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I will be thinking of Pilgrims leaving SJPDP on May 19

BobM

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances; Via Podensis; Via Francigena; Via Portugues; Via Francigena del Sud; Jakobsweg.
#1
Last year I left SJPDP on my own pilgrimage to Santiago, arriving there on June 20.

My thoughts and prayers will be with you all, on each and every day you walk the trail.

I long to be there among you, but I must content myself with memories and with re-reading my notes from last year.

As time permits, I will post reflections and experiences for each day.

The pilgrimage is a remarkable experience, and grows more meaningful after one returns home.

Here is a link to my blog, if readers want to get a few insights from my experience.

http://bob-m-blog.blogspot.com/

Best wishes for a safe journey and personal growth.

Bob M
 

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BobM

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances; Via Podensis; Via Francigena; Via Portugues; Via Francigena del Sud; Jakobsweg.
#3
Of c
mina said:
Would you think me too? I am leaving from SJPDP on 30th of May. ;-)
Of course I will think of you, Mina :D

I hope you are ready for the big walk. Training hard? Getting rid of clutter from your pack? Hm?

Remembrance of Times Past - May 19, 2007: I had lunch at Orison, but it was very foggy, so no views to be seen. I could not get accomodation there, so I pressed on. The whole day in the mountains was foggy - see the pics in my blog. A few people, including me, got lost at Ibaneta. There were arrows on the road that directed us to cross, but they were put there for a local bike ride - not the Camino. That cost me an extra hour or more walking, and I got to SJPDP after 5pm, when the main refugio was full. The overflow slept in a refugio in the church grounds. Mass at 6pm. Felt very sore and tired. Wonderful pilgrim dinner that night with two lovely ladies from Holland.

Bob M
 
#4
I have trained quiet hard. Though, I am always in a good shape. I have done hiking for years so I know that there always be clutter in my pack.
I have read too much lately about the Camino and I am a bit confused what should I'll take with me and should I buy some new stuff to replace older and heavier gears. But I think others are nervous too before "the big walk", like you said it. :)
 

BobM

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances; Via Podensis; Via Francigena; Via Portugues; Via Francigena del Sud; Jakobsweg.
#5
What to take? The minimum! Train with the pack full of stuff you want to take, then toss out items after every walk. You don't need spare shoelaces. Men don't need shaving gear, ladies don't need cosmetics - leave it all at home.

Consider packing as part of your spiritual preparation - remove complexity from life, simplify life, focus on only the important essentials. Think about life and what you want to accomplish on the Camino as you look at every item in the pack. Let go of all the un-necessary thing we accumulate in life.

Remembrance of Times Past - May 20, 2007: Today I walked to Larrasaona, arriving at 4pm. The day started beautiful and clear, then the clouds and rain came. I had to wear my poncho most of the day. Today was painful for me and I walked slowly, leaning on my walking pole. One knee hurt going up hills but was OK on the flat and going downhill. This was a surprise after all my training, but maybe my new arch supports altered the gait sufficiently to cause a problem. One can only press on until the pain becomes disabling, but I doubt it will. Lentement, mais surement.

http://bob-m-blog.blogspot.com/
 

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#6
I won't take spare shoelaces (a joke, I know) but I like to take a sleeping bag and that means already 3.1 kg with backpack. I am still not sure how much warming clothes I'll need there. I know that in June it is warm in Spain, but on the other hand there are those mountain parts too where it could be cold.
I have walked quiet a lot in last three months and I have carried harddisks and water bottles in my backpack, so it have weighed 14 kg. I haven't packed yet but I'll do it first time tomorrow and I aim to 8 kg, but I really don't know what the backpack is going to weight with all stuff in it.
 
#7
Mina - you are going through something that some of us become obsessed with - weight, weight weight :)

8k is a good target - tell us if you get there - and then tell us if you manage to get it down even further by being really ruthless! It is really, really worth it when walking.

Good luck
 
#8
I had a dream and it was 8 kg. I tried to pack my things to my backpack and I think with my stuff 8 kg is not going to happen.
 

BobM

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances; Via Podensis; Via Francigena; Via Portugues; Via Francigena del Sud; Jakobsweg.
#10
Packing: Really minimise the gear. Ask yourself about every item - why do I want to take it? Essential (eg a spare shirt)?, nice to have (eg iPod)? luxury (eg mink stole)?

Minimising gear is important for pilgrims walking all the way to Santiago. Walking for "only" a week, you can endure the discomforts of a heavy pack and walk through injuries.

I saw people who were quite fine for say 4 - 5 days, then had to drop out due to injuries. Others got rid of stuff, or posted it ahead, in Burgos.

I got my pack down to 7.2kg and carried 1 litre of water and 500gm food - all up weight of 8.7kg.

Sleeping bag: I took a light-weight summer bag (650gm) and a silk liner. I found the sleeping bag too hot in most cases and used just the liner. Bear in mind that the refugios pack in a lot of people and generally the doors and windows are closed at night. Often the biggest meals of the day are in the evening, and metabolising food also produces energy. All those metabolising bodies pump out a lot of heat and sometimes the atmosphere gets stifling.

Remembrance of Times Past - May 21, 2007: Today I walked to Cizur Menor, arriving at 15:30. The weather was good all day, with occasional patches of warm sun. The trail went through beautiful, lush spring fields. What joy to walk among burgeoning spring growth! New life is all around - grasses, crops, little flowers, the flight of chirping birds, crawling insects.

The left knee was very sore after a 30-minute climb, but seemed to improve as the day went on. But by "favouring" the left leg, I started to get sore in the right leg. But these minor travails are not show-stoppers. One must endure all things in life. Problems and difficulties are the unchanging lot of humanity. It is how we respond to difficulties that is important.

Almost got lost a couple of times in Pamplona, but local people always called out to me to point out the way. I reflected that all of us occasionally need the help of a guide as we go through life.
The refugio was crowded and a bit noisy, but the surroundings were beautiful. In fact, today was quite busy on the trail. I hope it will be less crowded tomorrow.

I had dinner with a petite Japanese lady and her even smaller mother. Both carried heavy packs and planned to go all the way to Santiago. They were incredibly determined and focused people. One can gain strength and inspiration from the example of others.
 

BobM

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances; Via Podensis; Via Francigena; Via Portugues; Via Francigena del Sud; Jakobsweg.
#11
Packing List:

My list is attached, FWIW, with some post-Camino notes. Some of the notes may be cryptic - I have not edited the list to post here. Also, in the weights I have included stuff I wore (eg boots), as well as stuff in the pack. I hope it makes sense.

What to carry is very personal. I am a small person, so I prefer the minimalist approach.

I would certainly not use plastic bags to pack stuff on my next Camino. I rise early, and rustling plastic bags are incredibly noisy to sleepers. I packed in the dark, but a few people used headlamps. They are also very disturbing to sleepers, so I would strongly suggest taking a small torch instead and using it as discreetly as possible.

Anyway, I hope this makes some sort of sense.

Bob M
 

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BobM

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances; Via Podensis; Via Francigena; Via Portugues; Via Francigena del Sud; Jakobsweg.
#12
I thought you might be amused by the attached photo. It shows me with all my gear - it was a cool, windy day, so I am wearing a wind-break as well as a light fleece.

The guy in the cartoon is wishing he was back home in his armchair!

Bob M
 

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#13
I am in 10 kilos (water isn't included) now, but there are few things I'll change tomorrow when I'll pack again.
Gladly I found a sleeping bag from a supermarket today. It is a summer bag and its comfort figure is +10 and it's only 0,6 kilo.
BobM: I noticed from the photo that you wore shoes, not boots. Your list was very specific, espeacially those individual weights. :wink:
I think I prefer torch, not headlamp, like you said. Though, I haven't bought one yet.
 

BobM

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances; Via Podensis; Via Francigena; Via Portugues; Via Francigena del Sud; Jakobsweg.
#14
Well, Mina, 10kg might still be a little heavy. But I think you said earlier that you are an experienced walker, so your judgement will tell you what is right.

Just remember that walking on flat terrain and roads for weeks puts a lot of accumulated stress on the body. Walking in mountains is quite different and makes different demands on the body.

Weight really is important for really long distance walks - that's why the forums here harp on it all the time.

I found that pilgrim footwear was split roughly equally between shoes (like mine) and light hiking boots. Only very few people wore traditional heavy leather boots. My shoes were fine, although not waterproof and got soaked on rainy days. On the plus side they dried quickly at night (I stuffed them with newspaper - most refugios supply newspaper for the purpose.) See the photo for an idea of what people wore.

Your sleeping bag should be fine. One can always put on clothes if it gets too cold.

I weighed everything before my first packing attempt for my training walks. I know all those tiny weights are obsessive :), but I wanted to experiment with different packing strategies "in the computer" before experimenting "on the body" during training walks.

Remembrance of Times Past - May 22, 2007: Walked to Puente la Reina today. The body is slowly adjusting to the walk and I was able to move a little faster today, and focus more on where I was, rather than on the body. Not many people on the trail today, and I was alone for a lot of the time. Church bells tolled the hours as they have done for centuries and the sounds carried far across rural fields starting to burst out with the life of spring. Birds san loudly in the hedges and bushes. Two ravens fought for territory. Snails and small insects crawling on the path. Vines with pin-head sized fruit that wil later become lush grapes. Beautiful, fragrant lavender that I crushed and breathed deeply. Spring in all its frantic glory in the rush to breed and grow. What joy it is to walk among such loveliness and to be spiritually uplifted by those wondrous bells!

I took a detour to the beautiful little church at Eunate. Having lunch there, I met a lady whom I had had a conversation with here on this forum! Life offers us many chance meetings and opportunities to make a difference to our lives. Treasure those moments.. Several people in my refugio had to end their pilgrimage due to injuries.

This refugio was outside the town, set amid fields. Wonderfully calming and peaceful. I had dinner in the company of two Danish ladies and a man from Scotland who had walked the Camino Frances 3 times before. He was walking for a friend involved in some private tragedy. Why am I walking the Camino? I must try to get my thoughts in order over the coming days.

Walk softly on the Earth and treasure all the creatures that share our planet.

Bob M
 

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#15
Yeah, I am a quite a experienced walker. I have hiked many times in the Finnish Lapland. There I have carried a backpack which have been almost 25 kilos. I have hiked 20 kilometres/day with that pack. Though, condititions will be different in Spain, much warmer and rain could be heavier too. I am trying to get my backpack as light as it is possible. If it is still 9 kilos or near 10 kilos after that then it will be it.
I have also made few weeks bikecycle trips in Finland and other countries like Sweden, Norway and Denmark.
I felt a little stress few days a go. I thought too much will I manage to Santiago and will my gears be okay there. But I decided that I will take it easy there in Spain and If I won't manage to Santiago by walk that's okay then. I have had an experience of my life anyway.
 

BobM

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances; Via Podensis; Via Francigena; Via Portugues; Via Francigena del Sud; Jakobsweg.
#16
Every pilgrim starting out on the road to Santiago probably has moments of doubt. Can I make it? Will my gear be safe? Will I find a place to sleep every day? I certainly had such thoughts. But I decided to focus on each day, without thinking too much about Santiago.

Small goals empower us, but one big goal can be overwhelming. There is a Buddhist concept of "meaningful steps", which is basically to focus intently on the present moment and the present activity. It is the same climbing in the mountains - don't focus on the summit, just the next step, the next ridge. Soon you will get there, the big goal will be achieved!! Have a look at the attached document for more inspiration.

I rested one day in Burgos. That was my first stage. Then I rested one day in Astorga - my second stage. Having those stages gave a sense of accomplishment - mental rest as well as physical rest.

There is always support when it is needed. Some of the people in charge of the refugios are truly wonderful. Have a look at a couple of the stories in the archive in my Camino blog http://bob-m-blog.blogspot.com/ .

One of the important lessons I learned on my pilgrimage is to "choose the difficult way" in life, rather than the easy way. The difficult way is rarely as difficult as it might seem, and the rewards of accomplishment are so much the greater. I will have more to say about it later.

Anyway, I hope these thoughts are helpful.

Bob M
 

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#17
BobM you have almost same kind of thoughts than I do. When it has rained a lot during on a cycling-trip abroad or I have sweated a lot after I had climbed on a hill on a hiking-trip, those times I have thought few times that "I think there is a easier way to live my life, but would I enjoy my life more then". I think the answer to that question is "I wouldn't". So that's why I do different kind of trips. I don't purposely "choose the difficult way" that just happens to me nowadays.
In fact my main purpose for the Camino was that I would like to learn more Spanish and I think it suits me very well because I like languages (english, spanish, swedish), travelling, exercising, camping and backpacking.
Thank you very much. It has been great to discuss with you. :D
 

BobM

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances; Via Podensis; Via Francigena; Via Portugues; Via Francigena del Sud; Jakobsweg.
#18
Remembrance of Times Past - May 23, 2007:Today I walked to the albergue in Ayegui, just beyond Estella. The day started overcast and then became clear and warm until just before Estella, when it rained a little. I had a short rest and snack on the old Roman road and bridge near Cirauqui. In the silence one can almost hear the tramp of vanished Legions and understand the dreams of travellers and Pigrims who came this way.

The country is lush with spring growth and alive with birdsong. Several very noisy groups of pilgrims passed me today, wrapped in their conversations and oblivious to all the miracles around them. One must not be judgemental; they may chatter, but nevertheless they are pilgrims too.

Passed through lovely old villages. But where are all the people? The young have gone to big cities, leaving only the old behind. But these small villages may come alive again as the Camino grows in popularity. Had a snack in the pretty village square in Lorca

I can't remember much about the albergue today. A year has passed and my notes are silent.

I have my daily routine sorted out now, and the pilgrimage is settling into a regular pattern. The body has adjusted and the pains are fading away. One must be vigilant when life settles into a routine, when challenges fade, when everything is comfortable. We should always test ourselves physically and examine our spiritual life. The Buddhists say "everything changes"

My routine: I wake early and I am on the road by 7 am. Every couple of hours I stop for a snack (demi baguette, jamon, queso Some dried fruit or nuts). When I arrive at my stop for the night in mid-afternoon, I make lunch (same food as for the snacks, plus fruit). Then I wash clothes, examine feet for any problems, rest on the bed for a couple of hours. Then wander about and write my notes until early dinner. Then bed about 9:30.

The Camino is a metaphor for life: It has a beginning, but an uncertain end. On the way we experience joy, sadness, friendship, irritation. We achieve goals. We grow physically and spiritually. Then, as we sit on the cliffs at Finisterre, our journey ends. We look out over the unknown, trackless ocean and can olny wonder what the future holds.

Bob M
 
#19
How often there are villages or towns on the Camino? I mean is it easy to get food from supermarket or little shops at mornings? Did you usually buy little snack for the mornings? Did you have any problems to get food at any time? Sorry, that I made so many questions.
I have "The Camino Francés, 2008" book, but I haven't read much about it yet.
My flight will be 1 p.m in Biarritz and I still have to figure out how I'll get from there to St Jean Pied de Port. I have a bed reservation from SJPDP.
 

sillydoll

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
2002 CF: 2004 from Paris: 2006 VF: 2007 CF: 2009 Aragones, Ingles, Finisterre: 2011 X 2 on CF: 2013 'Caracoles': 2014 CF and Ingles 'Caracoles":2015 Logrono-Burgos (Hospitalero San Anton): 2016 La Douay to Aosta/San Gimignano to Rome:
#20

BobM

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances; Via Podensis; Via Francigena; Via Portugues; Via Francigena del Sud; Jakobsweg.
#21
mina said:
How often there are villages or towns on the Camino? I mean is it easy to get food from supermarket or little shops at mornings? Did you usually buy little snack for the mornings? Did you have any problems to get food at any time?
There are usually small villages every 2 - 3 of hours, except on the Meseta (Burgos to Leon, roughly). Villages and shops on the Camino are set up to cater for increasing volume of Pligrims, so buying food (and bandaids etc) is no problem.

When I arrived at my stop for the night, I bought food for next day from local tiendas or supermercados.

I never bought water, there are heaps of fountains along the trail to re-fill plastic bottles. I also re-filled from faucets (Amecican!) taps (English!) in the refugios.

My breakfast was a couple of small muesli bars (easy to buy), some cheese and a small carton of fruit juice. I ate again every couple of hours. I found it was better to have lots of small "meals" rather than a few big ones.

Lunch was 2 -3 baguettes with ham and cheese (take a small knife). I preferred not to stop in cafes, except for a cafe con leche. The reason is that cafes were often crowded and a lot of time could be lost. But maybe that is not "lost time" if you need a good rest, or want to chat with fellow pilgrims :)

I carried nuts, dried fruit for snacks. Also occasionally chocolate for a small luxury. I bought fresh fruit as opportunity arose. Yuo can also get excellent dates from some of the shops.

One of the (many) wonderful things about walking in May/June is the cherry season. On the Camino I had some of the very best cherries I have ever tasted. I will never forget those cherries. some you can pick from the fields, but one must have a good moral compass. Don't do as I saw one couple doing: going onto a farmer's orchard and filling plastic bags with cherries.

Dinner varied. If the albergue offered meals, I ate those. Occasionally, I ate out in cafes. Towards the end, I tended to make my own dinners in the kitchens of refugios and eat communally.

So, to summarise - no problems getting food at all. One minor difficulty I had was carrying food! May pack was so full that I had to hang food my outside in plastic bags. That worked well - no fumbling in the pack for food. On my diet I lost weight. Many people do. When I got to Santiago, I could not stop eating. Once the journey was over, the body and mind re-adjusted and demanded food, food, food :)

Remembrance of Times Past - May 24, 2007: Today I walked to Torres del Rio (see photo), arriving mid-afternoon. The day was clear and cold to start, and then got very warm in the afternoon. Had a rest and snack in a lovely chruch and did some thinking about life. Swallows darted in and out of the church, making nests. It is good luck if swallows nest in your home.

I am feeling strong today, with surges of happiness as I walk in the footsteps of countless Pilgrims down the ages. The waist band of my pack is starting to chafe the hip bones.

I could not get a bed at Torres del Rio, only a mattress on the roof. It was one of the most memorable experiences on my Camino. See the story "Casa Mari: at http://bob-m-blog.blogspot.com/ Most of us got food from a tienda and cooked dinner in the kitchen and ate on the roof - or in the courtyard.

I started think about the views I missed in the fog coming over the Pyrenees on Route Napoleon on day 1. One must never regret the past, it is unchangable. One must accept such situations as they are, and get the most out of "what is", not "what I wish it was".

Bob M
 

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BobM

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances; Via Podensis; Via Francigena; Via Portugues; Via Francigena del Sud; Jakobsweg.
#22
Rembrance of Times Past - May 25: Yesterday I walked about 32 km, so I am looking forward to a short day today, about 21 km to Logrono. That will make about 162 km total since leaving SJPDP on May 19. I got to Logrono just after noon and stayed at the Pension Sebastian instead of the refugio. I needed space to relax, have a good shower and a good sleep. I felt very tired at the end of today's walk. The accumulation of kilometres day by day takes a toll.

The day started cold and clear, and turned into a warm, sunny day. Met a couple of pilgrims for coffe and a meal. One has a sore ankle and plans to take a bus for tomorrow's stage. A few of the people who started with me from SJPDP have feet and ankle problems now. One must travel light, well within one's stamina, and call on our inner core strengths to endure

I heard of a pillgrim in his 70's dying in the night at a refugio. In fact, over the last week I have passed a few shrines to pilgrims who did not make it, and said a silent prayer for them. None of us knows the hour of our own deaths, so it behooves us to make the most of every day, to do things we love, to be a help and guide for others.

Many pilgrims are in their 20's - 30's, but a surprising number are older than 60. I did not see any children. A couple of pilgrims walked with a dog. I saw another walking with a crutch to relieve a badly injured leg.

The country is so incredibly beautiful. This is the greatest joy to me. Have a look at today's feature photo. In the foreground there are lovely poppies. Poppies have a special meaning as a remembrance of solldiers who died in WW1. Here is a little verse about it.
In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Beneath the crosses, row on row
That mark our place.
And in the sky
The lark still sings
Scarce heard amid the guns below


Look closely at the foreground and you will see beautiful lilac and cream flowers. In the distance vines are starting to get their leaves and fruit. An orchard is in the far distance. Beautiful, orderly, repeating patterns of life that have continued down the centuries.

Bob M
 

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BobM

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances; Via Podensis; Via Francigena; Via Portugues; Via Francigena del Sud; Jakobsweg.
#23
Remembrance of Times Past - May 26, 2007: It was very noisy in the pension last night. A group of pilgrims rose about 4:30 am and paid little heed to sleepers with their clatter and conversation. So I also left about 6:30.

It was cold and cloudy. Last night it rained heavily for a time and the streets were still wet. The rain started again just beyond Navarette and by Ventosa it was very heavy. I wore a poncho, a nylon jacket and had a nylon cover over my pack. That proved very effective and nothing got wet in my pack. But I sweated heavily and my clothes became wet with sweat. I could not take my map out in the rain, so I missed the turnoff to Ventosa, where I planned to stop for a while to see if the rain cleared. I was just following the pilgrims in front of me, assuming that they knew the way.

We often just follow others in life: partners, family, friends - even the dress and habits of ephemeral celebrities. But we are ultimately responsible for making our own way in life. Strong core values and moral strength are necessary when we must depart from comfortable ways and strike out alone.

I pressed on through fairly heavy rain all the way to Najera. Much of the trail was through vineyards, over slippery, sticky, red clay.

Today was 31 km for me. The albergue was quite crowded when I arrived. This one was a large dormitory with limited hot water - that had ran out by the time I showered.

I ate dinner with an American lady from Colorado in a local cafe.

Today's photo shows pilgrim crosses on a chain-link fence near a busy highway. The crosses are very simple, just two sticks pushed between the mesh of the fence. I saw other examples on my Camino. Other crosses were made of stones in the trail.

The act of stopping, finding two sticks - or some stones - and forming a cross offers us an opportunity to pause and reflect in a place that is special to us.

You may think of someone you love, or about someone who is sick in body or spirit. One can also offer up thanks for the good things life has given us, or atonement for the wrongs we have done.

Fix on some private thought, make your own cross, and go on with renewed hope.
 

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#24
BobM: I'll start my Camino with 11,4 backpack. :wink:
I have alternative things for some equipment which are lighter but those are not so good than gears I'll take with me.
 

BobM

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances; Via Podensis; Via Francigena; Via Portugues; Via Francigena del Sud; Jakobsweg.
#25
Buen Camino, Mina. Vaya con Dios. :)

I will post a litlte message here when you set out on May 30.

Remembrance of Times Past - May 27, 2007:

I rose early this morning to have the hot shower I missed last night. It was a clear, cold day - very welcome after our struggle in the mud yesterday.

By chance I met two pilgrims that I had not seen for some days. I was walking through Azofra and they emerged from a cafe just as I passed by. One minute earlier or later and we would never have met.

I walked into a strong, cold headwind on the relentless uphill grind to Granon. It was not really steep, just steep enough and long enough in the wind to make me long for the warmth and comfort of Granon. Did a bit over 29 km today, 225 km since SJPDP. For me, 25 - 30 km per day is the best.

Now might be a good place to talk about walking alone or in company. I preferred to walk alone. Firstly, it is important to walk at one's own pace. I am not a fast walker, and I felt uncomfortable if other pilgrims had to slow down to walk with me. I don't like to inconvenience others.

Also, the Camino was a period of reflection for me. When I occasionally walked with companions I found my attention was diverted into social conversation and the usual courteous attentions one pays to new acquaintances, and this distracted me from my main purpose.

Chacun à son goût. Other pilgrims relished walking with the same companions every day.

Granon was another of my favourite albergues. See the entry for Granon in the archive of my blog: http://bob-m-blog.blogspot.com/. The hospitalero (Arturo), was very kind to us all. We had a wonderful dinner that night.

Here are a few thoughts about the photos today. In life we often come to forks in the road. Some are trivial - should I buy the green shirt or the blue one? - but others are life-changing.

On the camino, as in life, we often come to places where we have to choose the way to go. But don't worry, there will always be a yellow arrow to guide you on the right path, you have only to look for it. Be especially vigilant in the bigger cities, where the pilgrim arrows can be harder to see.

The arrows are your faithful friends on the Camino. They will never let you down. We also need faithful guides in life: moral and ethical guides as well as friends on whom we may rely. Perhaps the camino may teach us how to be a better guide for those we love.

For me the yellow arrow is the most meaningful symbol for the Camino, not the scallop shell. The shell tells others who we are (a pilgrim going to Santiago), the arrow tells us who we may become (a better person).

For Christians, a shepherd and his flock have a powerful spiritual meaning. The shepherd is the guide and protector of his flock. Who will our guide and protector be amid the trials and afflictions that beset us in life?

The words of a Psalm came to me as I trod the long, stony road: Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.

We all slept in the attic of the church at Granon. Most people rested or slept for an hour or so after
the day's walk is done. This is a nice time of day. The best time is when you drop your pack and say "buenas tardes" to the hospitalero on arrival.

Bob M
 

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#26
The weather has been cold and rainy in Spain and it's going to be like that next weekend on the Pyrenees. The weather maps show that there are snowing in some parts of Northern Spain. I am considering should I'll take more warming clothes with me.
 

ivar

Administrator
Staff member
#27
The last few days ALL of Spain has had rain and rather chilly weather. I bet it is cold in the mountains. We need some weather from the south, but nothing is in the forecast.

Barcelona has had a severe water shortage (they were just about to build a several hundred kilometer long tube as an emergency measure to supply the town with water. It seems like thing are better with all this rain and that the plans might be canceled.

Anyway, I am sure we will get our share of sunny weather later on this summer.

Today just clouds and chilly (17c) in Santiago.

Saludos,
Ivar
 
#28
ivar said:
Anyway, I am sure we will get our share of sunny weather later on this summer.
Well, I hope so! It would be rather strange to come back home from august-camino without the tan.
Can't wait to see you all.
Kuba.
 
#29
Check it out Bob, I have almost the exact same picture as you (bottom left in your collage), only mine is taken in mid July of 2007! The colours have certainly changed... Neat! :D
 

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BobM

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#30
Remembrance of times Past - May 28, 2007: Arturo and his helper cooked breakfast for us this morning. The morning was overcast, with a cold, biting wind until noon. Then there were sunny patches and drizzly patches.

I walked to Villafranca today (29 km). The walking was easy. I am feeling wery strong now, but I don't dare think of Santiago, only the path I must take this day.

Santiiago is an almost dream-like place - a mystic destination somewhere in the far future that I may or may not see. Don't tempt fate by longing for things beyond our reach.

I have left behind my companions of recent days, but now I have a new group that I see often on the road. On the Camino, people come and go from our lives. Some we never see again, others we see again after many days of absence. Most are a joy to see again, but occasionally some are not - as in life.

I made a simple dinner in the kitchen of the albergue tonight. Chatted with my new companions.

Today's photo shows supper last night at Granon.

Pilgrims develop a sense of brotherhood through shared trials and joys on the Camino. We have all chosen "the difficult way", otherwise we would not be here. Dinner at Granon had a warm feeling of community.

In life, we must treasure every moment of "belonging", of being part of something greater than the individual, and in which we are each a valued contributor. I wish I could express the feeling better.

Shakespeare captured the feeling wonderfully in a famous speech:

We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
For he to-day that sheds his blood with me
Shall be my brother; be he ne'er so vile,
This day shall gentle his condition:
And gentlemen in England now a-bed
Shall think themselves accursed they were not here,
And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks
That fought with us upon Saint Crispin's day.
 

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BobM

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#31
Tonjesol said:
Check it out Bob, I have almost the exact same picture as you (bottom left in your collage), only mine is taken in mid July of 2007! The colours have certainly changed... Neat! :D
That is pretty amazing! I took my photo only a few metres in front of where you took yours. It is fantastic to see the same scene in summer.

Thanks so much for posting the pic. :D

Bob M
 

BobM

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#32
Remembrance of Times Past - May 29, 2007: Two people were sick last night. When I rose in the morning they were both huddled up in blankets vomiting into a big rubbish bin in the kitchen, taking comfort in their mutual misery. I decided to eat my breakfast on the road. :wink: I hope they made peace with the hospitalera before they left.

Today I walked to the suburbs of Burgos (39 km), 290 km from SJPDP. My route passed through St Jean de Ortega, Cardenuela and Villafria (ie a little off the main route). I took a bus into the Plaza Major. That last km in heavy traffic along city roads was just too much to take after such a long day.

The day was beautiful but cold. I walked mostly in the company of a fellow-pilgrim from France. We had a cafe con leche on the Plaza Major and parted.

Very tired on arrival, but I felt strong all day. Tomorrow is a planned rest day for me, so I decided to stay at the Hotel Espana for two nights.

Had dinner in front of the Cathedral with a group of pilgrims. Very nice meal in a wonderful location.

Here is another composite pic for today.

First you see the albergue at Villafranca where I stayed last night. My bunk and gear are on the far left in the foreground.

Next you see two ruins - A church, still with the bell hanging in its ruined tower; and the remains of an ancient Roman fountain, but with agua non potable.

One often sees ruins on the camino. There are still a surprising amount of Roman ruins, after 1500 years or more. This fountain was off the main camino trail, but I often chose to walk on the less-popular paths, away from noisy roads and crowds.

Later ruins (perhaps this church) often date from the peak of pilgrimage some hundreds of years ago. More modern villages sometimes show signs of dereliction as young people move to the cities and village populations shrink. Fortunately, the revival of the Camino has also led to restoration of some places, and new businesses to serve the pilgrim traffic.

Finally there are two cyclists and a walker passing the cross high on the hills beyond Atapuerca. Crosses are very common along the Camino. some are quite ancient. Once over the crest beyond the cross, I could see Burgos far off in a hazy valley. It was a welcome but depressing sight! Welcome because Burgos was my stop for tonight, and it was all downhill walking. Depressing because the city looked so far away.
 

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#33
I hope that Mina and all other pilgrims leaving SJPDP on May 30 have experiences on the Camino that they will treasure throughout life.

You have chosen "the difficult way" and you will be rewarded for it in so many ways. That is a sure hope that will sustain you when times are difficult.

You will walk in the footsteps of so many others who have trod the way of the Camino.

One person's footsteps in a trackless field quickly disappear from the earth, but the footsteps of many people make a path, and then a road that will endure as guide for others who come after us. Each step we take will add a tiny bit to that road and make it stronger, a legacy of our passage.

Most of us start out with certain ideas about why we are walking. One gains deeper insights along the way, and sometimes we reassess our goals. This is good to do.

Some days ago Tonjesol posted a photo here that was taken on a stony road in summer, only a few metres from where I took the exact same photo in spring.

There is something wonderful in knowing that another person has stood almost exactly where I stood, and for the same reason - to admire a wonderful view, not of some tourist site where thousands have stood to snap identical photos, but of simple fields and glorious nature. We share a bond, a connection across time, for our simple act in this one place.

Good luck, everyone. Buen Camino a todos. Bonne chance tous le monde.

One last piece of advice: Always check the yellow arrows for yourself. Don't just follow pilgrims ahead of you on the path or in the towns. The arrows are your true guides, strangers may be false guides!

A final last piece of advice! Don't try too hard on the first few days. That is the time for the body to adjust to constant walking, and for you to establish a comfortable daily routine.

Bob M
 

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#34
Remembrance of Times Past - May 30, 2007:Today is a planned rest day. I did not feel a special need for a day off, but I still have weeks of walking ahead of me. It is important not to walk until forced to rest by either injury or exhaustion (mental or physical).

I felt guilty having taken the bus for that last km into Burgos yesterday. :oops: I had weakened and chosen "the easy way" instead of "the difficult way". The easy way is so seductive. How good it feels when we give in to its charms in moments of weakness!

By staying in a hotel I missed the daily comradeship of an albergue. It was also sad to farewell
companions who moved on today. :cry:

I wandered about, rested a lot and tried to draw lessons from what I had done so far. There were practical things to consider. For example, instead of packing underwear, socks, shirts and pants in five separate plastic bags, I re-packed them into two complete clothing changes. That made
packing and unpacking so much easier and less disruptive to others (fewer rustling plastic bags).

Physically, I was coping well by now. The blisters were healing - Thank god for compeed. My daily
routine was working well.

Mentally, I found it difficult to make a start each morning, but that feeling soon went away once I was on the road and I felt strong. Not all pilgrims are considerate, and I had to guard against becoming irritated by such people. Not always successfully, alas!

Today's pic shows a collage of arrows and waymarks on the camino. :arrow:

Bob M
 

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#35
Remembrance of Times Past - May 31, 2007: I was on the road at 6:30, after a deep, excellent, sleep last night and keen to resume the Camino. Today was cloudy and cold, with a biting headwind all day, especially on the flat, open Meseta. I was strong for about 26 km, then felt extremely tired for the last 4 km into Hontanas.

Heavy rain clouds approached from the distance, but I got to Hontanas before it rained. it was only a slight shower, despite the threatening clouds, followed by golden afternoon sunlight. Tonight I stayed in the municipal albergue.

Just coming into Hontanas, I met the petite Japanese lady and her mother that I had not seen for many days. They were going well, with loads almost as large as their bodies.

I also met again a French group that I had walked with briefly some days ago. They sang a stirring
Legionnaire marching song. It was a wonderful tune that lightened the heart and quickened the step. We forgot the weight in our packs and the distance we still had to cover. I wonder what songs the Roman Legions sang as they tramped from camp to camp?


Had a nice meal in another local albergue and spent an enjoyable time in philosophical chats with fellow pilgrims.

Have a look at "The Valley of Hontanas" at http://bob-m-blog.blogspot.com/ for a few more thoughts of Hontanas

Today's pic shows the view over the bare Meseta, 500m before Hontanas. But where was Hontanas on that flat, open plain?

Bob M
 

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#36
Merged Memories of Times Past: After some time on the Camino, people, places and parts of the trail start to merge in the memory. I have tried to capture this effect in the attached collage.

Memory can be a great solace. The pains and hurts we endure in life get blurred, but our remembered joys become more intense.

Writing these updates every day, brings back the Camino for me, and strengthens my hope that I may be able to once more walk the Way of St James.

Bob M
 

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#37
Remembrance of Times Past - June 1, 2007: Today I walked to Boadilla (31 km). The morning was very cold and clear, but the afternoon was sunny and mild. The albergue El Caminio was very welcoming. Calm gardens to relax in. Four big stork nests on the church roof. Lots of beak clacking when a stork arrives.

The Meseta seems to be less crowded than the Camino up to Burgos. Much better. In Burgos a few walkers told me they planned to avoid the Meseta completely and take the bus to Leon.

Dinner in the albergue was a very nice experience. See http://bob-m-blog.blogspot.com/ for more details.

Last night at Hontanas I met a pilgrim whom I had not seen for some days. On leaving Granon we had exchanged sharp words over a trivial matter and parted with bitterness in our hearts. This had played on my mind ever since, and on his as well. So we admitted our faults, made peace, and enjoyed a pleasant evening. A heavy load was lifted from my heart and I slept with an easier mind.

We all say sharp words in life, but we must always be ready to make peace when the opportunity arises. It is a joyful thing to be reconciled with another human being.

That's why we have so many pithy saying on the subject: "You catch more flies with honey than you do with vinegar". "A gentle word turneth away wrath".

Today's pic is about feet. On the Camino we will take over one million steps, so lavish love on your faithful feet.

At Boadilla, I sat under a metal sculpture of two weary pilgrims, one leaning tiredly on his staff, the other pointing to his foot, perhaps to some painful area.

It was beautiful and sunny, so I disrobed and examined my own feet in the company of my metal companions - and in friendly comradeship with the French couple nearby who took my photo.

To say I speak French like a child is to grossly flatter myself, but we communicated. One has arms to wave, and smiles to bestow when vocabulary and grammar fail.
:)
 

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#38
I do love your postings, Bob, they are a thrill to read! :)

I hope you return to the Way at some point, it seems to have made quite an impression on you. It has meant a lot to me, that's for sure. I can't wait to get out on the Meseta in July... 8)
 

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#39
Thanks, Tonjesol. I am glad you like my "pilgrimage of the mind".

I loved the Meseta, with its big, open spaces, fewer crowds and room for the spirit to soar. I hope you have a wonderful time in July.

Bob M
 

BobM

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#40
Remembrance of Times Past - June 2, 2007: Today I was able to walk away from the main pilgrim trail for some distance after Fromista, along a narrow grassy path by the banks of Rio Ucieza. It was wonderful after the noisy senda beside the busy highway. I saw hardly another person.

I walked to Carrion de los Condes (27km), in warm sunny weather.

I forgot to stop at the lovely church in Fromista, and remembered too late to go back. In life, we can rarely go back, so we must take care not to miss out on things.

The moving finger writes
And having writ, moves on.
Nor all thy piety nor wit
Shall lure it back to cancel half a line
Nor all thy tears wash out a word of it.


Then I came across my Garden of Earthly Delights, the subject of today's photo. Frogs osccasionally croaked along the river bank. Lucky for them that the big, hungry storks were not around! Blood-red poppies, smiling yellow daisies, and spiky lilac thistles lined the banks. Clear cold water tumbled over round pebbles. Earlier, I saw two fat, brown field mice scurry away into the grass.

Such peace, such calm. We can draw strength from nature, if only we stop to absorb its wondrous beauty, and feel its power to move us. Don't rush by places like this, looking but not seeing.

O Pilgrim passing by,
I am the tree
I am the sky
Pause, and rest with me.


A few moments later, I passed a couple sitting on a sandy beach, under one of those big trees, quietly enjoying this beautiful place.

Bob M
 

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#41
Remembrance of Times Past - June 3, 2007: Today I walked to Terradillos de los Templarios (27km). At Calzadilla I estimated that I had covered half the distance to Santiago. I sat and had coffee in the village with other pilgrms, feeling smug and proud. But the Gods were watching and a lesson was about to be taught.

I thought I lost the way outside Calzadilla when I took an untravelled path to avoid the roads and crowds. But it was generally in the right direction, so I pressed on nervously. The very worst thing would be to have to re-trace my steps and find the right route. Every step is a precious thing and not to be wasted in going backward.

Anyway, after the lesson against pride was sufficiently taught, I came upon the yellow arrows again and all was well. How I love those yellow arrows!

Today I passed a pilgrim in a tunic, sandals and no pack - just a smallish shoulder bag.

The albergue soon filled up after I arrived. About 4:30 a yong woman arrived with a heavy pack but there was no room. A young Spanish guy gave up his bed, re-packed all his gear, and walked on to the next village so she could have his place. In fact he argued with the hospitalero for not making a bigger effort to find the peregrina a place somewhere.

We had an excellent meal that night. I rarely make notes about food, so I don't know what the meal was.

One person at my table fell silent and then collapsed onto the floor. We rushed to his aid, and soon he came out of his fainting spell. He said he had not enough water, and not enough food during the day.

For more observations on today's walk, have a look at "The Cross of Constantine" at http://bob-m-blog.blogspot.com/

You see many statues and sculptures of pilgrims on the Camino. Some rest wearily on their staffs by the wayside, others with bowed heads lean into the bitter wind on some high, foggy pass.

The statue in today's photo is engulfed with scrambling children.

Such a scene is so ordinary, it is hardly worth a second glance as we pass by. But the photo freezes a moment of time, and in doing so shows us much more - if we look closely.

There is an arm draped over the Pilgrim's shoulder in loving embrace. A boy tugs energetically at the Pilgrim's hand, dragging him forward. Another boy rushes forward - "don't forget me!" One grabs his staff (and scratches himself - confused priorities, alas!).

A smiling girl in a ponytail and another child look on from the left, not part of the activity, but linked to it by their gaze.

An adult comes along, about to clap his hands and spoil their fun - as adults often do (one must not climb on pilgrims).

There is the pilgrim, frozen forever in sculptured metal, his gaze on a distant goal, but surrounded in a halo of vibrant, youthful energy.

Suffer the little children to come unto me.
 

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#42
Hello!
I am in Estella right now and everything has gone very well so far. It rained in the first few days and the paths has been a little bit slippery. Today we have had a sunny day but it isn´t too hot.
All the pilgrims has been great and we have had lots of fun.
I think that there has been a bed for everyone in albergues. I haven´t noticed that anyone would have been started too early, so all have had a peaceful time to sleep at nights.
Sometimes I have walked alone but if I want company there are always people to talk with. Few people here has been closer to me than others and we have eaten those Menus for peregrinos together every evening.
By the way this is a very good way to learn more spanish. Other peregrinos have learned me a lot of the language.
 

BobM

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#43
Remembrance of Times Past - June 4, 2007: The people in my room all woke at 5 am when a family group rose noisily and clattered around in the dark preparing to leave. Murder welled up in every heart.

Today I walked to Calzadilla de los Hermanillos (27 km) in warm, sunny weather. The walking was good, but I felt a few twinges of shin splints, a fairly common injury among those of us who have walked from SJPDP.

I have got into a pattern of sleeping in the smaller villages now, rather than in the main towns suggested in Brierley's guidebook. One of the downsides of a guidebook is that it encourages conformity among pilgrims, and people bunch up in the same places at the end of the day's recommended stage.

Smaller places can be less crowded, but not always. I prefer the intimacy and tranquillity of smaller villages.

Hermanillos is off the main pilgrim path. There were only 8 of us in the municipal albergue. We were from Holland, Hungary, New Zealand, Canada, Germany, Australia and France. We relaxed and chatted and in the evening we bought food and wine at the tienda to make a communal meal.

The owner of the tienda joked with me about the big tormenta forecast for tomorrow. I hope he was joking. My route tomorrow has very few villages and is one of the more desolate on the Meseta. I certainly don't need a big storm and lightning :!:

One person was sick (not from the food!) and slept in the kitchen so as to be near the toilets.

Some pilgrims take a lot of trouble over their entries in visitor's books. Today's photo shows some entries from the book at Hermanillos. There were several other pages of excellent drawings by the same artist in this book.

In other visitor's books I saw pieces of cloth, paper, bandaids or other small physical items, along with drawings and text. Written comments were usually about the writer's day, or recorded thanks to the hospitalero, or left messages for friends arriving later. Sometimes pilgrims add to the sketches and notes of others.

Bob M
 

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#44
The Secret Garden: This photo shows a "food station" near Terradillos de los Templarios maintained by a couple of Irish pilgrims (Jeremy? & Catherine?) now living in the area. I have not researched the story, so othere more familiar with this place might correct me.

There are fruit, hot drinks, other snacks, and a comfortable place to sit and have a break.

Occasionally you come across people who provide extra help for pilgrims. I have met several others running a albergues where I have stayed.

Bob M
 

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#45
Remembrance of Times Past - June 5, 2007: Today was mild and sunny. It became quite warm by the time I got to Mansilla de las Mulas (25km). No sign of the tormenta predicted in jest at the tienda yesterday. Spaniards have a dry sense of humour and like to practice on helpless pilgrims.

The walk was through totally isolated country, no traffic, only the occasional pilgrim, no villages.

Some of the path was on an old Roman road. After walking for days with a light pack, I have a lot of respect for those Legionnaires marching across Spain in sandals, with heavy loads and having to set up proper camps every day instead of flopping down in a comfortable albergue.

I sat on the empty plain, under a vast sky, for a snack and short rest. An express train hurtled by. Blank faces stared at me, siting on the earth in the midlde of nowhere. What do they think, speeding by in comfort, watching laden pilgrims buffeted by the weather slowly inching their way across the land? There is the easy way, and the difficult way.

The albergue at Mansilla has a lovely central courtyard, with glowing red and pink geraniums in window boxes and pots hung on the wall. There are tables where you can relax and eat.

But Laura, the bright and happy hospitalera, is why I remember this albergue.

When you sign in, Laura asks you to pick a card from a pack and keep it as a reminder of the Camino. The side you see first has a picture of our beautiful blue planet. The other side of my card had a photo of two typical pilgrims walking along a flower-edged path, with the words “The Way is the goal”.

But there is more to Laura than that. She spent her spare time attending to the blisters and pains of pilgrims – and offering them comfort, probably the most important ministration of all. A whole new set of pilgrims had started in Burgos, and after a week on the road some were showing wear and tear on the body and needed physical and mental support.

Laura and her helpers made this albergue a happy place.

Early in my own pilgrimage, when I had bodily aches and was feeling a little down - and conscious of the great distance to Santiago - I walked under some trees and a bird crapped on me.

The camino really is a metaphor for life. Sometimes we also get crapped on in life when we don't deserve it. That bird really made me laugh. It was the low point of the day and I went on with a lighter heart.

Who can say - perhaps the bird thought I needed to cheer up and focus on things other than myself.

In Mansillas I met an American lady I had not seen for many days who was still recovering after illness. We had cafe con leche in the town plaza. It was market day, and all the fruit and vegetable stalls were set up in the plaza. Other people came to join us and to renew acquaintances.

We are near Leon, now. Some people planned to sleep late tomorrow and take the bus to Leon.

Today's pic shows the open Meseta, with a rather superfluous sign, some wildflowers - and my special albergue.

Bob M
 

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#46
Remembrance of Times Past - June 6, 2007: It was warm and sunny, wonderful for walking the 19 km to Leon. Most people were either starting much later for this short stage, or taking the bus, so I saw few other people, until I got to my preferred albergue in Leon (Santa Maria de Carbajalas). I was shocked to find a very long line waiting for the albergue to open. Where did they all come from?

Rather than wait and lose sightseeing time, I walked to Plaza San Marcelo near the Cathedral and found a room.

I wandered around Leon, became a tourist, and met people again. There was the petite Japanese lady and her mother. Also a group of camino friends from Austria that I had met lots of times since SJPDP.

I have had slight tendonitis in one shin for a couple of days now, so I will need to decide whether to take a rest day in Leon, or move on until my planned rest day in Astorga. Injuries need to be dealt with early, before they become "show stoppers". Santiago is still a long way off.

Today's photo collage is about the search for meaning. I am there among those fleeting images from the Camino - half-hidden faces, ghostly statues, vague buildings, mysterious swirls. They were all separate and very ordinary photos, but combined they become something that is more satisfying for me. They seem to belong together.

In life we also seek to belong, to find a purpose, and to feel that our lives have meaning.

The urge to search is innate in human beings and it took our remote ancestors out of Africa to populate the world. It took sailors out of Europe centuries ago to explore and settle in distant countries. Today the same drive has taken men to the moon, and soon we will go to Mars. We probe the workings of nature ever deeper, to learn, to understand, to find rational meaning in how things work.

But we also search for meaning in spiritual ways to make sense of the universe and our place in it. Our experiences on the Way of St James can help each of us in our own search for meaning.

Bob M
 

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#47
Remembrance of Times Past - June 7, 2007: It is only a couple of days to Astorga and my planned rest day, so I decided to press on today instead of resting in Leon.

I walked to San Martin (27 km) in wonderful weather. The municipal albergue had rooms with beds as well as the usual dorm with bunks. Not many people stopped here, so I had the luxury of a room to myself.

Old acquaintances re-appeared during the day: The Japanese ladies, the Spanish guy who gave up his bed for another pilgrim some days ago, the guy from Scotland who had walked the Camino Frances 3 times before. Another Australian. The singers of Legionnaire songs.

We relaxed in the garden in the afternoon watching a thunderstorm build up in the distance. There were a few drops of rain, a brief gusty wind, then the tormenta passed some distance away.

Today's photo is about animals. The blue-eyed beauty on the left was at San Martin. The other cat was in another village, leaving the seat free to encourage a weary pilgrim to sit and have a little chat. What could be nicer than a warm cat by your shoulder, purring in your ear?

You see lots of domesticated animals on the camino - sheepdogs, for instance. In one village a sheepdog was lying watchfully by the side of the road ahead of me. A small red car sped past and the dog launched himself at it, giving me an accidental knock in his headlong rush. It happened so fast that I had no time to react. Sheepdogs never worried me, despite concerns raised in camino forums from time to time.

Early in my pilgrimage I often saw a pilgrim walking with his dog. The dog was so excited that it would run far ahead, look back, and then run back to the pilgrim even faster. After some tail-wagging and frolics the dog would repeat the whole process. That dog must have walked at least double the distance of his owner.

We share this planet with animals, but sometimes we seem bent of wiping out many of the wild ones. In doing so, we destroy creatures that can give us great joy and comfort. Birdsong in the green fields of spring moves me as much as music. It is music, the music of nature.

Bob M
 

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#48
Remembrance of Times Past - June 8, 2007: Today was warm and sunny all the way to Astorga, 25 km including a detour when I took the wrong road out of Hospital de Orbigo. Much of today was along grassy country paths and woodlands. One shin was sore all day, so I will have my planned rest day in Astorga tomorrow.

The last couple of days have been short stages, so I don't feel particularly tired, but I want to make sure the shin problem does not get worse. Santiago is entering my mind more and more now, but there are still trials to overcome and one trial goes by the name of O'Cebriero!

I stayed at the Albergue San Javier, near the Cathedral, with its kind hospitalero and relaxing courtyard.

A German pilgrim and I went out for coffee near the cathedral. While he was walking today, this pilgrim heard another say "Die blaue Blume" while admiring some blue flowers by the side of the path. The quote was familiar to my companion, so they stopped to chat.

It comes from a German book "Novalis" by Hardenberg and has the connotation of suchen (to seek for), but I can't find an English translation to check this for myself.

The other pilgrim had found what he sought in that tranquil place, with its beautiful blue flowers, and the words burst from his overflowing heart. How wonderful it is when your search is over and you have achieved fulfilment!

I have tried to represent these ideas in today's photo. Yeats also wrote a poem about the search for fulfilment:

I will arise and go now, and go to Innisfree,
And a small cabin build there, of clay and wattles made:
Nine bean rows will I have there, a hive for the honey-bee,
And live alone in the bee-loud glade.

And I shall have some peace there, for peace comes dropping slow,
Dropping from the veils of the morning to where the cricket sings;
There midnight's all a-glimmer, and noon a purple glow,
And evening full of the linnet's wings.

I will arise and go now, for always night and day
I hear lake water lapping with low sounds by the shore;
While I stand on the roadway, or on the pavements grey,
I hear it in the deep heart's core.

Bob M
 

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BobM

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Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances; Via Podensis; Via Francigena; Via Portugues; Via Francigena del Sud; Jakobsweg.
#49
Remembrance of Times Past - June 9, 2007: Today is a rest day, but I had to leave the albergue and return later. That is the rule, but the hospitalero allowed me to leave my pack on my bunk.

So I became a tourist and saw the sights of Astorga: Roman ruins, Gaudi architecture, museums. That is the subject of today's photo. There is an interesting walk you can do around all the Roman sites, but the sites themselves were closed until July.

The cathedral near my albergue is encrusted with the most ornate and detailed sculpture. There is a little chapel inside where you can sit, away from all the bustle outside, and relax.

I don't like rest days, although they are probably necessary "maintenance stops" on long journeys like the Camino. There is too much mental shape-shifting involved in being a pilgrim one day and a tourist the next.

Maybe it would have been better to rest in smaller villages, away from the crowds that come to the major cathedral cities. I chose Burgos and Astorga before setting out because they were cities that divided the camino into three roughly equal "super-stages" and had things to see.

I am restless to move on, to accomplish the goal that now seems to be within reach. Then maybe I can rest. But it is never so for me. A new goal, a new restlessness takes hold and the faint shape of new journeys begins to stir. This is the nature of the beast.

In Greek legend, Sisyphus was doomed forever to roll a heavy stone up a hill, only to have it roll back down and for him to have to roll it up again, over and over. I think many of us on the camino are Sisyphus in disguise, each with our own hill to climb.

Anyway, barring injury or illness, this will be the last rest day before Santiago.

Bob M
 

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BobM

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#50
Remembrance of Times Past - June 10, 2007: Today a minor trial begins: the long climb up to Cruz de Ferro (1505m). I woke to the sound of heavy rain, but it had stopped when I left Astorga, walking through wet, empty streets.

I took a side path through beautiful fields, with tall wet grass brushing my legs (and dripping down into my socks, not so nice). I thought I was lost and had to backtrack a short distance to find my faithful yellow arrows. Seeing them again was like meeting an old friend whom you have not seen for some time.

I walked about 30 km today and decided to stop at Foncebadon, just short of the cross - and to beat a rainstorm - rather than push on to Manjarin in the cold rain. The last hour was a real grind, but I had no aches or pains, just the accumulated weariness of all those kilometres from SJPDP.

The albergue (Monte Irago) has a Himalayan theme, with Indian tantric pictures, music and yoga sessions. A sort of Nepalese teahouse, if you let your mind wander. Foncebadon itself is semi-abandoned; cold but with wonderful views. Goats wandering about. Dogs breathing warmly on your hand and flopping on the ground.

We were a very nice, intimate group from many nations (France, Italy, Germany, Holland, Norway, Switzerland, Austria, Australia); chatting and snacking in the open air (wearing our fleeces!), watching the sun light up distant clouds and the goats clambering among the ruins.

Dinner was provided by the hospitalero. Wine flowed and a very animated discussion ensued between two people about who is a "true pilgrim" and who is "simply a tourist". One of our company was a doctor and as soon as this became known his evening was interrupted by patients seeking advice.

The photo shows images from today: Meson Cowboy (I don't know the story here, but no doubt there is one), a fuente for thirsty pilgrims, a wet path entering Santa Catalina de Somoza, a green path and the albergue and goats at Foncebadon.

Bob M
 

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BobM

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#51
Remembrance of Times Past - June 11, 2007: I walked to Ponferrada (28 km), with a detour through Campo to see the Roman ruins. The day started cold, with low, heavy cloud.

I added a small stone to the great cairn of stones and other objects at the base of the Cruz de Ferro, which is the highest point of the pilgrimage. Some pilgrims bring a small stone from their own countries to leave. Others leave small objects that have special significance for them.

The path was over wonderful alpine uplands, with small flowery shrubs splashing vivid colours across the hillsides. Then I walked through picturesque villages with clusters of flowers and foliage adorning doors and walls.

There was a long line checking in at the big new albergue at Ponferrada, but the hospitalero walked amongst us to serve drinks and make us welcome while we waited.

The facilities at these new abergues are excellent. My room had only 4 people in it - a man from Holland, another from Portugal and a mystery person with a Czech name on his credencial who left that important document and all his gear on the bunk, but only showed up well after midnight and left well before dawn.

A route marker here shows 202.5 km to Santiago. Now I am starting to think in terms of how far yet to go, rather than how far I have walked since SJPDP. Around Astorga I made a break with the past began to hope for the future. It was not a conscious thing, but as I look back over the last few days, I realise that it has happened. More mental shape-shifting is occurring.

We start our journey in the East at SJPDP and walk the Camino ever westwards with the rising sun warming our back. We end each day looking into the setting sun, taking pleasure in the day and with hope for tomorrow. A day will come when the boundless ocean is before us, there is no more path, and we can rest at last.

The albergue has a small church, San Nicolas de Flue. Here I found some wonderful notes on pilgrimage in a leaflet left for a Pilgrim service.

We don't walk the Camino for the heat, thirst or discomforts, nor for the pleasures that tourists seek. Perhaps we walk to fulfil a promise, to give thanks to God, or to do penitence. Our journey takes on a rhythm and an awareness of the natural world that is something apart from our normal lives.

Many pilgrims, having got this far, and with hope in their hearts, begin to be more reflective and try to distill some meaning from their experiences.

Today's photo shows some of the lovely alpine meadows I walked through today, a floral village cross, then another pilgrim sculpture welcoming me near the little church at Ponferrada.

Bob M
 

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BobM

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#52
Remembrance of Times Past - June 12, 2007: Today was a very short stage (24 km) to Villafranca, at the foothills of the long climb to O'Cebreiro, our final trial in the mountains before Santiago. The day was sunny and warm, walking through cherry orchards and fields of crops.

There were signs warning pilgrims of pesticides on the cherries, so I guess "grazing" is a problem. One pilgrim picking a few cherries might seem insignificant, but multiply that by a few thousand people passing through in cherry season and the crop loss could be quite considerable. All the local people I met on the camino were very hospitable to me. There seems to be a genuine kindness towards pilgrims and a willingness to help. On our part we must be sure not to abuse their goodwill.

Some pilgrims in ancient times did not make it beyond Villafranca. The final climb over the mountains proved too much. So the Church designated Villafranca as a place where a pilgrim might be given the spiritual benefits of the full pilgrimage if poor health prevented him from continuing on to Santiago.

I feel very strong, but I get mentally tired by the end of the day's walking. During the day my routine is to stop, remove my pack and have a snack every couple of hours, but I don't lie down or remove my shoes.

If you can't buy nuts or dried fruit to snack on, little muesli bars make excellent snacks and are light to carry. Most of the tiendas sell them, but you may have to ask - or stock up in a supermercado in one of the bigger cities. Fresh fruit is too bulky to carry, so I usually bought it at the end of the day to eat in the albergue.

I stayed at the albergue Ave Fenix. This had a slightly eccentric, but very welcoming, atmosphere. No shoes or walking poles were allowed in the sleeping area. That was a fairly common practice on the camino, but here the hospitalero made sure there were no back-sliders.

If poles are propped against walls or bunks in the dorm they slip and clatter on the floor when early risers stumble around in the dark getting ready to leave.

Villafranca has a very nice plaza, with lots of shops and eating places. You are sure to see people from earlier in the camino.

The photo shows two excellent wall murals I passed today. Also one of the many varieties of drinking fountain seen on the camino.

Almost everyone on the camino carries packs, but today I also saw a woman using a small luggage trolley. Another time I saw two pilgrims towing their gear on carts designed for the purpose, with big, almost bicycle-size wheels, and shafts that attached round the waist to keep the hands free.

This method might be okay on smooth, wide paths, but it is not practical on steep, narrow, rocky paths that pilgrims often have to use.

Another unusual pack I saw had the load evenly distributed between the back and the chest.

Bob M
 

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lckgj

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#53
Hi Bob.

I just wanted to thank you for your daily postings, I am really enjoying reading them and your vivid descriptions transport me back to all those half remembered places.

I started this year at Villafranca del Bierzo in mid May so will be especially interested to compare your experiences with mine on your journey from this point forward.

I hope your camino contines without further tendonitis problems and you have more luck with the weather than I did ( 13 days of consecutive rain!).

Buen Camino

Laura
 

BobM

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#54
For Laura: Ah the rain! My own water torture is about to begin after O'Cebreiro.

The body is fine now, but the mind is getting so very weary after so many days on the road.

Bob M
 

BobM

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Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances; Via Podensis; Via Francigena; Via Portugues; Via Francigena del Sud; Jakobsweg.
#55
Remembrance of Times Past - June 13, 2007: People next to my bunk started to get out of bed about 4:30 for the long walk ahead. Then they sat on the patio eating and talking until daylight, which made the early rise and disruption to sleepers pointless.

The main route to O'Cebreiro is 36 km when adjusted for the climb. My preferred alternative route over Pena Roldan adds another climb to the day, plus extra distance.

Alas, I weakened when the road divided and I had to choose between the easy way or the difficult way. I had become fixated on getting to O'Cebreiro today and lost sight of a more worthy goal: The journey itself, with its pains, pleasures and challenges.

A spiritual journey can never be repeated, but there are many places where one can stop for a bed, such as the beautiful village of La Faba. There was no special purpose to be achieved that only O'Cebreiro could satisfy.

One must always be vigilant to choose the right goals. They are not always the most obvious ones.

The weather was excellent and clear. I walked through some of the most beautiful scenery of the camino, with fantastic views, especially when I left the main road at Herrerias and climbed up into the mountains. This was a great joy to me after having missed the views on Route Napoleon in the fog all those weeks ago.

O'Cebreiro is a very pretty town set on a ridge overlooking green valleys, with a nice church. I did my washing in an outdoor laundry with the most exhilarating views (see photo).

There was a busload of day-trippers wandering about when I arrived. I felt oddly disconnected from them, as if we came from different planets, unable to communicate. I looked at them as one might study strange animals in a zoo. Such silly footwear, how can they possibly walk in those shoes? And where are their packs?

They ignored me. I was completely invisible as they chattered, took photos and shopped for souvenirs. They were in their bubble, I was in mine and I dare not come too close lest the bubbles touch and burst.

A secret signal passed among them and they flocked back to the big, shiny bus - their mission to Earth complete. The doors hissed closed and the bus departed, an alien space ship returning to another Galaxy.

The main albergue here was closed for renovations and pilgrims were accomodated in portable cabins next door, as shown in today's photo. The bathrooms were also in another portable cabin some distance away, with Asian-style squat toilets. A jackhammer pounded away all afternoon. People arriving after 3 pm had no beds. One or two slept in the church, and others phoned taxis or walked to the next albergue. It became very cold and overcast late in the afternoon.

I met the guys from Holland and Portugal who shared a room with me at Ponferrada. They are part of a group of four now and have become a very efficient team. One finds the shops and buys food, another prepares it, and a third takes care of navigation and the day's program. Sharing the load, support and companionship is the big advantage of travelling with others as a group.

I had a pilgrim dinner in a local cafe, but was not hungry. I felt slightly unwell and mentally tired so I went to bed early.


Bob M
 

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lckgj

Active Member
#56
Bob! I am beginning to worry about you!

Not eating, feeling unwell and two days of feeling mentally drained? Something is not right.

Maybe you need a night in a pension to guarantee a good nights sleep and a later start? Is it possible you are staving off some kind of illness?

Sometimes spending some time with stimulating company can give you the mental jolt you need to start looking at your journey from a new angle. You are obviously very insightful and maybe some challenging verbal exchanges will kickstart your weary mind and give you some things to mull over on the following days walk?

Sometimes on the camino I would dare myself to approach the most boring/scary/irritating person in the albergue and strike up a conversation with them. The results would be mixed but often surprising and rewarding. Hang on. Maybe that made ME the most boring/scary/irritating person in the albergue!

Anyway, keep strong.

Laura
 

BobM

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances; Via Podensis; Via Francigena; Via Portugues; Via Francigena del Sud; Jakobsweg.
#57
lckgj said:
Sometimes spending some time with stimulating company can give you the mental jolt you need to start looking at your journey from a new angle. You are obviously very insightful and maybe some challenging verbal exchanges will kickstart your weary mind and give you some things to mull over on the following days walk?Laura
Very true! The pilgrim must guard against isolation, especially when the excitement and novelty of the early days has passed and one settles into a regular daily routine.

Bob M
 

BobM

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
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#58
Remembrance of Times Past - June 14, 2007: It rained heavily during the night. My bunk was near the door of the portable cabin, so every time someone came or went, I copped a draft of wind-blown spray. But it was rather nice to be inside, wrapped up in a warm sleeping bag, listening to the rain squalls beating on the cabin and drowning out the snores of other pilgrims.

A nocturnal trip to the toilet became a delicate balance between moving fast enough not to get too wet, but not so fast that you fell into the unlit construction trench across the footpath. There were two planks across the trench, but they were carefully placed to twist when you were halfway across and hurl you into the abyss, a premature entry into hell.

I think it was the local version of a medieval trial by ordeal where they threw the suspect into the village pond. If he drowned, he was guilty and God's work was done; but if he managed to struggle back to shore, he was innocent and lived to sin another day.

Apart from these minor trials, I slept well, in a very comfortable bunk, and woke refreshed. It was still raining lightly, and when I left at 7 am some people were still in their sleeping bags, optimistically waiting for the rain to stop.

The rain became very heavy again after a couple of hours on the busy road and I stopped for coffee and to dry out. The rain came and went in big squalls followed by sunny breaks most of the day, but slackened off near Tricastella.

Another pilgrim told me she and her companion made a deliberate effort to be happy amid the deluges: "Ah! It's raining! But we have ponchos, we are dry, how wonderful!"
A poncho can be carried rolled up in very small bag, and can be put on and taken off quickly. I also wore rain pants and a very light nylon jacket under the poncho. All the stuff inside my pack was inside a big plastic garbage bag. This combination worked very well and all my gear was perfectly dry, even after a full day in the rain.

I walked with another pilgrim for much of today. We had a wonderful time, chatting and splashing along (Note to Laura: Excellent advice). After a while I began to feel that something was wrong. The light was not in the right place and there were no people about. A car came along and I flagged it down. Luckily the young woman stopped, instead of speeding past in fear that we might be the local axe murderers.

She told us we were several kilometres off the correct path. We must have missed the arrows in the previous village while chatting. So we back-tracked and eventually came upon the way marks. How frustrating it is to back-track, wasting precious steps.

The diversion meant the day's walk to Tricastella was about 24 km. I wandered about the town, stopped for a few reflective moments in the church, and had a pilgrim dinner. I was still hungry later in the evening, so I made a second meal in the albergue. Another pilgrim had cooked too much spaghetti and kindly gave the extra to other hungry pilgrims drooling into the saucepan.

Bob M
 

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lckgj

Active Member
#59
Aw shucks, thanks Bob! Glad to hear you have found your appeite again.

I can't imagine what they are doing to the albergue in O'Cebreiro as it seemed in pretty good order when I was there a couple of weeks ago - much better condition than many other albergues I wont name and shame.

If its any consolation, I also went wrong on the way to Triacastela. I made the mistake of ignoring the flechas amarillas and instead followed about 20 other pilgrims who looked like they knew where they were going... I also had it in my mind that I was going to be going downhill all day after the previous days climb and the marked path went uphill which didn't seem right. Anyway, after about 4km of hoping we would join the camino again we were advised by a local that we were heading completely the wrong way. By this time we had been going downhill for some time and had no choice but to retrace our steps and add 8kms to our day. Its the kind of mistake you only make once!

Keep happy,

Laura
 

BobM

Veteran Member
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#60
Remembrance of Times Past - June 15, 2007: I slept well last night, despite sharp springs poking through the thin mattress. The bunk also seemed to have a slope designed to roll you onto the floor if you turned over too suddenly. I wonder how many people have slept on this mattress. Thank god it's too early in the season for bed bugs . . .scratch . . .scratch . . .

Today I walked to Sarria (26 km) via Samos. The day started very cloudy, but became clear and sunny. I stopped for a snack at Samos, admiring the wonderful monastery, its kitchen gardens, and the river running by. It has an albergue and I wish that I had been able to schedule my daily stages to sleep there.

Most pilgrims seemed to take the shorter route along the highway to Sarria, so I saw hardly a soul all day. My path wound along the Rio Ouribio, through fields and tiny villages with cattle, dogs and sheep.

An old lady stopped me in a small hamlet to say some kind words. I could not understand her Galician dialect, but the meaning of her gestures and expression was obvious. Sometimes language is not necessary to express our truest feelings.

The pilgrim in the bunk next to me at Sarria returned very late at night. I think wine was involved. He set up Base Camp then began a protracted ascent into the top bunk like an Everest climber taking his final exhausted steps to the summit.

Miracles occur on the camino. Well... you do hear amazing stories of lost items being recovered. A pilgrim I met often on the camino found a phone that had been left on the bunk next to his. He took the phone with him, but left an explanation with the hospitalero, assuming that the owner would call the albergue when the loss was noticed. This happened, the owner called the phone, the finder answered, and they made arrangements to meet for a handover.

Sarria is the last place you can start the camino and complete the 100 km required to earn the pilgrim's certificate in Santiago, so I am expecting crowds to build up from now on. Please God help me to be tolerant and to turn the other cheek.

Bob M
 

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BobM

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#61
Remembrance of Times Past - June 16, 2007: Today I walked to Portomarin (25km). It was cloudy and cool all day, turning to light rain just before Portomarin. The walk was through beautiful, lush countryside. Stone villages. Mossy stone walls lining the path. I met another pilgrim whom I had seen off and on over the past few weeks and we walked together for the rest of the day.

There was a small group of pilgrims at the 100km way marker, so we stopped for photos and a small ceremony. The group formed two lines on either side of the path and made a guard of honour for us with their raised walking poles as we passed between them.

I stayed at an albergue overlooking the river. This place had the best views of my whole camino, although other albergues and refugios were much more memorable for other reasons. You could sit in the bar area or on the balcony and relax with the most wonderful panorama before you.

Now that the end of the camino seems to be within our grasp, we are becoming more relaxed. We have shared the trials of weather, injury and sickness, and weariness of body and mind - and have overcome them. We have become a band of brothers linked by common experiences.

Our pilgrim bubbles are thinning, letting in the outside world. Alien spaceships hover just out of sight, preparing to embark new passengers.

Although we will soon part, invisible bonds will bind us across space and time, joining us to that great band of brothers who, down the ages, have felt pleasure, endured pain and attained a better sense of themselves on the Way of St James. Or at least got fitter and leaner if none of the above apply!

But it is best not to speak of endings too soon, lest the Gods rebuke us for our pride. The future lies beyond our sight; but if I had the gift of seeing what is yet to be, I would know that I have more trials to face before my own journey is done.

Bob M
 

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#62
Hi Bob,

Of course there's an story in The Cowboy's. I always stop there. But last time I walked, 4 month ago, was closed, I supposed because it was on winter.

And then I went to the same albergue in Foncebadon. Nice place, well run by Javi, the hospitalero.

Interesting, too, to meet Enrique in La Taberna de Gaia, in Foncebadon. His speech made me to learn a lot about the Camino.

Buen Camino,

Javier Martin
Madrid, Spain
 

BobM

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
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#63
Javier Martin said:
Of course there's an story in The Cowboy's. I always stop there. But last time I walked, 4 month ago, was closed, I supposed because it was on winter.
The camino in winter, that must be something :)

It must be wonderful to live so close to all the pilgrimage routes, and to be able to walk when you choose.

Bob M
 

BobM

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
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#64
Remembrance of Times Past - June 17, 2007: I woke "late" this morning for the first time on the camino.

The day was cold, with occasional rain showers all the way to Palas de Rei (28km). I had planned to continue to Mato Casanova or even further, but a very heavy rain squall hit me as I left Palas de Rei so I decided to stay in a local pension for the night. What luxury it is to have a private room and space to spread out all the gear and washing!

I sat in the bar among the locals, drinking coffee and writing my notes, watching the rain tumble down on hunched pilgrims plodding indefatigably along the wet street.

Even seen through a veil of falling rain the Galician countryside is very beautiful with lush fields and intricate stone houses and mossy stone walls. There are small granaries on elevated platforms to store corn (I think). I will post a couple of pictures of these tomorrow.

I stopped for coffee and a snack at a small cafe near Ligonde. There were no other customers. Galician bagpipe music was playing. It was so exhilarating that I stayed a little longer to listen in the company of the friendly owner.

To hear Galician bagpipes, have a look at this site I found via a quick Google: http://profile.myspace.com/index.cfm?fu ... d=57675709

It is the first I found with music, so I can't vouch for the fame or otherwise of the musicians.

I ate dinner in a local cafe and met a couple of pilgrims from earlier days. A woman came in to warm up who was pretty much completely wet, including her pack. But this did not dishearten her in the least. She was still in a positive frame of mind.

Bob M
 

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#65
Yes. Bob, it's great to live so close to the routes.

I try to walk always when it's possible. And, in my opinion, to walk the paths in winter is something magic, wonderful.

Buen Camino,

Javier Martin
Madid, Spain.
 

BobM

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances; Via Podensis; Via Francigena; Via Portugues; Via Francigena del Sud; Jakobsweg.
#66
Remembrance of Times Past - June 18, 2007: Today I walked to Ribadiso (27 km), rather than to the larger town of Arzua, the end of Stage 31 in Brierley's guide. The weather was fine until the last hour before Ribadiso, when light rain started to fall.

The path today was quite crowded and a festive atmosphere existed. Organised groups were walking, one marching like soldiers and singing. There was a group of teenagers, part of some organisation, barely able to contain their excitement. Another couple of men wearing unusual (to me) Alpine hiking gear were almost skipping along, whistling in harmony, in the highest spirits.

I was hoping that most of these people would continue to the bright lights of Arzua. Not so. The
beautiful albergue next to the medieval bridge over the river was packed to the rafters.

Cramming a whole bunch of wet, tired strangers together in a confined space inevitably leads to minor frictions and irritations, but there seemed to be more here than earlier in the camino, including some not-so-nice grafitti in the washrooms.

The most trivial things can be irritating after a prolonged time on the camino. Some days ago I got a strong rebuke for not raising the toilet seat in the albergue. For my part, I sometimes found the click of walking poles dogging my steps to be irritating, and I would usually stop to let them get well ahead.

This probably sounds unbelievable to readers who have not yet done the camino. Personal foibles can become a big deal in some situations. People over-wintering at Antarctic research stations for example have sometimes had problems over the most trivial of personal habits. Slurping of soup has led to blows.

Perhaps I am a little over-sensitive today. We see and experience the same or worse in daily life and on TV. Our hearts becomes hardened, our minds de-sensitised to the low-level violence that seems to be the norm in many countries. Excuse my ranting on about it.

My pilgrim bubble is breaking up too fast. I must shore it up with armoured glass and tell those waiting alien spaceships to sod off, I won't be coming aboard just yet.

Today's photo shows the albergue by the river at Ribadiso, and also a few copies of my scallop shell (to fill in the empty space!). Homework Question: The shell is the symbol of the pilgrimage to Santiago, but Keys are the symbol of pilgrimage to: ???? and the cross is the symbol of pilgrimage to: ????. Answers tomorrow, unless some diligent pilgrim beats me to it. :)

The other photos show the striking "granaries" I mentioned yesterday. I think they are traditional
structures for corn drying, with gaps in the walls to allow air to circulate and platforms to keep out
rats and mice (or maybe hungry pilgrims!). Someone can correct me if I am wrong. More homework!

Bob M
 

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BobM

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
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#67
Remembrance of Times Past - June 19, 2007: Today was a day of trials as I received a final scourging of the flesh for my sins. But it was also a day of joy as the journey that I had set out on so many days ago at SJPDP neared its end.

I woke up to a leaden sky and steady rain. A few of us early risers waited for the rain to stop, looking hopefully for the clouds to lighten. No relief was in prospect by 7:30, so I set out to Arca do Pino, my planned stop today. I soon came to a place where the path was covered with water and I had to step through it, ankle deep, rather than waste time backtracking to the main road and drier ground.

I got damp with sweat walking in full rain gear, so I stopped at a small cafe to dry out and have a snack. I was surprised how well my feet fared in wet shoes. I wore thick wool socks over very thin socks and possibly the wool wicks moisture away from the skin. The light shoes also "dewatered" much faster than impervious boots would have done.

Navigation in the rain requires vigilance because you don't want to take your guidebook out in the wet to check where you are. You are also hunched over to avoid rain in the face, so you don't always pay full attention to the route. I was also walking faster today than I had estimated.

As a result, I missed the arrows pointing to the albergue at Arco do Pino and walked past the town, not expecting to have reached it so soon. I had gone several km into the forest before I realised my error and decided to press on. There were no tiendas or fountains and very few people in this rather isolated area, only eucalyptus forests.

The wet eucalyptus trees and the ferns looked and smelled exactly like similar forests I have often walked through near my home in Australia. It was a bit disorienting being somewhere so sensually familiar, yet being in a completely different country. I crushed some of the leaves in my hand and breathed the fragrant oil. It is a smell I have known and loved since childhood. It is the sweet smell of home, oh, so far away.

My food and water ran out earlier and I became thirsty and hungry. I passed autopistas and an airport and had the feeling of being near the suburbs of a big city. Finally I came to a cafe near San Paio (34km) and ate a large meal with endless amounts of coffee and water. Rather than pressing on to San Marcos, I decided to see if I could find a room here and make the final short walk to Santiago tomorrow.

The owner of the cafe told me she had an empty apartment I could use for the night. What joy! How can I describe the indolent ease with which I flung off my dirty clothes and lolled about, now in one room then in another, sitting in soft armchairs, drinking tea, turning the TV on and off in wonder at such a miracle, writing, giving thanks for deliverance from the tempest! How the simplest things give us the greatest pleasure once our trials are over, our stomachs are full and we are warm.

Today's photo shows a fork in the path among eucalyptus trees. The path on the right seems to be the correct one, but is it? We must always hunt diligently for our faithful arrows. Sometimes they are not at the actual junction, but some metres further on. Maybe there is an odd sense of humour among those who paint the way marks.

Homework Answers: Keys are the symbol for pilgrims to Rome. The cross is the symbol for pilgrims to Jerusalem.

Bob M
 

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lckgj

Active Member
#68
Bob. You are walking MY camino!!

As well as us both taking the wrong road between O Cebreiro and Triacastela, I also missed the turning to Arca do Pino because of torrential rain and a general lack of visibilty and attention. I too dripped all over the cafe at San Paio until I decided to ask if they had accomodation and then stayed in that wonderful apartment. I used the washing machine, had a shower AND a bath then crashed out on the sofa and watched the very trashy eurovision song contest on the tv! It was bliss!

Wishing you a joyous arrival in Santiago tomorrow. Hope the sun comes out for your arrival.

Laura
 

BobM

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances; Via Podensis; Via Francigena; Via Portugues; Via Francigena del Sud; Jakobsweg.
#69
Remembrance of Times Past - June 20, 2007: [/u]"Remember us in Santiago", Arturo asked me in Granon all those weeks ago. I am here, Arturo, I remember. Laura, you lifted our spirits and tended our feet at Mansillas, I remember. The Spanish man who gave up his bed for a tired peregrina and walked to the next village, I remember.

The woman pushing her loaded bike over the mountains on Route Napoleon, who had cycled all the way from Holland, struggling against injury . . . the Japanese lady and her mother who were so focused and determined . . . the woman who walked to give thanks for all the good things in her life . . . the lonely man who walked the camino for someone who was not by his side, but who was forever with him in his deepest heart . . . the old Galician woman who spoke kindly to me . . . the pilgrim who walked with great difficulty into Santiago, overcoming injury.

The blue-eyed kitten at San Martin, the healing miracle of nature, the soft wind of a sunny day on my cheek, fields loud with song and new life bursting from the earth.

I remember it all, and give thanks for all these bounteous gifts on the Way of St James.

There were only a few people about when I entered the great square in front of the Cathedral. I felt very calm, at peace, with a sense of having completed something important that is too complex to fully understand right now. I just sat in a patch of sun by the edge of the square and watched the day come to life in the great plaza.

A pilgrim set up a camera on a tiny tripod to take his picture as he leapt in the air in front of the cathedral. Others walked about in silence, wrapped in their private thoughts. A steady stream of people began to arrive, most walking, some on bicycles, and the square gradually filled with life.

A religious group from Italy came with banners and great enthusiasm. They formed up into a choir in the square and began to sing of their faith with deep feeling. A tour group arrived from a distant Galaxy, walking closely together as if they feared getting lost in the open square. They did not sing, but just fidgeted about in silence under a row of flags as the guide spun her tales for the millionth time.

The streets and traffic and noise of the city closed in around me, but I was still safe in my pilgrim bubble. I won't give it up without a struggle.

I hope readers will have patience for one more day. Tomorrow I want say some things about the camino and Finisterre - "Land's End" - and Santiago and why I have posted these daily notes since May 19, à la recherche du temps perdu, as in Proust's great novel about memory.

Churchill also wrote a wonderful description of our efforts to bring the past alive: "History, with its flickering lamp stumbles along the trail of the past, trying to reconstruct its scenes, to revive its echoes and kindle with pale gleams the passion of former days."
Perhaps we all do that so we can make sense of the present and find hope for the future.


Bob M
 

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BobM

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances; Via Podensis; Via Francigena; Via Portugues; Via Francigena del Sud; Jakobsweg.
#70
lckgj said:
I also missed the turning to Arca do Pino because of torrential rain and a general lack of visibilty and attention. I too dripped all over the cafe at San Paio until I decided to ask if they had accomodation and then stayed in that wonderful apartment.Laura
I met quite a few people who missed the turn into Arca do Pino. I vaguely recall seeing big arrows on the tarmac, but I thought I must have been way too early for Arca. But it turned out for the best for both of us, otherwise we would have missed that wonderful apartment! :)

Regards

Bob M
 

BobM

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances; Via Podensis; Via Francigena; Via Portugues; Via Francigena del Sud; Jakobsweg.
#71
Remembrance of Times Past - June 21, 2007: In writing these daily notes since May 19 I have focused on feelings and memories of the Camino, rather than on practicalities. There are plenty of other generous contributors on Ivar's website who do that so much better than me.

My words and images by themselves are of little value. They are only imperfect tools that may help other pilgrims tap into their own memories, their own special feelings. That has been my chief wish: to evoke a personal response in the reader, to stimulate reflection - and to convey my love of nature in the hope that others will look more closely at the natural wonders that are all about them.

If I have succeeded in this, then I am well content.

Readers who have yet to do their own pilgrimage may find my writing unhelpful. That is perfectly
understandable. When I was preparing last year, all I wanted was facts, facts, and more facts. Many contributors helped me greatly and I was not always able to acknowledge it online. I promised myself that I would do something in return. My postings over recent weeks are a partial repayment of the debt I owe to others and a duty I feel to the camino itself.

I also ask intending pilgrims to give some thought to the non-practical aspects of the camino, not only to the contents of their packs. If I have encouraged even one new pilgrim to take up the scallop shell and walk humbly in the Way of St James, my camino will have had an even greater value for me.

It is not the distance we walk that is important, it is how we walk, and why.

Today's picture is a collage of impressions from ordinary, typical photos anyone can take at Finisterre. There I am, woven into the fabric of Finisterre, hopefully not too prominent, wearing my faithful yellow arrow pointing to the faint road leading to the lighthouse and the waves breaking on the rocks below.

I was going to write some more about Santiago and Finisterre, but the aliens are back and they are waiting impatiently for me to board the spaceship, to take me once again to the world I left on May 19. But I will escape again one day, and walk another pilgrimage, another journey into myself. One day. One day.
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Here is a quote from "A Journey to Portugal" by Jose Saramago, another of the great writers I have quoted from time to time, that beautifully sums up how I feel. The book was drawn to my attention privately by someone who contributes much to this forum:

"The end of one journey is simply the start of another. You have to see what you missed the first time, see again what you already saw, see in springtime what you saw in summer, in daylight what you saw at night, see the sun shining where you saw the rain falling, see crops growing, the fruit ripen, the stone which has moved, the shadow that was not there before. You have to go back to the footsteps already taken, to go over them again or add fresh ones alongside them. You have to start the journey anew. Always".

There is more about Finisterre at: http://bob-m-blog.blogspot.com/ for anyone interested. I have also added a few notes on another, very different, pilgrimage.

For anyone interested in technical aspects of my photos, all were taken with a simple Canon compact and processed in Photoshop, except for a few of the collages (like today's), which were made with Picasa.

Picasa is free to download from Google and is a useful photo tool. You can make collages very quickly by pressing one button. If the first results are no good, just junk that attempt and try again. Pick say three of your own photos and try it. You will be surprised at how easy it is to create striking images.

Thanks again to everyone who walked with me over the last few weeks.

Bob M
 

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BobM

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances; Via Podensis; Via Francigena; Via Portugues; Via Francigena del Sud; Jakobsweg.
#72
The Alien Spaceship

Here is a photo I took of an alien spaceship passing over the cathedral in Santiago, looking for escapees trying to hide.

Bob M
 

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sillydoll

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
2002 CF: 2004 from Paris: 2006 VF: 2007 CF: 2009 Aragones, Ingles, Finisterre: 2011 X 2 on CF: 2013 'Caracoles': 2014 CF and Ingles 'Caracoles":2015 Logrono-Burgos (Hospitalero San Anton): 2016 La Douay to Aosta/San Gimignano to Rome:
#73
Muchas gracias Bob for sharing all your memories. You have eloquently described your pilgrimage and the people, places, emotions, insights and lessons that are shared by most pilgrims, some who perhaps might not been able to verbalise them as succinctly as you have. There were many times that I thought, "Yes! That's exactly what I felt, saw, thought." I hope you are going to put these posts onto a blog?

THE PILGRIMS
We are the Pilgrims, master; we shall go
Always a little further: it may be
Beyond the last blue mountain barred with snow,
Across that angry or that glimmering sea,
White on a throne or guarded in a cave
There lives a prophet who can understand
Why men were born: but surely we are brave,
Who make the Golden Journey to Samarkand.

Epilogue to the THE GOLDEN JOURNEY TO SAMARKAND

Abrazos,
 

BobM

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances; Via Podensis; Via Francigena; Via Portugues; Via Francigena del Sud; Jakobsweg.
#74
The Golden Journey to Samarkand - I love that poem. Here is another verse that makes you just want to pack your bags and go.

We travel not for trafficking alone;
By hotter winds our fiery hearts are fanned:
For lust of knowing what should not be known
We make the Golden Journey to Samarkand


I have not figured out what to do with my posts. I need to think about it some more. Editing is death to spontaneity, so I don't want to re-work any text.

The main thing is the value to others. The posts are simply triggers for personal insights, revelations, whatever. That's the whole point.

Proust wrote god knows how many million words on memories triggered by the smell of certain small cakes (Madelaines). That surely is the dream of any writer (or photographer) - to create a chain of reactions in the reader or viewer. The writer's personal interpretation is irrelevant, only the reader's reaction is important. Anyway, that's my theory.

Bob M
 

ivar

Administrator
Staff member
#75
Hi again Bob,

Thanks for sharing your walk with us.

By the way, the small houses that you saw earlier in your walk that you thought were for drying corn/food, are actually called Horreos.... and they are traditionally used to store food (like corn for example) over the winter. Actually i have one Horreo myself that we have restored! (See below)



Buen camino! ... from Sunny Santiago.
Ivar
 

BobM

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances; Via Podensis; Via Francigena; Via Portugues; Via Francigena del Sud; Jakobsweg.
#76
ivar said:
By the way, the small houses that you saw earlier in your walk that you thought were for drying corn/food, are actually called Horreos.... and they are traditionally used to store food (like corn for example) over the winter. Actually i have one Horreo myself that we have restored!
Ivar
Thanks, Ivar. You have solved the mystery for me. Well done for your restoration. So many things in all cultures gets destroyed in the rush to modernise. It's a great pity, but it is good that some people try to preserve some things from the past.

Bob M
 
#77
Hi BobM!
I have been two days in Santiago de Compostela. I have enjoyed the Camino very much and I got many new friends which I hopefully will meet again someday. Three of us are planning to do the "El Camino del Norte" next year.
The Camino was quite easy for me. I think the reason is that I trained very well before the Camino and I got so many friends to walk and talk with. Also I didn`t have any kind of physical or mental problems. Only few blisters but I have used to those in my hiking trips. My backpack wasn`t too heavy for me and boots were very good also. Only sad thing is that everyday few of my friends go back home and those moments are sometimes very painful.
Now I am just waiting my flight back to home in this beatiful city.
 

BobM

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances; Via Podensis; Via Francigena; Via Portugues; Via Francigena del Sud; Jakobsweg.
#78
Well done, Mina. :D Thanks for letting us know. I was wondering how you were going.
When you think back on it, it is an amazing thing to walk all that distance.
Good luck with the next camino.

Bob M
 

BobM

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances; Via Podensis; Via Francigena; Via Portugues; Via Francigena del Sud; Jakobsweg.
#79
I have finally decided not to edit this thread. I think it is better that way.
All the posts will will remain on Ivar's website for later readers.

I appreciate the steady flow of readers since the thread became inactive. I hope the material continues to be interesting.

Best wishes

Bob M
 

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