Crossing cultures. The end point of a trek, particularly a heavily traveled pilgrimage produces a remarkable convergence of cultures. I spent much of my Camino walking with an Italian and a Portuguese, so our words veered between four languages, appetites varied, and just the simple gestures of daily life had different nuance. Santiago is a veritable Babel of voices, facial expressions, and attitudes. This evening I heard a jazz quartet joined by three singers specializing in Galician folk songs–a strange but somehow perfect crossing of musical cultures. The bass player would have been right at home in a NYC jazz club while the singers played pandeiros–square wooden frames covered with a drumskin on each side and played with a stick alternately rapping the wooden edge and the drum head–and would have been welcome in the village square centuries ago. They could coax an amazing set of sounds from such simple instruments. Like walking, the music helps glimpse an older world, one unknown and even unsuspected.
T. Hugh Crawford