Taking Care Of Business in Santiago
Our day began with oversleeping then realising that we needed to get to the Camino passport office double quick. We arrived there at approximately 08.50 to be confronted by a serious queue that seemed to go on for ever. And so we stood in this line for one and a half hours until, eventually, we reached the front and claimed our certificates. This left us half an hour to grab breakfast and charge down to the cathedral for pilgrims’ mass.
Bizarrely, as we headed back to the hotel, we met New Zealand Barb, our friend and constant companion on the Camino, walking through the centre of the city with her husband Mike. We went back to our hotel for a coffee before they headed off to check into their hotel and we headed off for twelve o’clock pilgrims’ mass. You had to be at least an hour early in order to get a seat, and, fortunately for us, our friends had joined the queue early enough to allow us to join them and claim a pew.
The mass itself was a highly memorable experience. There was a nun in charge of the singing who had the most wonderful voice and took the congregation through the responsorial psalms prior to the commencement of the service. Once things got under way an hour later it was just fantastic. The service followed the same rhythm as back home, while being conducted in a variety of languages. The singing was wonderful, and the overall atmosphere throughout was quite special. The seats had filled extremely early, and soon the standing room had followed suit.
There was no questioning the sense of anticipation as the mass itself drew towards its conclusion. There was no guarantee that we were going to see the thurible swing, but if it hadn’t, the disappointment would have been immeasurable. Of course, to the delight of the multi national congregation, the strapping swingers appeared just prior to the final blessing to take up their positions for the ceremony’s highlight. And what a spectacle it was. It swings and swings, gathering a momentum that gradually takes it close to the ceiling of the building. It is breathtaking ! Everything you imagine this to be, pretty much unfolds before your eyes. A truly amazing sight, and one, I’m pretty sure, that we will never forget.
Mass over, the culture level plummeted back to normal. We found ourselves a seat in the Cathedral square at a very nice cafe bar, and spent the remainder of the afternoon sipping (?) beers and putting the world to rights. It was, surprise surprise, baking hot, and simply wonderful. Eventually the women decided to go shopping and the men headed off to find a bar showing the final day of the Ryder Cup (Yes, I’m very knowledgeable about golf, actually). I have to say, as we sat watching the golf and discussing the the psychology of sporting success (ooooooohh, listen to you), it occurred to me that there aren’t many better ways of spending an afternoon.
As we continue to re-group for the evening meal, the numbers are swelling. Our Australian and New Zealand friends have joined us and we’re going to need a seriously big restaurant to cope with our rapidly increasing number. We are so popular (ish)!! In case you’re interested, I’m sitting here in a t-shirt and the sun has gone for the evening. Either I charge back to the hotel to get my fleece or I tough it out and hope we’re eating inside. Either way, it’s time to go!
Today’s album track is “Heroes” by David Bowie. We’ve met so many amazing people throughout this trip, that this seems quite appropriate!