Santiago de Compostela, Spain

05.26.2010

I slept very well last night.  I woke up at 7:30a and was in the old part of Santiago by 8:30a.  My goal was very simple (or so I thought).

1) Walk through the Holy Door
2) Give St. James a hug and a smooch
3) Visit St. James tomb, offering thanks for a safe pilgrimage and offer up the intentions of friends/family
4) Attend the Pilgrim's Mass at Noon

As usual, when it comes to the big churches, I just get lost.  I walked through the Holy Door and didn't even know it!  I also ended up in the Tomb of St. James before anyone else.  It was nice.   I had time and quiet to offer up my prayers of thanks and the intentions of friends and family.  Then I couldn't figure out how to find the statue of St. James.  I  was so confused, then I realized I was "fenced" in by the security fences.  I saw a peregrina from Germany I knew, so I went over to her and she helped me figure it all out.

I went back outside the church, re-entered through the Holy Door, got in line to hug St. James, hugged St. James, then went back into the Tomb.  It was crazy how they had it set up.  I ended up back outside, so I tried to get back in but this time they wouldn't let me in with my day bag, so I went to the backpack check place by the Pilgrim's Office.

I made it back into the Cathedral about half way through the 10a Mass.  I can't even begin to express my shock at the spectacle it was.  There were signs everywhere in three or four different languages telling people to be respectful and quiet.  Apparently, older tourists are exempt from this rule!  I found a seat in the back, deciding just to stay until the 12p Pilgrim's Mass, hoping to improve my seat once the 10a Mass was over.

Well, once the 10a Mass was finished, I tried to get a better seat but all the tourist groups had taken the seats up front.  I like sitting up front because I like to see what's going on and in this case, the sound system is usually better up front so I can hear what is being said.  I went back to the back of the church and found a pew to sit in.  Then three tourists tried to fit in the pew I was sitting in when only two more people would have fit.  After they were trying unsuccessfully to get me to move over (which I couldn't because there was no space to move!), I decided to move to another pew.  I was so angry!

After weeks on the Camino, I had gotten used to some rude behavior, like turning the lights on at 6a while everyone else was asleep or talking loudly while people were trying to sleep.  These people at the Cathedral took it to another level.

Every 15 minutes they had to make an announcement to tell everyone to be quiet.  Really?  I know I am a loud American sometimes, but even I know to be quiet in a church.  There were guys in blue habits going around telling people to be quiet or to stop taking pictures or shooting video.  Yes.  People were taking pictures DURING Mass!  St. James must be rolling over in his tomb at the spectacle this Cathedral has become.  I did get to see the botofumiero, this HUGE incensor that they swing on a rope!  It was pretty spectacular and it took four people to make it all work.  They are doing it more during the Holy Year, I think.

After Mass, I walked out into Praza do Obradoiro and came to understand the description in Kimberley and Viviana's blog of "Vegas for Catholics".  People were hawking all kinds of souvenirs.  There were two guys dressed up as "statues", posing with people.  One was a medieval pilgrim, the other was Jesus Christ (think Sacred Heart Jesus).

I decided to do some souvenir shopping, but not there.  I found some shops and picked up a few things.  I found a Thai place for lunch.  I had chicken skewers and coconut soup.  It was very tasty and a little bit different.

I headed back to the Albergue and chilled out for the night.  Tomorrow, I booked a day trip to Finisterra, the End of the Earth!!!