We thought the postings for our Camino journey were over. We have been home since June 13. Most of our gear is unpacked and stored. However a few “bits and pieces” continue to remind us of our incredible journey on The Way. The last reminder is a piece of paper.
When one reaches the end of The Way at Santiago de Compostela, the first stop is usually the Pilgrim office where one receives the Certificate of Completion. While standing in the 2.5 hour line waiting to obtain our certificates, a lady from the UK stopped to talk with us. She was with an organization that welcomed English speaking pilgrims when they arrived to receive their certificates. They offered coffee, tea, conversation and help if needed in a room on the second floor of the building we were in. The lady handed us a piece of paper which went into a pocket in one of our backpacks.
The paper surfaced recently after traveling home from Spain to Boise in a backpack. A prayer is written on the paper. It refers to “our loved ones”. For all of our family and friends who journeyed on The Way with us, consider yourselves as one of “our loved ones”. We are truly blessed to have so many caring “loved ones” who walked The Way with us in our hearts. Following is the prayer.
“We thank you, God, for bringing us safely here and for the many blessings and gifts of our pilgrimage.
The company and kindness of strangers, the beauty of The Way, the joy of traveling light, the strength to go on even in difficulties are reminders of your presence within us and among us.
Now that we have arrived, we remember all our loved ones, especially those who have been in our hearts and minds as we walked the Camino. As we return home, give us courage to live in the spirit of the Camino so that we may make this world a more loving and peaceful place for everyone.
We make our prayer through Jesus who is The Way, the Truth and the Life. Amen”
This posting is in memory of Pastor Moll. May his smile from Heaven touch all of our hearts.
1 Corinthians 1:18 For the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of G0d.
On the Camino, it is said that the Camino always provides. We found that to be repeatedly true although my belief is that God is the one providing. When we reached Santiago one cross remained to be given away or left somewhere. It was not left in Santiago. The two days that we were in Santiago, the cross did not enter my mind.
There was never any conscious thought about where to leave the crosses but I seemed to know where a cross should be left or given. We are in Madrid now as tourists. It is a beautiful historical city. Our hotel is about two blocks from the royal palace which will be one of our stops. The opera house and art museum are on our list also.
Yesterday, we traveled to the ancient city of Toledo, Spain on a tour bus. The drive to Toledo takes about 60 minuets. The tour was to last all day. The city of Toledo was founded by the Romans in about 190 BC. It was the original capitol of Spain and was known as the city of three cultures for the cultural influences of Christians, Jews and Muslims. Toledo has a long history in the production of bladed weapons. Damascus steel or hammered/layered steel was founded in Toledo. Today, Toledo is considered the religious capital of Spain. It is a beautiful city.
We got off the bus to start walking through the city. As we were standing in line to enter the cathedral, a lady behind us asked if we had walked the Camino. I had a light weight shoulder bag on that had Camino de Santiago on it. We answered that we had just finished walking the Camino from St Jean Pied de Port, France. The lady said that she was to start walking the Camino next Tuesday. Her name was Sherry and she was from Long Beach, California. With halting speech she said that her husband passed away about six months ago. She decided that she needed to walk the Camino. The cross called out loud and clear. It was in my bag. Sherry was given cross #43.
We toured the remainder of the city and ate lunch with Sherry. When we arrived back in Madrid, we gave her a hug and reminded her the Camino always provides. She starts her journey in less than a week. I told her to carry her husband in her heart.
Romans 15:24 I plan to do so when I go to Spain. I hope to see you while passing through and to have you assist me on my journey there, after I have enjoyed your company for a while.
Day 38 — 11.65 Miles — Pedrouzo to Santiago de Compostela, June 4. On our last day of walking, the rain returned before 7:30 am. We were on the home stretch after walking for 37 days. It was difficult to come to terms with the knowledge that our journey was ending. The last 37 days have been difficult and body strengthening but most of all heart warming.
Our feet seemed to erupt with blisters as if we had hives. Bandages, Vaseline, sock liners and numerous other “fixes” were tried. The blisters started about the same time on The Way for everyone. They started at the steep downhill walk into Zuburi. One man broke his leg on that section of The Way. Bridgett fell. Her head wound required stitches. We managed and survived together with other pilgrims.
The cold and the heat also tested us. The cold was not as bad for us as the heat. Living in Idaho, we were accustomed to cold mornings so we had gloves and layered our clothes. Others were not as well prepared. The heat with no shade was difficult. With the heat came early mornings starting at 5:30.
The emotional and physical support received within the pilgrim community is what makes the walk heartwarming. One is never alone. The bonds with others that we have formed will last out lifetimes. These words do not come close to describing the feelings generated by The Way and this journey. We were hoping to see those who have touched our lives one more time in Santiago.
With joyful and heavy hearts, we arrived in Santiago at 11:30 am. Pismo Beach Kathy and her sister Karen were walking in front of us. We said good bye just before reaching our hostel. They walked on.
We checked in our room and left our back packs while we continued to the Pilgrim Office or in Spanish the Oficina del Peregrino. The office is located near the Cathedral. Guards are stationed at the entrance to the office. Only pilgrims are admitted. We walked into the building and were directed to get in the queue. The queue went down a hallway, turned right and continued down another hallway. It then went out a door, across a courtyard and down a flight of stairs to a large patio/park area.
As we were walking to the end of the line, we walked into Ian and Patricia from Wales! They had rented bikes in Burgos. We had not expected to see them again. The feeling of elation we felt at seeing them was unbelievable. We gave hugs all around and made plans to meet for dinner. Our place in the queue was at the bottom of the stairs. It was about 12:45 pm.
After standing in line for about 15 minutes, something began to happen that other previous Camino pilgrims have mentioned. People who we did not expect to see again or who we had not seen in a long time began to appear. Pismo Beach Kathy and Karen arrived. They were about three people behind us. Yoel was behind us also. We had met Yoel in another village. He asked us to watch his backpack while he went inside a cafe. Yoel was born in Mexico but he now lives in Georgia. We all stood in line for 2.5 hours so we had time to really talk with him. Other people who we might have talked with one or two times in a cafe or restaurant appeared.
When we finally made registration desk, the process was fast. We were required to complete a form with our name, country, age, sex, profession and the starting point of our walk. We were given two certificates. An official checked the stamps on our Peregrino Passports to ascertain that we had the required stamps. The official wrote our name on a beautiful certificate that verified in Latin that we had completed the pilgrimage. A second certificate that verified the number of kilometers walked was also issued. We purchased tubes to protect the certificates and left. It was over…..but we were smiling.
Our dinner with Ian and Patricia was at 7:30. We did not make it to the dinner. Google maps works really well in the US but not very well in Spain. We got so lost that we went into a cafe and asked them to call a taxi. Even if we were just two blocks away from our destination, we were fine with paying a taxi. The taxi driver could not find the address either. Patricia emailed us with more directions but we still could not find them. My phone’s battery was almost dead and it was past 8pm. We decided to go back to our room. Disappointment is a mild description of what we were feeling.
Hungry and disappointed, we decided to eat in the restaurant attached to our lodging. We sat down and the kids from Missouri walked in. The sight of them cheered us immediately. They are from Southwest Baptist University in Bolivar, Missouri. They invited us to eat with them. Camino stories were exchanged with laughter. Camino stories were told that strengthen one’s faith. It had happened again. We had not expected to see the kids from Missouri again. Their youthful spirts are bright lights in this world.
Two days were planned for our stay in Santiago. Day 39 was cool and drizzling. We walked to the Cathedral area as there was to be a Pilgrim Mass/Blessing at 12 noon in the Convento de San Francisco. The Cathedral of Santiago is under repairs and will not be in use until 2020.
I waited in at the back of the Cathedral of Santiago while Ron walked back to a cafe that he had noticed. As he walked inside, there were Frances and Rene from New Zealand. It had happened again. We were hoping to see them so email addresses could be exchanged. We were all smiling as we parted again.
The mass at the Convento de San Francisco was in Spanish but it was a nice service. The large church was full. People were standing at the sides of the pews. We saw Norbert from a distance who had been traveling with the Boston College kids. Unfortunately, there were so many people in the church, we were unable to find him after the service. While we were watching for Norbert outside the church, Peter from Germany walked out. It had happened again. Peter mentioned that he was going to a birthday party tonight. We were meeting Steve and Susan tonight for Steve’s birthday celebration. Tonight we celebrated a birthday and reunited with other pilgrims. We also met other pilgrims for the first time. Their pictures are below. Steve was also able to give us Marshall’s email address. Marshall lives in the Boise area. We have not seen him for about two weeks.
There is one cross remaining . It did not call to me on The Way into Santiago or in Santiago. Maybe it is supposed to travel back home to Idaho with us. We leave for Madrid on Thursday June 6th.
In a town of about 100,000 people with over 500 to 600 pilgrims arriving daily, it was difficult to believe that seeing any of the people who walked with us would be possible. It had happened and we were glad. We have walked 523 miles or 843 kilometers in 37 days. This has been one of the hardest endeavors, physically and mentally, either one us has ever attempted but we would not give up a minute of our journey.
To all of you who had the confidence in us that we would complete our journey, we say thank you. Your spiritual and emotional support accompanied us on The Way. We will forever be grateful.
Psalm 45:7 You have loved righteousness and hated wickedness; Therefore God, Your God, has anointed You with the oil of joy above Your fellows.
Day 37 —15.17 Miles — Ribadiso de Baixo to Pedrouzo, June 3. Today was a wet day. Ponchos were needed as it rained all morning. During our 37 days on the Camino, there has only been rain on three of those mornings. We have been fortunate.
We had a new experience today. The Way led us through eucalyptus forests. The smell was very refreshing. It reminded us of walking through the pine forests in Idaho. Eucalyptus trees grow very tall and and provide shade. Their canopy also provided protection from the rain. The bark falls off the trunks in strips leaving the ground covered with thin strips to cushion our walk. The trees are not native to Spain however.
The walk was very quiet today. Heads were down and feet were plodding on the wet path. Two final memorials were placed on The Way. Cross #41 was hung on a memorial for Miguel Lamas. Cross #42 was hung on a memorial for Guillermo Watt. He had only 15 miles to walk before he died.
We reached Pedrouzo about the same time as Steve and Susan. Ed and Melissa emailed tonight. They are also staying in Pedrouzo tonight.
The final walk is tomorrow which is Pedrouzo to Santiago. Nearing the end is bittersweet. Buen Camino. Sharon and Ron.
Psalm 118:24 This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.
Day 36 — 17.01 Miles — Palas de Rei to Ribadiso de Baixo, June 2. Today was cloudy when we started to walk. The clouds made a beautiful sunrise. We would like to see a sunset in Spain but we are always asleep before the sun goes down.
The path was mostly up and down again on gravel. Gravel is good for walking. Today there were several statues and other different structures that were on The Way. We assume the structures that we are beginning to see are very old above the ground family crypts. One can see between the slats on the sides and see that the “crypts” are empty. Were the remains moved to a cemetery? We will attempt to ascertain the purpose of the structures.
We ate lunch in a peregrino park along The Way today. We sat with Steve and Susan from Valencia, Spain for a short time. We started the Camino on the same day. Steve and Susan are from the United States but they just moved to Spain. Steve loves to take pictures of flowers along The Way.
The views are still beautiful. We crossed a stream with a stone bridge and walked through a tunnel made by trees. Cross #40 was placed on an engraved stone today. The engraving said, “2nd Thessalonians 2: 1-14”
We got settled in our hostel for the night and headed to the social area which was the only cafe in town. Pismo Beach Kathy and her sister Karen from Oklahoma were there. It was a pleasant afternoon as we feel so at home with them. Later that evening, we ate with Kathy, Karen, Steve and Susan. Tomorrow morning we will all start walking in the same direction but at different times. I suspect we will all meet again.
The next stop will be in Pedrouzo. Buen Camino. Sharon and Ron.
Romans 14:10 But why do you judge your brother? Or why do you show contempt for your brother? For we shall all stand before the judgement seat of Christ.
Day 35 — 16.08 — Portomarín to Palas de Rei, June 1. This was another hot day. It was 58 degrees at 5:30 in the morning so we knew the afternoon would be very uncomfortable.
There was a noticeable difference in the atmosphere on The Way. People would pass us and not utter a word. Buen Camino is no longer a familiar greeting except by people who have been walking The Way for awhile. It is easy to tell the newcomers from the seasoned walkers. The newcomers are all clean and shiny. There is a certain lightness to their step especially those who are not carrying back packs. Many are paying transport companies 5 euros a day to drive their back packs to their next hostel. It is also crowded on the path and in the cafe’s. We have noticed graffiti aimed at the newcomers. One in particular said, “Where is your backpack? Tourigrino!” There is a warning in our guidebook written by John Brierley. Part of his warning says, “The last thing they (new arrivals) need is aloofness built on a false sense of superiority. None of us can know the inner motivation or outer circumstances of another. A loving pilgrim welcomes all they meet along the path with an open mind and open heart…without judgement of any kind.” We are trying to remember his warning.
Rene and Frances from New Zealand walked with us for a short distance. We met them two days ago in Fillobal where we stayed in the same hostel. We hope to see them again before the end of our journey.
Our hostel was in the middle of Palas de Rei and we had to walk up another hill to it! Maybe tomorrow’s hostel will be at the bottom of a hill. Hopefully we have an attitude adjustment over night!
The next stop is Ribadiso de Baixo. Buen Camino. Sharon and Ron.
Judges 18:5-6 Then they said to him, “Please inquire of God to learn whether our journey will be successful.” The priest answered them, “Go in peace. Your journey has the Lord’s approval.”
Day 34 — 14.50 Miles — Sarria to Portomarín, May 31. The Way started at concrete stairs that took us past the church. The climb had begun.
Beginning today, peregrino passports are required to be stamped two times a day. The peregrino passport is a book or a folded card in which a hostel, church, police station or cafe stamps with their name and date. At the end of The Way, the peregrino passport is used as proof that one walked from one town to the next.
We stopped at a cafe outside of Sarria to get one of the required stamps. Ed, Melissa and their friend, Donna, were just leaving. Pismo Beach Kathy who we met in Madrid and her sister Karen were eating at the cafe also. The Way was crowded with newcomers who were only walking 100 kilometers. The “old” group stopped later at a cafe at the 7 mile mark.
More unusual trees were passed today and the scenery stayed beautiful. Some of the fields have been harvested. Another dog wanted his picture taken after he had his head patted. We took a picture of a home’s beautiful very old front door. Numerous doors on houses in Spain are the doors from the original construction of the home. There are homes still in use here that were built over 500 years ago. The doors are heavy and very thick.
We reached the 100 kilometer point about 9 miles out of Sarria. We can hardly believe 34 days have passed since we started walking in St. Jean Pied de Port, France. Only four days of walking remain! The Way has been hard, easy, joyful, sad, funny, loving……the feelings go on and on. Most of all we feel lucky to have experienced The Way.
Before reaching Portomarín, we found another engraved stone. Cross # 39 was draped over a stone engraved with Daniel 7: 13-27.
The town of Portomarín came into view from a steep hilltop. The town sits on a lake/river that has been dammed. We walked across a long bridge and then up some very steep streets to our hostel. The streets reminded us of San Francisco…..and it was hot.
Palas de Rei will be our next stop for the night. We will be walking up hills and down hills again. Buen Camino. Sharon and Ron.
Mark 11:24 Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.
Day 33 — 14.18 Miles — Fillobal to Sarria, May 30. Today was a special day. It is the last day before we walk into Sarria. Beginning tomorrow, the number of Camino pilgrims will increase substantially. We will probably not have quiet walks down the path together as The Way will become crowded with new pilgrims. If one begins to walk in Sarria, the same completion certificate is issued as someone who begins to walk from St Jean Pied de Port, France. Numerous people choose the easier Way.
The Enchanted Way began within a few steps of leaving the hostel. The sun was just starting to rise and shine a filtered light through the trees. We were the only ones on The Way. The majority of the path today was shaded. The air was cool and fresh within the shade of many very large trees. A chestnut tree in the village of Ramil caught our attention immediately upon seeing it. The diameter of the truck is more than 8 meters. There are many irregularities in the trunk. It is estimated to be over 800 years old.
We would walk through tunnels of green only to come out at the other end to very soft green fields. This was repeated throughout the day. We would walk for long periods of time and not see another person. In the late morning, there was a split in the path. A new option was to continue going straight down a paved road or veer right on the original Camino. We chose the original Camino therefore we veered to the right and continued on a gravel path. Again, we were alone. We continued down the enchanted Way for about two or three miles until a fork in the road occurred. There was no yellow arrow to point us in the correct direction. Should we take the left or the right fork in the road? There were no houses or farms near the path and no traffic. Choosing the wrong path could add miles to an already long walk.
There were few boot footprints on the right fork. Ron decided to walk down the left fork to look for boot prints while I stayed at the beginning and checked my feet. After putting my boots on, I said a prayer asking for the Lord’s guidance in choosing the correct path. I had no sooner said, “Amen” then an elderly lady with two dogs walked around a curve in the road about three feet from me. I said, “Camino aqui?” and pointed to the left. She said, “Si, Camino” and pointed to the left. The elderly lady was given cross #38. I petted her dogs and took her picture. She smiled and walked away down the road. We never saw her again but she was heaven sent. We continued our on the Enchanted Way until we walked into the town of Sarria.
At the end of the day tomorrow, there should be less than 100 kilometers left to walk. The next stop is in Portomarín. Buen Camino. Sharon and Ron
Luke 8:13 Those on the rocky ground are the ones who receive the word with joy when they hear it, but they have no root. They believe for a while, but in the time of testing they fall away.
Day 32 — 17.31 Miles — Herrerias to Fillobal, May 29. The uphill climbing continued. Just like life, the path was sometimes smooth and sometimes it was very rocky. Today the walk was very rocky and steep. However, the scenery makes up for the rocky parts.
After a three mile steep rocky ascent, the village of Laguna de Castillo appeared. The cafe in town served very large tortillas. Tortillas are an egg & potato casserole that is baked in a pie dish. They were hot and good especially after climbing. We crossed the border between the provinces of Castillo y Leon and Galicia. There was a noticeable difference in the path maintenance and appearance. Galicia uses concrete Camino markers that noted the kilometers to Santiago. The path changed to small gravel that is much easier to walk on.
Cross #37 was hung over a memorial cross for a pilgrim who died on The Way in 1991.
The village of O’Cebriero is before the top. There are cafe’s and shops in the small village. We bought two post cards. Post cards are the extent of our shopping because of added weight. The uphill climb lasted most of the day until we reached Alto de Poio at 4,463 feet. The downhill started next and it was, of course, worse than the uphill.
The hostel in Fillobal was the first building that we encountered when entering the “village”. The village appeared to only consist of the hostel and a restaurant. Only two buildings in a village was fine with us! We were able to buy dinner and had a decent room in which to sleep. The world was good.
The destination for tomorrow is Sarria. There will be a little over 100 kilometers left to walk after we leave Sarria. Buen Camino. Sharon and Ron
1 Chronicles 16:33 Let the trees of the forest sing, let them sing for joy before the Lord, for He comes to judge the earth.
Day 31 — 14.75 Miles — Villafranca del Bierzo to Herrerias, May 28. Villafranca del Bierzo is a beautiful town. We would enjoy returning for a visit in the future. The morning was cold and the sun was rising as we were walking across the bridge in town. We stopped to look behind us. The sun rewarded us this morning as it was rising over the town. Most pilgrims stopped to look as they walked out of Villafranca.
The path was mostly flat today and ran parallel to a small road that was not busy. A river flowed next to the path. Woods surrounded the river, path and road. Birds were singing. All was well with the world. We saw and talked to the college students from Missouri again. We ate breakfast in the same cafe as the students later in the morning. We were so busy talking with them that we walked out of the cafe and did not pay for our food. About three to four miles down the path, we realized the mistake that had been made. The choices available to solve the problem were limited. We did not want to walk back three to four miles. Technology came to the rescue in the next town. We googled “Cafes in Pereje, Spain. Only one cafe appeared. It was Las Coronas. The phone number was listed so we called. After much back and forth with English and Spanish, I said, “Yo necesito pagar. Sin gluten.” He understood and said, No problemo”. Our food order consisted of a cup of americano grande coffee, a cup of tea and a donut. In addition, he was nice enough to toast two slices of gluten free bread that I was carrying in my pack. The “sin gluten” triggered his memory.
The remainder of our walk was peaceful and inspiring. The local dogs are well behaved but they do not understand English! The young children play and run. We walk past life as it is happening. The trees that are along the path are so big, they must be very old. We wondered about what the trees could tell us about the past if they could talk. We wonder about the other pilgrims that walk by who do not appear to notice the beauty around them.
Our hostel in Herrerias is located next to a fast running stream. The window in our room is just above the stream. The stream provided a foot soak this afternoon. It will provide a soothing sound while we sleep tonight.
We will walk into Santiago in one week. How the time has flown by. We miss home, our families and friends however we have made new friends here. Have we been changed by the experience? We think so.
Our next walk will be to Fillobal. Buen Camino. Sharon and Ron