Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Santiago de Compostela

What to say? That’s me, standing on the scallop shell in the center of the plaza in front of the Santiago Cathedral, a whisker shy of 500 miles from the French border outside Roncevalles, where we stayed on October 1 and started serious walking the next day. While the Camino has extinguished the sins of pride and compulsiveness in me, as well as working other wondrous changes in my personality that will soon be apparent to all, I can’t resist adding that I walked every inch. And we beat Martin Sheen and his film crew here by a day or so. (You remember Martin and his Camino movie, which we first encountered when starting our walk in Rouncevalles, but who has been a day or so off our schedule ever since).
Sheen will be filming here November 5. Popular thinking is that he will surely attend the noon pilgrim’s mass, and that for him the church fathers will surely swing the Botafumeiro (“smoke belcher”), the largest incensario in the Catholic world. (Otherwise, the Botafumeiro is broken out and swung only on holy days and, reportedly, when someone pays 250 euros – and if there is more than one person who offers to pay, persons two, three and etc. are not told someone else has already paid; each is allowed to contribute his or her 250 euros.)
But I will be in Paris on November 5. So I am now zero for two in my attempts to see the spectacle of the Botafumeiro swinging majestically – and, yes, dangerously, for once the chain broke and it fell onto the pilgrims below – across the cathedral.
Not reason enough to walk the Camino again, just for another chance, but who knows?