thehealingpilgrim’s travelblog 7

11th Feb Palas de Rei – Ribadesa
The group of 4 girls from Valencia had met A guy from England named Wayne ( i had met him also at Samos ) . Wayne is a self confessed alcoholic and has an addictive personality. He also has a tendency to fantasize about variuos things which emerge in the way of outlandish tales. He is doing the camino to try to change some of this behaviour. He has a difficult job, i think, but he is here – trying.
He had told the girls he was the Dalai Lama in disguise and various other bizarre stories. The up shot being that they were a little bit scared of him and asked myself and a group of Spanish boys from Madrid to walk with them today.
The pace was very slow but i figured it wouldn’t do me any harm to do a slow walk today.
We stopped in Melide for a Pulpo ( octopus ) lunch at a famous pulpo cafe. We ended up drinking far too much Orujo and as we set out for the track again we made a few wrong turns and were generally a little confused. Once i got on to the country tracks i pressed on ahead a bit as the others were all together in a big group and happily stumbling along.

It occured to me that i think it would be helpful to us all if we looked deeply in to our behaviour.
Is my behaviour really me? Or is something i have adopted along my way?
Is it helpful to me or does it hinder me?
Deep inside we are all the same and seeking this self.

By the end of the evening i had decided to walk on my own again for the next days walk.
The Spanish as a rule are very sociable, for me though, there can be a tendency to herd a little bit.
Being part of this for a day or so had the effect of stopping my thoughts flowing. I had a feeling of losing individual decision making – decisions were taken as a group and spontaneaty was lost.

12th Feb Ribadeso – Monte Gozo
I set out, alone and fast.
I felt good – open to events, and able to respond as an individual and on my own instincts.
I stopped at a bar in a tiny vilage on the track called PereiriƱa.
David, Francesco, Sara and Danielle were there having coffee.
Lovely – i was happy to have bumped into them again.
“Where are the other people you were with Grant, why are you alone”? Francesco asked.
“I wanted to be alone” i replied.
After our coffees  we all set off together – i was happy to walk with this tight but flexible little group again. They were together but kind of independant of each other also. They had a good, calm, collective energy together.
They had decided to go for Monte Gozo, a walk of 37km for them and 39km for me. The sun was out so i decided to join them. Monte Gozo is just 4km from santiago and is on the high ground so it overlooks Santiago and our objective.
I walked with Francesco a lot of the time discussing this and that. I love his way of describing things, as do all the people he meets. He is cool, funny, very affable, has many things to say but more importantly, he also……….. listens………….and learns. I learnt a lot from this very special man.
By the time we had finished lunch in Santa Irene we were wasted. Totally out of power. We still had nearly 20km to walk.
We arrived in Monte Gozo after dark – exhausted!
None of us slept so well that evening………….Santiago dawning?
A sadness has been creeping up on me these last days.
At the start of the walk the km are so many that the destination seems a far away objective, now, it was at the bottom of the hill we slept on……….we had arrived……….what now? WHAT?
They say this in Galicia instead of hello………..they lift the head with a controlled jerk and say in a monotone, slightly questioning tone…………QUE?…………WHAT?

WHAT?………………………now.

13th Feb Monte Gozo – SANTIAGO

We had breakfast in the cafe in the Monte Gozo Albergue Complex. It’s like an army camp for 500 pilgrims.
As we headed down the hill together i had a very strong feeling that wasn’t the way to do this.
I asked everybody to stop for a moment. I asked the to join me in a circle holding hands together. Danialle looked a bit confused, like he was thinking – why are we stopping? Lets just get to Santiago!

Some times to stop…………. for a moment, is very powerful.
Holding hands, in a circle, in the middle of the road i congratulated us all for enduring the way with our broken bodies but strengthened spirit……………we had arrived!
Raising our joined hands aloft…………….we sent up a collective cheer.
We had all arrived…………………….together.
It felt right!
I had found my way………the right way…………with the right people.

Heading through the outskirts of the city we gradually found our way to the original, authentic heart of the city.

This is the Holy Year!

The Peurte Santa is opened for the pilgrims in this year. It is only used in the Holy years.

We entered together.

After a slightly dazed look at the Cathedral we made our way to the Pilgrims Office to collect our Compostella ( the certificate of completion of the Camino de Santiago ) ………………our Holy year Compostellas.

“What is your name”?
I told the attendant issuing me with me with my certificate not to bother looking for the Latin equivalent of my name ( they write your name in Latin on your certificate ) , he wouldn’t find one – “it’s gaelic”  i told him.
“Thank you, he said, ” that saves me time”.
“Where did you start from”?
“What country are you from”?
“What are your reasons for doing the camino”?
“And lastly did you complete all the way by foot”?
“Yes i did, no taxi, no bus”, i replied.
“Congratulations Peligrino, here is your Compostella”

With Compostellas in hand, smiles on faces and joy in our hearts……for ourselves and each other we headed back to the Cathedral for mass.

The Cathedral holds 1000 people.
There was not a seat to be found in the place.
In the Holy year they swing the massive insence burner which 6 attendants to do so.
What a sight…….so powerful!
They don’t simply swing it like a swing in the park, it seems to take on a powerful life of its own.
It soars up to the ceiling only to plunge back toward the floor again with a power you couldn’t imagine………..it’s like a caged force seeking an avenue of escape but finding none, trailing scented smoke in it’s wake –  like a dragon woken from years of sleep to find 2000 eyes staring at it. It burst into life from its resting place of years, eager to find the freedom of the open sky only to find its ankle tied causing it to dive back and forth, up and down the wide, high stone columned avenues of this huge, ancient cathedral.

The priests were singing a song i didn’t understand………it didn’t matter…….i got the message!

As the Mass progressed to near the hour mark i found myself and my fellow pilgrims either leaning against the stone columns, switching their weight from foot to foot or slowly walking on the spot…….trying to relieve the pressure on our sore feet from standing still for too long.

WE WERE ALL STANDING……….maybe just 6 of us.

1000 people sat on their seats, listening to the spiritual words of the priests, the wonderful singing, the powerful display of the ‘Botafumeiro’ amidst the ancient stone of the cathedral – worked by thousands of hands for millions of hours. Jostling for the best seat – at the front……the closer the better. The closer they could get the more they could recieve…….THE MORE THEY COULD TAKE. Eyes wide in wonder…….idolising the Holy Men, hanging in their every word, eyes wide with wonder and wanting………TAKING! Wonderful words of love for your fellow man.
Pilgrim this,
pilgrim that,
Bla, blah, blah…………..they even said our names and where we came from………how far we had come.
ALL could see who we were……………….
The dirty people…….
The smelly people………
The broken people……….

How painful it was for us to stand still for more than a few moments……..
Leaning on our sticks………
even the sticks showed the effects of the weight they carried, bending – as they  too struggled to hold their friend and his/her burden upright.

Upright……….STANDING!

1000 people so busy TAKING……………they didn’t think to GIVE!
So eager to recieve the words of love……………so greedily eating the words of love………gourging themselves on the sweet words…………..like a bee with honey.

TAKING!

NOBODY, not one! Nobody GAVE a single pilgrim a seat.
NOBOBY!
SO BUSY TAKING!
I didn’t want a seat for me………i could stand a little longer!
I wanted a seat for THEM.
To give them the opportunity to GIVE and stop TAKING.
The pilgrim next to me began struggling to remove his rucksack………….I REMOVED IT FOR HIM.

I found myself staring it the 1000s of people sitting before me.
Beautiful weekend clothes.
Soft skin………. painted………….. scented………….full.

EMPTY!

They made me angry.

Fearful……….. pathetic…………fat…………….TAKING!

FULL OF SHIT!

Then i felt something else………………………….

PITY.
SADNESS.
LOVE.

How much there is to do.
 

  

Posted from ES
posted Sun Feb 14, 2010

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