July 14th Santiago
We are in Santiago and I am not sure of the way that I feel, We were hurried as we came down from Mont del Gozo and the one thing I tried not to do was to be hurried. We had heard that you needed a stamp in your credential before you get to the cathedral on the day of arrival. We had many stamps from cafes, bars, restaurants even churches as many as I could find open. But for my final one before the cathedral I wanted another church. There was one between Mont del Gozo and the cathedral so we stopped at San Lazaro church on the way into town. They were in the middle of mass and we couldn’t interrupt so we went next door to a little bar for tea and cola coa. We sat there for about 20 minutes and soon the place filled with older men in nicer clothes, mass was done. We asked for the la quenta (the bill) and headed up the ramp.
This was Sunday so I knew most things wouldn’t be open but I really wanted this church stamp. I turned around to put Debs ramp on her chair and when I turned around, the door to the church was closed and everyone seemed to have walked away. We saw no priest and no one outside looked like they were from there. We tried the doors and no answer, and no one seemed to give much thought to two pilgrims trying to get into a church.
Negative thoughts started into my head and I tried to shake clear of them but didn’t even turn to get a picture of the church as I usually do when we see one. We went on down the path towards the cathedral hoping Hayden would catch us, we wanted to walk in together.
At the top of one hill we saw Berthold the German walking toward us without his pull cart. Berthold is one of my favorite Camino family of all. He is almost 7 feet tall with blondish long hair in a ponytail. He is big and larger than life. He laughs a lot and I just love talking to him. He had already been to Finesterre and was back to Santiago going the other way. He was only going about 15 km because he too had been in a hurry when he entered the city.
About the time he left, Hayden came up and we walked to the cathedral together. We had heard from a fellow pilgrim who had walked the Camino before that you don’t walk up to the front of the church. You go through a small archway down some steps and the church is kind of behind you to the left. We saw the side doors of the church and went that way instead so we could go to the mass at 11:00.
We had seen several flyers that said mass would be in English at 11 and we had heard several in Spanish up to this point so we figured we should see what they were saying. There were stairs into the church and Deb said she would wait outside and Hayden and I could go. You have got to be kidding me. We walked this far we all go or no one goes. I ran inside as is was about 15 til 11. They stopped me and said we could not take backpacks inside. No problem where can my wife get in at, she is in a silla de ruedas. They said go back up and to the right to the back of the church. Off we took at a pretty good clip.
Santiago is not really set up for Debs chair, we may need to talk to them and see if they can change the centuries old pavement for our convenience. By the time we could get to the back of the church around several buildings, missteps, wrong turns, blocked by stairs, and found the entrance we had lost Hayden. He called and we talked each other to the right door. We had read that on busy days they lock the doors five minutes early. The door was open but we couldn’t take our packs in. We knew there were some lockers some where down the street to put them in but we didn’t have time. I told Deb, “God watched our stuff this long, I’m leaving mine here on the street.” She believed me so we dumped everything up by the wall and headed in, computer, hats, Haydens ukulele, everything and ran inside. It wasn’t as full as I expected and we got some prime seats right at 11. Slowly the place filled up and you could tell this was Spain not Germany because it was already 15 after and the mass hadn’t started.
We saw any people from our Camino. The couple from San Francisco, Jeffrey from Canada, the couple bringing all the orphans and several others we just recognized from the trail. Almost every one of them came up to hug us and congratulate us just for making it.
By almost 12 I realized we had hurried for nothing. At about 12:30 when the mass started, in Spanish, I got to thinking. It made no sense, they wouldn’t give an English mass in the largest cathedral in Santiago on Sunday at 11. Turns out the English mass is in a little side chapel of the cathedral, along with a German mass, Italian, Polish, and Chinese. This day was not going as planned. But like I say, “You want to make God laugh, tell him your plans”
Of course it turned out the way it was supposed to. The seats we had gotten were in the cross part of the cathedral, it’s sanctuary is shaped as a cross. They swung the botofumerio after the mass. If we would have been in the English we would not have gotten the seats we got and not had the view we had. When it was over we saw more pilgrims we knew and when we got outside all of our stuff was right where we left it.