Reliving The Camino (at least a bit)

Wednesday, June 8, 2016.  It is June and Neil and I are in Ouray at his log cabin, as we usually are during this time of the summer.  We have a new addition, a Golden Retriever Rescue female, six years old, named Kali (a Hindu goddess, apparently) and though we are so sad for her former owners, we are grateful they did “the right thing” when their household split apart, and relinquished her to the local GRRR, who called us nearly immediately.  They knew (and they were correct) that she was just perfect for us, and apparently she thinks we are perfect for her as well!

She is still sort of a “velcro”doggie with us, so she’s lying at my feet as I type, but she’s finding her inner wolf as she runs with Neil (well, HE doesn’t run . . . ) through the hills outside the cabin.

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Kali-girl loving the mountains!

I am so often a slug when we’re here, unlike my Camino prep years.  I still want to do ONE. MORE. CAMINO.  Yes, I’ve said it, though you wouldn’t have known it during the first three weeks of the Camino del Norte, my venture/adventure last autumn.  But several things contribute to a former peregrina longing for another shot at The Way.

In no particular order, here are my reasons:

  • I was asked by CSUs Osher program to give another talk about my Camino experiences.  This is the third time I have done this, and as I prepare for the talk, go through my slides one more time (or twenty more), I am transported back to those hills, the Meseta, the sea views, the cows, of course, sunsets, sunrises, moon rises,  albergues, fellow travelers, the enormous and delicious salads . . . etc.
  • My dear friend Jeanne (now walking under cover of the name “Jeanneseeo”) is on the Camino Francis as I type this.  She has just finished with the Meseta and is about two or three days out of Leon. Reading her adventures, some completely different from mine and some nearly identical, a wave of longing washes over me.  She had asked if I might consider meeting her partway and walking for three weeks with her, but I said I couldn’t do it this year.But every time I read one of her posts, I wish I could have Scottie “beam me up” so I could walk a few segments with her.  Here she is, standing on the left side front behind the man in the black shirt, with a group of peregrinos at an albergue.

Jeanneseeo - grupo 13.5.2016

  • No matter what my promises to myself, I find that I cannot extricate myself from as much of my “regular life” as I’d like.  Yes, I love teaching Cinema du Jour.  Yes, I loved my two 6-week sessions of  “From Page to Screen”, no matter that it was more work than I ever DREAMED it would be.  The participants were fantastic, and signed on for both sessions.  But the things one can’t control . . . a family death and memorial service, happy holidays with a houseful of people I love, short travel that I planned, yes, indeed, to New Orleans, Moab (wedding) NYC (plays and plays and plays), Sante Fe (Neil’s birthday), the Black Hills of South Dakota (never been . . . needed to go), keep me in “up” mode, when I really need more “down” mode.

This month at the cabin every year furnishes me with down time, as does my time in Vermont, but there is still nothing like the physical exertion and the mesmerizing emotional/non-thinking state of the Camino de Santiago.  A mind flies free on the Camino, no matter whether it carries thoughts of joy or sorrow.

I know I will be back there . . . on the Camino Portugues, on my favorite parts of the Camino Frances and the Del Norte, anything I choose.  I have nothing to prove to myself at this point.  I will be seventy years old in November, I’ve walked across Spain twice in three years, and I will return, most likely with my friend Ria and my friend Jeanne, each of us walking alone together, soon.

 

 

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Posted in Camino de Santiago, Camino del Norte, Oldish world traveling, Solitude journeys, Staying open, What Goes on in the Mind, Why Walk The Camino? | Tagged , , | 8 Comments

After A Month’s Reflection . . .

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

I left Spain just a bit more than a month ago, and flew directly to Italy for another 12 days, but even then I was writing about things to consider after I returned home.  My initial question was, and still is, “I want a quieter life.  What can I eliminate from my schedule?”

On my return from my first Camino in 2013, I managed to sit daily for two hours in the afternoon, reading in front of the fireplace.  I shut out most social activities, but couldn’t give myself much kudos because the reason I put a halt to everything was that my one remaining Golden Retriever, Marley, contracted a raging, tenacious staph infection in his right front elbow and part of the right side of his chest.  Two surgeries, a feeding tube, mixing slurry to put in said tube until he could eat again, and bandage/dressing changes EVERY day, seven days a week, at 8:00 a.m. for six weeks.  Exhaustion and worry eliminate any desire to socialize, quite frankly.

Marley died in October 2014, so now I have no pet reason to slow down.  What I’ve been writing is most likely of much less interest to my followers than it is to me, but this site is where I record my Camino and its after-effects.  So the list in my journal (in addition to attempting NOT to get another dog for another year or two) looks like this:

  • Committee work? Do I want to continue?
  • No more than TWO coffee or lunch dates per week (try ONCE a week). I’ve managed to do this so far, though I’ve had several doctor’s appointments since my return
  • Sell my Expedition.  I’m getting there . . . installed the third seat, and will have the car detailed this week before I post it for sale.
  • Sell my Karmann Ghia.  An on-again, off-again project.  Love that car . . .
  • Sort and sell some of the voluminous collection of yarn I’ve accumulated
  • Spend two hours a week (all at one time) in my sewing closet, repairing or whatever, to get the stack DOWN.
  • Take a class to learn how to use my serger and learn to thread the damned thing by myself
  • Consider selling my cello, or begin taking lessons again
  • Sell my JFK uncirculated half dollars
  • Write in this journal every day
  • Go back to Nia
  • Re-register to be an UBER driver
  • Write with Kay on Tuesdays again.  I’m at Starry Night, our regular meeting place, right now, as I write this.
  • Attend Tuesday noon meditation at downtown Shambala Center before meeting with Kay.  I’ve managed this every week so far.
  • Order fountain pen cleaning solution.  Done . . . just waiting for Amazon to deliver it.
  • Get my scarves ready for the Lincoln Center gift Show.  Done . . .the weekend was slow, but I did sell triple my booth fee.  Not a lot but enough.
  • Work on WordPress help.  Back burner, I can tell.
  • ***JUST SAY NO to all new invitations, all new projects, until this list is accomplished.  I’ve managed to do this very well so far, without a skip of a beat.  When presented with a new project, a new anything that isn’t already on my radar, I say, “I promised myself I’d say no to all new events and projects, so thank you, but no.”  No guilt, no shame.
My mantra for the near future . . .

My mantra for the near future . . .

I am, however, having a hard time shaking the possibility of applying to the Ucross Foundation for a writing retreat in March.  It’s free, it’s in northern Wyoming, and I’ve wanted to apply for several years.  But do I want to leave Neil for 2-4 weeks again?  No.  So I’ll put that too on the back burner.  And as I just looked at the application, I would need to apply by October 1 in order to be admitted in March of the following year, so the calendar made my decision for me.  A wimpy sigh of relief.  Postponement.

My Bucket List is filled with energy, as it often is, but I wrote a list from scratch in the back of my new journal.  Same categories as I’ve always had . . . travel, create, clean out/sort.  And a big “NO”.  Do NOT consider doing National Novel Writing this year.  Well, NaNo has begun, and we’re halfway through November, so my resolve stuck.  Good for me.

My children have been up in the Fort lately, because of their step-mother’s impending and now completed death from pancreatic cancer.  The Celebration of Life was three days ago.  We celebrate life when someone dies, but do we celebrate our own lives every day?  There’s something to think about.  I commit to celebrating something in my own life every day.  I celebrate quiet.  I celebrate a good night’s sleep.  I celebrate my good health.  I most definitely celebrate my relationship with Neil.

The Camino is on my mind, though I swore while I was walking the Norte that I would NEVER want to do another Camino.  I think I lied.  The walking takes hold of one and doesn’t let go.  Choose a different, less mountainous path, and perhaps travel for a shorter distance, three weeks not six.  I’m not setting any dates, but though Neil has that bag hanging over me in case I talk too much about another walk, I can dream.  I can celebrate my life.  I can plan for the birthday in 2016 that will force me to lay claim to septuagenarian status.  And to be grateful.  Now it’s back to working on my list . . . checking some of it off before the holidays.

Thanks for listening.

 

Posted in Miscellany | 19 Comments

Leavin’ On A Jet Plane . . . for ITALY!!

Monday, October 12, 2015.  Tomorrow Laurie D leaves for Finisterre and Muxia, and will return to Santiago de Compostela in a bit less than a week.  The other Laurie and Salvatore left last night on a train to Barcelona, and then a flight back to Minneapolis.  Ria will return to Germany today by a series of trains, and I get up early enough to have breakfast with her and walk her to the train station.  We’ve had a great trip, together and separately, and we agree that our plan worked out perfectly . . . spontaneously allowing us a lot of time together in the evenings, solo walking time during the day, and a couple of stretches in which we were in completely different places.  These latter times gave us each an opportunity to meet new people, knowing we would have three nights in Santiago at the Seminario Mayor before we each end our Camino journey.

Though I was to stay in Santiago until Thursday the 15th, I changed my flight to Milan airport to tomorrow, added two days to my Air BnB arrangements in Gallarate, near the airport, and I will fly out tomorrow afternoon.  Neil and my friends Tim and Pat will join me on Friday, for 11 days in Italy.  I’ve done all I can do in Santiago, all I want to do (but for another foot massage from the incredible Carmen), but since today is a national holiday, her office is closed.

Ah, such a treat after the Camino!

Ah, such a treat after the Camino!

So I’m sorting out my stuff, packing differently, more efficiently, perhaps, and will head for the airport tomorrow late morning.

I’ll leave this post with some of the images I wanted to include but didn’t, and some from my time in Santiago this year.  And I am writing some post-Camino musings but haven’t completed them yet.  Actually, I will probably never complete them, but will post them here soon.

This is an elevation drawing of my first few days on the Camino. Nice and easy, yes?

This is an elevation drawing of Day 4 on the Camino . . . from Zumaia to Deba.  Nice and easy, yes?

And here are some photos from my time at the Seminario Mayor:

The Garden at the Seminario, surrounded by ancient stone walls

The Garden at the Seminario, surrounded by ancient stone walls

The view out my bedroom window at the Seminario

The view out my bedroom window at the Seminario

Not my hotel . . . the Parador

Not my hotel . . . the Parador

A piece of art I couldn't even be tempted to buy, because of the three-day holiday, when many shops were closed . . . but what a piece to remind me of the "Looking Glass" aspects of the Camino . . .

A piece of art I couldn’t even be tempted to buy, because of the three-day holiday, when many shops were closed . . . but what a piece to remind me of the “Looking Glass” aspects of the Camino . . .

A bit that came to me via Facebook last week. A good lesson as I return from the Camino . . .

A bit that came to me via Facebook last week. A good lesson as I return from the Camino . . .

Lots more to process.  I will return to this site . . . (and what would we do without ellipses?)

Posted in Beginnings, Camino de Santiago, Endings, Women Walking | Tagged , , , | 7 Comments

Last Days in Santiago de Compostela

NOTE:  Another fu-bar . . . an earlier version of this write posted itself!  So you will get an amended one now, and if you try to read the other one, you will get a message that there is no such thing, I guess..  Sorry for that.

Thursday, October 8, 2015.  Well, I got my Compostela and I still value my Camino Credentiale so much more.  Here is how my walk on the Camino del Norte is represented with the sellos (stamps) I collected along the way:

P1030877Yesterday I picked up a little flyer for a Foot Reflexology place.  Just what I had promised my feet all this time.  I also got a map from the Tourist Information office, with a location for a real laundromat.  Since I can’t seem to upload any of my photos to my WordPress website, I might as well wash my clothes.  The location is between the Praza de Galicia, a major bus stop, and the train station.  I’m familiar with both, so it’s easy to find.  While my clothes are washing, I go next door for, what else, a cafe con leche.  And I try the photo thing there, hoping it is just the Seminario Mayor’s wifi, not my computer.  The photos go wherever I want them to go, zip, zip, zip.  Sigh of relief.

Friday, October 9, 2015.  Laundry done, I try to find the reflexology office, and after a bit of confusion, I make an appointment on the phone with an Italian woman for later this afternoon.  And it too is very close . . . right around the corner from the street where all the information offices are located.  So back I go to my room, unload my now clean and dry laundry, all of it but the minimal stuff I am wearing.  On the way back to the reflexology appointment, I step into a little bookstore and peruse the shelf with the English language books.  An Agatha Christie catches my eye.  Never did read any of her stuff until our Couples’ Book Group read And Then There Were None earlier this year.  So I selected The Death of Roger Ackroyd and another that looked interesting by Lily King called Euphoria.  Turns out this latter was one of the five best fiction books of 2014 selected by the New York Times.  Good enough endorsement for me.

I have a Kindle app on this computer and on my phone, but I wanted to read a really easy book, and Christie fills that bill.  I suspect I’ll finish it in a day and pass it on to Ria, who likes to read books in English.

Funny, but I am not inclined to hang out with the hoards of accomplished pilgrim in the “Pilgrim House”, where you can have tea, reflect on your insights, pray together, etc.  The tea is my “cup of . . . “, but I can do that on my own.  So I bought the books . . . and when it’s time for me to have my reflexology appointment, I walk back over to that part of the town.  Carmen Isabettini is my darling young Italian massage therapist.  Her hands are strong but not TOO strong, so she massages each toe, each part of my foot, and comments . . . “oh, are you having hip problems?  I can feel that in this place on your foot.”  And the same for my chronic neck buzzing.  She asks when she works on another part of my foot, “Neck issues?”

She says, which I know, too, that the pressure points used for acupuncture, acupressure, and reflexology are the same or st least similar . . . our bodies are connected in their parts, no matter what method of treatment you use.  I begin with a 30 minute appointment but when that is finished, I ask for another 30 minutes.  I just want to stay there all day!

Carmen is from Fano, in LeMarche.  Came to Spain and fell in love so she stayed.  I ask whether she is still in love, and she says, “No, but I have a 7-year old daughter, and I’m in love with her!”  Ah, that’s the way it goes so often, yes?  I enjoyed my time with her and wish she were in Fort Collins so I could have regular appointments with her.

Ria is coming back from Finisterre this afternoon, and my friend Laurie D from Fort Collins is walking in to Santiago later tomorrow.  I look forward to introducing them to one another.

Newly finished pilgrims pour up the steps of the Cathedral, through its doors for the pilgrim masses, into various hostals and other collections of accommodations, including the Seminario Mayor San Martin Pinario, my own Santiago home sweet home.

When Ria arrives, soon after noon, she gets settled and we begin our wanderings, much as we did two years ago.  Her daughter’s birthday will be the day after she returns to Germany and she wants to find something non-schlocky for her.  Early evening we attend the Mass at the Cathedral, because Ria wants to see the botofumiero swing again. So do I, and the church is completely packed.  We arrive 45 minutes before the Mass begins and we have to stand in the outside aisle for two hours. But the botofumiero does indeed swing, and it’s very impressive.

For description and a very dramatic little video of a dramatic moment at the end of the Mass, check here.  If you have seen the movie The Way, with Martin Sheen, you will already know what this is:

http://www.catedraldesantiago.es/en/node/482

When the Mass is over, we look for dinner somewhere.  Soup is all we really want, soup and Tarta de Santiago, of course.  Then bedtime.

The breakfasts included with the rooms at our Seminario are sumptuous, compared to the Camino breakfasts I have had for six weeks.  Yogurt, fruit, meat, cheese, fresh sliced tomatoes, cereal, toast and jam, two kinds of juice, and all variety of coffee and tea,  It’s a great value, and if you aren’t staying here, you can still come for breakfast for Euro 5.  Helluva deal.

Laurie, Salvadore, Ria and me . . . breakfast at Seminario Mayor San Martin Pinario

Laurie, Salvadore, Ria and me . . . breakfast at Seminario Mayor San Martin Pinario

Saturday, October 10, 2015.  Laurie D joins us for breakfast, and we plan to have dinner together tonight at the Italian restaurant recommended by Carmen, the Reflexology person.   In the meantime, Ria and I wander the street full of restaurants that advertise lists of strange shellfish unknown to us.  Two years ago, we took a chance on one of these mystery plates and ended up laughing more than eating, questioning the origin of each of these things.  Elephant toes?  Etc.  Now we are at the front of “our” past experimental restaurant, and at least we will take photos, though we agree we won’t venture into that culinary mystery again.

Memories of days of olde . . .

Memories of days of olde . . .

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Ria and Laurie D - Dinner at an Italian Restaurant in Spain!

Ria and Laurie D – Dinner at an Italian Restaurant in Spain!

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The Cathedral at night, though my photo doesn’t do it justice.

Sunday, October 12, 2015.  I visit a free Ramon Sanchez Estalote Photography exhibit, just across the street from the Cathedral.  Ria had gone yesterday and she highly recommended it . . . reminds me of the Vivian Maier documentary.  Real people living real lives in the first half of the 20th century in Santiago.  Candid shots in the streets . . . wide variety of images.  You can google him if you’d like, and you’ll get some images, but I can’t put the translated links here for some reason.

But while I am on the third floor of the exhibit hall, I look out the window toward the Cathedral and take some of my own candid photos . . .

A gathering of a group in the rain . . .

A gathering of a group in the rain . . .

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A mass of umbrellas grows and grows . . .

I wonder who lives behind these windows?

I wonder who lives behind these windows?

I have another 36 hours in Santiago before I shift my body and emotion to Italy!  Soon . . .

Posted in Miscellany | Tagged , | 2 Comments

To Santiago de Compostela – The Walk In

Wednesday, October 7, 2015.

Okay, today’s the day.  A short walk, less than five km, and I will be at the foot of the steps to the Cathedral de Santiago de Compostela.  No breakfast at the Polish albergue today, so I head to the closest bar, and Laurie and Salvadore will meet me there.  This bar has the best bread I’ve tasted on the entire Camino, round soft loaves, and I buy two of them to take with me, as well as consuming one with cheese and prosciutto (serrano ham in Spain) for breakfast.

Laurie and Salvadore do the same, and then we begin.  Almost immediately the path takes us through ugly, bugly areas . . . literally a walk over an interstate, and into the industrial area of Santiago.  Then the outskirts with lots of banks and gas stations and electrical parts store . . . not at all like either of my Camino paths, but certainly typical of a large city.  Gotta get through the ugly to get to the historical, at least in European large cities.

On the Camino Frances, the strong recommendation from John Brierley’s book was a bus through the entrance to Burgos and Leon, and even on the Norte, getting out of Bilbao and Gijon was ugly, with recommendations to take the metro from Bilbao to Areeta/Portugalete and a short bus or taxi out of the worst part of industrial Gijon.  But for the Santiago last march it’s just unthinkable to taxi in when we’ve all walked so far and for so long,  So here we go.

It really only takes about 90 minutes to get into some semblance of the old city, and this year, I’m not greeted with yellow construction barriers blocking off the real entry to the Cathedral.  Laurie and Salvadore break away from me at the turn for the Seminario MENOR (not my Seminario MAYOR) and we agree to meet later this afternoon at a designated place I know, just down from the office where we will all get our Coomplstelas, the certificate of completion for whatever Camino each of us has walked.

A good glimpse of the Cathedral in Santiago

A good glimpse of the Cathedral in Santiago

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People gathering along the side steps of the Cathedral. At the top, a bar with outdoor tables . . . feeding the arriving masses

The stiff, kneeling beggars are still around the Cathedral. And the street beggars, fairly well clothed, are everywhere, more intrusive, often coming right up to you in an almost intimidating manner. A shame

The stiff, kneeling supplicants are still around the Cathedral.

Some of these kneeling beggars even have a backpack or a blanket folded nicely under their knees.  Here and there a morose old woman with a black cape and babushka, holding out a paper cup, shaking it, saying in a dolorous voice, “Por favore . . . por favore . . . ”  And the wandering street beggars, most of whom are fairly well clothed, are everywhere, more intrusive, often coming right up to you in an almost intimidating manner. A shame.  Just as everywhere else, you can’t tell which ones are truly suffering and which ones go home to the quantities of money they make from these forays.

I give money to street musicians but not to beggars.  At home, I am gathering the habit of taking a sandwich and a bottle of water to people who claim they have nothing to eat.  The truly homeless are grateful for the food and I feel better than giving the a bit of money, frankly.  But the kneeling ones don’t have signs.  Just a long stiff frame and two hands out for money.

The line at the Pilgrim’s office is long and out the door curling around the Via do Vilar.  I decide to wait until tomorrow or later tonight when the line is shorter.  Wasn’t even sure I would get a Compostela this year.  I have one, and my Camino Credenciale, with all the stamps, is again the most important to me, but now I have a second.  Actually a third, because someone told me about a St. Francis of Assisi Compostela, commemorating the 600th or 800th anniversary of St Francis’ walk into Santiago.  I walked on a stone sidewalk behind my Seminario to a lovely church of St. Francis, down the long inner pathway on the left side of the pews to a sign that said “Sacristy”.  There was an old priest, delighted to have a visit from pilgrims who have heard about this particular compostela.  He sits for two hours in the morning and two hours in the early evening so he can give these special certificates to those who come looking for them.

First tasks are to pick up the things I mailed to myself a few weeks ago.  I find Ivar Revke’s office, and pick up a box of items I decided I could live without . . . the things I mailed from San Sebastian on August 31.  I discover that Ivar and his wife lived in Fort Collins for two years and worked at CSU.  Small world.

Next I go to the Correos, the post office, and get a small blister pack I sent Castro Urdiales on September 7.  Easy, and I’m relieved.  I take my packages back to my little monastic room and go out into the old city again.  Now I wander the streets and I’m surprised by how much I remember from last time.  The shabby old Hospidale Santa Cruz, where Ria and I stayed the first two nights we were in Santiago two years ago.  Another bleah . . . nice old man who runs the place, but a depressing set of rooms and a very old bathroom down the hall.  Not any more for me.

A favorite bakery, the little grocery store, a restaurant where Cristel, Ria and I had lunch two years ago, etc.  The bagpipes being played in the tunnel from my side of the Cathedral.  A variety of street musicians.  And more of those kneeling supplicants scattered around the blocks.

I meet Laurie and Salvadore a bit later than we had planned, but they seem to be the kind of free spirits for whom time has a wiggly meaning.   We return to “my” Seminario, sit in the common room and have a coffee, a beer, and Salvadore has his favorite, a glass of cold milk with a half glass of orange juice poured into it.  BLEAH!  He says it’s delicious and a Mexican tradition.  Maybe one day I’ll try it.  But I’m surprised the milk doesn’t curdle immediately when the orange juice hits it.

I have food in my pack, left over from the most recent “no food” days, and I have bought a pack of ham and a pack of cheese in the little grocery store.  For dinner, I stay in the Common Room, practically my living space for the next few days, and have a glass of wine from the bar and my ham and cheese with the fabulous roll I bought this morning.

Writing in earnest now, though I’ll soon find that with a full house at this residence, the wifi will prove slower than useful.  But at least I can write on my Word doc and add photos later.  First night after the long haul, nearly six full weeks, even with the distances I skipped.  My body knows I put in at least 400 hard km, and another 150 or more that were not so hard.  Fewer total km this time than last, but four times the effort for at least half of it.  So I bow to myself in the mirror.

One of several 'statues" around the Cathedral, drawing pilgrims, tourists, and money

One of several ‘statues” around the Cathedral, drawing pilgrims, tourists, and money

Posted in Miscellany | 6 Comments

An Aside . . .

For those of you who follow, especially who receive my posts on your e-mail, lately I notice that when I edit a post,  the final version does not always show up in the original e-mail to myself, but does show up on the website itself.  So if you have the time, patience, and inclination, you might click on the very bottom of your e-mailed daily post from me, where it has the URL.  Then you’ll get “the whole package”.

And while I’m at it, i will apologize for any typos, grammar glitches, punctuation errors.  It’s been more than enough to keep up with the events of each day, and now I try to read the write aloud to myself before I post it, but sometimes . . . shit still happens.

And finally, I would like to thank everyone who has taken an interest in my journey this year (and the last one as well).  It feels good (most of the time) to know others are sharing my walk, good times and bad.

I’m not finished writing . . . another week in Santiago, including the final day’s walk, and I’m working on all of that, but I realized today that this most recent post published before I was ready (again) so I went back to edit, and it only shows up if you refresh the web page, not just if you read the message in your e-mail.  For those of you who read on FB, I think you get “the final answer.”

Now back to work!

Posted in Miscellany | 1 Comment

Santa Irene to Monte De Gozo

Tuesday, October 6, 2015.

Breakfast this morning at the private albergue in Santa Irene, and then it’s ponchos again.  Laurie (now this is the new Laurie . . . soon I’ll see Fort Collins Laurie, Laurie D.  I think this new Laurie is Laurie W.)  and Salvadore leave at about the same time I do, and we walk together most of the way to Monte De Gozo.  Laurie has LONG legs, so she goes faster, while Salvadore and I mosey along.  The rain stops after three hours or so, and everything is easier after that.  I’ve decided I definitely will stop in Monte de Gozo today, about 18 km from Santa Irene, and less than 5 km from the Cathedral in Santiago.  I want to “walk in” rested, and it’s supposed to be fairly nice tomorrow.  At least no rain for a day or two.

This stretch isn’t fabulous visually, but there are a few sights that catch my eye:

Don't kow exactly what it is, but I liked it

Don’t know exactly what it is, but I liked it, especially against the oncoming blue sky

Someone's very weil-made little altar, with a figure inside the wooden cage

Someone’s very well-made little altar, complete with arrow and a figure inside the wooden cage

Salvadore and I walk a bit behind Laurie again, but I know we are heading toward a good place to get some food.  Just before we turn off the road, we see this man . . .

Someone on a very slow

Someone on a very slow “camino” He must be 90, but walks at a slow, shaky but steady pace, and his own stick

I head toward the Casa and restaurant, but Salvadore checks with the man to see if he needs help.  A very considerate gesture, but the man looks like he’s doing fine, and he probably walks this road every day.  He pretty much tells Salvatore this and thanks him, I imagine.

And as I approach the Casa de Santiago (?) , I see this familiar sign:

A familiar sign . . . but now many of them, leading all the way to the Cathedral in Santiago

A familiar sign . . . but now I will see many of them, leading all the way to the Cathedral in Santiago

Finally, I get my large salad and some orange juice, and oh, yes, some Tarta de Santiago.  An excellent lunch.  Several small groups of pilgrims stop here for the last real meal before the final little push to the end.  Laurie has heard about a Polish albergue in Monte de Gozo and she is determined to find it.  No one seems to have heard about it but a week or more ago, she met two older women, sisters, who are headed there, and one of them has a daughter who will be a hospitalero there for awhile.

We continue our walk, and along the side of the path, I see what seems to be an empty cardboard candy box, red and white with a bluebird in a circle in the middle.  I am about to make a comment about littering when Salvadore says he thinks it’s a cell phone.  I stop to look and it is definitely someone’s phone.  So I pick it up, much like I picked up that women’s Keen Sandal on my last Camino.  Not sure how I’ll find the owner, but perhaps someone will walk back to see what happened to it.

Just like the Keen Sandal incident, Laurie has asked a group of women ahead of us if any of them lost their phone.  No, no, they all claim.  No one has lost a phone in this group.  So she continues to walk, but the group is waiting for us as we approach.  “Are you the people who found the cell phone?”  one of them asks.  “I think it’s mine.”

“What color is the case?” I say.  “White and red and blue,” says the woman.  So I hand it to her, she hugs me joyously and with great relief, and wants to have her friends take a photo of us.  Really “Deja Vu all over again” as they say.  Now we are all walking in a group, and we come upon the concrete Camino statue I’ve been waiting for. We take turns photographing one another.

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She lost her phone on the path. I spotted it, Salvadore recognized it as a cell phone, and here she is, a happy walker again . . .

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Laurie and Salvadore

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Here I am. Same statue, different clothing, different year, but a happy peregrino., arms brown like a farmer’s

We are nearly to Monte de Gozo and haven’t seen anything about the Polish albergue.  Laurie is far ahead of us now, but finally, just before the huge old Monte de Gozo albergue is a small sign that points left “200 m” indicating the place we’re searching for.  Laurie has already been there, signed up the three of us, and left her pack and poles, apparently to come looking for us on our way, but she took a “short cut” which completely missed the road we were on, so she and Salvadore played about a half hour or more of hunt and peck, hide and seek before they were reunited in our little bunk room.  And the daughter who is to be the hospitalero is a young woman whom I met in the Arzua albergue two nights ago.  Small world.

So tomorrow we will arrive.  I always remember the quote , attributed to everyone from Robert Louis Stevenson to the Little Prince, but it doesn’t matter who said it.  “Perhaps it is better to travel hopefully than to arrive.”  Last time I did NOT want to get to Santiago.  Didn’t want my walking to end.  But this time, I’m ready.  Ready to write and stay in my own little room at the Seminario Mayor, ready to find a laundromat to wash ALL of my clothes.  Ready to see Laurie D’Audney, my long-time friend from Fort Collins, who will arrive on the weekend from walking the Camino Frances.  Ready to meet up with Ria again, who has gone to Finisterre and will be back in two days. And I am still amazed that I made it, walking on the Norte.  But here I am.  Yay for me . . .

The monument at Monte de Gozo

The monument at Monte de Gozo

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