July 17, 2008

6 July: -In Santiago

There was no more need for such an early start, and we left Monte de Gozo to head down the hill, just in time to catch the 9am bus into town.
En route this time, it was great to be in a more relaxed mode, just to notice the details as I walked along.
And for ye of little faith.... yes those are some brilliantly blue skies in Santiago!
The Cathedral spire loomed ahead in the old part of the city.
In the Cathedral there was a "High" Mass at 10am. It was more peaceful and less crowded than what was to come at midday...

Outside the cathedral, one of the groups of young people from the previous night were singing together. Quite a few of them were up the front around the altar for the pilgrim mass.
The cathedral transept was incredibly full when I returned there at 11.10am, full of bus tourists waiting to see the botafumiero swing. When it was swung just before the end of Mass, it was a bit like Disneyland. There was no doubt it was hugely impressive to see it swing - right across a huge area of the width of the transept. But people rushed up the aisle to take photos, then had to rush back again so they didn't get hit by it... then everyone was clapping and cheering..... it was all a bit much for a walking pilgrim used to the countryside.....
I had decided to move into town for my last two nights, as the Seminario Menor was closer to the railway station for my 9.04am train.
There was a great view back to the city.

You may wonder that I haven't mentioned much about the Saint and the Cathedral. I guess my lapsed-Catholic-ness is showing. My Quebec friend L did all the right things, and with passionate belief. In fact, much of her walk she was praying for someone very ill, and she prayed for the person here at the Tomb of the Apostle. For her, the pilgrimage was very much about arriving in the destination of Santiago. But for me, I think the pilgrimage lay in the journey, in the rhythm of the footsteps. (See more in my
reflections if you wish...) And for me, Santiago was a place to joyfully re-meet some of those I had met walking along the way, and to say goodbyes.
Santiago was I thought, quite a fascinating city to explore- and I measure these things by how easy it is for me to get lost in a city as I ramble down interesting side-streets etc. I got lost quite often! But on this occasion, being in Santiago was mostly about seeing special people. I will have to return another day as a 'tourist' if I really want to explore the city.

As the day ended, the sun shone on the tower of the Seminario. It was time to say some goodbyes.

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