The Road to Santiago.

October 31, 2002

Casa de Botines.
Casa de Botines


My shipment of Lantus insulin came at 10:38 a.m. I suppose that is Spanish time for "before 10:00."

Besides waiting for my insulin, I was also anxiously waiting for the new attachment for my computer which was to be sent to the Madrid hotel to be enclosed with the insulin. I have been using a digital media reader to download photos from the camera. My other one had stopped functioning in Carrion de los Condes, probably due to all the rain. I called my partner/editor, last Thursday night and asked her to send me another via the hotel in Madrid. She went out on Friday morning, bought one, and shipped it by FedEx. When I called the hotel in Madrid on Monday to advise them of its arrival, they said that it had come over the weekend. Now, that's what I call a fast delivery service!

When I opened the packaging holding the attachment, my heart sank. The installation CD which was enclosed with the reader  (coded instructions necessary to install accessories) was cracked and the CD driver couldn't read it. I thought that I was going crazy. What else could go wrong? The plastic protective package in which the device was sold wasn't cracked or creased in any way. So it must have been a defective one from the manufacturer. Frustrated, I plugged it in anyway. Fortunately, since it was identical to the previous one, the previously installed software recognized the device and I was up and running. Whew!! Thank God!!

At noon, I went to the cathedral. The sun was at its height and it was a bright, clear day. The effect of the sun on the cathedral was spectacular. I wandered around inside for about an hour staring at the windows and ceiling. Later I studied a big display explaining about the ongoing process of cleaning centuries of dirt off the windows. I want to come back here someday and see them when the project is completed.

Then I read another display explaining about the problem with the gargoyles. Although they look like demonic affectations, the gargoyles are very important. They are actually the down spouts of an extensive gutter system designed to drain rainwater off the large roof areas. However, as a result of centuries of deposits from pigeon excrement, moss, and molds, as well as salts excreting from the stone material, most of the drainage system had ceased to work properly. Thus there was considerable backup of water, causing damage to the roofs, in some spots to a point nearing collapse. After extensive repair and cleaning of the drainage system, thin metal netting has been put into place to prevent birds from roosting on the cathedral. Apparently, the cathedral at Burgos was having a similar problem.
Statue of Gaudi sitting on bench.
After the cathedral, I walked over to the Casa de Botines, a magnificent building designed by Antonio Gaudi. (Remember Gaudi is the one who designed that very unusual church in Barcelona — Sagrada Familia.) I don't know for whom this building was designed, but now it's a bank. A bronze statue of Gaudi is in front of the building. It depicts him on a park bench working with a sketchpad. You can look over his shoulder and see his notes. I don't know the significance of the surrealistic bronze pigeon perched on the other end of the bench.

[Editor's Note: The guidebook says the building is a Neo-Gothic palace. Gaudi is known for his free interpretation of Gothic motifs.]

Another place I wanted to see while in León was the pantheon and museum, which are attached to the church of San Isidro. But like offices, public buildings, and all of Spain in general, they are closed from 2:00 to 4:30. So I did what the Spanish people do during that time period — have a long lunch. Actually, it is more than lunch. It is the main meal of the day. The Spanish take their time when they eat. And afterward, they like to sit and talk or walk. It's not hard to while away a couple of hours in such an enjoyable way.

The pantheon is where the kings and queens of León are ensconced in stone sepulchers. Back in the 12th century, León was a separate kingdom. In fact, there were many kingdoms around Spain. War and marriage resulted in various consolidations until the time when Ferdinand, King of Aragon, married Isabella, Queen of Castile and León. Together, los Reyes Catolicos (the Catholic Monarchs) captured the various kingdoms of Andalucia in Moorish southern Spain. With the fall of Granada in 1492, Spain became the entity we think of today. (Although some extremists want to return to the 12th century!)

That night, I finished all my transmissions, packed my pack, and mentally got ready for what is considered to be the third and final portion of the Way of Saint James. I decided that I wanted to reach Santiago on the 14th of November, which is World Diabetes Day. Now, I had a meta (a goal) to aim for!
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