Tuesday, November 12, 2013

CREDENCIALES AND COMPOSTELAS



Credencial del Peregrinos

Origins: 
The ‘Credencial’ or pilgrim’s passport evolved from letters of safe passage granted by the church or state (and sometimes the King) to people going a journey through foreign lands.  Prospective travellers, both clerics and laymen, combining business with pleasure and/or pilgrimage needed a ‘licencia’ to leave the country.  If pilgrims needed royal protection for their retinue, their lands, possessions and so on, they would travel with the king’s leave, ‘peregre profeturus cum licencia regis.’  A pilgrim needed to visit their priest and make confession before being given a letter stating that he/she is a bona-fide pilgrim, requesting safe passage, exemption from the payment of taxes and tolls and hospitality in the monasteries or ‘hospices’ along the way.  As late as 1778  King Charles III introduced safe passage documents for both merchants and pilgrims(This is copy of a safe-passage letter reproduced by the Confraternity of St James in South Africa)

 
20th century - Spain:
In the late 1950's and early 1960's five road routes leading tourists and pilgrims to Santiago were developed following existing roads.  A road map of these routes for pilgrims and tourists was published for the 1954 Holy Year with information on churches, monuments, hotels and restaurants along the way. A credential was issued, with blank squares, so that travelers could obtain a stamp at the places they stopped along the road including Jaca, Valcarlos, Pamplona, ​​Estella, Logroño, Santo Domingo de la Calzada, Burgos, Frómista, Leon, Astorga, Ponferrada and Monastery of Samos.  Once they arrived in Santiago they could ask for the pilgrim diploma which was funded by the Ministry of Information and Tourism and signed by the Archbishop of Compostela. This was issued in the Holy Years of 1965, 1971 and 1976.   428 credenciales were issued to both car and walking pilgrims in 1965 :  451in 1971 and only 240 in 1976. 
 
 




In 1963, Antonio Roa Irisarri, Jaime Eguaras Echávarri and José María Jimeno Jurío, members of the newly formed association of "Los Amigos de Camino de Santiago" in Estella, made a pilgrimage to Santiago dressed in Capuchin habits and leading a mule with a wagon. They designed a Pilgrim's Credential which was approved and blessed by Cardinal-Archbishop of Santiago Archbishop Fernando Quiroga Palacios. 
The cover design with a walking cane, gourd and scallop shell was adopted at the first international Jacobean conference held in Jaca in 1987.
 
 
The cover was changed in the 2010 Holy year
 
and this was subsequently replaced in 2012/2013 to celebrate the Ano de la Fe. 
 
 
A new cover was designed in 2013
 
 
The modern pilgrim no longer needs to be a Catholic, or make confession, or even get a letter from a church to be accepted as a pilgrim.  They will need an official ‘Credencial del Peregrino’ to stay in the network of pilgrim shelters, refugios and albergues on the Camino routes.  The official Spanish credencial is printed by the Cathedral of Santiago and is available from various parishes, bishoprics and associations along the Camino routes.  Only those walking, cycling or riding horseback are accepted in the pilgrim shelters. The credencial is concertina type folding card with squares for rubber stamps collected along the way. Pilgrims are required to obtain stamps in their credencial, proving that they have complied with the requirements for earning the Compostela certificate given to those who walk or ride the last 100km, and those who cycle the last 200km to Santiago. 
 
With the formation of St James associations in other countries, new versions of the
credencial del peregrino were issued. 

 
Soon, many tour companies offering Camino bus, or vehicle supported tours, started printing their own credencials and bus pilgrims who stopped at various albergues or bars to get a stamp in the credencial were arriving in Santiago to claim a Compostela.  This prompted the authorities to restrict the acceptance of credenciales to the official church document and those offered by affiliated St James organizations.

AT the time, Genaro Cebrian Franco, Canonic of Pilgrimages wrote:

For a long time the pilgrim document was the signed and sealed letter from his/her parish attesting to the intentions of the pilgrim.”

On 14 September 2000, at a meeting of the Santiago Archdiocese, the Archconfraternity, and the Federation of Friends of Santiago Associations, an accord was reached regarding future Pilgrimage-related measures.
Because of the large growth in pilgrim numbers (In 2000 the number of pilgrims earning the Compostela 55,004, and in 2007 it was 114,026) and the increase in commercial credentials, the need for one uniform pilgrim’s credential was recognized, and agreed upon.  Many more arrived at the Pilgrims’ office with credentials issued by non-recognized.  

Commencing on January 1, 2009, the Pilgrims’ Office will only accept the credential issued by the Santiago Cathedral, which has a space for the seal of the authorized institution, church or Santiago Friends’ Association that issued it.   Friends Associations that are not part of the Federation of Associations that may wish to issue credentials must contact its parish to obtain the information that must be imparted to those who wish to make the pilgrimage. Through their parish they may obtain a sufficient number of blank credential forms.
For the purposes of granting the Compostela at the Pilgrims’ Office only the credential issued by the Cathedral, or by those that are issued by Friends of Santiago Associations that clearly contain information about the religious character of the Santiago pilgrimage, will be accepted
.”

In addition, if you're starting in Galicia it is important to get 2 stamps per day in your credencial.   

The other credencial that is accepted is the University credencial:
CREDENCIAL JACOBEA UNIVERSITARIA   In 2002 the Alumni Association of the University of Navarre and Spanish universities located on the Camino Frances launched an imitative to promote the Camino de Santiago between the university communities internationally. With this credential pilgrims can also stay in the albergues and earn the Compostela in Santiago.   You can apply through https://www.unav.es/alumni/campusstellae/solicita.html  If you want University Compostela sent to you,by post or e-mail it is necessary to send the original or a photocopy of the stamped Jacobean University Credential with stamps of different universities visited along the Camino, and at least two stamps per day as well as the stamp of the Pilgrim Office in Santiago de Compostela. More information
http://www.campus-stellae.org


When the pilgrim arrives in Santiago they visit the Pilgrim’s Office in Rua do Vilar where the ‘AMIGOS’ will check the stamps in the credencial and, if they have sufficient stamps and can attest to having walked the Camino for a religious/spiritual reason, they will earn the coveted Compostela certificate.  This is based on a 14th century document, in Latin with their name written on it in Latin too.  If they have walked the Camino for reasons other than religious/spiritual, they receive a different certificate.




LA  COMPOSTELA: > 1321




Many people confuse the Compostela with an Indulgence. The Compostela is not a 'get-out-of jail-card', it is a certificate of completion awarded to pilgrims who walk or horseback ride the last 100km to Santiago de Compostela, or cycle the last 200km.   The Indulgence (for the remission of sins and time spent in purgatory) is given to Catholic pilgrims only who comply with the requirements of visiting the cathedral (you don't have to walk the Camino), recite a prayer, such as the Creed o Lord's prayer, praying for His Holiness the Pope; attend mass and receive the Sacraments of confession.

The 'La Autentica' (as it was first called) was originally an 18" X 20" parchment, hand-written in Latin with a small wooden Santiago pilgrim attached to its upper left corner. A requirement for earning this document was confession and communion (but this requirement seems to have been stopped from the 18th century). The oldest copy available is dated 1321 and can be found in the archives of the Pas-de-Calais in northern France.

Before the "Autentica", pilgrims collected a scallop shell as proof of their pilgrimage to Santiago. (Paper was costly and scarce).   When the name changed to the 'Compostelana' during the transition between the handwritten document and the advent of printing (which only reached Galicia in 17th century), there were two documents issued - one handwritten, carrying a 'Bula' or seal, and a printed one. There were many forgeries of this document which prompted the pope to threaten excommunication of anyone was found to be in possession of a forgery.  One can imagine a group of pilgrim friends travelling to Gascony, having a good time and drinking wine. They buy a forged Compostelana and travel back to England after a nice long holiday in the sun!

After the decline in pilgrimages from the 15th century, it seems that the issue of a certificate stopped for a few centuries, was revived in the 18th century and then stopped again at the end of the 19th century.

When Walter Starkie walked to Santiago in the 1920's, 1930's and 1950's he wrote in his book The Road to Santiago about collecting his scallop shell before continuing to the cathedral.
"We proceeded along the narrow streets to the offices of the Confraternity of St. James and I was given my scallop shell, which for eleven-hundred years had been the badge of kings, prelates and beggars alike."



18th century Compostelas
 

In the early 20th century, Cardinal José María Martín Herrera encouraged the return of organized pilgrim groups to Santiago. A medal replaced the Compostela in Holy Years (which saved printing costs and earned them some money). These were only issued in the Holy Years of 1909, 1915, 1920 and 1926.


For many years thereafter, pilgrimage was affected by the Spanish Civil War and in 1938, the Compostelana bore the words of Franco - "Prince of Spain and its supreme leader of the army."
 


In the late 1950's and early 1960's pilgrims who travelled on the newly established tourist roads in Spain, could claim the 'diploma' once they arrived in Santiago.   This was issued in the Holy Years of 1965, 1971 and 1976.


 In 1963 three members of the newly formed association of "Los Amigos de Camino de Santiago" in Estella made a pilgrimage to Santiago. They are warmly received and were issued with the new Compostelana certificates. The wording was different from the previous certificates: "Certifying pilgrims will be true pilgrims, not thugs or homeless, received wide acceptance in the Hospital of Reyes Católicos".


Until 1965 there was a special Maritime Compostela for pilgrims who sailed 40 nautical miles to Padron and then walked to Santiago from there.
Some stats claim that in 1974 only 6 Compostelas were issued. Records prior to the 1970's were lost.

1976 Compostela

In 1985 the name of the certificate was officially changed from a Compostelana to the Compostela.

When the pilgrim arrives in Santiago they visit the Pilgrim’s Office in Rua do Vilar where the ‘AMIGOS’ will check the stamps in the credencial and, if they have sufficient stamps and can attest to having walked the last 100km (cycled the last 200km) or a religious/spiritual reason, they will earn the coveted Compostela certificate.  This is based on the 14th century document, in Latin with their name written on it in Latin.  If you have walked the required distance for any other reason you will be give the 'tourist' certificate.  Those who continue to Finisterre will also earn the Fisterana.  And, if you walk to Muxia or Padron, you will earn their certificates as well.




Today one can download and print a 'virtual' Compostela from the cathedral website:


 

You can also apply for a memorial Compostela for a departed pilgrim.
 
 
The Compostela and the Tourist certificates have been upgraded and the latest versions will by added here as soon as they become available.

March 2014: 

Certificate of Distance:

The Pilgrims' Office started offering two new services.   In addition to the traditional Compostela and Certificate of Welcome which are still issued on a donativo basis the Pilgrims' Office is now offering a Certificate of Distance. This new certificate has been produced in response to requests from pilgrims. It records the route which the pilgrim walked, the starting point, the amount of kilometres and the date of arrival in Santiago. The cost is E3.
Read more:    http://www.johnniewalker-santiago.blogspot.com

  

New Service for Organised Groups
The Pilgrims' Office is offering to prepare Compostelas and Certificates in advance for organised groups so that they can avoid waiting in the queue at the Pilgrims' Office. If anyone wishes to use this service the group leader should email the Pilgrims' Office and they will be sent a form to fill in on behalf of the pilgrims in the group. The Compostelas/Certificates will be ready for them on arrival. In addition to this the Pilgrims' Office will also issue a certificate in the name of the group as a whole and will arrange to have the group welcomed by name at the beginning of the Pilgrims' Mass. This is a free service and donations are invited for the Compostela/Certificates.



Information on credentials and Compostelas from the website of Fernando Lalanda  - with permission.

and -  The 'Historia-Descripción Arqueológica de la basílica Compostelana , published in 1870,

 


 

Monday, June 17, 2013

Camino Caracoles 2013


It is a month since we set off on our ‘Caracole’ Camino and I am still processing many of the experiences, emotions, concerns and celebrations. 
 
Once the ground work for the walk was in place – arrival date set, rooms booked, stages worked out, taxi numbers listed – it was all up to the group members to make it happen.  And happen it did!

The team ‘Caracoles’ was a great team and none could have done it without the help and support they gave to each other. 
Reinette says that she could never have done it without me; I say that I could never have done it without Adriaan; Pat says she could never have done it without Janet; Ann could not have done it without all of us - and all of us had Bob! 

Adriaan was our interpreter, sweeper on the path, Veloped carrier and pusher and leader of the group when I wasn’t with them.  It could not have happened without his help and support.
Reinette cared for us all, offering massage for aching joints and muscles, doing errands and interpreting menus.
Janet and Pat shared their ‘drugs’ and food when other’s supplies ran low and offered moral support.
Uncle Bob?  Well, when you have a person of your age setting the pace and leading by example, it is difficult not to be inspired!

I have been asked if I will organise another, larger group of 'Caracoles'.  Yes - why not?  It was a great success and with a few basic changes, could be even better. 
 

Friday, May 31, 2013

Last Day! SANTIAGO!! ULTRIA Y SUSEYA!

After breakfast we met at the Monte de Gozo reception and started walking. It had been drizzling so everything was wet. After walking for about 45 minutes I called Luis and asked him to fetch the Irish lady.
We stopped at the little café-bar opposite the Porta do Camino to wait for her but she called to say that with the rain coming down she was waiting for us under the arches in the Cervantes square.
Bob went marching into the town on his own. "Every time I've walked into Santiago I have managed to get lost". He told me yesterday.  I just hoped he didn't get lost this morning.

The others walked through the Porta (the old gateway) and we walked together into the old city.  We found the Irish lady waiting for us and 6 of us walked to the cathedral.  When we arrived at the side door of the cathedral, I suggested to Reinette that she take Janet and Pat to the square to see the front of the cathedral.  I sent a message to Johnny Walker, letting him know that we had arrived. He said that he would be with us in 2 minutes.
Just then Bob arrived, 'I managed to get lost again!" He said.  Bob had missed the arrows and shells in the pavements and had walked away from the cathedral. Reinette, Janet and Pat came back and then Johnny Walker arrived. He told us that he had reserved a bench for us in the front row and that the group's name "Camino Caracoles 2013" would be called out before the mass.
We had time to check into the hotel and leave our backpacks with our other luggage which had already been delivered.  Then we all went back to the cathedral which was absolutely packed. Johnny was there to guide us through the crowd and we took our places in the front row.  The botafumeiro was hanging above the altar so we knew that it would swing after the mass. I don't think I've ever seen the cathedral so crowded and the security personal had to constantly move people who were sitting in the aisles, blocking the passages.  There were groups of young children sitting on the floor in front of the benches. The army were sitting in the enclosed area where Reinette and I had sat two weeks earlier with the Pilgrim Office 'Amigos!'


We felt like VIPs sitting in the front row.  A young man read out the names of the countries pilgrims had arrived from the previous day.  He then read out the names of some of the groups that had arrived - including Los Caracoles 2013!  We felt so proud of our little group

 
 

 
The mass lasted about an hour and then Johnny lead us outside, through the gift shop so that we wouldn't have to negotiate the front stairs.  We followed him to the Pilgrim's Office and we were led through the waiting queue to an office downstairs. 
Johnny had arranged for the Compostela certificates to be prepared and one by one, the walkers sat at the desk and answered the questions required to earn the certificate.  It was quite an emotional moment for Pat who had asked for her late brother's name to be included on the document - and for the Irish lady who accepted a memorial Compostela in her late husband's name.
Bob proudly displayed his completely full credencial.
After a group photograph, we all went to the Casino for a celebratory lunch. 




.
 

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Day 15: Arca to Monte de Gozo

The same taxi man who brought us back yesterday picked up the group and took them back to Casa de Comida where they started walking to Monte de Gozo.  There were black clouds sweeping across bringing rain every half hour.
The taxi then came back for Irish lady and me.  He dropped us off just past the RTVGE centre on the way to Monte de Gozo and we started walking. Every now and then someone would want to take her photograph.  We stopped for a coffee at the last café bar and then walked the last few m to San Marcos chapel.  We took shelter inside when it started raining again.


When the rain stopped we walked through the complex to the reception which is about 500m from the entrance at the top.  There were army vehicles and tents on the field behind San Marcus. We heard that they had marched from Tui in Portugal to Santiago in less than 24 hours breaking a previous record.
Once we were settled in the rooms I walked back to the top to see the two statues of pilgrims pointing the way to the cathedral.  In the far distance you can see the triple towers of the cathedral about 5km away.
When the others arrived, a bit wet and bedraggled, we decided to visit the pilgrim statues and then have a snack in the cafeteria. When Finn walked with us in 2007 se had the best meal on the whole Camino in the buffet restaurant here.
We met later in the cafeteria for dinner and had a short meeting about our walk to Santiago tomorrow. Johnnie walker had texted me to please let him know when we arrived as he wanted to take us into the cathedral.
The Irish lady would meet us at the Porto do Camino and we would all walk in together. I gave them each a little wire pilgrim with snail made by a homeless man outside San Marcos.

It was an exciting thought that the Caracoles would make it to Santiago after 16 days of slow walking.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Day 14: Pedrouzo-Arca to San Paio

Doing the extra mileage meant that I had to redo the stages again for the next three days.
We decided to split the 20km into 7.5km today, 7.5km tomorrow and 5km on the last day.
San Paio is 8km from Pedrouza so we planned on walking to there.
The Irish lady thought she might try walking a little later in the day.  I gave her a few options of walking through the forest to the main road and getting a taxi back if necessary or waiting for us to come back so that I could walk with her through the forest and back again.  She thought she might wait until we got back.
We started walking at 9am, through the lovely forests to Amenal where we had our first stop.  Then on to San Paio, past the fence with all the wood crosses on the outskirts of the airport, and the famous Santiago stone marker where we had a group photo taken.  Reinette took a photograph of snails on the ground - Caracoles, just like us - inching across the landscape!



At Casa de Comidas we stopped for a drink and then called a taxi to take us back to the Pension. The first taxi man said we would have to wait 2 hours for him.  I phoned a second number and he said we would have to wait an hour. So I phoned a third man and he was able to come right away. Reinette and Adrian decided to walk back so we only needed one taxi.
When we got back the Irish lady showed us photos she had taken in the forest, and the white house at the end of the forest path. She had bravely walked up the hill and onto the Camino path through the forest. She also walked into town on her own - more than she had done in over a week.  We were all proud of her.   Bob, Adrian, Reinette and I had dinner in town.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Day 13: Calle to Empalme

The taxis picked us up at 9am and took us to Calle. The plan was to walk to Empalme - 7.6km.
We stopped at Empalme for a snack and drink. Everyone felt good so agreed to continue to Pedrouzo-Arca.  The only problem was, we weren't sure exactly how much further it would be.
The Godesalco website, which I used to plan our stages, gave us 3.5km extra to walk to Pedrouza. The CSJ guide book gives 1.5km to Santa Irene, 2km to A Rua and 1.5km to Pedrouzo - a total of 5km.


After taking the forest path Janet's knee started to twinge. She got slower and slower and by the time we saw the first signs for the Pension Maribel she was limping badly. She only just made it to the Pension before collapsing in pain.
The Irish lady was comfortably settled in one of the new rooms downstairs and Maribel showed us the alterations and additions being done on the Pension.
I walked into town and booked a table for 7pm at the Bar Pedrouza which is famous for the local speciality 'Babilla (croca) a Pedra'.
Adrian and Reinette joined me and we had a drink at the bar, chatting to the young woman about some of the idiosyncrasies of the Spanish language.
Maribel offered to drive the Irish lady to the bar and she, Reinette, Adrian, Bob and I had a great meal.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Day 12: Arzua to Calle

The Irish lady would stay behind today and rest her foot so I was able to join the group again.
We crossed the road opposite the hotel, into the woods where the Camino path starts about 30m from the hotel. It was a lovely walk from Arzua to Calle, stopping at a bar in Calzade.


The taxis came to fetch us and dropped us back in the centre of Arzua. We went to lunch at the Meson do Peregrinos which is owned by the same people who own the Suiza.
Adrian got pissed off because they overcharged on the bill and each time they corrected it, they still overcharged. €9 for 2 glasses of wine was a bit much.
When we got back to the hotel a couple of girls from Johannesburg and Pretoria were checking in. They saw my South African flag first  and we had a chat. They had heard about the Slow Camino and were interested how we were going.
The Irish lady was sitting in the sun so we talked about tomorrow. She felt that she could walk if it was flat and smooth but we both knew that the 'Camino' itself was mostly paths, not tarred roads, so she decided that she would go to Pension Maribel while we walked.
I didn't feel like dinner so had the snacks I'd bought in town

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Day 11: Castaneda to Arzua

24 May:
We were moving to Arzua today so decided that the taxis would drop the others at Castaneda and the Irish lady and I would continue to the outskirts of Arzua so that she could walk on flat surfaces into town.  When we went downstairs, Bob told us that Adrian had started walking early and was already on his way to Castaneda.
We dropped the group off where Adrian was and continued to Arzua. The taxi dropped us two off just before Pension Rua and we started walking from there. We found the Froiz supermarket and bought provisions for the next few days and then continued to the centre of town.
 We turned left at the church and followed the yellow arrows out of town, up the hill to the park and across the road to the hotel Suiza.


She told me that her ankle was aching from the rocky path and we sat outside in the sun until our rooms were ready. The others arrived and we all had lunch at the hotel.
In the afternoon Janet asked me if I would like to go back to town to find something she had seen in a window on the way into town. we walked almost out of town and still hadn't found the right shop. So we walked back on the other side of the road. Close to the plaza she found the shop with the necklace she wanted to buy for Pat but it was closed for siesta.  We had dinner in the hotel.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Day 10: Melide to Castaneda

Adrian suggested that we start walking a little later in the morning when it would be warmer. It was very cold until about 10am - sometimes just 5°C.  So, today they set off at 10am to walk to Castaneda.
The arrangement was that he would phone me about half an hour before they arrived in Castaneda so that the Irish lady and I could join them and walk the last km or so with them.
When we got the call they had already arrived at Castaneda which was at the top of a very steep and difficult hill and 4 of them were on their way back to the hotel in a taxi.
Our taxi took us to Castaneda and we found Adrian at a café-bar on the roadside.  There was no way she would have managed that hill so I just followed her as she walked the few dozen meters down the road as far the incline and back again.  It wasn't as much as she had wanted to walk but there were no other flat, even sections to walk so I called a taxi which dropped Adrian and me off in the town city. 
Reinette and I walked to the parish church and then I searched for an electronic shop that might have an adapter with a USB port for my tablet - but no luck.  We sat with the Irish lady and had a drink and then I followed her back to the hotel, stopping at a sport shop and a small supermecado on the way.
I was sitting updating the blog when 2 peregrinas walked in. One was hobbling. They asked for rooms for 2 nights but the hotel could only give them one night as they were full for the weekend.
Bob, Adrian, the Irish lady, Reinette and I had dinner at the hotel. The 2 Canadian girls were there and I chatted to them.  One had a really sore foot and the other aching shoulders.  I offered to give them a massage after supper.
Barbara is an emergency nurse in a hospital in Calgary and said that she has helped many pilgrims on the Camino. I massaged both feet and then did Linda's shoulders. We shared emails and hope to keep in touch.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Day 9: Rest day - Melide

22 May:
Patricia had suggested a rest day, and with the few extra km they have walked, and a bit of tweaking the mileages from now on, we chose today as our free day.
We would leave Bolboreta to go to Melide so we got Angela to organise two taxis for to take us to Pambre Castle after breakfast. Built in the 14th c it is one of the few military castles that survived the Irmandinos uprising of 15th century.  The Irish lady decided to come along after all so we had a full complement in the two taxis.


The castle gates were closed when we got there but at 11am a car arrived and a woman opened the gates so that we could go inside. One can only imagine the power of the nobility over the peasants and the hold they had over agriculture in Galicia from these castles, built on high bluffs looking over hills and valleys for miles around.
An interesting finding for me was a mason sign in a stone right next to the entrance that I have also seen in Santiago cathedral. Was it the same mason?  Was it his son? The registered signs were passed down from father to son and were unique to each mason.  This was Bob's favourite outing on the walk and he said afterward that it was a highlight for him.
After exploring the castle we dropped Adrian back at the albergue together with Malcolm from Australia who we had invited to join our outing. Then we were taken to Melide and the Hotel Carlos which is run by a friendly family who have been there since 1996. Our rooms weren't ready so we sat outside in the sun and ordered a snack for lunch.


Pat and Janet like to have their main meals at lunchtime. (Pat says that they have their dinner at about 4h30pm at home in Texas.)  So they don't usually have an evening meal.  Reinette doesn't like to eat at night either but she will join the group and once she sees what they eating, she will relent and have something to eat. Bob needs to fill his tall frame so he can have breakfast, lunch and dinner. He says he used to eat twice as much as he does now and that as he has gotten older he has become about 3" shorter.  Adrian likes to have breakfast and will have dinner most nights. The Irish lady often eats in her room and does a lot of grocery shopping but she enjoys having lunch and/or dinner with the group when possible.  I rarely have the Spanish breakfast which is mostly bread and coffee but I like to have dinner with the group at night.