Three Sleeps Away

I discovered that searching can be as interesting as finding.–Paulo Coelho

Today: 34,825 steps. 15 miles. Beautiful, clear sky. 

I’m in Palas de Rei for the night. Can’t get internet where I am, so sitting at table outside in front of a bar that has it.

Three sleeps from Santiago.

Is it the journey or the destination? Right now I am looking forward to seeing the cathedral in Santiago rise above the city and standing before it having achieved a long walk, having fulfilled a promise made long ago, having stuck with putting one foot in front of another for 500 miles when the left foot shouted STOP and the right wouldn’t listen. Undoubtedly it will be emotional.

Today was a good, long day. Maybe it’s because I’m closer to the end. Or maybe because “El Diablo” (my major heel blister) isn’t hurting under all the bandages and tape.

Met this Spanish couple with their black lab–they just started in Sarria, two days ago. He’s the best trained dog-/sticks right with them. Sure makes me miss Buddy. I wonder if he’ll remember me.

And these two folks just met today, but they look like they should be a couple. Both from Spain, Nacha is translator, Javier works in a factory. What wonderful, outgoing individuals.

My dinner: salad, Caldo Gallego (Gallician soup), and a Cerveza.

Adrian shows me the finer points of a Cerveza:the foam can only be 1-inch high. What a great guy. I love the people of Gallicia–so warm and outgoing.

My phone is about dead so I’ll have to post this before it dies–sorry it’s so short, but spent more time today walking and less visiting and taking photos.
And then there was this 4-day old fella!

Santiago calls.



Walking With the Masses

“I do not deny that what happened to us is a thing worth laughing at. But it is not worth telling, for not everyone is sufficiently intelligent to be able to see things from the right point of view.”
Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, Don Quixote

 I left Sarria this morning along with hordes of others–groups of teenagers, families, and church/organizational groups all with day packs and all giddy with enthusiasm and laughter as they set off on their five day adventure to Samtiago. It was hard to find some individual space for the first few miles as the path was narrow. At first I was irritated by their loudness and silliness, but then I reminded myself that, for the most part, these were just young uns being young. At least they were on a pilgrimage, albeit a shorter and different one than mine, but a pilgrimage just the same. Bless them.

Put in just under 14 miles today. I’m in Portomarin now–a town with a lake! 

First time I’ve seen water. They evidently dammed up a river years ago and they relocated the town on a hill. Literally dismantled a church and rebuilt it stone block by stone block. Here it is:

On the walk I met Kati, a young woman from Hungary, who is very sweet. 

We came upon this horse. She had never been around a horse before. He promptly nipped her on the arm.

And I chatted with these two cousins from California who are doing just the leg from Sarri:

You meet the nicest people, from all nations and walks of life on the Camino.

Like this local farmer.

And this statue on a peregrino. He didn’t have much to say.But he did point The Way…

And this Spainard and his black lab, one of the few dogs on the Camino.

The way marking in Galicia all show the amount of kilometers to go. When these showed 250 it was kinda depressing. But this one is a milestone I’ve been waiting for: less than 100 klicks to go!!!! That’s 60 miles!!! Three more days…If all goes well I hope to be walking into Santiago Saturday!

I can’t get wifi in my room in this pension so I’m doing this in their bar. Outside in the plaza with the same church pictured above a funeral is taking place.

Endings and beginnings.

Life is short. Remember to live while you still can. Remember to love while you still dare to.


Man of La Mancha Steps

Grandfather of the Camino


One More Thought

One More Thought…I somehow hit the publish button before I was finished…

With Santiago being just 5 days away I’ve been reflecting on why I’m doing this journey in the first place, now that I’m on the homestretch.

There is a saying: one travels the world in search of happiness, only to return home and find it waiting there all the time.

But I am not doing the Camino in search of happiness. I am doing it to fulfill a promise I made to God 21 years ago…and to rekindle my Spirit.

I hope that is worthy enough.

But I also know that step after step is causing me to realize what really matters in my life:

Home. Barbara. John. Stevie. Jack. Henry. Liza. Max. Matt. Alycia. Felix. Charlie.

And Buddy. 

And Oscar, too.
Okay, even Wrigley.

And my extended family, my Sister and her family and my friends.

It also makes me to realize how often I do not let my actions show that. 


Man of La Mancha Thoughts

Grandfather of the Camino


A Day of Rest

“Finally, from so little sleeping and so much reading, his brain dried up and he went completely out of his mind.”
–Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, Don Quixote

If you substitute the word “walking” for the word “reading” in above, then that may be closer to summing me up yesterday.

So I took a day of rest today.


But it was the right thing to do.

Big whimp.

I gave “El Diablo,” my heel blister (I borrowed the name from Deborah’s evil blister brother), time to air out, ran errands (the bank, supermarcado, laundry, ate three square meals (well, if you count a peanut butter and jelly sandwich a meal (finally found a jar!!!), cleaned out my pack, ran into a couple of friends, rested and relaxed.

My blister feels much better–going to check it again tonight. Got some pads to put on it and my feet.

Sarria is an important stop for peregrinos who’ve been on the road as long as I have for it marks the homestretch to Santiago: it’s now just 5 days away, if all things hold true.

And there are lots of newbie peregrinos in town–tell by their new gear and wide-eyed looks. Many have their suitcases shipped to the next hostal/hotel and are only carrying a small day pack. Others have huge packs. Lots of groups–Italians and young scout types. This is a big jumping off place as it is 100k from Santiago, the min distance one has to walk for getting a Compostella. I think I’ve done a little more than that…

Sorry, no photos on the blog–the server where I am won’t let me download anything. Maybe tomorrow!


A Shadow of Who I Was…

Pulvis et umbra sumus. (We are but dust and shadow.)

Horace, The Odes of Horace


Another day, another 31,849 steps.

A pretty walk today, up, up and up and the a long downhill that never seemed to end. But they all seem like that. Beautiful weather follows me again. I’d sure hate to do this in the rain.

The dogs here are all working dogs. The herder didn’t even come out of the barn until the dog was leading the cows way down the road.

The other day I meet these two young girls from Spain who were on a week-long trip on the Camino with their dog “Fat Boy (Gordo in Spanish). He even had his own scallop shell and pack!

And this is Max and Alexa from Boulder, brother and sister doing the Camino. What great you folks they are, easy to talk with and wise beyond their years.

The first thing I do when I get in is laundry! It takes time to dry, especially my thick wool socks.

Probably the prettiest entrance to any village: this is Molinaseca.

Will somebody please let this poor boy in! He stood there frozen like this for the longest time. Dog-willing…

I’m about 5-6 days from Santiago!

My heel blister came back with avengance today, making me walk like a drunkeon sailor.Well, more like a stumbling peregrino! I lanced in again  tonight. I’ll see how it is tomorrow. If not better I may take a day off–I have it to give.

Happy Birthday Barbara and Charlie!! Sorry I’m here and not with you to celebrate. A raincheck? But know that I’m thinking of you, miss you both–I miss everyone!–and love you immensely.


Man of La Mancha Memories

Grandfather of the Camino


In the Early Morning Mist…

“Someday, somewhere – anywhere, unfailingly, you’ll find yourself, and that, and only that, can be the happiest or bitterest hour of your life.”

The poet Pablo Neruda

Catching up from yesterday…and today.

I’m in the mountains–O’Cebrerio, a small hamlet in the province of Galicia. Galicia is totally unlike the rest of Espania: fertile, lush, green, pines and ferns and best of all, the kind of food Barbs mom used to make when we’d go to the farm: hearty, country, real. Last night the clouds crouched right down on the thatched roof buildings and I had the best meal of my entire Camino: Caldo Gallego–a simple but hearty vegetable soup. I was worn down, tired, cold and feet ached. I call it the sopa that saved my life. And no, I did not order a bottle of wine-when you order a glass of wine they bring you the bottle! Another reason to love Galicia!

And the little casa rural had the feel of something out of a Hobbitt movie. Very warm and cozy.

I got a piece of toast before setting out this morning and the woman just slaps it on the stove! Omaw would love it here. The Galacians identify as much with the Celtics as they do with Spain because that’s their  roots.

Here’s what the little mountain village of O’Cebrerio looks like:

I light candles in every church for my family and friends.

One of the oldest churches on the Camino–and note the electronic prompter to the right! This is the first one I’ve seen. It prompted in four languages. The pilgrims make up at least 80% or more of the people in the pews. Without the Camino, the churches and villages would be empty.

Love the thatch roofs.

This is what I woke up to: dense fog and heavy mist…and cold.

So I doned my rain jacket, long pants and pushed off. A few miles down the road is this statue of a peregrino. There were a group of Italians taking pictures and so, being the kind Anericano I am, I offered to take their group photo. They were so happy they asked if I wanted a photo of me with the statue. I said, “Si, but con giovane donna! They all laughed and so here we are! Turns out they live near Barbara’s relatives! They know Serrone!

Rock walls lined the pathway this morning and daisies filled the fields.

I walked up behind this person wearing way too heavy clothes, playing the guitar and serenading passer-bys. She needed an agent. So I said hello.

Here name is Kirsty, she’s from Scotland, has a rich accent and the voice of a folk singer–image Joan Baez. She writes her own music, gets by as a street performer and is a free vagabond spirit. We walked together for several hours. She sang and we chatted and it’s pretty amazing that a 24-year-old and a way past 24-year-old can have conversations about life. The Camino just cuts through so much formality.

Kinda like our vegetable garden, right Barbs?

You learn to share the Camino…

Just to show what hiking 13-16 miles a day does to your feet:lancing a blister on the side of my heel that just won’t go away.

But I won’t let that ugly photo be the final image of the evening…

This card was given to me and other peregrinos by the priest in Estella. I keep it with me. I try to read it every day. It sustains me through the difficult days and nights.


Man of La Mancha Steps

Grandfather of the Camino

On A Cold Spanish Pathway, Strong Wind in my Face…

To the tune of ‘Hotel California’–still a work in progress, but maybe my guitar-playing grandsons, Henry and Max, could make it better…plus it’s hard typing on my iPhone!!

“Camino Santiago”

On a cold Spanish pathway, strong wind in my face

Warm call of an alburgue rising up through the air.

Somewhere in the distance I see a Cathedral’s spire

My legs grew weary and 

My eyes went dim

I have to stop this Madness 

Before it begins.
But there in the shadows

In the evening light

Stood Don Quioxte fighting windmills

And I can’t escape it, this is my life.

Then he called me by name and I thought I heard him say,

Welcome to the Camino Santiago

Such a lonely place

Such a silent place.

Plenty of room for peregrinos to walk the Camino 

Whenever you’re near

Whatever your fears.
His mind wanders and twists like the road ahead

The Silence calls him

He’s got plenty of blisters but they ain’t His friends

It’s the road he walks

That will  never end.
So I offered a prayer to Santiago

Please bring me some relief

I’m held together by tape and faith 

but in the distant mist all I hear is

Welcome to the Camino Santiago

Such a lonely place

Such a changing place.

They’re putting one foot in front of the other 

On the way across the plains,

What a road it is

What a life it is.

We’re walking 500 miles to Santiago.

Seeking penance and forgiveness along the Way to where I was before.

Every morning I wake up to find

The road still before me, will it ever end?
Trust the Camino said my mysterious friend

Once you walk it
You’ll never be the same…



Man of La Mancha Song Writer

Grandfather of the Camino


A Pilgrim is a Wanderer with a Purpose

Well, I reckon I am a qualified pilgrim then. My purpose is to fulfill a promise I made to God some 21 years ago. And to rekindle a piece (or should I say ‘peace’) of my Spirit. So I wander with purpose. My new Indian name!

I met a fellow from Canada and we walked together for many miles today. He has done portions of the Camino before and agreed that yesterday’s downhill was the most brutal of the Camino. At least it helps to have some agreement in yesterday’s ordeal.

Today was better: just 13 miles through towns and vineyards. That’s only 30,585 steps, compared to yesterday’s 36,986!

But I picked up a blister the last couple of miles on my left heel. Lanced and drained it and hope it will be okay for tomorrow’s day one of the mountains. 

Night before last was one of the highlights of the pilgrimage. I walked around this old church and noticed a little shop across from it. 

The village–Rabanal del Camino– is small, maybe 6o people and those still around look as old as the buildings that line their steep street. 

I had no sooner stepped in this shop when behind the counter a monk (pictured above) quickly asked, “Can you read English?”

“Well, most of the time I can handle it,” I replied and turned my attention to the merchandise around the walls.

“Good!” He exclaimed. ‘At 6:50 go to the church, pick up a yellow pamphlet on your left and then go sit up front by the priest. He’ll instruct you on what to do.”

“Say what?”

“Oh, I’m sorry,” he said. “I assumed you’d be going to Vespers.”

“Well, yes I thought I would,” I replied.

“Good! We need you to read the Scripture in English.”

Now that’s the way to recruit volunteers!

The little church was small. It looked like the ceiling would collapse at any moment. But there was something humble and moving about it in its simplicity that the larger, more ordained cathedrals didn’t have. I expected Christ to come off the cross at any moment.

I sat right on the side with two monks and another pilgrim who read in German; across from us  we’re two other monks and two pilgrims, one who read it in Spanish, the other in Korean.
The Vespers were conducted (sung) in Latin by the Benedictine monks from Bavaria, who operate the Monestary.

There were probably 25 other pilgrims in attendance, all from different countries. The Camino is a melting pot of the world.

Afterwards, Mass was conducted by a young Korean–I learned later that he is a Chaplin in the Korean Army, on leave walking the Camino! There were three other Korean pilgrims, a woman from Brazil and myself in the “congregation.”

Now here’s the cool part: this young priest conducted the service using an iPad! High tech in an ancient church building. When he gave his homily he asked one of the Koreans (my friend Jaesoo) to translate it in English as he went along!

The Korean priest is in the middle, above.

Afterwards the Koreans and the priest invited me to dinner. Then we went back to the church where the Monks gave all the pilgrims a special blessing.

The Korean priest is second from the left. My Korean friend, Jaesoo, who I met in León, is on the right.

Gotta lance the blister again, so will sign off for now. Many more stories to tell, so stay tuned!


Man of La Manche New Big Blister

Grandfather of the Camino