I've been waiting for Santo Domingo to come up! I have such good memories from day 7. For one thing I was feeling really accomplished because I had make it to the one week mark. (Although...full disclosure: I was also thinking, I have spent so much energy over the last week and I still have HOW far left to go??)
Here's a shot leaving Najera:
And some nice views from the morning:
I also distintcly remember taking this next picture and thinking...that is exactly how I feel. Like a snail...slowly inching along.
little by little...
And, um? Perros??
I was getting close to a town and came across this picnic area. The view in the distance was magnificent and the picnic area even had concrete recliners! I took the opportunity to kick off my boots and bust out my lunch (a scrambled egg sandwich made with leftover eggs...because it's difficult to carry eggs in your backpack without breaking them!). Unfortunately it started to rain while I ate.
A good storm came though but thankfully I made it to a cafe right in time to wait it out with a cafe con leche. When I made it to the edge of Santo Domingo (past a potato factory) I saw this elderly couple just kind of looking around at the end of the sidewalk. I nodded and said hello...which was apparently just what they were waiting for!
They walk each day to the edge of town to see if they can happen upon a pilgrim who speaks Spanish, and then they walk them around town. They were adorable, but I will admit that it was a bit unnerving because they walked me OFF of the Camino. I started to get panicky away from those yellow arrows! They wanted to take me to the cathedral first, and then took me to the hostel.
Andres and Zeodora
After a picture they had me write down their address with instructions to send them a postcard once I finished the Camino so they could hear from me. (I sent them one when I got to Finisterre.) Such good memories.
Santo Domingo is a major stop for pilgrims on the Camino Frances. The town is named after the saint (Santo Domingo) who is the patron saint of pilgrims. He built a bridge outside of town to make it easier for pilgrims (he's also the patron saint of engineers) and just generally cared for and championed the cause of pilgrims. He is buried in the cathedral in town. There were also lots of minor sights around town and even a parador (which used to be a pilgrim's hospital).
The plaza: I remember watching these kids run around after school and feeling so old. As I shuffled through the plaza I thought, How do they have so much energy??
The most vivid memory I have of the cathedral is the fact that the inside was filled with the smell of lilies (which are my favorite!). Of course by the time I had done a few laps in the cathedral I had started sneezing, but who cares!
The tomb of Santo Domingo
The most interesting thing about the cathedral, though, is the chickens. Yes, I said chickens. Santo Domingo was involved in a somewhat complicated miracle that involved a pilgrim being proven innocent (and therefore spared from death) when Santo Domingo brought some chickens back to life (right off of the plate). The boy was saved and now live chickens kept in the cathedral to commemorate the miracle.
The chicken coup--I pretty much failed at taking a decent picture of it...
One of the chickens inside
The chickens are rutinely taken out and changed. They get to live it up the rest of the time at the (fancy!) pilgrim's hostel in town. I thought it was really cool to see them in the back of the hostel...until they started crowing bright and early the next morning...
Some cathedral decorations
One of the alters
The main alter
There was also a museum attached the the cathedral filled up with all kinds of old religious artifacts
Some Santo Domingo/Camino de Santiago graffiti
The municipal pilgrim hostel in town was brand new, huge and fantastic. They had these different little sayings on your way up the stairs.
After making it into town and sightseeing it up I came back to the hostel for a homemade Sevillan dinner. My camino friend Maica wanted to make us a traditional Sevillan Cocido--a stew like meal. First you eat the soup off of the dish--broth with rice and chickpeas--and then for the second course you have the meat that had been scooped out. All kinds of meat was in there...honestly I can't remember exactly what all it was. The one I remember most vividly was tocino...because I do not like tocino (a kind of pork back fat). But Maica started showing me that they traditionally mince all the meat together, and just like that the tocino was in the mix. It was fantastic though. To top things off they had even bought local sweets for dinner--two of which came in the shape of roosters!
Good friends, good food, and, despite the rain, a good day!