El Camino de Santiago 2004
While wandering around Ann Arbor in a fit of forlorn longing for a true cup of cafe con leche or chaña grande--just in the mood for a bar where I could sit and enjoy a bocadillo while I killed some time--a familiar voice greeted me with an excited salutation. I embraced this newcomer with open arms and had to step back in wonder at the amazing way which two people could ever be brought together over three hundred kilometers half way around the world. Yes yes, companions, compañeros, fellow travelers and fellow perigrinos pobres, we've all had an impact on eachother or did the camino have the impact on all of us. The playground where each of our weaknesses took shape, but also the test which brought forth our strengths. I can only say in retrospect... John if you ever startle me by running up and giving me a hug again I'm going to toss you into South U! :)
Hola otra vez. I have some time to kill before I leave for the airport and I was feeling the urge to write about my afternoon, so here I am again.
I just saw the movie Lost in Translation - I thought it would be appropriate to see it dubbed into Spanish, although I didn´t ´lose´ too much. When I got out I started walking back to Puerta del Sol and happened to notice a church (La Iglesia de Carmen) that I must have walked by at least a dozen times before. It´s funny how you don´t notice certain things until the circumstances are just right. Anyway, I went in...
There were maybe 10 or 20 people sitting scattered in the pews, many of them praying, and then a few people wandering around looking at all the alcoves/chapels. The church was filled with the smell of incense and candles. I looked at a fairly typical but well-executed wall statue of Jesus on the cross. I then turned around to see a glass coffin around chest level containing a realistically painted statue of Jesus after being taken down from the cross. I stared at the gash in his side and then my eyes drifted down to the end of the coffin, where two holes were cut in the glass. The figure´s feet stuck out about 6 or 8 inches over the edge and a woman in her 60´s or so was piously rubbing "Jesus´s feet". The feet were worn a pale cream color from the many hands that must have stroked them over the years. Something kind of caught in my throat - it was just so unexpected and, frankly, rather disturbing. I continued on a few meters only to see a similar figure of Christ, also lying in a glass coffin, but this time at ground level and without any holes in the glass. I bent down to look at it and then got up almost shakily... I was relieved that the rest of the church was filled with less disturbing images of the Virgin Mary and other saints.
I left the church and walked out into the warm, sunny streets near El Corte Ingles, but the image of those feet, those worn feet, will stay with me for a while. I don´t know why I was so affected by the experience. I think it was just a combination of having just come out of the movie, thinking about a particular person, and knowing I´m leaving in just a few hours. Plus, the surprise of seeing the church for the first time after walking by it so often probably made me more impressionable.
Well, that should be all for me from Spain. Ciao.
I for one have no intention of letting this blog lapse! I look forward to reading people´s reflections on the Camino and hearing about the reactions of family and friends to certain ´permanent recuerdos´. I still have the group book that we got people to sign and I plan to do something nice with it and maybe paste in some of our blogs.
Andy and Tomás are floating around somewhere in Spain and a few of you are living it up in France or England, but Christine and I are the last ones here in Madrid. I leave late tonight and she heads out tomorrow afternoon. We enjoyed one last menu del día together for lunch today, complete with a café con leche, of course.
It´s crazy how much time I´ve spent at Hotel Paris by now, and in Madrid in general. I feel so comfortable here now - the last few nights I´ve just wandered around the city for hours, discovering people relaxing by fountains and parks or engaging in all manner of money-making endeavours.
Pues, adios España. I´ll be back!
As I sat on the plane ride back home, it began hitting me that the trip was over, and with that, so is this blog. Of course if people would like to continue adding content, please do. I would especially like to read what you all have to say once you get home and have had some time to ‘digest’. A warm thanks to everybody who blogged, even when tired, hungry or just not in the mood. I think that without realizing it, you have made an impression on more people than you ever imagined. Already I have received comments from parents, administrators, and even other students who want to join us next year.
Since everybody left at a different time, we didn’t really have a chance to all say our goodbyes. If I missed any of you, it was only because I was running out of time to make it to the airport. Thank you so much to all the students that came with me. Each one of you has taught me something new.
Hola amigos! Today is our last full day in Santiago and everyone is trying to soak up the experience through one of two methods - either strolling (or running) around the city buying gifts, visiting museums, and seeing the sights, or indulging in the time-honored Spanish siesta tradition.
This afternoon Andy made a surprise appearance with a big UofM flag - his wife took group pictures of us with the flag at various locations around the cathedral. Andy said he would send copies to all the nice albergues (which means none for you, O Cebreiro). Tonight we´re going to have a special dinner complete with plenty of stories and the much-anticipated ´coffee filter awards´(there weren´t any paper plates at the supermercado).
A few clarifications and updates for readers of this blog...
- Nick´s reference a while ago to being the only survivor of the nuclear holocaust was GIEU Camino code for having no blisters. :-)
- To our surprise, the 35 km troopers of a few days back only made it about 30 km before deciding to stop. Reporting the news to the rest of us Annie said wisely, "You guys underestimate the Camino."
- Last night´s discoteca plans morphed into a couple rounds of cards and a good night´s sleep for most. Ah well, there´s always Madrid!
It´s odd how long ago the Camino seems now, but yet I feel like I would have no problem strapping my bag on tomorrow morning and hitting the trail. I guess that´s a good thing since we will have to shoulder our bags once more tomorrow morning for the train trip back to Madrid (an 8 hour ride!). Hasta pronto, Madrid.
Well I´ve finally found time between shopping, free concerts in the plaza, napping in beautiful parks, and eating lots of good food to get in a quick blog before one of the hundreds of 12 year olds who have over taken our hostal come in to kick me off the computer. Today was another awesome day in Santiago, at first I thought that we´d all get bored with 5 days to hang out in this city, especially after getting used to moving on after just an afternoon of exploring, but this college town has shown us all a good time. Between checking out classes, going to little cafes, choral concerts at night, museums, pedicures, walking through the beautiful parks, and shopping in all the little boutiques, we´ve kept ourselves busy! John even bumped into Jenna Bush this morning!
Tonight a bunch of us are going to check out the Discoteca that a bunch of high school boys told Yasmin, Megan and I about. Its right next to the college campus, so we´ll be sure to bump into the locals to find out more in´s and out´s of the town. We´ve still got tomorrow to explore and get ourselves into trouble, and then Saturday morning we´ll hop on the train to head back to Madrid for a few days before we all go our separate ways...tear!
This trip has been amazing, and I want to thank both Annie and Andy in all their hard work in showing us how to experience the culture here to the fullest. Thanks to everyone at home for your love and support! I can´t wait to get home to share pictures with everyone!! But the trip´s not quite over yet, so I´m gonna get off this computer and enjoy the rest of my time!!
Well, I guess by now everyone knows that we made it to Santiago ... all 16 of us and all walking. We have been here for a few days now, but I don´t think the journey we have just completed will really sink in until we are back in the States and reflecting on our time here.
The city of Santiago is truly amazing ... unlike any city I have seen before. It has a real mix of styles from old and historic to new and modern. The University setting is beautiful. There are lots of trees around campus and it seems almost removed from the downtown hustle and bustle that is going on only a few streets over. The area around the Cathedral has lots of stone streets with little shops and cafes ... an easy place to get lost in. The main parks are another place to wander around for many hours at a time or to just sit and rest. People here seem to really value the large parks and, as a result, they are very well maintained. Large fountains, benches, and many winding walkways can be found in any of the parks both here and in a majority of the other towns we visited along the way.
The next couple of days are the final days of our field site experience. I think everyone is anxious to go their separate ways since we have been together for so long; however, I know it will feel awkward the few days after when we are no longer together as a group. I think each of us has learned a lot about other cultures from this experience, but more importantly we have learned a lot about ourselves.
A special thanks goes out to GIEU for allowing each of us to take part in this amazing program. Afterall, like Andy has said many times along the way, Is there really any other way you would want to be spending your summer vacation?
Well, we made it to Santiago all in one piece and have been wandering around the town for the last couple of days. I´m sad to see that the program is almost drawing to a close and that I will have to leave España. I have had some great experiences and gotten to know some really nice people. Deborah has already mentioned it, but a few nights ago, we were listening to a group of students from the law school sing on the streets. It was the same group that had been in one of Annie´s videos last year and I recognized a few of them. Annie told one of the guys that I wanted to hear a song, even though I hadn´t said that. After a few songs, one of the members came and got me out of the crowd to come and stand in with them so that they could sing me a song. They put one of their capes around me and I had to stand there while they sang to me. I didn´t know what to do, but apparently it was all right and now I have a great story to remember.
See everybody soon,
Hey Des-You mean to tell me you had to go all the way to Espana to eat sushi?--We love you and miss you and will see you next week-Can you believe it?-Come home safe and you know the rest-wen
Our time in Santiago has been so full I´ve barely had time to write in my journal, much less post to the blog. But after an evening of music (a university choral concert in a church and a fun street group of law students who serenaded Erin) I found the computer in the hostal and sat down for some quality time with the internet. I´ve been enjoying Santiago and it´s strange to think that we have three more whole days here! After the Camino, it´s weird to be in any one place for very long. :-) It´s been fun running in to all the people we know from the Camino - you really bond with people after sharing bathrooms, blister popping utensils, and stories. I guess that´s all from me for now... Hasta luego!