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2003 London, Spain and Morocco



London, Spain and Morocco 2003

The Camino de Santiago


Bienaventurado eres, peregrino, 
si descubres que el Camino te abre los ojos
a lo que no se ve.

- From the Pilgrim’s Beatitudes

(Blessed you are, pilgrim,
if you find that the Camino opens your eyes
to the unseen.)








Marble Arch, London

March 29, 2003

How many years have I sat here, at a distance, from the Arch? Strange like a Guston shoe, some enormous piece of a larger puzzle, left for some future Shelley to find. Now just prosaic. English. After, I found a pub just down road and insulted the bartender by leaving a tip.

Jennifer on the Tube in London



March 31, 2003

Been uncovering resonance point in Jonah and Lear. Something about turning away from higher callings - or maybe surrendering to lower ones. Also find odd and violent comfort in the Old Testament Prophets - in particular Isaiah. Thunder on the Mountain and Blood in the Well. Deliberately unhinging my spirit. Shaking the Flesh off the Bones. 

The Camino will be a little cool and there is still snow up in the mountains that I will be crossing. So it's not quite the tropical realm that most suits my spirit. Although, I will be down in the south of Spain, Sevilla and Granada, etc., for a week or so and am going to try to get over to Tangier for a day or two. We'll see.

Lost myself inside the Tate for a while, dreaming with the late Turners and the Blakes. 

Headed to Barcelona in a few hours. 

***

Just got into Barcelona (an hour ago) and made a pilgrimage, of sorts, to one of my most favorite places in the world, the Placa Real. Had a couple of pints of Estrella, watched the street musicians and couple almost fucking on the benches - definitely not in England any more.

It hits me everytime I return here: the feel and atmosphere of Spain resonate with something essential within me. I love this country. 

The fire inside is burning bright. 


April 1, 2003

In Barcelona as I type. Been drinking Estrellas on the Placa Reial, watching the slow parade of sad humanity: human statues, fire dancers, mimes, guitar players. Wanted to but a canary from the guy on Las Ramblas, but knew that I would fall in love with the stupid canary and end up carrying it all over Spain

The weather is beautiful, sunny and blue. 

Went to the Picasso Museum today. Amazing and stimulating as always - such an erotic old fuck. Trying to head up to Tibidabo to drink a bottle or two of wine and dance with the city and the stars.

Going to go sketch the Sagrada Familia tomorrow. Want to spend a few hours with the melting icons.

Our cash goes about twice as far here as it did in London. We are definitely going to spend an evening walking around sipping on a bottle of absinthe until we start hallucinating.





Sagrada Familia, Barcelona

April 4, 2003

The imagination attempts to fill in the unfinished. But the gaze is always surprised and surpassed with the opening of each new perspective. We climbed upwards from the ridiculous to the sublime, circling with the vulgar, stepping out onto the parapets when we could to take in the blue skies over Spain. Back down on the streets, walked by the buses idling in the well-fed memory of the Master's death.



Plaza de las Flores, Murcia


Those diamond moments under those ceaseless blue skies. Every fountain had its own language. The mandolin player tuning by starlight to the babbling of the water. And the song that he never sang was not even necessary. The old woman with the bent back and the can full of coins came by, shaking, broken and shivering. And all the human statues had to break their implacable gazes in order to look the other way. Instead of dreaming, we got drunk and waited for the dawn.






P. Nueva, Granada


April 5, 2003

Wandering through the winding streets with the ghost of Lorca...

A tree of blood soaks the morning
where the newborn woman groans.
Her voice leaves glass in the wound
and on the panes, a diagram of bone.

Taking this waltz over and over. Bar hopping through the Albayzin getting drunk on red wine. Smoking hashish on the balcony of our room above the Cuesta de Gomerez. The luthiers have closed up their shops and sit on the front steps playing softly. This sound of guitars rising from down below, the notes bending and blending into ancient streams flowing down from the Alhambra.

***

Now in Granada. Blue shimmering skies. Drinking Cruz Campos with the Anarchists ("No a la Guerra!") and Te in the Arabic cafes, smoking off the big hooka. 

God I love this country. There is a street leading up the Alcazar that broke my heart last time I was here. Bunch of guitar makers. In the evening they all sit in front of their shops playing. Just beautiful. I wanted to buy one of the guitars. If I fast and don't drink for a few days, I will have enough in my budget to get one. 

This thread of the orient, Arabia, that is here in the south of Spain is so attractive to me. The high pitch of the music and the colors, the smell of it. Just makes you damn happy to be alive. That a war is going on right now is hard to believe and terrible.

We are heading to Morocco in a few days. Africa... sounds like: Mystery and the Erotic.





Alhambra, Granada


April 6, 2003

Up the steep way beside the falling waters, the murmurs of violent and beautiful histories. And the view like no other from the Torre de la Vela, the red tiled roofs of the city spread out on the green blanket of the land. Even the words sound magical: Alhambra.

Already, the memories are pleasant hauntings, taking on the evening golden light, rearranging into plotted narratives. I am back but the Fools that wander through these inner landscapes are full of wonder... wonderful. They re-mind me of what it is now, of how important it is now, compared to how immense it was then. I look at my own drawn lines like an old man caught by the face in the mirror.

***

Here in Granada - with its singing ghost of Lorca. 

Deep blue shimmering skies, threads of Northern Africa Araby down every narrow street, incense in the alleys, drinking mint tea with the anarchists and beer with the socialists in a bar full of Euro-rats. The nights, with the Alhambra lit and burning, are cut straight out of Van Gogh's madness. Above the street where I am staying are a couple of dozen guitar makers and their shops. In the cool of the evening, they sit in front of their shops, shadows curling like dogs at their feet, and play melancholy tunes that reminds me of something long lost and breaks my heart a thousand times over again. To stand at a distance and watch the man who dresses his dog up like a child or sing with the water overflowing the fountains in the Plaza Nueva. 



Puerto del Vino, Alhambra


Searching for a Spain that lives only in the imagination. Combing through boxes of old postcards and etchings in the shops the line the Calle Reyes Catolicos. Donkeys pulling wooden carts, Quixote and Sancho starved into lean silhouette, flamenco dancers sheened in sweat, women wearing elaborate black headresses, bullfighters covered in dust, bodas full of wine and blood, and that fire that burned in all of their eyes.






Puerto del Vino, Alhambra

April 7, 2003

The crowds rushing in and rushing though, looking at everything through the lens of a camera. A janitor whispered to me that he never knew death had undone so many. I asked what he meant and he shook his head, spat, and walked away. Imagine what a guided tour or hell would be like. They won't even let you into the depths until you have wandered the labyrinths of boredom for what seems eternity. We sat with our admission tickets, drinking warm beer in the heat.

***

We are staying a second floor room with a balcony that looks out over one of the main roads up to the Alhambra. There are several guitar makers along the cobblestoned way and in the evenings they come out in front of their shops to play. The songs rise up to meet me, breaking my heart with the memory of everything and everyone I have ever loved. 

Wandering around the labyrinths of the Arab neighborhoods, drinking mint tea with hooka smoking anarchists and then up to a bar with candles under the stars to hangout with all of Euro-rats and their postures. Mostly just trying to, as you say, BE. 

Heading to Morocco in a few days: Tangier, Asilah (where Pilar and I stayed) and Fez.

After that Semana Santa in Sevilla, then onto confront the Great Emptiness of GodDevil on the Camino.



Torre de las Damas, Alhambra


Cats watching goldfish drift through reflected clouds as children scream nearby. This pool was built over ancient graves. The children of Muley Abul Hassan, executed nearby, haunt the surrounding gardens. Staring into the waters it seems your face becomes a smiling skull. We sat there with the cats watching them watch the fish, wondering how many had jumped in.


April 10, 2003

Currently in Gibraltar hanging out with the apes. Another Hole in the Wall. An odd out of time fragment of Great Britain. 

Leaving for Tangier in an hour or so.


April 11, 2003

Here in Asilqh on qn Arqbic keyboqrd. Typicql mqdness in Tqngier. Drinking red wine under the stqrs on the terrqce... ring qround the moon, venus rising, bequtiful. Cqll too prqyer resonqte.


Jennifer in Asilah, Morocco






Bab Boujeloud, Fez

April 12, 2003

Being charged for camels as we try to buy chickens. A labyrinth of cultural commerce that has taken 5,000 years to create. A disoriented Orient cut into beautiful ribbons by Western streams. The icon is all. Hood ornaments from western cars worn as necklaces. Goats slaughtered before our eyes.


Jennifer in Fez, Morocco



April 13, 2003

On qn Arqbic keyboqrd where the a is q:

The drone of the cqll to prqyer, down in the labyrinth of the souks, hennq designs of deqth on my fqce, drinking Moroccqn wine on the rooftops with Qllqh qnd the Milky Way, sitting watching the Old Men work the looms, enrqptured, slqughtered lqmbs in plqstic, smoke
from qncient fires, 10,000 yeqr old doors to hqrems; the sweet frqgrqnce of hqsh mixing with the cedqr shqvings, the trqins sing like flutes on the rqils, qt sunset the swifts circle the meqt souk for hours like dervishes, telling my own fortune in the figures of desertion, gqzes vqcqted qnd the Greqt Emptiness from God's withdrawl. Pilgrimqge soon: thunder qnd blood
qnd q ring qround the hqlf moon, venus circling.

Signs qnd portents -

Down on my knees -





Moroccan Stamp

April 16, 2003

After the King died, everything changed. It seems. Even the land is greener. Clothing, music, food all much more western. That donkey that was once tethered to the pole, that had eaten down to the rocks, surrounded by a dead brown land, that donkey is now branded with a logo and full of McDonald's discarded fries. Still nothing will ever change that train station in Asilah.



Torre Del Oro, Sevilla


From William Burroughs' broken bed in Tangier, drinking on the roof, hash clouds drifting up with the sighs of the whores, to the God haunted streets of Sevilla, where the hooded men carried J.C. in blood and silence. Drums and trumpets pounding Morricone-like myths into the nightskies. Virgins drifted by on fire, literally.



Semana Santa, Sevilla


Drinking in the Barrio de Santa Cruz, hearing first the drums and then then the trumpets, echoes of Morricone and Deguello, mythic and western. Running and laughing ahead of the crowds, turning the corner and right into the procession. Jesus in the night sky trembling under his cross upon the shoulders of the hooded men.



April 17, 2003


In Madrid on the eve of departure, bittersweet moments for Jennifer and I. Madrid is all blue skies smiling at me, in the Plaza Mayor with the fire jugglers and mandolin players, drinking Cruz Campos. Last night, drunk on a street around Puerto del Sol, stopping in a crowd on a corner to watch a Semana Santa float pass by: Jesus carrying the cross to Ennio Morricone trumpets and drums, deguello with horse hoof syncopation. Statues staring right through me, white and purple hooded figures carrying it all away. Up late after that, drinking chupitos of tequlia until 4:00 am. Today the Prado: Goya´s "black period", the endlessly fascinating Bosches and, of course, the Velasquez. Tomorrow, Jennifer and I say our goodbyes and I head north to Leon to start walking.






Corner in Leon


April 19, 2003


Stork's Nests. Easter Sunday with thunder and drums. Wondering if these two were awaiting instruction on where to deliver the next child: perhaps up there now, quiet in the nest, under soft feathers and grey skies.




Chapel - Santa Maria del Camino, Leon


In the plaza outside of the Convento, watching the nuns go to Mass. Breaking a loaf of bread so freah that steam rises up off of it like a ghost. Excellent wine in a green bottle with no label from the local market. Just breathing in its bouquet takes all the burdens from my mind.






Break the Bottle, San Marin


The women coming down from the mountains dance in the fountains. I sighed and leaned back into the cool wall of the refuge. It seems everyone is a friend as I smile politely and walk away - down to the center to buy a bottle of wine that I can drink alone.


April 21, 2003


Bones aching in all senses of the phrase.

The Bone Carver rides on my back whispering in my ear and singing on the steep hills: I'll be coming in the mountain when she comes!!!

I am pretty much shunned by the other pilgrims because I am the only one by myself and don't talk to anyone other than myself. I may be a little crazy, I think. 

The mountains are ahead and no internet for a while. I am trying to forget everything Scot Casey ever learned, so it's probably good that I can't communicate with anyone.






Church by the Albergue, Astorga


April 22, 2003

Every muscle in my body sore. On the wall overlooking the city in a park full of orange trees. Another pilgrim approaches and remarks that it is difficult to find the time to draw with all this walking. I decide to remain in Astorga another day.

***

I am in the North of Spain, getting ready to walk over the mountains. Old Elephant head is riding on top of my pack, roaring away at what a Fool I am. Tired and sore to the fucking core of my bones. Knees giving out under the weight of that fat grey trunked one.

All has been tremendous and I imagine that all shall be even more. 

I may  shake all the water out of the glass as I try to get it back to the god, but I am certain that I will at least have an empty glass at the end. That would be good. It's not a matter of it being half full or half empty, it is just about getting something, anything back to the God. 

Where´s my water? 
Water?
Oh yeah, well, at least I got the glass back. Better than before, huh? Smile.

***

Still in Astorgas, resting before making the climb up to the abandoned village of Foncebadon - where I intend to sing "I´m the King of the Jungle" and dance around like an Orang-u-tang. 

Spending the day sketching Gaudi's neo-gothic Bishop's Palace and some fallen walls and such. 

The Spirit grows stronger each day - as does the Flesh. The Bones, though, they are becoming clear and diamond-like, multifaceted beyond my previous imagining. 

Walking for hours working with the mantra. Breathing it. Not being able to not think it. 

Rereading and carving into my hot pink wet brain the words from Steiner´s Grammars of Creation.




Fountain, Rabanal del Camino

April 23, 2003


The way leading through ruined villages, stone walls crumbling and trees standing in the center of the rooms. Unseen birds whistling mournful melodies that were impossible to remember.

***

A lot of time on those 20 mile days. I got tired of hearing myself think, so I made up some walking songs. In the three weeks that I spent walking, I probably sang this song over five hundred times. Depending upon my mood, I would add drum breaks, guitar solos and whistling, sing it as opera, blues, hard rock, quiet folk, Motown soul, bleak West Texas country, Good Ole Boy Nashville country, imitating Elvis, Willie, Tom Waits, Dean Martin and James Brown - to name only the best versions. 

Just outside of Molinaseca, coming down from the ruined village of Foncebadon, I came upon a flock of young goats, no goatherd in sight, one small billy with a big bell around its neck. I had been singing Man From the Land of Nod. I stopped and walked through them. They followed. I turned on them and Yahhed! and Gitted! yelling at them move away. They just stood stock still, looking at me with what I imagined to be a measure of goatlike amusement. 

I walked on. For the next half a mile they followed. I kept searching for the goatherd or a nearby farm. Nothing. Finally, I just gave in. Fuck it. Started singing again at the top of my lungs, walking along the tops of the hills with a herd of Spanish goats jumping all around behind me. 

Just on the outskirts of Molinaseca, they peeled back the other way. I stood there listening to the sound of the billy's bell clanging away into the distance for a long time.


I’m a man from the Land of Nod
On my way to see my God

See my wife of thirty years
Her face is ruined from her tears

Yes I’m a man from the Land of Nod
On my way to see my God

See my child with eyes so bright
The stars are hidden from his sight

O I’m a man from the Land of Nod
On my way to see my God

My mother is draped in robes of shame
Fears to use my father’s name

Well I’m a man from the Land of Nod
On my way to see my God

My other child is buried deep
Sings my dreams when I sleep

Yes I’m a man from the Land of Nod
On my way to see my God

Yes I’m a man from the Land of Nod
On my way to see my God

They say he sleeps on a cold grey stone
Holes for eyes and snow-white bones

Well I’m a man from the Land of Nod
On my way to see my God

Yes I’m a man from the Land of Nod
On my way to see my God







Roman Bridge, Molinaseca


April 24, 2003

Coming down from the Foncebadon Pass, just before this town, stumbled upon a herd of goats. Billys with large bells gently clanging, they came nearly straight down a cliff to investigate me. The young ones capered around my legs wanting to play. No herder in sight. Came into town along the road that runs in front of the church in the distance.






Clock Street, Ponferrada


April 25, 2003


Standing in the shadows. Working quick. Remembering words from Steiner: "On the clock-face, the hand traverses identical divisions during the torture session and making love." Trying to draw the skull around my eyes.

***

I'm in Ponferrada. It's raining like a bitch, so I ducked into this cafe and it had internet. Amazing!

Crossed the Foncebadon Pass yesterday - highest point on the Camino. Through ruined villages, paths through purple blooming heather and yellow broom,  down into valleys that stretch into forever and are all mine, up to ridge where I walked shoulder to shoulder with the clouds and then, Nietzsche-like, stepped above them, and then down into lush green valleys
where I ran into a herd of goats - the young ones leaping into the air to see what I was and if I wanted to play with them, the old billys with big bells around their necks that sounded long after I had passed them.

Made up a song and sang it the rest of the way:

Sometimes my baby's hair is like hashed brown potatoes
And her eyes are like two eggs, fried sunny side
And in her mouth is the sweetest piece of bacon
Yes, she's the best hot meal I've ever had

Her ass is like two hot buns of bread
And her sass is like a smoky piece of ham
And she always knows how to cut the mustard
Yes, she's the best hot meal I've ever had

Her mouth is like a big ole bowl of chili
And her words are all a pile of grated cheese
And when she cries, she says it's only the onions
Yes, she's the best hot meal I've ever had

She's always hot and steaming
Straight out of the oven
And she only gives her honey to me

She tells me I can have 
as many course as I need
Well, baby I'm on my knees.

Headed to Villafranca del Bierzo tonight and then up to the mountain village of O Cebriero - which sounds just brainy enough for me. Last mountain range that I'll have to cross. My knee is fine except in the steep downhills and then it seems that my thigh bone is writing god's secret name on the inside of my kneecap over and over again. 

Learning the difference between agony and pain. 




Castillo de los Templars, Ponferrada


Wished I'd stayed longer but the rains started coming down and didn’t stop all day long. Muddy paths through rolling hills covered with vineyards. Soaked to the bone. God playing my tendons like they were bad strings on a beat-up guitar.




Slate Church, Hospital de Condessa


April 25, 2003

Stepping over the fence to get this perspective from the field. Cows out there. And a bull with a bell. Kept hearing it clang softly, as if the bull were sneaking up behind me. Kept checking over my shoulder, trying not to get too lost in the drawing.




Slate House, H. d. Condessa


April 27, 2003

Just down the path from the Refugio. The owner of this house came out to see what I was up to as I sat drawing with his dogs laying next to me. I asked if it was alright with him for me to draw his home - except in my awkward Spanish phrased this more as: Is it alright for me to take your home - para tomar su hogar. But he just laughed and told me it was muy bien.





Sanctuario O Cebreiro

April 28, 2003


Heard the brothers singing but couldn't find them. Was witness to the platen and the chalice from the miracle. One dark snowy night, Bread into Flesh and Wine into Blood. But none could answer my question: After the miracle, did they still take communion? Cold cold wind blowing up there.



April 29, 2003

My sister's birthday. 

In a small town called Sarria. I had a craving - really the first of this trip - to have a big ole American style pizza. Walked all over town and finally found a small place. Pizza with anchovies, sardines, uncured ham, just with tomatoes. Nope. Told them that I wanted on with well done crust, lots of cheese, pepperonis and mushrooms. Well, they tried.
Ended up with a kind of chorizo sausage piece of soggy dough with blue cheese. I know better. But I just had that craving, you know. When in Spain, eat as the Spanish do. 

I've mostly been eating the pilgrim's menu - which is an excellent Gallego soup, pork chops, fried eggs and fries, with a bottle of house wine - usually unlabeled and is "drink as much as you want". Bread and water and a desert. All for about 7 bucks. 

Been raining. Doesn't bother me much. Now that my body has gotten into shape, it's just a beast, my donkey (I call it Donkey Jote... ), that carries my mind around while it thinks and looks at the scenery. A beauty here that I am at a loss to describe. 

Have about 5 more days of walking before I get to Compostela, then Madrid, then London for two days, then Houston, for one night, then Austin on the 8th of May.

Jennifer has been back about a week. 

For me, I sense that large masses of my self have shifted. I cannot return to the same place I was in when I left - spiritually - because I was dying in that place. Nothing will ever be the same.

***

Up in the mountains of Northern Spain, just came down from the last big range, out of the shadow of the mountains all day.

Singing my crazy songs, This morning, I was singing a song and walked by a cow that mooed at me. I mooed back. The cow almost jumped over the wall. It was love at first moo. I mooed for her all the way over the hill and could hear her lovesick moos calling after me. The most romance I've had on the entire camino.

Have discarded most of the books that brought me here. One however that I have read three times and treat as sacred scripture is Grammars of Creation by George Steiner. These two passages are what I am "at". I feel these words in my blood, shaking through my bones. 

"We create or come close to creation and we die in ontological isolation, in 'soledad'. This term, associated with the poetry of Gongora, perfectly concentrates the pertinent values. It implies Latin 'solitudo', from which it  derives. It comports isolation, exile into the waste
places of the self, an apartness from other human presences like that of the anchorite. It
connotes the 'soul's midnight', another baroque precision familiar to the mystic, the metaphysician and the poet. Out of which the birth of the work brings  either light or an even denser darkness. The 'soledad' of the creator, as Gongora has it, is 'confusa'. It is simultaneously an emptiness, a desert of the spirit, and a potential plenitude, pregnant with
shaping impulses. The poet, the thinker are unutterably alone, yet under pressure of crowding
possibilities. At the treshhold of silence with him lies the turbulence of incipiet form, of the will to articulation. Coleridge's Mariner, who can serve as an elucidating model of the voyage towards imperative expression, is alone, alone to the point of madness, on a crowded
sea."

And the summa, the credo:

"Only two experiences enable human beings to participate in the truth-fiction, in the pragmatic metaphor of eternity, of liberation from the eradicating dictates of biological-historical time, which is to say: death. The one way is that of authentic religious beliefs for those open to them. The other is that of the aesthetic. It is the production and reception of
works of art, in the widest sense, which enable us to share in the experience of duration, of time unbounded. Without the arts, the human psyche would stand naked in the face of personal extinction. Wherein would lie the logic of madness and despair. It is (again together with transcendent religious faith and,  often, in a certain relation to it) 'poesis' which
authorizes the unreason of hope.

"In that immensely significant sense, the arts are more indispensable to men and women than even the best of science and technology (innumerable societies have long endured without these). Creativity in the arts and in philosophic proposal is, in respect of the survival of
consciousness, of another order than is invention in the sciences. We are an animal whose
life-breath is that of the spoken, painted, sculpted, sung dreams. There is, there can be, no community on earth, however rudimentary its material means, without music, without some mode of graphic art, without those narratives of imagined remembrance we call myth and poetry. Truth is, indeed, with the equation; but it is a lesser truth."

Land masses shifting within...




Cathedral, Portomarin


April 30, 2003

This cathedral had been moved stone by stone from down near the river to up on top of this hill. The rest of the town is still under the waters of a recent reservoir, the tops of the buildings rising above the waters, rooms and doorways visible when the water is clear.


May 2, 2003

I am here. Santiago de Compostela. Got my Compostellae in hand saying that I am Saint Scotus Cassius de Boneus in Latin. 

Raining hard all night and this morning in Palas de Rei. Was trying to see  about waiting it out another day. Found out that the bus I need to take for Madrid leaves from Santiago at 11:00 in the am everyday.

So that meant that I would have missed it if I came in on Sunday or busted  my busted ass to make it in be Saturday night in the rain. I'd already gone far enough to get my wings, so I said, screw it and hopped the next bus to Santiago.

Good that I did. The Camino stayed pretty much all along the highway in this part and wasn't very attractive. Coming into Santiago it had to go through ugly edge of the city mess. I just laid  back and watched the world go by. 

I was't even going to bother with getting the Compostella - which means the Church has certified that you have walked enough to talk like a superstar and call everyone a pilgrim, but I was at the Cathedral and saw this priest sitting in a dark booth. I told him that I was a Pilgrim and asked him if he knew where I might go. He seemed all of a sudden to wake up when I told him this. Then he got up out of his booth: he was clothed entirely in a long ethereal white robe. He had a white beard and white hair. He took my arm and led me through the masses, who parted like the Red Sea as he came towards them (I promise I'm not making this up) with his right hand raised up like Moses parting the Red Sea. Took me outside and pointed to the door and told me to "Go there, my son."

I felt like God had just ordered me on - seriously. So I went. 

I had seen on a TV in a bar last night that there were lines around the block to get the Compostella. But because God had shown me the way, everyone had been vaporized or sent to Hell so that I could walk straight up with no wait, give the woman my "credentials", have her check all the stamps out, give me my final stamp, look my name up in the Latin Book of Names, and then give me my piece of sky pie that, as I said, made me a Saint. Or maybe I missed something in the translation. 

Found a great little room of my own - no more Refugios for St. Cassius de Boneius - for only 15 euros a night. Now I have a fulls day to enjoy Santiago tomorrow and leave early Sunday for Madrid. 

All is good. I'm going back to talk to God some more.





Santiago de Compostella


May 3, 2003

A city like a mirage shimmering over the Camino, founded upon the discovery of a set of sacred bomes. It was this that dawned on me with laughter here: I had been walking the entire time towards a pile of Holy Bones. St. Boneus de Carver.



Santiago de Compostella


Bell Tower From the Cloisters. Standing on the bones of buried priests as the living rushed by giving me the evil eye. Had been trying to get a pencil rubbing of a skull off of one of the graves, but gave up after the pencil I had kept breaking on the teeth.



St. James of the Field of Stars


St. James of the Field of Stars, burning with blue light, covered in gold. I slapped him on his bright polished shoulder. And down in the crypt, I went to one knee to bow before the bones. As I arose, a cross of blood burned in the air before me.


May 5, 2003

Just got into London. 

Drank too much in Madrid last night. Those Spanish just don't know when to stop. 

Ended up with just enough money to get the metro to the airport in Madrid, take the train from Gatwick into London and the tube to the hotel. Got a swank place. Copthorne Tara. 

Jennifer got it on Priceline for about 20 US or something. We were supposed to celebrate our
anniversary in style. But she split, so now I guess I gotta go find some London tart to "chat up" "get sloshed" and "shag". 

Maybe I'll search for a women and pay here to talk to me about Vergil and the origin of greek tragic drama. 

But you know, the way I look right now I think I had my best chance for romance with that cow. 

Got more money now. So tonight, a few pints at a pub around here, Kensington / Earl's Court. Would love to find a kebab stand. And an English newspaper. Tired of reading the shitty foreign "english" papers or slowly reading the Spanish ones. And the new book by William
Gibson and new fiction collection by Steiner. And... and... and... 

British Museum and Libary tomorrow, Charing Cross road to look for some books, Foyles, then Soho probably to celebrate my last night in the Old World.

Fly out on Wed. Stay the night in Houston. Fly into Austin on Thurs. afternoon. Work Friday at the Showdown. Yee Hawww. Get right back in the saddle.


May 6, 2003

In London now. Luxury room at the Copthorne Tara.

Spent the beautiful day (as far as anyone is willing to buy one), walking from Victoria to Buckingham and up the Birdcage Walk through a blooming and flower filled St. James
Park to Trafalgar, saw a bunch of palace guards working the black fuzzy hat tricks. Then I went roaming around Charing Cross Road bookshops, seeing about 100 books that I can't afford to buy, then over to the British Museum. 

I  haven't been there since they have redone it. Stunning. Before it was one of the best museums I'd ever experienced. Now it is the best - hands down. The memory theater for the Western World.

Been trying to resist the urge to pop into every pub I see (money is tight  and London is a very expensive city to drink in). But I will surrender this evening and head out for a few. 

London drink: Extra Smooth, of course. Also, philosophically, enjoy Kronenberg 1776. 

I got into Madrid just post-coital popeus. Everyone was out sinning and I did get caught up in that. Spent so much money on booze that I just barely could afford to leave town. Thought I might have to start busking on the street with my "Sketches of Spain" or, worse, impressions of Cagney, Bogart, Stewart, Wayne, Stallone and Boo Boo Bear in a round table discussion
on the Ontological Presence that Haunts Grammar - not really a street corner kind of dialogue - but it played well to the cows.

The Elgin Marbles. Gave Keats a hard-on. But they were, with no question, wrongly expatriated from Greece. Mostly on the typically British imperialistic guise that the "primitive" Greeks just don't know how to take care of their own national heritage as well as we do. They should go back. Still, I love the British Museum. Lots of mummies there for me to look at and
think about unwrapping.

The TV in the room is the worst distraction. Watched Raging Bull last night. But this morning got caught up in all the insane British morning shows. "I say, got a bit of a tiddly out on the Yaw, sir! Bloody frak informs us that is a quite yipper on the Thames." Couldn't pull myself away. Well, for about 5 minutes.


May 10, 2003

Home. Worked last night. Awkward. Felt like my soul wasn't quite reeled in from London yet, parts perhaps still clinging to Spain. 

It's all easy, but still so awkward. Feel like an albatross trying to serve beer. The big wings of
travel are just getting in the way. Haven't learned how to pull them back in yet. 

No capacity for banter, to summarize the intensities of where I traveled and what happened to me there in the 30 seconds of time between pouring a beer and taking money. 

And all the bantering phrases not only turn the experience into a banality; they also begin to chip away at the actual core of what it is to me. I almost want to have some pat lie that will serve as a kind of shield against the truth of the real and profound experience.

"Yeah, I just hung out on the beaches of Ibiza and smoked hash the whole time. Worked on my sun tan. It was really cool."

Of course, it is all the same here. Small lives in a small world feasting upon the most meager scraps of gossip behind each other's backs.  Not that I have ever really been a part of it, but I have been complicit merely by hearing it all out. Now, I refuse to even suffer this complicity.

I realize that most people have little or no desire to understand the profound experiences of
another. And this is good, no problem for me. But the initial superficial curiosity caught me a little off gaurd.

A guy comes up to ask about the pilgrimage and I find I am off on an explanation of those precise moments out there in Northern Spain where language reached a limit and how, at those liminal points of being, you know it down to your bones, that you are approaching
what can only be broadly termed Source - as in the Zen Ox Herding sequence. But, of course, the Source is preceded by the Void. A fundamental emptiness is prerequisite to, not recovering, but uncovering this liminal, and necessarily profound, experience of being. 

When I was in the Cathedral of Leon on Easter, I was broken by this Emptiness. The entire Cathedral seemed like the most sublime Vagina I had ever seen - but with the Cock of God long withdrawn, leaving me with the impression of the skeleton of a Divine Vagina - like an enormous ribcage of a long extinct beast stumbled upon in the Desert...

And this guy, and everyone within earshot, simply waiting for their next beer, are all looking at me, wondering what the hell I was talking about. And the guy just says something about yeah, we'll have to sit down some time and you can fill me in. Right. But it might take a long time to fill your empty soul.

It would be funny if it weren't so sad. I must hold on to what I un-covered  (as opposed to "re-covered" - which has never made sense to me) upon the Camino. And this holding on, this binding to the mast, is crucial.

The ligaments of my re-ligion are intensely private binding rituals, occurring in the very core of being, only obliquely accessed via language, and even then in the most hallowed poetic terms. 

I am haunted by Kafka's comment that it is not the singing of the Sirens that is most terrible; it is their silence. 

I refuse to fall into the enchantments of the horrible silence of the everyday again. I refuse to empty out my soul in teaspoons in every Prufrockian conversation.