Mel's Healing Pilgrimage 2016

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Thursday, October 16, 2014

A Day in Segovia - Look up, Look up, Look up, Look down

I spent the whole day looking up it seems. Well, almost.

First, the bullet train that whisks you from Madrid to Segovia is fast enough to make you dizzy. Look down at the ground and, if you're prone to motion sickness as I am, you won't feel so good. Look up and you'll see a rapidly shifting landscape that slides by with breathless abandon.

Once there, I took a city bus to the centre of town and walked towards my first destination. Along the way, my keeps kept reaching up the hills towards the north, as I could clearly see the Cathedral that I will be visiting later in the morning.

And soon, as I approached my destination, I saw the 95 ft tall Roman aqueduct that, even 2000 years after construction, remain standing. It boggles the mind that something that old was still in perfect use up until the 19th century. Somehow, this 2/3 mile long giant of stone evaded earthquakes, fires, and war. Graceful arch after graceful arch, arch upon arch, this stands as a reminder of what we can accomplish despite the odds.

I then proceeded to the Alcazar, where I found an intact castle that stood proudly upon the hill. The lines were somewhat fairytale in shape but the surprise for me was inside.

Most beautifully to me were the unending supply of sumptuous Andalusian-inspired ceilings. The craftsmanship was stunning, the colors intoxicating, and the patterns enchanting. I could barely tear my eyes away from those ceilings, and I'm grateful that none of those original designs were lost in the mist of time.

From the Alcazar, I explored the Cathedral. Again, looking up from the Plaza Mayor, I was gobsmacked by a lovely sight: several hot air balloons were floating just beyond and above the Cathedral. They were colorful and contrasted with the smooth colors of the cathedral stone.

As an amateur photographer, one couldn't ask for better photo opportunities.

As one who appreciates irony, I loved comparing the solid, stoic behemoth with the effervescent, transient mirage. The two seemed locked in an futile ballet, where one danced around, while the other was planted firmly in place.

And life is like that sometimes. Sometimes, we want to be on this wild adventure, a journey of space and time, but we are held down by our nature, by our being. Or worse, we are held down by those who hold us down.

But in this irony lies another irony. The cathedral is in fact built to cause its congregants to look upwards, to search the skies, to peer up at another realm. It might not be able to get there itself, but it's meant to help us imagine ourselves in the clouds on another level.

I returned to the aqueduct for a light lunch and figured out the mystery of the pig. In several places in the Alcazar and cathedral, I saw pig references. In the square by the aqueduct, I asked a friendly shopkeeper about this as I knelt down and peered at the various clay and ceramic animals. There, looking down at these figures, he explained that Segovia has a long history with the pig, and that it was a symbol of its commercial importance.

And so my time in Segovia was spent looking up, looking up, and looking up. And, when it came time to think of worldly things like souvenirs, it came time to look down, at the pig and remember the soil where my feet were planted.

And from there, I looked up once more and smiled.

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