Back from the Camino de Santiago

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Vineyards along the Camino de Santiago (taken between Cacabelos and Villafranca del Bierzo)

 

I have been back from the Camino for four months now, but not really. I hardly had unpacked my bags and I was off to spend two months with my grandchildren in St. Louis, Missouri. I have been home from St. Louis for one month today and am just beginning to feel a normal rhythm in my life.

I still want to post all my pictures of that wonderful experience . . . . so you will be notified some time in the future about that. I am working out the mechanics of it now. It took several gigabytes of images of beautiful Spain in the springtime.

But, for my San Diego friends, I wanted to let you know that I am going to be giving a slide show of my trip:

When: Friday evening, October 21 6:30

Where: Legacy Church Offices, Suite E, 9019 Park Plaza Drive, La Mesa (near Dallas and Fletcher Parkway

Light Refreshments served

RSVP (so I have the correct amount of chairs set up) by leaving a comment below.

Buen Camino

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Camino de Santiago – Between Sarria and Portomarin

 

 

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Cathedral – Santiago de Compostela

 May 24, 2016
This was my last day in Santiago and even though I took a day off to go to the coast yesterday, today felt like the final completion to my pilgrimage, my journey from St.Jean Pied de Port in France, over the Pyrenees, through the rolling hills of Basque country, ancient villages and medieval churches and monasteries, the wheat fields and canola flower fields, the ups and downs and winding cobbled stoned streets of the hill towns, the vineyards, the very wide open flat plains, the mountains into green plush Galicia . . . .ended as I attended the mass at Santiago de Compostela Catherdral.
I am not Catholic, I am a Protestant Christian so I had no attachment to the pomp and circumstance of the service. It was all in Spanish and I recognized no words that sounded like scripture. I attended another pilgrim mass or blessing in a small village in the mountains a couple of weeks ago and I was given a paper with the English translation of the service which made it very enjoyable, personal and meaningful as the priest read the scriptures. Today in Santiago there was a woman singing and a backup choir and I absolutely loved the music. I loved the gold above the altar and the red vestments of the priests against the background of the white altar. It was so beautiful, but for me, not “spiritually” meaningful. Just beautiful and I knew they were talking about my Jesus.
However, at the end of the mass, when everyone that went forward had received communion and were seated, a hush came across the crowd as men in maroon vestments came forward and the large incense burners started swinging. This tradition was originally started in medieval times because the cathedral was filled with pilgrims that smelled from weeks or months of walking. Today it is a tradition that for me was magical and really completed my six week journey across Spain. We had heard that they weren’t doing it every day, they did it only on Fridays; so we weren’t expecting it. We heard wrong.
You had to be there to to know what I am talking about. I don’t know if you had to be a pilgrim to feel what I felt, but it ended my journey on an upbeat, surreal, magical tone.

Turn your sound up to enjoy this little snippet of a video (you can also enlarge the video by clicking the marks in the lower right):

Come share the time with me in the Santiago de Compostela Cathedral:

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North Side

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North side

We entered through a door on the east side and found a seat as we knew seating for the mass was at a premium.

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The view above where we were sitting

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The beautiful altar – look at the detail and the statue of St. James

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Another view of the altar

There were no photographs allowed during the service, but before the mass started, I took some photos of the columns which really fascinated me.
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After the mass we stayed in the Cathedral wandering around, looking into every little crook and cranny. Other than the ornate altar, it was quite simple and plain.

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A statue of Jesus in a small side chapel (I am not sure if that is what they are called-the little rooms on the side of the cathedral)

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Statue of St. James based on a legend that he returned (came back to life) to fight the Moors in the Battle of Clavijo,

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 In the crypt, below the altar:
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The remains of St. James

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Also in the crypt, appeared to be empty, but I don’t know what was in there – it was not accessible.

The long line to touch the statue of St. James.
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Coming out on the other side after touching the statue of St. James.

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An altar in one of the side chapels

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I could not read who was buried here.

After the mass I was able to get up closer to the altar to take these.

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A better view?

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Western view of the Cathedral from the Plaza del Obradoiro,

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We left the cathedral and went to a four-level museum within the western face of the cathedral. As we walked up the stairs we were treated with reaching the roof on the top level. We walked out on the ancient stones and imagined how it might look when the present day restoration is completed.

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We looked at our watches and knew it was time to leave the Cathedral, it was almost 3 pm and we had an early flight in the morning  to return to San Diego; we hadn’t eaten since breakfast. We left silently so filled with the awe and the extent of knowledge we had received in the cathedral and in the museum. We had lunch again in our favorite restaurant in Santiago, Casa Manolo. As we walked back to our hotel, La Salle, I felt complete and satisfied with my journey. I am blessed that I was able to complete it. I am still processing it all, but I turned around and took my last view of ancient streets of old Santiago and snapped this picture:

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Good bye Santiago de Compostela

May 27, 2016

I am home now, shaking off the jet lag, processing this wonderful experience and looking at the wonderful photos that are a part of the journey. I have shared on this blog just a few of the hundreds of photos I took. When I get a little more settled I will come up with a way to share all the photos that will be easy and entertaining. So, for those interested, you can keep following the blog and look forward to hearing from me again. Thank you for your interest, your comments and your encouragement in sharing this journey with me.

 

Day 24. Astorga to Rabanal del Camno

May 7, 2016            Saturday          12.8 miles  Started at 7:30 am and arrived at 1:30 pm
Today was again a wonderful day beginning our climb into the mountains. The hostal I stayed in last night was quite a disappointment. They were not set up to take care of  a pilgrim. It was wonderful having my own bedroom – the first time in three weeks, and the shared bathroom down the hall was an improvement over the albergues, but the lady who registered me into the hostal told me they opened at 6 a m and I could leave my backpack  for transport any time after six. It is complicated to explain, but the hostal was over a restaurant, so I could get out of my room by a side door, but not into the restaurant except through the front door. I woke up at 5 am and got ready, hoping to leave at daybreak, which is about 6:15 now. But when I went out the side door, around to the front, they were not open. I could not leave until they opened the front door and allowed me to leave my backpack for transport. I waited outside in the cold until 7:30. Not a good way to start the day. All I said to her was “Muchas gracias.”  I couldn’t explain myself in Spanish and she didn’t understand a word of English, but I was bound and determined not to let her rob me of my joy so I walked away with a grateful heart that I did not have to wait longer, and that I was on God’s time schehedule-not mine.

Yesterday was raining but today it was chilly and the sun was trying to come out behind the clouds. I found my way from the hostal to the Camino and within a mile there was a little church,  so I stopped and gave a donation and poked inside.
Small chapel  leaving Astorga
After walking out of the church I joined the other pilgrims leaving Astorga, one by one they all passed me.I knew it was a short walk tody but wanted to take my time. I didn’t know if I would see J from Brazil, but hoped Iwould.  Soon a tall man came up next to me and said something in Spanish, which I responded in Spanish but before long we knew we both spoke English. This was the beginning of a 12.8 mile walk with a most interesting man.  M from the northwest is a former priest and now spiritual seeker, married with four children; his wife is a former nun. We talked so much and I was so fascinated by his story, I hardly noticed the mountain terrain, which I have to admit at times felt like home. We went through many small dying towns with old stone buildings that did not feel like home.

Old, but still beautiful

In the pines in the pines . . .

walking into one of the little Maragato villages

Where is spring here? Willthese trees be full of leaves this summer

 
M from the northwest and I stopped mdmorning for a snack. Except for that it was steady walking along an old road, some times in mud. I saw the back of J once and called to her, but she didn’t hear me. Mary and Sofie passed by also. We just kept walking at my slow pace.M had fallen last year and broke two ribs near Leon. He returned to Leon this year to finish his walk to Santiago.

When we got to Rabanal Del Camino we ran into J and the three of had lunch togetherin a great restaurant -snug and warm, protected from the cold mountain wind beginning to blow outside. In the background we heard Irish music. and. that. is the. first. time I. understood that  Spanish Gailic wasn’t caused by the Irish immigrating here, but the other way around.  After lunch we all went our separate ways and I went around this lovely village taking pictures.I have taken so many more pictures than I have shared that I willhave to think of a way I can share the when I get home and download them all.

A house a couple doors down from where I am staying


I went to mass in the little church across the street. I read it in English as the priests were singing. It was lovely. M from the northwest was sitting next to me singing in Latin.  It is starting to rain, I can hear it on the sky light in my room. The day ended better than it began.I met a new interesting person who has much to say, several people passed me on the trail that I haven’t seen for days, old Camino friends and we re-connected for a few minutes,  I continue to enjoy the sweet presence of J.

I. am going to bed tonight with gratitude that my ankle and health in general is holding up. Each day is a challeng, but today was relatively easy. Tomorrow there is more of a climb – from about 4,000 to 5,000 ft in the rain -and possibly snow?  If I make it up the mountain I will go  to Cruz de Ferro -traditional for bringing a rock from home and then symbolically leaving it there and leaving your burdens, your pain, “whatever” that needs left. I picked up a fine Quartz in the mountains between Laguna Mtn and Cuyamaca Mtn and. will be leaving that.

Soon Lee and Brian. will be here from San Diego.

Day 22 Leon to Villadangos Del Paramor 

May 5, 2016.      Thursday

I continued my R and R in Leon this morning, taking advantage of a 12 noon checkout time and toured the Palace of the Guzmans. Again rich with history, it was built in 1560 and is in very good condition.

The official website:
http://www.leon.es/Visit/Monuments_of_the_City/All_the_Monuments/Palacio_de_Los_Guzmanes_1;jsessionid=B59A05C7D354E1A638B2B5D2A51358B1Guzman castle

I will post just a few photos showing the Corinthian and Ionic columns and stained glass (which was added in the 1940’s) depicting castles, coat of arms, typical dress of the various regions and castles.

Courtyard of the Guzman Palace



Staind glass windows on the second level depicting castles in the region


After the tour, it was time to head to the bus stop.On the way I had my favorite lunch – tortilla de patata and before you knew it I was getting off the bus in Villadangos Del Paramor. I felt that the bus dropped me off in the 1950’s “Last Picture Show.”  It had such a lonely abandoned feeling about it, including the wind blowing little around.If ound my albergue and now the evening is young to rest, read,and/or prepare for tomorrow’s 18mile walk to Astorga (possibly in the rain).

Day 20 PS

Accidentally got posted to the wrong blog site

cardsbygeri

  • WordPress cut me off -
  • We arrived at a wonderful albergue – San Franciso de Asis – Mary, Sofie and I are in a room with 2 bunk beds all by ourselves with a private bath – free washers and dryers – good WIFI -we are feel like tourists tonight, not pilgrims. Tomorrow I am taking a rest day – the three of us will check into a hostel tomorrow that has a bathtub. If I don’t get too lazy I will hit the trail by myself on Thursday. Our team is spitting up – we are on different time schedules.

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Day 20 El Burgo Ranero to Leon

cardsbygeri

May 3, 2016 Tuesday

Started at 6:45 a.m. Arrived at Leon #t 2:30

Walked 8.1 miles El Burgo to Reliegos

Took a taxi from Reliegos to Mansillas de las Mulas 3.9 miles

Took a bus from Mansillas de las Mulas to Leon 11.2 miles

Today started with such promise and beauty but it was one of the most challenging days – physically, spiritually and emotionally.

Sunrise behind me – I am walking west Notice the little sliceofmoon above the tree
Mary, Sophie and I had made the decision to walk to Mansillas de las Mulas with our back packs (remember Mary and I had been transporting our backpacks) and then take a bus to Leon. We had been told by other pilgrims and even the guide book mentioned this as a good choice because of the hazards of walking into the busy city. We have reservations for Wed night sharing…

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