Haley Camino 2018

Joined March 2018Living in: San Antonio, United States
  • Jul15

    Headed Home

    July 15 in Spain ⋅ ⛅ 86 °F

    We’re at Madrid airport, waiting for our flight to Atlanta. We returned to Santiago by bus on Sunday — no more walking! We had the rest of the day, and yesterday, to do our laundry and do some sightseeing. We also visited a couple of our favorite restaurants.

    The interior of the cathedral is empty of the pews and the massive organ pipes; scaffolding and plastic cover the walls. It’s being readied for 2021, the next Holy Year (when St. James’ birthday, July 25th, falls on a Sunday). The exterior was completed last year, and the Portico of Glory at the old entrance is now open to the public. This is the first time I was able to see the Portico, on my third trip to Santiago. But no photos were allowed, sorry!

    We had a great trip, no injuries or crises, and we’re actually feeling great. And now it’s time to go back to the “real world.”

    Thanks for coming along!

    Laurie and John
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  • Jul13

    Beyond Santiago

    July 13 in Spain ⋅ ⛅ 72 °F

    For us, Wednesday morning was like any other day on the camino — get up early, eat a breakfast bar and a banana in our hotel room, and then hit the road towards Muxía. Only 86.482 km to go!

    This section of the walk turned out to be harder than we’d expected, partly because the temperatures rose into the 80’s (I know, that’s cool for everyone in Texas), and because of constant climbs and descents. But part of the way was still through pine and eucalyptus forests, so our 3-day walk wasn’t too bad. Some flowers, especially the hydrangeas, were just reaching their peak here in mid-July.

    Huge fields of corn here, lots of small farms and villages of only 15-20 houses. It’s very unusual to see shabby or run-down homes — though some places have long been abandoned, most are well maintained. And the local language is Gallego, which has more in common with Portuguese than Spanish.
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  • Jul12

    Muxia

    July 12 in Spain ⋅ ☀️ 72 °F

    After an 18-mile walk, we cruised into Muxía yesterday afternoon. Muxía is a small fishing village on the western Spanish coast, called the Costa da Morte or Coast of Death because of the dangerous rocky shore. In 2002, the Prestige oil tanker spilled 17.8 million gallons of heavy fuel oil offshore, polluting thousands of km of coastline and devastating the local fishing industry.

    At the end of town is the Church of the Virgin of the Boat, a rocky shore, and a monument commemorating the Prestige spill. Local lore says the Virgin Mary came to this place in a stone boat to encourage St. James, who was having little success in converting the Spaniards to Christianity. Later, after James was beheaded in Jerusalem, his remains were brought back in Galicia by boat.

    On Christmas Day 2013, lightning struck the little church, causing extensive fire damage. When I visited in 2016, the walls of the sanctuary were bare. We attended Mass this evening; you can see the difference in the photos below.
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  • Jul11

    The Two Marias

    July 11 in Spain ⋅ ☀️ 73 °F

    Leaving Santiago yesterday for Muxia, we passed this statue in a park. Here is the story behind the statue, courtesy of the Galician Tourism blog:

    “They were called Maruxa and Coralia Fandiño Ricart and everyone in Compostela in the middle part of the 20th century knew them as “the two o’clock”. Wearing brightly colored dresses and always extremely thin and impeccably made up, they walked every day through the old town. Both their flattery to university youngsters and their bad temper are proverbial. Maruxa, the youngest, always ready to pay a compliment and wink an eye; Coralia, the oldest, quietest and most measured...The two died in the eighties and are buried in the cemetery of Boisaca.

    But behind such extravagance hid a tragic story. Born in the early twentieth century, Maruxa and Coralia were two of the thirteen children of a cobbler and a seamstress of the Espíritu Santo street, north of the historic center. Three of their brothers were anarchist militants and after the outbreak of the Civil War, in July of 1936, the family was punished. Without work or support, they fell into a poverty in which they would live the rest of their lives.

    It is said that the madness of the “two o’clock” appeared at that time, as a reaction to the terror and the grayness of the times. The sisters took refuge from sadness in their world of colored clothes and in their routine of urban passers-by. Soon they became part of the landscape of Compostela, a city that wanted to pay them back in solidarity the damage they had suffered. Maruxa and Coralia never asked for hand-outs, but there were many who helped them, like that grocer who gave them food by telling them they were “company promotions”; or the merchants who gave them outdated articles that would no longer be sold, so that they could always remain beautiful, suspended in time, as if in an eternal youth. In the 1970s, when a storm lifted the roof of their house of the Holy Spirit street, the neighbors raised the then astronomical figure of 250,000 pesetas to repair it.”
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  • Jul10

    Santiago!

    July 10 in Spain ⋅ ☀️ 81 °F

    Monday was our last day before arriving in Santiago. It was also the day our Camino del Norte merged with the Camino Frances. We stopped at a bar just before that point for one last quiet break. Good thing we did, because every bar after that was jammed with people. The camino looked like a parade, lots of school groups and teens. And we stopped short of the town where most people stop for the day, so we enjoyed a quiet night.

    Tuesday was one of the nicest days we’ve had — sunny and 70 degrees. What a difference from last year, when we walked into Santiago in a pouring rain!

    The entry point to Santiago is Monte de Gozo, a park with a huge Albergue and sculptures. One sculpture depicts two pilgrims overlooking the city. I was too tired to find this statue when I walked 4 years ago, and last year in the rain we didn’t feel like looking for it, so this year we made the effort (photo below).

    We arrived in the square about 2:30, feeling great!
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  • Jul8

    Onward through Galicia

    July 8 in Spain ⋅ ⛅ 64 °F

    Our drizzly mornings finally gave way to cloudy, cool days. I still have to wear my long-sleeved shirt when we start out in the mornings.

    Galicia draws many comparisons with Ireland in terms of weather and geography. And it’s widely believed that Celtic peoples settled Galicia. The Romans ruled here for many years, as did the Moors. The “discovery” of St. James’ remains in a marble ark in 813 sparked the Christianization of Galicia and the reconquest of Moorish-held lands by the Spanish Christian kings.

    The country we’ve walked through is lush and green, with rolling hills, soft paths through eucalyptus and pine, dairy farms and corn fields, mossy ancient walls and centuries-old crosses marking the Way.

    Saturday night was party night in Sobrado. The party started at 10:00 and went on until 3:30, including live bands. So we didn’t get a lot of sleep that night. But Sunday we walked only 7 miles and stayed at an albergue/pension in a small town. The owner is Maribel, a very sweet and motherly lady who couldn’t do enough for us. She fixed us a delicious dinner, insisting that we keep eating long after we were full, and kept teasing our Dutch housemate, Peter, that he looked too serious, “like a German!” She was especially perturbed that flies were coming in and landing on the food, and she kept after them with her fly swatted. She showed us a postcard she’d received from some French guests, addressed simply to “The Fly Killer, Boimorto, Spain.”
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  • Jul6

    Three days to go!

    July 6 in Spain ⋅ ⛅ 70 °F

    We just finished walking 20 miles!! That leaves us just about 60 kilometers — 37 miles — to go to Santiago. We’ll arrive in three more days, on Tuesday, and the weather looks great — very different from our arrival last year, when it was pouring rain and we lost our way in the last 1-1/2 miles through the city.

    We left the mountains early in the week, misty, drizzly days of walking through forests of eucalyptus, pine and fern. That’s Galicia! But wonderful walking weather in the 60’s. On Thursday we finally saw the sun again, a welcome sight!

    The countryside is rolling green hills with small farms of corn, vegetables and oats. The homes are of stone, stucco or brick, often clustered together in small hamlets. This is dairy and beef country; Galicia accounts for 40% of Spain’s total dairy production.

    Now we see crosses to mark the way of St. James, many of them quite old, with Mary on one side and Jesus on the cross on the other. And mysterious, mossy stone walls lining the paths, walls that would be right at home in Ireland. The local style is to group thin flat stones vertically instead of horizontally, cut so that they reinforce each other.

    We’ve also crossed bridges built hundreds of years ago. It’s a gentle, green countryside of soft paths and not a few pilgrims — more than we expected to see.

    Almost forgot — we also finally saw two storks’ nests!

    Here are pictures from the last few days.
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  • Jul6

    Paradores

    July 6 in Spain ⋅ ⛅ 70 °F

    Beginning in the 1920s, the Spanish government began buying up historic structures such as military monasteries and palaces and converted them to hotels in order to preserve them and to build up the tourist industry. There are now more than 90 Parador hotels scattered across Spain, offering high quality lodging and cuisine.

    I spent one night in the Parador San Marcos in Leon three years ago, to treat myself after 9 days of walking on my first Camino. The only one we came across this year was in Vilalba, so we treated ourselves on Thursday night. While many Paradors include important historic structures, this one had only one medieval tower, with a very nice hotel adjacent. Funny thing was, we saw at least 5 other pilgrims who were staying at the hotel. So much for the suffering of poor pilgrims!
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  • Jul3

    Eucalyptus

    July 3 in Spain ⋅ ☁️ 63 °F

    We’ve been walking through forests of eucalyptus for weeks, but in Galicia it seems there are few trees other than eucalyptus. The leaves on the young trees are a soft jade-like green; they almost seem to glow among the older trees. As the trees mature, the leaves become long and thin, and turn a darker, duller green.

    We’ve passed many areas where swathes of eucalyptus have been clear cut, and new trees planted. Turns out these trees are very controversial on the Iberian peninsula.

    Since it was introduced in the 1860s, eucalyptus has become the most important tree in forest economy, especially for paper pulp. Insects don’t like eucalyptus, and they discourage mosquitos, but that means fewer birds in the forests. Eucalyptus grows quickly, a boon to areas that had been deforested. But they also consume great amounts of water, and they push out native species. And the development of large-scale tree farming has threatened the small-scale family farms and social bonds of communities throughout Spain and Portugal.

    Their scent is not exactly piney, maybe more like menthol, cool and refreshing, especially for tired peregrinos slogging uphill!
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