April 11th, 2008 – On My Way

After thinking about my last Camino
Just about every day since October of 2003
I purchased my plane tickets today!

I’ll be leaving on April 11th for Madrid where I”ll meet up with my friend Pat in the Madrid airport & we’ll fly to San Sebastian, and take the train to St. Jean Pied du port to begin my second Camino walk. The last 12 days, Cynthia will meet us to finish up the walk.

For me, the Camino is the interlude from our decision to live permanently in Mexico – the jumping off point from leaving California where I have lived my entire 57 years, to my landing in Mexico in the end of May. Between packing my house and shipping everything off, and organizing this walk, I am ready for a good long walk.

I joined a club today and met with a trainer who gave me basic weight work to do plus the treadmill and whatever outside walking I do between now and then, but I know from the last time I walked, that nothing trains you like the road!

On our way!
All plans are set – off to the airport in the morning, arriving in San Sebastian Spain & off to Bayonne for a nights rest before going to St. Jean Pied du Port on Sunday.

Here’s Pat! all ready to go looking cool and calm
and me – I am still packing the house for the move to Mexico,
pictures to come later!

4/13/08 Arrivial in St Jean Pied du Port

We arrived in st jean by scenic train
went right to the pilgrim office.

Everyone dropped their jaws
when they saw our backpacks
and immediately made us weigh them…
a whopping 15 kilos!
Thats over 3o lbs…

We were thinking they felt heavier than at home
and knew we were planning to send first aid supplies
ahead but were dumbfounded to see
that we had allowed ourselves to get on the plane
with that much weight – me especially, i know better

So, we went back to the albergue
put 6 kilos each into a box
and shipped forward to ourselves,
lista de correos, Pamplona

Now we can begin!

St jean is a beautiful walled town
built at the bottom of a citadel –
With great bakeries, simple food

And a Hospitalera, Janine,
Who is like a drill sargeant
With a sense of humor.
Don’t touch the cheese
Before the salad course!

We are in France,
so of course
they all speak french – even the children!
A challenge for me but for Pat hers is coming back.

Leaving St. Jean Pied du Port:

4/14/2008 – First 10 Miles


Rain, sun, hail, no blisters, green and gorgeous!
We arrived in Valcarlos,

half way up the mountain
In good shape.
On the steps of the church,
Was a young man, scruffy beard,
Huddled in his sleeping bag

He was excited to see other pilgrims,
And was upset at himself
For getting lost twice today.
His name was Max, from Quebec,
Looking very homeless,
By just about any standard.

Margaret, a young woman from Alberta
who was walking with us,
was wary
We opted for the Hostal,
rather than the unheated albergue
in the basement of the Ayuntamiento

The town seems abandoned,
No one out during the day.
We settle into the Hostal,
Pat & Margaret take hot showers
I take a good long bath
Then we lay on our beds
Feet in the air
Discussing the next day,
reading the guidebook,
forgetting what we read immediately
then go outside.

The church is closed,
An old man in a beret
Is standing on a corner
Looking at the wine shop.
Pat strikes up a conversation
Which he doesn’t understand
In Spanish, or French,
Then he asks her if she speaks English.
We are all completely surprised
When he tells us he has lived
All over California, working as a shepherd.
He is 82, and completely charmed by Pat.
That night, we are the only pilgrims
At the pilgrim’s meal
Allubias, salmon, salad, wine and dessert.

4/16/2008 Pilgrim Blessing, Roncesvalles

Today we walked from Valcarlos.
A very sleepy town
Where we saw about 5 people in th 12 hours
The walk of 15km took us almost 6 hours,
a steady climb of about 1000 meters.


We were so happy to end in good shape
Without aches and pains or blisters.

We seem to walk about the same speed.

Upon arrival in Roncesvalles
we had a well earned beer,
signed up for the 7 pm dinner,
Went to the pilgrim office
For the stamp on our credential.


Afterwards to the showers
where I discovered,
that in our great offload to Pamplona,
I had sent off my shampoo and soap.
Nevertheless, the hot water
was hot and delicious.

Today was sunny spring weather, after morning fog


We passed through mountain villages
With French style houses,
Terraced gardens
And full running streams.

The pilgrim dinner was at 7pm
We were seated with Felix
from San Sebastian Spain
Who is walking for one week
And Margaret from Alberta Canada
With whom we walked with these first two days.

Both Pat and I have been really enjoying
Being able to speak Spanish well –
So we had a great conversation with Felix
about everything from road signs in Euskara
to wine, to fishing.

Afterwards we went to the pilgrim’s mass
which was quite moving, with four priests singing,
reading and blessing the pilgrims who were present.
At the end, there was communion and I convinced Pat
(not really Catholic since a very young girl)
to go up with me. We were the last two in line.

In my Catholic upbringing,
we always held out our tongue,
but people were holding out their hands,
so – awkwardly I held out one hand
and put the host in my mouth
and walked to my seat.

Pat was next, took her host,
took about 5 steps
when the priest followed her going
psssssst. Pssssst!

Then he asked her if she was catholic.
When she told him she was not,
he took the host away from her
in front of the whole church full of people.
Back at the seat,
she told me he took it away because she had not
put it in her mouth
(a sure sign you are not a catholic!!)

Well, I got the giggles every time I looked at her
and we somehow finished the mass,
got blessed in spite of it all,
but were left with a fit of laughing that wouldn’t quit.

I figure we,ve got about 38 days to get it right now.
Then again…

We are to be awakened by the hospitaleros at 6:30 am
And will be off to the first village of Burguette
Where Hemmingway
Left his signature on the piano
And fished for trout.

April 16 – Zubiri

Another. Beautiful day of nothing but walking.
Landed in zubiri at 4 p.m.
Looks like a strip mall,
Hardly like the charming little villages
That we passed through today.
We are staying in a private albergue
Eight beds to a room.
We wash socks and underwear
And hang them on the line
That is outside the window, hoping
They will be dry before dark.

We go out to find a glass of wine
But can’t seem to find anything open.
We are directed to the end of the street
Where the main street converges with the highway
There we find a hotel, with a local bar
People in their 60’s are going in and out
We are obviously outsiders amongst locals,
who are playing cards, smoking cigarettes,
Having an afternoon social hour.

We have a drink at the bar and leave
As quickly as possible.
Wandering down the street,
We see the local herd of sheep
Wandering around some old stone ruins,

And we meet Paul, from Canada
Who is walking alone
Together, we go to the bar
That is hosting the pilgrim’s meal,
Meet Carol & Ken, another couple
from Canada, who are walking
with very large packs, and she is feeling it.

Will be to Pamplona tomorrow or Friday

April 18, 2008 Good Morning! it´s raining – Zubiri

Yesterday, Thursday, we were awoken by the hospitalero
with the words ¨_ good morning! it´s raining¨
and it was –
we walked from Zubiri to Pamplona
mostly in the rain, but with enough sun and clouds
to make it a really nice walking day.

I have to say it was a bit of a slog through parts,
but we made it fine,
passing all the baby lambs and horses
and almost overflowing, rushing rivers.
The countryside is sooo green,
I can´t believe how green it is.

We got in to Pamplona

by circuitous route that kept saying
5 km over and over again
so we don´t really know exactly
how far we walked.
We landed in the albergue around 4 pm
discovered clothes dryers!
and put everything right in.
About 7 Euros later and 2 hours
all the socks were still damp
so we just quit the dryer,
went into the bathroom
and put all the socks over the hand dryer
and they were done in about 10 minutes!
nothing like dry warm socks…

That done, we went to the bar Raspa for dinner
Had veal, potatoes, a delicious salad, wine
Carol and Ken tell us all about Max from Quebec,
We are surprised at how wrong
our perception of him was,
and we are off to bed.

This morning we waited in
and wandered all over Pamplona
which I have to say is a really charming town.
We were awaiting our box from St. Jean Pied Du Port
(with our 12 lbs of things we had to get rid of)
so we could ship it forward again.
We were tourists with back packs.

I have to say, regarding Pat and churches
that she has perhaps a long way to go,
as when we got to one of the churches,
she stood right in front of it,
bells, statues and all
and asked if it was a small shopping mall!
I said, perhaps if you are shopping for god,
you might find him here.

well, I´m down to 5 minutes on this computer
and will have to send pictures in a separate post.

we´re off to Puenta la Reina tomorrow, about 21 km from here.

April 20, 2008 – Azqueta
Our walk passes through Azqueta today
Up a small hill to find an elderly man
waiting at the top for someone
to stop and say hello.
That’s us, we do that
and he begins to tell us
the history of his town,
and that he has the key to the church,
would we like to see it?
….more later
April 21/2008 – Every day at the end of the day….
We think we are going to quit
Then we have a shower
Go to the pilgrim’s meal
Which comes with a bottle of wine
For two
And get inspired all over again

Today from Estella, a charming
Narrow streeted midieval town
To Los arcos
Across undulating hills, through flocks
Of sheep
Who give themselves away
Miles before we see them
With their droppings
The only rain today
Was in full sun

April 23, 2008 -Days lost and found
Hard to keep track of the days
sundays merge into Mondays and Tuesdays,
Walking is good, it hurts, goes quickly
And drags for no reason
Santa claus is coming to town
Repeatedly sings itself to me

On Sunday there was biting wind,,
ponchos blown off, we passed
the devil fountain on the way to
the Alto de Perdon
were blown off the top,
stumbled down to a homey bar
for a bocadillo and stew.

Fortified,we took the extra 2.5 km loop
To the octagonal Templar chapel at Eunate,
lit an electric candle
for the deceased,
for Mike lucci
for the rest of the trip

In Obanos the young men
are playing Sopranos pinball
at the bar
while old men watch

We decide to brave the elements
To get to Puente la Reina
Where we share 4 bunks
In cramped quarters with
Richard, back from Baghdad,
Who in the morning says
“It’s a beautiful day, no one’s
Shooting at me and I’m not
Shooting back”
At breakfast we took more
Than our share of packaged cookies

I have developed a blister
on the end of my little toe
Which I plan to ignore
But it does not cooperate

The muddy path collects on our boots
But it is still green, without rain
So we accept the inconvenience

Los Arcos, was a disappointing town,
We rented a hostal room
to have a good hot shower,
instead, it was tepid
Sprayed over the top of the shower,
soaked my clothes

From Los Arcos we made a plan
To increase our distance:
Walk slower,
Take more rests
Take the Road to cover more distance

What happened:
Took longer
Arrived more tired
Blister had it’s way, so

We took a bus ride to Logrono,

Had cafe con leche in a bar
Full of dripping Serrano hams,
Wondering where Margaret,
and the young man from Quebecois
And other fellow walkers are
while we waited for the shops to open.

I Had to stop myself from buying
The comfortable
but shocking pink sandals,
Which we had a good laugh over,

We took the bus into Najera
And walked into the Rioja landscape,
rocky, open, red soil, planted in grapes,
To Azofra, where we ran into
Quebecois, whose name we discovered,
is Max and rediscovered that one shouldn’t
Always heed their first judgment
Of people

April 24 – 25, 2008 – Santo Domingo de la Calzada
Today there are rolling hills planted
For miles cebada and trigo
In the 12th century, Santo Domingo,
Lacking the intelligence needed
for a monastic life,
built roads, bridges,

and a pilgrim hostal
which stands today

He is a saint
Because of the angels
Who completed his work,
When he rested
To make it an even better story,
There is a miracle
Involving a cooked chicken
That comes to life
Which still resides in the Cathedral.

Today, the crops are green for miles
And the path that Santo Domingo built
Wanders through it
Shepherds still herd their sheep,
Dogs circling,
Clouds nowhere to be seen,
It appears that spring has arrived

Richard wandered by today
And we hear that Margaret has
decided to be a tourist, off to Burgos,
Franz Joseph and his wife Gaby
Are happy but tired, thinking
Of their children in Germany

Everyone asks about those they
Have not seen for a few days
We are a small community of
homeless vagabonds

April 25, 2008

The weather has turned to summer
We passed miles of purple heather
Blooming under oak trees that look dead
An austrian family, father and 3 sons
Having a camino for dad’s 60th birthday
passed through our lives

And Wolfgang,
An Austrian comedian,
Whose mother died last year

As for us, we logged 28 km today
Not even realizing it until we were done
We ate our dinner of chorizo, bread,
wine and chocolate on the street, while
Pilgrims passed by, greeting us with a
“Buen camino” and pointing to the storks
On the church steeples.

Apri 26, 2008 -Ages to Burgos to los Hornillos no Room At The Inn

From Ages, (accent over the e in ages)
we took a farm road
Over the hill to the highway
For the bus stop to Burgos
Under the bus storage
was filled with backpacks,

The entry to Burgos old town
Looks like Disneyland
With a fantastic public exhibit
of large bronzes
By Manolo Valdez

But from here I must digress,
as I cannot go on,
in fairness to Pat,
who I have poked fun at a few times,
when she can’t tell you
The bad pilgrim stories about me

#1 Bad Pilgrim
Meet miss Germany, about 40,
Bleached blond hair,
yoga tights and boots
Chain smoker

We’ve walked 5k before breakfast
It’s 10am, outside at a bar,
A basically deserted town,
A chair opens up at her table,
We sit down
The good mornings are said
We get our coffee, she lights up
And swings her cigarette our way
I ask if she would mind
moving it to the other side
Her companion says
“Perhaps You can sit at another table”
Which is of course is a very good idea,
But was rude and snotty
the way it was said
So instead of ignoring them,
I stood up and told them
Where I come from,
it is rude
To blow smoke
In other’s faces

I immediately felt right but stupid
And told Pat to hit me
If I ever tried
to make a point like that again,
with someone, who obviously
Could care less

#2 Bad Pilgrim
We are in Ages albergue
In about 7pm, hot and tired
After arriving at the previous albergue
In san Juan de Ortega, to find it closed
We were hot and tired,
clothes dirty for 3 days,
I decide to handwash everything
But it is 7pm and I am aware
It may not dry by morning
So I wash, rinse and ring out by hand
Knowing it isn’t quite good enough
So I took someones dry towel
And rung my clothes into it
To get the excess water out
Bad pilgrim!

#3 Bad Pilgrim
This one is really bad…
We arrive in Burgos, wander into
The old town, stopping by a farmacia
Several beggars are wandering the streets
One in a wheelchair
And a little old woman
The man in the wheelchair was persistent
But left us alone
The little old woman slapped me
And scooted by quickly when I said no
and before I realized what I was doing
I swung my walking stick behind me
And got her in the leg
She cursed, an old man cursed
I ran into the farmacia wondering
If they would call the police

#4 Bad Pilgrim
Stole a needle
Out of the pincushion
Of the hotel
to pop my blister

All my confessions are done now
So I can go to communion with
A clean heart

Burgos is a city to explore another time
We walked on to Tardajos,
Had a cold beer
Went to Rabe where the book says
2 private hostels, lots of beds,
Breakfast included, but
Only one was open, 8 beds,
Only room for one of us,
Prohibited to sleep on the floor
So off to los Hornillos,
Across the beautiful meseta,
Easy walking but long, and hot

When we arrive, there are no beds,
A bicycle tour took over the albergue,
No room at the inn!
We wait, as it is late
And the next stop is too far
The hospitalero shows up with
Two mattresses, we sleep
In the town gymnasium, on the floor
Here we meet Heather and Griffin (13 yrs)

April 27 – Sunday – Castrojeriz

We walk to Castrojeriz today
A beautiful town
With three closed churches
And a castle ruin On the hill
We check into a cushy hotel, owned
By Pedro,
retired aeronautical engineer
And his wife,

We get our clothes washed
By their machine,
Take 3 baths,
Eat the sandwiches we bought
For breakfast, on the street corner bar
With olives and 3 euro wine

April 28 Boadilla del Campo

Took a 2nd day off
In Boadilla del Campo
A remote oasis, a hostel-albergue
run by a wonderful family

Met a young woman whose reason
For walking the Camino
Was her friend,
Whose cat, was near death,
Her friend told her that if the cat lived
She would walk the Camino
The cat lived,
The owner didn’t walk it
But the idea charmed this woman
Who is here walking it now

A big influx of pilgrims
Started in Burgos
We are wondering if there will be
More days of no room
At the inn – there seems
To be a little competition brewing!

May 1, 2008 – The Meseta
We are still walking through
miles and miles of planted fields
we have discovered
the intermediate albergues,
smaller, with friendly owners,
the usual shower, laundry and meals
interrupt the meditation of walking

We left Boadilla del Camino, a town
that exists for pilgrims, with a family
whose life starts at 6, ends at 11
greets every pilgrim as if they
are the first person they have seen
in their lives

Passing the rollo, where the judged
were beaten with chains, we see the
palomares – large houses made of mud
for doves, which are a staple food here.

The road is long and straight now

We pass groves of cottonwood trees,
Planted for wind break and firewood.
The next two days are blustery and cold
We wear our wind and rain parkas
Hoping it does not rain as well.
We must be blessed because it is
Only cold and windy. Our noses
Run and we blow them into the wind
We are walking faster now
And our feet feel it

In between all of this we pass
And meet walking friends
Who we have met along the way,

Franz-Josef and Gaby, whose
Foot is infected and Franz Josef
Tends her like she is his baby
it is so sweet to watch them,
We should all be so lucky
To have someone like Franz Josef
To care for us.

Wolfgang, we have discovered
Is really an actor in Austria
Confirmed by other Austrians,
Just when we had decided that he might
Be all show for the camino,
The quiet man from Zaragoza
Eats by himself, and new additions,
Jenny and Steven from Australia
The world is walking here, all the talk
About where we are from,
How the feet are faring
Calling each other by our country
Rather than our names
Always hoping someone has news
Of other walkers we have met
Along the way.

Last night (29th) we arrived
in Caldazilla (sp?) to a private
albergue that we thought would
never show itself. At the door,
was Franz Josef, who we had not seen
in 3 or 4 days. Big hugs around,
and we got all caught up.
We washed our laundry, our feet, ourselves
and wandered down to the bar
where Luis (taxi driver) sat down with us
to tell us about the area, what to
see over the next few days and
to offer Gaby a ride to the hospital
to have her foot looked at.

We think this camino is about
the humanity people have for each other
No one is in business, no ones trying
to do anything but get there, helping each other
where we can – as that is about all you can do
when you walk all day, every day.

Get up, get dressed, fix your feet,
eat, walk, and walk, and walk
think when you can, or maybe not
because there are birds, and wheat talking
as you go by.
Today, Pat is 70

The path was interrupted only
By a road sign that said 70!
2e took a photo of 70 and 70 together
And walked into San Nicolas
A welcoming respite
Our days will be shortened in half
For the next three days
We will land in Leon on Monday
Taking the long slow way
1nd enjoy the last of the Meseta

150 new pictures on slideshow today

Today, I was finally able to get some photos up

they are all on the slide show on the right side

of the blog page           May 2 – May 16 All the Headlines

Well, more than two weeks have gone by since my last blog post.
We have been all over the place,
Encountered and re-encountered friends
Are now in Ruitelan at the foothills
Of Galicia

Here is a list of headlines from the last few weeks –
to be updated when I get to a good long internet access

May 2 – San Nicolas to Sahagun
A short walk today,
Landed in Sahagun early,
Deciding to stay at the Benedictine monastery
And go to vespers, sung by nuns
We arrived before the monastery opened
So we wandered back through town
To a cafe with elegant pastries
Visited the church which was built
In the Mudejar style, built
Simply, with geometric shapes, and few carvings,
a relief from the overdone massive Gothic
Structures that line the Camino

We settled into our monastery albergue
bunking with a polish woman cyclist,
a Spanish woman who had walked from Madrid,
‘Primitivo’ she tells us
And a woman from Poland
Who is riding her bicycle
There’s a small bathtub, which
I usually use, but don’t this time.

In town,
We run into Franz Josef and Gaby
Carrying bags from the bakery
We have a Cafe con leche
A cafe solo, share a sticky bun,
And agree to meet for Vespers at 7
Gaby can hardly walk
her feet look awful,
But she’s not giving up.
Franz Josef will wait for her.

At 4pm, we go to the museum
Are greeted by two Spanish pilgrims
Brothers, of whom one is religious,
The other speaks for him.
We are told the museum will open
If the ‘Jefa’ (mother superior)
Decides she has the time.
We think it is like all other museums,
with certain hours, fees to get in
And time to wander around, but discover
That Mother Superior has another plan.
She lets us in, shuts the door behind us
And begins a private tour of the
Treasures and relics that she guards.

The bad pilgrim that I am, I sneak
taking pictures, when it is not allowed,
Hoping she won’t catch me
One of the Spanish brothers is reverent,
The other wants to argue with her,
Which seems to be a favorite past time
With many of the Spanish,
A good old fashioned argument
for it’s own sake, no hard feelings.

We see a copy of the codex calinxtus(sp?)
The famous statue of the Virgin Peregrina,
with walking stick, child and gourd,
dressed for the ball. She is gorgeous.
There are silver crosses, carvings
paintings and so many antique artifacts
that it’s hard to remember what was there
without pictures (which don’t turn out)
We are led into the church and she
goes behind a curtain and showers light
on the gilded retablo altarpiece

The religious Spanish man crosses himself,
We probably should, but don’t
before we know it, the lights go out,
we are sent on our way, but not before
she gets us into her little shop to buy post cards.

At 7 pm, Gaby and Franz Josef
Meet us at the albergue, ready for vespers.
We are told they are sung by the monjas,
There is a small group of pilgrims waiting
As well as a group of local people who sit
On the other side of the church.
A nun takes her place at the organ,
the others file in and sit in two groups,
opposite each other and the singing begins.
They are using three different hymn books,
And change books during the songs,
It’s a mystery why they have not memorized
These songs, as they are all quite old,
And have been doing this for a long time.
In the back row on the left, there is
A very old nun who resembles
Mother Teresa, bent in two,
Hardly able to hold herself up
It’s hard to tell if she sings anymore.
When they kneel,
She bends further over,
We wonder if she will make it.
The singing is weak, but wonderful
You can’t help but wonder
What will happen when these old
Servants of God, are gone,
As there don’t seem to be
Any young novices in the group.

At the end of the singing,
All pilgrims are invited to the altar
To stand, and be given a blessing,
Then sent on our way.

For dinner, we find a pizza parlor,
Have a beer, eat pizza
And go home to bed.

May 3 Calzadilla de los hermanillos –
gypsy family takes over the albergue
and we meet three French military retirees
But first, Sahagun:
At 7am we are woken with music,
Are given breakfast,
Bread, butter, jam, and coffee.
The bicyclists are on their way,
They think they will finish within the week,
We are having a short day’s walk,
With a reservation at a casa rural
In Calzadilla de los Hermanillos
We walk through several small towns,
more long straight countryside paths
and arrive around noon
in Calzadilla de los Hermanillos.
The albergue is open, but vacant
The man on the bench outside
Tells us to choose a bed
And we settle in, have showers,
Wash and hang clothes,
Check feet and bandages.

There is a bar in town
Which is known for being pilgrim friendly
We go down for lunch and a cold drink,
To gather our wits about us and read
The guide book – again.
While we are sitting there,
Three men from walk in
Looking for refreshment
They plan to keep walking
To El Burgo del Ranero
Then come back here in the morning
And continue along this path.

We ask them why they want to walk 8km
In another direction, when they can sleep
At the albergue here, and keep going
In the morning.
Jean-Paul is the speaker for the group
They are from France, 3 friends
Walking together. It is hot,
And getting hotter, so they decide
To Stay.

May 4 Manzanilla de las Mulas –
(hand on the saddle of the mules)
An old market town,
We couldn’t wait to get out of here

The guide book says ‘an elegant town’
Walled city with the walls intact,
Reality is that is it is a dirty, run down
Forlorn place that depresses us.
It is windy and cold, threatening to rain.
Nothing is open
The albergue is built around a courtyard,
the bathrooms on the opposite side
of the living quarters, the floors sag,
I sleep on a mattress on the floor
And Pat takes the top bunk.
She is not happy about the bathrooms
I just want to go to sleep
Then leave this town.
We hear there is an internet cafe
At the bus station
There is, but the computers
Don’t work right,
The rooms are smoke filled
With old men playing cards,
Drinking wine and taking drags
On their cigarettes.
The bartender gets pissy,
Won’t take our money for the internet use
We go back to town, wishing
It would get dark before 10pm
So we could go to sleep
And end this day.

May 5 Leon – a wonderful charming city

Great hotel

May 6 Villar de Mazarife
a room with a view

May 7 Santibanez –
great dinner together with other walkers in a basically abandoned town

May 8 Walked through Astorga to Santa Catalina –
a changed town and local gossip!

May 9 Foncebadon, Cruz de Fierro,
we meet up with our French friends, Henri, Didier & Jean-Paul
and a Long downhill to El Acebo the rain begins

May 10 walked onto Ponferrada

where we had 5 days to wait for Cynthia
and decided to go to Santiago and off to
Finesterre since we had the time and
we did not want to slow up

May 11 Lazy morning in bed in santiago

May 12 to finesterre and back

May 13 Cynthia arrives – oops she doesn’t arrive
gets stuck in Washinton Dc overnight

May 14 Cynthia doesn’t arrive
and we go back to Ponferrada to start walking again

May 15 thursday – Walked from villa franca del bierzo to Ruitelan –

Richard crossed our path, as did a swiss woman we met in St Jean Pied du port

May 16 friday – Cynthia arrived last night
we walked through to Ocebreiro today

May 16, 2008 – Sarria to Comixa

My 16 arrived in sarria
where we were excited to find
a selection of privare albergues
We chosee the private albergue
That had the women’s only room
Pat, cynthia, and I

Sarria has a castle tower which
Is missing it’s castle, torn down
In a badly thoght out
‘reconstruction’ period

The weather has been blustery
But warm – with rain, clouds, sun
And just enough wind to let you know
That nature will get her way

We had our first bad bottle
Of vinegary red wine
Only 1 euro, what can I say,
Went back to the albergue early
To sleep

Pat crawls into her sleeping bag,
Pulls the head part tight over her head
I go out of the room to return
To a diatraught cynthia
Who has been confronted
By an angry German woman
Who claims I am cynthia’s wife
And wants all the boots
Out in the hall
We don’t understand the wife part

It’s weird so we go out for a walk
But not before all the german women
In the room begin arguing with
Each other over whether to open
Or shut the window, whether boots
Should be in or out of the room
I don’t speak German but am aware
They are arguing about more

We finally get to bed, our bunk mates
Talk to midnight, and it is an
Uncomfortable night

Several pilgrims have left
It is dark, I turn on the hall light
So as not to disturb those
who are sleeping
One of the german women
Gets up
And turns it off
I turn it on
I am aware that I am about to become
A Bad pilgrim!

She needs it off as it shines
Through the glass
7 am
Is lights on time so I feel I am
Within my rights here to turn on
A light that is not in the room

Although she wants to sleep,
It is more important to
Get out of bed
Stand 6 inches from my face
And lecture me about turning on lights
Which pisses me off so I tell her
‘Don’t talk to me’, which I thought
Was pretty nice considering
What I really wanted to tell her
But I am a good pilgeim, and dont do
What I want to do, which is
Punch her in the face!
Wow, that is a bad thought to have
When I am on a spiritual pilgrimage
But to tell the truth, I like rather like
being a bad pilgrim some of the time

So that took up some energy
On Saturday morning
And we shipped our backpacks ahead to where we were going to later in the day
So we could walk unencumbered
For one day

May 17 Sarria to Portomarin

It is as if the train came into town
Dropped off 500 pilgrims
Right in front of us!
Sarria is the last place
You can begin walking
And obtain your compostela certificate
So everyone is on the path

For the whole walk
We see a few pilgrims here and there
Today we see rows and rows
In front, and behind us
The morning is overcast,
Threatening to rain
We walk through some
Of the most beautiful countryside yet
Mixed with smelly cows, lots of mud
And it rains, we put on our gear
It stops, we get hot, take it iff
It goes on like this all day

There are rubbly towns and villages
That would be long forgottten
If it were not for the camino
And new cafe bars like the one
We stopped for lunch of lentils,
Rustic bread, wine, cheese
And jamon with melon

It rains while we are sitting
under the umbrella
We are getting immune
To the elements, more trouble to move
Than to sit and finish our lunch

We walk and walk, enveloped in the
Many shades of green, smells of
Rotting cow manure and muddy paths

May 18 Portomarin to Comixa

Too tired to write about today’s walk,
but a few headlines to be finished later

Rain, rain

Covering the kilometers,
Only 58km to santiago!

We discover casa rurals,
NO more albergues!

Almost lose Pat to cowboys

We wear cynthia out

Gorgeos landscape!
Ready for Santiago

5/19/2008 Portomarin to Comixa

May 18 Portomarin to Comixa

After yesterday”s albergue mishap
We decided No More Albergues!
We landed in portomarin about 5pm,
Misty rain coming down our ponchos
Tied around us, rain jackets on

The river is dammed, covering
The old town, but the church
Was taken apart stone by stone
And proudly stands in the main plaza
The portico of glory (entrance)
Is a small replica of the musicians
That reside at the church portico
In santiago de compostela, although
A bit more worn

We are covering the kilometers,
Only 58km to santiago, we wondered when
We would pass into the double digits
Numerous times, we thought
We could make it o santiago by morning
If we just walked all night

But, the day wears on, we pass
Through farm after farm,
sometimes walking through people’s
Front yards, feeling like trespassers
Yet this is where the yellow arrows
Tell us to go

We are in the area of celtic symbols
And crosses that depict christ
On the cross, with mary envelpoing
The child formed as a celtic knot
Skull and crossbones ar the bottom
Ladders, dice, hammers carved
On the other side

At four we pass a bar along the path,
Order wine, and sit inside to keep warm
It is Sunday, the time of day
where the men go out in groups
Of one to three for a shot at the bar
Then move to the next one

Today is no exception, but the bar
Is 5 km from anything else
And the men are cowboys,
A group of older men in long jackets,
Knee high boots with spurs
Cowboy hats and latigos
They are gentlemen cowboys
Up to the bar for a drink,
And a visit with the bartender

Pat asks one of them where his horse is
He points outside, but it looks
Like he is pointing to his home
Or some far away place
One by one, they enter
It is clear this is a special day
Pat gets up to look outside
And sees a lineup of horses
Saddles shined, halters with leather
Bangs, nervous and a little jumpy

She comes alive with this news
And starts herding the guys up
For. A picture, hamming it up
And they love every minute of it,
As does she,, and for a few minutes
I am sure she will ask one of them
For a ride, as part of this trip for her
Has been spent thinking of her young life
As a girl on a farn

But, their shots of whiskey
Are gone, conversations done
And they go out to their horses,
Climb on the fence to mount them
And are off

I thought for a minute
We would lose Pat to cowboys
And wondered how I would explain this
To her family

All in all it was a great walking day,
And cynthia, who is only in her third day
Was a real trooper, even though
We could see we had about worn her out

We landed in comixa about 6 pm
A small village, with a casa rural, a bar
Old stone buildings and church
The casa was heaven, a suite with
A bathtub, long cooked short ribs
For dinner and a grandmotherly hostess
Who was gregarious, and loved her work,
Some people are just cut out
For the lives they have chosen
For themselves.

She forbids us to get up and out
Before 8:30, and we reluctantly agree
And sleep until 7:45 this morning

5/21/2008 Comixa to Arca do Pino

It is very civilized in the Casa rurals
Wake up late, showers
And breakfast in a dining room.
We appreciate this and get a tour
Of the garden before we leave

Comixa is a rural neighborhood
With a mix of newly remodeled homes
And rock dwellings from times past
The mix of the new and the old
Is somehow reassuring
The carved cross leads us out of town
Along a country path
That winds around just out of earshot
of the highway and we hear the last
Cuckoo of the hoopoe bird
Who has followed us, just out of sight
For the whole walk

We enter Melide through the old town
Over a stone bridge
That crosses the Rio Furelos
We have come to love these old villages
And can’t wait to get out of cities

We stop for food
At the Charlie Chaplin Cafe
A big disappointment, made up for
By the elvis songs they play just for us
And watching our waitress who is
Decked out in olive green sweater, beads
And about 50 pounds of fake gold jewelry,
Over a tight white satin blouse
Which Cynthia is sure covers fake breasts

On the way out of town
Cynthia fills her water bottle at the fountain
And accidentally sprays water
All over an elderly woman
Who is filling hers
We help dry her off, apologizing

We pass the church of Santa Maria
And a noon live concert for children
Who are all wearing the same color
Bandannas or baseball caps
We get turned around,
And lose our way out of town
A group of cyclists tell us we are going
The right way, but we aren,t sure
When a car pulls over next to us
To tell us where to go

Back on the path, at the 50km marker
A very old man walks our way
We say “hola Senor” and he hobbles
Our way, wanting to say something.
We are trying to take pictures
And he wants his picture taken too,
But only with Pat. When she takes
Her hat off, he insists the picture
Is to be with her hat on

His name is Jose, 84.5 years old
he gives us his address
Asking us to send him the photo
It is usually me
that the really old men
Take a liking to, so Pat
Is pleased and charmed,
And promises to put a photo
In the mail to him

Several hours later
We pass through Boente
Where the small church
Has an open door, so we go in.
The priest is giving a pilgrim blessing,
Our last before Santiago
He describes the saints in the retablo,
Stamps our credential and thanks us
He is genuinely happy we are there,
It makes our day to see one more
Of these little town churches
And to be blessed.

We make our way up to Arco do Pino
To our last night before Santiago
Cynthia cannot walk another step,
And we are ready to be done.

May/21/2008 – Arca do pino to Santiago

Last night we made plans to walk

from Rua, where we stayed,
Perhaps take a taxi to monte do gozo tomorrow
And walk into Santiago
Cynthia was completely worn out
Pat and I ready to end

This morning,
the fog was low to the ground,
lifting as we ate breakfast
Blue peeking through
We are instantly cheered,
Forget about all taxis and start walking

The day is gorgeous getting warmer
As we walk along, all the markers
Counting down a half a kilometer
At a time inspires us, we are laughing
And happy, taking pictures of ourselves
At each half kilometer marker,
It is beginning to sink in
Just how far we have walked

Suddenly, we look uphill and see
Our french friends, Jean Paul, Didier & Henri
Who we have not seen in over a week
We start hollering, waving our poles, and catch up
Hugs all around and we share the stories
Of the last week – they, a gourmet dinner
In an albergue with a French chef,
All the hard rain we missed by going
To Santiago to meet Cynthia
The good and bad albergues
And a wife at the other end of the walk
It makes the walking go quickly
To walk with our friends, sharing stories

My toe is killing me again
And we arrive in Monte de Gozo
Where it is so clear that we can see
Santiago de Compostela,
We meet Henri’s wife, Marie-Paul
Who has a picnic ready for her guys,
we have a beer and potato chips,
Fix feet and start the final 5km into
Santiago de Compostela

The Camino skirts around the entire city
The yellow arrows are fewer and worn
Backpack carrying pilgrims are in front
And behind us, but no one we recognize.
We think the only thing
That could make this day better
Would be to see Gabi and Franz Joseph

Soon, we are in the old town,
Traffic left behind, led around
The back of the cathedral
It is siesta time, the city is quiet,
But not deserted,
Cynthia cannot believe
The size of the Cathedral
And she has only seen the back
We go to the front, whose doors
Are open today, and stare.

Pat and I have a teary hug,
A surprise to both of us,
We take pictures of each other
Go inside, where you can no longer
Place your hand on the carved tree
Nor bang heads with San Marcus
And receive his intelligence
But you can still go over the back
Of the altar, hug the gold, silver, jeweled
Statue of st. James,
Ending our pilgrimage, and our walk.
I am not full of emotion, nor sad

That it is over, and think things like
“It will all sink in over the next few months”
Or “thank God I don’t have to share
A bathroom or bedroom”
or what gifts shall I bring back?
No earthshaking revelations
I think instead that I have been
In the moment, for too many hours a day
Being in touch with the physicality
Of what it takes to walk all day
To be looking for God or answers
To the questions that everyone will ask,
When I return

Videos of the Botafumeros
Beautiful singing
For the final mass

Our Photo Slideshows:

Camino de Santiago 2008
Camino de Santiago 2008 Album #2
Water, Gas & Manhole Covers of the Camino de Santiago
Pat’s Camino Pics 2008
Other People’s Photos of Us Camino 2008

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *


9/16/03 The pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela
Note: some of the end posts aren’t in order due to cutting and pasting.. will fix one of these days!

This photo was taken the first day of our hike in 2003, coming out of Roncesvalles.

Sept. 16, 2003 Camino de Santiago

Sept. 16, 2003 — First day walking, Camino de Santiago — email to family/friends

well, we have made it to spain ! after about 18 hours of cars, planes, more planes and taxis, we are here. strangest of all, I slept until 10:30 in the morning, a miracle for me… but really it was 7:30at night for you all. at any rate, we landed first in san sebastian for 24 hours of acclimation and took the bus to bilbao today to see the Guggenheim and the Alexander Calder exhibit.

Tomorrow we are off to Roncesvalles where we will begin our walk! It´s hard not to compare all the distances we are travelling to the amount we will be walking, so I think I will quit before I scare myself.

We are enjoying the wine, tapas and great weather. Off for now as I can not quite get this spanish keyboard rightF

For those who may not know what we are doing.. georgia and I are going to walk the camino de santiago pilgrimmage route — 800 KM or 500 miles over the next 35 days.. are wecrazy¿?¿Ç? yes of course, but we´ll keep you posted on the progress

Journal entry on 9/17:
We’ve been in Spain for two days now. The acclimatization has been strange and wonderful. We stayed in San Sebastian the firgh night, a vibrant and wonderful beach town on the Bay of Biscay — a city, actually, busy with people and unique buildings built around canals which made me think of Venice. We were dropped off in the center of town, by a taxi from the airport in Biarritz and found a pension immediately. He insisted on keeping our passports, which, I guess is normal but was a little unsettling – and turned out to be fine. We unpacked our backpacks and put everything we thought we would not want to carry on the walk into a box to ship forward to the lista de correos in Santiago, then went in to town to have a bite to eat.

We found a restaurant with a sidewalk cafe, ordered a glass of wine, some tapas and were settling in when all of a sudden there was a loud noise and people jumped up and started running. We kept sitting there, wondering what everyone was doing, then realized that the sounds were gunshots and that we were in the Basque area where you hear about shootings etc, but didn’t really know what to do so we just looked around and then noticed that traffic and people had stopped, then started moving again. The people who ran from their seats came back and sat down and went on as if nothing had happened. In fact, nothing really had happened but it was an exciting moment.

We went back to the Pension and re-checked our backpacks for anything we thought we would not need and went to bed. In the morning we collected our passports, went by the post office to shed 15 pounds of our belongings and hopped a bus to Bilbao to visit the Guggenheim Museum, which was between shows –

a disappointment, but the building alone was worth the trip, and the Alexander Calder exhibit was fantastic. We walked all over the town, crisscrossing the canal and enjoying our first full day in Spain.

9/17/03 To Pamplona and Roncesvalles to Begin

This morning we hopped a bus to Pamplona. The images I was carrying in my mind about all three cities we’ve been in are that they were going to be so much smaller than they really are. Each city – San Sebastian, Bilbao & Pamplona are totally different and unique, and so charming.

We arrived at the bus station in Pamplona at noon, only to discover we would have to wait until 6pm for the bus, so we walked outside and immediately met our first fellow pilgrim, Carlos, a policeman & guard to the mayor of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

He suggested we share a taxi to Roncesvalles. He flagged down a driver & negotiated a $45 ride. As we rode through the winding country, hilly road, he pointed out pilgrims as we passed small villages and chatted to us about the walk. Of course, I didn’t understand the half of it, but Georgia was able to hold the conversation together for us, roughly translating for Carlos, who speaks Portuguese, and myself.

When we arrived the albergue was closed, not to open until 4 pm so we landed at the hotel for a typical Spanish lunch – a soup, potato, lamb, wine, dessert and coffee. We stuffed ourselves and plopped ourselves down outside to wait for the pilgrim hostel to open. At 3pm the doors opened so we could get our pilgrim’s credential. The room had the longest table I had ever seen, and all of the pilgrims filed in to sit & stand around the table to get signed in. We filled out a form that stated who we were, where we came from and paid a $5 fee for our bed.

Albergue, Roncesvalles

The albergue itself is in a large stone (monastery) building, with 104 beds upstairs (bunks) and bathrooms and communal area downstairs. The bunks are close enough to reach across and touch the person next to you and there is a strict curfew of 10pm. If you aren’t in, you get locked out until 6:30 am.
Photo below, the small church and private albergue

People are from everywhere – France, England, Holland, Germany, Brazil, Australia, USA and I am sure, other places as well, as every bed is filled, and the hotels also. I wonder who we will connect with?

9/18/03 Roncesvalles to Larrosoana   Our first day of walking.


Everyone was moving around in the albergue before 6 am. There was a lot of excitement so we got up with them, and took off. We walked 27km, and boy are we pooped! I seems that the energy it took was in the knees and lower legs for me and I’ll be surprised if I can stand up in the morning.

What a difference between this Albergue, in Larrasoana than Roncesvalles, which felt like being in a sacred monastery space. The mayor is the greeter for the pilgrims here ad he has a seriously fun time putting everyone in rooms.
Mayor of Larrosoaña
Books in the albergue filled with pilgrims writings:


The building is a two story building, set up like a dormatory. We are in a room with 5 mattresses lined up across the entire floor, and 6 of us to share them. Georgia, myself and Dionne, a young man from Madrid, who we met walking today took the far side of the room. We shared chocolate, stories and laughed about our state of being.

I am finding myself having to stop myself from making judgments about other pilgrims, especially the loud group of Germans who, although are having a lot of fun are very pushy, and shove their way in front of us to get the shower first – a little strange because it sets up some antagonism with the other roomers.

Some of the people we started with have not made it to this albergue – perhaps they stopped earlier or kept walking – I can’t imagine!

We had a great pilgrim’s meal dinner at the local restaurant that opened at 7pm and went right to bed.

9/19 Larrosoana to Pamplona

9/19 – Journal Entry
What we want:
New heels!
Small wine bottles

Aye, aye aye aye – the feet, the legs, the muscles you haven’t used in so may years! Reasons to take a taxi or quit walking. But we didn’t. Today we walked from Larrosoana to Pamplona. My muscles are so sore and ache so much I could hardly stand it. Georgia has blisters on both feet


G & her shoe repairman, Raul

and I feel like I may be permanently walking sideways and to the right. It felt as if my kees were the problem but I think it’s my thigh muscles seizing up. Now I know why so many of the books spend so much time talking about their feet and legs.

Meanwhile, we are traveling through beautiful old medieval towns, the countryside between is green and lush with horses, cows and sheep everywhere.


The Spanish dialect and the way they pronounce their words is foreign to me, compared to Mexican Spanish.

We – I should say I – crawled down a hill, thinking I wouldn’t make it – and suddenly there was an old Roman bridge and monastery and large town. We ate a well deserved meal, and rested. On the way out, we met Alfredo, another pilgrim, who was born in Santiago de Compostela, who walked with us and talked us through to Pamplona. He was an angel, really, whose conversation kept us going.

9/19/03 – Email to Family & Friends

After two days of walking, crawling, crying and a few bottles of wine at lunch, we are in Pamplona with blisters and muscles we did not know we had. Slowly, we are making friends with the other pilgrims on the path. A group of Germans, Carlos from Brazil, Alfredo, who was born in Santiago de Compostela hospital, a couple from Mexico and mother-daughter from Australia.. a few francais etc. ..
Pamplona City Hall


The first day was as any in a pilgrimage, we just marched up / down the Pyrenees to Larrosoana where we landed and slept 6 in a room of 5 mattresses on the floor. Everyone is up at 5:30 to 6am getting dressed trying to be quiet, but really we´ve all been up for an hour or so trying not to wake each other.

We didn´t realize how exhausted we were from the first day´s hike.. we think about 18 miles. it was encouraging to know we only had 12 to go to get to the next alberque in Cizor Menor which is 5 km past Pamplona.

Well, about 6 km into the walk, I couldn´t walk down hill and think I will now permanently walk a little to the right and sideways. No blisters for me, I just can´t walk downhill. Poor georgia has about 6 blisters but is a very good sport, encouraging me along while she will be the one to suffer more the next few days.

..anyway we know why they drink a bottle of wine at lunch here, and we have had our bottle too! I am trying not to think about how many more miles there are to go and georgia keeps asking why are we doing this?¿ hopefully we will have an answer for you all by the time we are done, but perhaps no¿ I love this spanish keyboard.

It will probably be a few days before we are near a town with an internet cafe again. Lots of little midieval villages, most of which don´t open a door until far beyond the time we have passed through. I think we have something to learn in america! blessings to all and to be continued



From Ron:  Hola, Pilgrims –

Seems like the accent may be on the “grim” part of “Pilgrim” at the moment. Well, its always darkest before things get really miserable…. so buck up!!! Don’t forget, this buisness of soul salvation is not an easy thing. Think of all the sins that must be washed away. It all does seems bit wonderful and crazy at the same time. …

From Margreet:  Gosh guys, I should have told you about the BEST possible way to treat blisters and keep going. See if you can buy this stuff “Compeed” in a store/pharmacy. Put it on a hot spot, or on a blister, warm it up with your hand so it will stick, then wrap a piece of duct tape over it. Guaranteed to stick and stay for a week!!!!. It decreases pressure, pain, misery, and the compeed helps to heal the blister underneath. Good luck. I love you, and Georgia, you are doing this, because when you are old and rimpled, you will proudly tell your grandchildren that this was the BEST thing you ever did in your life. Love and kisses for both of you, Margreet

9/21/03 Letter to Chris

Hi Chris! If we can say anything…. do 100 knee bends a day before you leave – buy compeed right when you arrive and put it on anything that remotely feels like anything on your feet – no matter what they books say, you will go up and downhill all day for the first week – after the first three days, all pilgrims are created equal. aching knees, blisters, just plain tired, no one cares if you snore.

we took a day off to treat Georgia;s blisters and rest my knees, which have totally surprised me by feeling them all the up and down hill. Otherwise, it is incredibly beautiful and we are enjoying the camaraderie with all the other pilgrims. You will like that too.

If you decide to bike, you will probably catch up with us, as I cannot imagine we will be there before the 15 to 17 October by foot. Margreet says to buy compeed ( a rubbery patch you put on blisters) and cover it with duct tape. buy a walking stick if you decide to walk… very important especially for us old folk! What has worked for me is I duct tape my heels, balls of my feet and any toe that hurts and for me no blisters, which I am happy about.

anyway, we are liking doing this… onward to Los Arcos keep in touch by email, we will figure how to meet up – y es la verdad, que hay mucho vino en espana

9/21/03 Puente la Reina

It hasn’t been a week, and yesterday we totally fell apart and gave into it. Georgia’s blisters are making it too hard to walk and she really needed a day off. My muscles are incredibly sore, but no blisters for me. I think we just did too much too soon.

I had a very strange night sleep last night. We stayed in a hotel, a very sweet hotel in the center of town. We had hot baths, yummm and soaked our feet in hot water and creamed up. The cumulative walking each day is harder on the feet and legs than I thought it would be. Today we are just having a day off to recouperate. Georgia will probably have a few off. Our journal is filling with hangman and cribbage games. We are glad we kept our deck of cards with us.

List #2
Walking Sticks!
new heels
Shoe guy
Walking sandals
short sleeve t-shirt
Thinner socks
Post office

list #3 Songs we found ourselves singing while we walk
Teddy bears picnic
da dum… da dum..
Beatles songs
Various durdges


9/21/03 – Email to friends & family

Well, it is sunday,day of rest here in Spain. Everything except this one internet cafe is closed, and of course the bars and cafes. After a third day of hiking in blisters ( Georgia ) and being very tired, as we are not used to all this physical labor yet, we have taken a day off to treat the feet and rest.

Puente La Reina is a beautiful old town with narrow streets, brick and stone buildings and a midieval bridge leading out of town. We spent the night in a rural hotel in the middle of town and are learning to pronounce all our C’s as th’ like the natives do. It’s amazing how many C sounds you use in one sentence.

Meantime, the walk to Puente la Reina was supposed to be the last of the big up and down hill. It’s a good thing because just about every pilgrim is now created equal because of all the physical maladies.. blisters, sore muscles, bad knees and equally blessed with good humor and deeper levels of comraderie between us all.

At the top of the last mountain, outside a little village that starts with a letter Z, we found modern windmills and to our great surprise, an art project by the ministry of hydro power.. a series of iron pilgrims.. shapes of pilgrims past, present and future, about 9 of them. Made us smile for a while before the last big downhill. Looking behind, we could see the remnants of Pamplona and a four wheeler came up the dirt path and zoomed by.

So we poked along, Georgia hating the uphill and me hating the downhill, trying not to sing the goofy songs that kept coming into our heads, and made it to Puente la Reina and now to Estella. I have to confess (since it is Sunday, and day of God etc,) that we took a taxi to Estella.. oh well. Tomorrow we are going to visit the renouned shoe person we have read about in a travel book and see about loosening up Georgia
’s shoes.

We have agreed to not talk about the why word for a while, as being in the here and now seem to be just about enough for now..

We are looking forward to the flat walking that we hear is before us.

The first day we were here, everyone was up at 5:30, walking at 6. Now, the person who runs the albergues are waking us all up at 7 and just like camping, no one combs their hair or puts on clean clothes. Most of us leave at the same time, never see each other on the path, except for a short time in the beginning when some pass others and we all arrive and fall on our new beds within a half hour of each other. Pretty amazing.

So, we are off for a sunday stroll and hopefully will find another email cafe soon.  thank you for all your encouraging emails, they are mucho appreciated! by the way, here´s a website with an interactive map of the camino walk.. http://caminodesantiago.consumer.es/

I think we are on etapa #5 now… it´s in spanish but you get to see the general route and there are other pages of an overall map. if you don´t speak spanish.. just click the little buttons and yo´ll find your way around the site

Well, we are back on the road again. We were delayed overnight twice waiting for Raul to warm and stretch Georgia´s shoes. When we returned this morning, he gave them to us at no charge with lots of advise on how to walk the camino… unlike he did at 40 km per day for the first 10 days! Well, no way are we going to do that, but we caught the bus to catch up past los arcos and landed in Viana, another very old old village that was bustling with pilgrims and businessmen and women having bocatillos (crusty bread sandwiches) and wine and coffee. Spain is not the country to try to give up coffee, as they make the best cups of there is… even in the little tiny villages, none of this washed out mister coffee stuff.

So we each took our turn in the bathroom, undressing and putting on our elastic knee pads to minimize the knee stuff. Of course they immediately rolled into little balls around our knees and we couldnt get them to move once our pants were up. So we left them as is and, surprise! they worked. We also each got a telescoping walking stick.. just about everyone has one of these or the more traditional wooden staff… and took off. We walked with a woman who was, from all the places in teh world, Sebastopol California, about 25 miles from where we live. Turns out she knows Margreet.. and Mary Wyman, works for the Occidental / russian river health clinics.

You just never know who you´ll meet

For a little history, which Ihave neglected during our bout with blisters, we began in Roncesvalles.. where Sancho Fuerte (sancho the strong) defeated Charlemagnés army during about 800 ad (give or take a few hundred years, I can´t be exact here without the book) anyway, we passedthe passes of Roldan (Roland) where the boulders we passed were to have been teh size of his footsteps. In the early years of the camino, many churches, monasterys and hospitals (refugios-albergues-hostels) were built to house the many pilgrims going to see the relics of Saint >James in Santiago de Compestela.

The landscape is dotted with castles, 800 year old churches, mixedwith new modern buildings. Today we passed from the province of Navaree..one of the first kingdoms in Spain, into the Rioja region. The hills are rolling instead of steep, the villages ahead visible from a long distance. the soil is deep red, and it is a main grape growing and wine region.

We ended up tonight in the albergue in Logrono, on a fiesta day and everything is closed. The main paseo.. closed sidewalk, is filled with balloon sellers and a puppetter. It is 7pm and things are just beginning to happen including parades and a lot of drinking.



Mean time, we are off to eat and will check back in when we have gone a little further

viva espana!

9/22/03 Letter from Mer



We’re loving your emails…I print them and take them to grandma to
read….what a joy….hope Georgia gets some relief soon…..sounds like you’ve got all
under control….enjoy
After this walk you’ll be able to write a book on where to shop for
comfortable shoes in Spain….uphill shoes and downhill shoes!!!!! Mom is so enjoying
all the updates….and the th/c…remembering people pronouncing
We have a ton of rain today…making it hard for me to muster up any
energy….I think of you often…glad to hear that you voted out the
whys!!!!!!!!!…..love you mer


Hi Mer,

thanks for your email! this last couple of days we needed all the encouragement we could get. Georgia is doing much better now, blisters healing and we found a shoe repair man-shoe maker who is stretching her shoes and fixing the problem areas, so we have stayed here in estella one more day. Actually it´s been nice to rest since we´ve been go going since we got here non stop.

another good thing I discovered is that after not wearing my boots for 2 days, then wearing them again today for a half hour, that the boots are what is causing the problem going downhill in my knees. So we found a sport store and bought a good pair of walking shoes.. they seem fine.. part of the process I guess. We are kind of chomping at the bit now, ready to go when georgia gets her shoes ready tomorrow. We´ll email more as we move along


9/23 From Ron

Hola, Muchachas!!!

Sancho the Strong!!!! Raul the Warm Shoe Stretcher!!!! Big Footed Roland!!!! This is turning out to be quite an orthopedic adventure. Maybe the next thnig you’ll run into is some local Sasquatch with a foot fetish or maybe Shoeless Joe Jackson. Have you considerd that the problem with Georgia is that her feet are too big – not that the shoes are too small? Maybe this is a job for Diego the Foot Binder. What a rich and wonderous land!!

9/27/03 – Belorado and more 

We were trying to figure out how many miles we have gone now. We made it to Belorado yesterday.

It was one of those days that had little villages every 3 to 4 km. It was nice to have something to see so often. Coming into Ciruena, about 1pm, we landed in an abandoned plaza that had a typical running fountain, seven or eight pilgrims eating lunch and airing out their feet.

While we were sitting there, a group of three French people were teasing each other and one of the women started singing these wonderful heartfelt deep songs that sounded like a Moroccan or middle eastern influence. She was impish too, and laughing a lot, pinching her husband. After lunch, we all poked along passing each other and made it to the Refugio about 5pm. After our showers, taking care of feet and hand washing our laundry in the courtyard laundry sinks, we headed to the main plaza for the afternoon drink and tapas.

The woman was sitting next to us and I mentioned I really liked her singing and we talked about where we were all from. She talked about doing a tour of the USA.. Los Angeles, Chicago, Boston and 8 other cities in 11 days. I told her that was pretty ambitious and she told us she was on a singing tour.. Classical singing.. so it turns out that she has 7 or 8 CD´s out and sings traditional Spanish-gypsy- etc songs and is quite famous. We were staying in the same albergue that night and we all brought wine and food and had a night of singing and probably a little too much to drink, and lots of fun singing songs from all the countries we are from. Martyn from Blackpool England, Rudy, Sybil and Joseph from Germany and Equidad, her husband and another woman who was with them.. we never did figure out if she was a sister or daughter. Anyway, if you can find a CD of hers.. there´s one calles mes espana.. I recommend it, you will love her singing.

We have a whole list of what we now call the songs of the Camino. All those songs that come into your head when you are going through your head when you are mindlessly wandering along. Out of the blue, one of us will say.. oh here´s another one.. so I thought I´d share our music walks with you. I think we are starting at the beginning of our singing careers, as the songs that pop in are all the songs we sang as children, and a few of my dad´s songs:

Yellow brick road
Sweet Georgia Brown
Oh Mary Mack
Not last night (jump rope song)
Itsy bitsy spider
row row row your boat
Cielito Lindo
Down by the STation
Mares eat oats and does eat oats
Oh what a beautiful morning
Gonna wash that man right out of my hair
500 miles (folk song)
500 miles (by the pretenders)
Lonely goatherd (sound of music)
Five foot two

Tiki torches at twilight
Munchkin land

Georgia made me promise not to sing the sound of music, darn!


Georgia & Jose the Brujo

One day, we met an elderly man, Jose, walking and he insisted we sing in English: California here I come (state song)
Bing crosby white Christmas Silent night

Jose called himself the Brujo (healer.. witch – curandero) and insisted that Georgia use his cream on her sore feet and a new type of bandage. We fed him lunch.

Today, we took the advice of several travellers who have done today´s walk.. 8 to 10 miles of industrial buildings next to the freeway.. into Burgos… and we took the bus from Belorado and made it into Burgos at 11am. We found a Pension, and toured the gothic church, museum, the remains of the castle walls of
Alfonso III, who lost his castle to Napoleon. There was a lot of damage done, it´s hard to imagine during that time that a castle that big could be damaged like that. One day in Burgos is enough however and we are off to Los Hornillos tomorrow – only an 11 mile walk, a respite!









Georgia and I are getting along just great. She carries and reads the map because I always take the wrong turns, and I carry the first aid supplies. We don´t talk for the first hour of the walk because it is just getting light and often, it is the hardest time to be pleasant, having just loaded 15 to 18 pounds onto our backs!

Well, we are in an internet cafe that has about 30 boys, all 15 and under playing some kind of game that they have to yell back and forth at each other, so it´s hard to think and write and be focused, so.. more later!

From Ron:


S / G-

You mention this woman singer but don’t give her name. Couldnot find an CD titled “calles mes espana”. Maybe if I do a search for “impish french women singers” I’ll be able to find her. Edith Piaf was an impish french woman singer. M aybe you met some ghostly precence of Edith Piaf? A sign from the lord to his pilgrams….. Au revoir. RD

Name: Equidad Bares

S / G –

I always thought it was “Maresey dotes and dosey dotes…” What about “John Jacob Jingleheimer Smith”? Can’t leave him out.

YOur adventure continues to sound wonderful although a bit weighted towards foot related infirmaries. It must be a spanish thing. On that note I will now make a pilgrammage(?) to the fridge and make a spinich salad with some cold chicken – an adventure of another kind.

Be good – be kind. All my love…RD/DAD

9/27/03 letter from mer
Dear dear Suzanne and Georgia….
We are loving your updates……moms eyes light up when I take her the
printouts… I’m also forwarding them to Katie…I can relate to walking 5 miles….I think I probably walk 20 miles in a month!!!!!….you’re both very courageous….and the perk of being together…and feeding off of each others strengths…..and songs to sing along the way….I can picture it all….can’t wait to see real pictures when you get back….love to you both mer

9/28/03 Letter from Chris

heading out on the 8th oct. to london

let me know if you get this
and a previos one
As I’m trying the earthlink webmail
the previous one had a poem too


10/2/03 San Bol, Castrojerez, Boadilla, Carrion de los condes, Sahagun & Letter to Chris

10/2/03 San Bol, Castrojerez, Boadilla, Carrion de los condes, Sahagun!
Since last email.. written an an internet kiosk, where it felt you
needed a hammer to punch each key..

We have made it to San Bol, a knights templar rustic with bathroom in the field albergue in the Meseta, greeted  by this:

The Albergue

Really, quite pretty


Fellow pilgrims:

On the way to Castrojerez, we stopped for a
breakfast bocadillo (sandwich) in Hortanas, an old, historic town along the camino. Victorino.. the
spanish man who drinks wine from the top of his nose, decided that wehad come especially to see him, so he invited himself to come get us in Castrojerez and drive us back to hortanas for dinner. Georgia kept teasing me that I had a boyfriend, so I poked her with my walking stick!

Anyway, the day was hot, but nice, we walked uphill through the dry cornfields and across miles of meseta, to arrive at 1:45 in Castrojerez.

We figured we had 15 minutes left before the post office closed so we went right over to mail our post cards and saw that their hours were 9 to 10 am. Every day, we wonder how anything gets done in these little towns! There are several thousand people here, so it is always a surprise to see that the hours of work are so few. 10 to 2.. sometimes 11 to 2, then 5 to 7 or maybe 8 in the bigger cities. What are we doing wrong in America to be working so many hours of the day?

Well, after our jaunt to the mailbox we found the Albergue. Not open until 3pm, so we had an hour to kill. We left our backpacks and wandered back up into the town and had a big vodka and lemonade, and who shows up but.. you guessed it, Victorino!

He came right over with his half bottle of Rioja and wanted to take us back to Hortana with him. Of course all the other pilgrims were watching this and laughing and teasing. Georgia, however, gently convinced him that we were only interested in moving forward and graciously thanked him back to his car and off to Hortanas.

Meanwhile, 3pm we head back to the albergue to find our beds. When we get there, we are pretty happy from our vodka happy hour, and got in a giggling fit until everyone else on the street waiting to get in was laughing with us (maybe at us, who knows). The Hospitalero of the albergue was a big burly guy with a grey beard, wearing tan overalls cut off to the knees.

He immediately informed everyone that anyone intending to get up before 7:15 am, should go to the other albergue, that this place was for those who wanted to rest and have coffee in the morning. One thing I haven’t talked about is that about half of the people who are walking set their alarm clocks for about 5 or 5:30 in the morning (a few even earlier than that) so they can be the first on the camino (2.5 hours walking in the dark) and first to the next albergue. There’s quite a bit of competition if you are that kind of person..
Anyway, our hospitalero was letting THOSE people know that the 5am-ers were not for him and they better leave. So about 6 left and of course we remained because we have discovered that if you wait untilafter 7:30 am, at least one bar/cafe is open and you can have aleisurely coffee and still be on the road before the sun makes it overthe hill. As a matter of fact, half way into it now, we seem to be thelast, or next to last out of the albergue in the morning. One particularly competetive German man calls us the tourists of the camino.. well I think we all are, but we have fully embraced it and are thoroughly enjoying not fighting for the bathroom in the morning, or the floor space to repack our backpacks.

So. Castrojerez. Has the nastiest woman pharmacist, no sense of humor! Otherwise it is a very picturesque and nice little town to visit.

After Castrojerez, we had a short walk. By the way, the walks are getting much easier. The feet, although a constant concern, have now made it half way! Yesterday, someone was saying that the two main topics of the camino, are how our feet our doing and how heavy our backpack is. Neither of which you can do much about at this point.

Yesterday we added a third topic. The rain

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA  On the way to Boadillo del campo, we had our first rain. In the middle of the road we had to pull everything out of our packs to find our rain gear. We brought rain suits.. says waterproof, but we don’t think that is really the case, as our clothing was completely wet when we arrived in Boadillo. We are still trying to figure out if it was just sweat coming to the top of our breathable shirts and pants, or if rain got through. At any rate, Boadillo del camino is a little stop on the road, which many chose to go right by, but we were ready for lunch if nothing else, so we stopped. There was a municipal albergue which was in an old, cold schoolhouse (we passed it right by) and big new signs for the private albergue, which turned out to be the oasis of the trip. It is reminiscent of a Mexican hacienda right down to the colors, tile roof, garden and the clincher for staying is that it had a washer, dryer and a fire in the main living room. The owners were gracious and attendant to all the needs of everyone. Food was also delicious.

So, we had a really nice night for 5 euros (about $6.60) each and met a few more people, and also found others we had not seen in a few days.. Jose the Brujo.. who is about 70,.. maybe older, and giggles about as much as Georgia and I, and two dutch men.. Cees, who just retired and has walked from Holland to here, over 1200 miles altogether, and Martyn, who is about 25 or so, who has ridden his bicycle from Holland. We also met a canandian pharmacist, John, who is also as slow as we are in the mornings, and the three of us walked the next stretch together past Fromista, to Carrion del Conde.

The morning leaving Boadillo was the best morning for views and light yet. The sky was a combination of dark clouds, puffy white clouds, blue sky and the sun coming up made everything look gold, it was really something.



We passed the pillar outside the church where in the 1500s
people were burned and whipped,
moved along a river where storks were standing in the reeds and into Fromista.

From there is was another 12 miles, mostly on the senda (gravel road, along the roadside) into Carrion de los Condes. About 3 miles before Carrion, we had a huge rain storm, wind and hail pelting at us and I think we ran most of that three miles.

Added to our collection of songs, is.. the rain in spain falls mainly on the plain…and a few others that I forget. Also added to our packs are PLASTIC rain ponchos.. no more of these fancy nylon things that say waterproof.

So, Georgia is here, looking at me to finish, as she is completed with her emails. I hope all is well with you Since it was pouring rain, with water and dead mice in the streets today, we took the bus, along with about 25 others, to Sahagun, to have a day of rest, get dry, and head out again tomorrow. We are about half way now! Will email more at the next cafe.
love and kisses,
P.S. we are getting in very good shape. In case you were wondering!

Letter to Chris:

Hi Chris
The weather is getting a little colder. If you have the lightweight fast drying pants .. or at least one pair that has the zippered short idea, that would be better than heavier pants because there often isn;t time for things to dry and by the time you get into a town, you don’t find the lavanderias open either. Very few albergues have drying capabilities… getting things dry is first priority these days.

I would bring 2 pair pants.. maybe lightweight shorts that dry quickly. same with shirts.. nothing cotton as it takes forever to dry. I have 2 pants, 3 shirts.. 2 short sleeve, one long and a lightweight fleece.. georgia has medium to heavy fleece vest and we both use our nylon rainwear for windproofing. several pairs of underwear and get good hiking socks, you’ll be glad you did. lots of people give up boots and walk in cross trainers, but if your boots are broken in, they should be ok. re: 2 pair of socks, most people now say not good, but who knows. I think good heavier socks and duct tape your heels and balls of your feet. That has worked great for me,

I’v e only had blisters on my little toes. Just tape up anything that remotely bothers you when you are walking.

As for the rest.. lots of people have the new fancy nylon rainwear and most of it keeps them dry but they sweat and are wet anyway.. which means drying sweat off your clothes at the end of the day. we bought rain ponchos and cover our packs with plastic-bungee cords.

many albergues have blankets, but some don?t and you`ll have to decide if a fleece will do it.. probably, and if much colder than now you might slleep in clothes too. we were in a cold albergue last night.. our sleeping bags weigh 2.5 lbs.

it?s a process of figuring it all out, really. Also, if you are carrying too much you can ship it ahead to santiago to
lista de Correos,
Peregrino .. and your name etc.
the post offices know the rest.

anyway, we?ve also found that not pushing it too hard.. 20 to 24 km day seems to keep most problems at bay. people doing 30 or more seem to have to rest 2 to 3 days every 4 to five days and dont really get very much farther. We have taken a couple of buses to, through industrial and other uglyl areas.. but not too much.

anyway, we are in Astorga, finally found an internet cafe.
keep in touch by email, can?t wait to hear how it goes

10/3/03 Letter from Chris
10/3/03 from Chris…

What about clothes, shorts? Long pants? what are you walking in. Also is a sleeping bag really necessary or would a fleece sleeping role/sack do? trying to conserve weight , the sleeping roll weighs half what the down bag does, 4-5lb as opposed to 1-2lb. thanks for the blister tips, the duct tape sounds cool and makes sense.

I wonder how I’ll do, I do physical work , work out, walk a lot, am always in work shoes banging around carrying things. in my backpacking days I’d wear two pairs of sock to protect my feet from blisters, if I got one it was usually on the heel. Have been wearing my walking shoes for work this week to break them in….I notice good socks make a big difference for me.

Any thoughts? I know pilgrims are created equal , but I guess I’m not
your average house wife, If you know what I mean, I was just wondering…

Appreciate the info peace and love, chris

10/5/03 Sahagun, Leon, Villadangos, Hospital de Obrigo

Well, we´ve had a train ride, bus ride and a couple of good walks since Sahagun. In Sahagun, we spent a night in a simple but nice hotel for the weekly bath and soak. The restaurant was a busy little place that served mostly organ meats and although we both ate filete de res (beef filet) it really turned out to be some kind of hamburger mix. Tasted good, but neither of our stomachs have been quite right since. We suspect perhaps a little liver or tongue in the mix, but who knows, maybe just too many bocadillos with chorizo along the way.

Sahagun had a great church with a 16th century retablo over the altar and housed the mannequins of saints, virgins, jesus and the like that are brought out during semana santa. The church was closed, but we happened by the elderly man who had the key to the church. He let us in, gave us the descriptive tour of the church and let us take photos.. something that you can´t do in any of the churches or museums here. After that we visited the other church, famous for it´s mudejar style and hopped a train for Leon, skipping about 50km of the walk between the two cities, and a day or two of walking in the pouring heavy rain.

From the Leon train station we wandered several km up to the gothic quarter, which is a little hamlet in the middle of this large city. There, we found the gothic cathedral, a vegeterian restaurant (first of the trip) and the Museum in the San Isodoro church which houses 11th to 12th century frescoes, (fabulous) and the tombs of the daughters of King Ferdinand and Queen Sancha, who idolozed San Isodoro and gave all her money and jewels to the church. In the museum, we saw gold and silver boxes from Egypt – 11th century as well as church relics, jewelery, crown type pieces etc. It was an impressive museum and the frescoes painted on the ceiling were incredible, still in its original paint as well.

After an afternoon and evening catching all the main sights of Leon, we decided it was time for some vegetables.. once in three weeks, is about right, we thought, so we set out from our hotel room in search of a place we could find a salad at minimum. Low and behold, around the corner we found a vegetarian restaurant run by 3 young guys about 24 years old and had a lettuce and rice salad and tortilla (like an omelet) with red and green in it! Finding food with vegetables and red and green in it is quite a feat, since dry bread sandwiches with meat or cheese seem to be what you mostly find if you want to eat before the dinner hour of 9pm here.

Saturday morning we had a little round about trying to find our way back on to the Camino. We knew we had to go over the train tracks (actually they wind around and we went over them about 6 times) and found our way back to the train station. From there we lost track of the brass shells that are embedded in the sidewalks that lead one back to the Camino.

Several angels along the way led us astray, until finally, a very average looking woman in a black pantsuit asked us if we were lost, and led us promptly to the bridge we needed to cross to get out of Leon.

From there, it was a steady uphill for about 3-4 miles through the lower part of the city, suburbs, and finally past the town wine bodegas (dug into the hillsides, and back onto the Meseta toward Villadangos, where we were headed for last night´s stay.

It was like a miracle day, our feet didn´t hurt and we kept passing people up, first time ever that we weren´t the last ones along the path.. actually, people who are hiking from the town before us are usually passing us up by 10 in the morning, so we were really happy that our bodies were cooperating so well, and enjoying the competition today. There weren´t many little towns in between, and the towns have now changed. No more quaint medieval towns, mostly highway towns, truck stop places with no services.

As we are traveling along we have several types of entries into towns.

First, there are the towns that we see a sign that says 3.2km (2 miles) and we think, no sweat, that’s really close. what seems like an hour or two later (and it may be) we are still looking at a town that seems to be getting farther away the closer we get, and our feet become like lead and we lower our heads and use our walking sticks more heavily than usual.

Second, there are the towns that you come up over a rise, and presto! the town is right there, the albergue on this end of town. These are our favorites, but Villadangos was of the first type. Here we were having a great walking day and the town kept getting further and further away. We finally arrived however and by this time had been able to manufacture a few aches and pains, but the albergue was at the entrance to the town.

The albergue hospitalero left a note on the table: Be back at 5pm, find a bed. So we did. This albergue had triple bunks, and luckily we managed to get bunks on the lower level. It´s really the pits trying to climb up to a top bunk with your 20 pound backpack! At any rate, we got ourselves settled as others wandered in. Then we noticed that there was a very bad smell. Other pilgrims kept walking by holding their noses so we went out to see what was going on.

In the room next to ours, was a man who was asleep, with his stinky shoes sitting at the walking aisle. None of us really knew what to do or say. Should we put his shoes outside, on the window sill.. or my suggestion was to throw them out (vetoed by Georgia who said that wasn´t very nice). So, we all spent the afternoon walking around the back of the Albergue rather than wake him or touch the smelly things.

Several hours later, we went out to check out the town. Villadangos looks like a town that will no longer be at some time in the future. Georgia and I found the church, which seemed to be closed, but on the bench out front, there were 4 men and women in their 80´s and 90s´, dangling their feet. One of them got up with her cane, all hunched over in a typical button front housedress and asked us if we were peregrinas. We said we were and she asked us if we would like to see the church.

We weren´t sure at first, as it looked like it was a very old church that had been sloppily renovated in the 1960´s, and not very interesting. But she was a woman you couldn´t say no to. Her name was Lauriana, and she hobbled before us and opened the door for us before we could say no.

Boy were we surprised. There was a retablo-altar in this church from the 1700´s that was dedicated to Santiago (as in the Camino de Santiago – apostle of Christ who the Camino is named after). It is a carved relief from floor to ceiling with a statue of Santiago in pilgrim cloth on the left, king Raymondo on the right, and the virgin Pilar, with Christ in the high center. In the middle center was a carved statue of Santiago, Matamoros (moor killer) on his white horse, spearing a moor. In between these carvings were other saints and angels, and painted scenes depicting Santiago helping king Ramondo drive the moors out of Spain in the 800´s.

We were stunned at it´s beauty and detail, and Lauriana sat next to us and gave us a talking to about the history of Santiago, the history of Spain and the Camino itself. As she went on, a woman about my age came in to dust the niches, statues and altar with pledge, and informed us that Lauriana knew more than the bishop about the history of Santiago, and we all laughed.

So we took her photo in front of the altar and promised to mail her a picture. She was a little nervous to have her photo taken in her old house dress, but she consented and gave us each two kisses, one on each cheek, with a promise to give one to Santiago when we arrived in Santiago de compostela, and had our turn hugging his statue.

After this, we just about skipped back to the Albergue, we felt we had been offered something really special. Meanwhile, the stinky shoes could be smelled from the front door. Several cyclists were walking in, their shoes in hand and when they smelled the Albergue, they both immediately smelled their shoes to see if it was theirs that smelled. I have to confess, earlier, we both smelled our shoes too!

The man with the smelly shoes was still sleeping and by this time everyone was talking, and new people had come in as well. No one would occupy his room, so he was alone, asleep, with everyone talking about him. We went to dinner with an English woman Ann, and her French husband who are retired,and walking only the second half of the Camino, a French canadian professor who had walked from LePuy France, almost 900km already and a Canadian Environmentalist who had just begun walking yesterday. It was a lively dinner, and excellent typical food with a waitress with a funny sense of humor.

We returned about 9:30 to the albergue, and the smell was the same, and no one had said anything to him about his shoes. It’s amazing what people will put up with for a long time before saying anything. And this smell was BAD!

Since Georgia speaks fluent Spanish, we delegated her to say something to him about putting his shoes outside. He was awake, sitting on the edge of his bed and by this time everyone had decided he was not a pilgrim in the sense that the rest of us were, but maybe homeless, or some other fabrication of his life. He was only carrying a plastic bag and didn´t talk to anyone.

As Georgia walked by his berth, she just turned about and ran to her bed and informed me he had given her a dirty look that scared her, so she wasn´t about to say anything to him. So, I just went over and started to say something.. asked if he spoke Spanish or English.. and he said a little of both.. and volunteered that his feet stank-. I said, yes, and can you take your shoes outside for the night, please?

He didn´t smile, but immediately took his shoes out, and said something in English, and we realized that he could probably understand everything we were all speculating about.. in Spanish and English from early afternoon on, if he was awake then.

Oh well. He took his shoes out, and when he returned, someone rushed into our berths and said “did you see how bloody his feet are?¨ Of course I jumped right up and Georgia refused to get out of her sleeping bag. Turns out he had put betadine all over his feet for two blisters on his heels, and everyone was offering advice, which he didn´t want to accept. So, we left him with two compeed for his heels, and he was still sleeping when we left at 8:30 this morning, and we haven´t seen him since.

Meanwhile, we walked through Hospital de Obrigo, which has a medieval bridge still standing that is famous for the knight who jousted every man who came across the bridge, to defend his honor (over a woman who betrayed him, of course) and Georgia developed a little ankle something or other, and we hopped a cab for a short ride to Astorga, where we are now.

Astorga is a mix of little winding streets, old and new, and has an Episcopalian castle-museum which looks like it was transplanted from Austria.. a little out of place next to the Gothic cathedral and other less impressive but centuries old churches and buildings, but nevertheless, quite amazing.

Tomorrow we begin our ascent out of Castilla y Leon and the meseta, and into the mountains leading to Galicia. If all goes well, we will spend the night in Rabanal where we will hear the 5pm vespers in Gregorian chant, something we are looking forward to.

So, Sunday is about over here and hope you are all well, thank you for all your emails, keep them coming, as I appreciate hearing back, even if I can´t answer each one with the limited time to write these letters. Don´t know what the email will be like in the mountains, but usually every couple of days we find one where we don´t expect it.

be well!

10/6/03 Letter from Mark & Marly



Looking at the picture of you and your daughter, reminds me of how proud I am to know you.
Your life and your relationships make a profound difference in the lives of people around you, especially me.

Your daughter is blessed to have a mom in you.

PS I had lunch on Marty street the other day and raided your frig (while I was doing my bills of course) and found some of ZOE’s soup! She is one of the best cooks I have ever known! She is gifted!

muchas arigato

mark k (and Marley)

Your last Email was very entertaining, boyfriend, people being burned and whipped in the 1500’s and so on. I bet you’re getting buff. You’ll be jogging the trail soon. Thanks for taking the time to send your adventure to us.

Love Dave ……and Pam

Just want to tell you how much I am enjoying your trip! You write a
beautiful story. It is fun to hear about the totality of the walk; the food,
the smelly feet, the sweet people who help you find your way…

I hope the rest of the trip is good to you as well. I look forward to
reading more about the adventure at hand. — Jack

10/6/03 Letter from Dolores  Oh what a trip of a lifetime! I am so enjoying your emails–once I get over my envy!! 🙂 The one photo of Georgia in front of the hacienda was too dark to see her, but the bldg looked incredible…as did your photo of Victorinos. You could sell that shot, it’s gorgeous.

I think I’m going to forward your emails to Steve. He and Nonie went to Spain a few years back–only they went “hi- end” …so he’ll probably enjoy all the things you have seen by literally walking across the country. Wowie- I’m impressed!

Keep me on your list and remember I love you–so be safe!! Dolores 🙂 0x

10/9/03 Santa Catalina, bartender with the wandering eye

Meantime, after taking Georgia 1.5 km into a town she didn´t want to go to because of her hurting feet, we had a glorious uphill hike on a path that was covered in heart shaped rocks into Santa Catalina. (surprisingly.. uphill seems to work good for both of us)

Santa Catalina has a population 38, including our hospitalero who is named Bienvenidos, which means welcome. He kept telling us his name, and we would say ‘thank you’ (for welcoming us) until he finally pulled out his identification to show us that Bienvenidos was his name. When he was born, his father was away and when he finally returned, welcomed him and the name stuck.

There is the albergue, a schoolhouse.. except no children in the town, a bar and bartender with a wandering eye, and about 20 pilgrims. Nothing to do except enjoy the view, visit with the hospitalero and bartender.

Elderly man in beret from Santa Catalina

That night we went out for dinner. At the bar.. choice of bocadillos (roll with meat, no mayo, mustard, ketchup etc) or a plate of 5 kinds of ham and chorizo with cheese, and dry bread. Just to be fair though, we need to say that we have actually had some pretty good bread in between the dry bouts. But this time, it was the average bread, and of course olives, spicy this time.

We met 2 retired, Danish bicyclists, Fred and IB, who were so happy to meet anyone who spoke english that we all ate together and compared camino walking versus camino biking stories, as well as the usual topics of feet, aches and pains, weather and who we are meeting.

As we ambled back to the albergue, the hospitalero informed us he didn´t care what time we got up in the morning, so of course we slept until 9am, after everyone else had already left, and took our time in the shower, taped our feet and as we walked out of town, we were greeted at the crossroads by Carlos, our Brazilian policeman who we met our first day here going to Roncesvalles. We haven´t crossed paths with him for several weeks, so it was like old home week, hugs and kisses on the cheek and stories of what we had been doing…

So, back to the bartender with the wandering eye…

Back in Santa Catalina, population 38, there is a bartender who is about 35, white shirt partially untucked, who spent about 2 of the 3 hours we spent there wiping down his espresso machine. He was initially a little grumpy until he discovered georgia could speak spanish and he could understand her (as opposed to me who has to spell my Spanish out to everyone)  We only wish we had gotten his name and a photo, as he had a great wandering eye. Sometimes it would cross and other times off to the side so you could never tell where to look at him. As the night wore on, he managed to down a few something because he got progressively more drunk. Every time georgia would go over, he would get kind of.. well.. rabid about all the people that walk through Santa Catalina that want to change it. The more rabid he would get, the more the eye would move around until he would get in a bit of a rage about it all and then the eye got even more wild. At this point, even Georgia couldn’t understand him, and I had to call her over so he would stop ranting. He calmed down eventually and we went back to the Albergue for a good nights rest.

We slept late, exchanged addresses with our hospitalero, Bienvenidos,

We promised to send a photo that we took of him, with his scythe the day before. This area is particularly beautiful with rolling hills, old vineyards, and lots of crusty old buildings that are charming, although falling apart. We were off to Rabanal where we were hoping to hear the vespers in Gregorian chant.

About 10am, we came upon a place, not really a town, although there were buildings there. It is the home of a place called Meson Cowboy and you could hear it a kilometer away, music, laughing and someone yelling at the top of his lungs at everyone.
Meson Cowboy was in our guide book but we had forgotten about it. The building is at a point where the road divided, with a western front and cowboy decor right down to the horse painted on the wall. The owner (never got his name) was behind the bar, pouring aguardiente into anyone´s coffee who didn´t stop him first. Dressed in his jeans, vest and cowboy boots he was hollering at everyone (in fun, we found out.. but you didn´t know for sure at first).

The two sisters from Alturas CA (Jen & Elizabeth) were there, we had been playing catch-up with them on and off over the last week.
Meson Cowboy
Also there were the retired ski shop owners, Ann and Jack, from France. She is British and a real prankster and joker, her husband Jack is French. He can’t speak a word of Spanish or English but was right there with it all and we became quick friends.

Back at the cowboy bar, the owner is screaming and hollering in fun at everyone and then comes out and offers to give me a washing machine if I leave Georgia with him… what a deal! Of course, I thought, in the translation that I was supposed to give him a washing machine.. kind of a dowry.. but somehow we got out of there agreeing to send him something from the USA. Was Georgia relieved! A little ways down the road we decided that we should send him some cowboy pajamas, something he probably can’t find here in Spain. This got us laughing all over again. We passed through a lot of rolling hills and through several Maragato towns ending up in Rabanal, where we discovered that our monks went on vacation, so no chants that night. We were disappointed.

Speaking of French… there is an ongoing dialogue throughout the Camino about why the French refuse to try speaking Spanish. so we had a discussion about this and Jack told Ann that all we women had to do was lay on the ground and open our legs and we wouldn’t have any problem meeting the French. First we just cracked up. Then we all had a good hoot over how we would look lying on the ground on our backpacks,
Here’s the photo taken later at Monte Gozo

feet waving in the air, and this became the laugh of the day every time we saw Ann and Jack. (we also laughed about how beautiful we all are right now as not one of us has used a hairbrush since we started this walk.. that’s three weeks now)

Well, it´s 10:20 and I am about to go back to the albergue and will finish the following next time we get to internet: More awe inspiring, medieval towns, the path with hearts, Foncebadon and the wild cows, Tomas, knight of the templar and the pagan ritual, and the rocky downhill, and today´s walk through Ponferrada into Cacabellas.

Tomorrow we will be going up into the mountains past Villafranca and part way to O´cebreiro, where we hear they have tastefully restored round yurt type stone buildings that have thatch huts.. how romantic!

It will be a day of all uphill too, about 1000 feet or more of climbing so we will probably be pooped by the end of the day.

Off for now, be well


10/12/03 Letter from Mark

Watch out for those BARTENDERS. They are the most magical and fantastic people on the globe! The live their lives “Being” with people in a real way daily, and with drunk people a lot. They see more & know more about people’s realness than most PhD therapists… And they are lots-o-fun. keep on walk’n mark k

10/13/03 Letter from Ron   Hola, Pilgrims –

I’ve been doing a bit of research which may be helpful you on your journey. Apparently there are two, not one, but two, Catholic Saints who are patron saints of foot and/or feet problems. These individuals are St. Peter (the apostle) as well as a fellow named Servatus, who lived and worked in the Netherlands (Nederlands) sometime in the mid 300’s. Its not clear why they are patron saints of foot problems, although the pictures and iconography of Servatus shows him with three wooden shoes, which, obviously would be a bit of a problem – trying to walk around with three shoes on. Not to mention splinters, knots, etc. So next time your in a chapel somewhere bemoaning your feets you now know who to direct your prayers to.

Must say that this past weekend was quite beautiful – we’re having a great fall. Glen Ellen Village Fair this past weekend – same old – but nice and fun anyway. Cyn and i rode our bikes up and hada few drinks at the lodge and listened to Norton Buffalo toot along with some local band. Both the Raiders and 49’s lost – both having poor seasons. Today, Monday, is the observation of Chistopher Comumbus Day – the Italian who sailed for Portugal. If is wasn’t for Columbus we wouldn’t have pizza or a place in Ohio. Its really amazing how things are related.

Hope you and G are well and on the downward stretch. Is this trek something that can be done on a bicycle without a lot of heartache??? I wonder who the patron saint of bicyclists is???? Ther ewas a spread in the Press Democrat this Sunday regarding the charms and wonders of San Miguel…

Till the next time I remain fondly yours……………..Padre Rionaldo, Patron Saint of Co-Dependents throughout the Christian World

10/16/03 Astorga, Santa Catalina, Ponferrada
The internet cafes are fewer in between now, as we are heading through the first series of mountains and on to galicia.

We went from Astorga into Santa Catalina – we did a series of shorter walks to let the feet rest. On the way, we passed through several reconstructed Maragato villages, all stone with green doors and shutters and rock streets. Mostly, they seem to be pilgrim and weekend towns full of restaurants. Of course, none are open during the time we seem to be walking!

Oops, looks like my internet time is up so I will complete this next time with more about the bartender with the wandering eye, the cowboy bar in the middle of nowhere, Rabanal, where we were to have heard vespers in Gregorian chant (but the monks didn´t show up), the two sisters from California, the english woman (prankster) and her French husband, more midievel towns, Foncebadon and the wild cows, Tomas, knight of the templar and the pagan ritual, and the rocky downhill.

Today, we are passing through Ponferrada, a city of 50,000 where we have already been to the castle of the Knights of the Templar (kicked out of the city in the 12th century, first bankers, and friends to pilgrims..)




then off to Cacabello, Villafranca and within several days to O´cebriero the gateway to Galicia and the final leg of the walk (no pun intended)

10/17/03 A bit of Camino wisdom & a Letter from Chris

Suzanne sent these this morning.(pictures)
They were so bright I thought I’d invade your inbox again
And this bit of spontaneous Camino wisdom

Good pilgrim.
Bad pilgrim
Keep Walking


10/17 from chris

Wow, I don?t really know how to begin dear friends. perhaps with a story: last night I went to a pilgrim mass in estella, 70 miles behind me, 410 to go!, of jaw dropping midieval towns villages and some of the most inspiring country side This pilgrim has ever seen, and (this pilgrim has seen a lot). Anyway after mass, I lit some candles, for folks I promised I would, and while walking out of the church down the midieval steps ran into the young priest who gave the mass. “Eres peregrino?”he asked “yes father I am and I?m overwhelmed with emotion every day” “Cuanto tiempo llevas en el camino?” he asked, how long you been on the Camino? “A week” I said.

” He smiled knowingly and said “Espera hasta que tengas 3 semanas, 4, 5,” As if to say Pilgrim you ain?t seen or felt nothing yet! I thanked him and fellow Pilgrims awaited me for la cena at the bottom of the stair. everyone is feeling this rapture on and off it seems. I’m calling it “Agape” the love that consumes, a term that Paolo Choelo used in his book THE PILGRIMAGE.
SOMETIME YOUR HAIR STANDS ON END as if energy is coming in, or you?re getting beamed aboard the “Enterprize”. As I wrote in the intro to my first chap book IVORY GOOSE, “I am at one with my lif purpose and there is no where else I?d rather be at this time” That is to say part of why I am in this world is being currently realized!

This is a poem from my travel book of the camino by John brierly:

To laugh is to appear being the fool
To cry is to risk being called sentimental
To reach out to another is to risk envolvement
To expose feeling is to risk showing your true self
To place your ideas and dreams before the crowd is to risk being called naive
To love is to risk not being loved in return
To live is to risk dying
To try is to risk failure

But risks must be taken
Because the greatest risk in life is to risk nothing
The people who risk nothing, have nothing and become nothing
They may avoid suffering and sorrow but they simplycannot learn to feel
And change and grow and love and live…
Chained by their servitude, they are slaves; They’ve forfeited they’re freedom.
Only people who risk are truly free
And my friends I’ll leave you with one of mine;


Walking along you can?t tell when its going to come,
On a high trail, a steep climb, or drawing water from a fountain
It comes from far away, a distant corner of the heart
Like a spring up through the earth

A cathartic joyful sadness, gurggles in your soul
A grief long buried, suddenly exhumed
A good-bye to someone you never had a chance to
Admit to yourself you sorely miss someone
You feel what you disallowed

You wonder why you carried the sadness for so long
On the pilgrim road you disgard your emotional baggage day by day
Forgiving those who hurt you, regardless if they meant it or not
You unpack your sorrows and leave them behind
As daily you scheme to lighten your backpack of extraneous items

As you lighten, you are a better conduit for “the love that consumes”
Lighter, you pick up your step along THE WAY OF ST. JAMES
“Te queda mucho hombre!” people say, “you’ve got a long way to go!”

c.d.g. 10/o3
p.s. A quick dog story: The camino is supposedly known for vicious Dogs they say. I?ve had no problems though cause I speak a little “dog” ya know. Out of Valcarlos a big white spanish mastif charged me. As he approached I saw him make a cavorting hop, so I knew it was a bluff, I didn?t break stride. Then we both stopped and I admired him, his tail began to wag, and I turned and walked away as a bullfighter does to the bull to show his braverey. The mastif came up behind me and grabbed one of my walking sticks and clicked it in his teeth lightly,
click-click, As if to say, Buen Camino Peregrino! I looked back startled and his big tail was wagging farewell…

10/18/2003 Santiago – Final Day

It is as if we have been in a fog for the last week or more now. We passed into Galicia, the towns became smaller and no more internet cafes until now. Somehow the walking got easier and we were booking 25 to 28km per day, whopping for us. We met up with the other California sisters, Jennifer and Elizabeth, our new good friends, and walked the last four days into Santiago together, passing and catching up with other pilgrims that we began the walk with and met on the way. Must be something about us California girls because we have never laughed so much, for so many hours of the day, as we have in the last week.

There are more stories, which I will send along later. The arrival was a profound experience. It is as if we had been sitting in silence on a peaceful sunny beach for a month and were then dropped from the sky into disneyland or something.

The arrival at the church yesterday morning was mind boggling and it is all so big and at the same time thousands of tourists. None of us knew what to feel. We got our compostela (certificate of completion), went to the pilgrims mass where a nun sang the most beautiful songs that we all cried.

They passed the Botafumerio (giant incense burner) back and forth across the four story interior. There is a lot of speculation as you walk the Camino, if they will be swinging the Botafumerio on the day you make it to Santiago, so we were blessed to see it.

We passed by the saint, where you get to hug the statue of Santiago, and I was so overwhelmed that I didn´t realize that was where we were and had to ask ”Is this IT?” and the altar boy pushed me along because I was dawdling.

Coming out of the church, a reporter for a French newspaper followed us around asking us questions
about our walk – we said we would talk if she would find us a hotel with a bathtub (and she did). We slept well and went this morning for a second round at the ritual of placing our hand on the thousand year old tree (carved) in the church, banged heads with the saint, and hugged Santiago good and hard today.

I am off for now, but over the next week, I´ll catch up on the stories, and john is getting some photos which I am sure he will send along.

It is an amazing thing to have done this, we all know it, and at the same time it is hard to express in words what it feels like. We’ve made many good friends from around the world and learned a lot about ourselves and each other and are enjoying running into each other for the last day or so, to complete the experience by talking, laughing hugging and feeling sad that it has to end. We have really accomplished something. Satisfied is a good word for it.

The only other thing is how we don´t know what to do with ourselves – how do you just drop back into your life after something like this? …so we are going out to Finesterre tomorrow and going to do a 15 mile walk to Muxia. We know how to do that!
Off for now

Next day:

We arrived yesterday in Santiago knowing that it has been completely worth every step. From O´Cebreiro onward there is so little to stop for, other than the beauty of the countryside, that you just walk and walk and run into pilgrims you have seen along the way, but had not seen in a few days or a week – everyone humbled light hearted and really opened up.

For the arrival into Santiago we left at 7am, in the dark, and reached Monte Gozo for coffee and croissants then walked into Santiago, wound our way through the narrow streets of the old part of town and into the massive open plaza in front of the church – finally, we had arrived, along with all the others who had been following the same routine with us every day….get up, get dressed, and walk – walk – walk