Monday, February 2, 2009

Happy Groundhog Day!

If there are any groundhogs living near Pamplona, there was no way in the thick, low clouds they could possibly have seen their shadows; thus, spring is right around the corner. :-)

Here in Spain, though, Groundhog Day doesn't get any press time. Instead, there is a lovely festival of candles - Candlemas, so often mentioned in Jane Austen books. As it turns out, I've been sharing quarters with a Spaniard name Franco for the last three days. He's very well experienced on every route to Santiago and led me off-trail a bit today to the wonderful little Templar church of Santa Maria del Eunate. There, as luck would have it, they celebrate with a special mass and candle procession. We arrived just in time to take part. When the priest saw two pilgrims enter, and frankly, everyone else because it's such a small church, he took note and called us to the alter toward the end of the service for a special 'pilgrim's blessing'. This sort of thing has happened to me before, but I was always the sole pilgrim. This time, with a man about my age standing to my right at the altar while the priest spoke in a language I don't understand holding his hands above our heads, with all eyes on the two of us... unusual. There was a press photographer present, since the candle procession in this particular church is something unique, who recorded the event. Franco is certain we'll make tomorrow's paper. Who'd a thunk that?

Franco and I speak in French as our common language. I'm learning a little more Castillian every day, since I'm sure our paces will cause us to separate one of these days. We've been joined today by a young Swiss named Rolf, who will begin his walk tomorrow. He lacks Spanish as well and knows little French; with him, I speak German, and translate into French for Franco, who translates into Spanish for the priest who let us into the pilgrim house. It's all so culturally diverse.

I'm well into Spain now. Pamplona yesterday; Puenta de Reina this evening. The weather isn't bad, but the condition of the trail is highly eroded from overuse, and with the recent rain, quite a mudbath. Ah well. The pilgrim houses are many and huge - generally well over 100 beds. It's an entirely different experience on this side of the Pyrenees.


Deanna said...

Ann - It's pretty clear to me that the priest married you and Franco :). take care.


Anonymous said...

Dear Ann,

Pamplona is where I begun my pilgrimage in Oktober 2007...:) Nice memories... Hopefully the weather gets better, the spring is coming anyway.
Take care

Janet said...


I enjoyed catching up to you on your pilgramage through your blog. As always your words and art have me walking right beside you, experiencing the interesting and odd moments, the cold, the warmth and the people. I miss you, come back to Denver soon. Or better yet, where shall we meet in Italy this year? Hugs and kisses


mom said...

Hi Ann,

Glad to know you are well. But are you a little forgetful? When you were young we would go to St. Ann's in Keansburg on Feb. 2 and have your throat blessed. It was to keep you from getting colds for the rest of the winter. The groundhog always saw his shadow.

I hope your special blessing keeps you well now. Love, Mom

Anonymous said...

Hi Ann(e),
It was overcast and bone chilling cold here in Pgh. Pa. and that little rodent still saw his shadow!!
Glad to hear you have met some fellow travelers and enjoying the company as well as the weather.
Keep on treking!!
Pittsburgh Suzy

Compostelle 2008 said...

Dear Ann,

Well it is not because it is winter that the weather is necessarily bad. When we went through Puenta la Reina last June it was pouring rain and cold. Mud stuck to our boots.

Keep on trekking, I am enjoying your blog and reliving a little my own pilgrimage.

Michèle from Ottawa