21 July 2008

The End of the World

I met up with Gabor, my couchsurfing host, in the afternoon in Santiago, and, after loading up on wine and beer, we, along with the Japanese woman I met previously and bumped into again, went back to his apartment, which is right on the camino route. He lives with four other people: a Pole, another Hungarian, a German, and a Belgian. Strangely, they all spoke Spanish as their common language. Gabor had made a comment about pasta being a "simple food" so I decided to teach him a lesson. Because the Spaniards are barbarians, I couldn't find all the ingredients I needed (no tomato paste? no basil?), but I managed to scrounge up most of them at the supermarket to make my special tomato sauce (thanks, dad). Gabor and his roommates were puzzled that I was going to spend more than three hours cooking mere tomato sauce (a simple food!) and even laughed at me. When I finally served it to them, however, they were quickly converted. As a pedantic academic, nothing gives me more delight than demonstrating to people how wrong they are. Doing so with food, however, tends to go down better.

The next morning, I rose early to catch the bus to Fisterra, once the Roman "Finis Terrae", the end of Europe and therefore the end of the world. The Camino de Santiago continues to this pagan place past Santiago itself--another three days of walking--but I was too short of time to walk this part (few pilgrims do). The bus passed through numerous Galician seaside villages along the way, and they all seemed adorable enough. At Fisterra, I still had to walk a half hour to the lighthouse at the end of the world and even tempted fate by walking through sharp-needled brambles down the cliffside to the water's edge itself. I found a cave there and took a nap inside. Later, I went back to the village for beer and coffee before bussing it back to the city. So now I have done it: the Pacific to the Atlantic, more or less overland. In the evening, I bumped into Michael, an American I met working at one of the albergues along the way. He's actually an episcopal priest (or about to be) and a gay one, too, so I was thrilled to have the chance to chat with him again. Get this: his parish is in Honolulu, Hawaii. Boy am I visiting! We had delicious hot chocolate and then went to the best "mirador" for viewing the cathedral. Feast of St. James festivities had begun, but the best of that evening seemed to be a cover band that murdered Metallica. I couldn't take more after that. I never did get to kiss the statue of St. James inside the Santiago cathedral, but that's fine because I wasn't going to. My feelings toward the Catholic Church might have led me to spit on it, but I managed not to act out my rage this time.

The following day, I went to Lisbon, Portugal, where I am now. There, I met Neimar, my Brazilian couchsurfing host. His apartment is gorgeous! And new! And I get my own bathroom! With a bathtub! Believe me, these simple pleasures you all take for granted are quite a boon after what I've (happily) been through. The evening I arrived, it happened to be one of his fellow Lisbon couchsurfer's birthdays, so I was invited to go along with him to a couchsurfing party at his friend's apartment. Great people, these Portuguese! I was fed well, held a sparkler for the birthday girl, and got to try, as I so desired, the famous vinho verde. That was last night. Today, I've been sightseeing, as much as I can tolerate doing that anymore, around Lisbon, or, as the locals call it, Lisboa (where does English come up with its Anglicizations?). Naturally, it has a castle, a cathedral, and a bunch of churches. It also has neat little trams that climb the hills, and I took one of these up to a viewpoint first thing. Skipping ahead, I stumbled across a Japanese tea house. I couldn't resist having a nice lunch there with real powdered green tea. The waitress couldn't speak English, though, and I obviously don't do Portuguese yet (I seem to be able to read it, though), so she had to fetch her Japanese boss, and I ordered in Japanese. That was weird! I think one more interesting church is on the docket before I figure out what to do with my evening: bath, movie, or fado performance. Fado is a Portuguese style of music about which I know nothing, but I think it's like the blues. Lisbon is pretty, quaintly historical, and slightly dilapidated. I like it. All European cities were probably better when they were so cheap, rundown, and impoverished.

1 comment:

Jhenn said...

Feh. My tomato sauce takes almost 5 hours!