Saturday, October 24, 2009

Saturday in Santiago- Finisterre

It´s rainy ( again) dismal, and dark at 8:30am. I´m looking over the map of Santiago and notice the bus station. Tour buses don´t run to Finisterre on Saturday, but maybe the regular bus does. I check with the concierge, and sure enough, they do ( much cheaper too). I grab my camera, water bottle, leftover pizza from last night and catch a city bus out to the bus staion. By 10am. I´m on my way to Finisterre.

I meet Maria (Austria) on the bus, and we grab some tea and then I follow her to the Ligthouse at Finisterre. We are together only a short time, her foot is slow. I walk on ahead of her in the fog, wind and spitting rain.

A car slows just to tell me I´m heading in the right direction. Some others are returning from the lighthouse and tell me I´m only 10 minutes away. Another car slows down, window rolled down, it´s Ron (Florida). He´s looking for the lighthouse too. I get in his rental car (out of the rain) and we find the lighthouse just a few minutes down the road.

It´s a bit disappointing, it´s so foggy you can´t even see the ocean. We go inside and look at pictures and get an idea of how beautiful the spot is in clear weather.

Ron is heading up the coast a bit further (to Muxia) so I go along with him. This is supposed to be where St. James landed by boat. We stop in for soup at a cafe, but never find exactly what he was looking for. We had a great talk on the way back to Santiago about what the Camino meant to us, he also shares a little more with me about his son who died in May. I was glad to meet up with him again. He dropped me back at my hotel about the same time the bus would have been leaving Finisterre- now I have time to hook back up with Sally and Katie, maybe for dinner tonight. Just when I thought my Camino was over, another experience. It turned out being a pleasant day, even with all the rain and fog.

I catch my train to Madrid tomorrow- looking forward to being home...


Friday, October 23, 2009

Thursday in Santiago

The finality of my pilgrimage begins to hit as I check into my hotel room and slip the key card into to door, click... the door closing on my journey. And yet, I feel it doesn´t have to be the end, but only the beginning. The beginning of stepping out of the box (more often), taking a leap of faith, doing something out of the ordinary. When one door closes, another opens.

Many people, once they reach Santiago, go on to Finisterre. In medieval times, it was considered the end of the world. Written on a rock, at Finisterre, you will find these words; ¨I will go beyond what dreams can reveal´.¨ Imagine, going even beyond your dreams!

I hope you have had a glimpse of what I have seen and experienced. Thank you for following along, looking forward to seeing you all.

btw, one advantage of all this weight bearing exercise is that I have probably put off any signs of osteoporosis for at least another 20 years!

See you soon...

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Monte del Gozo to Santiago de Compostela

A quick correction on the Albergue ( compound) it is actually much bigger than I thought. 22 buildings each housing at least 150 pilgrims. It isn´t anywhere near full,I think only two building are full of pilgrims right now.

I´m happy to be packing my sleeping bag for the last time this morning.. a hotel for the last few days is on the horizon for me!

Everyone in my room is up very early today, so I am too. I leave much earlier than expected (7:30) and stop at a cafe for breakfast.

It isn´t long before I am walking over a bridge with speeding highway traffic below. I think this is a subtle reminder for me to not get caught up in the craziness of life when I return home, but to live in the moment of each day, every day.

The approach to Santiago is a little disappointing, so many buildings that you really can´t get a panoramic view of the cathedral. I´m here, at the end, but not quite sure if I´m really in the right place. I walk around a little, trying to figure out where to go to get my offical certificate ( written in Latin). I find two pilgrims who speak English and they point me in the right direction.

Two women begin following me, I sense they are not pilgrims, yet they also want to go to the credentialing office. As we climb the steps they tell me they are journalists, doing a story on the Camino. Now, I must backtrack a little to last night when I checked into the Albergue... Manuel checks me in and sees I am from the United States, and tells me that some Journalists, from Chicago just interviewed him for a story and went on to Santiago. They are looking for more Americans to interview ( there are very few on the Camino) He gives me the woman´s name and tells me where she is staying. I laugh to myself, even if I wanted to find them in Santiago, there is no way that I ever would.

So, as serendipity would have it, the two women who follow me into the office are part of the same group who interviewed Manuel. When they find out that I am American, AND from Champaign, they are thrilled. They follow me in to get my papers, take my picture, get my email and will be in touch. One of the women used to work for the Chicago tribune. She said she isn´t sure yet where the story will end up. I still can´t believe our paths crossed!

The pilgrim´s mass was packed, I´m guessing 1000 people, maybe. It was nice to see so many people I had met along the way, and disappointing to not see others ( I haven´t seen Sally or Katie yet). I think I´ll go each day (at noon) to see if any of the people I have met, come in the next few days while I am here.

This is getting long today, and so much more to say. I think I´ll save some posting for tomorrow.

Until next time...

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Arca to Monte del Gozo

It starts raining at 5am and continues until about 7. I don´t mind, I´m under a nice warm blanket! It´s cloudy, but not raining after I have tea and start out on the path. It´s a quiet and cloudy morning and there are pilgims within sight in front and behind me all morning.

I manage to get only a few sprinkles of rain, and duck into a bar just as the rain picks up. By the time I finish with lunch, the sun is trying to peek out from under the clouds.

I make it to the Albergue in de Gozo just as it begins to rain again. I´m now only 4.5km from Santiago. The Albergue is set up in the style of barracks and seem to be pretty clean. There are several buildings able to house 300 or more.

As promised: Why people walk the Camino.

First, I´ll list the reasons I have heard so far.
(assume you see quotation marks, I can´t get it to work on this Spanish keyboard)

-I felt compelled
-I´m recently single and want to move to another state, walking to figure out where
-I just quit my job, what do I want to do now ( I heard this on more than one occasion)
-I just turned 50, my kids are all out of the house, what am I going to do with the next portion of my life
-For solitude
-Respite from spouse who has been ill for four years
-To come to terms with my past
-Life is too busy, it´s giving me time to slow down and think
-I just retired and want to do something else, walking to figure it out

I was sitting on the church steps in Portomarin when I had this conversation with a gentleman from Florida:
-I just lost my son (one of two) 5 months ago, I´m walking for him, lighting 100 candles in churches along the way.
This last one really stuck with me, I was celebrating my son´s wedding 5 months ago and gained a daughter, and this man lost his son. My heart went out to him. I can´t imagine what his walking must be like.

Some people, I think, know exactly why they are walking the Camino. Others feel compelled to do it, not fully understanding the reasons, but it becomes clear (or clearer) as they walk. And then, I think there are those who walk, and after they have completed their journey, the reasons start to emerge, maybe a week, months, or even years later.

So, those are just a few reasons people come to Spain for this journey.

Until next time...

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Ribadiso to Pedrouzo/Arca

The reasons for doing the Camino do not come up with everyone, but a lot of people ask each other. It´s very interesting to hear their reasons... Maybe tomorrow I´ll post about it.

last night was very cold-no heat in the Albergue. I curl up as tight as I can in my sleeping bag with my fleece jacket on top. Every time I move the warmth leaves me. So, I try to be still, it is a very long night.

It starts raining about midnight and continues on till about 7 this morning. There´s just barely a drizzle when I leave the Albergue at 8am, but I still cover up with rain jacket, pants and put my backpack cover on.

Light rain off and on all day, which isn´t too noticeable since I´m walking in a wooded area most of the morning. Then the rain picks up-while I´m out in the open, and we have a really good down pour. I finally find a sizeable tree to hide under during the heaviest part of the rain, then it´s back on the path.

I stop in at a bar for tea and something to eat, and while I´m eating the sun comes out (for the remainder of my walk).

Once again, I go farther than planned. 3.5km before my actual stopping point there is a sign for an Albergue. The path to it, is a tunnel which is covered in mud and water, so I must go on to Arca. The Albergue is very well equipped, my clothes are in the washing machine right now. There is also a nice warm blanket on my bunk- I´m looking forward to a warm night´s sleep!

I´m only 21km from Santiago, but I´m not planning on arriving until Thurdsay.

Until next time...

Monday, October 19, 2009

Palas de Rei to Ribadiso

I rested all afternoon yesterday and evening so my ankle/tendon feels fine today.

I walk out of the city with Carlos (Germany). We walk about 30 minutes together and he wants to take it slow today, so I walk on ahead of him, not going much faster.

I heard Marriane and Annaliegh (South Africa) talking this morning about transporting their packs on ahead, and walking without them. It sounded tempting, but somehow, I felt it would be cheating (for me). I´ve walked this far with my pack, I might as well finish the last 3-4 days with it as well.

I stop in Melide at a local supermarket (pasta sauce) and pharmacy (more ibuprofen, just in case). I also stop in at an internet cafe, that is for pilgrims (the first like it that I´ve seen) to check the weather for the next few days. Unfortunately, none of the small villages are recognized by , oh well.

I get to Ribadiso about 3pm, and stay at an Albergue that is located in a scenic spot by the river ( A converted pilgrim hospital). The walls are made of stone, the showers open air, which makes it a little breezy now that the wind has picked up. It´s definately going to rain. I was planning to make pasta tonight, but the kitchen looks ancient. It may be dinner at the bar, just steps away from the Albergue.

When I was reading on-line, preparing for this trip,it was mentioned several times that a walking stick was a good idea, for stability, but also for keeping dogs at a distance. Interestingly enough, I´ve passed numerous dogs, most German Shepherds, and haven´t felt threatened by any of them. I think it´s the cows you have to worry about!

23km today, I didn´t plan on walking that many (again). Tomorrow, though, 10 or less.

Until next time...

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Portomarin to Palas de Rei

The river at Portomarin is very interesting. Someone told me it covers ruins of an ancient city. I could see some of the ruins as I crossed the bridge, but didn´t know at the time what I was looking at.

How do I feel about the last 100km? My body is saying ÿippie¨, my soul is saying; ¨what an incredible journey, I will be sad to see it end¨. I get tired from walking, but I never tire of walking. It´s not that I won´t be excited to see my family and friends, it´s ... kind of hard to explain. Every person I have talked to, who has been on their last day, has had tears in their eyes, emotional, that their pilgrimage is soon to be over. Hard to understand maybe, if you haven´t experienced it. (More in another post about why people walk the Camino)

Sunday: It´s foggy. I don my rain jacket and cover my pack with a rain cover, just in case. The air is filled with moisture and there isn´t much scenery visible, due to the fog. My hair is wet with dew just like the plants I´m passing along the way. With my green pack cover, I look like a walking plant!

After 2 hours of walking, I think the fog begins to clear. Actually, I´ve climbed in elevation and walked out of the fog.

I was so rattled by the cows yesterday, I forgot to write about the most enjoyable part of the day. I was walking along a path lined on both sides with a stone wall and greenery. The path was shaded by a canopy of trees. It sounded like I was walking through a bird sanctuary, and they were putting on a private concert just for me. (no ipod needed!)

I´m feeling great as I walk today, until I reach 17km. I plan to stop at the next town 3.5km away, however, the Albergue was closed for the season. I must walk on 4km more to Palas de Rei. I pass Marriana and Annaleigh (only because they are sitting down) they notice that I´m walking very slowly, obviously in pain. We meet at the Albergue and end up being in the same room. They take great care of me with icy-hot, codeine, and ibuprofen. They even put in my laundry with their own. ( Ït´s like having your mother take care of you!) What a wonderful help! It´s probably tendonitis, ibuprofen should take care of it.

More thoughts on burdens/packs:
I was laughing to myself today when I thought about what I must have looked like (when I fell) lying on my back unable to move. Much like a turtle that has been flipped on it´s back. You can picture that, right? It didn´t even occur to me, at the time, that I could just undo my pack, leave it on the ground, and get up! No, I had to keep it strapped on. It also occured to me that when we carry burdens, it´s so much more likely that we will fall ( and fall hard) when we stumble. If I hadn´t had my pack on my back the other day, my guess is, I would have stumbled, but not fallen to the ground. Just food for thought.

I´d like to take it easy tomorrow (for my ankle), but they´re calling for rain tues-thurs. So, I´m tempted to cover as much ground as possible before the rain hits. We´ll see....

Until next time...