Friday, July 09, 2010

Santiago de Compostela

My BlackBerry is frozen and will not pick up an SMS that I have been sent. I do not know if this problem will last but for now there is a problem.

Yesterday it rained so I spent the day indoors, first at noon Mass to see the Botafumero swing, it did not, then at a couple of churches and museums, in other words a tourist day in SdC.

This morning I went to the Correos (Post Office) and mailed home stuff I do not need for the next part of my journey. Then to Rolf´s Bar (Cafe Sanguesia) for breakfast, it is a beautiful day in SdC. At 12:45pm I decided to go to the Cathedral to see if the Botafumero would swing today (it swings around one after noon Mass). The Botafumero swang today, so now each time I have been in SdC I have seen it swing.

Surprise in Santiago de Compostela
We pilgrims have a saying .... This is the Camino.

After Mass I returned to Rolf´s Bar for lunch, sitting there I was thinking how nice it would be to share the wine and I looked up into the face of Sue Kenney. I waved and started to stand up, Sue had a baffled look on her face, I took off my sunglasses and she said, hello Luiza. We laughed at the coincidences of the Camino as we met along the way last year (by chance) and now again in 2010. We have emailed each other over the years but until last year we had not met. Sue walked al contrario this year from Santiago de Compostela to St. Jean Pied de Port. Sue is an amazing woman and has given a series of talks in Santiago this month with the last one being held tomorrow morning at 0900 (I will be there). Sue has written two books about her camino experiences as well as a DVD ... Google: Sue Kenney. Then she told me that another email contact over the years, Tracey Saunders, who is also an author, will be there tomorrow. I am interested in meeting Tracey as well as being there for Sue. So, what I thought would be a quick lunch was three hours of of fun and friendship from along the way, exchanging stories and laughs.

Last month Sue started walking with a group from VF del Bierzo (she leads groups along the way) then when in SdC she decided on her al contrario walk. I knew that Sue was along the way somewhere because she had mentioned it on the web but I was not looking for her. Sue has suggested that I return to SdC for the festivities on July 25. After all Luiza it is Anos Santo 2010 .... hmmm, I don´t think there will be standing room in SdC let alone sleeping accommodation.

Pilgrims in SdC
Caroline if you are reading this please post what you wish onto Ultreya (I will try but my login might not work).

It is so beautiful to watch the pilgrims come into the city alone or in groups. Not only walking, bicycle, or horse pilgrims of course because all those who come here this year are pilgrims. I saw perhaps 30 children (under 10) all in the same color tee shirts I went closer to photograph them, perhaps for my web pages, and noticed that it was a group of school children from Ecuador, amazing! As I said to Sue, for the next Anos Santo in eleven years they will all be old enough to walk the way if they wish. Three woman pilgrims walked passed me at Praza Da Inmaculada proudly wearing their Chile tee-shirts and there are many last 100kms groups of pilgrims with matching shirts (obvious by their small daypacks) - the place is crowded.

I have never seen lines like this year in SdC. The Credencial line at the Pilgrim´s Office was out the door and around the corner, then up the street, 4 and 5 people wide, a huge line. The line to Porta Anos Santos (Praza Da Quintana) is 1-2 hours long in the hot sun or drizzling rain yesterday. It is the same with the entrance to the Cathedral which can only be entered from Praza Das Praterias, not Praza Do Obradoiro the front steps as usual - the steps are blocked for entrance. The Cathedral exit is at Praza Da Inmacalada this year. Having asked the guard for the best time to avoid long lines at all three places he suggested 0830, 1500, or 1700 and sure enough the lines are short at those times (observed).

I think the most important information I can give is that backpacks are not allowed inside the Cathedral this year. There is a backpack/mochilla office two doors down from the Pilgrim Office on Rua Do Vilar. I see many pilgrims waiting in line with their backpacks on and I feel so sad for them. I have told some of the change but I am not the backpack police if you know what I mean. The police guards could easily go along the lines and tell these folks to save them two hours waiting only to be turned away at the door, but unfortunatly they do not.

Moving on - Ponferrada
I am leaving SdC and will start towards Villa Franca del Bierzo where I should be volunteering for Albergue Ave Fenix. I take the train to Ponferrada and walk one day along the camino to VF. There is a computer at the Albergue but if my memory serves me correctly, and Jesus Jato has not updated the computer, it is an old and problematic computer.


  1. Great post, I enjoyed reading it. What an amazing meeting for you! And bring the backpacks back into the cathedral, that's what I say. The revolution starts here!

  2. Hi,

    Thank you. Many walking pilgrims try to enter the Cathedral but the police turn them away.

    It was very special seeing Sue again and feeling the friendship between pilgrims. The camino brings us what we need, not what we want, and obviously yesterday we both needed company, a familiar face can be a comfort.

    More on Blog about today.