Too Much Light…

Well, earlier this morning I asked that the light of the Holy Spirit be with us all today.

I should have been a little more specific. El Señor (Spanish for The Lord) gave me a little too much light today–in the high, high 80s I’m calculating and way too hot. Next time I’ll dial down my request…

Just when I think all the hard days are behind me, I get surprised. Went from 1200m to more than 1500m (right at 5,000-feet. Up for about 5 miles then a steep 11 mile downhill on rutted, shale path that I tend to struggle with for some reason. It ranged from 6% to 18% grade. My boots are good, but it compresses everything to the toes and so much downhill causes my left leg to lockup out of the blue and always at the wrong time. Nice views, but not a fun day. Seems I’m held together by band-aids, medical tape and gorilla tape (the frame on my glasses cracked). But maybe all this just  goes with my purpose…

Anyway, this will be short.

An example of the path. Hey, this looks pretty good, actually!

Cruz de Ferro, at almost 5,000 feet. Pilgrims fir centuries have left items here, symbolic of what he need to let go off in their lives.

I left a rock from my Dialogue in the Desert Workshop in Arizona:

Some pilgrim music by the side of the road.

So much more to say-/especially about the Benedictine vespers and Korean Mass last night, but it will have to wait until tomorrow. Morning comes fast!


Man of La Mancha Aches

Grandfather of the Camino



It Is All True…

“I know now that there is no one thing that is true–it is all true.”–Hemingway.

Well, the Old Man got that right. At least pertaining to the Camino. Everything about it is true: from the solitude to the comarderie, from the difficulty to the beauty, from the villages to the large cities, from the small churches to the enormous cathedrals, from what happens within and what happens externally–this and more is all true.

Today I walked from Astorga to Rabanal del Camino, Some 12 miles, at an altitude of 1,155 meters–3,788 feet. Tomorrow we go to almost 5,000 feet to Cruz de Ferro, a legendary point on the Camino. There stands a tall iron cross and pilgrims leave a rock or other object they brought from home at its base–a letting go, if you will. I brought a small smooth rock from my Dialogue in the Desert workshop walks in Arizona.

Then a short while later I’ll reach the highest point in the Camino–Altar Mayor!

I had no idea my grandson Felix had a bar here! Today there was a small village about every three miles or so. Sure helps break up the miles when you can stop for a drink and snack.

In most of the little villages the Camino seems to be the major revenue source. Without it, I don’t see how they would stay alive.

It sure is nice though, to see the church bells from a distance–knowing that a bar should be ahead!

My fellow pilgrims, June (who I call Santa Christina), from the US (an Amherst grad, Pete!) and Palo, a financial advisor with a bank from Milano. June loves classical music, especially chamber music. Great souls.

Hello! A cowboy bar right smack on the Camino! Yep, feeling right at home here.

The stonework was amazing in this village…

I wish I had been taking more photos if doors along the Way. They are so interesting.

This doesn’t show up well, but the fields were divided into rock walked paddocks of stone. Perhaps for a paddock of sheep at one time?

This is what most of today’s path looked like. Can you say Oklahoma?

This is what I looked like walking that path in 88-degree heat. I’m channeling Lawrence of Arabia. Well, the mind does wander out here. And wonder…

Meet my new traveling companion, Julio the Eagle!

Out in the middle of nowhere, Sir Albert here had set up shop with his eagle. Pay a Euro, hold the eagle, get your pilgrim passport stamped–or sword fight this Templar Knight. I chose the Euro.

Templar Knights roamed this part of the Camino in olden times, protecting pilgrims from bandits. Kinda like the Church version of Highway Patrol. They wanted to make sure the pilgrims got to Santiago to pay indulgences…

Finally, Rabanal del Camino! The steepest part was walking up the old Roman road into town!

And my reward? I treated myself to this breakfast–well, it’s the nearest I can get to breakfast. First time I’ve had eggs anything but in a tortilla. And they serve French fries with everything! That’s cold cheese, by the way.

Gotta run to Mass. A Mass every evening! I sure need it!


The Sun Also Rises

“He who reads much and walks much, goes far and knows much.”

–Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, Don Quixote

Sunrise backlights Antonio Gaudi’s Palacio in Astorga as I break camp and head to the mountains today. The destination: Rabanal del Camino, 12 miles away. It’s going to be hot: temp forecast for sun and 88F.


Man of La Mancha Mountains

Grandfather of the Camino


The Things You See…

Sitting at an outside cafe in front of Antonio Gaudi’s Palacio Episopal in Astorga, in the corner of my eye  I notice this fellow walking a little dog–but the little dog was hopping, so I took a closer look…it was a rabbit!

And then this Spaniard drives up in this slick-looking car. I took a photo for him with his family and we chatted as I admired his car. He completely restored this 1975 Citron! Stunning.

My new dance partners. I saw them sitting there all alone and asked if I could take their photo.

“Donde nationale?” they asked.

“Americano,” I replied.

“Ah, no Trump!” they said!

The Cathedral in Astorga.

My pack keeps getting bigger!

Man of La Mancha Cathedrals

Grandfather of the Camino!


León Is…

People everywhere–and they never sleep!

Street performers…

And even my pilgrim friends, Ameliee and Leni from France, trying to raise a few Euros!

The Spainish are always protesting something!

And if they are aren’t protesting, they’re partying!

And eating!

Me, too! Finally something besides “pilgrim menu.”

Liza: notice the sign above…

Ran into my friend Chloee from France who I met very early on in the Camino. She tore a muscle in her ankle. Said it happened as a result of too much wine and jumping…ah, youth!

Here’s your wild dog, Max. They said he’s a long hair German Shepard. I think it’s part wolf.

Anybody for flea markets? And masses of people?

Me and my Cathedral!

For me, it was an R&R day in León. First no walk day since May 27. Many other pilgrims used it as a rest day as well. Much needed. It was nice to be in a big city for a change, especially to see León’s  marvelous architecture. But far too many people. It will be nice to be in smaller towns and villages from here on. Two mountain ranges to go over in the next couple of weeks–and the highest point in the Camino, among those.

Two weeks to Santiago!


Man of La Manche Rest

Grandfather of the Camino


León: Architecture that Touches Heaven

An Antonio Gaudi building…

Not a Gaudi, but across from the Cathedral-and beautiful.

Below is the Bascilica de San Isidoro, a mixture of Roman and Baroque styles–and the resting place of some 28 kings and queens. And the site of last night’s Mass. 

After Mass, the priest asked all the pilgrims to the altar and took great care and time to explain to us the importance of this Bascilia and of our journey–all in Spanish, of course, but with the enlisted aid of a fellow pilgrim who tried his best to help translate.

Afterwards he escorted us to his private chambers, stamped our pilgrim passports and blessed us.

The Bascilica is stunning:

It even has radiant heated pews!

The Cathedral as seen from one of the numerous side streets that lead to the square:

So much more to post!!! The fun stuff!


Man of La Mancha Architecture 

Grandfather of the Camino


Being Lost in Something Bigger than Oneself…

“Architecture is frozen music.”–Goethe

Doesn’t this Cathedral just sing?

Can’t you hear it coming from the spires and buttresses?

It is, as Goethe said, frozen music–but in this case, music that comes alive to the eyes and ears if you look at it long enough.

Started in 1205, the  Cathedral de León is French Gothic design, a radical new design then that ushered a shift from Roman-designed brick walls with few windows to the use of flying buttresses and pointed arches which structurally permitted  extensive windows, letting light inside what were previously dark interiors.

And the Cathedral here in León does that superbly–it has more than 700 stain glass windows, said to be the best collection in the world.
I toured it yesterday and went to Mass there this morning.
You don’t have to understand the priest–there were 6 of them!–to feel something happening inside yourself. 

It’s like all the people who labored to build this over hundreds of years are before you. 

How can it not be a Holy Moment?

The entrance doors. Everything is carved in relief…

In the cloister…


Man of La Manche Moments

Grandfather of the Camino


León! El Esplendor de la Vidriera!

I’m in León! It’s late so will make this short and add to it in depth tomorrow.

Last several days have been walking straight line next to a highway against chilly 20 mph headwind. Probably the worst of the Camino. Nothing of particular interest. Just head down, step after step. Could have skipped this part entirely, but who knows, perhaps it just goes into the making of a peregrino and not a tourist.

León is 130,000 people and they were all in the street this afternoon–and still are! It’s festival season and everyone is celebrating something. Groups waving flags, improv bands, dancing, drinking. It reminds me of Mardi-Gras. Even some of the buildings have that New Orleans French flavor.

The city has amazing architecture. Here’s a peek–more tomorrow!