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Wednesday, September 21, 2011

el Camino de las Cafe-Bars

I have been really frustrated by our inability to get stamps -´sellos´ - from churches in our pilgrim passports. The majority of churches we pass by are closed. Of those that are open, there are very few with a pilgrim stamp on offer.  I think three churches on this trip have had someone sitting in the church offering a stamp to passing pilgrims. 
I remember reading somewhere that the pilgrim office doesn´t really like to find a credencial filled with stamps from bars and restaurants but if you do not stay in the albergues the only other places you can get stamps is cafe-bars, restaurants, hotels, tourism offices etc.
In some towns you read a notice on a church door directing to another church in the town for the ´sello´ When you get there that church is also closed.  In Melide the other day we walked an extra few hundred meters to the Parish Church to get a stamp in our passport.  We couldn´t find one but a rather irritated gemtleman sitting in the pews told us to go to the door on the right of the altar.  I knocked on the door and when I opened it, two angry men told us to go away in no uncertain terms.  "Sello?" I asked.  "No! No! No!" said one, shooing us away with his hands.  So, no church sello in Melide but we did get three from different bars on the way out of town.
Many cafe-bars have a stamp or stamp and pad on their counters so that pilgrims can just walk in and stamp their passports without even buying anything from the bar.  Surely churches can do the same thing?  If a church is open to visitors, they could chain a stamp to the table at the entrance that has their notices and booklets on it. Even if the church is closed it would be possible to have a small table outside somewhere with a stamp on the table for passing peregrinos.
The very enthusiastic priest who used to usher pilgrims into his little church in Furelos passed away about 2 years ago and now his church is also closed.  I remember being conned into entering his church in 2002, seated on the pew and having to listen to a half hour discourse on the history of the altar and pillars - all in Spanish - before we could make our escape. 
When I get to Santiago and offer them my credential I will forgive them for thinking that I have made a pilgrimage to the bars and cafes of Spain from St Jean pied de Port to Santiago - I just hope that they will forgive me!  There just weren´t any other opportunities to get stamps anywhere else.

1 comment:

Annie said...

Sil, I wish you would post this on the forum. Maybe someone would take it to Santiago and the information would make it to the right hands. Maybe you should take it to ROME! lol