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Articles Tagged ‘Galicia’

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At the End of the World!

Friday, August 4th, 2006

After trains and buses from 8 a.m. till 7 p.m. yesterday, including a two-hour layover in Santiago de Compostela, where the action at the bus station is better than an erotic movie (more on that another time, but let me say now that Chaucer was not wrong about the Camino and its affect on the lusts of the pilgrims)–after all that long schlep, I finally got to the End of the Earth, Finisterre. Fisterre. Finis Terra. I am here with the warm sun, a blasting fierce wind, more seagulls than I thought possible in one place, and many young pilgrims with shaggy heads, walking sticks, hiking boots, and wild joy. As I was walking the 6 km road up to the lighthouse at the end of the world just before sunset yesterday, a young man with a lean face, glasses, and blonde curly hair was walking down the road barefoot, carrying his shoes, smiling. I beamed a great smile at him, and he burst into English (so much for my thinking I am not instantly recognizable as an English-speaker): “I am enjoy life this moment. Everything is beautiful. I am beautiful this moment!” I opened my arms to him and shouted, “Yes, you are beautiful!” He rushed into my arms, gave me a long hug, and then backed off, his eyes full of tears, and kissed my hand. It was that kind of afternoon. [read on]

To blog or not to blog?

Sunday, June 11th, 2006

As I prepare to leave for my pilgrimage in Portugal and Galicia, a couple of people have asked if I’m going to start a travel blog. I have mixed feelings about blogs. When they first crept into my awareness, I found blogs exhibitionistic. Why, I thought, would people put the intimate details of their lives on the internet for any stranger to peer at. What’s that urge about? And then who reads blogs? I’m still trying to integrate my experience of living in Lesotho, where most people have no electricity and are nursing family members with AIDS by candle light, with living in Sugar Land, Texas, where most people live in mansions and still support Tom Delay: “He’s done so much for our community.” So I think about access, about the cyber-gap, about who lives in the global village, who cuts the grass for whom. About 166,000 people are in prison in Texas. I visited Guillermo today. He’s been incarcerated since 1992. He’s working on his three-minute speech for the graduation ceremony at the end of the Gang Renunciation program he’s in. He asked me whether I thought it better to quote Sun Tzu or Gandhi. He reads. The first book he asked me for, back when he was still in solitary, was Thucydides. He has never used a cell phone, a computer, or an ipod. Portable CD players were the hot new thing when he got locked up. His mom died this past March. He’s working on his soul. He said the change has come gradually, “Not like no lightbulb moment. More like a very slow sunrise, like a ten-year sunrise.” He says he used to want to find the people who pressed charges against him and beat the shit out of them. Now he wants to find them to make amends. He said, “I hurt them, and they didn’t have nothing to do with the pain I was in. I feel so bad about that.” I told him I’m going to light candles for him in chapels, churches, and cathedrals all over Portugal, and his eyes filled with tears. He’s never sent or received an email. Guys like him don’t read blogs. So I think about audience. [read on]