Oh to be in Santiago de Compostela today. What feasting there will be. Happy Feast Day.
Of the many depictions of St James or Santiago reflecting aspects of his mythology – humble pilgrim, warrior, patron saint I like the Pre Rafaelite golden image.
For one of the best descriptions of the life of St James check out Camino Adventures
Everywhere was grey today but the sea left this surprise high and dry.
The wait for festivities on the eve of the saint's feast day is
part of the experience. People lie or sit on the old stones of
the square facing the cathedral from about seven pm to
stake their place. Sandwiches unwrap, friendships are struck
or renewed, as the queue of people hoping to find a place, or
their group, slims to single file only and the square is
Light began to fade, taking on the night and we were hopeful.
But it was not festivities that started. It was an announcement
that everything was cancelled. Please clear the square. A train crash.
'It must be serious,' people mused, spilling into the narrow streets
and finding their way in to bars. Television screens were full
of the news. Many dead and many, many more injured on a train
carrying over two hundred people. A message typed at the bottom
of the screen asked for blood donors.
The hospital is a good twenty minute walk out of town
near the university. I checked the way a few times, asking people
in the street. It became obvious that everyone was
going to the hospital, marching down the wide avenue.
'Solidaridad,' one woman said. Solidarity.
It was worse than anyone could imagine. The death toll rising as
we waited, more than a hundred, standing in the porch of the hospital.
Eventually, after rumours of a mobile unit coming to the hospital,
we were asked to make our way to the blood transfusion unit somewhere
in town. The crocodiles of blood donors disappeared into
the night, indistinguishable from the party goers and I could
not find the way.
This morning helicopters whirr overhead, sirens still cry out
and perhaps the way for universal donors will be clearer.
The old heart grieves and we grieve with you.