Friday, May 13, 2016

Mi Compostela

I went to the Pilgrim's 0ffice this morning to get my first Compostela certifying the completion of my pilgrimage walk. At the start of your walk, you get a proper Credencial. Along the way, you get sellos or stamps from churches, alburgues, pensiones or bars. In the past, I'd done that much but never gone to the Pilgrim's Office. It has a reputation for long lines and a hostile attitude. But it was raining today. More importantly, friends had told me that because Pope Francis has declared 2016 a Year of Mercy, I could have all my sins forgiven by obtaining a Compostela. Normally that only happens on the caminos in a Holy Year, when St. James Day, July 25, falls on a Sunday (not until 2021). After standing in line for 45 minutes, my moment of truth arrived. I was told that next time I should get more sellos from churches rather than only bars. I put aside my junkyard dog riposte ("I got a sello from every church that was open" [a painful issue on the Primitivo]), and nodded docilely. So now I have a Compostela. Unfortunately, later research tells me that has zilch to do with having my sins forgiven. Which seems only fair; this was all too easy. The historical and contemporary theological intricacies of pilgrimage indulgences is beyond the scope of this blog, however interesting. I also haven't told any of my friends that their compostelas are fine for framing but nothing else. (Although I hope I run into my Norwegian systems engineer tomorrow -- he'll be interested, and probably already knows more than I do about all this, being Catholic.). After my expedition to the Pilgrim's Office, I went to the noon Pilgrims' Mass. It's always an inspiration. Really. No snarky asides. Unfortunately, the incense in the botafumeiro sputtered today, so my picture of it is much more bland than in 2014.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Final day on the Camino

Today I walked the final 40 kilometers to Santiago. An hour from the start, I was able to visit the property Vanessa Llanes -- the co-leader of my 2009 Camimo walk -- hopes to rehabilitate into a bar and alburgue. So far, after two years, she is still waiting for the necessary permits. Vanessa is away leading a walk of the full Camino Francés, but I had a great conversation with her partner Ashley, the woman in the picture. Later in the day I walked with a 78-year-old Norwegian man who is walking the last 200 km of the Francés with his granddaughter Hannah. Two years ago he did the same with her older brothers. He has three younger grandchildren. He said he will keep doing caminos "as long as I can walk."

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Primitivo to the Francés

I walked the remainder of the Camino Primitivo this morning. Twenty-odd kilometers with no "towns" bigger than a few adjoining farm houses. No bars or stores of any sort. Beautiful country but hollowed out by abandonment. Then the Primitivo reached Melide, where it joins the Camino Francés, the happening camino. Zing-zing. Hordes of jostling pilgrims. Cool young guys in pursuit of girls made up for a college mixer. The Primitivo is a hiker crowd, grimy and proud of it. The Francés is a mobile meet-up. I walked about 15 kilometers after lunch in Melide on the Francés to Arzúa. After zero bars on this morning's Primitivo, there were 15 or 20 on the Francés, complete wth large patios and table umbrellas. Plus a few fruit stands.