After resting for a day in Santiago the rest of my pilgrim pals returned home to their normal lives, while I continued walking, wanting to officially end my pilgrimage in Finisterre. The end of the known world until the discovery of the Americas, Finisterre was also a former pagan pilgrimage destination, believed to be the site the sun went to die each night. I was unsure what these final days walking would mean, but ultimately decided to view them as a chance to reflect on what I’d learned, and as preparation to let go of my life as a pilgrim.
Category Archives: Spain
I was told early on that the Camino de Santiago has three stages: physical, mental and spiritual. When I last wrote I was squarely in the middle of the mental- no longer under bodily duress but tired of the routine, of Spanish food, of the nightly snoring and farting keeping me awake every night. I began walking the Primitivo route from Oviedo on the first day back to school, a chill of autumn in the morning air, and it was from there on that strange things began happening. I would cruise for hours in a state of euphoria, totally blissed out. Changing the lyrics from Enrique Iglesias’ summer jam ‘Bailando’ to ‘Santiago,’ I convinced anyone I could to sing with me, and when alone serenaded the birds at full volume. I found myself crying at the sunrises, overwhelmed by the beauty found in every direction. Sometimes the wind would blow through the eucalyptus or pines just so, making them appear to bow as I was passing by… and I would bow back.
Oh, well hello! I really did have grand plans to write about all of the wonderful things that happened in August: my friend´s magical wedding in a little town straight out of Beauty and the Beast, wine tasting in Bordeaux, climbing the Dune du Pilat in Arcachon, revisiting my old study abroad haunts in Paris, and discovering that bohemia still exists in Berlin. Hopefully at some point I still will. However, even with ample time to relax in Toulouse, the hours somehow slipped away and I now have been walking as a pilgrim on the Camino de Santiago for 21 days.
Just returned back to Madrid after two weeks of working at a summer camp, where myself and nine other monitors gave English classes, taught sports, and put on nightly shows for 144 Spanish children, ages 7-15. My group of twelve, made up of all the youngest kids, chose ‘The Champions’ as their name, and as a result I made them sing along to ‘We Are the Champions’ and ‘We Will Rock You’ every day to start and finish class. I don’t think they hated their daily five hours of classes as much as some of the kids, and I feel good about that.
Waah :( On Wednesday the time came to say goodbye to my little babies, and I’ve been feeling sad about it ever since. There is truly not a single one I don’t like, and I wish I could fast forward their lives 10 years and see how they turn out, because they are all such fantastic little humans now. They made me cards saying bye (except most of them read more like: ‘bey bey Alisa, for you, what is a great teacher’) and afterward one of my favorite boys tried for a bit to express himself in English before finally giving up and saying “Teacher Alyssa, por favor, no te vayas. Por favor.” Just about killed me. For you viewing pleasure I got a couple of videos of them, check ’em out, they’re the cutest.
Barca Barca Barca! What an amazing city. I’ve never been in a place with such attention to detail, I felt like everywhere I looked there was something interesting or beautiful that would catch my eye. I loved the contrast between the ancient Roman walls or Gothic cathedrals, and Gaudi’s entirely unique architecture found throughout the city. Plus, Barcelona is right on the coast so you have the ocean breezes and that ocean smell… really this might be my new favorite city in the world, it’s shame I only just discovered it now.
San Sebastian stole my heart, as so many warned me it would. Old colorful buildings, families and children happily frolicking about, fresh sea air, white sandy beaches with crystal blue water, all surrounded by lush green rolling hills. The definition of charming. My friend Jelissa and I arrived starving after a 6 hour bus ride from Madrid, and despite the offer from our nice hostel man to join him for a pintxo (Basque country’s version of tapas), we declined and went out in search of real food. We found a pizza place around the corner that did the trick, and while we initially were worried that 11 was too late for dinner, people were still streaming into the restaurant as we were paying the bill two hours later.
I like being here. As the time continues flying by, I’m starting to realize that I’m going to be pretty sad to leave Madrid. Funny things happen here that I wouldn’t get to experience back home. For example, my lovely Mom sent me some peanut butter as an Easter present, and I was shocked when my roommate Valerio told me he had never tried it. I immediately made him some toast and spread some on, watching eagerly as he took his first bite. His reaction wasn’t exactly what I’d hoped for, if anything he looked slightly disappointed. When I asked him what he thought, he told me “Well, it tastes just like a peanut… Except creamy.” I’m still not sure what he was expecting…
I spent this past weekend in the Canary Islands. Know nothing about them? Neither did I.
Located off the northwestern coast of Africa, the islands have the same latitude as the Sahara, so they’re warm pretty much year-round. This makes them a popular get away for Europeans who want to escape the painful winter months, which was precisely my motivation as well. The weather in Madrid last week was just brutal, around 40 degrees with winds and rains, but after two friends and I made yet another early morning RyanAir commute we were pretty thrilled to be able to change into shorts and start enjoying the sunshine.
This past Sunday I had one of my favorite experiences in Madrid so far. I had a friend request proof that I’m actually here, telling me that I’m probably just writing from San Diego and stealing the pictures off other blogs to make all my law school friends jealous. So this time around I’ll actually put up some photos with me in them, prepare yourself!