Joined April 2022 Message
  • Day15

    We made it! Santiago at last!

    June 28 in Spain ⋅ ⛅ 21 °C

    Today was a good day for most of us. For Jon, it was a test of his grit. As I mentioned briefly, Jon’s feet and legs have not been in a great place. Today his leg and knee were really bothering him. He pretty much limped the whole 18km today. He has grit and he clenched his teeth and did it! The rest of us had to watch him walk in pain. Thankfully, we all made it! The last part of the trip is such a strange experience. I thought it would be like seeing the Emerald City from far off and we would go running to the steps of the cathedral. Actually it was a windy path through downtrodden urban neighborhoods and you couldn’t even see the steeple until you rounded the corner of a bunch of old buildings and suddenly it was there. Not what I imagined. I guess though it is a metaphor and this whole trip is a pilgrimage for self reflection. I know Martin Luther would roll his eyes at me for wanting the compestella but honestly, I think God understands our need for physical gestures to help us believe and understand the heavenly gestures. Why else would He use water and wine and bread? He knows we are weak minded and need something physical to hold onto. The pilgrimage and piece of paper in the end aren’t necessary for forgiveness and grace. But they help us get to the right place to receive forgiveness and believe that it is true.

    I don’t know if it is something I’d frame in my house but I do know I will treasure it and use it to remember this awesome adventure of bonding as a family and sending off our first born into the world. The boys talked for 180km to each other- to us- And hopefully in their heads with God. I feel good about how we solved problems and worked as a team. I’m satisfied with my Camino and feel grateful for this opportunity. What an adventure!

    This evening we went to mass. It was all in Spanish but we knew the order of service and could tell what was happening. They swung the botafumiero at the end which is a special treat. The cathedral was amazing. What a grand finale!

    (By the way, funny that thousands of years of pilgrimage on a holy trail doesn’t trump modern necessities. The trail is clearly moved to go around an airport runway. Funny!)
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    Traveler

    Thanks for sharing your journey. Happy your family had the opportunity to experience the El Camino and all the joys and challenges it brought. I loved hearing about it from your perspective, Sarah. Happy Travels homeward…

    6/28/22Reply
    Traveler

    Wow…I didn’t expect that interior. Looks like the builders said “ We’re going as fancy as us humans can muster to give God the Glory!”

    6/28/22Reply
    Traveler

    Life changing, Faith enhancing, family affirming! Perfect. Love you all.

    6/28/22Reply
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  • Day14

    Arzua to O Pedrouzo

    June 27 in Spain ⋅ ⛅ 18 °C

    I feel like the entertainment on the trail is becoming about the people rather than the scenery. We’re walking through small towns that are sweet and scenic but by this time we feel like we’ve seen it. The eucalyptus forests smell good and harkened us back to our California days but we’re over that now too. The volume of people on the trail is greater now and the characters are coming out. Today there was a basque walking the Camino on stilts. Ollie says they use stilts to shepherd their flocks so he must be doing it to represent his culture. I walked with “Springfield”(That’s what I call them) today- a couple who live in Springfield Illinois. They started in St Jean and have done the whole thing. There was also “Holland” who started in Holland and has done over 3000km and is almost done. He was having a bad day. I think he’s struggling to return to normal life after walking for the past 148 days straight. He’s two days out from being done, that’s they only reason I can come up with to be having a bad day. Then there’s a man we’ve passed every day now for the last three days. (We pass him every morning which means he walks hours longer than we do to catch up at night and gets up earlier than us to get back in the trail.) He walks with a struggle- one step for every five I can take. I can tell he has to think about the movement every step he takes. He has scars all over his head from surgery. I am embarrassed that all I can think to say is “Buen Camino” as I pass him. There has to be more I can come up with in my limited Spanish to encourage him. I pray he makes it.

    My feet are sore and my shins are killing me but I’ve got 18 km left to go. Tomorrow will feel awesome!
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    Traveler

    https://www.kpcnews.com/eedition_new/eedition_h…

    6/27/22Reply
    Traveler

    This was in the Herald Republican!

    6/27/22Reply
    Traveler

    Thank you for sharing that!!! The small towns are so important for keeping the Camino alive!

    6/28/22Reply
     
  • Day13

    Palais de Rei to Arzua

    June 26 in Spain ⋅ ☁️ 16 °C

    Today was a 30km day. (That’s 18.6 miles for you English people). We were on the trail by 7:30 which is about half an hour better than our best leave time yet. This is our longest day. Tomorrow should (should?!) be a piece of cake. (Unless we are so sore from today that we can’t move.)

    We walked through a lot of industrial areas today. It wasn’t the most thrilling of the legs. It was long and a bit boring at times. We had to find ways of amusing ourselves so there was a cherry spitting contest after we scored some cherries from a farmers market. There was the school drive playlist sing along - the CD Jon never removed from his car in the 6 years he drove all three boys to school in the mornings. Aiden opened up a can of olives in anchovy paste he bought in a vending machine. And also a can of licorice stuffed with weird colored flavors. I bought a cup of corned nuts from a roadside stand to eat because I was bored. Daniel aways walks with a croissant in his hand to keep himself amused and full of calories. We also were entertained by a singing Irish couple on the trail just when I was about to lose my mind. The Way must have known we needed a diversion.

    Of course we are always amused by the dogs and cats that greet us in every town. We also noticed more weird wildlife this hike- probably because there were fewer things to look at in the distance. We saw a cool green lizard, a really weird octopus mushroom, a big pinching beetle, and some flowers that seemed different.

    Two days left. Oh, and before I forget, this hotel is really cool. A centuries old building gone modern. I’ll post more pictures in the next footprint because I can only do 20 at a time.
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    Traveler

    I'm glad it isn't 107* anymore. Looks like good hiking weather.

    6/26/22Reply
    Traveler

    It is! Thank God!!!

    6/27/22Reply
    Traveler

    Fun!

    6/26/22Reply
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  • Day12

    Portomarin to Palas de Rei

    June 25 in Spain ⋅ ⛅ 14 °C

    The trail today seemed crowded when we started. I have a feeling there will be more and more pilgrims the closer we get to Santiago. Ollie said with disgust “ugh, there are so many sinners around here!” By the time we got past a humongous group of Spanish teenagers we were feeling less like we were in a shopping mall. I ran into the Boston girls and we were glad we all made it after that rough bus ride ride to Sarria.

    We miss our friends from the beginning. It’s harder to make friends on the trail now because there are more people and more places to stay. In Orisson to Roncessvalles there were only one place each so everyone knew the same people. Now we are all spread out and we don’t all eat together at night. I’m so glad we started in St Jean to get that experience. The trip to Sarria was annoying but I don’t regret the decision to start there.

    The way had good temps today. We enjoyed a steady stride and stopped twice -once for coffee and and an amazing egg casserole and once for a sandwich which we all shared. We never even ate our lunch but no one seemed hungry. We made it to our apartment by 3:15. Not bad. It was our longest day yet but tomorrow will be even longer.

    To break up the monotony the Way found ways to entertain us today. Once we stumbled into a cute little centuries old barn turned missionary center. They gave out free coffee and cookies and lemonade. It was bought years ago by an American and run by volunteers from all over the world who want to spread the Gospel. It was the perfect cozy respite out of a drizzle of rain. Then we were greeted on the road by a crazy parade of 60 little cars all in different colors in a parade honking and waving and playing La Cucaracha in their horn. Many had a wicker picnic basket strapped to the roof and some also had a bottle of wine up there too. They were all happy to see the pilgrims and enjoyed the attention we gave them as they drove past.

    It did start to downpour at about 6km to go. But it stopped soon after and I was mostly dry by the time we walked into town.

    One sad thing did happen today. Ollie lost his pilgrim’s passport. I started a new one for him with a postcard on the trail but we aren’t sure what it means for his compestella and it was a cool souvenir and proof of a cool accomplishment. I posted that it was lost on the Americans on the Camino Facebook page. And one lady reminded him that the Camino is really in your heart, not on paper. Ollie says he’s fine with it but as his mom I feel bad for him. Who knows? Maybe the Way will provide. We know that penance and a piece of paper does not grant forgiveness and that only comes through the grace of God. But you know… it’s still fun. We did get him a Spanish credential at the church in Palas de Rei. Now his is different which makes it special. He is behind in stamps but he can still collect the stamps along the way. (You have to have at least 100km worth of stamps by Santiago.

    Speaking of collecting stamps. It’s like an ancient game of Pokemon Go. It is fun to get the cool ones. I have one with a guy rocking on his guitar. That one is my favorite.
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    Traveler

    So jealous. I love European coffee. Those little white coffee cups/saucers make it taste better somehow.

    6/25/22Reply
    Traveler

    I agree! And espresso is so great for teachers because you don’t have to go to the bathroom as much!

    6/25/22Reply
    Traveler

    It’s true! And it stays hot!

    6/25/22Reply
     
  • Day12

    Video: portomarin a palais de rai

    June 25 in Spain ⋅ ⛅ 12 °C

    Today’s video. Some sun. Some rain. Then some sun again. Many peregrinos. A parade of ~60 SEATs. (Like an old fashioned beetle, but with an even smaller air cooled engine.) An albergue run by CRU volunteers that provided shelter, snacks, drinks and old spanish farmhouse ambience…started by an american in 1990 who raised funds to buy the house. 25 km.Read more

  • Day11

    Back on the trail. Portomarin

    June 24 in Spain ⋅ ☁️ 16 °C

    After a rough night of buses and transfers and masks and more buses, we made it to Sarria. The taxi was waiting for me with a sign. (I’ve always wanted that!) We had him take us to the 100km (to go) marker and we hiked from there in very little sleep. It was only about 8km and everyone was a trooper. It was a beautiful hike and perfect weather. The crowds are thicker and the pilgrims are less athletic. (I saw a3 year old hiking!)

    We took the bus to Sarria (the train was broken) with some girls from Boston and they had been traveling for 36 hours. They missed their train and there was no chance of getting on another one. They looked beat.

    It feels good to be back on the trail and I’m glad we chose to continue. When you have a goal in mind, it is hard to let go. We are all tired and ready for bed at 6pm but glad to be back in action. By the way, our housing tonight is an entire apartment with 3 bedrooms and two bathrooms. We decided to go to the grocery store and pick up frozen pizzas for dinner rather than wait for the Spanish eating time of 7pm. It was a good move but the bar outside my window is a bit raucous. I bet I’m so tired it won’t matter. Daniel is already asleep. He can sleep anywhere and he sure is tired. (Even he admitted though that he’s glad to be back on the trail.)
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    Traveler

    Yay!

    6/24/22Reply
    Traveler

    Lots of reasons to smile 😊

    6/24/22Reply
    Traveler

    Way to persevere!! B

    6/24/22Reply
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  • Day10

    Stuck in Pamplona

    June 23 in Spain ⋅ ⛅ 25 °C

    I left off this journal yesterday not knowing if we were going to get out of Pamplona and if we would even finish our journey. We went to bed after a few prayers a very lovely bottle of local wine (the waitress for some reason gave me the whole bottle?!) and slept in a great hotel with air conditioning and was served a genuine all you can eat breakfast (the boys made good on that deal) and suddenly the answer was in front of us. We needed to ask the pilgrims office for help. It just so happened to be right around the corner from our hotel. The pilgrims office helper called around and typed into his computer like a mad man and threw out the wild idea of taking an over night bus to Sarria. We had to decide how badly we wanted to finish this. Our other option was to head to the Mediterranean and sit in Barcelona for a week. Everyone agreed to continue on. I guess we are on a mission (dare I say “from God”?!). We leave tonight at 10:30pm and get to Sarria at 10:33am tomorrow. Then we start hiking again. Now, I know my limits. And there is no way I can do a 24km hike after a red eye bus ride. So we booked a taxi service to get us right at the 100km mark outside Santiago so our compestellas are still legit. We hike 10km (much easier) and stay in an apartment in Pontmarin and we are back on track with timing. I had already canceled all of my hotel and albergue bookings so we wouldn’t lose money when I thought we wouldn’t make it. So now we hike like real pilgrims with no plans and hope for the best. Buen Camino! (God is protecting us and helping is through the journey! I kind of think these frustrations are all a part of his plan to teach us. The boys definitely learned how to handle set backs. No one panicked. No one argued. We just worked it out and the answer was presented to us.)

    So what did we do with our time today? We walked around town and saw the running of the bulls road and the stadium. We saw the wall and the park. We sat in a cafe for hours while it rained and had hot chocolate and churros. It was a day of resting our legs. Jon bought some new shoes and socks and is already free of his heat rash. Oh. Also, I insisted on Donner Kebab for dinner. I lived in that stuff when Jon worked in Germany and I roamed the streets of Heidelberg every day. It was a fond trip down memory lane for me. Tomorrow we catch up to our schedule and are back on track.
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    Traveler

    Well I’m impressed. I definitely would’ve picked Barcelona & the Mediterranean. But effort & struggles make life more interesting & certainly promotes growth. So you guys made the right choice. Can’t wait to hear all about it.

    6/24/22Reply
    Traveler

    Well said, Katie 🙂

    6/24/22Reply
    Traveler

    Way to go guys! You can do it!

    6/24/22Reply
     
  • Day9

    Zubiri to Pamplona

    June 22 in Spain ⋅ ⛅ 24 °C

    We have a wrench in the plan. It changes everything. I’ll get to that in a minute.

    Yesterday started well again. I think we were in a very nice groove of hiking by 9am and we felt like we were making good time. Jon has had some feet issues that has slowed him down a bit but he’s a trooper and isn’t complaining. He bought new boots for the trip and didn’t quite break them in enough. Also he has a heat rash all over his feet which also has turned into blisters. On the other hand Aiden brought a pair of hole-y sneakers (which I was horrified to see him wearing when it was too late at the airport because I asked him if he needed new shoes). His feet are fine and so are the rest of ours. Go figure. We got a stamp a few hours into our hike by a volunteer at a church who was also giving advice. Our goal was to stay ahead of the ladies group who had no image of athleticism but somehow was always on our tail catching up to us when we had just seen them doing yoga in a town square. How do they do it?!

    We always seem to drag after lunch and the last two hours are rough. But we made it to Pamplona by 2pm and checked into our air conditioned hotel!! Yay!!! Ollie and I went to the train station to get jet out reservations for Sarria. Here’s the snafu. No reservations available. Not for a week! We can’t get on a train!!!! The renfe site wouldn’t let me book the tickets ahead of time using my Eurail pass so it had to be in person. I worried about this part of the trip but assumed they could add more cars on a train if it fills up. Nope. I think it’s a combination of fires south blocking the trail, pope announcement that he’s going to Santiago, and maybe some construction on a route. It’s the trifecta of problems for us. In fact there are no trains to northwest spain at all. So… what do we do? Here’s our plan so far. We booked another night in Pamplona to rest and decide. Today we talk to the pilgrim’s office and make a solid plan. To be continued….
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    Traveler

    Somehow it is all part of the journey. The way will be provided. I am learning to stay in the moment because that is truly all we have. I can't wait to hear the rest of the story.

    6/23/22Reply
    Traveler

    I’m enjoying a mental picture of the 5 of you on mopeds scooting across Spain! Where there’s the will, there’s The Way. ❤️

    6/23/22Reply
    Traveler

    Go Daniel!

    6/24/22Reply
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