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Europe » Spain » Galicia » Santiago de Compostela
August 10th 2016
Published: August 29th 2016
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For some weeks we had seen Camino pilgrims walking toward Santiago. From all over Europe, people walk to Santiago as a pilgrimage. They walk the Camino de Santiago – the Way of St James.

We had hoped to see pilgrims, walking staff in hand, arriving to a huge welcome at the Santiago Cathedral. Unfortunately the main thing we saw was hawkers selling fake silver, gold and platinum coated walking staff outside the cathedral, while inside there were predictable flocks of tourists on a package itinerary following their appointed banner waving ‘guide’, who sports a big grin while he milks their pockets.

We did however notice groups of weary Camino pilgrims resting on tatty rucksacks and leaning on well-worn sticks they had used as walking staff, waiting outside the cathedral as if at some time later in the day, their arduous journey would be recognised. In the current heatwave conditions (consistently above 40 degrees and without any chance of rain as we have rarely seen a cloud in the last month) I have been in awe of the pilgrims undertaking the Camino walk.

Skippy, our motorhome was parked outside a swimming pool while we visited the city and soon after returning, we noticed smoke. Sure enough there was fire to match the smoke. A vacant block of about 5 acres across the road had a grass fire in progress. There was a wide road forming a fire break between us and the blazing paddock. A group of about a dozen kids abandoned their aquatic adventures to witness the flaming, fuming event.

After about ten minutes of the fire spreading as it pleased, a siren approached. As the municipal police van pulled up, the kids gave a resounding cheer. Then a rather tubby policeman got out holding his left hand on his service pistol. He waddled a sort of jog around the perimeter of the scorching paddock, all the time keeping his left hand on the holster, presumably in case he had to draw.

Have I mentioned that presently, the Iberian Peninsula is hot as hades and dry as a dead dingo’s donga? Well her in Santiago it is not as parched as say in Burgas but its mighty dry. And today the wind is gusting to better than 40knots. So the fire has itself established as the main occupant of this paddock helping itself to the dry grass and occasional shrubs and trees.

Another 5 minutes pass and nothing much happens other than the fire establishing itself. People in neighbouring apartments are concerned about smoke. Then another siren is heard approaching. This time it’s the National Police. Now this fire is in serious trouble with the police. As the police vehicle screeched to a halt, the assembled cheer squad of kids gave a hearty cheer, and good belly laugh. Perhaps they would witness the fire being arrested. The National Police did not get out of their vehicle and sped off. The fire continued to scorch the paddock unchecked by authorities.

Three and Four meter high flames were reaching into the pall of smoke. When it wanted to the fire would climb a tree or devour a bush. After about another ten minutes, another siren could be heard from a long way off. The kids got ready with a welcome. They already had two impromptu opportunities to cheer an arriving siren. This time would be better. They huddled together to cheer in unison.

At long last the siren wailing fire engine came into view. But as it did, something happened to give the kids a good belly laugh. From the opposite direction a farmer approached on his tractor towing a big tank of water. The farmer arrived just before the fire engine. When the fire engine did arrive the kids gave the sort of cheer you would expect for a pop star.



The farmer sprayed water on the fire and it was extinguished.


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