On Sunday 11th of May I had said a Mass with three pilgrims – two Spaniards and an Irish woman named Grainne (she said it rhymes with Sonia) in the parish church at Asturianos. Grainne seemed quite moved by the experience. I had determined to say a Mass the following evening on my birthday. I let Grainne know so that could participate if she wished. She was quite keen.
The next afternoon when we arrived at the albergue in Pueblo di Sanabria at the same time and were registering, I told her the reason that I wished to celebrate Mass that evening, that it was my birthday.
After the usual routine, shower, washing, eating, blogging, I packed my clothes for the next morning and was getting ready to explore the Castle at the top of the town, when I was called out into the courtyard. Grainne had bought some pastries, chips, nuts and a couple bottles of read wine, and all the pilgrims gathered sang me “Happy Birthday”! I had not expected it, so it was quite touching. I enjoyed the conviviality.
Later, formalities completed, I did go out and made it to the top of the town to explore the Castle – 330 or so steps up the stairs to the top of the hill, and another 100 or so more steps inside the castle to get to the battlements on the very top!
When I bought my ticket, I must have been showing my age after the climb, as the woman told me that the price of the standard ticket was 3 Euros, but for seniors like me it was only 2 Euros! I happily accepted, my first seniors’ discount!!!
When I returned to the albergue, I caught up with two pilgrims whom I had met earlier in the day, Denis, an Australian (the first Aussie male I had met since starting, and only the second Aussie I had met) and Michael, a German. They had met on a camino previously and had enjoyed each others’ company, so teamed up again this year to do the Via de la Plata. Michael, had offered me a foot massage as a birthday present and was keen to fulfil the offer and I was happy to accept.
My first foot massage!
Later that evening I was ready to say Mass – I had asked the woman in the restaurant for one piece of bread (I think she thought I was a little bit crazy, but obliged me anyway!), and there was still some red wine left over from the birthday celebration – but Grainne was nowhere in sight. She too had gone off sightseeing. However, Denis and Michael joined me for a very simple, pilgrim celebration of the Eucharist, in thanksgiving for the gift of life. Grainne came in just as we had finished. She had enjoyed her visit to the river.
Afterwards, Denis, Michael and myself went out for dinner. Grainne had dinner with the Spanish pilgrims. I can’t remember what we ate. It was the simple menu del dia (“menu of the day”) – basic three course meal. At the end of the meal, Denis and Michael insisted on picking up my tab, which was very kind of them.
So this is how I celebrated my 60th birthday!