Saturday, 22 May 2010
You get more than an Indulgence
At first sight this will be considered evidence of more commercialisation of the Camino which has been the subject of much discussion of late. Other examples are the fact that the cost of a credencial has increased from 50 centimes to 65 centimes for the Holy Year and for 2010 only it costs 300€ to fly the Botafumeiro rather than the usual 240€. Following my last post about the festivities I even got an e mail signed “Outraged of Milwaukee”. Things are definitely looking up for this blog.
My own view is that whilst there is clearly evidence of increasing commercialism along the Camino Francés in particular it seems to me that as the market grows this is inevitable. I also believe that it was always thus and there are many tales of the profiteers of the middle ages who wanted to cash in on the pilgrimage. At least nowadays they haven’t reverted to systematically murdering pilgrims to plunder their rucksacks. Maybe this is another benefit of lightweight walking?
The fact of the matter is that Spain is no longer a country where food, drink, accommodation and other commodities are dirt cheap. The Spanish economy and the volatile exchange rate have put paid to that. We also have to remember that in this economic crisis Spain is not in a good place. The national debt has soared, the economy is weak, bank lending is nil and unemployment is at 20%. More in rural Galicia they say. It is against this background I find myself using words like timo or estafa (both mean “ripoff”) with increasing frequency. I’ve found a good way to calm myself down is to compare what I am complaining about to London prices and ask why I expect a gigantic Spanish gin and tonic to be a third of the price of its British diminutive counterpart?
A couple of days later I strolled out half a kilometer or so from the Cathedral on the Via de la Plata. Victoria in the office had told me I should go and visit her parish Church. “The oldest in Santiago”. Rebekah had also mentioned it. A short walk took me to the very beautiful 12th Century Church of Santa María del Sar. It has everything. Fabulous flying buttresses, a beautiful cloister with fountain, a nave constructed of columns which lean out like the Tower of Pisa, and a sense of peace which must strike believer and unbeliever alike. Here is a place truly set apart.
Yes, even with a 10% discount, you couldnae buy it!