Wednesday 25 July 2012

Day 9 Santiago ~ Part 3

Peaking through the 20th century walls of smooth white concrete was a dome capped bell tower. On top of the dome, a smaller structure gives anchor to a cross which appears to have grown out of twisted and laced steel.
From the top of the cross as far down as I could see, the entire structure appeared to have decorated with the same precision as a princess bride's wedding cake. As fast as it appeared it seemed to vanish again as we passed behind another building.
It seems so strange to look at modern day buildings, with all our technology, and they are so simple??? I mean perhaps we may not want such exotic art work but plain slab walls. I'm sure there could be a compromise; but that's another conversation.
With our next turn...the sky line changed again. Now several towers stood tall and majestic as if to say "We're still here. Please come and explore." Many of us did accept that invitation; explore we did.
Tears of joy and awe not only caresses my face but so many others as well. In spite of the midday's heat beating down upon us - dirty and tired - we couldn't simply race on. To stand in the Cathedral's west square seemed to have washed away the memory of pain and fatigue - not that much unlike a mother who see's her child after delivery. The struggles of labour seem to give way to a feeling of calm and tranquility if even for just a brief second.
The more you look at the walls that surround you the more there is to see. The detail is indescribable. As you start to take it in, you begin to ask the question how did they do this? I forget exactly how old the church is but I'm confident in my memory that they did not have the technology we do today. Working conditions - hah. Maybe a place to sleep and a meal each day was their pay; for which I'm guessing they'd have been thankful for and perhaps they were even honoured to be a part of the construction. I'm not trying to compared or even suggest one time is/was better than's just very interesting to notice the differences and marvel at the skill of a bygone era.
But I still have complete my promise. To officially end my Camino there are two more things to do. First get my last passport stamp and second receive my certificate.
Elena asked for and received directions to the Pilgrim's Office, but all the entrances looked similar. Finally we went through a stone gate way. Elena seemed to be getting concerned and so I lead her in a building. There were people chatting in Spanish. I don't think Elena was comfortable with my action. Finally I stepped down the stairs toward the room where the voices were. When I got their attention I spoke a little Spanish between my English when the gentleman replied "I speak English". Indeed he did and very well.
I told him what we were looking for and in his Irish/Spanish accent he placed his hand on my shoulder and said, "We've been waiting for you. Let me escort you to where you need to go." Now I know he didn't me me specifically but let me tell you how wonderful it made me feel to not only hear the English language out to hear such wonderful words spoken so sincerely AND them to be personally guided to the proper area.
As Elena and I ascended the stairway to get our stamp and certificate, our guide was needed elsewhere. Only moments later...he stood before the line directing others in order to keep the line moving. Now it was my turn.
He turned to the young man behind the counter and directed him to speak English and to take 'good care of her'. As I answered the questions (name, age, where are you from, where did you start, and what was your reason for pilgrimage), my Irish friend stood be side me. Soon Elena joined us, as he said 'you must be so proud of yourself.' I smiled and thanked him for being so kind. He wished us well and we were off.
We spent time walking around the old area of Santiago with no care about time or commitment. I tried to see if I could find some of the people we had met along the way previously, particularly the Irish man would be celebrating his 70th birthday in Santiago on the Feast of St James, but there were so many people and the space is huge, with nooks and crannies all around. Everywhere one looked, there was another potential hiding place to be found.
It was hard to believe how fast time slipped by from the time we arrived in Santiago to the time we thought about checking in. The decision was agreed that we should go and settle in our rooms, clean up and the go back out to explore the area more. And so we did.
We heard there were going to be fire works at 10:30 and we didn't want to miss them - not that I think we could of, even from our hotel but when in Spain....
I'll share something with you I wasn't going to share but leaving it out might make some other parts sound 'weird'. Please know that I am ok but I was freaked out for a short while I felt scared and quizzy (very unsure too).
As Elena and walked toward the restaurant to eat we passed many people; and as we all do, I often turned to allow for others to pass by. OMG. As I was turning back around after a man had passed between Elena and he grabbed me. I mean a full hand grab to the crotch. While Elena didn't see "what" happen she knew something happen and that I was upset. I felt 15 again and sick at my stomach. I couldn't believe what had just happen. Elena turned to see if the guy was still there but...I wouldn't have recognized him if he was cause it happen so fast.
But I share this because for the rest of the night Elena and I held hands -tightly. For me it was to settle down and for Elena it was to feel safe. The crowd was huge and there were lot of police around. As a city girl, i expected this. And let's face it - Spain is having some economical problems, consider the history of St James and all the world loves a stage. (Oh and our pizza supper was nice).
We stood in a line by the Cathedral not really knowing why or for what but when it was over....we were glad we did. We were among the last of the people who were allowed into the west square area, where we could see the firework up front and personal and not so crowded. We ere able to see the laser show that was displayed on the cathedral wall and then directly above our heads on the west side of the cathedral the firework display went on; and on....and on! I have NEVER seen anything like it before in my life and I have seen some amazing displays including the Chinese entry at the international Symphony Firework competition when we were in British Columbia a few years ago.
Elena and I were still holding hands -apparently I was holding on tightly. I don't remember that but I do remember feeling over come by emotion as I watched the display in awe.
The past nine days have been more that "just a 111km walk" to do the pilgrimage. It has been an expedition of discovery on so many levels, some I'm sure I won't begin to understand until sometime in the future. I had many questioned of myself as I prepared for this trip. Some of the answers were obvious and others I look forward to uncovering in the days to come.
My actual physical Camino de Santiago de Compostella may be over but my soul journey will continue on and so I will continue to post on my blog. As a soul centered person my journey will never end. As a recently certified soul coach and a successful pilgrim, I look forward to adding this new dimension to the work I do.
Tomorrow is the Feast of St James here in Spain and we will be in the heart of Santiago to celebrate. I look forward to the experience and will sure it with you then.
With love and blessings....Carleana

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