Friday, October 2, 2009

The Way -- The Movie

Roncevilles must in ordinary times be a very calm and meditative place. Last night's Mass, pictured at right, certainly was. A hundred or so about-to-be peregrinos pausing for a moment with God before embarking on their pilgrimage. Outside the chapel, however, our acess to our hotel was blocked by eight -- count 'em, eight -- large trucks unloading sound and light equipment for today's filming at the monastery of The Way, Martin Sheen's new movie about a physician who travels to the Pyrenees to claim the body of his son, who died in a snowstorm. Instead of stopping there, however, he puts his son's ashes in his son's backpack and continues his son's pilgrimage along The Way, our very own Camino. Directed by Sheen's son Emilio Estevez (Martin adopted a stage name, Emilio did not), the film will show how Sheen recovers his sense of inner peace when he meets a Canadian woman, a Dutch man and a British writer. Sounds a bit mawkish, but that has not prevented us from volunteering to act as extras, which Emilio (out running this morning, slowly) says he's in search of, given the late-in-the-season thinning of pilgrims. They are, apparently, moving along The Way about the same pace we are. Hopefully, we won't share too many more hotels, since the young Spanish film crew was partying outside my window until the not-so-wee hours (those Spanish hours, again).
After that excitement, the Camino itself might seem in danger of being an anticlimax. Not so. Our 13-mile stoll today took us up and down a series of pitched hills through beech forests which, alas, disappeared as we gradually lost altitude. We reached Zubiri, a small town with a medieval puente (bridge), this afternoon. Tomorrow, on to Pamplona (yeah, I know, I was there, but that was to get started).