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The Camino Adventure: Day Three

Wednesday September 25th 2019

5:09am Palafox Hotel Zaragoza, Spain

So I woke up fully rested then looked and saw it was 4am. This time zone jet lag has got my body all out of wack haha. However last night I tried a gamble with some food. In the States whenever I eat pork products I get just awful stomach cramps, feel flu-y and have bathroom troubles. Since I'm here and at a nice hotel I decided to risk eating some ham. So far no problems! We'll see how it goes tomorrow but if I can eat ham or bacon while I'm in Europe and not feel unwell like I do in the USA I'd say that'd make this whole trip worth taking haha.

Yesterday I made a new friend with a fellow pilgrim in the Camino group. His name is Chuck and he's probably my Dad's age. He's this Native American looking dude with a booming Texas minister's voice. He's an amazing storyteller and has such a passionate spiritual walk. He recently started a nonprofit that helps provide housing for homeless people, which is incredible! We both dreamed out loud in how I might possibly assist using my nerdy tech and artsy fartsy skills. We'll see what the future holds. Nonetheless it's nice making a new friend. Chuck is a bit of a Camino pilgrim junkie as this is his fourth pilgrimage. 

11:30pm Retuned To Palafox Hotel after seeing the Basilica backlit in the cool summer breeze. What an incredibly full day! So it's official I can enjoy pork products with no gastrointestinal troubles! Woohoo!

So we toured the Basilica and Zaragoza ( pronounced "Tharagossa") and enjoyed the local history, landmarks and cuisine. What a beautiful city. The city feels both large and small at the same time. Built by the Romans, occupied by the Muslims and recreated by the Christians. There's such a rich and diverse character to Zaragoza. The Basilica as I discovered by Father Michael is a cathedral but unlike your average Protestant church it houses dozens of smaller churches or chapels within it, each having multiple services or masses every hour every day of the week. So while it's by far this overwhelmingly magnificent building it serves the community nonstop.

The cathedral has this multilayered history. Throughout every inch is masterpieces after masterpieces. From the most elaborate facades to stunning paintings, some by the Spanish artist Goya. Father Michael tells me the lush imagery were the ancient visual aids for the teachers and ministers. Each piece of art told a powerful story. I could easily consume a week attempting to digest all the wonders of this cathedral. It's as if they placed a ceiling over the sky to bring us closer to heaven, just breathtaking!

Our group reserved the chapel of St. Anthony and had a mass. I being non-Catholic, yet still Christian found the whole experience beautifully foreign yet strangely familiar. There's so much to really share of the spiritual experience perhaps I'll unpack more such details as I attend more. After our mass we had a special pilgrim ceremony. Ron Tindage our guide initiated the shelling, for lack of better term. We were all given a shell necklace which symbolizes our pilgrimage. We were also given a couple trinkets which I'm still learning about, a St. James' pin, a rosary made by these nuns from another church and our pilgrims passport. The pilgrims passport is this really cool like book that you need to collect stamps from local shops and vendors along the Camino so at the very end it proves you walked the way. 

There's little critique I can give to my experience at Zaragoza aside from the silly plumbing, be prepared to be puzzled on how to use their showers, and the smoking. Plain and simple everyone in this city smokes cigarettes and constantly. A crowd could be circulated around a group of children all the adults like chimneys billowing smoke in all directions. So that was for sure a culture shock to me. Lung cancer be damned they're smoking everywhere and all the time. I got a bit of a headache from having to walk through so much of it.

Aside from that I'm absolutely loving it here! Spain is an exciting place to visit. And the group has really been just wonderful. I purchased a small pocket sized journal so I can really spill all my notes and experiences on the go as I walk along the upcoming days. We're heading out tomorrow to a place called Sarria then the following day we'll begin the serious adventure.