Tag Archives: camino de santiago

It’s all relative.

I find myself measuring distances and relating them to those I walked on the Camino. I recently went back to Colorado to visit my mom and friends and found myself doing this on the drive to Boulder from Longmont. I’ve driven these twelve miles a million times but I never have walked them. I used to think it must take cyclists forever to commute the same route everyday. On the Camino, we would walk twelve miles (19 km) in three hours if my feet weren’t horrible. And an additional 2-8 miles before stopping every day for 33 days. 

I look at the Flatirons and the Front Range and remember seeing the mountains in Spain. At first I would think it would take days to get there. Before I knew it we would be there. Maybe even the next day we’d climb over those mountains.

Driving minutes to cover what would take hours to walk is far easier of course. But far less memorable. A thoughtful friend gave me a book on mindfulness. It has exercises that are little ways to integrate awareness and living in the present into our busy lives. Things like using your less dominant hand to brush your teeth, or eat without distraction. Everything we do is about efficiency and maximizing every minute and capturing every experience. In doing so we forget to breathe. To really take it all in and just be present.

When my friend asked if I would still recommend walking the Camino to anyone based off our weather and  my feet-challenged experience. I said I would and that everyone has a different Camino and like anything challenging, it was greatly rewarding. (More so in hindsight.) I think one of the great things about it was that you had three or four things you had to worry about each day. Fixing feet, finding a place to stay the night, where to eat and occasionally laundry. It was the essentials of living. Only what you needed to do to continue on and nothing more.

Of course real life is complex and filed with responsibilities and obligations but the Camino is a good exercise in slowing down, turning off and breathing. Of being mindful in our own lives. Maybe the Camino will speak to you, or answer whatever questions you ask of it. And maybe the Camino is just a good listener. You never know until you walk it!

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Happy Feet: In search of some on the Camino?

Anyone who’s walked a week on the Camino de Santiago or maybe an avid runner knows—happy feet are hard to come by, but something you’ll do anything to pursue.

For some, their mental toughness can block out  the constant pounding and wear and tear. And for others, like myself, my mental toughness would take a siesta about eight  miles in. Sometimes 20 minutes in if it was raining. No matter how much I would envision fluffy slippers, feet massages and wheels my reality was to push on.

Before embarking on our journey I anticipated that there would be blisters and discomfort. I had walked two Avon Breast Cancer two-day walks, surely I was no stranger to this. And no offense my dear Aunt Leslie who walked them with me, I figured my feet were pretty resilient in comparison to her delicate tootsies. So yeah, I got this. Pack a sewing needle and thread and some band aids and I’m good to go.

Silly me.

It’s amazing how many tips and tricks we heard from others. I refused to believe or put many into practice. I was the skeptic. Surely, they were crazy or it only worked on their feet and would not be suitable for me. Like Jonathan’s duct tape method. Psshhaw! Not for me! Where in my family did I inherit this stubborn side? hmmmm…

Had it not been for my crazy hook toe and poorly chosen shoes, I think I would have been able to make it further and in far less pain, but combined with the torrential downpours starting Day 2 of the Camino, it was the perfect storm. Unfortunately, there is little time for healing on the Camino. Yada yada yada.

First Method: And fail (for sort-of-happy feet)
– Bandages of all shapes and sizes
– Blister cushions (These are the worst things ever. If you like keeping skin on your feet, don’t use these.)
– Alcohol Disinfecting Wipes
– Needle and thread: depending on size of blister the idea is to thread it and
leave thread in the blister for a few hours to drain it without exposing the skin or tearing it
– Multiple sock changes

Second Method: Partially successful. (aka, the Marabel method)
Backstory: We stayed outside Pamplona in Cizur Menor at Albergue Roncal. Great stay by the way. Marabel Roncal and her family run the albergue and she told me to come back after we settled in and she would look at my feet. I thought she would give me some crazy tiritas (Basque=bandages) and send me on my way. Instead she brought out this huge medical bag. She could’ve performed amputations for all I know with that bag. She pulled out a wrapped medical syringe and some iodine.

What?! I hate needles. I close my eyes when I get acupuncture even. I said to myself, it can’t feel worse than I already did. Surrender. At first I couldn’t watch, but then she said I needed to learn how to do it myself. She drained the fluid out of one blister and it filled a syringe the size of the image attached, not once, but twice. She went in once and then discovered another “Oh a double!”. It was disgusting but it was business as usual for her. I apologized repeatedly. She did two of my worst ones and then showed me how to disinfect the needle with the iodine. She said “only for you to use”. No worries there. It’s incredible the things we do to get through the tough times. By the end of the trip, I’m sure I could’ve become a certified nurse. This gave instant relief but also helped things heal enough to put shoes back on the next day. I used it so often, that the needle became dull, so I had to get another one from the Pharmacy.

Final Method: The ‘good as it’s gonna get’ combination.
– Marabel method at the end of the day
– Saturating your feet before and after and repeatedly with Alcohol de Romero.  (Rosemary Alcohol)About €2.50 and sold in the pharmacies. It has an antiseptic quality and encourages cell rejuvenation. This was a Jonathan tip from back in the day and his first Camino. It’s seriously amazing stuff and we converted several pilgrims along the way.
– Elevate the feet, 600mg ibuprofen and rest.
– In the morning: tape, tape and more tape. Yes, Jonathan even made me use duct tape which actually worked! (which we found surprisingly in the China Bazaar stores pretty cheaply). First, I would use the gauze, Neosporin and tape for a couple really sensitive spots or toes, then first aid tape over any bandages and extend beyond a little bit to hold things in place. Then for my heels I would put duct tape over the first aid tape. Only the edges would be on skin and it just kind of was another barrier against friction. I never had a tough time getting it off my feet at the end of the day.
– And the areas that weren’t covered by tape I used the Second Skin stick. It looks like a small deodorant stick and is a thin smooth lader that would glide on over my toes and feet. It sort of is similar to the Vaseline method that some people did. I didn’t want my feet sliding around all gooped up with Vaseline and two pairs of socks though. This was less messy and effective.

Bottom line is: do whatever works for you and your feet. It took me a while to get there but the method above and easier terrain helped my feet make it through the day much easier and faster. Sometimes, you don’t know what will work until you try it all, so I wouldn’t go to crazy before the trip stocking up on expensive methods. We stopped in pharmacies or restocked every couple days. You don’t want all that excess weight when you know it’s usually available in the next day or two.

As for post Camino? My feet still are slowly recovering. I wish I still had the alcohol de Romero. I will have to make my own I guess. They still feel bruised on the soles and I have calluses all over my feet like I never wore shoes in my life. Some toenails are greyish but still with me at least! Keeping active helps. And my acupuncturist turned me on to Kinesio tape which is miraculous! I really wish I had this on the Camino for my knees. I guess athletes use this stuff all the time. It really works.

And keeping moving helps too. Putting one foot in front of the other and repeating. Just in better shoes!

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If only this dog was on the Camino…

This story comes your way thanks to Jonathan. The dog ran 50-60 km a day keeping up with these cyclists! If Xiao Sa was on the Camino maybe we would have finished a couple weeks earlier. Amazing.

A dog with no home has run 1700km with some cyclists on their way to Tibet, after befriending them when they gave him a drumstick.

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We walked the Camino and all I got was this piece of paper.

We sure didn’t walk for the fame, the glory and definitely not fortune. That would be very un-Camino.

While I questioned my reasons for walking at times, I never questioned the desire to see it to the end. I cherish this simple piece of paper. Jonathan liked to point out that there is no Latin translation of Lindsay so he feels his compostela is better than mine. Not to mention the fact that he didn’t leave me by the roadside, means that he gets “an extra special place in heaven”. Oh, sweet husband. Whatevs, my awesomeness needs no documentation. This paper is a testament to never giving up and finishing what you start. I always can use the reminder.

It’s been fun to go through photos we took on the Camino. I realized taking pictures while you’re walking doesn’t result in very sharp photos, so there may be some blurry ones. I couldn’t stop. Jonathan wouldn’t let me out of fear I would never start back up again. I’ll have to get more descriptive on each, so I remember where they were taken, but that’s more time than I’m willing to devote at the moment. If you want to see a link to an abbreviated “best of” photos you can find them here.

I also put together a list of all the places we stayed. The pilgrim credentials were helpful since we got stamps at each place. I like to point out that my credentials wear the Camino well with the watermarked pages which I think happen to be symbolic of our rain-soaked Camino, aka “Rafting Trip 2012”.

Some people believe true pilgrims only stay in albergues and that somehow makes your pilgrimage more authentic. Kudos, if you are one of these pilgrims and choose to do it this way. This wasn’t our Way. We had some good stays and some not so good stays. In the end we were most successful with the private rooms in private albergues. I think the weather we endured could’ve earned us 5 star accommodations the entire way in my opinion. While I think it is important to experience the albergues, I think it’s more important to sleep well so you can make it through the next day successfully and maybe even enjoy some of it. Plus, with all the crazy things I had to do with my feet private rooms were more appropriate. I also think had it been nicer weather where you could spend more downtime outside, the albergue experience would’ve been dramatically different. We can count on one hand the number of times the weather allowed us outside at the end of the day to drink cervezas with pilgrims or enjoy a cafe con leche in the morning sun.

I won’t write descriptions for each (email me if you want more specific info), but this is where we stayed:

  1. St. Jean: Hotel Ramuntcho
  2. Roncevalles: Albergue (it’s huge, but not sure of the official name)
    The newly remodeled albergue is a must stay for any pilgrim. Just don’t expect the rest to be as nice. Bunk bed cubicles in groups of four. Hot showers. A little noisy, but nice.
  3. Zubiri: Zaldiko (Priv. Albergue)
  4. Cizur Menor: Albergue Roncal(Priv. Albergue)
    This is where magical Marabel lives. She runs this albergue and is a magician with feet. She showed me the best way to care for blisters which I’ll post on later. I’m glad we stayed here instead of Pamplona. On a nice day everyone was outside reading or doing laundry. Decent facilities but the highlight was the turtle pond.  
  5. Puente la Reina: Hotel Jakue
    Spent two days here to heal feet some. Worth it for the buffet alone. Nice stay. 
  6. Estella: Juvenil Oncineda (Muni. Albergue)
  7. Los Arcos: Casa de Abuela (Priv. Albergue)
    Great private room on the top floor. Nice kitchen. Near the church which is pretty incredible inside.
  8. Viana: Andres Muñoz (Muni. Albergue)
    Winner of the worst albergue we stayed in on the Camino. Bed bugs, gross laundry room, triple decker bunk beds, stuffy room, screaming neighbors, rude hospitalero.  
  9. Navarrete: (Priv. Albergue)
  10. Azofra: (Muni. Albergue)
    2 bed cubicles were a treat. Seemed newish. Co-ed bathroom. Laundry. During summer, the courtyard would be really nice with the fountain. Nice people running it.
  11. Castildelgado: Hostal El Chocolatero
  12. Villafranca: Hotel San Anton Abad
    Nice bathrooms. Private room through the bunk room which was a little awkward. Really nice pilgrim’s meal. The ladies running the place were so incredibly nice and accommodating. Geese outside.
  13. San Juan de Ortega: Alojamiento Rural-La Henera (Casa Rural)
  14. Burgos: Hotel Velada
    Where Martin Sheen stayed part of the time when filming The Way. Really great deal on a nice room. We had to do laundry here and they had it done in 2 hours!
  15. Hontanas: El Puntido (Priv. Albergue)
  16. Boadilla: En El Camino (Priv. Albergue)
    Family run operation. You can tell they enjoy what they do. Great family style dinner and breakfast. Again, in summer it would be nice with the little pool they had in the garden area.  
  17. Carrion de los Condes: Hostal la Corte
  18. Terradillos de los Templarios: Albergue de los Templarios (Priv. Albergue)
  19. Hermanillos de la Calzada: (Muni. Albergue)
  20. Mansilla de Las Mulas: El Postigo (Hostal)
  21. Leon: Hotel Paris
    Nicest room we stayed in on the Camino, after Hotel Compostela at the end. Slept great here. Good location too. 
  22. Villar de Mazarife: San Antonio de Padua (Priv. albergue)
  23. Astorga: La Peseta (Hotel)
  24. Foncebadon: Convento de Foncebadon (Priv. Albergue)
    This place was nice and clean. A little surly on the staff side but we ate the vegetarian meal at the wildly popular Monte Irago a couple doors up the hill. They were super nice there and the meal was amazing. Judith even got an hour massage for 20 euros! 
  25. Ponferrada: Hotel El Castillo
  26. Villafranca del Bierzo: Albergue de La Piedra (Priv. Albergue)
  27. La Faba: Parroquia de San Andres (Muni. Albergue)
    German run parish house. Nice man that was running it at the time. If the weather was nice, being outside would’ve helped. It was next door to a 15th century church. Worst beds though. And only 2 restrooms for 35+ pilgrims (women/men). Let’s just say we were happy that we were one of the first to arrive. After the muddy and wet day, there wasn’t any surface that didn’t have someone’s clothes hanging on it to dry. Lots of men’s bikini briefs and women’s granny panties. 
  28. Triacastela: Complexo Xacobeo (Priv. Albergue)
    Probably the best private room albergue. After a hellish day coming down O’Cebreiro this was a treat.  We had a private room on the top floor which had windows facing the hills and a small patio and spacious bathroom. Great restaurant too.
  29. Sarria: Albergue Ultreia
  30. Palas de Rei: Casa Benilde (Hotel)
  31. Arzua: Meson do Peregrino (Hostel)
  32. Arca/Pedrouzo: Albergue o’ Burgo (Network Hostel)
  33. Santiago: Hotel Compostela
    Great location and value for a nicer end hotel. The AC didn’t work in the first room we had and with the doors open we didn’t sleep with the partying going on until 5am. They upgraded us to another room with a private balcony which was even better. Only 5 minute walk to the Cathedral and steps from the historic district.  
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There’s no place like home.

While waiting at the airport in Barcelona I started to think back on the last six weeks we’ve been in Spain. I was a peregrina for five of those weeks, and a visitor for the entire six weeks. As with anyone traveling abroad you immediately find the cultural differences and maybe even long for the comforts of home you left behind. While I love to travel and learn about life in the rest of the world, Spain is not my home. I’d like to think I now know the country a little bit better than when I arrived, and maybe take all that I’ve learned to make me a better visitor to the next country or city I travel to. It’s a good feeling to want to come back home and I’m thankful that home is the United States.

There’s no way I can recap all that I saw, people I met, and every experience but I occasionally think of a few observations I had along the way. Let me say this here first – these are my observations based on my own experiences. They may be considered generalizations and not representative of Spain in its entirety. Just like not all Americans sound like George Bush and are obese. I apologize in advance if I offend.

While in northern Spain (or specifically, the Camino) I noticed the following:

  • Many people do not cover their mouths when coughing or sneezing.
  • Soap and toilet paper in public restrooms is a nice to have but not standard practice. I tried not to think about the people handling your food using the same restrooms and not washing their hands afterwords. Let’s just say those two rolls of biodegradable toilet paper we bought at REI, were gone by the end, and we restocked with imitation Wet Ones towelettes several times.
  • Spaniards tend to speak loudly and closely. ¿Como se dice ‘space cushion’? I don’t think they are trying to be rude, but it just is part of being so social.
  • Spaniards know how to party. Many are quite social and boisterous in groups. With a daily siesta and late sleeping and eating schedules, the Spanish lifestyle is about family and friends and not ruled by timelines. I think Jonathan read somewhere that the Spanish sleep one hour less than other Europeans.
  • Religion is important. Even the tiniest of towns were built around the church. Old and new generations seem to respect and grow up with Catholicism and even churches that seem modest from the outside are rich on the inside; whether architecturally or by ornamentation. I’ve said this before, if Spain needs money, they need not look further than the church.
  • Dogs and cats are not pets per se, but usually are functional and serve as security or ‘free agents’. As an animal lover, seeing dogs chained up or left in the cold rain without food and water  or shelter nearby was difficult to see at times. In the rural areas this was really evident. I know some of the larger cities definitely embraced the little ‘handbag-sized’ dogs as pets but it was quite different from the US. Sometimes it was cute though. Like the time we watched this little dog help the farmer herd this cow. The cow looked so annoyed, but the dog was definitely the one in charge (or the cow at least let him think that).
  • Smoking is still cool? Catch my drift? I realize smoking is wildly popular globally, not just in Spain. I think Europeans seem to be more accepting of smoking and smokers than here in America. Like all the cigarette machines that have pictures of people running or being athletic which is amusing. I just wish people were more considerate of those around them when smoking. You aren’t allowed to smoke in restaurants, bars and public buildings but they don’t aggressively enforce that in the more rural areas. For awhile we were always running into this older couple who were always smoking cigarettes and a pipe. Even when walking the Camino. (They were not carrying packs.) When you’re wet, cold, tired and trying to get ready to walk another 15km you really don’t enjoy having smoke blown in your face. Or we’d get to the top of a long, steep climb and there they’d be in the one place you could sit and rest, puffing away–downwind.
  • Food is simple but good. We Americans love to add-on or accessorize our food. Whether it’s in the form of  hot sauce, spices, syrups, foams, sprinkles, coloring, etc. We like to make it our own and have it just the way we like it. In Spain, we never saw a bottle of hot sauce and if you wanted salt and pepper you had to ask for it, unless it was with the olive oil and vinegar for your salad. That’s right, there aren’t ten different salad dressings to choose from. Just oil and vinegar–why would you need anything else anyway? No mustard or mayonaise for your bocadillo. Just bread and jamon, and sometimes queso. No soy milk or hazelnut syrup for your latte. Just coffee and whole milk—and the biggest sugar packets ever. No artificial sweeteners, real sugar. I think it is so nice to have so many choices, but at the same time, it’s nice to not have to think about it. Why do we complicate things so much sometimes? It’s nice to go back to the basics every now and then. That said, I was happy to reunite with my Tapatio.

These were the observations that were top of mind. I’m sure I’ll remember more later on. I knew we were close to home when the man across the row from me on the plane starting coughing over the rows in front of him and not covering his mouth and immediately the flight attendant scolded him, “Sir, please cover your mouth!”. Ahhh…home sweet home.

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The spirit of The Camino lives on.

It’s now two days since we completed the Camino and I find myself missing a few things. It’s not the three course pilgrim menus, nor the questionably safe bunk beds in albergues. I miss the spirit. Sure I wrote about a lot of instances when good spirit was lacking but if you looked a little further you’d find it again. Maybe it was a familiar face that you walked with or met many towns before that said hello or asked how you were doing. Or a store owner who was proud to help pilgrims or point them in the right direction. A local that watched you pass and wished you a Buen Camino.

Whether you walked the Camino or not, we all look for the light or an air of good tidings that reminds you of the good in humanity not the selfish ‘every man for himself’ mentality. I am reminded that I may have to look a little harder to find the good at times. And to not get irritated at the little things, like 20 people rushing the door to get on a bus pushing people out of their way. That would be adults pushing others. Sigh.

I also miss the walking. Now I say this cautiously. I do not miss taping and treating my feet as a result of the walking. But I miss the fresh air and the movement. It must be the years of being trapped behind a computer. I hope I still can move like that when I’m 70 years old. I was so impressed by the strength of people much older than me.

Today we went to Finisterre “lands end”, which was a two hour bus ride from Santiago. This was our first time in a moving vehicle in over a month. The miracle of wheels. It was a perfect sunny day that was probably 80 degrees. We unfortunately forgot the sunscreen and got sunburned! Go figure, I was almost hypothermic a week ago.

After the bus dropped us off in town we hiked up the hill maybe 2-3km to el Faro (the lighthouse). Jonathan had matches and fire starters for our ceremonial boot burning. We took some photos and went down the hill behind the lighthouse which looked like a pilgrim’s belongings cemetery. Burned shoes. Abandoned shoes, clothing and bags. Even abandoned ladie’s underwear. Not really my symbolic choice for ending the Camino but…

I think I envisioned just singeing the boots some but Jonathan put in enough fire starter for a bonfire that could be seen across the Atlantic. One pilgrim had just finished burning his boots and came over to take pictures of ours. Soon we had quite a crowd.

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I felt a little guilty being so bad for the environment and all and put most of it out with my Aquarius drink. But then these two German girls (really, it’s comical at this point) jumped right in and put their socks right on top of our shoes that were smoldering trying to light theirs on fire. The fire that they just watched me try to put out. There was no exchange like “hello, can we add to?” or “nice fire” or “hey”. As far as they were concerned it was theirs. It was meant to be kind of a private moment but like moths to a flame. We ended up helping them while we waited for our shoes to cool so we could throw them away. I’m not sure if their socks ever fully burned but we left them.

It’s weird I didn’t think I would feel bad about burning those boots and tossing them but I do. A week ago they were the source of so much disdain and discomfort. I cursed them. But in the end I was grateful that they got me to the end. I think I felt like they had become a part of me. But as a pilgrim must learn on the Camino, we have to let go of such things.

Now a new pair of shoes await me. And a new chapter in life.

Tomorrow we are going to try the mass again. We went Saturday but they didn’t swing the botofumiero (the incense ball) that cleanses the pilgrims. I think they’ve done it at a few evening masses. I hope to see it. I will post more on that part later along with the Compostela and stamps.

We saw this RV parked near the edge of a cliff. I’m sure it was safe. Better be careful going out the door in the middle ofthe night.
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Someday came today.

I have a someday list. A list where wishes, dreams and aspirations go to die. Maybe you have your own someday list?

Someday I will:
• learn to play the violin
• finish that painting
• learn to speak Japanese
• create photo books of my travels
• hike Patagonia
• volunteer abroad
• run a 10k
walk the Camino de Santiago with Jonathan

Well, someday came today for the last one. I may not get to everything on my list but I know I can do anything I choose and dedicate myself to. I could not have finished the Camino successfully without Jonathan and his enduring spirit, compassion and patience. I am the luckiest woman to be married to him. It’s because of him and his first Camino experience that made me want to add this to my list in the first place. Of course Camino 1 could not be duplicated. This Camino did everything it could do to distinguish itself from Camino 1. Why the nerve…

I have to tally up the days but I think it was 34 days of walking. All of them in rain except maybe three. Coupled with painful feet and blisters the first three weeks, it was a tough adventure to love. While it was the hardest thing I’ve done in my life, I’m so glad that I did it. Now that it’s over, I can look back and reflect-and ponder over the good times. During…well you’ve probably read the blog.

Another pilgrim we met named Jay put it this way. He said that to understand the Camino to the fullest you need to be in it the good part of a month at least. He said it’s similar to the army.

The first part or week from St. Jean through the Pyrenees is tough physically. The camino breaks you down. You’re toughening your feet and strengthening your legs, etc. Long days of walking with blisters or bad knees and bad weather will take its toll.

The second or middle part through the Meseta is where you are pushed mentally. Walking mile after mile in a straight line with scenery that barely changes. You are in it and the end is still a ways away so you find yourself trying to mentally prepare for the second half hoping it will improve somehow.

The last stage is still a little bit of the first two but it’s mostly spiritual. You’ve made your peace with whatever you’ve been carrying emotionally or physically and you let it go. Like the rock on Cruz de Ferro. And now you are free to be welcomed into Santiago. Whether you’re religious or not, you can’t help but be humbled and moved by forces greater than yourself. All of which made themselves evident on the Camino. I have great respect for all those who triumphed to the end through the last month. I have an even greater sense of gratitude not only to my husband for helping me get here, but to be able to even have the opportunity to embark on such a journey.

As another reader mentioned, I have not fully conveyed my experience and observations yet so I will share more later. it’s off to get our Compostela and dinner with friends tonight!

No more ‘fixing feet’ in the morning! My feet ponied up the last week or two. So much better. Aside from the poor visual.

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Breaking records and taking names.

We heard on the news today that the sun today broke a rain record. It was the second coldest April and the eighth wettest since 1960 in Santiago. They were interviewing pilgrims that finished the Camino without having one day without rain. We feel you peregrinos. Yet we are pleased to announce our first full day without rain. I think it misted for a minute and was otherwise humid but no downpours or showers the whole day. It was even hot! We busted out the sunglasses and hat even. We hope it continues. We do see sun and warmer temps for Saturday and Sunday, which bodes well for a trip to Finisterre Sunday.

It’s amazing what a dry day will do. I cranked through the kilometers and wasn’t too beat up by the end of our 29km day. Thursday will be 19km and Friday will be 20km into Santiago. Woo woo!

We stayed at Hotel Benilde in Palas de Rei past night. It was a great find and I’d highly recommend it. The place was spotless. Being a dirty pilgrim, we tracked in a little mud and someone was cleaning it up five minutes later. The concierge was so friendly and spoke slowly enough for us to understand. He pointed out places to eat and the super mercado on a map and when the room was ready insisted on carrying my heavy pack to the room. Everyone was so nice.

Today was scenic with the sun and all the green rolling hills and little towns we’d pass through. We crossed a bunch of rivers and saw plenty of cows, horses, dogs and rude pilgrims. I think we have had our fill of mean people. How hard is it to muster an “hola” when someone says hello? Or do you have to scowl at people when walking by?

Jonathan and I are naturally fast walkers. This isn’t new to the Camino. Jonathan is even crazier because he’s one of those people that walks faster on the hills going up. I take the slow and steady approach, and I don’t mind that he zooms up the hills. He’s usually waiting at the top for me. We tend to pass a lot of people not because we want to race them but mostly because they just have a slower pace than us (or they’re smoking and we don’t want to breathe it).

An older German man caught up to me as I paused mid hill and pointed at Jonathan ahead and said, “speed is not good”. Not in a joking kind of way but in a matter of disapproval. Caught off guard, I just said that was his normal speed on hills. He walked by Jonathan a the top and said “speed is not alright” and walked past him. Was it really necessary to make such a comment? What if we said “your poor packing job is bad for your back?”. To each his own. Everyone is allowed their own approach to the Camino and should do what works for them. If it’s slack-packing (van transport of bags) or taking a taxi, so be it. There is no one right way.

In another instance today, we passed two more Germans (no love for the Germans today unfortunately) whom we’ve wished Buen Camino to before and received a harrumph in reply. We always pass anyone with a smile and hello or Buen Camino at least. These guys gave us the dirtiest looks. Then after we passed they sped up and walked right behind me as if they wanted to pass us out of spite. They eventually backed off. It was like road rage but on a hiking path. It was so odd.

Whatever. We try to look beyond the negative and mean people and embrace the true spirit of the Camino. We have met some really great people along the way. If you can’t find that spirit within on the Camino of all places, then best of luck to you in the world amigos.

I can’t believe the end is near! St. Jean seems so long ago and many of the days blur together. In spite of the oppressive weather and the weeks of horrible feet, I’m still glad we did this together. It has been unforgettable and pushed me well out of my comfort zone which I easily get stuck in. It has been a journey.

One I look forward to completing Friday and will post more on later. Thanks for all the well wishes and support along the way.

Pulpo and cathedral in Portomarin.
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Our first cafe con leche outside in partial sun! Day 33.

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Verde!

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Buen Camino!

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A little help from our friends.

This piece of paper is the only thing preventing pilgrims from hanging up their underwear and socks to dry on the fireplace.

FYI: this is in a bar.

do not place clothes here to dry

Gracias.

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Cows. Dogs. Hill. Repeat.

Galicia has an amazing air about itself. Eau de Vaca permeates every little village we walk through. I guess it just adds to the ambience. We do enjoy seeing these cows though. We say “hola” to pretty much every animal we see along the way.

Like Norman, the baby laying down. He was not amused by us taking pictures. Norman #2, we saw earlier (not as cute) wanted to walk with us to Santiago but his mother had other plans for him. Sorry Norm.
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The best was this one huge dog that stood and waited for us to walk into his town. He was white and had muddy paws that looked like boots. He continued to walk with us through the little town and thought he’d stop like most of them do, but he kept going. We tried ignoring him but he sped up ahead of us. He had done this before. We thought maybe he was escorting pilgrims to his hometown. About 20 minutes later he pauses and then trots on over to the side of the road where his buddy (another dog) was waiting for him. We thought it was a romance but the they were two males and were out playing together. They were so cute. It was just funny the other dog was sitting waiting for him.
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The day we walked to Sarria was really scenic and beautiful, even in the rain. Rolling green hills, cows grazing in pastures, and old stone houses. Sarria was an okay town. We probably didn’t see it in all it’s glory because it was Sunday and everything is closed. Lots of new pilgrims start here because it’s 100km from Santiago and that’s the minimum distance required to walk to get your Compostela. It’s definitely getting crowded and we are having to plan out where to stay the rest of the week. Big tour groups are booking up the albergues and hostels and we already met another pilgrim who’s been walking as long as us, get turned away because of this. Usually you can’t reserve spaces in albergues except private rooms so this really upset the guy who was there early and before the group.

It’s kind of frustrating for so many pilgrims who have been walking for so long and try to treat themselves at the end to a nicer albergue, hostel or hotel and they can’t because of the new groups. We see tons of taxis and bag carrying vans too. And it’s amusing to hear them talk about their hard day walking when they took a taxi over the hardest parts. But as our guidebook reminds us, we should try not to judge, or resent these new additions. As long as it goes both ways. the albergues get bigger this week and more new people who don’t respect others and know the etiquette encourages us to spend lots of time finding alternatives. Let’s just say that the concept of the inside voice is foreign to many Europeans.

Tonight we are in Portomarin. It was a hilly day of walking and both our shoes are hanging by a thread. There is little or no support anymore. Jonathan has his wrapped with duct tape. After O’Cebreiro, my joints have yet to fully recover. I can feel my legs shutting down. What should be easy days of walking are starting to drag and I’m having to increase ibuprofen intake.

Our nice hotel in Santiago, new clothes and shoes, burning the boots and the idea of not having to “fix my feet” every morning is motivating me to plug ahead. If we could, we’d run there.

Tomorrow we will be in Palas de Rei. We have 90-ish kilometers left!

Buen Camino

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Aseos: restroom guides. (Julia Roberts would be thrilled I’m sure)
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If I had a boat.

Welcome to Galicia.
Will you be continuing on via boat or Ark?

Just when you think you have the upper hand on the Camino and figured things out, someone lets you know otherwise. I really didn’t think it was possible, but we had our wettest day yet. I can’t comprehend how the clouds can hold so much rain.

We slept like a baby at an ACDC concert in La Faba and tried to leave early but it was too dark. We left around 720am under heavy rain. When you’re soaked 20 minutes in from starting you know it’s going to be a long day. It was about 5km to O’Cebreiro which is about 4300 feet in elevation. It was pretty steep over rocks and mud but we kept thinking still not as intense as St. Jean. Someone must of heard those thoughts because we got smacked down today.

We couldn’t see the amazing views from O’Cebreiro because of the fog and rain unfortunately. Instead we stopped for a coffee and toast and an attempt to dry out. The dry people that stayed there the night before did not look enthused to start their day after seeing us.

We left as the first wave from La Faba started to arrive. The rain just kept coming. A steady stream or river flowed down the path and when it stopped it left pools of mud. Our feet and shoes were so wet that water came out of our shoes with each step. After a while soap bubbles from the laundry detergent were foaming through even. There was no point in changing socks or clothes. I kept trying to rally mentally thinking I could power through 19 km more without stopping. Finally in Biduedo, about 6.6 km from Triacastela I had to stop. I was so worried that I wouldn’t be able to warm up since I was soaked and couldn’t change. We even were hit with snow pellets for a stretch. We went into the bar and I stood near the fireplace trying to thaw out. When I could feel my hands and arms we left. Into another downpour. I was so cold. This was the second other moment during the Camino that I seriously considered taking a taxi or bus. If one rolled by and opened the door I would’ve gladly jumped in. I can say now (warm and dry in the albergue) that I’m relieved I didn’t give in. It may be stubborn, it may not have been wise, but I’m determined to finish this sans automobile. I don’t know why that is so important to me but it is.

Maybe it was the fear of hypothermia, or the hot coffee we just had but I got a second wind and channeled the inner fuerte and finished that last 6.6km like nobody’s business. I usually don’t end the days with such vigor but I wanted off the mountain and out of the rain. At one point I yelled into the heavens for mercy. It then answered with more wind and rain.

About 2km from town the sun came out. I said that when we were close to or in Triacastela it would rain again. Sure enough it did. Today felt like It was kind of this cruel joke. I can relish the fact that we survived and were humbled by it all now. At about 11am today, not so much. I don’t know how Jonathan stayed so positive.

Anyway, with all that hullabaloo my feet weren’t that bad. It looked like I had been soaking in a bathtub all day but no new blisters. We have a private room in albergue Complexo Xacbeo. At the top floor with beautiful views of the mountains we are so grateful not to be in anymore. The rain stops and starts every 20 minutes. Each time I think that I’m so happy to be inside.

The good news is that we are now in Galicia which means: pulpo (octopus), caldo (galecian stew), lots of x’s and z’s, and that much closer to Santiago. Jonathan says the forecast in Santiago for this Thursday is sun and 80 degrees! We arrive on Friday so we’ll assume snow of course. No seriously. I expect sun and warm weather in Santiago or I’m asking for a refund.

We are going to venture out again for dinner and some supplies. Tomorrow is an easy 18km to Sarria. Even if the weather is like today, at least it will be short.

I didn’t take many pictures today mostly because I was afraid to take the phone out of the Baggie.

These are from our albergue. The sunny one lasted about five minutes. Most of the day looked like the cloudy one though.

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Seventh inning stretch.

Santiago de Compostela awaits us one week from today. We can’t wait either. Tonight we are sleeping at the German albergue in La Faba. Helmut, is the hospitalero here for three weeks and was a nice guy with his broken English. I think Jonathan and i are the only ones that aren’t German. I would guesstimate that over half of the pilgrims we have met have been German or Austrian. Who knew the Germans loved the Camino so much?

We are right next to this tiny church built in 1665. It was very dark inside but looks like it is still used regularly. The albergue holds 35 in one room and has one toilet and one shower each for men and the women. This should be interesting. We were one of the first to arrive and I got the first shower in the women’s bathroom thankfully. The sleeping room is spacious though and we are surrounded by trees listening to the rain come down. We’ve had a bad streak in regards to sleeping and tonight doesn’t leave me feeling optimistic either.
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It was a mostly easy walk today from Villafranca. Road walking on one side of a crash barrier most of the way. We walked through tiny hamlets where the sheep probably outnumbered the people. There are lots more cows, sheep, chickens and baby animals which make the day more entertaining. Some of the towns people must think we’re loons taking pictures of cows or baby chicks. They seem to roam wherever they want and the grass is thick and lush from all the rain so the living is easy.
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I do feel bad for the dogs and cats that sleep and live outside though. The dogs usually are limping and fur matted. They look cold and tired all the time. We saw three cats huddled together this morning who didn’t even flinch when we took their photo. “hola gatos!” Country living.

The last 3km into La Faba were steep and through mud. The rain was coming down and made it that much more challenging. Many people carried on to the remaining 4km to O’Cebreiro which was more of the challenging climb. I’m glad we split it up. Tomorrow we will be rested for the toughest part and will be “muy fuerte” (stronger). Maybe the rain will let up some. I won’t hold my breath.

We will be at the top early for coffee at least. We figured out Jonathan walked the Dragonte route (in green) last time which looked like a roller coaster of hilly fun. We took the flatter route. They are continually improving routes and alternatives so we didn’t have to suffer that mess today. Such a relief.
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Tomorrow we land in Tricastella where Jonathan “gave mass” the last Camino. Shouldn’t be too bad except
for a steep decline at the end. After that the walking is pretty easy. My feet are doing great. Still mutant looking, but mobile at least!

Leaving Villafranca early.
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Someone told me that there is a Japanese pilgrim that makes and leaves behind origami everywhere he stays. This was one of the most impressive ones.
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Not sure what “the human condition is too legit” means but we like the continued MC Hammer references on the Camino. Too legit to quit!
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It’s raining trout.

I’m not sure there was much of a difference between the floor and the hotel bed we slept on last night. I woke up sore and fatigued from tossing and turning.

We made our way out of Ponferada and walked through lots of vineyards and busy roads. Some merlot vines all looking incredibly old.
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It was humid and misty most of the day and then the last 8km it was a downpour. We walked into Villafranca de Bierzo past two albergues to get to one that was advertised in our book and on the trail. Viña Fermita apparently burned to the ground in February, so staying there would’ve been a challenge. The last albergue on the way out of town “Albergue Piedra” was open and took us in. It was only 5 euro more for a private room too. We unloaded all our stinky laundry here which was nice. I always feel bad that they have to actually touch it but figure they are used to it. This place has a golden lab, named Conan too so I’m sure that adds extra points for charm. Jonathan discovered Conan enjoys burnt toast. What a barbarian.

It’s a cute town, from what we saw during the downpour nestled in the mountain valley. We had lunch up the street in a nicer restaurant. I was wearing the random clean “summer” clothes so I looked kind of silly but people don’t expect much from pilgrims.

I had the “trucha” or trout. I didn’t expect I would be served two! It was really good though.

Tomorrow hopefully dries out some as we head partway up the mountain to O’Cebreiro. Until then…I will nap.

Buen Camino!

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What goes up, must come down.

We left Foncebadon under a blanket of thick fog this morning. The hospitalero said we should take the carretera (road) instead of the Camino path because it would be too wet. We walked the 2-ish kilometers to the Cruces de Ferro where pilgrims ceremoniously (or not) leave behind their rock. No one was there for a few minutes and we took photos and I said my goodbyes to that rock from St. Jean.

Quite different from the blue skied and sunny version from Jonathan’s first Camino but I thought it was kind of cool.

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At the summit looking through the fog at snow covered peaks. I think we were at about 5000 feet and getting ready for the descent. It reminded me a lot of Colorado.
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We walked through a really small village of Manjarin, that looked abandoned except for the cat that jumped from the hill and led us to a little pilgrim stop by the road. It was funny, he kept looking behind to see if we were following him. We admired the craziness but continued on when three dogs appeared to defend the manor.

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We left earlier than most so we didn’t see anyone for much of the day aside from some interesting “characters” walking the opposite direction. There are some pretty odd people out here. It was most of the day going down steep hills with lots of rocks. Murder on the knees and smushed toes but we made it to Ponferada eventually. We rested some and I felt good enough to tour the Templar castle down the street. It reminded me of some of the Legos my nephews would build. It just blows my mind that it still stands (restored) from the 12th century. What from my generation will still stand hundreds of years from now?

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This is what no makeup, hairstyling and post 27km looks like. Party time.
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We saw lots of these huge round rocks inside the castle. Probably used for lawn bowling or other recreational activities I’m sure.
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Tomorrow it’s a light 24ish km day to Villafranca and the weather should be decent. Feet still holding. After Fridays O’cebreiero push the days will be easier and hopefully smooth sailing putting us in Santiago a week from Friday. The party will be on!

Like this guy:

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Buen Camino!

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Pony yoga.

Have you ever seen a pony do downward dog (yoga pose)? I now have and feel life is complete. Unfortunately, ye olde iPhone was not holstered and ready to capture the little pony in action. Instead you get to see the pony post yoga. Doesn’t he look relaxed? He must have yawned five times while we took pictures. It was early and he is Spanish after all. He was very friendly much to our past pony knowledge. (cough~Tony the Pony).
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We left Astorga before the town awoke- well rested again and ready to dominate the Camino to Foncebadon 27km away. We walked past Gaudi’s Palacia y museo de Camino on the way out of town. It would’ve been nice to tour inside but my feet were being high maintenance the day before. I really love Gaudi’s architecture and creativity.
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It was really cold this morning–I think I saw 2 degrees Celsius as we left town. Even some puddles had frozen over. We made our way past the pony into the town of Murias de Rechivaldo. It was small and charming. We stopped at this woman’s bar and cafe for a cafe con leche. She really put some effort into the place. There were fresh lilacs in the corner and tons of food options beautifully displayed. Music played over the speakers even. Many cafes we stumble into at 8 or 830am (if any are open) barely have a packaged croissant available. I was impressed and she obviously took pride in her business and serving pilgrims. They even had rice milk and chocolate rice milk. Perfect for my nephew Jack!
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We walked upwards into the hills and into fog which blanketed us for a couple hours. It wasn’t too bad though. I think we missed some vistas but it was kind of a mystical feeling. The path was nice and mostly smooth most of today too. Thanks Murry! I’m really enjoying the change in scenery from the first few weeks. Stone ruins of 12th century villages, trees and new flowers. We also are getting more vegetables as we near Galecia.
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And the highlight today is for Grandpa Wally. We found the first cowboy bar on the Camino. It was in a “town” called Ganso. The owner was friendly enough even though he slightly mocked us when we asked for a fork for our empanadas. “Usa los manos!” motioning to us to use our hands. We didn’t stay long because outside was warmer but we sat by his nice fireplace. I’m sure he has some stories to tell. Judging by the memorabilia on the walls I think many caballeros have stopped by this watering hole. Our friend Judith said a pilgrim had asked for a shot of brandy and the owner gave a generous pour that filled up an entire glass!

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We weaved our way through the hills, past Rabanal and up some steeper climbs that gave views to the snow covered mountains across the valley. We are at about 4700 feet and it started to snow flurry about 1km away from Foncebadon where we planned to end our day. Foncebadon is an abandoned 12th century village that is on the rebound thanks to the Camino. There are three or four albergues here and that’s about it. Keeping with the sleeping trend, we went for another private room in the Convento which is one of the newer structures. Totally fine and clean with our own bathroom. We went a few doors up the street to another albergue that advertised vegetarian meals. That’s where we ran into Judith again. She raved about lunch so we ate there. Best salad of the Camino, with real vegetables and even sprouts! We also had a great vegetable soup that went over a paella type dish. They topped it off with some freshly shaved jamón and chorizo and queso. With wine and bread we were set. While we sat there we watched pilgrim after pilgrim check in. It was definitely the place to stay. They filled up and had to start turning pilgrims away. Judith went to her 20 euro hour long massage and we retreated back to our room for siesta.

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The town dog LeElla wanted to escort us back. She was this big gentle dog. Jonathan of course tried to get her to pose with him for a picture but she got tired and laid down.

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My feet held out today-better than Astorga. Tomorrow is another 27km to Ponferrada, a medieval city where there is a Templar castle which looks pretty impressive. About 2km out of Foncebadon is the Cruce de Ferro- the monument with the big pole and the mound of rocks. This is where we become an ounce lighter as we leave behind the rock we’ve been carrying since St. Jean. It’s good we will see it early and hopefully before the tour buses get there.

Staying warm until then!
Buen Camino!

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Astorga. What took you so long?

We left Villar de Mazarife early this morning. Our fellow newbie pilgrims don’t quite know albergue protocol and for some reason were getting up every hour it seemed through the night. We get up earlier than most so we try to jam everything into our bags the night before so we can pack in another room without disturbing too much. We also use headlamps. The newbies? They just turn on the overhead lights on their side of the room while talking at normal levels, or not closing the bathroom doors while people are still sleeping. Again, newbs.

At least we had a nice vegetarian paella dinner the night before with them.
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Anyway, with clear skies finally, we didn’t mind too much. It was dark when we left but the sun quickly rose.

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Since we slept so poorly we never really hit our stride today. And right on queue, someone added in the dreaded potato rocks the last 7 km with some hills. After 31km the road into Astorga was long and slow.

Before Astorga we walked over a 13th century bridge that the Templars defended ruthlessly via duels (on horse). They have the dueling posts and stands next to it (non original I’m assuming).

Here’s Jonathan taking a quick pose. Please note, sun and sunglasses. We even got a little sunburned today.
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Unfortunately, my feet were too tired for me to explore Astorga. We will see one of Gaudi’s buildings on the way out tomorrow morning as we venture 27km to Foncebadon.

About 6km before Astorga these hippy looking guys had set up a nice little refreshment stand. They called it La Casa de Los Dioses or (house of the gods). We didn’t get their story but it looked like they were living in this abandoned house. They set up a stove outside and had two couches and tapestries arranged under a tree. I was having Boulder flashbacks for a minute. But they had this little cart that had the most elaborate health food display I have seen since being in Spain. Maybe 15 different fruit juices, cashew and nut butters, muesli, fruit, etc. They said to have anything we wanted and to leave a donation if inclined. We didn’t feel like lingering too long so we just had some juice and dropped a couple euros. It was interesting and nice for the pilgrims.

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Oh, hello stranger.

What is that bright thing in the sky? Hello sun!

We left Leon behind and masses of new peregrinos joined us today. Shiny new boots, spotless clothing, wearing shorts, smelling nice and happy to start their Camino with an easy day of sun and partly cloudy weather. Newbs. Leon is a common starting point for those who can only take two weeks off. We welcome them as long as they keep bringing the sun.

We’ll try not to scare them away with our horror stories of the first half. I am optimistic. I don’t want to jinx anything but I’m hoping we have turned the corner. No new blisters and just tending to old ones.

We had a nice lunch at Tio Pepe “in town” and watched everyone come out of church and wander into the bar for a drink and “racione” or small bite before lunch. Back to the albergue after this where we siesta and prepare for our 31km day into Astorga.

I think they build these churches just for the storks. There are always these huge nests on top of them. They are quite impressive.

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110km/hr winds. Enough said.

9km left to go from here. Cafe con leche with the wind zombies.

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Small squall.

Oh Camino. You make it hard to love you.

We enjoyed our two days of sun but we didn’t think we’d have to pay for it with 110km+/hr winds all day. As I sit in our albergue room the wind is blowing the curtain over the closed window and the wind coming through the vents sounds like a Van Halen song. The wind is so strong that I expect to wake up to planks of the roof being pulled off or a window blown out. Thankfully, this construction is somewhat new and I’m trying not to worry too much. I’m sure this has happened before.

Albergue Los Templarios is a haven just before you enter the town of Terradillos de Los Templarios. There were few places to stop over the 27km we walked today. We walked head on against the wind all day except for maybe 3km. I was using the pole to keep me from blowing off the road-literally. I would start on the left side and with one step I’d get blown all the way to the right before I jabbed my pole into the ground. If it wasn’t so windy I would’ve stopped to take a photo of people walking ahead of me. It looked like one of those optical illusions where the road is flat but you are actually standing at an angle. Only, it wasn’t optical trickery. No one escaped the wind today. We stopped maybe 5 minutes so I could MacGuyver a strap across my pack cover so it wouldn’t blow away.

We then stopped about 17km in at a bar/hostel for a coffee and wind refuge. Everyone was beat down by the previous three hours. This picture was taken while we sat there and watched their chairs blow down the street. As we were leaving we saw two beautiful white horses roll up with two peregrinos (maybe?). They were suited up with sleeping gear. The horses did not look thrilled but I think they had a little break. I wanted to ask for a ride.

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The upside to the fierce wind was that it distracted me from my feet. I didn’t change socks or take off shoes once all day. The threat of being blown off the planet encouraged me to keep a pretty swift pace even against the wind and we finished by 130pm which is early by my standards.

As we sat in the common room with other pilgrims and the fireplace we watched some of the news that reported winds of 113-153km/hr!! It’s still going too. We even saw a plane landing with its nose angled at a 45 degree angle. At least we got most of the rain near the end.

This has been our Camino. Rain, snow, hail, wind, mud, freezing temperatures, blisters and colds. A hard one to love but hard to forget I guess. Jonathan blames me since all he remembers of his first Camino is wearing shorts everyday, sunburns, friendly people, and walking long distances.

If you were ever considering walking the Camino hopefully you stopped reading this blog on day two.

Either way, we continue on. A mad woman’s quest to finish what she started. Why we push ourselves to our limits I can’t tell you, but maybe it’s a twisted way of trying to prove to your body that your mind is stronger, even though we know that isn’t necessarily true.

Tomorrow we have another 27km day to Calzadilla de Los Hermanillos. I wish it was a bit fairer outside because we could visit the church in town. I don’t think we’ll be getting a respite from the weather anytime soon. Another pilgrim emailed us since they bussed ahead and are where we’ll be in about a week. She said it’s freezing cold. I think we’ll have to start wearing our sleeping bags.

If you were looking for a dairy cow, Sudoku seems like a winner.

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We have officially made it to our halfway point to Santiago. I think it’s another 390 kilometers. So take that Camino!

Think happy little clouds, sunshine and ponies for the second half for us.

Ready for the Buen Camino.

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Senda on our way.

It’s a siesta not quite a fiesta here in Carrión de Los Condes. 26.5 km and I actually kept a decent pace thanks to the super flat Senda and good weather. Until the last 7km that is. My witching hour, when my feet try to take off early and call it a day. I think my pace is cut in half at this point. But this morning I was cruising! We even had time to rest in a town square for a while in the sun.

Last night we stayed in the big albergue in Boadilla. It even had a pool. Had it not been 45 or 50 degrees and crazy winds it might have been open. Most people stopped here instead of going on another 6km to Fromista. It was family run and you could tell how much they actually enjoyed running the place.

It was packed. After a rough start and many stops along the way from Hontanas, it was a grueling slog into Boadilla. Nothing seemed to be going right and I was in agony most of the day. I barely remember looking up much because I was doing the dance around these potato sized rocks that just are murder on your feet. Combined with a steep 12% climb up this hill and an 18% descent my feet were “hamburger” as Jonathan refers to them by day’s end.

So after spending a few hours resting we came down to the comedor for the pilgrim feeding. It was family style and we sat next to some familiar faces from towns prior which was nice. We even attempted conversation with this Korean couple that didn’t speak Spanish or English. It involved a lot of hand gestures but they were nice. Jonathan wowed them with his two sayings, ‘bring me a beer please’ and ‘i love you’.

We had garlic soup and a lentil soup. The second course was either fish or beef stew. And helado, or ice cream for dessert. Jonathan and I have decided to become vegetarian when we get home. You know we’re eating lots of meat and bread when Jonathan is looking forward to a kale smoothie.

Yesterday was a rough one. It seemed everyone was having a great time and walking with ease in comparison to me. People twice my age were passing me and people commented on how wonderful the journey was. Meanwhile I was seeing dark clouds and wincing with each step, ending the day in tears. I felt defeated and was imagining buses in my future. When is enough enough? My feet are clearly not made for this and it the hope that they would improve enough to moderate levels of discomfort seems unlikely.

We talked about options but agreed I was too emotional and tired to make any big decisions. We decided to shift some of my bag weight into Jonathan’s pack. I can’t say enough about what a trooper my husband is. From waiting on me and always being so patient to always putting my needs before his. Even when he, himself, is feeling under the weather. I’m so lucky to have him.

I had many conversations with God yesterday and I asked for some guidance to how or if we should continue on. After today’s success and beauty I actually could enjoy I know to push on further. This can change tomorrow for all I know, but one thing the Camjno has taught me is to live more in the present. I can’t control everything. Put one foot in front of the other. Repeat.

So that’s what we’re going to do. Tomorrow is another 26.8km day to Terradillos de Los Templarios. No stops for 17k which will be rough. Where does one make a pit stop on the Meseta with no trees or bushes in heavy pilgrim traffic? We’ll find out. Stay tuned.

A hostel along the way. They had Bob Marley paintings, five dogs and teepees you could sleep in. Welcome to the Camino.
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This pumpkin was belted to a post in a
Bar/cafe in CastroJerriz. The owner was wearing an orange sweater so there must be a story there.
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At the top of the 12% climb looking back. Applause in the background.
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Lunch typico. Bocadillo and Aquarius. Flat family as honored guests.
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Sun leaving Boadilla!
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