Friday, 7 November 2008


Didn't post this yesterday because I wasn't 100% sure, but after a bit of local research it seems it was indeed a wolf. My first live, real, wild wolf spotting. About 4KM north of Cubo del Vino the track follows fairly dense woodland to the right and fields of corn to the left and there are wolves in the woods. Apparently local farmers aren't happy. As well as controlled, licenced culls many wolves are hunted illegally.

Thanks again for comments. I agree that Zamora has a very unique charm. What makes it very different in atmosphere for me is that there isn't an overbearing cathedral presence. As beautiful as cities like Salamanca are, there is no getting away from the ostentatious display of wealth and power from the state and church. Zamora has many small churches and a cathedral, but the cathedral's location doesn't impose on the rest of the town and the churches are all small, old and very pretty rather than dominating edificies designed to impose on everything around them. I like Zamora, but I don't think any city in Spain I come across will quite do for me what Granada does for me. Pretty sure I know what I'm going to do when I eventually return.

I've taken a €60 gamble and booked into a hotel for a couple of nights. It's wet now, but the forecast is good. A couple of hours sketching yesterday returned €40. I'm sure I can do that again today and take €100 or so over the weekend. Today will mostly be spent in the dry warm library researching pilgrimage and pilgrim routes. The one thought occupying my mind much of the time during lonely hiking stretches is why? Why did they do it? Beyond all the romance that religion plasters history with, I am rapidly coming to the conclusion that pilgrimage was nothing more than a glamorised recruitment campaign for the crusades. A young Mozarabe man feeling a bit oppressed by the Moorish regime may set off to the lands of hope and Christian rule from the south, but what does he do once he gets there? Toughened up and fit for a fight I reckon he simply joins one of the many mercenary armies fighting for the Pope, or the King. Good pay and it's one way home at least!

Slight change of plan. Taking a more careful look at the map it makes sense for me to continue walking to Ponferrada before breaking to visit friends and places of interest in the mountains. So, about another weeks hiking ahead of me. Pretty sure Ponferrada and Astorga can bring in a bit of cash and there are cheap albergues to make use of in both.

Thanks to Tammo in Granada for the comments. I'm managing to maintain a very healthy float now, but things may have been very different without the generous donation to get started.


Amawalker said...


One reason:

In the Middle Ages the church taught that life in this world was merely a preparation for the next, be it heaven or hell. Christians were indoctrinated from an early age with the urgency to obtain divine forgiveness for their sins and the purification of their souls or face eternal damnation and an afterlife in purgatory. Purgatory was depicted as a sort of half-way horror house, with terrifying demons waiting to suck the soul from your sinful body and send you to everlasting hell – it was a place so terrifying that people were prepared to make incredible sacrifices to ensure a shorter stay and earn their place in heaven.
One of the surest ways to obtain indulgences for the remission of time spent in purgatory was by contact with the saints who could intercede on your behalf. The Church encouraged the veneration of Saints, and the relics of saints were believed to hold great power. If the saint was a martyr, so much the better and if he was a martyred Apostle, better still. And so people from all over the Christian world sought out the intercession of saintly relics in churches and cathedrals all over Europe.
Visits to Saint James in Santiago also offered generous indulgences. A 13thc catalogue, echoed in 1456 by the British pilgrim William Wey, records these indulgences:
- for making the trip to Compostela: remission of a third of one’s sins; if you die on the road, total remission.
- for taking part in each religious procession in the city of Compostela: 40 days’ indulgences; if the procession is led by a mitered bishop, 200 days more.
- if the procession is that of July 24th: 600 days
- hearing mass at which an archbishop, dean or cardinal officiates: 200 days
- hearing mass at the Monte de Gozo: 100 days.

Pilgrims collected indulgences like Voyager Miles - to cash in on their final journey!!
Love reading your blog.

The Lost Photographer said...


Thanks for the explanation. I suppose I should be more willing to believe that people were actually convinced many years ago. No reason why they shouldn't be without any opposing view to follow.

Difficult for us educated contemporaries to imagine a world without scientific theory and full flowing information.

I would really like to find a pilgrim completing this route, or any other solely for their beliefs and find out what exactly it all means to them in a modern day context, but so far everyone I have met are far from believers, or followers of any faith.

I'm pretty ignorant about religion. Willing to respect thers beliefs, but I've forgotten most that was taught at primary school and have had no interest since.

Reading historical books about the 15th and 16th Centuries sort of made me aware of just how powerful the church was in Europe then. Seems they were right to fear the new knowledge of science. Still a very wealthy and influential power mind.