Tag Archives: Santiago

Do You Know Where My Teddy Bear Is?

actually, it’s a very sad story.  (originally posted on http://mostly-irish.livejournal.com/305588.html )

I have a teddy bear, let’s call him Teddy Roosevelt (cause that’s his name – named after the statue in front of the Museum of Natural History in NYC). Well, had is more like it. 

I’ve had TR since I was pretty much born, and any time I have gone away from home overnight – Cub Scouts, HS retreats, college, Ireland 16 or 17 times, Canada at least 5 times, Washington DC a whole bunch, Italy twice, Holland, Spain – TR has come with me. This last time, the Spain trip, he was lost.

Santiago de Compostela in Galicia, Spain, is one of the most beautiful fantastic places I have ever been. There is a vibrant “modern” town with a University, train station, drug stores, supermarkets, etc, with unbelievably nice, patient (I was driving a manual transmission for the first time and there are a LOT of hills), helpful (even though I didn’t speak Galician, the little old man was giving me directions switching back and forth from Gallego to Castellano) and kind people. The “old town” could not be more stereotypically European. Small alleys, which double as streets, lined with outdoor cafes, lead to grand plazas, the grandest of which was in front of the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela. The Cathedral has been one of the biggest pilgrimage sites in Christianity for almost a thousand years, the destination for “peregrinos” walking from as far away as France.

The Cathedral is stunning, inside and out.

stunning. That’s a very apt word. I’ve been to other “religious pilgrimage” sites before (Knock, Ireland; Rome) and was often left with a bad taste in my mouth. I felt that there was a sense of disingenuousness at those places. Every time you turned around there was someone trying to sell something like a lighter or shot glass with the Pope’s face on it. People were there as tourists, not as actual “pilgrims” for want of a better word. Which is really fine if you want to be a tourist site. ok ok no more soapbox.

I’m trying to come up with a word other than “beautiful” or “stunning” to describe my experience there. Watching the emotions of the people walking through that last arch and seeing the Cathedral for the first time was beautiful. Watching the joy of meeting friends they hadn’t seen in two days at a cerveceria that night was beautiful. Watching the comraderie of sunburns and scallop shells and walking shoes tied together around shoulders was beautiful. There was a sense of community personified by this place that I had never seen before. The hugs, smiles and joy as we watched a mariachi band outside the cathedral at midnight walking back from dinner were infectious.

However, even within all of this beauty, sadness struck. 

I’m pretty sure I know the exact moment when it happened. I’m pretty sure I know the exact spot.

In the rush to get to visit my friend, Frank, a “naturalized local” (who went to my HS) whom we were supposed to have met three hours earlier, I was a little frustrated, a little stressed from the experience of driving the car, and only faintly heard the now haunting “Señor, Señor…” from the old lady by the side of the road selling bagpipes and walking sticks as Teddy Roosevelt slipped out of my bag. I guess my instinctual New Yorker took over in my haste and my blinders were on as to how amazing Santiago is.

Santiago even tried to help me let know TR had fallen.

I’m hopeful one of two things happened: 1. He is making a child extremely happy and is traveling all over Spain continuing his adventures (although, I must admit, he picked a good spot – if there was ANY place I have ever been that I wanted to stay for another day, week, month, year, it is Santiago) or 2. He will be waiting for me the next time I return. 

I’d really like to go back tomorrow, but I know it will be a year or two (hopefully not too much more than that) until I return to Galicia. So if you know anyone who lives in or around Santiago, please share this with them:  https://www.facebook.com/pages/Find-Teddy-Roosevelt/455128054511360 it’s a FB page I put together to help find Teddy Roosevelt. Or just “like” it and I’ll see how many more TR pics I can put up 🙂

peace.

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