Sunday, September 22, 2013

St. Francis Was HERE!!!

It is hard to see in this picture, since using a flash wasn't allowed, but this is the pillar underneath a statue of St. James in the Porto de Gloria.  So many pilgrims have touched the pillar that a hand print has been worn into the pillar.  However, the pillar has been cordoned off and pilgrims can no longer touch the same spot.  I was saddened by that.

So, as I was going through the museum of the Cathedral, I noticed that there were a lot of pictures of St. Francis.  So, the next time I was in the Tourist Information office, I asked if St. Francis had done the Camino.  HE HAD! She went on to tell me that he actually started a monastery here in the city, and asked the order founded by St. Martin if he could have some of their land to build upon.  They allowed him to rent a portion, and the rent was a basket of fish.  She went on to tell me that the museum of sacred art has a picture of St. Francis giving St. Martin a basket of fish, and that the Franciscans here in the city still rent their monastery from the other order, and once a year, there is a ceremonial giving of a basket of fish from one monastery to the other.  I am sure the rent has gone up since then, though! (Or maybe the deed has changed hands long ago--who knows!).  It is still kind of neat to be someplace where one of my personal heroes has been.  I plan to visit that museum with the painting tomorrow, as well as the church attached to the Franciscan monastery.  I am hoping to hear more of the story behind St. Francis being here.

 There is a museum near the Cathedral that has a scale model of the Cathedral in it, and it tells who has been instrumental in building what part, when and by whose plans.  Quite fascinating, since some of the renovations meant tearing down or tearing out the masterworks of famous artists.  For instance, Master Mateo created the original facade and a stone choir area that was torn out when the current facade was created.  They incorporated much of the statuary elsewhere, but the work was destroyed in the process.  As much as possible, it has been reconstructed in the Cathedral museum, but a lot has been lost.

One of the best things about being a pilgrim is that I get reduced rates into most museums, but I like to read everything, so I am a bit of a slowpoke when going through a museum.  Today I was kicked out of the above museum at 2:00 pm, since almost everything closes from either 2-4 or 2-5.  I will be going back at 5:00pm in order to see the rest of it.  I only hope that I can see the rest before it closes sometime around 7:00!

This is the lovely sister who has been the cantor at both pilgrim's masses that I have attended at the Cathedral.  She has taught us the music for all of the sung parts of the mass before it starts, and then leads us in the Angelus right before Mass starts.

On another note, I think I am getting a cold.  About noon today, my throat started feeling scratchy.  I am hoping that some good sleep and a lot of tea will nip it in the bud, but it is hard to tell.  Worst case scenario, I will end up staying in my room tomorrow instead of visiting the Franciscan monastery and the Museum of sacred art.  I am also hoping that eating yogurt for breakfast these next few days will help. When I went grocery shopping for the next couple of days, I also made sure that I had lots of vegetables to add to dinner, since veggies are few and far between on the pilgrim's menus!

My dinner from last night: rice, ham, bell peppers, carrots, and squash.  I garnished it with a little grated parmesan cheese.  

The next day, about 4:00pm

It is official...I have bedbugs again.  I am currently waiting for the Hospitalera to come up here with the  disinfectant spray, and then I will be moving to another room.  All of my clothes have been in individual baggies, so I don't think they are infected, but I also don't have time between now and heading home to wash everything in very hot water.  It will have to wait until I am back in the states...I don't plan to unpack anything at home, but will do so some evening next week at the Laundromat.  I will probably drag Amber or Tabitha along to double check all the pockets of my backpack before I throw it in the wash.  

I didn't realize it until last night, but I have been using the last existing part of the wall around Santiago ever since I got here.  The rest of it has been torn down to make room for more buildings/roads.

I don't know which I dislike about their stupid bites more, the fact that they itch so much, or the fact that they become little tiny blisters that weep incessantly if you accidentally pop them.  They grow when they are scratched, too!  All I know is that I will never, EVER forget what bedbug bites look or feel like.  The next time I do the Camino, I will be staying at higher priced Albergues, since they seem to have less issue with Chinchos (chinxos? Xinxos? It is the name given to bedbugs in Spanish, but I have noticed that x usually is used instead of either the ch or the J sound we usually see in Mexican Spanish, so I have no idea how to spell it!). I met one pilgrim that kept his backpack in a huge industrial strength plastic bag whenever he stopped--it seemed like a lot of hassle, but it worked for him, since he never got bedbugs, even when some of his friends did!  I have also heard of people bringing Tyvek sheets that are treated with permethrin.  That also might be worth looking into... Although, who knows?  Maybe bedbugs will be stamped out from the Albergues by the time I get to do this again!

A monument outside the Franciscan monastery.  They didn't have a whole lot to see, since a portion of the monastery has been turned into a 4 star hotel.  They seem to be a working monastery as, well, though, since I saw a Franciscan monk walking down the street and talking on his cell phone... It felt very anachronistic, and I was tempted to take a picture!

Of course, it also means that I will likely not be seeing any more of Santiago this evening, since I still have to spray down my room and my backpack, as well as to move this evening, not to mention make dinner.  I am sad about that, but I am also getting excited about coming home.  I went to the Cathedral for the last time this morning, and I am glad that I was able to attend one of the "Chapter Masses" of the order that takes care of the Cathedral.  I didn't understand most of the sermon, but the chant done by the monks was very beautiful.

In one of the museums I visited, they had an exhibit about the use of wine and food in sacred ceremonies.  This picture of Jesus in a wine press is both a little surreal, and an interesting way to explain what the Eucharist is.

And, I was right last night--I definitely have a cold.  I have been blowing my nose incessantly, and have begun to cough, probably due to post-nasal drip.  I am just thankful that this didn't happen while I was walking!  I actually have a lot to be thankful for.  I am still walking on my own two feet, I already have a place on the bus to Madrid, and I get to head toward home in less than 24 hours.  I have my Compostela.  I have a clearer head and a lighter heart.  While I still haven't gotten any clear direction about my future, I DO know the next step.  I am abundantly blessed!

I went to the museum of modern art here in Santiago, and this is one of the sculptures there.  This particular artist had a thing for potatoes, so many of his sculptures incorporated them.  I'm afraid I can't remember his name at the moment...

And, tomorrow, I will leave my Albergue with the single room, go to Mass, and then head for the bus station.  I will then be traveling the first leg of going home--the trip to Madrid.  In just a little over 48 hours, I will be heading back to my normal life.  It is a little weird to think that my trip is basically over, and that it is time to turn toward home.  I will miss this, and I won't.  Just like I carried all of you with me, I will be carrying the Camino with me.  I hope I never quit being a pilgrim.