Rick Steves recommended that we spend at least a few days in Santiago de Compostela, and I am so glad that we followed his advice. It is a beautiful city with good museums that tell the history of the Camino. There were other churches and cathedrals on the spot where the present-day Cathedral stands.

On our first full day in Santiago de Compostela, we went to the pilgrim office. This is where you receive your certificates or Compostelas, official recognition that you have completed the final 120 kilometers (or more) of the Camino on foot. We stood in front of the big Cathedral gates to take a photo of each other at that wonderful moment. Having walked the final section of the Camino, I very much hope that life will allow me to return to walk some of the other portions, as well as the final 120 km again. This time I hope that our music director and my husband, Franz Vote, will join me for the journey. Here are Jim and I on that joyful day:

jim-with-his-compostelas-in-front-of-the-santiago-cathedral linda-with-her-compostela-in-front-of-the-santiago-cathedral

Santiago de Compostela is a very old city. I enjoyed the unspoiled quality of the old stone buildings on narrow cobblestone streets. One of my favorite things to do in a new city is to just wander around spontaneously without any particular goal in mind. For me, the main thing was to take in the flavor of this historic place and what it has meant to millions of people who have gone before us from the Middle Ages to the present. Being able to feel this connection is worth every step to arrive here.

Jim also had a birthday during our stay in Santiago de Compostela. I took him to dinner at the restaurant in the basement of the Parador. There was a wonderful guitarist who provided live music that evening, including several of Jim’s favorite songs:


Beautiful wall in the Santiago Parador – highly recommended as a place to stay!


Jim and Linda celebrating his birthday with a lovely dinner of paella. The guitarist who played was wonderful, which made the evening even more special.

We headed to Barcelona by train in the early morning of the fourth day in Santiago. As I’ve mentioned before, there is a certain amount of real life that intervenes on a pilgrimage. No sooner had we arrived at the train station in Santiago than the ticket salesperson informed me there were no reservations available to Barcelona that day! We hadn’t even enjoyed a first coffee before the shock hit.

Would Jim have to travel on his own to Barcelona with me to follow on an overnight train? Or would he go alone by train, while I flew to Barcelona? This was a moment in which both of us were pretty upset. If I had it to do again, I would have made the my train reservations for the Eurail Pass well in advance, as you can do so at any train station in Spain. My calculation that I could get a reservation on the morning of the trip had clearly been iffy!

This was a morning on which my ability to speak Spanish became critical. Rather than give up, I spoke at greater length with the first ticket salesman and his colleague, then proceeded to the tourist travel office near the tracks. I believe that if I had been a tourist without any Spanish-speaking skills, I would have been stranded. So my recommendation for anyone planning to travel the Camino is that you take a serious Spanish course for at least one year beforehand, if not 2-3 years in advance.

What transpired is that I ultimately got reservations. In the end, the only issue was that I had to change seats several times in the course of the coast to coast trip to Barcelona. This was a small price to pay for being able to travel on the same trains as Jim. We arrived safely in Barcelona late that night and were able to check into our pension at the anticipated time.

Barcelona is the biggest city that I visited in Spain. With temperatures of nearly 100 F and 96% humidity, it was fairly uncomfortable. And the city was bursting with visitors, such that we could barely move along The Ramblas, which is Barcelona’s main street. Nevertheless, we had an amazing 3.5 days in Barcelona before flying home. And the highlight of the visit for us both was Antoni Gaudi’s Sagrada Familia (Holy Family Cathedral). More on this in the final installment coming soon.

On Thursday evening, January 12, 2017 at 7 pm the Yale Whiffenpoofs will present a guest concert in the Immaculate Heart Chapel, 50 Mount Carmel Road in Santa Fe. NMPAS is hosting the concert in collaboration with the Yale Association of New Mexico. Pre-purchasing tickets is recommended, as their Santa Fe concert sold out last time. Here’s a link: https://whiffenpoofs.ticketbud.com/the-yale-whiffenpoofs-in-santa-fe

Yale has an outstanding tradition of a cappella singing groups, and the Whiffs are one of the oldest. Here’s what they say about themselves:

Every year, 14 senior Yale men are selected to be in the Whiffenpoofs, the world’s oldest and best-known collegiate a cappella group. Founded in 1909, the “Whiffs” began as a senior quartet that met for weekly concerts at Mory’s Temple Bar, the famous Yale tavern. Today, the group has become one of Yale’s most celebrated traditions.


The 2016-2017 Yale Whiffenpoofs

Listed from left to right, starting in the front row:

Simon Schaitkin
Solon Snider
Luke Stringer (on swing)
Ben Paltiel
Trey Pernell
Zak Kayal
Seth McNay

Back row:
Max Sauberman
Zach Johnson
Benson May
Hayden Kline
Michael Tappel
Mack Ramsden
Wade Newville

The arrival in Santiago de Compostela is thrilling! Since all of the routes to Santiago – from the South of Spain, through the French Pyrenees, along the Atlantic Coast of Spain, to name just a few – meet up several days before you arrive at the Cathedral, there are lots and lots of people heading for the same destination. And after being in the countryside and small towns for almost a week, I really felt the urban quality of the final kilometers into Santiago.

My friend, Jim Gittelson, and I lost track of each other temporarily. After being unable to find him at the big hill which affords the first glimpse of the Cathedral, I gave up and continued to walk toward Santiago and the big square where the Cathedral is situated. But I stopped en route at a small restaurant for a bite of lunch. Lo and behold, Jim looked in the door and spotted me! Given all of the people on the Camino at this point, I found it rather miraculous that we managed to hook up to walk the final couple of kilometers together.

Santiago de Compostela is a beautiful city. I loved it there and was so glad that Rick Steves recommended spending several days in Santiago. Trusting in Rick’s recommendation, we made reservations at Pension Girasol for 3 nights. It was a cute little place in the Old Town, not too far from the Cathedral. The only drawback was that the street noise at night in July – not sure how it is at other times of year – was deafening. Thank goodness we were tired after long days of sight-seeing and walking. I somehow managed to get to sleep, but it was hard with the noise level. Although it was incredibly hot, I had to shut the windows in an non-air-conditioned room in order to sleep.

As you enter Santiago on foot and approach the Cathedral, there is a group of musicians on the big staircase that leads down into Cathedral Square. One of them plays the bagpipes, and you can’t miss them, because there is a stone roof over the staircase that magnifies the sound 1000 fold! Yet the excitement of reaching our destination was incredible.

The square is so beautiful and majestic. There are majestic stone buildings on all sides of a huge open square. When we arrived, the facade of the Cathedral was in the midst of a total makeover. So we didn’t get to see it too well. But we stopped at the wonderful Parador that used to be a hospital on the square, took a look around, then circled the Cathedral to get a look from all sides. Here are two photos of the Parador lobby area:

parador-lobby-santiago-2 parador-lobby-santiago

And here is a series of photos of the exterior of the Cathedral from various vantage points:

cathedral-bell-tower-santiago double-staircase-cathedral-facade fountain-at-bottom-of-staircase-near-side-entrance-to-cathedral side-entrance-to-cathdral-of-santiago-de-compostela

Staying with the Cathedral for a moment, we went to the Pilgrim Mass on the second day in Santiago, which always takes place at noon. We arrived in Santiago too late to attend on our first day, so we made plans to see the interior of the Cathedral and attend the mass the next day.

There were so many people in the Cathedral that morning that it was fairly noisy. Members of the Cathedral staff and security detail asked for silence so that others may worship. But with that many people, it’s hard to enjoy silence in the main sanctuary. Some of the side chapels have doors that close, and these chapels allow a bit more peace and quiet for those who wish to pray or meditate. Here are several photos of the interior of the Cathedral:


Left side of the altar area. The intensity of the gold and lighting made it hard to take a photo of the main altar, which is why I didn’t get any good photos to share with you.


A side Chapel depicting Christ’s Passion.


Outside of the Chapel you will see in the next photo. The Spanish reads: I will guard you, accompany you and guide you. Exodus 23:30 – “I will send a Guardian Angel before you to protect you on the Camino and to guide you to the place that I have prepared for you.”

This is where I lit a candle for Franz Vote’s brother, Fred. Franz is the music director of New Mexico Performing Arts Society and my husband. Although Fred died almost 4 years ago, I was spontaneously moved to light a candle for him here. He was a devout Roman Catholic and lived his faith every day. For me, that is what can be good about a person’s faith – it can motivate a person to be loving, generous, and all of the good things we associate with people we look up to.


This is the side Chapel with the Guardian Angel posted directly outside the glass doors. It was special to be able to sit quietly here before the Pilgrim Mass.


I very much admire and love Pope Francis. This plaque inside the Cathedral commemorates the celebration of compassion and mercy. It reads: Merciful like the Father. Celebration of Mercy. Isaiah 53:12: “Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise him … for he shall bear their iniquities” and Ephesians 2:4-5: “But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ.” Pope Francis is certainly an example of a person filled with compassion, someone who lives his faith every day.

We managed to get wonderful seats for the Pilgrim Mass. And we were close to the organ pipes, which were magnificent. It was thrilling to hear the beautiful organ throughout the Mass. Here is a note for those planning to walk the Camino – if you don’t know Spanish, it would be great to study it before making the journey. The Homily and most of the Pilgrim Mass are conducted in Spanish. There are sometimes other priests, mainly from European countries, who serve as co-celebrants.

I attended the Pilgrim Mass twice because I loved it so much. Each one is unique, depending upon who is attending. For example, on the first day we had a youth choir from a Spanish parish that sang and was honored by the presiding priest. At the second Pilgrim Mass there were nuns in the special guest section, dressed all in white. They say right up front near the altar. And priests from Germany, France and Portugal recited the most important parts of the Mass in their native languages. But there were no English-speaking priests, so it was important to be able to understand Spanish in order to fully participate in the Mass. I wanted to mention here that you don’t have to be Catholic in order to be part of the Mass – we are all part of humanity and, whatever our beliefs, it is very inspiring to celebrate the journey with so many others in such a beautiful place.

The priest talked about how the Camino is like our journey in life. It is filled not only with joyful moments, but also presents challenges to pilgrims on their way. He emphasized that the Camino lets us experience the full spectrum of life and stressed how important it is for us to live the entire experience in all of its facets. Personally, this helped me to take in a lot of what had transpired on the entire journey. So much happens each day that it’s hard to take it all in while it’s happening. Or at least that was how the Camino was for me over a two and one-half week period. In fact, I am still experiencing it on a deep spiritual level.

People often ask you why you are on the Camino? Why would you undertake a journey such as this? My answer to them is that, every ten years, I take a special trip to commemorate the next decade of life. Allowing space in this incredibly hectic and stressful life makes room for insight. I had just turned 60. And as you read in an earlier post, I had dreamed of making this trip for well over 20 years. July 2016 is when it became possible and, indeed, necessary. After working tirelessly to bring New Mexico Performing Arts Society to life for 4 years, I was ready for a long break to recover on every level: physical, spiritual and emotional.

The height of the Pilgrim Mass is the lighting of the huge incense burner, called a Botafumeiro in Galego, the language of Galicia. At the second Pilgrim Mass, I was in the first row after the cordoned-off special guest section, so I was able to shoot a video of the Botafumeiro’s journey across the Transept. For some reason, WordPress will not allow me to upload this file type, so I cannot share it with you here. If I can figure out how to upload it, I will certainly do so at a later time.

Let me describe it to you: The Botafumeiro is a huge censer that distributes incense throughout the entire Cathedral near the end of the Mass. It takes 8 men to operate the Botafumeiro. You can see a picture of it at this Wikipedia link: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Botafumeiro

It is truly awe-inspiring to experience the movement of the Botafumeiro to full organ sound and singing. Watching it on Rick Steve’s Europe, on TV or video, cannot compare to being there in person! The entire congregation is thrilled and utterly involved in the movement of the Botafumeiro across the Transept. As a musician, hearing the beautiful organ was a real highpoint for me.

The next installment will share more photos and experiences from Santiago de Compostela, including celebrating Jim’s birthday at a lovely restaurant at the Parador on Santiago’s main square. Jim Gittelson is a dear friend from college. We had originally planned to travel with two other friends, but schedules intervened. So Jim and I made the trip together.

I must add that being on the Camino alone would have been hard. It’s nice to know that someone else is there for you, just in case you get hurt, as well as for safety’s sake. Fortunately, there is very little crime on the Camino, but there are occasional problems, such as losing your passport, airline ticket or petty theft. Some people do walk the Camino alone and, in a certain sense, we all do. Jim mentioned to me that, although we were together on this journey, he had a completely different experience from the one I am writing about here.

Franz Vote and Linda Marianiello appeared on the Richard Eed’s show on Friday morning, November 18, 2016 from 10-10:30 am.

Richard broadcasts from the La Fonda Hotel Lobby on Friday mornings, and we were among his many fun guests this morning. Here is a link to the Podcast in case you’d like to listen in:


Enjoy! We spoke about NMPAS and our upcoming “Los Pastores” concert on November 27th. Richard also asked us about our lives prior to moving to Santa Fe in 2009.

On Sunday, November 27, 2016 NMPAS will co-present the music from “Los Pastores” and “Las Posadas”. Our partner for this year’s Annual Winter Solstice concert is El Rancho de las Golondrinas (https://golondrinas.org). Las Golondrinas has traditionally celebrated Christmas at this time of year. We are so pleased that they and their members are joining us for a very Spanish, Mexican and New Mexican telling of the Christmas story.

The many groups who are taking part in “Los Pastores” include the UNM Robb Trust, which is helping to underwrite artist fees and has created a new orchestra score of New Mexico composer John Donald Robb’s arrangement of the “Los Pastores” music; Enrique Lamadrid, Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Spanish at UNM, and folk historian and musician Jack Loeffler. NMPAS is also honored to have a founding member of La Gran Pastorela de Belén and several current members of the Belén Pastorela joining us for the concert!

But what really moves me about this program is that it is so true to our New Mexico heritage. Those of you who have been reading the Santiago de Compostela series know that I was on the Camino de Santiago last summer for 2.5 weeks. Being in Spain was totally amazing, because I know that many of our Spanish and Hispanic traditions have come here from the “Mother Country.”

And “Los Pastores” is particularly timely, given that our country is so divided along ethnic and racial lines. Programs such as this allow us to celebrate and honor the beauty of diversity, and to come together around this wonderful Hispanic folk music. For us as founders of NMPAS, nothing could more truly represent what we think music can and should do in communities: bring people together!

This is what you’ll hear and experience at “Los Pastores”:

The program opens with “Las Posadas,” the Festival of the Inns. “Las Posadas” is about Joseph and Mary going to Bethlehem to register and being unable to find room at any inn. While in Bethlehem, Mary gives birth to the baby Jesus.

The story and music are presented by two groups, “Pastores” (Shepherds) and “Posaderos” (Innkeepers). The 12 singers of the New Mexico Bach Chorale take on these roles, which eventually come together to honor the birth of the Divine Child. The music is beautiful, set to a wonderful text. Enrique Lamadrid and Linda Marianiello have provided a translation of the texts that will appear in the program. Those who know “Las Posadas” are welcome to follow along and sing with us at the concert.

“Las Posadas” is followed by 8 beautiful carols and motets from the Renaissance and Baroque periods. These works are short gems for Advent and the Christmas season. They originated in Spain, Portugal, Mexico and Guatemala, and are set to texts in Spanish, Portuguese and Latin. As Music Director Franz Vote pointed out at our recent Renesan Institute lecture, these works show Italian influences and represent a very sophisticated level of composition. Perhaps most importantly, each one is beautiful and adds another dimension to the program.

Following a short intermission, Jack Loeffler and Enrique Lamadrid will present a short introduction to “Los Pastores.” Since we will only be doing the music from the Hispanic folk play, their oral program notes will fill the audience in on the historical and cultural background of the entire play, which really took off and continues to be celebrated throughout “Greater Mexico,” which includes New Mexico, of course.

The music for “Los Pastores” includes 8 pieces on various texts:

  1. Pedimento de las posadas / Request for lodgings
  2. Cuando por el oriente sale la aurora / When the sun rises in the East
  3. De la real Jerusalén / From royal Jerusalem
  4. Vamos todos a Belén / Let us go unto Bethlehem
  5. Levantada de Bartolo / Bartolo gets up from his bed
  6. A la ru / Lullaby to the Divine Child
  7. Ofrecimiento de los pastores / The shepherds’ offering
  8. Adiós José, Adiós María / Goodbye Joseph, Goodbye Mary

As the audience will learn, “Los Pastores” has been a vehicle for political commentary, has sometimes been suppressed by the Roman Catholic Church as too sexually explicit, and includes the character of Bartolo. Various versions of “Los Pastores” cast Bartolo as either a drunk who has to be carried on stage or as the doubting Jew, who refuses to recognize who Jesus really is.

I will close by mentioning that the New Mexico Bach Society is one of three activities under the New Mexico Performing Arts Society umbrella. Affiliated with Bach Societies around the world and with the original Bach Gesellschaft in Leipzig, Germany, the New Mexico Bach Society is led by Metropolitan Opera conductor Franz Vote. This concert features 12 vocal soloists, all members of the New Mexico Bach Chorale, and 12 instrumentalists for the orchestral arrangement of “Los Pastores.” Strings and flute also accompany the carols and motets.

Where: Cristo Rey Catholic Church, 1120 Canyon Road, Santa Fe When: Sunday, November 27, 2016 at 6 pm / Doors open at 4:45 for tickets and seating

Tickets: the “Purchase Tickets” page of the NMPAS website (www.nmperformingartssociety.org) connects you directly to this event, where you may purchase tickets online. Or you may call our ticket vendor, Hold My Ticket, at 877-466-3404.

Reserved seating. Reservations recommended. Tickets at the door on a space available basis.

Deepest Thanks to First National Bank of Santa Fe, which is partially sponsoring this concert.

Additional funding has been provided by the McCune Charitable Foundation, New Mexico Arts and the Santa Fe Arts Commission.

Linda Marianiello

We are now to July 26th on the calendar, two days prior to reaching Santiago de Compostela. I was feeling as though there was not enough time to fully enjoy the quiet countryside, because our guide books told us that the last long stretch into Santiago is fairly urban. And after being in many small town and villages with crops, orchards, sheep, cattle, horses, and farms peppering the countryside, I was not looking forward to being in a larger city again.

Let’s enjoy the final moments away from civilization in a series of pictures on the way from A Coruña to O Pedrouzo:


Beautiful stone home in a small town with gate and Camino symbols: scallop shell and cross


Another wonderful home on the way to O Pedrouzo


Typical stone church with Romanesque doorway


Woodland scene near A Coruña with ferns


One of many corn fields that we passed along the Camino in Galicia

I remember O Pedrouzo well, because the pension we stayed at was barely acceptable. (Most of the places we stayed were reasonably priced, clean, and very pleasant, so this one stands out as one of two that we would not stay at again on a future Camino.) Imagine arriving in town after a very hot day on the road, checking into your room and discovering that there is no hot water to take a shower before dinner! The owner seemed fairly unperturbed. We didn’t eat there at all, given that things were not great in the accommodations department!

O Pedrouzo itself is a very small town that may have come into being because of the Camino. There is a main drag through town with various small pensions and restaurants. The location is lovely and affords beautiful views of the surrounding farms and countryside:


Very happy cactus near the church we visited after dinner in O Pedrouzo


Church in O Pedrouzo with adjoining monastery


Monastery staircase near the church in O Pedrouzo with beautiful flowers


Bucolic scene and view of O Pedrouzo from the outskirts

In Part VIII we’ll be making the final journey into Santiago de Compostela. Here are a few photos of the area just before reaching the long urban stretch to the main plaza in Santiago with the cathedral and other beautiful buildings. It is a very majestic square, filled with people who are thrilled to be arriving at their destination!


As we got closer to Santiago de Compostela, there were more and more pilgrims joining the throng. That is because the various Camino Routes come together shortly before Santiago. This also made it harder to be alone with one’s thoughts, because large groups of young people were on pilgrimages as well. And they tended to be quite rowdy. That is why I cherished these final moments of real quiet such as you can see here! The forest canopy in the upper photo made you feel as though you were in a cocoon.

forest-scenes-coming-into-santiagoA big stand of beautiful (cedar?) trees with ferns and other shrubs next to the roadside

I plan to post the next part within the week. Hope you are enjoying this trip through Basque Country, Castilla y León and Galicia.

A great friend of NMPAS, Bette Evans, shared some recent photos that she has taken. In October she drove through the Bisti Badlands near Farmington with a close friend who is a fantastic photographer. Bette herself is also quite a fine photographer, as you will see!

Bette is a retired Professor of Political Science at Creighton University in Omaha, NE. Since retiring to Santa Fe with her husband, Mike Makoid, she has become a close personal friend. Bette and Mike are also great supporters of NMPAS. They have hosted the annual brainstorming dinner for Santa Fe Flute Immersion. After working hard all week, Flute Immersion participants and faculty so enjoy spending an evening in their home to just relax, enjoy good company and good food. They are so generous to do this each year for NMPAS! Thank you both so much!!

Also pictured here are Bette’s photos of Balloon Fiesta and fall colors along the roadside during a recent drive through northern New Mexico.


2016 Balloon Fiesta, Albuquerque, NM


Bette hiking in the Bisti Badlands


Sunset in the Bisti Badlands

October cottonwoods in New Mexico

October cottonwoods in New Mexico


Melide was an important stopping place on our Camino. As mentioned in the last post, we arrived there in the late afternoon on The Feast Day of St. James the Apostle. In case I didn’t explain this clearly, our pilgrimage destination of Santiago de Compostela is where the bones of Santiago Apóstol lie in the Cathedral crypt. So to find ourselves celebrating mass in his honor along the Camino was one of the high points of our entire journey!

We entered the Parochial Church in Melide as we did a brief tour of the city. It was therefore quite by accident that our visit to the church coincided with the special mass in honor of St. James. The church is very beautiful and dates back to the Franciscan monastery founded on the site in the 14th century. Some people might say that our arrival at the church was pure coincidence, yet we felt that a hand was guiding us on our entire pilgrimage. This is one of several deeply spiritual moments that we will never forget. It is hard to put such experiences into words, for they touch the heart in inexpressible ways.

Here are some wonderful photos of our entrance into Melide via a small town on the outskirts that has a Roman bridge across a small river:


Here are several more photos of the town which you enter via the Roman bridge – this is the type of architecture that one sees in smaller towns along the Camino in Galicia:

town-church-just-outside-melide typical-town-on-the-outskirts-of-melide

We spent all evening in Melide, where we had a chance to visit a number of older historical points of interest. Since it was a national holiday, however, we were unable to enter any of the museums or other public buildings. Fortunately, there were a few restaurants open along the main street through town. We are thankful that they stayed open for pilgrims.


Municipal Council Building across the square from the Parochial Church, Melide


This museum in Melide is housed in the old pilgrim hospital that dates back to 1502.


A Romanesque church on the main street in Melide


A plaque on the side of the Parochial Church where we celebrated mass on the Feast of St. James the Apostle in Melide.


A ceramic shop window on a small street near the Parochial Church in Melide

This photo shows my backpack at a table in the garden of an albergue along the Camino. This is such a typical scene that I wanted to share it. Gardens such as this can get very crowded, but we were out around mid-day and didn’t encounter many people here:


Everyone makes sure to fill their water bottle at each rest stop along the way. You can see that my backpack is not gigantic, yet it was sufficient for the absolute necessities. Many people make the mistake of carrying too large a backpack and loading it up with too many heavy items. Not only does this cause back pain and very sore muscles – it can actually result in having to abandon the Camino for several days or altogether. A good book on what to take along will help you to avoid this mishap. The only things I took were several sets of underclothes, two pairs of cotton pants, two pairs of shorts, one long-sleeve and several short-sleeve tops, 6 pairs of socks and a few toiletries, plus my smart phone (for camera use only – no email, texting or internet searches during the pilgrimage) and flute. I did not weigh my pack, but am fairly certain that it weighed no more than 10% of my total body weight. This is definitely a case of less is more!

Next time we’ll visit the beautiful countryside around O Coruna as we enter the long stretch into Santiago de Compostela on the final two days of our Camino. I mentioned in earlier posts that the most important part of the Camino for me was the actual walk in the countryside. While I enjoyed the cities and towns that we visited, there is something incredibly special about being out in nature and close to the earth. Everything is quiet and peaceful there, interrupted only occasionally by other pilgrims chatting or crossing a street with traffic in order to get back on the dirt paths that are a major part of the Camino in Galicia. I have read that other parts of the Camino in larger cities take pilgrims along highways and other main roads. This is less appealing to me, as I am no longer a city person. Life in a small city like Santa Fe has spoiled me, and I no longer enjoy big cities.

When we get to our final destination, Barcelona, you will see many fascinating photos of this incredible, exciting and historic city. During the planning stages of our trip, Barcelona stood out in my mind as a really important final destination. I had lived in Europe for ten years in the 1980s and 90s, yet never had the chance to visit Barcelona, the birthplace of so many great artists. Barcelona was definitely on my Bucket List. Nevertheless, I found the crowds and cramped alleyways of the Old City quite oppressive, especially after spending several weeks in smaller cities and towns, and nearly a week in the countryside.

It was rather nice to walk all the way down Las Ramblas to the ocean. For a moment one could feel less hemmed in by walls of people and buildings. The one exception in Barcelona was our time in Antoni Gaudi’s magnificent Sagrada Familia. Inside the cathedral it was incredibly cool, peaceful, inspirational and meditative.

But I get ahead of myself. We still have two days on the Camino and three days in Santiago de Compostela!



We are now departing Portomarín en route to Palas de Rei. I’d like to stress that, for me, the meaning of the pilgrimage lies in the walking itself. The beauty of the quiet countryside certainly enhances the experience, yet a pilgrimage involves both an inner and an outer process, and both are valuable.

For those who believe that “signs” may appear along the way – and I am one of them – the following pictures illustrate a very personal experience that I had on the road to Palas de Rei. It was a Sunday morning when we reached a small village in the countryside. Most inns and other rest stops were closed, but one was open, and we stopped there to purchase a fresh orange juice and large bottle of water.

No sooner did we enter the restaurant than we heard the music of Johann Sebastian Bach playing on the stereo system! And one of the works being played was the Magnificat, which the New Mexico Bach Society performed two seasons ago in celebration of Bach’s 330th birthday. When I heard the clarion trumpets, tears came to my eyes. The owner of this small albergue told me how much he loves the music of Bach. And this beautiful music continued to play for the entire time that we were in the garden enjoying a cool drink. Here are two photos of the alberque and outdoor dining area:




One of the reasons that my pilgrimage on the Camino was so timely is that, for the past four years, I had been working 80+ hours per week to help New Mexico Performing Arts Society come to life as a high-quality presenter of concerts, small art exhibits and presenter of other performing arts by New Mexico-based musicians and artists. If our music director, Franz Vote, and I had realized what we were taking on, we might have thought twice, because giving birth to a new organization is no small task! In spring 2016, I realized that I had run out of energy reserves and needed a real break to reflect on my life and work.

Some of you may recall the book by Gail Sheehy about the meaning of each decade of life – if memory serves, it is called Passages. It has been true for me that, when I reach the 10-year milestone, I take time out to celebrate the previous decade of life and to consider what lies ahead. So this trip on the Camino was part of that celebration, yet even more significant at this point in time for the above-mentioned reasons.

When I heard the music of Johann Sebastian Bach that morning in a tiny village in the countryside of Galicia, it felt as though the creative force of the universe was letting me know that we were on the right path at this point in time. In addition, I had performed two concerts in Germany, so my flute was in my backpack for the entire trip on the Camino. Music was literally with me throughout the journey, and this did not escape my notice.

As we were leaving that tiny village, a farmer came along in the opposite direction, driving two of his longhorn cattle in front of him. They literally came within a foot or two of us, and for a brief moment I wondered if the cattle would react aggressively. But there was no need for concern, because they were placid as can be. And the farmer greeted us warmly with “Buenos días, buen Camino.” He was wishing us well with the standard phrase that one hears all along the Camino from townspeople and other pilgrims alike.

Here are several photos of the route on Day 2 of the route from Sarría to Santiago de Compostela …


A typical village church in Galicia


Wheat fields en route to Palas de Rei – in the background, a stand of young eucalyptus trees


An oak forest along the Camino between Portomarín and Palas de Rei – when you are in the forest, it feels as though you are completely away from modern life in a very peaceful, quiet place. This was one of my favorite spots along the Camino.

We arrived in Palas de Rei in the late afternoon, checked into our hotel and went in search of a nice place for an early dinner. Our hotel owner suggested one local restaurant that didn’t close between mid-day and dinner, which usually begins at 8 pm in Spain. And if you arrive for dinner right at 8, you will probably have the restaurant almost entirely to yourself, because the Spanish don’t usually eat dinner in summertime until 10 pm or later.

After a good night’s sleep, we headed out on Day 3 of the Camino from Palas de Rei to Melide. On every farm property, we noticed a kind of structure with a tile roof that piqued our curiosity. Can you guess what this is?


Nearly every farm we passed had an hórreo (granary) by the roadside. I noticed them on Day 1 and, by day 3, was really curious to know what purpose they served. We asked at a local restaurant, and they told us that it was used to store corn. Not only does an hórreo help the corn to dry effectively without molding, it also keeps the corn away from rats and other rodents that would eat it.

For those of us who have not grown up in agricultural areas, these kinds of discoveries bring us much closer to the land. We experience the ways in which man has ingeniously figured out how to harvest and make the best use of crops. Galicia is incredibly fertile, probably because it gets so much rain throughout the year. We noticed that most of the land we saw in Galicia, Castilla y León and the Basque Country is used to grow crops – there was lots of grain growing everywhere, but even more so in Galicia than in these other areas. And the Camino takes pilgrims right through little towns and villages where they must step over cow pies as they continue on their way. Personally, I loved this intimate view into the lives of the people of Galicia.

I must add here that, like cities everywhere in the developed world, Spain’s bigger cities show signs of urban sprawl. Yet the Spanish have managed to preserve the older parts of their cities better than we have here in the US. When we lived in Germany, I noticed that Germans were not only informed about the history of their region – they memorialized it by meticulously documenting everything about their cities, towns, ancient structures and monasteries. And the same holds true for their cultural history. People in Europe seem to have a much greater sense of the value of their traditions and the institutions that have guided them from ancient times through the present. One definitely also gets this feeling in Spain, and I absolutely loved being witness to more than 2,000 years of history at every turn.

Let me conclude Part V of the Camino de Santiago by mentioning that Melide will be featured in Part VI. This again proved to be an extremely special day for us, because we arrived in Melide on the Feast Day of St. James the Apostle, which is a national holiday in Spain. We attended mass at the main church in Melide and celebrated Santiago Apostol (July 25th) with the assembled congregation. Here is a photo of the interior of the church. More on this and Day 4 in the next installment:


Altar area of the main church in Melide where we celebrated the Feast of St. James with members of the local community.

Please watch for the next post in the series. Part V has prompted me to write another related post about founding the New Mexico Performing Arts Society, which is another kind of “pilgrimage” on life’s journey.


Linda Marianiello, flutist and Executive Director, New Mexico Performing Arts Society (photo credit: Henry Grossman, New York, NY)

As I mentioned in the latest post in the Camino de Santiago series, much of my Camino experience provided time to reflect on the past four years in which we – Franz Vote, several Santa Fe singers, a fine artist, and I – founded the New Mexico Performing Arts Society.

And this seemed like a good time to share an insider’s view of what the journey has been like, because it is very much on my mind as we begin season 5. Needless to say, it does not escape my attention that giving birth to a new organization is another type of pilgrimage, assuming one undertakes it as a type of “calling.” What I mean by a calling is that one feels compelled to follow a certain path and to stay the course until the goal is reached.

For more on the history of NMPAS , please consult “History in the Making”, an earlier blog post about the founding of NMPAS. This post is about the hats that founders wear when a new organization comes into being.

In my case, I became Executive Director and President of the NMPAS board. It is my hope that the right person will emerge in the course of the current season to take over as board president, because this will mark the point at which separate board and staff roles can be fully realized. In the early stages, however, it is important for founders to take an active role in building the board. I am very proud of the fact that the NMPAS board works harmoniously and continues to grow in size and scope!

Currently, my responsibilities for the day-to-day running of NMPAS are quite diverse. First, in consultation with our Music Director, Franz Vote, I hire all musicians for the season. Contracting is a very important role in the organization, because we must hire the very best singers and instrumentalists in order to realize our artistic goals. This is a very time-consuming role, because professional musicians in New Mexico are busy people, and one must always juggle rehearsal times around their other commitments.

As Executive Director, I must also be very proactive in all aspects of marketing, such as writing press releases, compiling programs, interfacing with the media, posting and monitoring ticket sales on our ticket vendor’s website, and ensuring that all of our concerts are posted on the relevant arts calendars. NMPAS has been fortunate to have many out-of-town visitors at our concerts, and we take our role as a supporter of tourism in northern New Mexico very seriously. We are, indeed, part of the engine that drives tourism in our state. As you know, residents of northern New Mexico also enjoy a higher quality of life when the arts flourish.

This season we are stepping up our social media presence. One of our new board members, Esther Moses Bergh, has taken a leading role in managing the NMPAS Facebook page. And our first student intern, Sammi Gilbert, is also helping us to explore ways to link our Facebook page, website and blog for maximum outreach to an entirely new audience. This is an exciting development.

Since I did not come to non-profit work from an administrative perspective, learning how to serve as Executive Director of NMPAS has involved a lot of continuing education. In the course of the past 4 years, I have attended countless workshops on various aspects of non-profit governance. The resources available to non-profit leaders, especially in Santa Fe and Albuquerque, are considerable. I would say that, without these resources, we probably would not be where we are today. Special thanks go to SCORE Santa Fe, The Santa Fe Community Foundation, the Santa Fe Arts Commission, and the Center for Non-Profit Excellence at the United Way of Albuquerque for providing these workshops and networking opportunities.

Perhaps my most important role lies in the area of fundraising. One SCORE Santa Fe consultant recently told me that the main purpose of staffs and boards today is to raise funds that enable organizations like ours to fulfill their mission. I also see these roles as requiring us to be incredibly frugal in utilizing funds donated to NMPAS. Yet there are fixed costs involved in running any non-profit, and we depend on our donors to provide the needed funding: artist fees, insurance, marketing, and outside contracting of various kinds.

Our two-person staff has worked tirelessly for four years on a volunteer basis to bring NMPAS to where it is today. We have done so gladly, and the lion’s share of responsibility has fallen to us in these early stages. We are now at the point where our staff needs to work full-time in order for NMPAS to reach its potential. This, in turn, means that funds must be raised to begin to compensate staff for their time.

So I will be asking everyone who loves NMPAS to please support the organization with a donation, by attending our events, and through volunteering their time. Lately, I’ve been thinking that, if everyone on our mailing list contributed to the Annual Fund and/or became a series sponsor, we would already have raised enough money to fund our entire 2016-2017 season! What a lovely thought that is.