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Saturday, February 23, 2013

Patty Moak - Pilgrim Photographer

In Fall 2012, Joe and I led a group of pilgrims 
on a 3 week walk on the Camino de Santiago. 
This trip is nice for people who don't have an entire 6 weeks to walk,
 and who might be more comfortable
 walking with an experienced pilgrim. 

One of my walkers was Patty Moak, 
 from my home town, Portland, Oregon.

Patty with her friend Ponferrada
Patty was a delight to have on this trip! 
Always positive and up-beat, 
her great attitude was a boon to her fellow pilgrims.    

When we returned home, 
some of the pilgrims shared photos they'd taken along the Way, 
and I really enjoyed the photos Patty had taken. 
I asked about her photography experience.  
Here is what I learned.

Patty Moak was born in Sacramento, California in 1942. 
Like many pilgrims, 
Patty decided to do the Camino to honor her birthday
 - her 70th birthday!  
Until that point, she had never been East of Colorado 
or on plane for more than 4 hours. 

Patty says the thought of traveling alone to a foreign country 
whose language she didn't speak was overwhelming at first. 

She says, "I heard about you, Annie, through a friend
and signed up. 
It was the most extraordinary experience of my life 
and the hardest, most challenging one. 
Harder even than the longest backpacking trip at 10,000 feet elevation. 
That being said, I'm going back in Spring 2014 to do the whole 500 miles."

Patty's interest in photography began in 1980 
while on a sailing boat on San Francisco Bay with friends. 
She had a small camera and took some really good photos with it. 
She got her first SLR in 1981 and her first digital SLR in 2005. 
She now has a Cannon T4i and a Cannon S100. 
The S100 went to Spain with her. 

Patty enjoys shooting mostly nature,
landscapes and old buildings. 
Spain was paradise for her!. 
Everywhere she turned, there was a superb photo op!

Once returning to Portland, Patty
 began taking photography classes at PCC. 
She belongs  to a photography group. 
At the moment, they are attending a lot of workshops, 
because the Portland winter weather isn't conducive to outdoor photo shoots. 

Patty says she loves being in the wilderness. 
She says, "I like old buildings and houses 
and ghost towns because they tell a story in some way."

I'm encouraging Patty to put up a Flickr account and to share her photos.
 But for now, following are some of my favorite photos Patty took 
while walking the Camino Santiago with our group in the Fall of 2012. 

I've chosen these photos because they show 
some of the varied landscapes you'll be walking, 
and some of the things you'll become familiar with as a pilgrim.

Pulpo, or fresh octopus, is a common sight on some sections of The Way.
 In O Cebreiro and in Melide, 
pulpo is a very popular dish.
I suggest you get a group together 
and order a dish of pulpo.
That way, if you don't care for it,
you can order something more to your taste.
But please, 
give it a try!
You may be pleasantly surprised.

Which way will you go?
 Monjarin is a well-known place along the Camino.
It is run by Tomas, 
a self-described modern Templar Knight.
The Templars were wonderful friends 
to the pilgrims,
protecting them along The Way.
Tomas does a great job
keeping the tradition alive.

There is no running water, however, 
at Monjarin.
The latrine, which used to be a simple hole in the ground
has been improved!
It now has walls and a seat!

Sunbreaks like this one make for magical morning walking!
People often ask me what the weather will be like in Spring, Summer, or Fall.
If I could predict the weather in Spain, I'd be rich!
But even when it rains, 
the pilgrim is blessed with sunbreaks and rainbows
that make the walking worthwhile.
Just do it!

You will see many interesting sculptures and fountains.
There are some fantastic sculptures and fountains along the Way.
Be sure to keep your eyes open for these.
Sometimes they're so realistic, it's difficult to tell if they're flesh or stone.

Foggy beginnings.
 Walking up and over the Pyrenees
will often take you through clouds.
Once you are above the clouds, 
the sun will shine,
and you will feel like you're staring at islands
when you see the mountaintops through the mist.

Other times, the Way will be flat and dry.
 Some days you will have rain and wind,
and the very next day it can be hot and dry.
Be prepared for both.

My shoes, close to the end of the Camino.
 Patty got this photo of my shoes,
which had been walking for nearly 3 months straight.
They were held together, literally,
with duct tape.
Three cheers for duct tape!
And yes, you can find it in Spain!

You will see many shrines along the Camino. 
 This cross is at the top of the Pyrenees
before your descent into Roncesvalles.
Many pilgrims have added ribbons,
stones, and other mementos to the shrine.

There are still a few wildflowers left for Fall pilgrims to enjoy.
 I particularly enjoyed walking in Spring this past year,
mostly because of the wildflowers.
But even in Fall,
there are flowers to be enjoyed!

Plenty of chances to buy a walking stick or a shell!
 If you don't want to bother with bringing trekking poles on the plane,
you can pick them up quite inexpensively in the outdoor shop
in SJPP. Or, you can buy one of these handmade walking sticks
in almost any village along The Way.

The sleeping places are well-marked.
Don't worry, you'll find the albergues.
The signage is clear.

Expect beauty!
Sometimes, you notice things
that you would have walked right past
a week earlier at home.

Waymarks are easy to find, even in the city.
Waymarking continues,
even in the big cities.
Just keep an eye on the ground,
and on buidings and walls.
Those flechas amarillas are difficult to miss!

One of the "dangerous" dogs on the Camino!   Not!
 I hear a lot of "dangerous dog" stories about the Camino.
This guy is probably closer to what you will encounter.
Little beggar! He sure is cute, huh?

Wine and tapas or pinchos after a long walk - a treat!
 All along the route are bars
where you can find beer, wine, soda, bocadillos, 
and lots of other great treats!
Take a load off!
Rest for a bit and get ready to walk another 4 hours!

Just in case you didn't notice...
 The Basques are a proud people!
They do NOT consider themselves to be Spanish.
They are BASQUE!
Theirs is the oldest language known,
and its roots cannot be traced.
You will see signs in both Basque and Spanish
along the Basque portions of the Camino.

Quiet forest walking is lovely.
 Sometimes you will walk with groups of noisy pilgrims.
Other times, you might walk alone.
The choice is yours.
If you tend to love being solitude,
consider beginning mid-week
and walking "between stages"
instead of following the crowds.

There are many "fixer-uppers" along the Way!
 Buildings like these are not beyond repair.
Somebody could very well buy this,
put a new roof on top,
and slap on some siding.
Old buildings are being reclaimed,
all along The Way.

Follow the flechas (arrows).
 Even in the more remote areas,
don't worry,
the flechas persist!

St. Jean Pied du Port is a beautiful village!
This photo should have been first,
since it is of St. Jean.
But that's the way they loaded
so here it is!
This tiny village is such a gem!
Plan on spending an extra day here
and exploring.

Old trees and old stone walls line much of the Camino.
What I enjoy most about the Camino
are the ancient trees
and the awesome stone walls
that line much of the road.
Who built these walls?
How many generations have they stood?
Who planted these trees?

You will see a castle in Ponferrada.
 The castle in Ponferrada is worth seeing,
although the town itself is disappointing these days,
full of grafitti and trash.
I was sad to see this and wonder
if it's an effect of the poor economy?

Sunrise is a special time for the pilgrim.
 Getting up just before dawn so you can see the sun rise
makes for a happy day!

The rain brings rainbows - and they are beautiful!
 And if there's rain?
Well.. there will be RAINBOWS to lighten your steps!

Gathering for dinner with fellow pilgrims is traditional!
Don't hesitate to gather a group for dinner.
Meeting and getting to know other pilgrims along the way,
and sharing a meal 
is a great tradition!
You will pass each other here and there along the road,
and often, getting into Santiago is like
a big old family reunion!

Shrine to a fallen pilgrim - many of these along the path.
Some pilgrims do not make it to Santiago.
They fall along the way.
Shrines are often kept up and added to
by passing pilgrims;
they are becoming a common sight
as more and more pilgrims walk the Camino.

One of the things I love about spiders...
 In the early morning mist,
the spider's webs are beautiful works of art!

Some folks are familiar with the road... this pilgrim has done some traveling!
 You will meet people on their first pilgrimage,
and you will meet people walking for the 
2d, 3d, or even more times!
Some folks just have itchy feet,
like me!
The Camino is addictive,
and often, pilgrims return to walk it again,
this time as seasoned travelers.
Patty's returning to Spain next year,
aren't you Patty?

O Cebreiro with its thatched roofs and stone walkways.
 Don't pass by O Cebreiro.
It's a beautiful village.
If you're there in the Fall,
you can watch the thatch being made in the field
below the stone wall surrounding the village.

This is how bag transport works.
 Bag transport is one option for the pilgrim.
You leave your pack in the pile,
with envelope containing money attached.
A taxi picks up the pack and delivers it to your destination
It's waiting when you arrive.
What could be easier?

Acebo is a beautiful mountain village above Molinaseca.
 I think I'll stay in Acebo my next Camino.
It's such a pretty mountaintop village!

Cervesa con limon - beer with lemonade - a refreshing drink after a long, hot walk!
Cervesa con limon is one of my favorite drinks
along the Camino.
It is refreshing and really quenches the thirst.
It is a half/half of beer and lemon soda.
In the UK, this is called a Shandy.
Try one!

You find flechas in surprising places!
These are but a few of Patty's photos.
I hope they've given you a better idea 
of what you can expect while walking the Camino.

Unless you are a photography bug like Patty,
I suggest you take a small but good camera,
like the Cannon ELPH - which takes excellent photos
and isn't too expensive.

You never know when a photo-op will appear!

Thanks, Patty, for sharing your photos!
Buen Camino!


  1. Long time no post. You OK, Annie? My thoughts are with you. Wish my health was good enough to join your next Camino. I can't get it out of my mind but I'm not good in sunlight and I fear that time of year might be too bright and hot for me. Never mind. There's always a next time. Go well my 'virtual' friend.



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