PC #50 – The Grieving City

What should have been a day of feasting and celebrations today in Santiago will have been a day of mourning.

I still can’t believe the timing, on the eve of St. James Day, and the location – on the fringe of the pilgrimage city.

For pilgrims arriving in Santiago today, having finished their Camino, it must be a strange place they’ve walked into. A grieving city.

I always think of Santiago as being a place full of light. And laughter. I can’t imagine there’s much light there today. Nor much laughter.

But it will return.

Cathedral B&W sepia

12 thoughts on “PC #50 – The Grieving City

  1. I think it has been on all of our minds every since it happened. I notice the traffic on the blog is down, and that makes sense as we are all caught up in our thoughts. At least that is how I see it.


    • Hi Steve –

      I think you are right.

      Certainly i didn’t want to post a blog that was on a subject not in some way connected to the tragedy.

      It’s still very upsetting to me, and shocking too.

      there’s newspaper reports here that the driver could be culpable, for driving too fast. But the questions are being asked: why didn’t the train’s speed delimiters kick in?

      No doubt all this will emerge in good time.

      There are still though all those deaths.



      • Bill, an unimaginable tragedy and those who have been there and even ridden the trains may feel it even more so. One report says the driver said he was doing 120 kph where another said 180 or there about. I think i saw where the limit was 88 or so. The black box will tell all. The engineer is apparently under hospital arrest. Nothing to do but pray for the victims. Steve


        • Hi Steve –

          Yes. We place so much trust in the people who take our lives in their hands – bus drivers, train drivers, airline pilots, even taxi drivers.

          Bus drivers who take our kids to school. The list goes on

          We trust that they are competent. We do literally entrust our lives to them.



  2. Such a terrible tragedy! What a terrible event for such a peaceful, spiritual city!

    This accident rings of another tragedy:
    Two weeks ago Lac-Megantic, Quebec, was destroyed in a firestorm after a trainload of oil rolled (unbraked) into the village as people slept. They know 50 people died but only 47 were identified by DNA. This tragedy was barely covered by international news, if at all.

    Personally, I felt the impact of this tragedy because I had passed through this beautiful part of Quebec when I bicycled across Canada. In my mind, Lac-Megantic was also a peaceful, spiritual town, which will take much time to recover.


    • Hi Jerry,

      That Quebec accident received a lot of news coverage here in Australia.

      It too was horrific.

      Truly horrific.

      The recent floods in India, which killed so many pilgrims, that hit home to me because last year, Jennifer and I were in Haridwar, further down the Ganges, witnessing the same pilgrimage.

      When there’s some kind of personal connection, no matter how tenuous, we are reminded viscerally of the impact of loss.



  3. Your comments about how we put our trust in others so many times during a typical day hit home for me as I thought about the Camino.
    One of the lessons that was reinforced for me was to give up my worry about the possible negative outcomes and believe that my fellow man would care for me – and my stuff – as much as I did. The worry simply wasn’t worth it, for me. It blocked out too many moments of joy and contentment. Sometimes people let us down – incidents like this train tragedy display this on a massive scale – but I will not let this shake my faith that people want to do good for each other. This strikes at the heart of how one views one’s place in the universe, perhaps.
    Just some crazy, early morning thoughts, as I try to figure out how to pick up the pieces of my blog and continue on my journey. I need a cafe con leche and a tortilla.


    • Hi kathy –

      you’re absolutely right. We have to maintain our faith and trust in humankind.

      Otherwise we’ll be crippled with fear, mistrust, and ultimately hatred and blame.

      You’re on the Meseta now? is it still wet and raining? This next section of the walk for you will be magnificent.

      Can I suggest you have a great day walking, and immerse yourself in that.

      Your blog on the train tragedy, by the way, was beautifully put.



  4. I was thinking the same thing Bill. How strange it must feel to walk into that city after all the planning, the saving, the walking, the blisters and not be able to celebrate. I too was struck with the timing. I don’t believe in coincidences.


    • Hi Karen,

      Yes, walking in, the mood would have been very muted.

      Understandably, of course.

      The timing of the crash, and where it happened, is just too strange and unsettling.



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