Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Day 40 Camino de Santiago Aug 14. Santiago

    I decided to take an extra day in Santiago to take it all in.  Seemed too abrupt to get here and then leave.  Reminded me of the scene where Chevy Chase gets out of the car to look at the Grand Canyon, nods his head a few times as if he's taking it in, and says, "Okay, that's enough!  Back in the car!"
    Besides, it was still raining today and though enjoyable, I'll wait till tomorrow.  It's fun being in a 1,000 year old city with cobblestone streets and walking in the rain, dropping into bakeries, tapas shops, souvenir hunting.  But backpacking....eh... I'll wait till tomorrow.

   Last night I talked about the group playing and singing and how fantastic it was to hear about 10 men with incredible voices.  Here they are performing under cover of the 500 year old building with 3 foot thick walls while it is pouring rain.  A great setting!

    This morning I went for breakfast at a place Kevin told me was really good, but he neglected to tell me that it would make me feel not-so-good.  No big deal.  I just laid down for awhile and took more naps today than I have in the last week.  Listen to the body, Steve.  It's talking to you!!! ha!  I meant to go to 12:00 Mass today but didn't feel like fighting the crowd... and I woke up at 12:30.  By the time I got there, the Mass had just ended.  It was packed!  There was only one door open for people to get in and out and it wasn't one of those big 20 doors.  It was like a bathroom door...okay, I exaggerate, but the point is, "Open dem beeg ol' dos!!"

     Most of the people who were in Mass left and were quickly replaced by an equal number of people wanting to see the cathedral.  It is big.  Really big.  You could use the words "pretty" and "big" in the same sentence, like, "It was big and pretty..." but you'd be mistaken.  "It was pretty big!", would be appropriate.  Not ugly.  Just big.  Lot's of gray.  Lot's of gilded gold. Hard benches!!

   I've never seen organ pipes set side ways or pointing across the congregation.  Interesting concept.  In many ways, I understand why Muslims don't let infidels into their sacred places.   The infidels have no knowledge or maybe they don't care about the rules and codes of conduct in a church.  About every 15 minutes a voice would say, "Silencio!  Silencio!  No hablando in la iglesia."  Which means silence, there is no talking in the church!  Which to many must have meant, "I wish everyone else would quit talking so I could hear my friend talking!"  Happy thoughts, Steve!  Happy thoughts! 

    It's very difficult to maintain a feeling of piety when people are laying on the floor taking pictures, or shouting, "Stand next to the statue of that guy!"  Uhhh, dat would be Jesus.... Amos!!  But I'm sure Jesus would be laughing and thinking, "Santos!!!!"  

    All in all it was very difficult to think that I was walking around in a church.  There were either microphones or speakers hanging down from the 200 foot ceiling or in front of statues.  There were plasma televisions so that people could see the altar, though the altar looked the same size on the tv as it did if you looked at the altar.  Still, the effort was appreciated.  

    One thing did bother me.  When I was a kid it was so fun to put a nickel or dime into a the metal box and here it clang when it landed.  Then take a long wick, light it from another candle and pick the candle that you wanted to light.  Okay... I kinda forgot the purpose, but it did make me want to go to church, right??!  This Cathedral had electric candles.  Nooooooo!!!  We need a 3rd Vatican Council, pronto!!!
    It was easy to exit the church.  First, you push old ladies down, then step on the beggar at the door, who strangely enough has the EXACT printed card as the beggar outside the Cathedrals in Leon and Burgos!!  A Beggar UNION!    Okay, so after leaving a wake of victims, I made it to the balcony overlooking the plaza and saw hordes of pilgrims taking pictures and milling about.  

   Walking across the plaza to take this picture, I must have taken 10 photos for people with their cameras.  I'm amazed at how unwilling they are to ask someone to take a photo of them.  They'd sit there with their camera at arms length and try their hardest to get their feet and the top of the cathedral in the photo.  You can do it... if you are a midget or have El Stretcho's arms.  

   There has been a guy screeching on bagpipes...(Happy thoughts, STeve!  Happy thoughts!) 20 hours a day.  I saw him yesterday and he was dressed like me and truly, it was as if he found the bagpipes in a dumpster and said, "It's a miracle!  God wants me to play these bagpipes!!!  I think I'll learn how to play these bagpipes so that everyone can hear me."  He was... (Steeeeeve!!!)... he was not-so-good.  But at least today he had on a cute little Galician outfit.  I was going to give him a tip, (take lessons before getting on stage??) but when I took his photo, he covered his face as if, "Don't take a picture!"  Unfortunately, for him, I don't speak Galician... and I interpreted it to mean, "Don't tip me!"  so I didn't.  Isn't knowing a foreign language useful!!?!

  Okay, I get really upset with the graffiti, but today was way way too much.  I want to launch a full investigation into the vandal that stuck a garden rake into the hands of Saint James statue.  Poor guy.  He goes from slaying filthy Moors to raking leaves.  
Talk about a demotion!  He's going to need counseling after that fall.  

     I liked this guy.  He was dressed up like... well frankly, I don't know what he was dressed like but he was a statue of I think an ancient pilgrim...on heroin.  Around the corner from him was a cardboard cutout of a pilgrim and it had no business, which I am sure was a source of pride when his son asked him what he did for a living -  "Well you see son," he say very proudly, "I am the guy who put cardboard cut outs, out of business!"   Son - "Gee Dad!  You are my hero!!"

    This is a statue of  Alonso de Fonseca.  I know, who????  Well the rumor I heard is that he hears your sins, and helps them to be forgiven and whatever...
    I was telling him my sins and he said, "OY VAY!!  Say 4 billion Hail Mary's and when you're done with those you can start with the Our Fathers!"  Actually, it looks like he's saying, "blah blah blah!  Tell it to someone who cares!"  or maybe, "Oh... I'm sorry, you sinning sack of ...stuff... you have me confused with someone who cares!"  Or... 

    Here is one of the strangest oddities in all Spain.  Even odder than the waiters who clearly wish you had not sat down in their restaurant.  In towns with only two or three bars, on dirt roads in the middle of the state, 150 miles from the nearest ocean, muchness fishing port... you find pulporias.  A pulporia specializes in octopus.  Seriously?? All the cows and chickens that you have living 15 feet from bedroom, pooping enough to fill an oil tanker, and you gotta have octopus?!!  I'm lost for words... No I'm not!  How do they get it here?  Where is the ice?  You never see delivery trucks zooming down the street with fresh or frozen octopus.  THIS is weird... This is up there with, "How did they build those pyramids without cranes?"

     Queen Isabella, of Isabella and Ferdinand fame... the ones who told Columbus to go for a sail, is remembered for several things.  The bad thing is the Inquisition, where people were tortured so they could see the Light...okay so that was a good thing if you believe in the ends justify the means, however, most would say, BAD!  But the good thing she did was to start a hospital for the pilgrims which also doubled as a hotel.  Yep, you are looking at the oldest continually running hotel in history.  about 500 years old!  And the waiters are as grumpy as ever!  

    Another miracle happened today!  I went to a museum and liked it!  The exhibition was "Heroes of Inventions".  It was about people's inventions of simple things.  They had to boot me out so they could take a siesta!  It celebrated little inventions that did wondrous things for humanity, by virtue of saving resources, being able to be mass produced, saving time, etc.  It had cool demonstrations of how they make paper clips, band-ades, tin cans, zippers, tea bags, rubber bands, clothespins, etc.  Picasso???  Dali???  give me a museum showing how they fold paperclips by the millions and I'm all over it.  I think my version of the greatest miracle ever would be...me going to and liking a museum dedicated to cats!
    Tomorrow - The three day walk to Finnistere!