Tuesday, 2 August 2011
Having the stomach for it
Here in Santiago things have been busy. After a few quiet days the number of pilgrims arriving is increasing as the August surge begins. In fact the reordering of the Pilgrims’ Office in its new accommodation has led to greater efficiency and far shorter waiting times for pilgrims. Everyone is pleased. Gossip and rumour about the missing Codex continue to abound in the bars and in the newspapers. The rumour with most currency is that it is an “inside job” perpetrated to embarrass Cathedral officials some of whom are deeply unpopular. I suspect this theory may be wishful thinking.
But I’ve hardly had time for thinking. I’ve unpacked boxes, reluctantly put away camino gear, rearranged the apartment, installed new telephone and internet, become registered to live in Spain, and opened a bank account with a Spanish bank so that I can have a mobile telephone contract with a Spanish provider. I’ve also registered with the Spanish Health Service so that I can see a doctor when I need to and get repeat prescriptions at a discount price as I did in London. To do all of this I’ve been to the police station, local government offices, banks and the medical centre not once but several times. It has been exhausting. Processes which are time consuming in one’s native language are strange, arcane and energy sapping in a different language. I’ve got used to being called a “foreigner” and having to go to the departments which deal with “Extranjeros”. Poco a poco the ingredients essential for permanent daily living here have been coming together.
There are many new faces in the Pilgrims’ Office and I have been getting to know them as well as starting to work there regularly again. Welcoming fellow pilgrims continues to be rewarding and I am developing ideas about how more volunteers can come to Santiago to provide information and support to pilgrims arriving. However I become increasingly convinced that such volunteers have to have been walking pilgrims themselves. I’ll tell you more about this project as it emerges.
But the magnetism of the camino remains and I miss walking. On Thursday I’m off to walk back to Santiago on the Camino Portuguese from Padron. In the few quiet moments I also been browsing through my photographs from the Camino Levante. Everytime I see the face of some of the people I met on the way I remember vividly what we talked about. I thought I’d share some memories with you:
In the next few days I’ll tell you more about the people I met on the way and what they said. Until then, remember...if you want to make callos take a whole stomach...