Wednesday, 4 August 2010

Camino Odyssey 4

July 14th, a Wednesday. I like Wednesdays though I don´t know why.

Sue Kenney likes breakfast. I am more of a midnight snack sort of person myself, but Sue has found a café which serves coffee, toast or croissants with butter,cheese and mermelada, and orange juice for only 3 euros so I decide to join her at the 25 de Julio Café which turns out to live up to its reputation, especially the cheese. We meet Danish Michael and his girlfriend who is from Venezuela. Michael is an economist and he has just spent 3 months in South America “giving something back” to the people. “Their destiny was decided for them 300 years ago,” he says. He speaks articulately and convincingly and he leaves an impression on both Sue and me.

Later I decide to spend some time looking around the Corticela. This little chapel at the north east corner of the cathedral often goes unnoticed and I have never really given it much time. For some reason I feel obliged to sit in the back corner. I tell myself that it is because there is a Visigothic tomb there, but it seems more than that. I take a few pictures and one rather sneaky one of a pilgrim who has sat with his head in his hands since I came in. Then for some reason I decide to examine the bench I am sitting on more closely and I see that there is something tucked down inside the back. It is wrapped in a plastic file folder. It is a picture of an elderly man and it clearly wasn’t meant to be found. I wonder about him: who is he and why has his photo been placed here? I wonder what his name is and decide to call him Benito because it is a Gallego name and it suits him. I light a candle for him and then carefully put his photo back where I found it making sure that it is no more visible than it was before. This whole incident touches me very deeply.

They are putting a new rope on the Botefumeiro. I spent ages watching the workers balanced high above the nave and felt a vicarious vertigo. They must have been a hundred feet in the air!

I love this cathedral!

I decided to go shopping for a few little gifts to take back with me and a silver medallion to add to my collection (Sue Kenney has one of these necklaces too!) And so I met with Marcelino. He sees me looking at the novel La Casa de Troya which was written at the turn of the 20th century and is set in Santiago. “You should buy it,” he says. “It is the second most read book in the whole of Spanish literature.” I tell him that I have never finished Don Quixote and he tut tuts. He is in his 70´s I would guess and has an incredible head full of curly grey hair; laughter lines decorate his bright eyes and he has a little goatee. I find him quite attractive and tell him he must be a ladies man. He denies this vociferously: “I am un hombre sincero,” he explains, “very formal and serious. I have been married to the same woman for 53 years.” I ask him his secret. He doesn’t hesitate. “Mutual respect,” he tells me.

Later I stopped in at the Hostal Suso for some of their excellent pimientos de Padron and got “home” to the Alameda quite late.

At some point in the night I woke up to the sound of doves outside my open window, but I couldn’t see them. Then it dawned on me it was a gentle snoring from the room next door! Well, I guess that’s one way to deal with it…


  1. Was in the cathedral that day too. Spent God-knows-how-long star-gazing at those workers. Then started up a seisun around the corner with two Irish Pilgrims and trad musicians (very well known in Ireland in fact -one toured with Altan) and a Peruvian busker on guitar. My stiff neck disappeared with my second cerveza! Loving your Camino Rewind, btw! I've wasted loads of time reading it!

  2. Well thanks Nancy. It's nice to know that I don't waste too much time writing it! (Even though I am supposed to concentrating on "Compostela") Wasting time is therpeutic. Who says we have to account for every minute of our day? The next thing you know, people will be insisting that you have a REASON for walking the Camino. Sheesh!
    Anyway, it's good of you to drop by. Lots of people do, but not many leave their calling card...