Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Monday, July 25, Festival de Santiago

Today is Monday, and a holiday, so no one works or goes to school.  Stores are closed, and it is still raining, so it's a perfect day to recover from the busy weekend.  When July 25 falls on a Sunday, it is an extra special year for pilgrims in northern Spain.  The legend of St. James or Santiago is an interesting one and is symbolized throughout northern Spain with a shell (see image).  Pilgrims from all over the world walk all or part of the Camino de Santiago, from southern France west to Galicia, directly above Portugal.  Bilbao is part of the Camino, and we see hikers every day.  These shells are on buildings, signs and in the pavement all along the route.

Our list of films keeps growing, and we take advantage of this cold and rainy day to watch another.  Watching a different film almost every night makes it hard to keep them all from running together.  We watch "El lobo," a film about the ETA terrorist group in the 1970's that was infiltrated by a mole known as "el lobo."  It is a good film to get a sense of that part of Spain's history.  Another particularly good film is "los girasoles ciegos," for its poetic, human quality during a difficult political time after the war.  And  "Los soldados de Salamina." also shows the human side of war, focusing on an act of mercy during an otherwise brutal campaign.  One theme in every one of these films so far is the incredibly strong roles that women play.  The saddest example of this is "Las 13 rosas;" thirteen young women, some still teenagers, who fall to a firing squad.  All of these films somehow prepare us for our visit tomorrow to the small town of Guernica, made famous by Picasso's mural, which  reminds us of what happened there, on a Monday afternoon in 1937.

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