Wednesday, June 11, 2014
In Santiago de Compostela
Sunday June 8, 2014 We agreed to meet up at one of the “little” churches near the main cathedral to get our certificate of 800yrs since St Francis de Assisi completed the camino. You can only get one every 100yrs. I’m pretty sure this will be my only chance, so we really wanted to get those. Then Kathleen and I headed to church. We were late, so we took a taxi, but it turns out that it wasn’t far at all! The taxi driver was great to talk to. His son lives near Fresno, so he’s been to California several times. He said he’s going again later this summer. He seemed like a mean old Spaniard when we first got in, but he was the nicest guy. I’ve noticed that a lot here. People don’t seem friendly on the outside, but as soon as you say anything to them, they really open up, and they do everything they can to help. Anyway, we had a nice chat. He helped us find the church, and he had actually heard of Mormons and said they’ve even come to his house before. Wow! We were 1/2 an hour late for church, and of course the only door into the chapel was right in front. And, since we’d been hiking all week, we only had hiking clothes. We stood outside and looked in just for a minute, and someone opened the door right away and motioned for us to come in and sit. So we had to walk in front of everyone in our grubby clothes. It didn’t matter at all though. They were so welcoming and so excited to have us. I felt like royalty. I hope I can always treat visitors how they treated me. I noticed that the pianist and chorister had left during the second speaker, so when it was time for the music, I told Kathleen to play the piano, and I popped up and led the music (just like in the old YSA days!). They were so grateful afterwards, and the Branch President told us we were their angels, straight from heaven! There were only about 30 people in Sacrament Meeting. And then, when it was time for Sunday School, we were down to about 7. It was a really good class though. Relief Society had about 9. Needless to say, I participated a lot, reading, praying and commenting. Everyone has to. They all hugged and kissed us all the time (In Spain they kiss on both cheeks—Mexico was just one). They were so great! I feel like we bonded with them so much in only a few hours. I even got a phone number from someone, and they said they’ll call me when they come to Madrid to go to the temple. That night Kathleen and I walked around the town some more, and then looked around the museum in the main Cathedral. It was unreal. They had things from the 1500’s, just sitting there, no big deal. In the US, those things would be all cased up. They had a library with books that were hundreds and hundreds of years old. It was amazing. Monday June 9, 2014 I was going to head to Leon with some friends I’d met on the Camino, but I really felt like I needed to get back home, so I bought my train ticket for Madrid in the afternoon. I spent some time in the town again, and also at the albergue. The albergue owners there were wonderful. They didn’t want me to go. I would have loved to live with them. Manuel wanted me to stay and teach him English. The night before, Kathleen asked where we could get churros and chocolate, and a few minutes later he came back with some cups of chocolate, and a bag of churros. I did try a little, and it was soooooo good. The churros don’t really do much for me—I’m not really a pastry person. Kathleen ate 12 (sorry Kathleen, but I just had to share that!). But I did drink some of the chocolate. It’s like drinking the Ghiridelli dark chocolate fudge. YUM! What we make in the states is like hot water with some chocolate powder. Nothing in comparison. Anyway, later that afternoon when it was time to leave, I gave Manuel and his wife (argh! I can’t remember her name!) hugs and thanked them. We got a little emotional. I was choking back tears on my walk to the train station, thinking about them, about the people at church, and the camino in general. I feel like I left a little piece of my soul in Santiago.