Here I go...

Finding magic under the stars of the Camino Santiago de Compostela

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Another Transition

Two mornings ago, a bird came to my window and tried to get in. 

In my family this is an omen of death and whether you believe in omens or not, it is very real to us. We are a superstitious lot in many ways. 

I emailed my ex and asked him to please call my mother to be sure she was alright. I was also worried about my 96 year old aunt. He emailed back that all was well at home and the bird made a mistake. 

I haven't rested easy. The bird isn't frivolous. It doesn't make mistakes. 

I just received the sad news this morning that my sister in law, Pinky, is in the Hospital and they do not believe that she will last another 24 hours. 

Prayers and energy for an easy transition are requested. 

Also, please send her daughter Siobhan and son Jared energy to deal with their mother's transition. 

This has been a difficult Camino for me on so many levels. First Methodist Pilgrim, now Pinky. 

Birth and death. Joy and sadness. Tranquility and frustration. Change.  All are a part of this adventure we call Life. 

It's difficult being so far away when the family needs you. I'm torn. I'm weary. I'm sad. I'm struggling. 

Maybe it's time to stay home for a while. 

I love you, Pinky!  

You are one strong red-headed wonder!  What fun we have had!  We've raised some hell and had some good laughs!  Remember all those May dances? Bonfires at Panorama? Getting my tattoo? 

Siobhan's Fairy Godmothers will help her. Don't worry. She will be fine. So will Jared. I'm sorry you didn't get to see your newest grandbaby. 

Now get on that boat and cross that river!  I'm lighting candles all day to help you find your way. I will even pay the boatman! 

May you have peace, and freedom, and reunion with Adele, Gwen, Pat, Juliana and all those others who have gone on before. 

Go gently, Lady. 


Today's 14 kilometer walk was difficult for me.

 I didn't get much sleep again last night. There were about 5 people in the dorm competing for 'Loudest Snoring in the World' Award!!  I had my super duper  earplugs in and it sounded like a bunch of chainsaws were in the room. This was around midnight. I realize people snore. I've been told I snore. But that doesn't change the fact that I can't sleep when people are loudly snoring. 

So, I spent 4 hours on the short leather couch in the sala. Then I was awakened at 4:45 am by the notorious night-walking zombie-pilgrims turning on the overhead lights. It's difficult for me to be cheerful at 4:45 am.  I may have even growled at them. 

My primary caretaker was my grandfather. He loved loved tent camping and I grew up tent camping a lot!  But a day came when he decided the only way he would camp was in an RV with His 'own room.'

I think I'm at that point in life where I need my own room. I need quiet, dark, and cold to sleep and that's just a fact I'm facing this Camino. 

I got a private room again tonight and have one booked tomorrow as well as in Santiago. I will make it to Santiago, but on my own terms. And that's ok with me. 

I had one reader tell me I was whining and being negative. But you know what?  People need honesty about the Camino. 

This is not a cake walk!  Sure, it is spiritual, wonderful, and life changing. But it is also as bad as the worst day you can imagine. It's dirty, and cold, and hot, and wet, and often painful physically and emotionally, and it is one of most difficult  things you will ever do in your life. 

So no sugar coating here. 
It is what it is. 
And each person has their own personal experience. 

My budget is screeching. I didn't factor in all these private rooms. But hey, you only live once. I will try to make it up when I take care of Little Fox House while Tracy takes a well-deserved break. 

Below are a few photos. Today's walk had some hill climbing but I think they felt more steep due to my weariness. 

The stained glass window is in the little church in Boente. Be sure to stop there for a sello. 

The fuzzy thing is a seed from a eucalyptus tree. I've never seen one with the flower it was really interesting. 

One photo is of my dinner here at the Casa Teodora. It was spareribs and potatoes and it was so good, I almost cried. 

Father Jeff, remember the meal you and Lottie and Pam and I had in Arco?  It was that good!  It was followed by cheeeeeesecake. So much for walking off today's calories!  I ate the cake before I thought to take a photo. But it was as pretty as it was delicious!

Now for a :::drumroll::: B.A.T.H.!
With all the hot water I need to fill it up!

Tomorrow, Arco and Pension Maribel. 
After a good night's rest ...

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Albergue Pereira

To get to this albergue, walk all the way through town. It is at the far end on the left side. 

The albergue is new. It is clean and well run. There is a nicely stocked kitchen with a stove and microwave. The patio is enclosed and there is a television in the combination dining room/cuarto de estar. You are a 3 minute walk to all the pulpo bars and right on the Camino. 

To Melide Today

The walk from Eirexe to Melide was 23 kilometers but not difficult. A few gentle hills and a short ugly stretch through an industrial area at the end. But for the most part, shady and green. 

I'm trying out Albergue Pereira here. 10 euros for a dorm bed. It's clean and new, with a good kitchen, laundry, and sala. 

Photos in next post

I passed some interesting places today. First, giant ants adorn the albergue in Portos, just 2.2 k past Eirexe. This looks like a nice clean place. It has 10 beds and there is a nearby bar for dinner and desayuno. 

Lunch was Caldo Gallego in Palas de Rei where I also found this cool sculpture of people dancing. 

That guy is still looking for Laura. I hope he finds her before he runs out of chalk and green doors! 

I saw several of these old style woven horreos.  They are used to dry andstore  maize. 

Next, I stopped at the church in Lobreiro to snag another photo of the penis (yup, I said penis) sculpted on the side and guess what?!  It is GONE!  I almost feel as bad as when the Taliban blew up the Buddhas!  I'm sure this is the church!  I took a photo in September. I will have to go look for it. It appears they have removed that stone completely and replaced it with a boring plain old stone. Wonder of wonders!

Well, at least they left the Virgin and Child  on the wall!  

To Eirexe

Leaving Portomarin you have a choice. You can go down to your left and over the bridge and make a climb back up to road level later; or you can just walk the road to Gonzo. 

I walk the road. It is not a busy road. I think I saw a total of 7 cars in two hours and the road is a gentle steady climb. I prefer it to the rocky dirt path. Once in Gonzo, I pretty much stayed on the Camino except at Hospital where it makes a very strange curve just to take you past a tiny village. 

The little schoolhouse albergue is still open. I stopped in to see it. It is very sweet, clean, and the hospitalera is a lovely kind lady. There are 10 bunks, all with new mattresses. I would have stayed here but I wanted to sleep in Eirexe and try out the pension there. 

Pension Meson is next to the municipal albergue. The bar across the way serves a nice menu and is open by 7 am for breakfast. The pension is spotless and has only 4 beds to a room!  For 10 euros I was very happy!  I shared with two German ladies and we had a quiet night's rest. Nobody snored. 

There were some tents in the field next door so camping is apparently possible here. 

And look what they are farming with. A good old John Deere tractor!  City slickers won't understand my excitement over a tractor, but bumpkins will!  LOL!

Sunday, June 23, 2013

To Portomarin

I took a little detour into the church cemetery. I'm always interested in cemeteries. Must be the Maude in me. 

I stopped for bacon and eggs at the village past Ferreiros. It was soooo good! 
I met four Americans there from SLC. There sure are a lot of Americans on the Camino this year. Are they all unemployed? 

Everywhere I look there is mullein blooming. This is the time to collect those yellow blossoms and make mullein-garlic oil. 

I was shocked at how high the water is in the Embalse!  I've never seen it this high. 

I opted for a private room at Ultreia. It was a great reunion!  I love those folks!

A shower, an electronic foot massage, and a bag of cherries later, I'm ready for a short siesta. 

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Crazy weather in Ferreiros

Yesterday I walked in 80 degree sun

Today I'm dressed in wool longjohns. 

It's crazy

Half stage today to Portomarin. I can't arrive in Santiago until next Sunday so I'm going slow. 

The walk yesterday felt like an old friend. I stopped in at the church at Barbadello. It was very worth seeing. 

And :::::drumroll::::::  I passed the 100 kilometer marker!  Hooray!

My ensalada mixta at Ferreiros was good but I needed a magnifying glass to find the very small bite of tuna gracing the top.  The flan was in the shape of a shell. Nice touch!  

As I lay in my lower bunk, this question, written by a prior pilgrim, seemed appropriate.  

I'm still trying to figure out the answer. 

Perhaps it is nothing more than so I will appreciate 'home.'

Friday, June 21, 2013

Summer Solstice in Sarria!

Happy Summer Solstice everyone!

May your days be filled with light!

There is a five day fiesta beginning tonight in Sarria. It culminates in bonfires being lit over the countryside. 

Maybe I will stay an extra night!

Thursday, June 20, 2013

What is a Pilgrim?

I considered myself a pilgrim on my first Camino. I no longer walk a pilgrimage. I simply am here walking for my health. 

I acted as facilitator for two small groups last year, charging just enough to cover my own costs and expenses. The trips were designed for those who were unable to take a full six weeks to walk from Roncesvalles to Santiago. 

In my opinion, the people I helped are no less pilgrims than those who walk from anywhere else. If you start at your own doorstep, it is not always possible to walk. People don't swim across oceans. They fly or go by boat. Historically, many made this pilgrimage by horse, cart, or both. 

My walkers did not generally take up space in albergues. We booked and paid for private lodging. But that doesn't matter because where you sleep is of no importance. 

The ONLY criteria for this pilgrimage that I am aware of is that you walk the last 100 kilometers from Sarria and that you get two stamps per day. 

You can walk, run, skip, hop, take a car, bus, train, fly on a broomstick, or go by horse or donkey. You can hire a man to give you a piggy back ride to Sarria. They don't care in Santiago. 

You can walk barefoot, in boots, tennis shoes, sandals, or on stilts. You can roller skate to Sarria if you want to! They don't care in Santiago!

You can carry your pack, or have it transported. You can pull it on a cart or push it in a wagon. You can tie helium balloons to it or have it dropped each night by helicopter. You can tie it to your dog's back or give it to a local dragon in exchange for a daily roasted chicken!  They don't care in Santiago!

You can wear the same clothes every day and carry no pack at all if you want. Nobody cares!

As far as where you sleep, you can sleep in an albergue, in a tent, in your car, under the stars, in a haystack or in a Parador. It does not matter in Santiago!

You can be Catholic, Protestant, Jewish, Buddhist, Bahai, Moslem, pagan, Wiccan, or atheist. You can be straight, gay, bisexual, asexual, sleep by yourself or with a different partner each night and if you have walked from Sarria and have two stamps per day on your credential, nobody cares. 

You can be nice, mean, funny, angry, mentally stable or totally whacked. You can whine and cry and moan and groan or you can pray and help others along the Way. You can be a criminal, a sinner, a prostitute or a virgin and if you walk from Sarria and have two stamps per day, you are as 'real' as it gets. 

You can hire a porter to carry your pack right up to the pilgrim office desk and if you yourself have walked from Sarria and you have two stamps per day on your credential, you are considered to have completed the requirements for the pilgrimage. 


There you have it. 
The answer according to Santiago to the question, "what is a REAL pilgrim?'

Whether or not Santiago's definition is the same as each person's own definition is another matter. Whether or not we like Santiago's definition is another, still. 

But the fact remains...

If you walk from Sarria and you get two stamps per day in your ARE a pilgrim according to Santiago. 


Last night in Triacastela a man from Manchuria, Lao, was practicing Tao Yin I my dorm. 

 I watched the beautiful flow of his movements until he finished then asked if it was Tai Chi?  He told me no, it was the much older Tao Yin. His mother taught him as a child. He said it helped erase all weariness from walking and he did it morning and night. 

He asked if I had any pain. I told him no, not really. Well...  my big toe was a bit jammed and stiff. 

He reached down, picked up my foot, and proceeded to give me the best foot massage I have ever had. He then instructed me to lie down and off to work he went on my shoulders and back. I groaned as he worked for at least a half hour and by the time he finished, I was feeling like a wet noodle!

I asked if he needed anything, if I could repay him. He insisted, 'No!'  

It was a gift

I needed it. 

It relieved my body, but even more, it relieved my heart. 

It gave me hope.