Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Endings and Beginnings - Leaving Fisterre

As planned, Barb and I explored the long beach toward the beginning of the peninsula on Sunday morning. We agreed that this was probably quite the happening place in the heat of the summer. Though the day was cold and cloudy, it was great to walk the 2-3 km to the end of the beach and enjoy the fine view back. Colourful houses and small private hotels spread the length of the beach and the little Harbour was filled with neat rows of fishing boats. There were a couple of cafes strategically placed at the centre and the end of the beach, so we were able to take a couple of breaks and sip some lemonade and savor the view.

It was a holiday - a fiesta - and the fishing boats were all parked for the day. The townsfolk all walked in a procession with their Virgin Mary (see note below) along the streets and back again, accompanied the whole while, over an hour and a half, with what seemed to be fireworks. It seemed very odd that they were set off in the daytime. I wondered if it could be possible that they had a daytime version of fireworks, designed for more boom and no lights, as I never heard of fireworks in the daytime. In any event an hour and a half of fireworks would cost an awful lot, but maybe not so much if they are designed just to make a lot of loud booms.

We finished our walk at what had become our favourite spot, a restaurant called Pantone, which had great pizza and fresh pasta, wonderful dessert and best yet, tables on a patio by the Harbour. After the noise stopped, we hung out with a group of Peregrinos from the cohort of our last few days and had a fine afternoon sipping wine and drinking pastas. We also had a few shots of the yellow herbal liquor which we have become so fond of.

A few of us carried on through the night enjoying a "prime steak and pepper sauce" dinner and then on to a local bar for Queimada. While the "prime steak" was a real disappointment, the Queimada was not.

According to wiki, a Queimada is a punch made from Galician aguardente (Orujo Gallego) - a spirit distilled from wine and flavoured with special herbs or coffee, plus sugar, lemon peel, coffee beans and cinnamon.

According to the server, our Queimada was made of tequila, but I thought it tasted like brandy. It was a pretty potent drink, even though some of the alcohol had been burned off.

The wiki article says that a special incantation is recited as the flaming punch is stirred, but we just took turns stirring. Perhaps we should have done our homework and come prepared with the ritual incantation ready to recite. It would have been nice had there been more theatrics, however a good time was had by all.

As Barb noted, it was fitting that our last night together would be our latest night out as well as the drunkenest and with the worst sleep due to the noisiest snorer we had to date. We had checked into an albergue for our extra night's stay in Fisterre and so we were back to a dorm room full of people for our last night's sleep. There wasn't much asleep to be had.

We were early up the next day in order to catch the 8:15 bus back to Santiago. Barb and I parted at the bus station. She was starting to make her way back to Matrid for the flight home early Thursday. She will be stopping at Astorga and Salamanca which will break up the long bus ride. I am in Santiago for a couple of nights before I catch my plane to Barcelona.

I was hoping to meet up with a group from our first cohort on the Via de Plata on Tuesday - Eileen and Dick from Australia. Unfortunately, that was not to be as somehow we werent able to connect. It would have great to connect with them before I leave.

I did however catch a mass at the Cathedral where they swung the Bothafumerio and was able to video the whole thing, which I will upload to you tube and post when I get some decent wifi. In the meantime this photo is the best I can do. It shows the thurible as it is just lit. The smoke is rising and they are just starting to swing it.

From wiki: The dome of the Cathedral contains the pulley mechanism to swing the "Botafumeiro", which is a famous thurible found in this church. This thurible was created by the goldsmith José Losada in 1851. The Santiago de Compostela Botafumeiro is the largest censer in the world, weighing 80 kg and measuring 1.60 m in height. It is normally on exhibition in the library of the cathedral, but during certain important religious high days it is attached to the pulley mechanism, filled with 40 kg of charcoal and incense

I know I owe you all a blog about the sights in Santiago - the Cathedral is quite spectacular - and I promise that is next on my agenda while I fly to Barcelona tomorrow. In the meantime, it is late and I have to get packed up for an early morning flight.

Hasta luego amigos!

Note: The Virgin Mary is a statue (no, they don't use real virgins) and apparently each church in Spain has one. They use her for various festivals and parade her around the street and in some cases even move her from her "home church" to a larger cathedral and "loan her out" as it were, for a period of time. Such was the case with the Festival we observed in Astorga. In Finsterre they just paraded her around in a procession through the village.

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