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Sunday, May 6, 2007 

Day 13: And then, Heaven decided to gift me today....

Today, I met the a woman who was 105 years old (104 turning 105 on Aug 27.) This woman lost her mother at the age of 5 [which means this year is the 100th anniversary of her mother's death.] She was visiting the Convento de San Anton which is just outside Castrojeriz, where I am staying at a very special albergue.

I began from Rabé de la Calzadas today in a bit of a rush. Michelle sent me off with a kiss and a Buen Camino. It was hard to tell if she actually liked me all evening, but I think somehow she wouldn't have kissed my cheek if she thought I was that dirty or gross.

Anyhow, I booted through Hornillos del Camino & missed Arroyo San Bol where pilgrims who was their feet are said to have no foot problems from here to Santiago.

Made it to Castrojeriz by about 1:30 pm, but not in time to get into the Dutch-run hostal, so I ended up walking to the albergue by Julian Campo y José Manzano... I was greeted by the sweetest angel, Isabella, who works 1 week every year at this albergue. She had known Julian & José and had met one of them when he was volunteering in Calcutta... These 2 friends were very inspirational, doing work in Calcutta & Ethiopia, and tragically they had died on a train crash. The albergue is continually run by their family and volunteers and is by donation only.

I am already running out of cash & here was this albergue, where this sweet woman carries my backpack into the dorm for me. When I tell her its too heavy for her, she simply says: "Its too heavy for YOU."

I ask if there is a church nearby and she says that she has been calling to see if there is mass in the church as another pilgrim has asked. Later she tells me that there was a mass (it was at 8:30am) but that the priest has agreed to let us take Communion later.

So Isabella drives four of us pilgrims to the Convent that we had passed on the way into Castrojeriz: Daniella, the doctor from Germany (who was asked to & willingly treated several of the injured pilgrims in the afternoon), Cheryl, a cheerful Aussie who was equally sweet and friendly immediately, Kordie also from Germany, (short for Miseracordia... Her name though Kor is attributed to "Heart", la corte, corazon...), & me.

We got to mass, and I of course broke down and cried when the convent, the sisters that are all behind bars and are never meant to leave, sang the hymns. Then, Kordie hugs me and whispers in my ear: "It is the spirit of the camino."

We take Communion, and then after mass, dear Isabella asks if its ok if she goes to buy some stuff from the convent. The Monasterio de Santa Clara is a convent that stays within this place. To buy pastries or items you have this lazy-susan that turns so you put your money on it, they turn it and you get your box of pastries or Crucifix, etc.

Well, Isabella says she would also like to say goodbye to the sisters and the mother of one of the nuns staying in the convent, so we go upstairs, and we are greeted by Sister Maria-Jesus, a very young looking nun, in a room from a window with bars.

After a few moments speaking with S. Maria-Jesus, who plays the sitar (she explained that in fact its origins are from Germany & that the instrument is even referenced in the Bible), then Mother Superior wheeled in the mother of one of the Sisters who was staying with them.
This was the sweet lady who was over 100 years old.

When asked what her secret was, we were told: "She has one glass of wine with sugar & water everyday. And she drinks only black coffee. No milk." This lady and the two Sisters talked with us for almost an hour. They gave us each a postcard, & cookies and a sweet liqueur to drink out of small glasses.

Because I cried so much during mass, I held back the tears during this very privileged & surreal session.

We were driven back to the albergue by Isabella (who was back to Madrid tonight).

Later on in the evening, I talked a while with Finley, a pretty artist from L.A. She is into abstract patterns and most recently been decorating dumpsters with wallpaper. I told her that woostercollective.com is one of my fav sites, & that I love street art - that draws attention to objects, like this particular guy in the midwest who paints abandoned houses bright neon safety orange... She says that's her friend Christian from Detroit!

Finally, as I write this, an English gentleman says he was at a nearby bar with Miklos (my Hungarian friend) who was speaking about me. Turns out, Miklos is a grandpa today with a new grandson, Andreas! I can't wait to give him the biggest hug tomorrow.

One more thing: the Bach oratorio I sang with the CMBC is blasting from the stereo. Kordie says this is one of her favorites & she has the same CD at home. [She also mentioned it was odd to hear it in the summer, as it's quite often sung at Christmas. We played it on rotate until very late at night.]

I couldn't even eat tonight. I am full with something else, and I'm quite happy.

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