings me back year after year, and not just me....

I was on my way downwards from Ronda, a beautiful drive in its own right much frequented by motorciclistas when I encountered my first sighting of wealth: La Zagaleta – they have their own helicopter pad! Shortly after I passed an urbanisation I have often admired for its architectural brilliance. But all I could think of was “Please take me home to Galicia!”. Marbella is “paradiso” for many, but is it for me? Is where I live “Spain”? Having only just returned from my Camino into the place in which I make my living I am not ready to comment.

Something I have thought of for a very long time is to open a “re-grouping centre” somewhere either in Santiago or nearer the coast. A place to talk or not talk, to write, draw, play the guitar, sing or pray. Re-entry is a shock to all of us. The lessons we have learned, the simplicity of the Way, these can disappear so quickly once we are back to “real life”. I would love to be able to help in some way, perhaps even work with encounter groups or similar incorporating my back group as psychotherapist with my pilgrim side.

Maybe one day. We’ll see.

No comments:

Post a Comment