Monday, 2 August 2010

Camino Odyssey 3

My day begins within the forbidden sanctuary. I have prearranged a meeting with Xose who is the Medieval archivist at the Cathedral. I walk past the long line up outside the Platerias door and soon am shown throught the vestuary into the cathedral cloisters. In the archives, I am welcomed with great enthusiasm and it is appreciated. The last time I was here I got fobbed off with unlikely answers. But Xose is very keen to work with me, and his English is appreciated as my questions are technical ones. I find out that I can't go out the way I came in so I get to wander around the museum for free. The "guides" there are no more knowledgable than they were last year. Oh well, at least in our 20% unemployment rate they still have a job.

It turns out that Lopez Ferreiro, one of the most important investigators and the bishop at the time of the rediscovery of the tomb, is quite wrong about his conjecture that Diego Gelmirez is buried in the cloister. This is a new cloister and not of Gelmirez' time and subsequent researches have not unearthed (sic) any remains which might be the archbishop, or anyone else for that matter. As for where Diego might be buried, Xose has no more foggiest than I do. We part with him agreeing to answer the rest of my questions ("un monton") by e-mail or the next time I am in town.I leave him a copy of Pilgrimage to Heresy and tell him to hide it. He grins complicitantly. He is delighted.

Tito at Casa Manolo remembers me. He points a finger: "You!" I love this. Monica and Antonio are serving downstairs and I miss them but I leave bookmarks for all. The menu stays the same price and I've never tasted better chiperones - not even at the now defunct Restaurant at the End of the Universe in Finisterre.

And speaking of universes, I booked a tour of the University of S de C for noon today. Since I have one of my main protagonists in Compostela spending a fair bit of time in the uni and especially at the library, I thought I should get a bit of a feel for the place.

I didn't want to leave! I even found what would no doubt be MY seat at MY desk with MY view. Perhaps in another life - or Laura's. As it was I almost didn't have a cho0uce but to stay. I was so enthralled with the History departmnent that it took two professors (one well beyond his sell-by date whom I couldn't understand at all) to explain to me that the university closed at 2:00 p.m. and that if I didn't leave with them I would be locked in overnight!

On my way back, I met with Tomas from Germany. He has just picked up his Compostela and is gazing at it in wrapt fascination. I poke a bookmark under his nose and we get into conversation. Tomas says that walking pilgrims have gained an unfair advantage. Bicycle pilgrims, he says, have their own problems (where to soak those blisters for example?) and are denied access to any albergue until 8:00. Even then, if any foot pilgrims arrive afterwards, they,the BP's, are mercilessly thrown out! Tomas claims that bicycle pilgrims cover twice the distance but they also do 100% of the work that foot pilgrims do, and I am sympathetic to his plight. Maybe there should be specific facilities for BP's as FP's often think they are a breed apart anyway.

I meet up with Cristofer from Cologne whom I met on the cathedral roof yesterday. He is studying Spanish in Valladolid and I comment that if he really wanted to challenge himself he should try it in Malaga. Cristofer doesn't get the joke. You probably won't either. You don't have to decode my son-in-law's Spanish, bless his sweet heart.

On my way round to the Museo das Peregrinos (a monster new building under construction. I guess they will start to ask for money but then the Cathedral Museum have been doing that for years) I overhear someone pontificating much as I do. He is saying that St. James never preached in Spain (I concede that as a possibility that he did) and that he is not buried in the Cathedral (no way). Needless to say I invite myself into the conversation. His name is Manuel, he is a Spanish literature teacher from Madrid and he has read Peregrinos de la Herejia, but says that my book only confirmed what "the majority of Spaniards" already know. I find this gratifying and tell him that, alas, many foreign pilgrims accept only what their guidebooks tell them and that theylike their myths intact. He is non-committal. Most Spaniards are born diplomats.

Tonight is my booksigning at Follas Novas. If you wish you can check out my encounters with the manager Jose Luis and the owner Rafael Silva - an expert on the Portico de Gloria - from last July. I think I felt a little bit in love with Rafael with his long silver locks and his cravat swept over his shoulders. Alas he isn't there and I tell Jose Luis to tell him he has broken my heart.

Sue Kenney appears and decides to re-arrange the books and the massive poster board and thank goodness she does as I am feeling like a right pillock. Sue says she loves booksignings. I approach them with the same spirit as I do tooth extractions. Anyway, thanks to my new exposure I generate a modicum of interest and we all go home - um to the Parador for that $5 glass of wine with the Million Dollar View and there we meet up with a group of American conventioners who were, by that time, well into the Albariño. One of them has taken a copper bowl down off tyhe mantelpiece and is playing it like a sort of percussion instrument. Fellow guests are asking for a modicum of decorum. I want to slink off to a quieter part of the planet, but Sue gets into the fun and says that he( Frank) is a Master Bowl Player. We are invited to join the fun. They are noisy. I don't do that. So I suggest to Sue that the cafe is a better choice. (Yes, I am sure you are saying what a bore I must be. I'm not, really.) At the end of the night our drinks and tapas are found to be paid for.

God bless Americans!

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