I’m finally in Spain!
I got seriously spoiled on the way here—I was picked up and dropped off at airports and taken to see interesting things, and of course got to have a great time seeing friends around Toronto and near London. Lots of thanks to Kelsey, Sarah, Kenneth and Bob (and of course to Analisa here in Spain). It was great to see you.
It’s summer here in Sevilla, or might as well be. Of course, having visited Granada in August, I realize this isn’t what it’s actually like here in summer, but it’s respectable summer weather for a lot of the rest of the world. According to a sign I saw, it was 26 degrees Celsius. Not quite, I have to admit, the walking weather I was expecting.
I got off to an excellent start yesterday evening after I arrived, getting lost twice on my way to my albergue. This obviously bodes well for the next 1000 kilometres.Really, I can’t even find the first yellow arrow that’s supposed to guide me from the cathedral, although I’m quite proud of myself for locating the figure of Santiago on the outside of the cathedral, a task that took approximately forever. I knew the statue was on the west side of the cathedral, so I looked on my map, and figured out which side that should be. Then I paced up and down in front of that (rather long) side, but there was no Santiago Peregrino to be seen.
That was around lunchtime. I went back in the evening, and finally realized my map must not be oriented traditionally, with south at the top. The sun, which was pretty near the horizon by that point, was, of course, a better indicator. Once I’d finally realized that, I found Santiago in a group with 23 other religious figures above a major entrance, looking very prayerful and serious.
To celebrate, I got some lemon ice cream, quite possibly the best ice cream ever, which I haven’t had since I visited Granada nine years ago. Then I tried to find the yellow arrow that is supposedly on a street light across from the Santiago the statue.
All I could see were stickers with yellow arrows that look like lightning bolts, which can be found on just about every lamppost on the street. I suspect they have more to do with the power lines on the top of the lampposts than they do with the Vía de la Plata. I hope I’m wrong. It would be seriously embarrassing to get lost in the first two minutes.
Luckily, I have seen my one and only yellow arrow so far a little farther along the route, so if all else fails I’ll cross the Puente de Isabel II into Triana (where I’m actually staying) and take it from there.
I’ve seen several pilgrims, but I have yet to meet any.
“Are there any other people here walking the Camino?” I asked the receptionist last night as she showed me around my albergue.
“The pilgrims are all in your room,” she said. “We put you together so you can talk to each other.”
Which sounds nice, but this was after 11 p.m., so all the good pilgrims were asleep. I saw one this morning in the erratic light from a flashlight, but others were still asleep and we all left the room at different times, so there was no chance to talk.I saw a few other pilgrim-looking people around town (the backpacks with the scallop shells tend to give them away) but since I was more of a tourist-looking person at the time none of them so much as glanced twice at me.
Later I thought I was talking with another pilgrim. Since he came into my dorm room and threw himself on a bed I figured he must be a pilgrim.
He was a young guy from Brazil, he told me in rapid-fire Spanish I sort of understood. He kept going on about “amor” and “passión”—from what I gathered he was in love with someone in Portugal.
But when I asked him, in my bare-bones Spanish, if he was a pilgrim, he didn’t know what I was talking about.
A little later, he started to laugh long and loudly over nothing I could see. So it’s probably just as well he’s not a pilgrim.Even apart from pilgrim-watching and Santiago-locating, I’ve had a busy day. Since the Roman ruins at Italica will be closed tomorrow, I took the bus out to see them (they were old).
And I wandered around the Barrio de Santa Cruz, which used to be the Jewish Quarter (it was quaint and crowded), had lunch with Analisa (she was a lot of fun to get lost with) visited the cathedral (it was enormous, and enormously full of tourists), climbed the Giralda (it was tall), and stopped by the Alcázar (it was beautiful).
Then I became convinced I had lost my sweater, and despite the sweaty weather, panicked. I figure it’s not a real trip if you don’t have something to panic about.
As it turns out, the sweater is here, and I am here and very ready to start walking.
Only 21 kilometres tomorrow—practically nothing. After all, I’ve done the occasional ten-kilometre walk. And it’s not like the sun is going to be beating down on me like some fiery furnace or anything like that.
Speaking of which, it’s panic time again. I haven’t seen my hat since I left home.
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If you’ve enjoyed this, you may want to read more of my Live from the Vía de la Plata posts.