May 11, 2016. Vega de Valcarce to Hospial de la Condesa
And more . . . . . . .
May 12, 2016 Thursday
Today it rained hard in Triacastela as I took a day of rest from the Camino. I walked two houses over from the little rural pension here (private home like a B & B) to the local urgent care clinic where I was told that I had tendinitis and it was okay to walk on it even with pain – that it would not cause any permanent damage. I am taking Ibuprofen orally and rubbing on anti-inflammatory cream. Anyhow that is what I think her Spanish meant. I didn’t get a bill. Instead the receptionist took my insurance cards and said Spain would bill the USA – wonder what that will cost me?
I walked a couple more blocks the other way to the center of town to see J from Brazil who is nursing her shin splints. She is taking a taxi to Sarria this afternoon and begin her walking tomorrow. We had lunch together. I had a local delicacy – a Galician cheese called O’Cebreiro cheese – yummy! A soft cheese but not sweet. Very mellow and good. I said good bye to J, I will sure miss her company and sweet demeanor. She has to be in Santiago by May 18.
Tomorrow is going to be another rainy day in Galcia, but I am going to try to walk to Sarria – about 14 miles if I choose the alternative route to see a monastery, otherwise it is about 11 miles. I don’t mind walking in the rain, but I find the mud a hindrance.
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.
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.
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.
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.
May 6, 2016 Friday 18miles Started at 7:30 am – arrived2:30 pm
Today was a day of gentle walking in gentle rain. I walked the entire day with the sweetest young lady from Brazil. Because of the gentle rain, my camera was neatly tucked away under two or three layers of protection.
However, I HAD to get it out when we got to Puente de O’rbigo. I apologize for this being a poor photo, but my camera is not waterproof and it was raining.
“This bridge is one of the longest and best preserved medieval bridges in Spain dating from the 13th century and was built over an earlier Roman bridge which formed one of the great historical landmarks on the Camino. It’s myriad arches carry you across the Rio O’rbigo via the passage of how our Paso Honroso so called because of the famous hosting tournament that took place here in the Holy Year 1434. A noble knight from Leon, Don Suero de Quinones, scorned by a beautiful lady, threw down the gauntlet to any knight who dared to pass as he undertook to defend the bridge (and presumably his honor) against all comers. Knights from all over Europe took up the challenge. Don Suero successfully defended the bridge for a month until the required 300 lances had been broken. Together with his trusted comrades he then proceeded to Santiago to offer thanks for his freedom from the bonds of love and go his honor, now restored! Or in the words of Rupert Brooke:
Honour has come back, as a king, to earth
And paid his subjects with a royal wage;
And Nobleness walks in our ways again;
And we have come into our heritage.” (From A Pilgrim/s Guide to the Camino de Santiago by John BrierleyJ from Brazil and I had just met the night before in the albergue and we were roommates in a room with 4 beds and just the two of us. She is traveling the Camino on her own. As we walked in rain and sloshed
in mud we shared some of our lives and goals and dreams. She is nearly fluent in Spanish so she is a handy companion.
Earlier on the Camino it seemed everyone could and would and did speak English. I am finding it less so lately.
After walking hours on relatively flat terrains we started climbing. On the way to Astorga came upon a hill to Cruceiro Santo Torbino, honoring a 5th century Bishop of Astorga. On a clear day you can see the mountains behind Astorga, mountains I will be climbing starting tomorrow.
Mary and Sofie passed us mid-day and it was so good to see them!
By the time J and I got into Astorga we were dragging our bodies and barely speaking. I walked with her to make sure she got into an albergue for the night and then she called a taxi for me to go to my hostel. By then, even though it was not raining, I did not want to wander around this beautiful city any longer.
I am snug in a private hostel, reading up on tomorrow’s adventures into the mountains. It has been a wonderful day – I am filled with gratitude and joy . . . . .and sore muscles.
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.
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.
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).
April 21, 2016. Thurs. 17.3 miles. Walked 11.4 miles Bus ride 5.8mile
Started at 7:15 a.m.,, arrived. 4. P.m.
My old ankle injury flared it’s painful head today and I finished my Camino on a local bus along with about eight other pilgrims.
April 17, 2016 Sunday
13.6 miles Started at 8:30 a.m. – arrived 3:30 p.m.
I left the “dormitory” bedroom at 5 a.m. The musical sounds of the snoring and tossing and other bodily sounds had me awake anyway. – I might as well get up. I quilty tip toed outside, across the yard to the Internet room. It was cold and damp. The night before a friendly lady J from England told me she had made reservations through booking.com for a placen Pamplona,, After being somewhat tramatized by arriving soaking wet in the rain and finding the first albergue full, I thought I would do the same. I picked the same place she did, hoping to see her. It was close the cathedral. So I thought I would be able to find it.
I was missing Rosie. The last two days we had started together. I promised myself I would not give in to the negative self-critical thinking of the day before. I had my mental health hat on, I had my plan.. I picked a particular song from my Baptist days “Jesus, Jesus,, Jesus. . . . Sweetest name I know. . . .” I would start singing that to myself if I started blaming myself for being so slow. I practiced gratitude. There was so much to be grateful for, but I had to practice it in reality not just in theory.
The first stop was to take a picture of the bridge leaving town. It was pouring rain when I arrived the day before.
It seemed like we were immediately going uphill along a beautiful path thru farms and trees. A friendly Irishman came along side me when the path was narrow and I let him pass. He didn’t go ahead of me but started talking, and kept saying,”No hurry.” We introduced ourselves and walked side by side when the path allowed. His Irish accent was so thick I didn’t understand most of what he said, but I understood enough that he was friendly and funny. He was also kind and reassuring. He kept saying, “No hurry, Geri, go at your own pace.” If I stopped to take a picture, he stopped too. He is built strong and sturdy like a rugby player. He told me he was a lineman. Every time we passed a power line he would tell me something about it, but I wasn’t sure what he was telling (his accent – I had understood Rosie’s struggling English better than C from Ireland’s English) When I asked him how he was able to take time off work for the Camino he said he was off work because he broken his arm. I asked him if it was on the job. He laughed and laughed and said he broke it on vacation in the Canary Islands. I couldn’t understand the whole story, he was laughing and I was laughing at his laughing, but then I understood when he said it was when he was “pissed.” (Irish for drunk) Well of course, I would have a natural attraction (not sexual, just natural affinity) for a fun-loving drinking Irishman. Eventually he moved on, saying he was stopping at the first little town. I smiled to myself and was so grateful for Recovery from loving alcoholics . This day was starting pretty well with gratitude and a reminder of whereI was and where I am now.
I was walking alone now, others passing me by. I wasn’t emotionally fragile like the day before. They were just people passing me by, not a sign that I was doing or had done something wrong. I continued walking through tree lined paths overlooking the Rio Arga.
Once a young man passed by and said “Buena Dias”” We spoke for a few minutes in Spanish, he seemed to understand me. He was such a nice looking young Spaniard. We spoke a little more in Spanish, just simple things until one of us realized we were both American. We laughed even harder when he said he lived in Orane County and I lived in San Diego. Nice looking American boy. He went on his way and I continued walking alone. About 11:00 am I was ready to pay someone 100 Euros to take my backpack and carry it to Pamplona or throw it in the Rio Arga. I made it a joke to myself. Keep laughing and be grateful. Grateful for the good weather, even though I was walking thru mud from yesterday’s rain. So much to be grateful for, but also time to start singing that song.
About 11:30 I walked through a tiny little village and looked over at the cafe where my fellow pilgrims had stopped for a break. They were huddled in groups refreshing themselves with food and coffee orvino, laughing and joking. I went in and was introduced to torilla de patata. It was love at first bite. It is nothing like a. Mexican tortilla, but more. like a crustless rich quiche. Vegan no more!
My shoulders are hurting from the weight and I remind myself it is mind over matter and that in a week I will be more used to it. About 1:00.farther down the road I come across a pilgrim walking slower than me. I adjust my pace to his and happy to do so as we strike up a conversation. He is T from Orange County, two months older than me, divorced and a musician. He plays in many venues – more instruments than I can recall – trumpet, sax, clarinet, etc. T is a retired engineer, worked at Beckman (note UCSD friends), designing instruments for retinal studies.We start climbing hills. He is wearing a monitor and makes sure his heart rate doesn’t go over 130 (I think). He puts his monitor on my wrist, I am at 116 after a very steep hill. He says that’s okay for my age he should know, same as his age).
It is Sunday, families are out having picnics or fishing as we cross the Rio Arga. Soon we are in the suburbs – the sound of traffic and children laughing and . . . And . . . . are so loud. I am used to the sound of waterfalls and birds.
T is a good conversationalist. He s a retired engineer, designing diagnostic equipment for the retina. He worked for Beckman (note UCSD friends). We have walked and talked for almost 3hours and not once did I think about how heavy my backpack was. Mind over matter? I guess I need a new mind.
Soon we are at the gate of the ancient city of Pamplona. T’s friends are waiting for him. One of them is the young man from Orange County that I had been speaking Sanish with earlier that morning.
I say good bye to T, so grateful for his company. What a gift from God. He is going to spend a day with his friends in Pamplona tomorrow. I walk into the town and am immediately approached by a man asking me where I began my Camino and am I alone. I cheerfully say. “NO – my friends are waiting for me at the cafe!” I point to a cafe just 20 feet away. (Sorry-a lie for the greater good?) I quickly walk away looking for the Cathedral. One of the pilgrims recognizes me and out of the blue asks me if I need any help. I told thin my albergue is close to the cathedral and we find it on his map and he walks with me to the door. This was totally unsolicited and not needed, but how kind was this Asian young man. I am so happy to check into this modern albergue. It is clean and so far there is only one other person in a room of 14 bunks. I take a walk around Pamplona and come backto meet some of my house-mates: Canadians, Danes, Englishmen, J from Kent (who I’d walked with from Orisson to Roncesvalles) – all in different room. Later I find out I am sharing the 14 bunk room with my friend from this morning – C the happy go lucky Irshman. I settle in for the night after taking a shower, using the WIFI, doing laundry. I have the room to myself as C is out on the town.
I wake up at 4 am and tip toe out to the computer room – once again affected by the sounds and smells of my bunk-mate. I am in desperate need of fresh air. About 5 am C comes out in his too-tight underwear and goes outside for smoke. He is outside 30 in the cold feet from the Cathedral smoking -barefoot and in his underwear. I am still not used to this immodesty. I Later I hear him tapping on the door. He is locked outside in his underwear. He left the door code in his jeans. Never a dull moment with the laughing jolly fun-loving Irshman. I let him in, laughing and joking.
Day 4 has been a good day. No self-critical obsessions, beautiful scenery, found a slow walker, grateful for clarity and recovery and kind pilgrims. I am so glad to be here.