Walking the Camino de Santiago for the third time: 2012– Camino Frances (The French Way) St. Jean to Santiago with Stuart 2017– Camino Portuguese from Porto to Santiago with Stuart 2019– Camino Frances from St. Jean to Triacastela God willing
  • Day26


    June 2, 2019 in Spain ⋅ ☁️ 24 °C

    My last stage ended here, 120 kms from Santiago. So many mixed feelings. I’m ready to go home but love being in the big wide-open, so quite bittersweet to leave the countryside and commence re-entry.

    I literally ran down the mountainside, arms outstretched and zig-zagging all the way down! Remember being a child and running downhills pretending you were flying? It felt just like that and I have not experienced that since I was quite young. Exuberance! Pilgrims saw me coming, making way and crying “Forza!!” as I swept past them down the road.

    Just in time for my walk to end, really, as the Way started yesterday to become very crowded with Spanish pilgrims clocking in their 100 kms to Santiago to get their Compostela. These local pilgrims will be thronging the Camino from Sarria all the way to Santiago. They are fresh out of the gate and friskily bopping down the Camino in large, chatty groups.

    By contrast, I am moving deliberately, slowly, somewhat grim-faced, I’m sure, and covered in dust—clearly nearing the end of my journey. You can tell the jaded pilgrims by our mumbled “buen camino” responses to pilgrims passing us by. I wish I felt like rejoicing with them but I am too internally involved with detaching from my pilgrimage and preparing for blast-off back into “real life”.

    I checked into an albergue in Sarria and was just grateful that the mattress seemed clean and comfortable. I really wanted to be left alone, did not join in the communal albergue dinner that evening and turned in early.

    I’m now hurtling on a train heading towards Madrid and it is strange to be traveling so quickly through the landscape when just yesterday my body was gliding through the valleys at a walking pace.
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    That tree... Reentry will be another challenge.


    Heart heart. This trunk echoes through the ages and evolution too. I see many hu's within it.


    Methinks the tree represents the faces of re-entry.

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  • Day25

    O'Cebreiro: Reaching Galicia

    June 1, 2019 in Spain ⋅ ☀️ 23 °C

    Today was my penultimate day on the Camino, starting out at 7am to beat the heat, I walked two hours before reaching the base of the mountain then climbed without stopping for two and a half hours, steadily and slowly, til I reached the ancient 1st century village O’Cebreiro at the top. It was a glorious and beautiful walk in spite of the heat and the horse pies all the way up.

    In the village I went straight to the church which has been set up partially as a shrine to Father Sampedro, the priest responsible for revitalizing the Camino in late 1980’s by painting the ubiquitous yellow arrows the whole distance of the French Way, making it more user friendly for pilgrims and contributing hugely to its current popularity.

    The church is filled with votive candles lit by pilgrims, so I spent some time there with my prayer list and lit many candles.
    I gave thanks to Father Sampedro for his devotion to this place and this passage; he has helped us modern pilgrims find a link to the ancient ritual of walking a pilgrimage—an offering of ourselves to God and a gift to our own souls.

    A perfect place to end my pilgrimage.

    Tomorrow, I walk my last 20 kms to get to Triacastela and from there make my way home via Sarria and Madrid.
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    Wonderful structure. What is on the other side?


    Nothing much. It’s an ancient Galician hut....I’ve been inside it where the animals and the people lived together in there for warmth.

  • Day24

    Ambasmestas: last stop in Leon for me

    May 31, 2019 in Spain ⋅ ☀️ 26 °C

    My last three days on the Camino: I will climb O’Cebreiro tomorrow crossing into Galicia and when I arrive in Triacastela the next day, I will begin the journey home. Arriving in Santiago is not a goal for me—I have two Compostelas at home—St. James has my back and I’m so grateful I had the chance to walk the Jacobean Way once more!

    Today as I walked I contemplated life—how it arrives and how it leaves this earth.

    On the path I see a scarab beetle on its back, struggling in agony with its insides oozing out where a pilgrim has carelessly stepped on it. My heart aches for this half-crushed scarab, sacred to ancients, and I decide to send it back to the void to end its agony.

    Today, I spied a tiny mouse sitting on the path, its eyes closed, it seemed to be dozing. I stepped closer and the mouse did not scurry away nor even move. Not on top of its game, I thought, but decided not to intervene—its destiny a mystery to me, my heart moved for this creature and I moved on.

    The cherry trees along the Way are heavy with fruit and pilgrims pluck the ones they can reach in handfuls, sucking the fruit and spitting out the pits willy-nilly into the wayside brush and dust. Will cherry saplings sprout from any of these? Only the earth herself knows.

    Today, I lay upon the altar of my heart, with gratitude, those who help to bring life forth from the heavens and the earth: midwives assisting with the births of babies, visionaries who birth new ideas and bring beauty to us, as well as farmers and gardeners who work and seed the earth, bringing forth new plant life to sustain us.

    I pray for those who are transitioning away from this earth plane— especially for those who attend to them and for those who are mourning.

    I pray for all of these in the name of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit and in the name of Mother, Daughter, and Holy Soul. Amen.
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    Your words bring tears of knowing a little of the depth of your journey. km

  • Day23

    Villafranca del Bierzo

    May 30, 2019 in Spain ⋅ ⛅ 25 °C

    This town is the jewel of the Bierzo region—so lovely.
    All day I sniffed the fragrance of the grapevines which are giving off a sweet grape aroma even though I don’t see any flowers nor grape bunches. The Bierzo region is famous for its wine.

    I overdid it again today— it is a hot day and I was trying to beat the heat this morning by walking fast. By early afternoon, my leg pain returned, so I had to stop. Will begin again tomorrow.
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    Hoping the last steps are good! What stamina!


    Glad that you stopped for some self care. Know that you can continue. Praying for you Alice as you continue your pilgrimage. Mary Hughes


    Praying for strength and freedom from pain. And, confessing that it will be so good to have you back. Betsy

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  • Day22

    Ponferrada: last city before Santiago

    May 29, 2019 in Spain ⋅ ☀️ 21 °C

    Only inclined to eat and sleep here. No big castle explorations for this pilgrim.
    Stuart and I really enjoyed Ponferrada on our last pilgrimage, but this time, being alone, different experience.

    Castles do not appeal to me either. I'd be content to appreciate the exterior. Thankful you are resurrected for the final leg. Cheers! i

  • Day22


    May 29, 2019 in Spain ⋅ ☀️ 17 °C

    Taking a rest in El Acebo, I realized that after three weeks of hiking with my 17-18 pound pack, I need to give my body a break and send my pack ahead of me so I can make better headway. Today, the 18 km walk to Ponferrada was very quick without carrying my pack and my legs were much happier.

    I learned that I can’t compare my 60-year-old body’s abilities to the last time I walked this way seven years ago carrying the same weight the whole distance. I was subconsciously making a judgement that I should be able carry my pack as I did in the past. But over the course of a couple hundred miles, I have learned my limits; this is a good thing.

    Now I feel like I can tackle O’Cebreiro, the big mountain looming ahead of me, and my dread and fear is gone. It is worth losing a little freedom and spontaneity in having to plan ahead where I will walk and sending my pack to a specific place. It gives me the added advantage of knowing where I will lay my head at the end of a long day.

    I’m growing tired of uncomfortable nights of tossing and turning in dormitories full of pilgrims, though I do enjoy their company at dinner. I don’t mind the lack of privacy so much as other matters of incompatibility, of which I will spare the details.
    So I will stay in hostels when I can which will afford a little more comfort at night.

    So, with that, I’m going to turn in and prepare for the long stage tomorrow.
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  • Day21

    Rest day in El Acebo

    May 28, 2019 in Spain ⋅ ⛅ 20 °C

    A second grueling day: crossing the Monte Irago Pass and then picking my way painfully downhill across scree for 5 km to the first pueblo below, El Acebo, just about wrecked me. I’m staying here in a brand new albergue with a small spa for two nights to rest a bit. After a massage, a soak in the mineral baths, I’ll be restored.

    This is the beautiful Bierzo region where I hope to continue on tomorrow to Ponferrada—God (and my unhappy right leg) willing. If this rest day does not help my leg, I am resigned that I will need to cut my Camino short and begin my journey home. And I accept that possibility, for that will be my Camino this time, as every outcome is unique on the Way.
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    So happy you are staging two days. Deep peace to you


    Lovely. i


    Commanding. I imagine it is hard to climb and descend on pavement with cars and it adds to the heat. PAX! i

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  • Day20

    Foncebaden to Monte Irago

    May 27, 2019 in Spain ⋅ ☀️ 17 °C

    My jaw dropped when I arrived in Foncebaden: what was less than a decade ago a dilapidated, haunted village with only two functioning structures containing hippie-run albergues has become a boom town with 8 hostels and albergues, bars, minimarts and a newly surfaced boulevard. I’m glad to hear from the local hospitaleros that these are Spanish investors building here, so the Camino has brought increasing prosperity to the Spanish economy. But I sense some sadness at the changes as they tell me how the pilgrim vibe has changed in a just a few years.

    On to the famed Cruz de Ferro which stands as a pilgrim milestone at the mouth of the Monte Irago Pass for peligros to leave a stone or memento brought from home to symbolize the intention of their pilgrimage to Santiago.. To leave something here is highly symbolic and goes back to the Roman soldiers who crossed this pass and left stones on this enormous pile. “Kilroy was here”

    My daughter Gwen made me a beautiful hand-painted stone for this purpose, but after emptying my entire mochilla on the grass next to that sacred pile of rubble, I came up empty-handed—the stone nowhere to be found. This too must have a meaning, but, so be it.
    I am posing in front of the cross with the scallop shell that my choirmaster sent along with me on this Camino. I will bring it back to him soon, I hope. Update: I found the small stone Gwen painted for me wedged into a bottom pocket of my pack upon my return home. Perhaps she is meant to carry it to the Cruz de Ferro herself someday.
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    Great smile Alice. The Camino is lightening your load. Ultreya. i


    What fun. Stu's kinda place. I bet Gwen's rock fell quickly and quietly in the space where it wanted to land, It has a soul of its own, teamed up with your transport and Gwen's love. And now it is home. Cheers! i

  • Day19

    Rabanal del Camino

    May 26, 2019 in Spain ⋅ ☀️ 20 °C

    A rough 22 km walk to Rabanal. Very warm and sunny and I made slow progress, especially when the terrain became more rugged and hilly towards the last 3 km. Took me about 8 hours but I did it!
    I remember doing this stretch with Stuart seven years ago. It was one of our most difficult stages then as we walked all day in cold rain and Stu was still recovering from a terrible bout of gastroenteritis which had laid him low for several days in Astorga. Poor Stuart. Near the end when it got really rough, we stopped and just sat on the ground in the rain as dusk came on.
    So this time was sunny conditions so I have no complaints.
    Tomorrow is the big climb to the Cruz de Ferro and then a long descent on scree for 5 km of steep downhill. Easy does it.
    Attended Vespers and Compline at the Benedictine chapel here. Calming after a long day.
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  • Day19

    The Emotional Camino

    May 26, 2019 in Spain ⋅ ☀️ 15 °C

    Past the blood and the sweat and moving into the tears. Today has started out with difficulty. I’m moving slowly like a snail, except snails are pseudopods so they don’t hobble like bipeds.
    In spite of my warmup stretches and a slow start, my legs are in full mutiny. I’ve only made a few kms and it’s getting near high noon and I have a long way to go up the hill.

    So I hobbled into a perfectly placed chapel known as “ Ecce Homo”—a very simple and holy pilgrim chapel with no crucifix at the altar, but simply a painting of two curtains parting with an emptiness between them. A mysterious void. Striking contrast to the usual ornate gold altar piece surrounding the Corpus Christi. Votive candles burned and incense had been recently offered. The font at the entrance was well maintained with cool, clean water.

    I remember this place from my first camino. I loved it then too. A gentle little man attends tenderly to this place and to the pilgrims who rest here a moment. I walked up to the altar to pray and the tears came. I was feeling like I could not go on, and a huge influx of mixed emotions flooded in suddenly. So I stayed there a long time, pulled myself together, found a magnesium capsule to take to ease my muscles, and now I feel able to proceed...at a modified pace.
    Then I saw this graffiti which said “Take Your Time” and I pondered on that . Time to work through the emotions and time to work through the body kinks as well.
    I will go ever onward and ever deeper, but onward I must go.
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    I love you! Keep your own pace and spirit will follow. Flying 999s has gone to Lake George. Many passages.


    I'm praying for you, Alice. One of many I am sure.


    I’m grateful. I need your prayers.

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