Sunday, September 26, 2010

Six more days to go!

I CANNOT believe that in 6 days I will finish this amazing pilgrimage. It has been the most awesome thing I have ever done and am in sensory overload when I think back to the past 30 days. I cannot believe that I have done the extreme milage in such heat but thankfully it is cool now.

I have not been able to do this blog for several days and wiil have to be quick as this computer is eating up the euros so fast! But I have gone from the ¨rain in Spain falls mainly on the plains¨NOT- to this most beautiful part of Spain, Galacia, the very green part which I entered yesterday. I did this same part 2 years ago so it is wonderful seeing it again.

When I get back I will take a vacation from FB and my blog for a week or so just to gather my thoughts and to pay attention to my Steve. There are a million experiences I want to share with you all but will have to wait until I get back to do it. I will finish this pilgrimage, all 500 miles and 1,466,000 feet, on October 2nd. My life will never be the same again. I wish for all of you the same experience I have had to enrich your lives. It is amazing. I never knew that having this much time to myself, to reflect and pray and give thanks, would be so powerful. I love meeting all of the people on the walk, but I also love my time alone. In fact, I crave it each day. I have made it a policy to enjoy everyone, especially at the end of the day, but to have my day to myself. The Camino is so well marked that you would have a hard time getting lost. I can start out in the dark and find my way. As someone who can hardly get around Rome by herself, this is a real miracle to have gone from France all the way across Spain and not get lost.

I am so very careful of what I do these last days because to qualify for my Compostela, at the end of the walk, I have to walk the last 100 kilometers, no matter that I walked the first 440 miles already. It is the last 100 which counts. I am so careful where I put my feet as one misstep would ruin it for me.

I want to thank each of you for your thoughts of me and your prayers. I know that is why I have done so well. I will try to post another blog before I get to Santiago on Saturday, around 2:00 pm Spain time. I only have 13 miles to walk that morning. I know also that I will probably start crying on Thursday!

Buen Camino,

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Rest Day in Leon and Pilgrims´ Mass

This morning I slept until nealy 9:00 as I am not walking today. Will begin again tomorrow but put on my boots anyway out of habit but quickly took them off! Must have needed that sleep as I have been getting up early every day for more than 3 weeks. It did seem strange to see the pilrims, outside of my hotel, following the yellow arrow!

Leon is an elegant city and the residents are beautifully dressed. Only we pilgrims look like bums and you can recognize us, even in normal clothes, by our sandels and bandages on our toes as well as our limps! Had breakfast this morning with a woman from Norway who has been infirm for 10 days with a pulled Achilles tendon. Is doing acupuncture and that is helping. She was into her 3rd week of the Camino so this can happen even when you think you are well on your way to Santiago. I read somewhere that you have to be humble on this Way or this Way will humble you and I so agree.

I went to the most beautiful church service last night. It was a Mass which I did not understand but did understand the feeling. I stood when everyone else stood and sat when they sat but I did not go down for communion. It was all in Spanish but I understand from my Catholic friends that all masses are alike and you can know what is going on even if you do know know the language. At the end the priest called all the pilgrims up to the front and asked what language we spoke, gave us a card with this prayer on it in our own language and then he did the following blessing in Spanish to us and it was followed by a beautiful solo. Every single person was in tears at the end. Here is what he prayed and what is on my card in English:


Dear Lord Jesus, who brought your servant Abraham out of the city of Caldeas, protecting him through all of his travels/wandering, and who was the Hebrew nation´s guide through the desert, we ask you to bless these children of yours who, for the love they bear your name, are on a pilgrimage to Compostela.

Be for them their companion on the Way, their guide at the cross-roads, their shelter on the road, their shade in the heat, their light in the darkness, their comfort in weariness and their resolve in intentions. So that through your guidance they arrive sound at the end of their road, and enriched with grace and virtue, return home healthy and full of worthy virtues.

In the name of Jesus Christ our Lord.

March in the name of Christ who is The Way and pray for us in Compostela.



Thursday, September 16, 2010

Thanks to all of you!

Tonight is the first night I have not been exhausted or have been able to get to a computer to really read the wonderful postings you all have posted on this blog of mine. Thank you all so much and please know that I appreciate each and every one of you and the lovely things you have been saying. I will honestly tell you that I have felt the love and concern and prayers along the way. It is a very real feeling and I will always cherish you. For those of you who have or have been reading Father Kevin Codd´s book of To the Field of Stars, you are there with me every day. Only the accommodations are different. Everything else we experience is the same. I am so grateful to him for writing that book as it was my inspiration.

Never in my life have I had the experience of making a really good friend and yet knowing that after this day, or tomorrow, I will never see him/her again and that is okay as that is what this Camino is about. ¨Cherish the moment.

Am having a late night tonight - 10:30 bedtime instead of 8:00- One night I was asleep at 6:00! Getting stronger every day but have to realize that ¨stronger¨for a 66 year old is not the same as ¨stronger¨for a 35 year old!

Good day today!

I don´t have any major stories to report as today was flat and easy. After walking in the hot sun so many days the drizzle was so welcome. Have learned that if I only have coffee and juice at the hotel I can wait until I get to a bar for breakfast around 9:00 or 10;00. Told Steve this morning that my eating patterns have changed - would have never considered waiting until 10:00 for breakfast but they serve lunch from 2:00 until 5:00 and dinner from 8:30 until midnight. I always carry stuff in my backpack even if it is a part of a leftover omelet sandwich from the day before. Sounds awful doesn´t it but it is not! Finally threw an omelet/ham sandwich out after 2 days of eating on it. Was huge!

Can´t believe that I am getting in to the villages in time to have a nap. For the first 2 weeks I was never in before 5:00. Seven until five is hard. These days the paths are not as hilly BUT they are coming up in a couple of days after Leon! I have some very, very long and hard days coming so am enjoying these days of 13-15 miles.

What is so strange about this is that people do all sorts of distances on this Camino and you may walk for hours with someone and you will stop and they will go on and that is the last you will ever, ever see of them. Felt so sorry for some pilgrims who got in today around 5:00 because the hostels are all full and my hotel is full too. They will have to sleep on the ground or go on to Leon and that will take a lot of the night. I am so thankful to have my hotels prebooked. I did it this way so I would not have to rush, with my bad knee, to get a bed in a hostel PLUS I did not relish the though of sleepign with 25 snorers in a room! One of the towns I stayed in had to close their two hostels because of bedbugs and the pilgrims slept in a sports hall on the floor!

Have Saturday off in Leon and am so excited about it. Last free time until Santiago!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

2nd Blog today

I just wrote a long blog but my euro ran out and I lost it! Can´t remember all I wrote but do remember that I am amazed at the spirit on this pilgrimage, so much, much more than an ordinary trek, no matter how wonderful the others were. Only one person has expressed to me that he is doing this simply as a walk and to lose weight. There are easier ways to lose weight than to walk 500 miles!

The weather has gotten cooler, especially in the mornings. I left at 6:00 2 mornings but won´t again as my little flashlight is not good enough. Everyone else has head lamps. With my 2 hiking poles it is hard to get my flashlight positioned right in my hand, simply no room. 7:30 is a great time to start. Some days I do not eat breakfast but eat something from my pack at 9:00 or so, so bread or cheese or even limp potato chips. I am staying filled up with water, am drinking more and more of it as time goes on. If I get to my hotel by about 3:00 I can get a pilgrims´lunch and that does me for the day with just a snack at night. The ordinary dinners here are not until 8:30 and that is too late for me. I have built up my strenght so I do not have to go to bed by 8:00 but can´t wait that late to eat. I wish I could find the bar that Father Cobb mentioned having greasy hamburgers, dripping with good stuff, because I would pay ANY amount for one of those hamburgers! Vegetables, except fries, are hard to come by and I was thrilled to hav peas and carrots today! It is amazing how the simple things are so wonderful!

Will get to Leon in 2 days. Am very worried about crossing the 4 lane highway, every book warns about it. If I could find a bus or cab without 2 or 3 miles of it I would certainly catch it.

I am on the downward turn of this journey of faith and love. I am so appreciative to all of you for your suppòrt and especially I am greatful for the wonderful support my husband, Steve, has shown me. Not just in the finances but for this attitude. He is the best!

I am at a hostel using the computer and they are about to eat so I will go to my little hotel.

Buen Camino and God Bless!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Almost half way!

In a day or two I will be half-way though this wonder pilgrimage. And it is a wonderful pilgrimage, in spite of the sore feet and today I have a sore knee but I think it was because of going up and down a big mountain early this morning. I left the hotel at 6:30 am with my flashlight but no friend. Was not entirely sure of the way but did find the magical yellow arrow which is the Camino sign. Wanted to get up and over the mountain and the hours of the flat hot plains before the sun came out. Kept to the trail by looking for the other lights ahead of me. And there were 4 at most. Normal people were still asleep! The stars were beautiful as was the sunrise. Did 15.3 miles in 6 hours which was pretty good. When I got to my town it took me 45 minutes to find my hotel. It is odd but I was feeling good until then and by the time I found it my legs were about to give way! Happens every single day!

This hotel is great and my bathroom has a deep, deep tub. When I get to the room I throw my clothes in the tub and we all bathe together! Then I get my pack ready for tomorrow, lunch and breakfast now that I am leaving so early, then wrap my wet hair in a towel and take a short nap. Found a place which served meals early, 5:00, so ate and now will do another bathtub soak and go to bed! Plan to leave even earlier tomorrow, maybe at 6:00. It is perfectly safe so do not worry!

Turned on the television to a PGA game today and was thrilled to hear English! Have heard ONLY German, Spanish, French, and assorted others for 2 w eeks but only about an hour´s worth of English from a lady from California. Have not seen her since that day. She had a pulled muscle and had been put to bed on day 2 and this was day 6 and her first day out.

Walked totally alone today and that was fine! Followed the yellow arrows for 15 miles and plan to follow them all the way to Santiago.

Monday, September 6, 2010

After 10 Days

It is hard to believe that I have been on this pilgrimage for 10 days! It is an amazing thing but much harder than even I expected. It is the relentless sun during this time of the year but tomorrow we are supposed to have rain and I will so welcome it! Stayed in the convent last night and the nuns were so good to me. I had just about had it with dehydration. I was using one of the hydration systems in my pack but was not getting as much fluid as I needed. I keep remembering that a man from France died of organ failure on the second day of this trip. I don´t remember him but he was in the group who started in the Pyrenees with me on the 28th. He was dehydrated and it affected his heart. Today my pack was so heavy with water but that is okay, slows you down but I have nothing to hurry for. i have put my hydration system away and am taking only big bottles of water.

The people doing this are amazing. They are so kind and concerned for each other. You might walk with one person for part of a day and never see them again. A lot of the pilgrims stayed back today to catch a bus to the next place but I went on. Am using a lot of sunscreen and stuff for my feet. One little blister can make you miserable when you have to walk 15 miles. Tomorrow is another long day, about 18 miles, but hopefully it won´t be so hot. Am in a little farming village tonight, very, very old. They are having an onion festival for the farmers! Big deal as everyone brings food and they are going to party. Only problem is that all of the restaurants closed at 6 and did not open until after 8. Am hungry for a real meal. Have eaten bar sandwiches for 3 days but nowhere in Spain do they serve real food until after 8 or 8 and I am usually asleep by then.

I am so blessed to have a cell phone so I can call Steve each day. I watch my time carefully so I am able to bridge the 6 hour time difference and not wake him up. Once I have talked with him I am able to get on with my pilgrimage.

In spite of the sun, heat, blisters and not understanding much of what is said, I am still so enthralled with this Camino. As I drag my feet through the dust and rocks, by the endless wheat fields, I can´t help but think of our Christ who did all of His journeys under much more difficult circumstances. I go into all of the churchs I can get to and just reflect on this.

Please continue to pray for me on this journey. 500 miles does not seem that long until you are walking them!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Heading to Santiago slowly!

It is 7:20 Spaninsh time and dinner is not until 8:30, in ANY restaurant! Found a computer and although Steve will update (my phone bill will be terrible!) I wanted to give you all some of my impressions myself: This is HARD but so wonderful! I am the luckiest person in the world to get to do this and doing it alone, as a pilgrimage, is great. I am amazed at the variety of people doing this. I have only met a few women who are solo but that is fine. The variety of countries is amazing: NZ, Australia, finland, Sweden, Germany, Russia, France, Spain, Grenada, Brazil, Ireland,Canada, and I am sure there are many more but I have yet to meet or even hear about any Americans at all. I know there are some but evidently they did not start out the same day I did. Most people are walking at the same pace so we will finish around the same time -October 1 or 2.

There is a wonderful German group I have connected with. Unlike 98% of the pilgrims they are like me and staying in hotels. We have some of the same hotels and today I would not have found my hotel had I not tagged along. Walked the last 4 hours with 2 lovely German girls, around 20, both students and on a very, very limited budget. I made them stop at a cafe with me so I could get us a Coke. I hope I see them tomorrow but they are staying in a hostel and I don´t know when they will leave for the trail. I left at 7:30 this morning and finished at 5:00. Totally wiped out but after taking THREE baths I am much better. I will repack my backpack tonight and be ready to leave about 7:00 AM. Lots of sun expected, they have not had rain since June and there are few places to get water so will take a lot. It weighs my backpack down but can.t depend on finding it, I do know that we will pass a wine fountain tomorrow where you can fill your cup with free wine but I will pass on that.

Had a wonderful time today among the vinyards and olive groves. I had never seen olive groves. Had a break at a 13th century Roman town and walked a Roman road for about 2 hors. All of these villages or towns are at the top of the hills and it is brutal.

I have been thinking about all of you and I have prayed for you. Prayer comes so easily along the Camino. Did you know that if you stay on the trail butterfiles follow you? That is true, has happened to me. If you get off it you do not see the butterflies.

THank you all for following Steve on my status. He has never been a FB follower so this is a labor of love for him.

Buen Camino!