01/16/11 January 16
Unfortunately I didn't have time to write anything after my last entry, describing my entrance into the city. Things got quite a bit hectic as this turned out not to be the somber church state I'd expected, but a teeming, bustling, living city like any other. I was immediately beset by stall vendors, street preachers, harried business-men and all sorts of other city folk going about their day in the forum that made up the main entrance to the city.
Most of this time was spent avoiding the merchants, because, as tradition dictates, I had no money on me after my trip and no possessions to barter with. Those especially persistent few who managed to corall me were understanding, however, as my position was not uncommon.
So I made my way through the forum, taking in the sights. I was rather surprised with how busy the forum was, for such a secluded and secretive locale. Though there were actually two passages through the mountains – one for pilgrims such as myself, and another, smoother pass for itinerant merchants, it still quite a journey to the next nearest city.
After some time, I decided I'd had enough and began asking around for the temple of Hermes – the god of this district of the city. His was always the first destination of those such as myself, pilgrims who had no particular god whom they already worshipped (naturally, a devotee of Apollo would head straight to his temple, and so on). As I was planning on spending a year here, the priests of that temple would help me make accomodations for lodging and set me up with a weekly allowance to cover my expenses during my stay.
Or so I'm told. It still sounds very strange to me – do they have funds put away for the sole purpose of supporting vagrants such as myself? Surely a policy such as this is not sustainable. But I was assured many times over, even by people who'd visited, that this exists. And there would be no limitations to it – I'd be supported for however long I stayed.
The hostel I've been put up in is just outside the forum proper, still in the district of Hermes (urbs serpentis). I'm told that I may stay here until I get my bearings, or for as long as I'd like, after which there are similar hostels in each of the districts (save that devoted to the two unnamed gods) that I may transfer to. Surprisingly, our rooms are not shared – I have a room to myself. No real amenities, though. Just a bed and a desk. A basic breakfast and lunch are served each day, but dinner is my own responsibility (sadly, no kitchen facilities for me to use). A shared toilet and communal baths.
I was also able to ask a bit about the allowance those such as I receive. There is in fact a communal fund, shared by all the temples of the city, put aside for dispensation. All temples in the city are required by law to participate. A figure is calculated monthly, and then it's shared equally among all the pilgrims. So it's expected for the amount to dwindle as the month progresses, as more faithful arrive, but I was assured that measures are taken so that it will never drop below a certain amount.