The Road to Santiago, July 2007
I traveled along the Camino to dig up the paintings I had left there, at Páramos in Calzadilla de la Cueza and Hospital de Orbigo. This turned out to be a great surprise, for they were as happy as springtime.
As I always do, I went to Velloria de Rioja to visit my friend Acácio. This time he came with his sister, Maria Fernanda, who was following the Camino in stages. Orietta had to stay behind because of the many pilgrims at this time of the year.
There was a Korean in the hostel who started to cry when she saw me. She had read all of Paulo’s books. She was very moved and gave me a present.
In Calzadilla we met Cesar, who once more helped us to dig up the paintings.
Then we went on to Hospital de Orbigo to meet Emilio, a journalist for the Diário de Leon, which published an excellent piece by him on 25 July, Santiago’s day. He had come to meet me when I came to bury the paintings, and now again at the moment of digging them up. I showed him the diary and some paintings of Páramo and Calzadilla that I had framed.
We went along to dig up the paintings at Hospital de Orbigo. They were so beautiful! Pedro was not there, but his family appeared for the event.
The next day we went on to Puente la Reina to set up the exhibit at the El Peregrino Hotel and do the piece for ELLE magazine with Gema Veiga and the photographer Conrad White. We chatted over dinner after spending the whole day setting up the exhibit.
Like an herbalist, I placed several paintings together to form panels. And the next day we went out to take the photographs, and of course I had no idea what I was going to create. There was a canvas I had bought in Pamplona, I was worried because I did not know and was not familiar with that material. I had already had some problems with the canvas I had taken to Santo Domingo, San Juan de Ortega and Castrojerriz, but I had to work and demonstrate how assured I was, because I was with a journalist and a photographer whom I did not know.
I began to press the canvas against the stones of that famous, beautiful bridge. The tubes of watercolour that I was using were new and it was difficult to achieve the effect that I was after. I thought of taking the canvas down to the river, but I spotted a pilgrim and wanted him to walk on top of the canvas. So I waited for him to arrive and make my request. I went down, dipped the canvas in the river and it took on a totally different texture, went soft and flexible, and the marks of the tubes were diluted.
I went to the field of sunflowers and started working with the texture of the center of the flower, like a stamp, and buried it near El Peregrino.
This exhibit was very beautiful and my old friends were there to help me: Marcelo, Acácio and Orietta.
My friend Suzana also came to pick up her painting which had been buried in the gardens of El Peregrino. It was a mouth and heart with the symbol of Mary.
Four days ago my friend Acácio sent me the following e-mail:
HI, MY FRIENDS!
I HAVE JUST RECEIVED a telephone call from ENRIQUE at the Gaia cellar in Foncebadón. As soon as he opened his restaurant today he noticed that the paintings were gone. The big stone we had placed on top was no longer there, and the earth had been shifted about. He was very sad when he called and made a hundred apologies, but we know that the Way to Santiago has for many years had its share of SCOUNDRELS (both male and female).
Christina, I suggest that you paint something in Foncebadón; meditate and we shall see what we can do.
I am especially sad because these were the paintings done in Cruz de Ferro, the ones that invoked the four archangels. Tomás and everyone else was there, standing in the rain with the tourists, pilgrim Naide who had come from Le Puy, ourselves …
Let’s pray that the soul who took the paintings has no problems. We know the strength of prayer, the strength of the Way, the strength of Foncebadón and Cruz de Ferro … LET US PRAY!!!
Well, dear friend, this is sad news indeed, but I am going to meditate to understand the REASON FOR ALL THIS.
Even so, we shall go there, for FONCEBADÓN is a living legend that Paulo has premeditated so much about, and so much has still to happen.
In five days´ time I will be leaving here for the Camino to gather the springtime harvest.