2014 Walking the Way

Day 28 and 29:Transitions Days on the Way Molinesca to O’Cebriero 58K

We were both beat from our descent from the mountains of the day before. Neither of us had slept very well but we were glad to have had the room for five to ourselves. Today we had a slower morning as we were going to take a taxi to the next town’s train station to get Lil’s return to Madrid train ticket. 

After a very good breakfast of bacon and eggs the taxi picked us up and we sailed past pilgrims making their way to Ponforata and beyond. As the walk was suburbs and city we weren’t too disappointed to be missing this part of the Camino. 

At the train station we had no difficulty in getting the ticket and in fact got the ticket on promotion saving about $50.00 US. From there we found our way back to the Camino without having to back track through town. It took asking directions from a number of people but we eventually made our way back to the Way. 

The rest of the day we walked through one town after another, though it felt like one continuous suburb of Ponforata. It was perhaps the most non-descript day yet of the way. We decided to call it transition day because we were transitioning from the Maseta to Galacia: we had left one but had not yet reached the other. 

It was a challenging walk for me because I was both uncomfortable within and without. I was having a bout of “stinking thinking” as Lilly-Barb calls it and my right foot was bothering me. I’m sure the one was connected to the other but I couldn’t shake either. 

It was an alternate reality day too. While there were a number of pilgrims who had been walking the day before, from the time we left Ponforata until we arrived at Villafranca that evening we never saw any pilgrims walking while we were, with the exceptions of those times when we were stopped for a break in a village or town, when we would see them streaming by in waves. 

The last 5K of the walk we finally left the road and were back on the dirt country paths we love so well. However, today the beautiful summer weather we had been enjoying on the Mesata began to change. It’d been cloudy, windy and muggy all day. When we turned off the road it began to storm. We thought we were going to be caught in a tornado the skies looked so ominous. We donned our rain gear, something we hadn’t used for almost a month, and took off into the artic blast of wind and cold air that swept down upon us. 

The path too changed, after weeks of relatively flat terrain we were once again in the ups and downs in the foot hills of the mountains of Galacia. Though unused to climbing hills (other than the gradual climb of the few days before) we soon felt invigorated and enlivened by the challenges of the trek and the weather. It was as if our sleepy summer walk was being swept aside and we were being awoken to the vigors that lay ahead.

The best defense is a good offense and having rain pants and poncho on seemed to appease the weather gods. Rather than being blasted by hail and pelting rain we only had intermittent showers with sun breaks to soften the journey. By 5:00 we were in sight of Villafranca our destination and only then did we again see pilgrims again who had been mysteriously absent all day. 

Our lodgings were on the main square and we were grateful to have them. It seems these towns are busy with pilgrims and getting a spot is not assured. We had a comfortable room with bath attached. I took a two hour nap while Lilly bathed and washed clothes. The naps are so wonderful. I love them almost more than anything else. I always feel a rejuvenation occur that is near miraculous. 

The hotel receptionist had recommended a local restaurant and we headed there around 8:30. We’ve gotten used to eating on a continental schedule. The establishment was warm and welcoming and the proprietor friendly. We had a great goat cheese salad and grilled vegetables. We decided to be brave and tried Octopus, specialty of the region. However, when it arrived neither of us had the heart to eat more than a taste. This being my fault for telling Lil that, unlike squid which have little native intelligence, Octopi are highly intelligent creatures and the thought of eating one of these beautiful beings ended up being our undoing. Ironically the waiter had misunderstood us when we ordered and given us a double helping. He seemed disappointed when we left most of the dish uneaten. 

Once back at the hotel I took a bath but sadly the water was lukewarm and soon abandoned that for a quick shower. Funny to have two nights without hot water. The unspoiling of Will and Lil on the Way. 

Despite my great nap I was still tired and decided to forgo writing the blog last night. I knew we had long 31K hike today, the last 7K of which was going to be all uphill, and I wanted to be as rested a possible. 

By 11:00 I was abed and soon asleep. 

Part 2: 

Slept well last night. Woke up rested and refreshed. My foot didn’t hurt and my inner self was content. By 7:15 we left the Posada and had a coffee at a cafe/bar on the square. There were a number of other pilgrims there too and when we headed out of town we were part of a pilgrim wave. 

There were three possible routes we could have taken today, each more challenging than the previous. Perhaps at another time we might have chosen one of harder paths, but today we went for the easiest. It followed the highway to one side and a flowing river to the other. It was flat and easy walking. We passed through a number of little villages, some doing better economically than others. We made good time averaging about 4K per hour including our breaks for breakfast and lunch. 

We stopped for lunch around 1:00 and as it had been raining on and off all morning, we opted for eating inside a cafe. They advertised lentil soup and it sounded perfect for this cool wet day. I had a bowl that was delicious. Not only a bowl but a whole pot that I shared with Lil, who was busy making us tuna and avacado cracker sandwiches. We both had fresh squeezed orange juice too, a treat we have recently discovered. 

The meal set us up for the last long climb. The morning had begun cold and the weather promised rain showers all day. We spent the first part of the walk taking off and putting on our ponchos and rain pants for it would rain and then it would be sunny for a while. As we climbed the last ascent we kept the rain gear on for it did continue to rain periodically but by the day’s end I was wetter due to sweating than the rain itself. 

The climb took us up and up and up. Soon we were having amazing views of verdant valleys below. This land of Galacia shares roots with other Celtic lands, the topography looks like Ireland or Scotland, wild and free. Such a contrast to the dry flat land we had come from. The hike itself was very challenging, giving us a great cardio workout. 

While my foot was holding out well, Lil’s wasn’t and it had been bothering her all day. She had a couple of times during the hike up to O’Cebriero that she questioned her ability to continue up to the top. However, she felt she had no choice but to find the inner reserves to persevere and complete the hike, which she did. 

When we arrived here it was 4:15 and we’d completed the last 30K day for the remainder of this Camino. With 8 days to go we have no more than 20K to walk on any day ahead. The village was packed with pilgrims, many looking for a place to sleep. Fortunately the night before Lilly had received wonderful help from the hotel receptionist in getting us the last room available at a Casa Rual here in O’Cerbriero. We were so beat and tired that if we hadn’t a place to crash in peace we would have been in a bad way. 

We settled into our room as we have done now for a month, our routine of unpacking, bathing, washing, stretching, napping. The temperature was in the high 30’s, with a damp wet in the air. I took a long hot shower, which felt wonderful after not having one for a few days. Then I realized I was in need of a nap which I took, waking feeling refreshed and happy. 

By now it was time to go to dinner in the dining room adjacent to the bar/cafe where we’d checked in. There were few people when we arrived but it gradually filled up with pilgrims in the village. We both had the local specialty Galacian soup made with greens, potatoes and white beans: simply delicious! The bread, which we have been avoiding, was so appealing in its hearty way that we had some too. For our main meal I had fried eggs, bacon and fries, while Lil had fried local trout. Both were yummy. For dessert we had Santiago cake made with almonds, another local specialty. 

We now had nine days left to reach Santiago by Wednesday, May 28th giving us a day to spare before Lilly-Barb departed on Friday for Madrid and back to the US on the 31st. As we had an extra day we decided to stay here at O’Cebriero and have a rest day tomorrow to regroup before making the last week’s trek to Santiago. Lil’s foot needed a rest from walking and we had a reasonable and comfortable place to stay. After confirming we could stay another night Lil headed back to our room and I stayed behind to write the blog in the bar at a table where I could write. I’d almost finished when a pilgrim who had been drinking in the bar with another came over to my table and started up a conversation. Sadly he was deep into his cups so the conversation went nowhere. As soon as I could do so politely, I exited myself and headed to bed. It was then time to say: 

Buenas Noches Amigos!

       

Leaving Villafranca. The last of Leon Castile. 

          

Selfie at boarder of Leon:Castile and Galacia. Hobbit Land-going into Galacia. We made it to Galacia! 


2014 Walking the Way

Day 27: Highest Point on the Way Day – Rabanal to Molinesca 27K

The morning came early for me. At 6:30 I awoke Lil and by 7:30 we were downstairs in our Posada having coffee. This morning’s was the first that wasn’t very good. Ah well…. always a first. 

As the other mornings have been, this too started cold and soon warmed up. We continued to climb in elevation and eventually reached the highest point on the French Camino (after the Pyrenees). 

The walk was beautiful and the views breathtaking. The mountains that have been nearing each day were now at hand magnificent with their snow-capped peaks while those closest to us were covered with wild mountain heather. I took a picture trying to capture the Purple Mountains Majesty but was unsure if successful. Certainly seeing such a sight could evoke one to write a song extolling its beauty. The air was cool, fresh and delicious. The light clear and we could see far in all directions. What was most dramatic to Lilly was the change from the flat planes of the Maseta, which had been our home for two weeks, to the heights we were now traversing. This marked the end of the second stage of our journey; we were entering stage three and what we have been told is the “spiritual part of the Way. What lies ahead for us we wondered? 

On the way up we stopped at one of the small mountain villages that rely solely on pilgrimage traffic for their survival. There we found a “tienda” or store that offered a better cup of coffee as well as hard boiled eggs prepared as we waited. We each had two and I had a piece of toast because when we were leaving Rabanal I smelled it wafting in the morning air. The store itself was a delight, housed in a stone house, hundreds of years old, with each pilgrims every need met from shampoo and toiletries to food stuffs to souvenirs. The young man who ran it seemed to love his store and his customers. 

Later we met up again with Judy, the woman we’d helped with her backpack yesterday. She asked us to take pictures of her laying stones, each with a prayer, at a cross near the highest point on the Way. She had carried these prayer stones with her from the States. She said she now felt both spiritually and physically relieved of her burden. She had over 75 of them! 

Soon thereafter the path began its descent. The views had been stunning all morning and continued to be so. However, our attention was more directed to our feet as we carefully navigated the steep downhill climb that took the rest of the afternoon. Both Lil and I were very conscious of our feet placement for neither could afford any more issues. It took a while and we stopped for food and water breaks regularly. In terms of our speed we were in the middle of the pack. There were those who sailed on down the mountain, mostly younger folks, and then there were those who put one foot deliberately in front of the other and these pilgrims we passed. At one point where the road crossed the trail a woman was selling fresh cherries. I bought a bag and we enjoyed their delicious fresh sweet tartness with our lunch. 

We went through several villages, charming and delightful. Some of the pilgrims we’d been walking with turned off the path here for the night. I think had we not needed to continue on we would have stayed here too. We did refresh our water at each town and I probably drank more water today than any other. The terrain also reminded us of the paths we had walked on the French Chamin, where there hills were much more frequent. There was a point too today where the topography brought Eastern Washington to my mind. 

The end of the descent seemed interminable. Finally about 4:00 we came out of the hills and into the valley we’d been viewing all afternoon and were soon strolling into the town of Molinesca. This little village, with similar stone buildings as we’d seen since leaving Rabanal, is situated on a river and besides housing pilgrims it was also busy with local tourists. 

We found our lodgings off the main street. Initially there was confusion about our reservation made on booking.com where we’d registered for a double room with two beds and they only had rooms with single queen beds in them. However, all turned out well and we ended up in a dorm room with 5 beds and only us as the occupants. 

The shower only offered cold libations. We have been so fortunate to have hot baths and showers on this journey in Spain. Today our luck changed. We had no hot water but for a minute. It was challenging after a hard day of hiking not to have a hot shower. The day had been hot, though so a cold shower, while not welcomed, was still not pure misery. 

After showering we washed our clothes, hung up for the first time on our travel clothes line, something I’ve carried on two pilgrimages. Then went out for dinner where WiFi was available as our hostel didn’t have internet. Again we had good fortune for down the street was a nice cafeteria restaurant with a great waiter and a strong internet connection. 

The food was good and plentiful. The wine excellent and the price perfect for a pilgrim on a budget. At a table next to us sat a young woman who was walking the Way alone. From Vancouver, Canada, she was on the Camino getting clarity after a relationship change. She was vibrant and pretty. Her spirit reminded me so much of my sister, as did her tall blond athletic features. She liked walking alone yet was happy to talk in the evening. We related well to that ourselves. She had terrible blisters as so many pilgrims do. The pharmacies on the Camino in France and Spain all have displays and sections devoted solely to products that address healing and preventing blisters. 

Lil and I have both been blessed not to have had trouble with this issue on any of our pilgrimages: three for her and two for me. This trip we’ve each only had one small one. We do wear double lined socks which I believe helps, yet this young woman has used every tactic to help her, including double lined socks without avail. Lilly suggested that perhaps she had anger issues that are showing up in the blisters, something that seemed to resonate with her. 

The internet connection was good and I was also able to send the last day’s entry and so was up to date. 

Back now at our hostel and Lilly-Barb is asleep as I finish this entry. Tomorrow is another long day so with that I will say: 

Hasta Manana Amigos!

       

Two friends on the Way. Pilgrims from behind. 

          

Pilgrim’s stand. Purple Mountain Majesty. The mountain’s Magesty. Highest point. 


2014 Walking the Way

Day 26: Easy As Empanada (Spanish Pie) Day Astorga to Rebanal del Camino 20K

Lilly didn’t have a good night. She had dreams of former manipulative bosses, of bringing a tiger to staff meetings and of friends being tired of having her around. I slept deeply until 5:00 and then on and off until 6:30 when I got us up. 

By 8:00 we were in the coffee shop of the hotel having Americanos, then by 8:30 were heading on out to another beautiful day on the Way. The temp was again in the 30s but with each hour it warmed up by almost 20 degrees until it was a perfect 70 degrees for most of the day. 

On the way out of town a woman handed Lilly a flyer advertising a restaurant in one of the upcoming villages that offered organic breakfasts. This caught her attention and when we reached the town an hour an a half later the proprietress welcomed us to enjoy breakfast at her place. Lilly had just been talking about wanting granola yesterday, and when we saw one of the items was homemade muesli we jumped on it. Big bowls with milk and fruit. Delicious! To be having comfort food that was good for you. 

The woman chatted us up while we ate, telling us how the Camino was getting busier and busier, not as much fun to walk anymore but good for her business as more and more pilgrims are vegetarians or health conscious. She had already run out of her green smoothies for the day. We were happy as clams and spent a leisurely hour enjoying the food outside in the warmth of the morning sun. While there several pilgrims stopped by to purchase sandwiches or drinks for the road. We too left with a panini-like sandwich with fresh tomatoes, greens and peppers inside. 

While we were there I noticed one of the pilgrims who’d stopped was carrying her pack in a very unbalanced way. I conjectured it was having an adverse effect on her walk. When we later saw her again at another stop and I mentioned it to her saying should she be willing I could adjust her pack to be more comfortable. She was more than willing and between Lilly and I we got her all situated. And with gratitude she noticed a difference right away. 

Having one’s backpack correctly packed, strapped and worn properly makes all the difference for long distance walks. Because I learned so much about what not to do on my last walk, I am now an “expert” on how to fit it so its comfortable. Every day I see pilgrims with packs listing to the right or left or slung to low or worn too high. It is a very nice feeling to help a pilgrim in a way that makes their journey easier. 

The walk today for both Lilly-Barb and I was the best yet. The kilometers sailed by smoothly without pain or effort. We were both in the zone. This is what one hopes for when walking the Way. That place where it all comes together in peace and harmony. Nothing like it or as Lilly says: “it doesn’t get any better than this!” 

Most of the pilgrims today were in the gray to white haired end of the continuum. We marvel and admire those that undertake this long journey. All shapes and sizes and ages of people are here on the Camino. It is inspiring to see and that these folks see no limits to what they can do though today there were several who were limping along. It is truly a global community making this journey together to a destination that may have a different significance for each of us yet ties us all together. 

We stopped for lunch and ate our panini sandwich and the delicious pears that were Lil’s choice for dessert last night and saved for today. They were sweet and perfectly firm. Simple little things like this are pure magic on the Camino because we see how taken care 

of we are in everyway. The woman whose pack we’d fixed walked by much happier than she’d been earlier in the day. Another pilgrim told us it was 5K to our next stop at Rabanal Del Camino. Not far now as the day’s walk had been smooth and easy. 

Gradually climbing elevation we reached Rabanal, around 3:00, now being high above the Maseta plane. Tomorrow we’d be climbing to the highest point on the Camino Francais and then make our way down into Glacia by Tuesday. 

Today we were on the front end of town, and our Posada was the first place to greet you on coming into the village. We had a warm welcome and were taken to a great room with royal purple covers and light green walls with French doors that opened onto a small balcony. The bathroom had a fabulous tub complete with bubble bath soap! 

When traveling through France the tubs, when at all available were too small for my frame, yet here in Spain almost all have been wonderful for me to soak in. As I have said….Lil and Will are being spoiled and pampered on the Way. And it’s totally fine as it is helping us complete this amazing journey by allowing us to take the best care we can of our dear selves. 

On settling in I declared that I was going to take a nap and did so for an hour and a half, deeply and fully. On waking I took my bubble bath and soaked easing stress and tension from my body. Oh…baths and the Camino go well together. Like food, a bath is never more appreciated. 

Clothes washed and both rested we went to a 7:00 service of Benedictine monks singing Gregorian Chants in an ancient 11th century church. The place was full of pilgrims. The service lovely as 6 monks sang together. Included was a time for pilgrims from different countries to read scripture in their own language. I found myself going into a deep meditative state and imagined being there as a Knights’ Templar, singing these songs with my brethren knights while the pilgrims listened and prayed with us. 

After the service we wandered around this ancient stone village. Rabanal del Camino is a place we’d both like to come back to. It is on the list of our favorite stops. Not only beautiful in itself, the setting high above the plane with snow capped ranges at it’s back makes this little village a special energy place that’s lovely to be in. Like some of the other places on the Camino I felt at home and familiar here. We both are in awe of Spain and how it continues to surprise us with is depth and beauty, it’s old grandeur and modern hospitality, its refined cultivation and sweet simplicity. 

I thought of my brother Rob today as we walked up the old flag stone street, running through the center of town, past stone buildings, constructed long ago, small structures perfect in form, lining the incline, and imagined how much he would appreciate this village. It reminded me of Conques, another town in France he liked very much. A Medievalist at heart and by education, I believe he’d enjoy the whole journey of the ancient Camino as it might speak to his spirit in this same way it has mine. 

On the way back to our Posada we found some green grass and stretched. A couple of ladies stopped and chatted while we did our practice. They too were from Australia, starting in Leon and going to Santiago in two weeks. Both in their late fifties they weren’t in great shape by any means yet here they were taking this great adventure together. It was their third day and they were doing well. 

Our Posada was run by a family. The third family operation we’ve stayed in that we’re aware of. It’s a good feeling to see the family members all work together. In Villavante’s hostel there were three generations. There’s a cooperative spirit here in Spain. We noticed it at the hotels too. Everyone pitches in when something needs doing. 

With the increased pilgrim traffic many of these villages that once were dying are now coming back to life. Furthermore the quality of lodgings and accommodations has significantly improved. Pilgrims for the most part of well cared for on the Camino. 

Dinner was rice with stir fried vegetables and creamed vegetable soup. Both were light and nourishing and delicious. Again another piece of magic on the Way: food that we crave appears! For dessert a light homemade crepe with chocolate sauce and filling, perfectly accompanied by a solo coffee so I could blog tonight. 

Now I have and so can say once again: 

Buenas Noches Amigos!

       

Spanish Bell tower. UW colors. 

       

Eating organic on the Way. Spanish roses. 

       

Cowboy bar on the Camino. Stone Wall and stone mountains. 

       

The cart my mother imagined for me! Yet another shot of a stork on a bell tower. 

       

coming to town. Hosteria in Rabanal. Will at refugio. 

       

Rabanal del Camino. 


2014 Walking the Way

Day 25: Gratitude Day on the Way Villvante to Astorga – 22K

The morning broke early. The night had been full of dreams and I was trying to remember the symbols that showed up. However, on coming to full consciousness they disappeared from my memory. 

Lilly-Barb had slept hard and long, going to sleep at 9:30 and waking at 6:30. She is working hard on healing her foot and understanding the meaning behind its manifestation. Her efforts are bearing fruit as her foot improves slowly. She continues to love and appreciate herself letting go of that which no longer serves her. 

The lessons of the Way come in their own time. Some think injuries will happen in the first weeks of walking, however, the rules of the Camino are dictated by the needs of those who put themselves in its flow and when the experience presents itself one can only surrender and trust that all needs will be met, no matter the lesson metted! 

I felt great as we left the Albergue. My pack which has felt foreign to me the last few days, unfamiliar and uncomfortable, felt like my old friend again and I was joyful. My feet both felt fine and my initial walking was brisk, yet conscious. 

We walked for an hour then stopped at the first cafe/bar that we came to for a coffee and snack. Inside was the young couple we’d met twice yesterday, we thought they were newlyweds perhaps. They were from Denver, Co, had been married for two years. He wanted to come for the spiritual solitude of the Camino and his wife didn’t want him going alone. We liked them and were happy to have another pair of pilgrims to be connected to on the Way. 

The coffee was the best yet. The kind server also gave us a slice of pound cake with our Americanos. Lil was in a grouchy spot but once she ate and drank her flagging spirits raised and all was well. She reminded us that eating will help when feeling off or down. We then had another round it was so good. 

Our walk now took us through an old medieval town that was charming. Spain is a wonderful country for interesting and beautiful architecture and as we have progressed along the Camino it continues to be changing and varied. Lil took a great pic of me on an old Roman bridge. It felt good to be there. Perhaps in another parallel reality I’m a Roman engineer who built that structure. 

The day, another gem amongst the many we have enjoyed, began cold, the coldest morning yet, but by 10:30 had warmed up enough for me to shed down vest, sweater, and pants for shorts. Around this time we had our second missing the trail experience to date and it wasn’t a bad one. We were back on route soon, the path taking us up hills in backcountry, the first real elevation since coming to the Meseta. We stopped half way to eat lunch and were surprised by the wave of pilgrims that streamed by while we were sitting there, a group of three even came and sat near us to eat and rest. It amused me because I’d thought we were all alone with the exception of the occasional pilgrim passing by now and then. Lilly suggested that the Way is getting busy, May is the beginning of the Camino season. Yet most begin the walk at St. Jean Pierre de Port on the other side of the Pyranees in France and it would take 3 weeks at best to get here if walking at a very fast pace. Perhaps there are just many more pilgrims who began early this year. 

Toward the end of our backcountry walk we came upon pilgrim’s helpers offering simple cooked food, fresh fruit, water, boiled eggs, etc., all laying out on a lovely cart for the pilgrims to help themselves. There was a small donation box where an offering could be made if so desired but not expected. This part of the walk was without towns or fountains and I was in need of water so this stand was a blessing to me as intended. Another pilgrim came along, a tall young man, and taking a piece of fresh watermelon smiled saying “now all is fine!” 

The end of the trail led us to the edge of the plateau we had been on. In the far distance were the snow capped peaks that had been getting closer each day while in the foreground lay the city of Astorga beautiful and proud in her ancient status and glory. This city has been a major crossroad for trade in the pre and post Roman periods for Spain to all parts of Europe. 

The last 5 K were spent walking through another village before Astorga and then through the town itself as our hotel was closer to the end of the city. We liked what we saw though it was quiet due to siesta time. Our hotel we booked online and were very happy with it! A lovely room looking across the square to the beautiful Gaudi Palace (now a museum) as well as the magestic cathedral of Astorga. It had a real bath tub too! Gee, Lil and Will are getting spoiled! 

After checking I suggested that we “do something different” meaning than our usual routine of bathing, washing, etc. Lilly was game and both being hungry we went to look for a restaurant. She’d a good feeling for it so we ordered fried calamari, a fruit and goat cheese salad, sparkling mineral water and a beer for me. We ate out on the plaza across from the hotel sitting under the shade of an umbrella eating fabulous food and getting great service. We felt indeed like the king and queen feasting in front of their beautiful palace. 

We looked at our guide book and calculated that we have 11 days left of walking (if we are able) with one fudge day to arrive in Santiago on the 27 or 28. All of a sudden it seemed so close: to be on the other end of this amazing journey that once stretched out far in front of us. 

After our feast we walked around both the Palace and Cathedral but didn’t have much interest in either museum. Instead we went in search of the chocolate museum for Astorga is known for its artisan chocolate. It took a little sleuthing to locate but we did and bought a pound bar of 70% dark almond chocolate. It will be worth the weight to carry it. Later we found a grocery and restocked on lunch and snack staples. 

With that all accomplished we returned to our room and Lilly took a bath and washed clothes while I started today’s entry so I can go to bed earlier tonight. 

A few hours and a great dinner later it’s time to say: 

Hasta Manana Amigos!

       

Blessed friends. First Cows on the Way. 

       

Pilgrim stuck in time. Pilgrim’s rest stop. 

       

Will bridging realities. Cross and mountain. 

       

Astorga in distance. Astorga. 

       

On the Way. Puente Romano. The Gaudy Palace in Astorga. 

          

From our window. Best Salad of the Way. Heaven’s bells. 


2014 Walking the Way

Day 24: Speaking English on the Way Day La Virgen del Camino to Villavante – 23K

Lilly-Barb is now becoming the early riser. Before it was light I awoke to her getting ready and lay in bed drifting between worlds before getting up myself. We were out in the cool morning air by 7:15, sunrise was at 7:23. Our earliest start on this Camino. 

Unsure of the initial route we followed another pair of pilgrims from the last of the city’s suburbs into the campos and fields that we’d been missing for several days. Again back on the familiar Meseta, flat and level far into the horizon though now there were snow capped mountains that framed its edges to the north and west. 

Lilly and I were both walking purposefully today, meditative striding, averaging a bit over 3K per hour. It takes more focus and discipline for me to stay steady on this stride than on the gate I regularly like to walk. Gladly my right foot was fine and didn’t bother me on the trek today. It did remind me it was there whenever my thoughts wandered off in an “unproductive” way, though. Lil’s foot did bother her on and off. And it is slowly improving. She led some of the way today, I following her, both of us going slower than most pilgrims who passed us by. 

The day was another amazing gift amongst the many that we have received on this journey. To date we have experienced only 2 rain days and one of those only had a limited shower. The rest of the time we’ve had varying degrees of blue skies and sunny days. Since hitting the Meseta a week ago we have been blessed with near perfect weather for hiking and sightseeing. 

We came to Spain prepared to spend most of our journey donning ponchos and rain pants. Instead the rain gear is stashed in the bottom of our packs and we are wearing shorts and t-shirts. One of the pilgrims we met who had walked the Camino twice before, told us that both times he came in the spring and that he was wet most of the time. We have been very blessed with fine weather on this Way. 

After the first hour we stopped at a little village for coffee. An enterprising cafe/bar owner was open early for business and several pilgrims were breakfasting there when we arrived. Oh that first cup of coffee in the morning on the Way, it is one of life’s joys! 

As we were leaving another couple came in whom I had seen and helped with Spanish translation the evening before at our restaurant. We said hello and introduced ourselves. They were from New Zealand, the first New Zealanders we’d met, and were planning to finish in Santiago on June 6 their 50th Wedding Anniversary. We thought that very sweet. 

We’ve seen a number of older folks (over 70) on this Camino. In fact I might venture to say that I have seen more people over 50 this trip than people under 30. When I walked the Camino in France those pilgrims I met were predominantly younger. I think it is wonderful that no matter the age or condition the Way calls to all and the call is answered by all. 

The next 9K took us to another village boasting 3 Albergues. We stopped at one called Tio Peppi because we liked the name. There we had our second coffee and lunch of rice cakes, goat cheese, carrot, chocolate, a wonderful ripe avocado and watercress greens. Food like the first coffee tastes soo good on the Way. We have figured out how to eat well and enjoyably too. We had another 10K to go to our evenings lodgings. We both felt revived after eating and took to the Way once more. 

The last three hours were along a long straight road, half paved half not. The wind had picked up and it was just between needing to add a layer to my t-shirt or not temperature. Half way we stopped to rest and gripe about our pains a bit. Not too much, just enough to get through to the Albergue in Villavante which we happily made about 3:00. 

We’d made reservations the night before for a double using the name Guillermo Blanco to hold it. It just seemed easier than trying to say Will Whitesmith. Again we were blessed with good fortune as this Albergue is also new and our room is comfy and lovely. While I took my shower Lilly-Barb found a clothes washer available, washed our clothes and then hung them to dry in the afternoon sun. Even my hat! What a treat! 

After stretches outside in the beauty of the afternoon sun we went in to dinner. However, there were two seatings tonight so we had to wait a bit as we missed the first one. At dinner we were seated next to an Austrian pilgrim, a first this trip too, who was a Spiritual Coach. With our German being zilch and his English being very little we didn’t get too far with our conversation, however it seemed he helped people reduce anxiety and find inner peace. 

Dinner itself was an average pilgrim’s meal. Good mixed salad, a French omelet (only had eggs) with fries and dessert. No wine or beer tonight accompanied our meal so we passed and decided to teetotal it for a change. Lilly-Barb has developed a drinking habit on the Camino and we thought it was time to break it! 

Today we met more English speakers than any day so far. We also met more Americans to date too. Our first Americans were a young newly married couple (maybe this is their honeymoon – if so and they survive it still liking each other they have a promising future). Barb noticed how new and shinny their wedding rings were. We met a woman from Arizona, a woman from Cape Cod, a woman from Colorado Springs. These women were all middle aged or retired and were walking alone. We also met a Dutch woman reading a book in English and found out that she used to be an English teacher and preferred English literature. 

Our next two days we begin climbing out of the Meseta getting ready to enter the last stage of the Camino in Galacia four days from today. As all things shift and change on the Way we are now adjusting to our physical challenges and calling ahead for reservations so we can plan the amount of walking we do each day, at least for now. We have reservations for tomorrow and Saturday made. When calling several places were already full so we can also see the Camino is coming into it full season, which May is. 

Well friends, I started this entry this afternoon so I am completing it earlier than usual. However, it was a long day and tomorrow promises the same so I shall retire early and bid you all: 

Buenas Noches Amigos!

       

Storks and St. J. The patron spirits of the Way. Our Albergue. 

       

View from within an Albergue. 


2014 Walking the Way

Day 23: Taking the Lessons Deeper Day Leon to La Virgen Del Camino 7K

Barb didn’t sleep well last night, unusual for her and for me to sleep through which I did. Around 8:00 we ventured out for breakfast but all was still closed 

down from the night’s frolities. Back to the hotel we went and shared a pot of good coffee. Later I finished up my writing and editing while Lil went in search of food. She’d seen an American food store hoping to find good peanut butter but the store was a dud, mostly junk. 

All packed up we left the hotel in search of breakfast. Now everything was open again and the sun had warmed up the temperature considerably. We found a bakery that did the trick by advertising toast with olive oil and tomatoes. This sounded good to us and we ordered it with two Americanos. Sitting outside in the sun we added tuna fish and fresh cucumbers to our fare and made a pilgrims feast. For dessert we indulged in real treat of Gelato ice cream, two scoops each. Yumm! 

Sated, we next headed to the Cathedral of Leon which had a far simpler check-in process than that of Bourges and far fewer people too. We were given hand-held audio guides. The narration was helpful and added to our appreciation of the sublime beauty of this twelfth century masterpiece of gothic architecture and design. The stained glass windows streamed light into the vaulting grace of the columns, knaves and transits. For Lilly it was the most beautiful church she’d ever seen. Awed by the sacred energy yet held by it too, she felt both cozy and divine. We left the church feeling full of grace, blessed with its light to go forward on our Way. 

Hence we began our departure from Leon. The route continued through the old part of town passing interesting plazas, churches, and buildings. The day which had begun so cold and crisp was now warm and summery. We walked slowly because we wanted to be easy on our feet. We also were in no hurry as we had a reservation at our next stop. Barb’s foot did bother her some but not greatly and she thought that the weight of the pack didn’t aggravate it. My foot seemed better too but I didn’t put any undue pressure on it by walking at the brisker pace I enjoy. Instead I walked slowly and purposefully for I think that is the message I’m getting. 

We arrived at our destination around 3:45. The check-in was at a bar/cafe nearby and the bartender saw us and flagged us down so we didn’t have to come back. Our lodgings were clean and comfortable yet had the least character of any place we’ve stayed so far. However, it did have a bathtub… always a plus! 

Barb took a bath while I started the day’s blog entry. I then took a long nap awakening refreshed and hungry. We headed out to find a grocery and on the way stopped at another amazing church: the Basilica de la Virgen del Camino situated close to our hostel. This was a modern structure built in 1956 yet inside looked to be from the Baroque period. A very interesting blend of two visions in one building. Beautiful white Lilies were everywhere, smelling sweet and fragrant. We saw them, her name sake, as a blessing for her feet to heal well and soon. 

I stopped a passerby for directions to the grocery and soon found it where we stocked up with our favorite foods for the Way: fruit, watercress greens, rice cakes, nuts, chocolate and tuna. Then it was time to look for a place to eat. We made a big circuit in search of a restaurant without success coming back to where we started to eat at a small bar/cafe that advertised macaroni, stewed meat and dessert with wine and bread for 8 Euros. 

The waiter and his wife who made the food were lovely and so was the dinner. We are now all stocked up on protein and carbs for tomorrow’s walk. Barb and I had fun rereading our early entries from this trip and marveled at all that has transpired on this journey. 

We decided that the first two weeks were to get us ready for the lessons of week three that came with entering the Maseta, the part of the trip where one faces the emotional and mental challenges of the Camino. This was when things began to disappear, beginning with an innocuous sock that signaled the start of harder things to come. 

Now missing a guidebook, a knife and a usb cable later, we are going through the challenges of physical pain and the mental hardship that comes with wondering if you should keep going, or even can keep going on the Way. Again it seems to come down to surrendering to what is in front of us and trusting what we will need will come our way as it always does. 

Yet despite all of the above we are deeply grateful. The lessons we receive only help us to be clearer and more compassionate with ourselves and others. They allow us to ask for help and face our fears and grow in trust that All Is Well! 

Now we are back at our hostel and Lilly-Barb has just turned out the light and is heading to meet Nod. I am going to enjoy a nice bath and soon will join her in the land of healing dreams. 

Hasta Manana Amigos!

       

Lil: pilgrim’s friend. The weary pilgrim. 

       

Three friends of the Way. Soaring Spirit. 

       

Grace in space. Rose Window. 

       

Rose Window. Soaring Spirit. 

          

Basilica of Virgen del Camino. 


2014 Walking the Way

Day 21: Most beautiful day on the Way day Sahagun to Releigos 29K

I had a lot of fun writing the blog last night. After taking a few days off due to technical issues it was nice to be writing again. However, there are just not enough hours in the day to do everything I want to! It was late when I turned in and early when we got up and due to a deficit of rest my body hurt today. 

We left our lovely hostel at 8:15 after coffee and a piece of what looked like freshly baked pound cake, delicious with a hint of anise flavor. The morning was lovely for walking, bright sunshine and crisp air. 

Our destination was Leon and though initially we thought we’d only 20K to walk, it turned out to be 27K, so another long day. With exception of the first hour and a half the rest of the day’s trek was along highways and through suburbs of Leon. I told Barb if I were to skip a day and take a cab this would have been it! 

Barb’s foot, while gradually healing, has not completely mended. Today was the fourth day we sent her backpack ahead by shuttle service. It is a fabulous operation where we leave the pack at the hotel or hostel with an envelope having the address of the next destination and 7 Euros inside, attached. When we arrive later that day magically the goods have safely arrived. This service has allowed Lilly to walk with only a fanny pack and avoid further weight and stress on her feet. 

While I have had my own aches and pains, mostly on my right hip and leg, it has been a relatively pain free trip. Yet today my right heel began to hurt in familiar way. I’d problems with my feet on the last journey through France and this brought up memories of those hardships. As the day went on the ache mitigated some after taking an Aleve. Perhaps more importantly Barb helped me see the implied message of slowing down. I changed my pace and it helped. 

Things can change so quickly on the Camino, one high moment can soon be followed by a low one. In the end it all seems to balance out. This leads to learning to be in balance to begin with: a major lesson of the Way Lilly and Will are discovering. 

By 3:30 we reached our hotel in Leon. A three star establishment very near the cathedral in the town center that we’d found on Booking.com. While it looked nice online to our delight it was even better in person, complete with a great big tub! 

Lilly bathed and washed her clothes, I took a long nap. Oh, those naps are so regenerative, especially when I have shorted myself on sleep the night before, as I’d done last night. I awoke at 5:30, took a leisurely bath and finishing my book about Jefferson and Hamilton and their relationship and roles in the founding of the US. By the time I’d done bathing and washing clothes it was past 7:00. 

Rested, clean, and relaxed we went exploring this lovely city. The streets were thronged with pedestrians, vibrant and alive, full of their lan, the wonderful spirit of these Spanish people. We dove in and headed to the cathedral. Again we were impressed with its beauty and grandeur, Barb finding it even more beautiful than the one in Burgos. The visiting hours were over so we walked around the plaza enjoying the grandeur and form of the church, thinking we might come back and see the interior tomorrow. 

The receptionist at the hotel had given us several suggestions on dining spots. Searching we wandered through the narrow streets and alleys of this old European city looking at the people and shops. One small street opened to another and Barb spied a book store ahead. Wondering if they carried English books she looked in the window display where, front and center, was the guide book for the Camino that had disappeared on us. Though we had managed well since its loss we both thought it wise to get a replacement copy to help us on the rest of the journey. 

On buying the book Barb asked the clerk, whom she had a good feeling for, if he know of anywhere nearby where we might find a USB cable (for the keyboard I used to type the blog. It too had gone missing). He said there was a store that sold electronics and phone accessories two doors down we might try. 

Great we said and thanked him going onto the shop on the corner where I had an in depth conversation about mini USB cables and did they carry one that would work for my keyboard. The young man was very helpful and we went through several options but none seemed quite right. In the end I went back to the hotel and retrieved the keyboard and returned to the store. Once he saw what I needed he immediately found the correct USB plug and charger and once again I was back in business! 

With two of our basic needs met we were happy as clams, with a guide book for our journey ahead and a way to charge the keyboard to continue blogging. Appreciative of our good fortune we continued our search for a place to dine. 

When asked for a place he would recommend, the man in the bookstore told us all the restaurants in the area were frequented by locals and we’d be happy with any we chose. As we wandered further there many to choose from. Finally we had a good feeling for one and, like most restaurants here, went up to the second floor dinning room. 

The place was almost full with one large table of American walkers, though we weren’t sure if they were pilgrims, and a few locals besides. A table for two awaited us and to our delight the waiter offered us a menu in English. The atmosphere was gay and celebratory and it was a happy feeling to know what we were ordering for the first time in Spain. 

After careful consideration of our many options we settled for a caramelized apple, walnut, and goat cheese salad, a dish of wonderful roasted vegetables (at last), and scrumptious lamb chops, with Perrier, wine and beer to wash it all down. 

Yet another great meal in Spain and we were beginning to think that Spanish food does offer a wonderful cuisine that has been largely unknown to us. I think we had a preconceived notion that the food in Spain would not be of much consequence, yet our gastronomic adventures have proved otherwise. 

It was almost 9:00 when we sat down to eat and by the time we finished it was well after 10:00. The desserts didn’t excite us so we passed and opted to go to a nearby creperie. Barb had a chocolate crepe and I a “Costa Rica” made with caramel, coconut and rum. Tasty. We enjoyed our treats while sitting on the steps of a neighborhood church eating quickly as the night air was getting chilly. 

Walking back to our hotel the streets were now almost deserted. Restaurants closing, shops shut up, the hustle and bustle of the earlier evening now a whisper in the night air. We remarked how fun it has been to see the various faces of these cities at different times of day. We really liked Leon and looked forward to exploring it a little more before moving on tomorrow. 

Back in our cozy and comfortable room we settled into our routines of reading and writing. Soon it was time to turn out the light and say: 

Buenas Noches Amigos!

       

The Way. St. James-a homage to the pilgrims. St.J. on his Way. 

       

Virgen Peregrina. Door of St. James first gate into the kingdom of Leon for ancient pilgrims. Cathederal at Leon. 


2014 Walking the Way

Day 20: Mother’s Day and Half Way on the Way Day Triadillos – Sahagun 13 K

Back on line again after a one day hiatus from blogging due to technical difficulties. However, the entries will be shorter for awhile.

Yesterday we left our cozy shelter at Carrion de los Condes for a 27K hike to Terridilos. Today we went to Sahagun the geographic half way point of the Camino. We had a shorter walk today and had a lovely afternoon of rest and sightseeing in this ancient town. We celebrated Mother’s Day with a great meal and tomorrow have another 30K day so to bed early.

Hasta Manana Amigos!

Barb and Will at the geographic center of the Camino passing through the portal. Grain silo.

Our beautiful home in Sahagun. Village on Maseta. Church in Sahagun.

Albergue Terridillos de los Templarios. Knight of the Templar. Sleepy village siesta time. Sign showing this next 12K of Camino was specially built for it.

Stork on arch.

Don’t quit before the miracle-the sign says. Store’s nest. Barb looking refreshed.

Lilly at rest. Mother’s day poppies.

2014 Walking the Way

Day 19: Technical Difficulties

The blog has been discontinued due to technical issues and may or may not restart. Check back for updates as they become available.

Day 18: Healing Day on the Way: Carrion de los Condes 0K

As I write today’s blog, I sit by the river in the sun listening to the birds in the background and a group of happy people talking at another table. This is our second day in Carrion de los Condes. We decided to stay another day and give Barb’s right foot a chance to heal. Which I am happy to say it is.

Yesterday, I woke up tired as I didn’t sleep well. We took our time getting up and out and stopped at a cafe/bar around the corner for a couple of coffees. I’m drinking solos again because I like the stronger taste and as I am not eating bread for breakfast I don’t need the larger Americano to wash it down. Barb still likes the larger Americano. We talked about our options for going forward: staying here longer, taking a taxi or bus to the next day’s stop, sending the pack on by a luggage shuttle service. From our understanding of the rhythm of the Way we knew there are no mistakes and if we pay attention all will make itself clear. So the next thing to do was to rest and take it easy and wait to see what showed up.

I went to the local supermarket to shop and Barb returned to our lovely hostel to write the guest blog. While it didn’t look like much on the outside, our hostel is actually a large three story structure with rooms on every floor. Each room appears to have its own bathroom which is always a treat. A large well worn wooden staircase takes you between levels and the floors themselves are of Spanish tile. We have really enjoyed our room too. It has a table and two chairs for sitting and eating and a desk and chair for writing. I am always appreciative to have a place to write.

The supermarket had a plethora of goodies including rice cakes and goat cheese. Also the staples of oranges, nuts and dried fruit, and with fresh foods of watercress, carrots, cucumber, and a beautiful large red bell pepper. My only mistake was forgetting that in larger stores in Europe you are supposed to weigh and tag your produce before bringing it to the checkout stand. This error caused a backup in the line as the clerk had to go back and finish the task. I felt a bit embarrassed and regretful for holding up the line. I had the same experience in France but then the woman told me to go back and weigh and label the fruit I had bought. This was on my second leg of my journey through France and it had been several weeks since I’d been in a big town and going into that supermarket was overwhelming to my senses, attuned to the simplicity of the French Camino. When she asked me to come back with the fruit labeled, it was too much for me and I abandoned my apples and went on.

On returning to the Hostel Alma Barb and I feasted. Our treat was a bottle of lemon soda, something neither of us would normally drink, yet was a wonderful and fresh change from drinking so much water. Barb then read me her guest blog and I had fun listening to how I have grown in her perspective from my experience on the Way. I’m grateful to have such a loving mirror.

The afternoon moved on as I took a nap and Barb enjoyed the sun outside. After our siesta we went to find the Church of Santa Maria and the Albergue of the singing nuns. On the way to the church we met an elderly woman who gave us directions. She was kind and had a light about her. She asked after Barb’s feet as she saw Barb was limping. She then went on and entered a convent that was on route. We conjectured over her being the Mother Superior of the convent. Regardless we felt she had given us blessing.

The church was beautiful. At a side alter was a statue of St. James with a place to light a candle. This was the first real candle in a Spanish church we’d seen. To date to light a candle meant to put in a coin and an electronic candle would light up. I don’t have much interest in those. Barb and I both lit a real taper and said our own prayers to St. Diago. We then sat for a while in the quiet listening to a Gregorian Chant piped in over speakers on the wall. Then in contrast to this sacred moment came the priest or some caretaker and matter-of-factly did chores about the church including getting out an aluminum sliding ladder and sliding and banging it around. We laughed at the juxtaposition of these sacred and mundane moments.

After our meditative time we went out to the grass out in front and did our yoga practice. We seem to attract attention when we do so, which Barb likes and I am not adverse too either. I had checked out the singing nuns and when it came down to it neither of us was up for the socializing aspect that would have been a part of the experience. We were both in a more quiet internal space and being with a large group introducing ourselves seemed more than we wanted then.

Supper was again at the restaurant or cafeteria as they call it. Nothing looked particularly inviting but when Barb settled on Spaghetti Bolognese I opted for the Spaghetti Carminara, she having red sauce with meat, I white sauce with ham. It was very yummy. Again I had a beer and Barb vino tinto.

Home at our hostel for the night we both took long baths. Barb’s foot was feeling better and we had bought some Epsom salts to soak our feet with. By the time I finished my bath Barb had turned out the light and was fast asleep. I read for a while and soon followed.

Part 2:

I woke up at 7:00 after a fabulous sleep and asked Barb how her foot was doing. She said “not so good, maybe I should try on my boot?” I said no need if your foot doesn’t feel good let’s stay another day and see what unfolds. As she was amenable I rolled over and went back to sleep for another two delicious hours. I think I might still be there if nature hadn’t called me to get up.

We had a quiet morning breakfasting on fruit and nuts. As we were leaving the room we passed our hostess, a lovely lady, and I told her we needed to stay one more day as Barb’s foot was hurt. She was sympathetic and kind. Just as we exited the hostel a van pulled up with the word “Angel” on it and a woman hopped out, passed us and grabbed a suitcase that was in the lobby. Barb and I looked at each other and she said, This is a sign… I can have my pack sent onto the next destination and walk tomorrow.” So we made arrangements with the kind help of our hostess to have Barb’s pack sent on and made a reservation at a CR there so it and we would have a place to go to. Many people do this with their luggage so they can enjoy walking without a heavy pack. Many of us like to carry our own weight, so to speak, yet it is also a blessing to have your weight carried for you when needed. And it was only 7 Euros to boot.

One of the lessons of the Way we have talked about recently is that each of us has permission to create our own experience of the Camino. Every pilgrim can mold the journey to their own needs and wishes. This has been an insight for me for on much of my last walk I thought there was a “way” to be on the “Way.” And I went through some hardships because of my ideas around this. However, that is also part of lesson of the Way, you can grow and learn from your experiences and do it differently next time, as I am now doing.

Having the clarity now on how to move forward we felt a sense of ease. The day was ahead of us to enjoy and tomorrow we would begin our walk again. On our way to coffee we stopped in the pharmacy of the night before where we had bought the Epsom salts. This time Barb was looking for a foot brace and some kind of fiber to help her sluggish system. The woman who helped us was a different person from the pervious visit greeting us with her pretty face and sweet nature. When we got around to talking about the fiber she showed us several options, the final being a suppository, which she demonstrated its use by patting her bum. It was such a cute, funny and yet precious moment that we all burst our laughing and did so awhile. We both like the pharmacies here in France and Spain. They are small, individual, contained, efficient, and unique. So different from our CVS or Walgreens. This particular store was set up like an old apothecary with old fashioned jars decorating the walls.

On we went to our cafe on the square and had coffee. While sitting in the warming sun I read the last two entries of my time with Barb in France, completing the record of our trip together. As I read about saying goodbye to Barb, my then constant companion of 20 days on the Way, I again felt the strong emotions of the sadness of leaving Barb and fear of the unknown I faced once she was gone. Odd to reflect on that moment as I was sitting with her in this one. Both with their own equal footing in reality. I then began to read the entries that have never been published, those I wrote after leaving Le Puy on my own. Two years have passed. 0pening them up to read them for the first time since then was revealing. I’m now excited to read them again and to see what learnings and insights I recorded as I continued on the road to Santiago. As I was no longer writing for an audience I remember being more candid with my feelings and observations. In reading over these past entries I can see the possibility of writing a book about my adventures on the Camino.

Today we decided to have our main meal at lunch rather than in the evening. There was a restaurant near our place that only opened for breakfast and lunch and we had wanted to try it. We were taken to a sweet little dinning room with table laid with cloth, napkins, flatware and wine glasses. We each chose paella: me seafood and chicken and Barb vegetarian. Served on hot metal dishes it was very attractive and tasty. I even ate the inevitable green peas, something my friends and family know I generally detest. After lunch we headed over to the sweets store that advertised what looked like ice cream sundaes, something Barb has been craving. Sadly this picture of the sundae was only that and the only fare they offered was the packaged kind of bars and cones. I had a white choc almond ice cream bar which was delish. Barb had her heart set on the cup of ice cream and went away a bit disappointed.

After lunch we strolled down to the park, or I strolled and Barb limped. It was on the river and we stretched out on the bank in the shade. After awhile we did our stretches and sure enough others started showing up settling in our vicinity. I then did a healing for Barb’s foot and could feel the “cold” spot that was at the center of her pain had begun to “thaw,” the energy was flowing again. Later when she got up to return to the hostel, and I stayed behind to write in the park, she said that her foot felt much better! Yeah! Thank you, St. Jacques!

Now we have just finished our dinner of rice cakes, fresh veggies, tuna, and chocolate. I like eating lighter fare. My body seems to too. We are packing up to get an early start tomorrow as it is forecast to be a hot day. Once done I’ll take a bath and go to bed. So it is now time to wish you all:

Buenas Noches Amigos!

Our hostel we’re on the second floor window.Our front door. Florist, funeral home, and boutique near our hostel.

Our lovely room.

Village street leading to hostel. The Way out of town. River Park.

2014 Walking the Way

Day 17: Rest Day on The Way Carrion de los Condes – 0 K

Today is our second rest day. This is Barb and I am guest blogger for today. I’d like to reflect on the changes I’ve seen in Will on this walk as compared to our first walk on The Way two years ago.

The changes I’ve seen are pretty dramatic. Two years ago, when we walked from Geneva to Le Puy, Will was like a young boy on a grand adventure. Many things were unfamiliar, and challenges were sometimes difficult to navigate. You can’t escape from the lessons of The Way, so Will, like all of us pilgrims, was faced with “his stuff.” He did his work and started growing up right before my very eyes. He had his ups and downs, and was able to observe himself and learn who he wanted to be going forward. I think one of my main roles on our trip together two years ago was to “hold the space” for him to have his experience, and be a witness and a mirror, not a rescuer!

Now fast forward to May 2014, where we are once again on The Way, half way along the Camino Frances, to our destination of Santiago. I am resting today because my right foot hurts, so I get to practice patience and trust. Will is gently caring for me.

Will has grown up on this trip. He is relaxed and open. Learning from last time, he prepared for this trip, and made sure he had the right boots and pack, two key essentials. He has an ease about him, and his joy and curiosity are infectious. In some ways our roles are reversed on this trip. I am having more challenges and Will is holding space for me to notice, release and navigate through, by gently supporting and reflecting what he sees. He is gracing me with his healing hands and heart.

It seems to me that Will has grown up on this trip. He is a grown man, fully occupying himself, taking responsibility for all that is. At the same time I am growing younger, letting go of being so responsible, becoming more spontaneous, playful and trusting. We are both moving in the ‘right’ direction!

Our friendship brings out the best in us. I can’t imagine anyone more perfect with whom to travel the amazing Camino. We see each other and we know what’s possible for one another. You can’t hide out on The Way and we can’t hide from each other. Yes, Will has grown up into a beautiful man and watching him walk The Way with grace, ease and confidence is both joyful and inspirational.

Thank you, dearest fellow pilgrim and friend.

Lilies at Altar. Prayers to St. James.

Barb does “goddess” with Mary. Will does yoga with Mary.