Mass

I went to mass today!!  You should be impressed because I am.  Now, I am entitled to go because it is the daily pilgrim’s mass, celebrating the completion of pilgrimages to Santiago de compostela.  The cathedral was packed with lots of people standing.  I saw familiar faces but there were lots there who did not Go anywhere near the Camino.  Before the mass, they asked that no photo during the mass.  We were all good until the incense thing starts to swing.  It is the silvery looking thing suspended in front of the clergy.  It took at least 4 to operate the ropes and I thought that it may hit the ceiling at one point.  Very impressive indeed.  I am sure it is on YouTube if you are interested.

The swining of the incense is part of the mass.  However, in Santiago, it also acted to cover up the stench from the pilgrims of yesteryears.  They did not have the benefit of hot water and showers.  That made me had a moment of self reflection.  There are certain things that are very difficult to wash.  I am thinking of my boots.  After 4 days of soaking in Galician mud, they smell.  I certainly hope that the incense covered up that stench.  I even try to wash them today as they were squeaking wet already.  I am sad to say that it did not help.  I probably have to ditch them when I find suitable replacement or I may be refused entry to Canada.

THE CAMINO – the good, the bad, and the ugly

I’ve just spend the last 17 days walking the Camino and will arrive at Santiago, the final destination tomorrow.  I did have plenty of time to think about it and here is my list of the good, the bad, and the ugly.

THE GOOD

Actually, I have lots to say about the good.  The entire route is set up for the pilgrims. With some exceptions, there are shelter and food ever 5 to 10 km.  One can certainly do the Camino without much planning at all.  The pilgrims comes from all over the world and is a friendly bunch.  We tends to look out for each other.  We stand out and the locals usually wish us “buen Camino”.  There is a lot of history along the route.  I don’t even try to keep track of Roman or medieval bridges.  The churches have all blend into each other.  The photo below is Roman mosaic.  

THE BAD

I found the atmosphere changed when I started walking from Sarria.  It is the last place to start and still gets the recognition that one ‘done’ the Camino.  Before Sarria, we estimated that the same 20 to 30 do the same segment all the time and we got to know each other.  The number of pilgrims jumped after Sarria even with bus groups.  I understand that it will get worse tomorrow, with the final approach to the cathedral.  If you want the Camino experience and don’t care about that piece of paper, do it before Sarria.

THE UGLY

Some of the trail condition is really horrible.  This is due to hundred of years of use.  A couple of downhill section is full of largish loose rock and can cause falls.  In Galicia, some of the trail becomes either wall-to-wall mud or it becomes stream beds when it rains (and it does rain in Galicia). 

Please notice that much as I complained about the wet and cold spring, I did not have it in the list.  That is between me and Mother Nature; nothing to do with the Camino.

Yes, there are 30 beds in the dorm

Peace and Quiet

I did not know how precious peace and quiet were until I don’t have it.  I am now in the state of Galicia.  I took the bus yesterday in order to avoid more snow.  So, I thought that I would restart from Sarria to walk the last hundred kilometers or so.  Many other has the same idea.  For those who does not know, to get the completion certificate (or compostela), one must walk the last 100 km; that means starting from Sarria.  Before today, I was walking by myself most of the time.  Today, I was never along.  Someone was always close by.  Most annoying was this group of boys (British I think) who walked with music blasting.  Uugh!!

Consider that they are young with good knees, they are not even carrying their own packs.  Some whimps.

The Galicia countryside is lovely; gently rolling.  The chirping of the birds are interrupted by the farm animals; it is the first time I noticed farm animals on the trip.  I also noticed spring flowers today, including fields of dandelions (no photos).  The pretty yellow flower below are found in Canadian gardens and are known as primrose.

Finally, today was sunshine with no rain and a temperature in the mid teens.  So what that it is going to rain again tomorrow