Here I go...

Finding magic under the stars of the Camino Santiago de Compostela

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Shopping at the Goodwill

When you walk the Camino, you usually only take one change of clothes.
That means for 6 weeks, you are wearing an outfit, then washing it, then wearing it, then washing it, day after day after day. By the time you reach Santiago, not only do the clothes smell to high heaven, they are often worn out.

So it was I found myself shopping yesterday.

I need a few items for my upcoming walk on the Via de la Plata.
I need a couple of pair of hiking pants.
I need some long underwear.
And I need a new shirt.

I stopped by REI because they were having a huge sale.
But to my horror, the items I needed came to a grand total of over $300!!

So I thought I'd check out Goodwill.
The store in Portland has a huge Active Wear section and I've found some great deals there!  

And guess what?
I scored!

Mine are like these, only blue.
I was hoping to get a set of silk long johns because they're so lightweight.
But when I found a brand spanking new set of Patagonia Capilene long johns, 
I snapped them up!
I checked online and found both the top and bottoms selling for over $55 each.
Total paid for the pair?


Then, I found a really nice pull over shirt in a pretty turquoise color.
Price at REI for the same REI brand shirt was $56.
I paid $2.99!

Lastly, I found a really nice lightweight black microfiber pullover for $6.99.
Price at REI was $59.

Now all I need are my pants and I'm set.
I love shopping Goodwill!
 Not only do I like saving cash,
I love the idea of recycling and not creating more waste
for the landfill.

Goodwill ROCKS!



RIP Gilbert Janeri

Gilbert Janeri, in a photo taken shortly before his departure to Spain

 The family of the Brazilian found dead last Saturday morning in Spain have decided to complete the Camino not finished by Gilbert Janeri, 43 years of age. According to Sonia Toledo (sister), Gilbert's body will be cremated in Brazil on March 30 and she, her husband, daughter, and son-in-law will depart by car to finish The Way for him.

Sonia said it was her brother's wish that if he could not survive the journey, his body be cremated and his ashes left at the Cruz de Ferro.
"We have decided to make the journey by car and get the stamps as we pass through the villages, as Gilbert wished," she said.

The Brazilian executive was found dead on Saturday morning by park rangers on one of the trails near the Camino de Santiago. According to the family, he was 700 meters away from the route. "We do not know if the snow hid the plates with arrows. Surely he was lost."

The last contact with the family of Gilbert was done by e-mail on March 6 in the city of Saint Jean Pied de Port, France. He had written that he was not sure if he would take the path through the Pyrenees or some other. It was snowing and there were very few pilgrims on the trail.

"He told us not to worry, that he would contact us to let us know he was safe," said his sister. "We spent a week without news, waiting, and nothing. We sent e-mail, and he did not answer. But we thought soon we would receive news. Many people are shocked."

Gilbert's body was found five hours walk from St. Jean. The Consulate of Brazil in Barcelona told the relatives that the executive may have died of a heart attack, but there is no confirmation yet.

Sonia believes this was the cause of the death of her brother.  Their father also died of a heart attack at age 46. According to the sister, Gilbert was a smoker and despite having been prepared to walk the Camino, the first section has very steep climbs and the deep snow may have made the trek more difficult.

The sister suggested that Gilbert felt he would not come back alive, and a weekend before he left, the family attended the film The Way, in which the main character travels to France to recover the body of his son, killed on the Camino de Santiago.

Gilbert worked at a Canadian logistics company in Brazil and eventually came to live in Canada, where he obtained citizenship.  
He leaves a son.
* * *

To be wrapped in the snowy wings of the Pyrenees is not such a bad way to go.
Many of us understand this burning desire you had to follow the call of the Camino. 
We are thankful you were doing something you loved.
May you rest in Peace, Gilbert.

We will remember you.


Thursday, March 28, 2013

A Busy Day Planning My Camino

I'm doing a Happy Dance today!

I woke up and couldn't believe I had actually purchased a ticket yesterday!
I guess old age has made me fearless, 
because I really do NOT have the money for this trip. 
Luckily, one can walk in Spain almost cheaper than staying at home!

Today is a planning day. 
I have so much to do!

I got on the Godesalco website this morning 
and made a loose plan of my trip, 
based on some tips from my Camino friend, Laurie, 
who walked this route last year.

If you are planning a Camino, this is a great website. 
You can put in your beginning and ending places,
 and it will give you a list of towns, showing facilities that are available. 
Then you can pick which towns you will stop in and at the end, 
there are several options for printing,
 including an elevation profile of your walk.
Profile Example

There are several stages over 30 kilometers in the guidebooks,
and my old feet won't walk that far.
So I'm figuring out ways to break those stages in pieces.

My comfort limit is about 20-24 k per day,
which translates to 12-14 miles.
Luckily, most of the terrain on the first part of the VDLP is flat walking,
or gently rolling hills.
The rough stuff comes later in Galicia,
 after I've gotten into better shape.

Looks like it should take me around 40-45 days to complete the VDLP,
barring problems.
That leaves me another 30 days to play on the Camino Frances,
and to visit Little Fox House in Muxia. 
Praia do Lago, on the beach trail to The Little Fox House!

Today I have to order a new clothesline.
I lost mine on the last trip.
I love this one from the Rick Steves website.
 It's about $10 and works great without pins or pegs.
 It also is more sturdy than others I've used.

I'll spend one night in Madrid.
Then.. I'll take RENFRE or a bus to Seville.
 I haven't decided yet which way I'll go. 
I am 60 now and eligible for a nice little card 
that will give me 20-40% discounts on travel and hotel arrangements. 
So I'll pick that up in Madrid,
 then decide which way is the least expensive way to get to Seville, 
where I've made reservations for two nights at Pension Vergara.

This place looks a little cluttered, but fun! 
And it's right across the way from the Cathedral, 
so it will be very convenient.
Hopefully it won't be perfumed,
in which case I'll have to find other lodging.

Here is what the website says about this Pension:

Hostal-Pensión Vergara is a restored convent in the Santa Cruz district, 250 metres from Seville Cathedral. 
Set on a quiet pedestrian street, it offers free Wi-Fi and a 24-hour reception.
Air-conditioned rooms at the Vergara feature tiled floors and come with a safe and work desk. 
Set around a garden patio, all have shared bathroom facilities and some have a private balcony.
There are vending machines for drinks. 
Many shops, bars and restaurants can be found within a short walk of the Vergara. 
Luggage storage is offered and there is a tour desk. 
Public parking is available nearby for an extra charge.

I'm spending two days in Seville so I can take a day to visit Italica again.
These wonderful Roman ruins are fascinating and worth a few hours.
I think I'll do a blog on Italica later today if I have the time.

Right now, I must get dressed and get busy!  
I have to figure out what gear I'll need.
I'm considering leaving my down sleeping bag home
and making a microfleece sleep sheet.
I want my pack to be as light as possible.

Hoping to keep it simple,

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Via de la Plata - Second Edition

Well, I did it!
I bought my ticket for Madrid today!
After two nights there to adjust to the time change, I'll take a train to Seville.
I will attempt to finish, or at least make a dent in, the Via de la Plata, picking up from Fuente de Cantos, where I was forced to stop due to heat and no water a few years ago.

I'm going to arrive in Seville on May 10 and stay two nights so I can visit Italica.
Then I'll find a bus to Fuente and begin walking on May 12, if all goes well.

I've got a great itinerary, thanks to one of my forum friends Laurie, and hope the weather will be sunny and warm, but not hot.

I'm excited!
More tomorrow.
:::doing a happy dance:::
I'm going to Spain!

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

A Pilgrim Has Died on the Camino

Photo by Sylvia Nilsen

While walking the Camino, you will on occasion pass a memorial or marker indicating a place where a pilgrim has lost his or her life. The feeling for me is a combination of sadness, curiosity and respect.

I feel sad for the family because maybe this made their terrible fear come true, fear that the Camino is not safe, that their loved one would come to harm. I feel sad that the pilgrim did not finish the journey. I wonder what their last thoughts were? I am curious about the details. How did they die? Was it a heart attack? A stroke? Were they alone or with friends? How old was this person? And then those feelings turn to a deep respect that this pilgrim died while doing something that was more important to them than the fear of death. . . that their love for this pilgrimage made their death meaningful. Wouldn't we all like to die doing something we love? I know I would.

And so, these were the same feelings I had when I heard about the 42 year old man whose body was found on the Camino this week between St. Jean Pied de Port and Roncesvalles. From what I've heard in the forums, he was within sight of refuge.  Here is the latest report, posted by Navarricano, who lives in Pamplona. This is a quick translation of the article which appeared in the Saturday edition of the Diario de Navarra:
 * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

A Brazilian pilgrim was found dead in a small gorge near Mt. Ortzanzurieta (Roncesvalles). The body was discovered by the forest ranger responsible for the area. The place in which the body of the pilgrim was found indicates that he had lost his way, and that he had suffered a fall. His backpack was found some 70 meters above the spot where his body lay.

He was apparently traveling alone, and until Friday nobody sounded the alarm that he was missing. For this reason, despite the fact that all of his personal identity papers were found in his backpack, an autopsy is required to confirm that the information contained in the documents correspond to those of the body that was recovered. Until the autopsy is complete, the deceased appears to be G.C.J., a resident in Canada. The location of the body suggests that the pilgrim died several days ago and the body only discovered once the snow had begun to melt.

The ranger had gone to inspect the area following the thaw. The body was discovered a little before 11.00 a.m. He alerted SOS Navarra, who in turn alerted the Burguete fire department, a medical team, the Guardia Civil and a helicopter rescue squad.

Three firefighters set out from Burguete. A fourth firefighter set out from Valcarlos, where he was serving as a replacement during the winter. The former left their vehicle parked at the albergue in Roncesvalles, from where the path that leads to the gorge starts. From there they had to continue on foot. Equipped with skis and snowshoes to walk on the snow, they also carried with them the equipment normally required to respond to these types of emergencies: a stretcher, a backpack with a first-aid kit, and another with clothing.

Following the ranger's indications, the firefighters began their trek. The going was initially over flat terrain, but soon became an uphill climb. Access to the area where the body lay was complicated due not only to the snow, but also because as they drew nearer to the gorge, the path was slicked with deep mud and wet leaves that made their path even more slippery. The helicopter crew followed their progress from the air as they made their ascent.

Following an hours' trek, the firefighters reached the forest ranger and the body of the pilgrim, resting face down in the gorge. At this point the Guardia Civil verified the pilgrim's death and ordered the corpse be removed from the area. The body was carried to an area where it could be tied to the stretcher and lifted to the helicopter, which transported it to the Navarran Institute of Forensic Medicine.

The Guardia Civil is in charge of the proceedings. Following the autopsy and the confirmation of the victim's identity, the Canadian consulate will be contacted in order to initiate the victim's repatriation to Canada.

It is clear from the small map that appeared in the article showing where the body was discovered that the pilgrim, upon reaching the Lepoeder hill, became disoriented. Everything was covered in snow, he could not follow the markings easily, and he headed off in the wrong direction as a result, ending up on a very dangerous cliff, where he slipped and fell into the gorge.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Those of us who have walked this route know this area. It is steep and slippery any time of year, can be treacherous in the rain, and apparently deadly in the snow.

This is a reminder, people.

If you are planning a winter Camino, please pay attention to the advice from the local people, the hospitaleros, and the staff in St. Jean Pied de Port. These people understand the weather of their region, which can quickly change from sunshine to severe.  If they tell you to take the lower route along the road, please listen!

I'm not suggesting this poor man did not heed advice; perhaps nobody told him the dangers of crossing this upper route during winter. But the snow is extremely deep this year. The trail markers are not tall enough to be seen, and it can be very foggy in addition. This leads to a chance of becoming disoriented and stepping off onto what you believe is firm ground, but is in fact a snowbank hiding a cliff, which appears to be what happened here.

This was a young, healthy man.
I'm sad for his family.

Buen Camino, Peregrino.
May you rest in peace.

Photo by Iasramblings