Respite on the Camino

I got to walk with more wonderful peregrinos today.  Beautiful people from Kentucky, Colm, a recent transplant from Ireland, and Tessa.
As the weather continues to be near perfect for walking through the wooded trails of today’s Camino, I found myself in wonderful accommodations this evening.  It’s actually about 10 km from the trail.  The owner, a very nice lady, picked me up in Aruza and brought me to her “hotel” of maybe six rooms.  I miss socializing with other pilgrims this evening – there is only one other couple here so far – but a quiet evening is kind of nice!
The owner and I had a few laughs trying to communicate, each of us using Google Translate.  There is a nice grape arbor, dogs, chickens (Maybe one is dinner!) and a rooster crowing.  And good local wine of course.20170928_145039
Lesson for today: Be surprised and delighted by the unexpected.  Life’s an adventure, each moment to be cherished!
Ben Camino everyone,
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Can’t make this up!

I want to thank one of my fellow pilgrims for this title.   You’ll understand in a moment.
The Way the last two days has gotten very crowded.  Sarria is 111km from Santiago and the minimum walk to get a Compostella is 100km so many new pilgrims just started.   But I recently read the gospel about the workers in the vineyard,  some started early in the morning,  some started mid-day, and some only worked a few hours but all got the same pay.  It’s not the distance, it’s the journey in your heart that matters.
Prayers today especially for the Schaffer family.  Joe Shaffer passed away peacefully at home Monday.  Eternal rest, grant unto him O Lord and let perpetual light shine upon him.
The path from Sarria was beautiful as was today’s path from Portomarin to Palas de Rei.  And the weather could not have been better.  Thanks to those praying for that.
Now for the reason for the title.  In the last two days, I saw a group of new pilgrims having wine at the first stopping point at 11:00 AM.  I stepped out of the way of a some cows in a town.  I got a credential stamp from a blind man in a little chapel. Saw a family harvesting their potato crop.  In a town with no power, ate the only thing available – spaghetti covered in tomato sauce, hotdogs and fried eggs.  Stepped into a church just in time to get Communion. And sang songs with people from Holland, among other things!



What a Camino!
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The walk from Triacastela to Sarria was mostly through woods and almost always along a beautiful stream that provided a soothing sound with each step.  I felt so blessed that I am able to make this pilgirmage and am so supported by my wonderful wife along with family and friends.
Just as I’m feeling pretty special, I walked into the town of Samos.  The center of the town is the Monasterio de Samos which was founded in the 6th centry and taken over by the Benedictines in 960.  It has ministered to literally millions of pilgrims for over 1,300 years.  I am not the first to do this!
Today is a rest day in Sarria for me.  Sarria is a nice little town and the traditional starting place for those who want to walk the required 100 km to get a Compostella, Certificate of Completion, that you’ve walked the Camino.  Many new pilgrims have arrived by bus or train to fill the albergues and hotels.  The usual walking segments put pilgrims just 5 days to Santiago.
I did get to visit a beautiful monastery to get one of the two required daily sellos (stamps) and take in all of the signs, pictures and sculptures that remind you that you are a pilgrim, one of many, and there is a whole world supporting this journey.
Thank you for your prayers and support.
Buen Camino!
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The Wonder of the Camino!

The last two days have been great examples of the wonderful Camino.  The walk from Villafranca del Bierzo to O’Cebriero was long and especially difficult at the end.  The first 13 miles were just a slight uphill grade but then the last 6 miles included a 2,100 climb to the little village.  The views were awesome along the way and I took lots of opportunities to catch my breath and look around.


The village of O’Cebriero only has about fifty residents but it is teaming with activity.  It’s a favorite tourist stop and overnight stay for Pilgrims.
The next day, today, was a bit simpler walk of just about 14 miles.  Mostly down hill which is easy on the breathing but really hard on the legs.  The path was through lots of wooded areas and pastures.  Really a pretty walk.
But, I did get my first blister in over 700 miles of Camino walking!  Not too bad fortunately – nothing that a little bandaging won’t fix.  A short walk tomorrow and then a rest day.
To the positive, the weather has been spectacular as you can see from the pictures.  Temps always start out in the 50s and end in the 70s with bright sunshine and light winds.  Just  perfect for enjoying a walk across Spain.
A group of fellow pilgrims are planning to walk into Santiago together next Friday.  That should be a wonderful time with lots of emotions.  If you are a fellow pilgrim reading this, the plan is to meet at Monte do Gozo at 9:30 AM Friday.  Hope to see many fellow pilgrims!

Bien Camino!

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Villages of Spain

Today was a delightful, almost leisurely (I said almost!) walk through Spanish villages — a total of six between Ponferrada and Villafranca del Bierzo.  The villages really cater to pilgrims — lots of services like pharmacies, which seem to be the only places to buy tissues, supermarkets (most UDFs or Speedways are bigger) to get a banana, and bars for fresh water or coffee.
Much of the walk today was in the Bierzo region which is kind of famous for their wine.  Several wineries were open for tastings. I didn’t stop but did enjoy walking among the vineyards.
Not much conversation as I walked but did exchange “Hola” and “Buen Camino” with many fellow pilgrims.   Never alone among friends even if we’ve not really met.
The weather was just perfect with sunny sky’s and temperatures in the 60s and 70s.  Way to go if you’ve been praying for good weather for my Camino.  You have connections!
I remembered a quote from the book A Million Steps:  “There is absolutely no guarantee that tomorrow will exist, and it if does, our physical condition may limit our enjoyment. There is no way to be happy yesterday or tomorrow. The only time to be happy is now. The only time to be or feel anything is now.”  Oh so true!
Buen Camino
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A Camino Highlight

Today was another long day through the roughest turrain I’ve encounted so far.  The path went up and down via lots of ravines of loose rocks.  A little tendinitis was the result but some ibuprofin did the trick.  The weather has been outstanding — early morning temperatures in the 50s and highs in the afternoon about 75.  Sunny all day!
I did reach the highest altitude of the Camino, over 5,000 feet. But the real highlight was getting to Cruz de Ferro.  I didn’t make it by sunrise as I hoped but it was still early morning.
For all of those whose intentions I carried, rest assured that your stone and your intentions were delivered.
“Lord, may this stone, a symbol of my efforts on pilgrimage that I lay at the foot of the Cross of the Savior, one day be the balance in favor of my good deeds when the deeds of our lives are judged.
Let it be so.  Amen.”
Continue to pray for good weather and my safety.  It helps,
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Back in the Groove!

Yesterday was a very long and difficult day.  Per my Fitbit, I did over fourty six thousand steps.  That’s more than I’ve ever done in one day in my adult life.  All the pilgrims in the main town square were seriously limping, so I wasn’t alone.  There were several alternative, scenic paths and I guess I took them all!

Today was oh so much better!  Just a little over 12 miles to one of my favorite and most inspirational villages, Rabanal del Camino.  The total population is about 50 and about 10% are Benedictine monks.  I can’t wait to get to vespers at 7:00 and then the pilgrim’s blessing after dinner at 9:30.
Definitely out of the planes and back into the mountains.  This morning’s fog was pretty and it really warmed up at about 10:00 when the sun burned away the fog.
It seems that all modes of travel and transport are available if you’re creative!
Tomorrow, I hope to leave early and get to Cruz de Ferro at sunrise.  It’s only about three or four miles from here.  I will be leaving the stone that Father Dan gave me for all the Bellarmine parishoners.  I pray that their intentions are granted along with Kathy’s and mine.
Buen Camino and keep me in your prayers too.  You are in mine,
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