Wednesday, July 5, 2017

This is the church, this is the steeple...

Our plan to get up and beat the heat more or less succeeded. And because of the lack of proper cappuccino stands, we ended up hiking half our distance by breakfast. The little town of Azqueta had a perfect oasis for watering our metaphorical camel. From there we did what thought would be a difficult climb to Montejardin - another small village sitting below ruins of a thousand year old fortress. As we were hiking up, I suddenly noticed a hoard of hikers behind us - we both guessed that a bunch of pseudo-pilgrims had been dumped by bus at the bottom of the hill. The made it to the top, got there credentials stamped, and were never seen again - we imagined they went back down the way they came and then headed off for their next mini-hike.

Wine Fountain along the Way
The last 6 km was hot and long. We ran across a couple that we've dubbed "Knee Braces" as one has a brace on their left knee and the other has a brace on their right knee. We had noticed them the previous day as the woman had rescued an injured bird and was inquiring of the locals as what she might do with it. Today, the man was looking pretty injured himself. We offered them cookies in the shade of a lone tree but they refused. I did manage to get the man to drink some of my water. They were both young and we only had about another hour to go, but I imagine they had to summon up some inner reserves to limp into Los Arcos.

The Mother of all Haystacks

Los Arcos is small but Janine's historical tome (this trip in Kindle form) listed the church as one of the best on the Camino. Having seen Leon and Santiago, I was skeptical but it was impressive. I found particularly interesting the Black Virgin Mary (evidently a common thing) which had been white-faced.

Vaulted Dome Ceiling in Los Arcos Church
One of the things that has always surprised me is how big churches are - particularly the vaulted ceilings. I understand desire to point towards the heaven and be closer to God but it seems like a large waste of space - I wondered if their might be some other architectural or historical reason for their size. In doing a little I nternet research I learned that most churches (and castles) often mimic the safe places of earliest humans - hills. In addition, my sense that these places often seem supernatural because they are so large is exactly what many of the builders were going for: Inspire a sense of awe and draw our eyes and thoughts towards heaven. I also
found an interesting article about steeples and the ROI of a copper steeple over a wooden one, but that will have to wait for another time.

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