Credencial de Peregrino: A pilgrim's passport.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Santiago to....

After walking for 33 days, it is strange not to be walking. Arriving in Santiago has been a bit of an anti climax for me and other pilgrims I have walked with. I have decided to head for Land's End and the sea--Finisterre. The draw of the sea has been a big pull for pigrims for a long time. I don't want to miss my chance to complete this journey. It has been said that regret for things we have done is tempered by time but regret for things we did not do is inconsolable. To the sea then.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Santiago

Arrived in Santiago yesterday about 3 pm--too late to make it to the pilgrim's mass, but I hadn't really planned to go to the mass with the millions of tourists after walking all day. Instead, I met my friend Juliano in the square in front of the cathedral and he welcomed me to Santiago.

I'm happy to be here.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Melide to Arca

Tim and I are now in the land of seafood! In fact, this area is famous for its pulpo--boiled octopus drizzled with generous amounts of olive oil then finished with kosher salt and saffron. I definitely like this dish, but in small quantities.

It is so nice to have Tim here because he speaks Spanish so well, but my Spanish has suffered since he tends to do more of the talking. Interesting how I have become a bit more quiet and self conscious with a more proficient speaker around.Altough, I have to admit that the speakers in Galicia speak Galego, wihich is not so easy to understand even for Tim.

The heat continues to be a plague. After spending the afternoon heat napping in a park and watching the town fiesta of San Juan yesterday, we opted to walk in the cool of the evening for another 15 km. There are so few pilgrims that actually walk in the evening that we had the whole Camino to ourselves practically. It was definitely a switch from the throngs of new walkers and bus loads of Spanish school kids who are doing the last 100 km.

This morning treated us to a cool breeze, which made walking in the heat much easier than the last two days. Even so, we didn´t have far to walk to get to Arca, a town just 20 km away from Santiago. I must admit that the count-down mentality when I first started this journey has definitely changed. I am no longer so focused on reaching Santiago. I will rejoice when I reach the cathedral. I may even cry and fall down on my knees to give thanks to God; however, my plan is to avoid the throngs of turists and to visit a smaller church to give my thanks for a safe journey, for my past with Anthony, for the blessings of the Camino, and for my current joy. The following morning, I plan to visit the Cathedral of Santiago without the crowds of pilgrims for a quiet moment to give thanks for this journey called life.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Triacastella to Sarria to Portomarin to Melide

Once I arrived in Sarria, everything changed. For one, I am now joined by a friend from Seattle which has been great. But, Sarria is also where many more new pilgrims start their Camino in order to get the Compostela (certificate of completion given by the church) in Santiago. The route has become much more crowded with these new pilgrims.

In an effort to be more welcoming of them, I have been trying not to get into the mentality that I need to get up early, rush to the next city in order to beat them to the beds. I admit, there is this sensation among many of the pilgrims that have been walking with me for 31 days now to do this.

Things change.

The weather has become unbearable hot--almost 100 degress, and we refused to push it to the next appointed town just to stay on schedule. Tim has been a great companion for slowing down and walking in a relaxed manner. Coupled with the heat and the competition for beds, we opted for returning to a bigger town even though we had walked further in the afternoon heat.

As I approach Santiago--only 48 km to go--I am feeling like I am not quite ready to for this fantastic journey to end. As my new friend Endika who has walked the Camino 41 times told me, our journey really begins once we reach Santiago.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Villafranca to O´Cebreiro to Triacastela

I slept last night in O´Cebreiro. There was only one computer for the whole town with many pilgrims waiting to use it, so I opted to skip the blog.

Once we arrived in O´Cebreiro last night, we were officially in Galicia. Me encanta Galicia. It is beautful and green here with spectacular views.

The last few days have been fantastic. I´ve been traveling with a local from Navarra, Enric, who has written two guides in Spanish on the Camino Frances. It´s been a treat to be in the "know" about which paths to take, where to eat, etc. After losing his friend on the Camino, Enric has been very reflective, but seemingly happy to have me along for company. I think we were supposed to meet for this reason.

We have been walking a much slower pace than I was accustomed to in the beginning. The blisters slowed me down for a while, and then I slowed down to let them heal. Now that they are almost healed, I like being slower. Strange. What´s even stranger is Enric and I are walking in a very relaxed manner without hurrying while other pilgrims scurry by us, but somehow we arrive befor them. You see this alot with younger pilgrims who walk or run quickly, but then have to take a lot of breaks. We call ourselves ¨Las Tortugas", which means turtles in Spanish. I told Enric the fable of the Tortoise and the Hare--we had a good laugh about this.

I get many strange looks walking along in my shower shoes. For the past 10 days, I have been wearing plastics slides by Addidas. I feel I should write them a letter of thanks for helping me on my Camino.

In addition to the company, the weather has been fantastic through the mountains. Cold in the morning; but warm and sunny in the afternoon. Things seem to be as they should be at the moment. I feel happy. I read a quote by G.K. Chesterton, "Happiness is a mystery, like religion and should never be rationalized." I think he was right.

Tomorrow, I will meet Tim in Sarria. He will be walking with me all the way to Sarria. I´m looking forward to this new phase of the journey.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Molinaseca to Villafranca

After yesterday´s news about the death of a pilgrim, I decided to walk with Enrique to support him. We had a long journey in front of us--30 km--but, the day turned out to be fantastic. Most of the walking was on sidewalks, but I am okay with fewer rocks while walking in my flip flops (I´m back to walking in the shower shoes). Enrique knew about several secret places that most pilgrims don´t, so it was a treat to be with a local who was in the know. For example, in Cacabelos, we stopped in a beautiful hotel around noon that showered us with empanadas and vino tinto free of charge just because we are pilgrims. We also took a detour to the work site of the sculpter who is working on sculptures for La Sagrada Familia in Barcelona. Since it was Sunday, he wasn´t working on the sculptures, but we were able to view them up close. Very cool.

I´m now in Villafranca, which is a beautiful town. There are at least four churches here and one castle built by the Knights Templar circa 1200. Tomorrow I plan to walk another 30 km, if my feet will allow it. We shall see. It was quite hot today--about 27 degrees celesius, and I got a bit burned. This was a change from the mountains yesterday where it was 3 degrees--colder still with the wind chill.

It is hard to belive, but I only have about 180 km to go before I reach Santiago.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Rabanal to Molinaseca

I´m tired and just lost my post I´d been working on. It´s been an emotional day. Letting go of fear in favor of love at the Cruz de Ferro today in the form of a small stone I carried all the way from Discovery Park. Also consoling a new friend from Pais Vasco whose friend died a few days ago in the albergue in his sleep. How do you console a man in pain in another language? The only thing I coud think to do was hold him in my arms, stroke his hair, and cry with him.

Like I said, it´s been an emotional day.