Day 13 Najera
Dear Brothers, Marist friends and family,
Greetings from the bus station in Najera, Spain, where I'm waiting... (something one needs to learn on the Camino.... and I'm not good at it!!!) .... for a bus to get me to the next big city of Burgos where the Brothers have a community). My plan is to stay there for a while, get my knee right and hopefully walk on. Another Camino joke comes to mind.... 'if you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans'. Anyway we'll see. At least in the Burgos community there's a brother, Jack Gonzales, who speaks English and he sounded very welcoming over the phone.
This town, Najera, has a very important history and back around 1000 AD. was a centre of political power and influence in this part of Europe. The monastery church, the original one dating from 1056, is full of tombs of kings and other VIPs. foundational in the history of Spain. It was built.... (you guessed it).... in thanksgiving to Mary for yet another victory over the Moors, this time by King Don Bradman.... oops....Garcia!!! (I love some of my phone's guessing mistakes) and who knows, they might have been related. Anyway I'll send Kath photos for the website. Some of the altar pieces are quite extraordinary, from which I guess the poor and the illiterate learnt about their faith.
Last night retuning to my hotel from the restaurant (where I had my usual 3 course, Pelegrino meal for 10 euros), I saw people going into a church for mass so I joined them. Mass was the same as a regular week day mass at home, mostly older folk, liturgy exactly the same, but in Spanish. After mass, the priest warmly invited any pilgrims to the front where he spoke to us and then gave us the pilgrim blessing. Then he invited each of us to ring a bell suspended under a small statuette of St James. Finally we were all given a holy card of the founder of Opus Dei, so it may have been an Opus Dei parish. Anyway they did a good job, whereas so many of the churches so far seem to have been locked and pretty much disused.
One final bit of excitement, a long story which I'll shorten. Several times I've used a courier service to take my backpack onto my next stop-over. Well, yesterday it arrived by taxi, the cabbie wanting 56 euros, as against the usual 7 eu. for the courier. I said I didn't order a taxi to deliver it, so I let the hotel manager and the taxi driver have their heated discussion out in the street (with my backpack still in the taxi boot). After about 10 min. I offered to pay the taxi driver the full amount but the hotel man insisted I hold firm and wait. I'm still not sure what arrangements they came to, but I got my bag and on leaving this morning, l left the hotel manager an extra 20 eu.
I'm finishing this email in a comfortable room in the brothers' house in Burgos, having had a delicious meal with the community. Having a sore knee mightn't be such a bad thing afterall, although looking out of the bus window this morning at the walkers, I do confess to feeling very frustrated. God bless to all. Michael ( Photos Michael's Pilgrimage)