Monday, June 23, 2014


We walked into Santiago on Saturday, 21 June, about noon. (There is about a mile or a mile and a half of Santiago to walk through before you get to the historic center area.)
We found a place to stay, a lovely little apartment on a tiny street next to the ring road around the old city. And then we walked over to the Pilgrim Office to register our Credenciales for the Compostela certificate. We saw familiar faces there, people who had walked into town earlier in the day, like the brave Japanese girl Enny, who is just a tiny thing, but she walked almost all of the Camino by herself. And we saw the American Pilgrims hospitalera from Carrion de los Condes, where she had been helping out the Augustinas for a couple of weeks. She is now on her second two weeks of helping, serving as the greeter at the door of the Pilgrim Office. Lovely lady.
After we had our Compostelas in hand, and safely encased in the cardboard tubes they sell for protection, we went to the Cathedral.
There is a Capilla de la Santissima there, so I stopped to give thanks. My sweetie took millions of pictures. We venerated the bones of the Apostle and touched the reliquary, too. (The famous statue in the Porta de Gloria is in a repair/remodeling zone, so we didn´t try to go to that one.)
And we had a glass of tinto and got bread, cheese, meat, and a bottle of wine to share for dinner in our apartment. Then we went back to lie down for a while.
Surprise! At 5:30 PM the city had a downpour! We rushed to close windows and said, "gosh, this reminds us of afternoon in Houston!"
Yesterday we went to the noon Pilgrim Mass at the cathedral. It was Corpus Christi. And Mass was absolutely transporting. Also, they swung the Botafumeiro, too! And I have never in my life seen so many people in church for Mass. All the little wooden pews were full. The transept pews, too. And all the side aisles were full of standers. We were standing, too--and we got there almost an hour early. My sweetie found us a corner right by the pillar next to the wooden barriers around the center reserved section. Wow. Just wow.
And yesterday there was another 5:30 PM rainstorm.
Last night, as we were settling down for the night, watching TV in the dark and dozing off, we heard a horrifically loud crash. Some fellow driving on the ring road had hit the retaining wall in his brand new white Land Rover "SUV" type car. He hit it hard; a 10 foot block of cement in the wall was knocked completely out and another one under or next to it also. (It looked like nobody was hurt.) So we stood there in the twilight of 10:30 or so PM, sipping the last of the wine and watching the traffic unfold.  The oolice made it there in about 15 minutes or so, before which everyone had had to negotiate a half blocked two lane busy road on a curve by themselves. "Everyone" included about 5 city buses.When the police car came, there were two men in it. One got out and began recording details. The other one got into his Dayglo yellow vest and started directing traffic. A couple of times he would stop the cars coming one way to let the other ones through, and the car he stopped would decide to go anyway. He went over to them and told them, with pointing, to get back up there. One of these idiots argued with him, and we saw him write down their plate number. I wonder what the fine is for "interfering with an officer directing traffic?"
I promise that when we get home and I can upload pictures from the chips, we will put pictures up. But right now, it is beyond my abilities to figure out!
We may go to Fisterra (Finisterre) tomorrow, on the bus(?) so we can enjoy it when we arrive there. I´m not sure when I´ll be able to post again.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Progress report:Palas dei Rey, Galicia, Spain

Hello, everyone!
We are in Palas dei Rey tonight. We´re staying in an albergue that overlooks the main plaza, where there is a girl-folk concert going on tonight. We can hear it from our window on the "2nd" floor. They have sung "Hit the Road, Jack", they have sung "(You can hear the whistle blow) 500 Miles", and they´re working through a lot of the stuff Dad used to play in coffeehouses in his undergrad years. He´s having flashbacks.
Today´s walk was a lot less difficult than yesterday´s was. The footing was much better, and the climbing was less. I don´t know which bothers me more, going down a steep slope or walking on a pile of rocks.
We had octopus and (Spanish) tortilla for dinner and it was good.
We got a stamp (sello) from the parish church on the way into town, it´s a lovely church, and Father was in the sacristy working on his stuff when we were there.
We have hopes of hitting Santiago on Saturday. That way we can attend the pilgrim noon Mass on Sunday for sure.
The trails and roads are a lot more crowded now, as about a million people joined the trail in Sarria. (Well, maybe a thousand or so--it must be school holidays, there are a lot of high school aged kids tromping down the road.) We have to pay more attention to settling down for the night around 2 pm; we saw a trio of girls yesterday that hit Porto la Marina about 6 pm and all the albergues were full and most of the hostales were full and they were having to go to a pension...which is a step up in expense I think. But this was all caused by a lack of research into the whole thing before they left--you can't assume that you can walk until 6 pm and get a bed. It´s entirely too problematic, especially if you are being spontaneous (like us) and don´t call ahead for reservations.....we have had no trouble at all finding a place to sleep.
This camino thing, my sweetie has taken to saying, is a lot like life. It´s hard sometimes, it´s easy other times, it´s painful sometimes, it's happy others, and one of the main things is that 80% of the game is showing up every morning and tackling the day. That applies as much to figuring out more walking techniques as to foot problems and weather and everything else.
And yes, even though you have been walking since you were one year old, the Camino will teach you that you need to learn things about how to walk.
I'd like to learn how to make the sepia Basque style (squid with garlic and I don´t know what else) that we had in Pamplona, and the pulpo (octopus with pimenton I think) that we had this evening here in Palas dei Rey. Both wonderful tasting dishes.
I don´t know if there will be internet tomorrow or not.
I will try to post again as soon as I can.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Progress report: Porto Marin, Galicia, Espana

Hello, everyone!
Today we are in Porto Marin, less than 100 km. from Santiago. (I would shout yay! but it was a really really hard day today, very unexpectedly, and so I will save shouting for later.)
We slep in San Mamede, about 5 km. short of Sarria, last night, at a really lovely albergue called Paloma and (something) which was very clean, very friendly, and run by a brother and a sister. They have a large, soft lawn and plenty of lawn chairs to warm your tired, aching feet in the sun. Also, the lentil-vegetable soup they make is to die for!
Yesterday was a long day, because we walked from Hospital de la Condesa to Mamede, around 20 miles, and the day before was also long, because we walked from Perejes and climbed to O Cebreiro, a long, steep climb on dirt goat trails and rocks that was in 3 stages, before we came part of the way back down the mountain and stopped in Hospital. O Cebreiro had 2 souvenir stores, at least one restaurant, and a government albergue, plus a church that I forgot to go into. (Hey, after all that walking with a backpack, my brains fall out the back of my feet and get lost!)
Back to today: Porto Marin is on a river/lake which is very pretty, and gives the loveliest breeze while you are walking across it into the city.
This lovelieness followed a long slog of climbing up and down hills, often on goat tracks, sometimes on rocky meses, and a lot of the time on cow pats. (Come to think of it, cow pats have been the single commonest surface of the path since we entered the province of Galicia. Ugh.)
I don´t know if internet will be available tomorrow, but that´s the short scoop for the last three days.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Progress report: Just past Mansilla de las Mulas

Please see the next Santa Catalina report, this one failed to make because it was on the bad network and the compose box wouldn´t open!

Progress report: Santa Catalina de Somoza, Leon

Hello, everyone! We´re in Santa Catalina de Somoza, just past Astorga.
Since the last post, we have been through the meseta, the plains, of northern Spain. It´s been great! Lots of compressed caliche paths, some horridly rocky ones too, of course, sunny weather, and lots of sights.
A tip to walking on the rockier paths, according to my sweetie: if there are sheep droppings, which there often are, follow them. The sheep have already found the less-rocky part of the path.
We went to the cathedral in Astorga today, and the cathedral museum, and it was lovely. They have an image of Our Lady of Guadalupe, on the outside wall of the choir enclosure, and also a Capilla de la Santissima: Adoration Chapel, in our words.
We saw many lovely hand-sewn vestments in the cathedral museum, I took pictures. We also saw some ancient hand-written choir manuscripts (very large letters for the whole choir to share) and illustrated  Books of Hours and Bibles.
We are headed up into the mountains tomorrow, towards Rabanal, hopefully without any snow falling on us, nor any more hail, etc.!
We can see snow on mountain tops, but not the ones we are heading towards.
The day before yesterday we ate gazpacho for the first time here, it was a lovely meal, a Menu del Peregrino in the Albergue de San Antonio de Padua in villarente. The chefs were called into the dining room for all of us to give them a good round of applause and Bravo!! The Aggie group was there, too.
The day before yesterday we were in Leon. We missed the festival, but we toured the cathedral there. It is about the same age as the cathedral in Burgos and it is lovely. In the morning, we stayed around, loafing, over breakfast, so we could go to the post office and ship home about 5 pounds of stuff that we don´t need and shouldn´t have packed. (I love you guys, family, but Spain is not the wild interior of Alaska!)
Yesterday we stayed in Santibanezde Valdeiglesia, about 10 km. before Astorga, in a new albergue. (No Aggies, this time--the came through late and decided to strike for Astorga so they could all stay in the same town.) It was very clean and spacious. And there was a washing machine and a dryer! Y'all would be surprised at how excited I get about such
ordinary things these days.
We will post again when we find another good network to post from. (Many of the rent a box computers have been on the paintballnnavarra network and I can´t get the blog new post page to even open on that one.)
We have many, many photos to upload when we get home. (I am homesick, too, but I keep stomping it down, because our way home goes through Santiago.)
´Til next time!

Monday, June 2, 2014

Progress report: Hontanas--over a Third of the Way There!!

Hello, everyone!
We did stay in Burgos the last 2 nights--but attentive minds will notice that we were there all day ong on Sunday. The public library in Burgos isn´t open on Sunday. We didn´t see any other place to use the internet--the little hotel we stayed in didn´t have any--so I had to wait until now to do a progress report.

We are in Hontanas, a village in the midst of the meseta. (Think the Kansas of Spain here!) We didn´t get rained on today, nor yesterday when between naps we strolled the city of Burgos, nor even the day before when we walked from Ages to Burgos. Prior to that, we had walked from Villambistia to Ages, stopping briefly at the church of St. Juan de Orbigo.
St. Juan de Orbigo was a road builder and started a monastery and aided pilgrims traveling to and from Santiago, hundreds of years ago.In later years, his monastery failed to continue, but now there is a working church there in the old building, which is being restored as part of "ínfrastructur of the Camino improvements" as part of a grant from the EU of all places. We had good bocadillos there, after our long, long walk from Villafranca on the other side of the Montes de Oca.
Ages is also a village, not miniature like Villambistia is (sorry, Villambistia, but you only had about 10 houses that we could see.) but still small. The albergue there had a U-shaped dorm with everybody in it. The showers and bathrooms were divided, but for some reason the top 2 feet of the wall below the ceiling was left open. Let me tell you, being closed up in the "ladies" potty and hearing a bunch of unexpected male voices was a surprise!
We took a wee wrong turn, sort of, and ended up walking all of the long way (6 miles of sidewalks) through Burgos and its suburb to get to the old-town area where the pilgrims´albergues are. We were kept company by a lovely girl from Australia, who is preparing to return home and finish her college classes, up until the region of the albergue. Then we split off from her and went to hunt down a hotel.
We walked past two weddings that were setting up bridal entrances: the one at the city records office, the bride was wearing a more traditional (for Spain that is) dark gray chiffon gown. (At least when I was looking up Spanish wedding traditions before my elder princess´ wedding, that was what the info sites told me.) The other wedding, in the Cathedral of Burgos, had the bride in a full white dress with a headpiece that, of course, reached to the end of her full skirt.
We walked 20 miles today, crossing over 3 mesas in the bright sunshine. I started shedding layers an hour in, and by the time we got to Hontanas, I was down to the inmost shirt and the pants. It was great weather for a South Texas pair of hikers.I particularly liked something I couldn´t take a picture of: the way the grain looked, kind of like God´s fingers ruffling the heads of grain the way I might run my fingers over velvet.
We´re starting to think of sending a box of unneeded weight home, too.
That´s it for today. I´ll try to do another update tomorrow but it might be a few days.