Moonset on the Meseta

Moonset on the Meseta

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Day 12 on the Camino: Carrion de los Condes

I haven´t been keeping up the blog, but sending group emails.  Here´s one I wrote today:

It was a short day today after doing 66 km in the previous 2 days. The next stretch of camino is 17 km with no stops, so it was either continue on and do well over 35 again today or make it short. I´ve been having a little pain in backside and left leg, so decided it would be better to keep it short today. I had a lovely evening in Fromista, which was a very nice little town, having dinner in a restaurant with Mario from Montreal, and Mary from Ottawa. I found out that Mario is a "jack of all trades" and that he had wanted to do the camino for about 10 years and was finally giving it to himself as a 50th birthday present.

Mario and Patricia

The albergue was nice last night, and not full. People were friendly. I caught up with Mario on the road this morning, then we split as I decided to take the alternate track along a canal and water instead of along the road. I didn´t see anyone for a long long time. A couple of hours. There were parts of the road that made me think I was back in Stephenson, MI, 8 or 9 years old, running barefoot along the road bordered by small shrubs and cornfields. I went right back in time, thinking about my grandfather, Aunt Viola (Ola) and Old Harry (Harold, my uncle), and how the death of my grandfather was my first real encounter with the death of someone I loved, and that I don´t think I was ever allowed to fully process it. So, on and on... the memories were so very vivid and had me in tears. Then I looked and on the top of a hill behind me was a whole flock of sheep outlined against the ridge of the hill with the morning sun behind. When I stopped I could hear their bells ringing. The sun came up and the moon still shone in the full sun, and I was walking right into the setting moon. It was a rather emotional, but lovely morning, and seemed so timeless, with the cornfields and sheep, and lots of small birds flitting in the trees and bushes.

Sheep after Fromista

After maybe 3 hours I came out at this church, and right behind me came the Colombian couple, Ximena and Francisco, and then along came Mario, who had decided he didn´t like walking along the road and had turned around. I had noticed that he was pulling on the straps of his pack, and that indicated that it was fitting him right. So, when he put it on, I helped him adust it -- the shoulder straps were not right, and the band across the chest wasn´t right, either. By the time we made all the adjustments he said he it was much much better. I´m starting to think of myself as the camino pack doctor. Then I stopped in a church for quite awhile, then had a tortilla and cerveza, joined by the Spanish couple who do not speak English but our paths have been crossing and we have stayed in many of the same places for about 19 days now. Mario had continued on, but I think he was planning to stop here because of his blisters, although I haven´t seen him here.

Francisco y Jimena

I just met a Japanese man from Hokkaido. Eitan, which sounds like a Jewish name, not Japanese! And then there was a couple from Oregon in the kitchen of the hostel just now. The last part of the walk today was along the road, which was distinctly unpleasant. After I arrived here, it turned cold. I am now wearing fleece and long sleeves and long pants, and it is still chilly. It was pretty depressing walking around town in the afternoon, with absolutely everything closed. I had to wait for this internet cafe to open up, and then it was full. Oh, and I have found my first horse peregrino! When I came back to the albergue after wandering around town in the cold, there was a horse at the door! The rider said he thinks he is somewhat famous, as everyone tells him they´ve never seen a horse peregrino, either. He unloaded and unsaddled, leaving the saddle in the garage of the albergue, and last I saw he was leading the horse off somewhere. It has always amused me that the Miam Miam Dodo guidebook always lists whether horses are welcome and whether indoor or outdoor stables are available. So, there is an option for those of you who would like to do the camino, but not walk!

Horse peregrino in Carrion de los Condes

I have bought a few things to have for the road tomorrow, for the long stretch with nothing. I need to decide wether to try to go nearly 40 km to the larger town of Sahugun (3000 people) or stay in some tiny place along the way. I am one day ahead of my original schedule, and would like to add at least one more day, preferably 2, which I may be able to do, as I have some short days in the original schedule.

A young couple who is friendly with the other Spanish couple invited me to eat with them tonight -- they will cook. So I said yes. The young man in the couple speaks quite good English, and has helped me translate from time to time. I think Mario is here somewhere, but I have not seen him, but have met several of the other pilgrims I have been seeing along the way, including the old guy (from Brazil?) who walked with me in the dark yesterday morning. There are several albergues in this town, and a few hotels, too. I should get out now and visit some of the churches while they might be open. Big black clouds looming although sun is shining at the moment. It may be a long cold walk tomorrow.

They were so kind to me -- do I have their names?
General note:  I have been getting up early in the mornings, usually by six, walking the first hour in the dark as it doesn´t start to get light until after 7, and the sun has been rising a little after 8 a.m.  For the past two days the moon has been magnificent in the morning, and it was also shining last night as I walked back from dinner at 9 p.m.

Moon in the morning after Hontanas

Friday, September 17, 2010

First Four Days on the Camino

 I am trying to catch up here.  I arrived in Pamplona by train on Monday night, got lost finding the Jesus y Maria Albergue where I had stayed in May, and then got lost again finding my way back from the Plaza del Castillo, which I thought I knew well.  I set off early on Tuesday morning, and walked to Puente La Reina.  It was a good walk, but hot.  I stayed in the Albergue Parrochial, and enjoyed walking about the town in the evening.  Day 2 took me to Estella, which was another good day, but hot.  Yesterday, from Estella to Los Arcos.  The description follows.  This evening I am in Logrono, in lots more rain.

Sunset, Pamplona 12 September 2010

I wished for rain, and it has been drizzling off and on all day.  Still quite warm, but it made for good walking.  Just over 20 km today, so a short day, and the last section was mostly gently down hill on dirt roads, my favorite kind of walking.  Through vineyards and brown fields with views of old churches and ruins, and castles on mountain tops in the distance.  I did not meet too many people on the way.  I left Estella in the dark, and it started to rain shortly after.  The signs leaving town were not very good.  I missed the turn from the highway to the winery and monastery, so missed the fountain that dispenses free wine to peregrinos.  Alas.  It meant I walked way too long on the edge of a busy  road, but finally connected with the Camino where it went through lovely woods.  It is probably just as well I did not get to the wine fountain at 7:30 a.m.  I might still be there.  Someone I met said people were actually filling up their water bottles there.

I am in a municipal albergue Isaac Santiago this afternoon.  I had a nice lunch outside at a restaurant in the square by the church.  This is really the first regular meal I´ve had since leaving Santiago.  There were lots of little birds flitting in the bushes today.  The overcast skies and drizzle didn´t make for good picture-taking.  Tomorrow will be a longer day --- 28 km I think.  The legs started to hurt by the time I was a couple of hours from here.  I could have continued 8 more km to the next town, but decided it was better not to overdo it.

Puente de la Reina

I passed some marker about General Eisenhower, something about Cabanas de Munions or something.  I should have written it down.  It looked like it was something about him ordering no bombing of this area, that there were Allied supporters here -- anyone know anything about this?
Last night was group dinner at the hostel, tortillas with patatas and a yummy tomato salad with a bit of green pepper.

At the church they sang the song we sing in Spanish at Newman Center.  The one with the barcas and otra mar -- now I can´t remember the words or the rest -- it was nice to hear a familiar hymn.  This church actually had people attending the service at 7 p.m., and a young energetic priest -- the first I´ve seen in Spain.  He gave out lollipops to the little kids afterwards!  Anyway, it was good to see there are some churches that are more than just museums and relics here.

Note:  The hymn is "Lord, you have come to the seashore...Pescador de hombres"  Here's a link:

There is internet at this hostel, which has real sheets on the beds.  Last night´s were some kind of plastic.  I was glad I had my sleeping bag, which is working very well, and my square of silk, which I put over the pillow.  The same people who were up latest last night, making lots of noise, were also up earliest this morning, doing the same, but none of them had left the hostel before I did.  I guess that is the way it goes.

There is such a mix of languages -- the French man who wears a kilt (and wore a skirt yesterday evening) is here again tonight.  The Italian man who would hardly speak to me when I met him on the road out of Pamplona, now looks glad to see him and says a few words in English.  He is from Sardinia.  He is traveling by himself.  I also met an interesting woman, Gail, from Massachusetts, who is walking for 40 days.  I suspect I am going to be ahead of her by tomorrow, though.  We talked in a churchyard yesterday afternoon, and exchanged life stories (in brief) and she gave me a crystal.

There is also a man named James from Philadelphia, I think here tonight and at the hostel last night.  Well, my time is about to run down, and I have not posted anything to the blog.

I think it will also be overcast and drizzly tomorrow.  I need to read up on the route.  At one place on the trail today, two Japanese women jumped up and offered me a slice of apple as I walked by.  Wasn´t that nice?

I have been thinking about little questions, like the meaning of life.  All I can come up with is love, those sayings we learned in the cradle, God is Love, Love One Another.  How hard can that be?  Very hard, I guess, considering the state of the world.

Outside of Criauqui

Many more thoughts as I walked today, setting out at 7 a.m. in darkness.  Then a red sunrise.  Then mist and rain.  Not many photos today.  There were good moments and bad.  Much beautiful to see, the city of Viana with its cathedral was quite wonderful.  I got rained on off and on.  There were joyful moments, when it felt wonderful to be walking among the grape vines and blackberries and chickory and thistles, and hawthorn, and other fall things growing and going to seed.  Then, by the time of the 4th or 5th downpour, my hat was flopping down onto my face, my shirt was totally wet, my boots covered in mud, the charm of the rain began to pale.

The last 4 km into Logrono were quite miserable, and those last 4 km always seem the longest of the day.  I walked about 28 km today, which was the most I´ve done this trip so far.  Tomorrow will be another long day.  A dog followed me and a couple of other walkers from Viana, and he came close to death several times as we crossed a busy highway.  I managed to get the security guard at a big factory on the road to keep the dog.  It took a lot of doing to try to explain that he was not my dog, and would he please hold him.  Finally, he understood and said he would call the police, and then let the dog into his office space.  Whew!  A woman from Japan stayed on the other side of the road, watching to make sure he would be all right.  A Spanish man, who in retrospect could have explained the situation, just continued on his way, paying no attention.  I am in a new private albergue here, but I don´t think it is any better than the less expensive parochial or municipal albergues.  There are clothes drying racks outside, that may not be moved under any circumstances, even though there is room inside the hostel.  So, of course no one can use them, and there are signs everywhere saying ¨NO¨¨ to hanging clothes on the radiators.  Of course today everyone´s clothes are all wet.  I thought this would be a step up from the crowded municipal albergues, but apparently not.  I guess this would have been a night to have sprung for a hotel.  I am going out soon to talk around the town.  It has stopped raining for the moment.  I have met many wonderful people along the way.  More stories that will have to wait. I am buying time on this computer at an odd little shop down the street, and the connection is so slow that I haven´t been able to reply to any of my gmail messages.

Sunrise, leaving Najera 18 September 2010

Friday, September 10, 2010

In Santiago, but not a pilgrim yet

I have been in Santiago for several days now for the IBBY conference, and visited the cathedral three times, including attending a pilgrim mass on Thursday evening. The area surrounding the cathedral is like a circus, full of people and performers at all hours. I have seen many pilgrims, but only a few of them look like real pilgrims who have walked for weeks. On Monday I will take the train to Pamplona, an all day ride, and begin walking on Tuesday morning.