Spanish Coast – Coast of Death

May 23, 2016.       Monday
We took a bus for to the Spanish coast. I will post this day wen I get back home.


Day 39      Lavacolla to Santiago

May 22, 2016             Sunday    6.2 miles         Left at 9:30 am arrived at the Cathedral at 3:00 (after one hour lunch)
I decided before the day began that I was going to “go with the flow.” I had some preconceived expectations of what I wanted to do and I let go of all of that just to experience the day as it happened.

We started our day with a pilgrim breakfast in our lovely pension by Martha.

Before we got to the suburbs of Santiago we walked through some rural areas and saw a young boy driving a tractor with his mother behind him shouting directions.

Mother and son doing farm work

Pilgrims all heading to Santiago, finishing their pilgrimage today.

And then we enter Santiago. It is still probably two miles until we get to the Cathedral.

Is this the same donkey I saw leaving Cacabelos?

We have heard that the line to get your certificate of completion, so to speak can be two hours long so we stop for lunch before going to the Cathedral. Several days ago a pilgrim told us we MUST go to this particular restaurant in Plaza Cervantes, and there it was, right in front of us. It was indeed a good lunch – now off we go to the Cathedral.

Lee and I in front of the Santiago de Compostela Cathedral

It took us quite awhile to actually find “where” to get our Compostelas but once we did, the wait was about one hour for us.  We had to show our Pilgrim Passports to prove where we started and how long it took.

I have two passports because I filled up the first one

And then . . . It is official – I walked the 500 miles (with a few exceptions) across northern Spain!

Holding my certificates

This has been such a dramatic journey and it is too soon to process it all; that will come later. There are so many photos and stories I have not shared, but this may be my last blog until I  get home. I still, as I write this, have not been inside the Cathedral. There is more to experience.

Day 38 Salceda to Lavacolla

May 21, 2016            Saturday             11.2 miles         Left at 8:30 Arrived at 3:30 with several breaks 
This was my and our last long walk of the Camino. Rain was forecasted in the late afternoon, and if we hurried we could possibly make it to Lavacolla before the rain started. Optimism prevailed and we left without our rain gear on – but we couldn’t seem to hurry; still too much to see and enjoy.

The Alberque Turistico was hard to leave Saturday morning. We kept waiting for the dining room to open for our free breakfast; it was supposed to open at 7:00 and here it was after 7:30 and no sign of life in the gorgeous glass dining room. Lee and I walked out to check on things one more time and noticed someone had a cup of coffee. Ahhh- coffee alert, where did he get it? We discovered breakfast had started without us just fine in another part of the facility. Joke was on us. It was the typical peregrinos breakfast, juice, toast, coffee.

As we left we felt the chill of the moist air and wanted to walk quickly to warm up. This was going to be a day of little towns every coupleof miles. Our route was close to a highway most of the time but also was cloistered in country lanes sheltered by trees. Early in the day we passed pilgrims having coffee with a group of Italians signing opera.

Opera singers on the right

Note the sign to Santiago

Walter’s flower

And then we met Walter and Flan. Walter is one of these people you meet and instantly know he is a gentle soul, a good person and would love to spend more time with him. He was from Argentina but has been in Spain 10 years ago. His van was parked near a little pavilion. The doors were open to the van and we looked inside as we passed – it was clean and neat and colorful, hippie beads tied to one side.  It was definitely a view from the 60’s. Walter himself was a throw back, wearing colorful loose clothes, clean and neat with his hair tied in a short pony tail. Five years ago he did the Camino with Flan, his dog and wrote a memoir, “My Solidary Companion,” or something close to that in Spanish. He gave Lee and I flowers and hugs and kisses when we left – that is Lee wearing the flower above. 

The groves of trees that we entered looked different to me today – I felt like I was in the redwoods, but they were actually eucalyptus trees, perhaps a different variety than we have inSo. California.

A cyclist whips right by us

And then we catch up with him as he stops for something

I see a Galician lady weed whacking with a cythe and I ask and she lets me take her picture, my confidence is building for people pictures.

Coming down a hill we see an older lady  in the distance near a Camino marker walking  with two canes,, struggling up a slight incline. I wanted to take a picture as it was such a contrast – the Camino marker and this person walking with such difficulty, swaying back and forth as she leaned from one cane to the other,right to left , bearing her weight as she could to keep her balance – but I was too far away to photograph the moment. Instead I said a silent prayer for her and thanked God again for the healing of my shin splints and the fact that I have not had a MAJOR injury on the Camino. As we got closer we waved and greeted her and she called out “Buen Camino” to us. I took this as I walked away:

I hid behind a tree to get this one. AmI becoming a paparazzi?

These flowers were everywhere!

I come around a corner and what do I see but California poppies for the first time:

The wind is starting to feel like rain, but we are still dry. Even though we are ten or twelvemilesfromSantiago, we are close to the Santiago airport. A plane flies overhead and it is so close we think we are on the landing strip, til we look to our leftand see we practically are!

Near the airport we are again in a little tree-covered area and come across a waterfall.

Lee, Brian and I

No siesta forthem – they are tending the garden

We were so lucky. We had a little trouble finding our pension for the night, but our hostess came and picked us up and drove us to the best pension yet – so classy!

Tomorrow is Day 39 and God willing I will walk into Santiago with my two friends, Lee and Brian. Thank you for sharing the journey with me also.

The Hills are Alive with the Sound of Music

All is going.well with my journey on the Camino de Santiago, but I have a lot of catching up up do.The sound of music in the Pyrennes is not from musc being streamed as WIFI (the Spanish pronounce it WEE-FEE). has been very sparse. I left off with me sitting in the airport in Madrid, waiting for a connecting flight to Pamplona.

The flight to Pamplona was on a small little plane, landing in a small little airport. From the air the joy of travel won over  sleep deprivation as I saw Pamplona from the air; seeing the green hills and getting excited to have my journey begin. I was seeing Spain for the first time. The flight attendant announced everything in Spanish and English, but  I could understand his Spanish better than his English. My instructions from my B&B host ( were to take a taxi and go to the bus station in Pamplona where he would pick me up and take me to his place and transport me to France the following day. I had met Hugo in the Madrid airport, a fellow pilgrim, and we shared the taxi ride and the cost. Hugo is from Miami and a retired American Airline employee that flies for free and is planning to be on the Camino for several months if needed. He did not need to fly on a round-trip ticket. Being bilingual in Spanish and English, Hugo did all the talking to the taxi driver as he spoke no English. Driving through this section of Pamplona, it looked like any other modern city, clean, industrial and busy. Once at the airport Hugo went his way to catch a bus toFrance and I located the spot where I was to meet my host, I had 1 1/2 hours to wait. I tried to start conversation in Spanish to the well dressed urbanites hanging around in the same waiting area but it was quite awkward. They couldn’t understand my Spanish and no one in that hour and a half spoke Enlish. The Pamplona bus station is clean and modern and bustling with well dressed people. When I wasn’t fumbling with talking, I spent the time walking and stretching on a large green grassy area attached to a school next to the bus station.

My stay at the B & B was delightful. Istvan and his wife,Barbara, are Hungarians who have immigrated to Spain. Their love for the Camino and their own experiences on the Camino caused them to buy a big house with extra bedrooms and host pilgrims on their was to St.Jean Piedde Port. Stayng in their place at the same time was an American couple, Joette and Ed from St.Louis;  and another couple and their teenage daughter from Seattle. Everyone was delightful, warm and engaged. My hostesses were willing to accommodate me as a vegetarian, but my vegan status was left in San Dego. I knew it would be difficult to remain a vegan before I left, but Isoon learned it would be impossible, zi went with the flow, eating moderately ad carefully.

Day 37 Ribadisco to Salceda

May 20,2016               Friday                           9 miles-left at 9:30, arrived at 3:30
Today we had an easy walk along farms and dairies and through one little modern town. We started with a light breakfast provided by our generous host at Casa Vaamonde. (Pilgrim breakfast is often toast and coffee)

We had an easy climb out of the valley that Ribadisco is in – similar to other days, shaded tree-lined paths, close to farms and it seemed like I saw more chickens today. We didn’t have to worry about mud or rain – once the fog lifted, we had 70 degree weather and sunshine.

We came out of the shaded area into this lovely pastoral scene of freshly harvested hay. Many of the pilgrims were stopping to take off their jackets and a few thei shirts.

Pilgrim from Poland

We passed several more Galicians working that let me take their photo, were actually proud to have been asked.

And then while we were stopping for lunch,  who did I run into but Joette  from St. Louis- who I met on Day 0  -my housemate at the first pension I stayed at just outside Pamplona, my first night in Spain. She had spent some extra days in Pamplona and I was ahead of her and didn’t think I would see her again.  It was so wonderful seeing her and catching up on her stories, and boy did she have some good stories.

The day continued to get wonderfully warm and when we arrived about home for the night,we were so pleased with a spacious room,spacious outdoor  sitting area and a clothesline.  The simple life of a pilgrim. We will enjoy the warm summer-like evening, as rain is forecast for tomorrow and we will have our last long walk -11.2 miles. 

Day 36  Melide to Ribadisco

May 19, 2016.           Thursday                              We walked 7 miles. Started at 9:15 am and arrived at 3:15 pm 
Another pleasant day in Galicia.We are watching the km markers along the Camino go down as we make our way closer to Santiago.

Brian, Lee and I came down from our warm, modern, glass in the windows hotel room to discover a buffet breakfast was included with our room. We also discovered the WIFI was working so we had an hour and a half breakfast feasting on local cheeses, fruit, hard boiled eggs, toast, juice and coffee.

We had a 45% chance of rain so we were lingering but finally left Hotel Carlost 96 at 9:15. This is a famil-run business by a Galician family that had immigrated to England, had their children there and returned to Spain to run this hotel. They were all so friendly, helpful and most gracious.

Romanesque church of San Pedro & San Roque in Melide

We stopped at this church in Melide on the way out of town. I thought the door was was so beautiful. The columns make it an example of the Romanesque style. But what I thought was more fascinating was a stone cross next to the church. It is a 14th century cross,the oldest in Galicia. Look closely. One side of the cross has Jesus crucified, nailed to the cross. The other side has Him in Heaven- in Glory. Look closely, one has his hands nailed, the other has His hands raised and appears to be sitting on a throne. I think I can see Him smiling, can you? This cross really fascinated me.

We walked through forest and farm fields, and. looked at small gardens and freshly cultivated fields, taking in the pungent smel of earth, rich soil.  We saw rich estates and crumbling stone buildings. We heard so many birds it was like we were in the aviary at the San Diego Zoo. Every day the Camino in Galicia has more beauty of the soil and spirit. These are gentle proud people, usually so kind and helpful and hard working. 

Brian, Lee and I goofed off with our cameras and ate the local food with gusto. I ran into A from Korea – she was the young woman that kept me from choking on  Day. I was so happy to see an “old timer.”

It feels and sounds like a tropical forest here

We stop every couple of hours. Lee and Brian get cafe con leche, I usually get fresh-squeezed orange juice but today I got a fresh peach. 

We arrived in Ribadisco, had a great lunch of salad and local cheeses  and then our host picked us up and brought us to his very nice “pensione” where we have this room with a view.  Only 3moredays to Santiago.