Day Fourteen. Bridges.
Last day at the sea.
I took a little time to say goodbye to this inspiringly beautiful coast. I stayed the night in a town called Ribadeo, which goes back at least to the 12th century. It's a nice little place, slightly inland from the sea, with a channel and a bridge not unlike the Narrows and the Verrazano ( although much smaller). The bridge over it is one of those highway bridges I have been admiring along the way, and this one is pretty giant, and as usual, its design is simple and stunningly beautiful. I have long been impressed with Spanish architecture--Gaudi's amazing Sagrada Familia (Holy Family) church in Barcelona is mind-boggling and beautiful--and that genius architecture continues into the present day.
I had to cross that bridge yesterday as I arrived at Ribadeo, and I walked below it on the shore before I left. Nearby I was surprised to see some relatively young homeless people, who were a little threatening to me as they approached in a drunken state. I gave them a wide berth, but they were the first obvious victims of some of the social issues that exist here.
A little further on I passed a bunch of political graffiti and some posters for upcoming local and national elections. Spain has been in a political impasse for the last year or so. With their parliamentary system, they have been unable to achieve an effective governing coalition, and their economic problems have been mounting. Like Greece, their government has greatly overspent and has a huge national debt. General unemployment has been around 20%, and youth unemployment around 50%. That might explain the young people I saw today.
I was thinking that it is a very different Spain than the one who was once a world power in trade and military might, when pilgrims were following the camino that crossed the territories of the Kings of Asturias and Galicia, two regions I have been traveling recently.
I was looking at the awesome bridge today. It is relatively recent, and early pilgrims weren't able to benefit from Ribadeo's hospitality because its harbor was an obstacle. Which got me to thinking about bridges, and their purpose. I've been writing a dramatic screenplay about New York. It's called Bridges and Tunnels, and I was inspired to write it when I was given the gift of flying over the city in a helicopter just before 9/11. Hovering over New York as only a helicopter can do, I saw for the first time the entire city from a God's eye view, and how it was all tied together with its bridges and tunnels. I wanted to write a screenplay to speak to the physical connections that make us a community, and a family. The purpose of bridges like the one I walked across into Ribadeo, like the Verrazano, is to help us become one, so that we can be with one another, work together, play together. It's practical, but it's much more. Building bridges can always bring us all much more.
Which made me think about the politics that have paralyzed Spain, and the politics that have been paralyzing our nation as well. It might be a good idea for us all to get up in a helicopter--or maybe the space station--to get some perspective about our shared home. One nation, one planet, one universe, one God. One family, right? In some way, those drunken young guys are my children, my brothers, and there are bridges to be built.
I left the sea and walked long and hard today, going south and inland...and up! There are mountains to walk between--and sometimes over--as I see the final stretch in front of me. There are fewer farms, a lot more trees, and the houses are changing as well. Black roofs instead of red, sides made of stone (no idea why). My home for the night is A Casa de Manas. It's a small pensione, owned by a family of a husband, wife and son. They have a very cute Dalmatian dog, a garden and cows In the back. It's a beautiful place, and they have greeted me like family. I told them they should come to New York, and they smiled, yes. Bridges.
It should always be about bridges.
Good night, family.