Day Eleven Camino de Santiago

Day 11 Santiago!

We have arrived in Santiago! We are now at our albergue where we have a double bed and a door that slides shut. We have both showered and are getting ready to arrive and see the cathedral and to get our compostellas.

Back from a busy afterst james bestnoon. We got our compostellas and arrived at the cathedral. It really is a sight to see. The exterior is grand and beautiful. We weren’t allowed to touch the Tree of Jesse or touch our heads to the Maestro guy, as is custom for arriving pilgrims, because they were rope off (I did get to touch his forehead thanks to my long arms). I did get to lay my head on the shoulder of the statue of St. James, I gave word for José, as promised, and made my wish – A happy marriage- and I said, if I can have two wishes- A healthy child. I also got to pray at the remains of St. James. We ate lunch, got some train tickets, attended the mass at the cathedral at 7:30 pm, got chocolate and churros, stopped at the albergue and into Roger!!! (our English friend), if I could have seen one more pilgrim that we met on the way again, it would have been him. Paul and I got some pastries (we are out of control), left one on Roger’s bed and are now looking for a hotel for Madrid for the next two nights. I am excited for the train ride to Madrid tomorrow, it should be a blast. I guess this is the last day of the journey/ camino, so…

Buen Camino!

side of CathedralOnce we started walking this morning we were giving it everything we had. We estimated that we had about 6 miles to Santiago and though we planned to have plenty of time to get there, we really wanted to make the pilgrim’s mass at noon. The morning walk was nice lady from bookand through forests and soft ground. We stopped at the first café at a small city before Santiago to get some breakfast and walked on. Shortly after leaving the breakfast spot, we had some trouble finding our arrows, it took a little while to spot where to go next, but we found it and walked on. As the morning went on we noticed where we were in regard to the map and where we wanted to be and we needed to go faster to get to the mass on time, so we booked it. There was no place to get a stamp in the town we slept in and we needed two stamps in our credentials before we got to the city of Santiago. It seemed that the closer we got to Santiago, the less excited people were to give us stamps. The last day or so, people would unenthusiastically walk over to get their stamp out and just give it to us to fill out our credentials ourselves. I had a mild panic as we were just outside the city limits with one stamp for the day and no public place in sight, then we found a bar and I’m sure the man behind the bar lived us for not ordering anything and just asking for a stamp. The closer we got to Santiago this day, the arrows became more difficult to find. When we actually got to the city we got to an intersection with like 5 different ways you could go and there was no arrow in sight. We searched every paulinch of every building and light post we could see and could not find it!!! We now had about 15 minutes before the noon mass and no clue where to go. We made 150 miles with limited problems and now the timeframe and frustration got to us. We walked down a road for a bit hoping to spot an arrow, not find one, turn around, and try another. We finally just started walking towards the center of the city thinking we’d be able to spot the peak of such a famous cathedral and could see nothing other than the tall buildings surrounding us. It was the worst feeling. We stopped someone who looked like they may be able to help us and he pointed the general direction of the cathedral. We walked at a frantic pace and finally found what we were pretty sure was the Santiago cathedral. Was this the place though,  the sight didn’t take my breath away, I didn’t fall to my knees in awe of the magnificence, but we were there. It was about 5 after 12 and we hoped that being a little late to the pilgrims mass wouldn’t be a problem and walked up to the door only to be stopped by security and told that you cannot bring a backpack into the cathedral. At the pilgrim’s mass?!! How do they think we all got here? Oh well, it wasn’t meant to be, plus we were crabby from being rushed and lost, this was apparently the side entrance to the building, so we didn’t even approach it the way we were meant to. The new plan was to check into our albergue ‘The Last Stamp” – I love the name of it- freshen up, lighten up (literally and figuratively) and go back to the cathedral from the main entrance.

I was very happy to find that the albergue had a double bed kristenavailable in addition to all the bunk beds, we snatched it up right away. I wasn’t happy to pay for a private albergue after the inexpensive government run ones, but this was a luxury in comparison. Since we had a double bed instead of bunks, there was a sliding partition that gave us a little privacy, a window that overlooked the busy city street, and the bed was memory foam! Another huge plus for the room was that it had a locking cabinet for all of our stuff. We hadn’t worried much about our stuff being stolen the whole trip and could never lock it up, but this city was so busy and had a ton of tourists and it was just nice to have that extra little piece of mind.

We also got a map of the city and knew where to go to enter the cathedral properly. First, we needed our compstellas. This is what we came for, the certificate that said yes, we walked 150 miles to get to this place and were real pilgrims. The line to get in and check in to get our compostellas was fairly long. Even though we had freshened up and left our packs behind, it standing on our feet any longer didn’t feel good. check in for compostellaWhile one of us stood in line, the other would walk around a bit and explore. There was a vending machine there that sold non-alcoholic beer which I found to be very strange.  In line we saw the crazy German lady and her grandson. She took cuts in front of a lot of people and waited in line behind us. We hadn’t seen them in several days and we chatted about the last few days of the journey. There was a sense of pride mixed with my anticipation of going in to get my compostella. I was excited to add one more American to the registry and I was happy that I had officially done the Camino de Santiago. The line was outside, so I didn’t know what to expect when I got in. It was a long counter with about 6 people working it and one at a time you go in and show your pilgrim’s passport (credentials) as well as our actual passports and they made sure that we had the required stamps. Then, they write your name, in Latin, on the official compostella, which is also in Latin, and put it into a cardboard tube to keep it from getting smashed in your pack.  The pilgrims office, where we got our compostella, was near a place that we could buy train tickets, so we stopped in to get our tickets to Madrid for the morning. The ticket machine here happened to be down, so we would check back in later. Now that we had our compostellas, we went to the cathedral.

Seeing the cathedral from the front, it really is incredible. That is where I felt my moment, this was what we came so far to see. How much work that went into creating something so magnificent blows my mind. The cathedral is huge and has so many things to see, as well as other little chapels decorated in their own way that were off shoots of the main area. cross of St JamesOne of them had a service going on at one point and there was a choir singing beautifully. This service seemed to be an Asian service as the people and priest were Asian and were singing in a language I did not know (take the nationality with a grain of salt that I am horribly inaccurate when guessing people’s nationalities). In the center of the cathedral is what I could describe as the stage, where the priest performs the service. It was beautiful and elaborate. Near the top was the statue of St. James where tradition has it that you lay your head on his shoulder and make a wish. I was surprised at how short the line to get to it was, just a short walk up the stairs and there you were in a tiny room with a priest guy (not sure if he was a priest, but he was dressed like one) and the giant statue of St. James. Directly underneath this area, after a short flight of stairs under the main floor, is where the casket is and where the remains of the Apostle St. James are said to be buried. This is also a small room which has a window to view the casket and a small velvet kneeler to pray at. We saw that there was going to be a mass at 7:30 pm and decided to come back later.

We walked along the city streets and bought a couple of small souvenirs and searched for the best place to eat. We could be picky for once this whole trip and window shopped our pulpofood choices. Several places had a whole octopus (pulpo) with it’s head in a glass in the window- no thank you, we’ve had plenty. We settled at one place and ordered some white asparagus with mayonnaise, croquettes (which was Paul’s favorite at this point) and tortilla (which is not a tortilla at all, but a very thin omelet). We checked in at the train ticket place and the machine was still down, so we walked to the actual train station which was at the edge of the city – more walking. We had some trouble trying to get our train tickets due to us not speaking Spanish and not understanding what the man was dinnertrying to say. He finally pointed to the first window which was the one that had someone who spoke English. We still had a heck of a time trying to understand what this guy was saying because he was trying to get us to buy four tickets instead of two and said it would actually be cheaper, why wouldn’t we do that? It turns out that it is not less expensive than just two seats, but rather the cost of three, but either way the price was still significantly less than it would have been had we purchased our train tickets online in advance of our trip.

one of the oldest wayside crossesWe now had to book it back to the cathedral to catch the 7:30 mass and we wanted to drop some stuff off at the albergue. When we walked past the shared bathroom, I noticed a shirtless man brushing his teeth with a rabid looking foam toothpaste mouth. When he looked up into the mirror we shouted “Roger!”. I can’t believe he was there. He had suggested this albergue, but he was two whole days ahead of us and I thought we wouldn’t see him again. Unfortunately there was a limit to how tough he was and he had gotten shin splints and his ankle and lower leg were swollen. We caught up with him for a little bit and invited him to go to mass with us. He was exhausted and was shortly going to bed so he passed.

The mass was all in Spanish, but it is easy enough to follow the crowd with the standing up and sitting down and taking communion. After mass, we walked around for a while and explored the city. We wanted to get commemorative tattoos when we were there, but couldn’t find an open tattoo parlor. We did find more pastries though and we got one for Roger that we brought back to the albergue (he was asleep, so I placed it by his feet with a note from us). For some reason I was really excited for this train ride we would have in the morning.

we made it

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Day Ten Teo

font traditional woman

We blew past Padrón to get a head start on Santiago tomorrow. I can’t believe we will arrive tomorrow. There are only 8 of us at this albergue and 6 of us are American. All 8 of us had dinner together which was nice. We were walking troopers today. I am glad that we got back to walking though neighborhoods on small farms, these are my favorite parts of walking on this journey. I want to remember every detail and look forward to going through photos later on. Today was meant to be 11 miles, but we did about 17. Getting sleepy.

Buen Camino

bikes shell wall

There were more bikes again today. We saw one group that had sped past us earlier Paulstopped on the trail because something was wrong with one of their bikes. Huge proud wife moment when my MacGyver of a husband stops and helps repair the bike using a rock with a specific pointy end.  As we got closer to the town we were going to sleep at that night, a young Spanish girl came out of her house and tried to sell us handmade bracelets. Of course we bought a couple, though Paul got hustled on the price of his. I imagine this girl has a lot saved up as who can resist a handmade keepsake this close to the Camino. We train coinscrossed some train tracks and Paul had the brilliant idea to lay some euros on the tracks and see if the train would flatten them, but we had no clue if a train would be coming soon. Maybe one minute later, we heard the bells and the gates lowered, it was go time. Paul laid three euros on the track and we watched as the train came by and shot them around. After the train passed, we went out to collect them. We found two of them which were semi flattened and quite warm. We couldn’t find the third, but found a different, totally flattened one to take with us. Finally, we are staying with other American’s and it is the last night. It was us, the two men from Georgia, a couple from San Diego, and a German couple.   This albergue had heated floors and the alberguelaundry actually dried overnight, it was awesome. We each had so much space as there were two rooms full of bunk beds. It was nice to spread out and put our packs on empty bunks. There was a sign in the albergue left by previous pilgrims that outlined three choices for dinner the closest supposedly didn’t have the best food, the second closest was supposed to be good, and the farthest one was far for people who had walked all day. So the couple from San Diego and us decided to go to the second one. When we got their the Georgian’s were there already and they informed us that most of the menu options were unavailable, but we were there so we had ate what they would give us. pilgrim friendsWe talked about things we saw that day and I asked the others if they met the girl selling bracelets, to which one of the guys rolled up his sleeve and showed that he had purchased several bracelets. I knew that girl was doing well for herself.  As we were eating and talking the German couple walked in and sat at our table and the man said, “Guess who is the house father” as he pulled out the key to the albergue. The man who checked us in had apparently called it a night and have the key to them to lock up.  We ate and shared stories about our journey and our lives for a long time and it was a great way to spend the last night before Santiago.

last night before Santiago

In the bunk bed. Last night before Santiago!

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Day Nine Camino de Santiago

Caldas De Reis 14 1/2 miles

church

Miraculously, I’m feeling great! Last night I slept horribly with a lot of aches all over my legs. I had great spirits and energy this morning, then something awful happened to my ankle that slowed us down quite a bit. Paul gave me his ankle wrap and the second walking stick, we slowed our pace and I prayed. Now we are at the albergue, I have showered and I am feeling great. I saw a french bulldog today and it warmed my heart. I absolutely loved the café we rested at today. It was cozy and beautiful, even the Camino frenchiebathroom was pretty (speaking of which, I’m basically a pro at peeing in the wilderness- as long as I have tissue). We had amazing weather today which lifted our spirits. Back to the café, we sat at a table which was at the entrance, enjoyed juice and café con leche and bought snacks for the road. We took our time, enjoyed the view of the countryside , and I actually felt like I was on vacation. We are seeing a lot of pilgrims now, a lot of them were on bikes today. Our first couple of days on the journey we barely saw any pilgrims. I can’t believe we had an albergue to ourselves one night in the beginning. Our goal tomorrow is to go further than Padrón, the next town, so that we have a shorter day’s journey to Santiago. I am excited to see Santiago, but I also don’t want this to end.

Buen Camino!

waterfall resting pilgrims

This was the first night I remember being woken up from the ache in my legs they were protesting at this point. There wasn’t any way to stretch to fix it, just take ibuprofen and hope for the best. Paul was experiencing the same thing. The only way I can describe the pain in my ankles is that it felt as if a big vein had rolled over onto my ankle bone and that when it pressed against the side of my boot it was a horrible shooting pain. I’d be fine for a few steps and then it would hurt so badly I’d lose my breath, then be fine for a few more steps. This slowed us down a lot, but we worked together and got through. At this point in roman pilar with km countdownthe Journey the waymarkers were old Roman pillars with a kilometer countdown to Santiago. It was fun seeing how we kept getting closer and closer. We were overrun by bicyclists at this point. You can bike the Camino as well, but have to go twice as long. It was hard because they don’t give you any warning they are coming up behind you and the whiz past so fast. Paul was told by the Portuguese group of Pilgrims that there was an incredible waterfall, but it was a detour off the path. My legs and ankle were so achy and I didn’t want to walk any more than was required to I rested on a bench while Paul went to it. Per Paul, it was magnificent and it came from as far as the eye could see, like fluffy clouds coming down the mountainside.

This town had a lot of old public baths for pilgrims and we saw a few of them washing their pastries and teafeet in a bath outside of our albergue. This albergue actually had the option to wash laundry in an actually washing machine and a dryer (one day without wet socks drying off of my pack) for a small fee, but every time I tried to find the guy who worked the desk to ask for it, he wasn’t there. We ate dinner at the bar next to the albergue and ran into the two pilrgims from Georgia. One of them helped us to order some tapas, that weren’t crazy fish.We explored the town for a bit after dinner and stopped at a pastelería and ordered what seemed like one of everything, but actually about 5 small pastries to share and a couple of teas. Paul ended almost every day at this point with a mint tea. In Spain when you order a drink, they bring you a snack so whenever the woman brought us a tea, she gave us more pastries!

favorite cafeThe albergue was crowded. It was mostly bikers and they were so loud and stood around in their undies blocking the way to the laundry sink and bathroom. We had side by side bunk beds again, so we were close which was nice, but our legs ached this night too. We were taking ibuprofen every 4-6 hours just to maintain. It wasn’t a specific hurt, just achy protesting legs. But I’ll tell you, a shower and a change of clothes and shoes, made me a new woman every night.

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Day Eight Camino de Santiago

Pontevedra – 11 miles

bridge 8The majority of the walk today was great. At our first café stop the lady who was setting out the chairs had to wake up the café owner to serve us, even though it was almost 1/2 hour after the posted opening time. We walked through forest and climbed a bit, but the rest places and cafés were spaced much farther apart than I like. It rained all day again, which made the lack of warm resting places worse. Tonight we are staying at a private pension (kind of like a bed and breakfast) because the albergue is outside of the town center. We have our own room, but no private bathroom. While looking for  place to stay, we wandered through the town on tired feet while the rain beat down on us. It was really rough. I have showered  and we found a tv channel with English. TV is fun for something different until we eat dinner. My heels are very sore and I am a little worried about the blisters on my two littlest toes on both feet, literally, I have a blister that has blisters. Despite the groans from my body and the rain outside, my spirits are good. I am so fortunate to be here.

country 8Buen Camino

We had a lovely diner that did not consist of ham and cheese and are feeling much better.

dessert 8

I can tell, from reading my journal entry, that I was trying to convince myself to stay positive because the rain was brutal I felt beat down and tired. Going back to that morning at the café with the sleeping owner, I am pretty sure she hated our guts for waking her up, but other pilgrims came shortly after and she got some business. Before the other pilgrims came, we saw Roger walk up! He had breakfast with us and went on his way. With his pace and endurance, he was scheduled to get to Santiago two days before us. Bye Roger, it was great to know you. city 8

My journal description of the pension, is not quite accurate. There was no breakfast at the place we stayed. It was like we were in a room in someone’s apartment. We were still weary of the sheets from crazy bed bug stories so we slept in our sleeping bags. We asked the woman of the house if we could pay when we checked in because we wanted to leave early and had no clue when they would be awake. She didn’t understand us and told us to pay downstairs where the restaurant was. The restaurant was very nice and had a full real menu. It was more of a bar actually, as was every restaurant. The lady who was working was so nice to us and brought us a delicious dessert. We tried to pay for our room at the restaurant and that woman thought we were crazy. Back in our room, we were freezing. font 8We couldn’t get the heater to work and Paul found the woman of the house and asked how to turn it on, she said the heat didn’t come o until 10:30 pm, so we bundled up the best we could. Later she knocked on our door with a space heater in her hand and we tried one more time, we gave her money and asked her to stamp our pilgrims passport. After Tuí, you need two stamps per day to prove you’ve walked the Camino. She asked for our real passports and said that her husband could stamp our pilgrims passports. She indicated that she was going out and she took our passports with her. We were very nervous about this. I did not want to be separated from my real passport, but couldn’t communicate this with her. We just had to hope for the best. Later in the night she brought back all of our passports and paperwork and gave us our stamps.

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Day Seven Camino de Santiago

April 24, Rodondella

Wow, day 7, that is incredible! It doesn’t feel like we’ve been traveling that long, sadly, it means we are getting closer to the end. I will be excited to reach Santiago, but am afraid I will be a little depressed to return home and back to the daily grind. I feel different here, more self aware, and more self assured. While I am traveling with Paul to celebrate our anniversary, I have found that I am doing this for myself. The lessons I have learned and the wisdom received are for me. I don’t want to lose the way I feel here. Today we walked Roger19.1 miles. We weren’t sure going into the day if we’d make it all the way or choose to stop. We started walking early and needed our headlamps. We walked with Roger, from Great Britain, who didn’t have a light. It poured down rain most of the day. When the sun rose, Roger chose to stick with us and we had a new friend. His energy at the age of 62 is inspiring, he pushed us today. It was difficult, but I am glad we got to town early cause the three of us had time to get frozen yogurt (once the shop re-opened after siesta of course). Roger gets a kick out of old fashioned American things from the movies (like diners and drive in movies). It was hard to find an open café today because we started so early. We finally found one late in the morning and stopped for a café con leche and walked through the rain very far until we found a promising place for lunch, they weren’t serving lunch yet, but they ended up making us some giant warm sandwiches, which, given the day and our conditions was the best thing ever. I was pretty worn out by the end of the walk. We are resting for a bit, then we plan to have dinner with Roger.

Buen Camino!

Farmacia

Roger with shellRoger!!! Our favorite pilgrim by far. I loved this guy. Roger is a fireman, he has done the Camino Portuguese before and his energy and level of fitness was insane. He had incredible calves and walked super fast.  When we saw other pilgrims the next day, they were talking about how fast he was too. Since we had a goal of a long hike, I wanted to wake up really early. We weren’t sleeping great at this point, or for much of the trip for that matter. Paul didn’t want to set an alarm to wake up, in case we happened to sleep well that night, but said I could check on him if I happened to be up any time after 4:30. Since we were in bunk beds with strangers underneath us, we wanted to be quiet, so we carried our stuff out to the main area and packed up there. While we were packing our stuff, we saw another pilgrim with the same idea we had who was packing and he said, “I almost killed that bear last night!”. This is how I met Roger (Paul met him the night before while he taking a  shower- some albergues had better privacy in the shower than others). Roger was referring to a man who was snoring incredibly loud and Roger didn’t sleep a wink that night. Roger missed the turn off for the albergue in the town that we had slept at the day before, so he just kept walking. He ended up walking 60 kilometers that day. Paul gave Rogers some extra ear plugs and since it was so dark out we offered to walk with him and our headlamps. Nothing was open for breakfast, but we had bought some juice and breakfast stuff at the supermercado the night before. We offered some to Roger which he refused several times before giving in and eating a granola bar. He was so concerned about interrupting our honeymoon that he kept saying that he would “give us our privacy” (in a thick English accent) once the sun came up, then it was “I’ll give you your privacy” when we get to the next town, then it was after we stop next. We loved walking with Roger and we told him that he could spend the whole day with us if he wanted. Which, I am so glad he did. It was a very rainy day, and we stopped a few times to put all of our rain gear on  and take it off. Roger had a rain cover that was too small and he walked with an umbrella, the sight of it was funny. We walked through forest in the early morning, and then through a residential area. It was rainy and probably 5 am with no one in sight and we had to struggle to see the yellow arrows pointing the way. We walked down one residential street and a an happened to be in his front yard and he shouted to us in Spanish that we were going the wrong way and pointed to the direction of the Camino (we had missed an arrow which meant we missed a turn). We hadn’t gone too far out of the way and I thank God that man was there. It was mostly residential in the morning but as paththe sun started to rise we finally found a sign for some cafés. Breakfast at last! Nope. We walked towards one and saw a lady in a bathrobe who looked as if she had just woken up. She was telling us something in Spanish, but between the three of us we could only make out something about 9:30. Well it wasn’t close enough to 9:30 to stick around and wait so we walked on. There was a had been a sign for another café  that was off the path a bit, which didn’t sound good because I didn’t want to walk any more than I xuntahad to with a goal of 19 miles, but we wanted to get eat and sit down for a minute that the three of us decided to go walk to up to it – yes it was a decent climb up hill, which also made it less appealing. We got to the place and it looked deserted, there was no sign of life and no posted hours so we didn’t know if it would be worth waiting around for. So we walked back down to the trail – downhill wasn’t fun anymore by this day. It was almost harder for me than uphill. Paul didn’t like going uphill this day, I didn’t like going down (actually, by this point I didn’t like either and was done with the charming cobblestone roads- not so easy on the feet). Soft, level forest, or vineyard roads were the best. When we finally reached an actual town and saw the first café, it was such a welcomed sight. It felt surreal, like we were in a movie, the way we dashed in their, threw down our wet packs, and shed our dripping layers, saying “lo siento” to the woman who was working for the puddles we left on the floor. Three café con leches were drunk in record time. In Spain, you get a snack when you order a drink and we scarfed those down. Roger was grateful for the company and he quickly ordered us another round, on him. After resting for a bit, we reluctantly put our wet stuff back on and walked on.

bunkbeds

This was the ugliest day of the trip, and not because of the weather. It was a walk down the longest industrial road ever. This road never seemed to end and it was so boring, as the guidebook has warned us it would be. Walking with a new friend made it so much better. Paul and Roger talked all day and I was grateful for the opportunity to hang back a bit and not talk. I was hungry again by the time we got to the endless road of factories, but there was not a café in sight. It made me want to open one right at the midpoint of the road (don’t the workers want a coffee and a snack). I know every pilgrim that would walk by would stop, there hadn’t been a café for a very long time or a bathroom… I had to pee so badly and there was no place to hide as it was factory after factory. When we got to what I had thought/ hoped would be the end of the road and realized it was just a curve, I couldn’t take it anymore. The locals had been so kind to pilgrims so far and I was by no means dangerous looking, so I went up to one of the businesses that had an office not far off the road, got buzzed in and tried desperately to ask the woman at the front desk for a baño as I dripped on the floor. Of course I couldn’t understand what she was saying, but I gathered that she told be to go outside and around the building and that I would find a bathroom there.  All I found was the side of a building, in the rain and a security camera. I was so disappointed. So we walked on. I was so uncomfortable with my full bladder and could think of nothing else. I finally stepped behind some concrete at a construction site and found relief.  After we got off that awful road, we came to a bridge that crossed the over the train tracks, it was actually a short length across, but had a giant ramp up to it. As we walked over it, Paul and Roger questioned why we couldn’t just walk over the tracks and had to take this short bridge with a giant zigzag ramp as if to answer their question a train whizzed past underneath us so fast in an instant with no warning. We laughed as that answered that question.

fish pulpo

We walked for a very long time before we got to a town with food again. It was still rainy and per our guidebook there was only one café at this town. We were so happy to come in, take off our dripping stuff, and boots (ok, that was just me, but I had to). I had waterproof boots, but my socks still left moist footprints on the floor. It must have been obvious that we were looking for more than a café con leche because the first thing out of the young guy that was behind the counter said was they weren’t serving lunch for another hour and a half. Well we had to finish our 19 miles, we didn’t have an hour and  half. I thought my heart would break, but I couldn’t even deal with it and I headed off to the bathroom. When I came back up from the bathroom, Paul and Roger said that the guy could make us a ham and cheese sandwich. This was the happiest I’d ever been to be offered a ham and cheese sandwich! This was a huge warm sandwich that was more like some other kind of pork and it was soooo good. I milked it and ate so slowly. I was still eating when a loud group of Portuguese pilgrims came in which made us want to leave, they were nice and the leader of this group spoke some English, the crowd and the volume just seemed a bit of a shock after it had just been the three of us and the rain all day. I took the rest of my sandwich with me and we walked on again. We passed a frozen yogurt shop  on our way to the albergue in Rodondella that both Roger and I thought sounded amazing. It was siesta, so the shop and everything, but the bars were closed so we decided to check in and showeralbergue and go back at 5pm. This albergue was huge, there were different rooms and had bunk beds that were pushed together in twos. I was excited that I could actually sleep next to Paul and Roger took the top of our bunk. There were a lot of Pilgrims in each albergue at this point, a lot of Pilgrims start in Tuí as it is a long enough distance away to qualify for the compostella. The Portuguese group from the lunch place was there and it turns out that one of them is the snorer that kept Roger up the night before! We got our frozen yogurt looked around the town for a bit then went back to the albergue to rest before dinner. The three of us decided to try tapas and found a place that was open. They let us know that they didn’t serve dinner until 9pm, but could give us a small offering from the tapas menu. We needed to eat so we said ok. We couldn’t understand the menu, but knew we were ordering seafood. At one point the man brought raw dead fish out on a plate and seemed to ask Roger which one he wanted, we had no clue what was going on and inadvertently ordered all three. The man later returned with a plate that had the same fish fried, including two that had teeth and still had eyeballs and had its tail in its chompers along with a platter of octopus that was not fried like calamari and had the suction cup parts. This wasn’t filling at all, as we were too weirded out to eat much of it so we went looking for more. We found a pub that looked good so we went in and were told that they weren’t serving dinner yet, but we could see people eating. I don’t think we were asking for the right thing and between us and the people that ran the dining places, we couldn’t figure it out. We ended up at a pizza place where we talked for a while and learned more about Roger’s life. His wife passed away 5 years ago and when we asked him if he was interested in dating again, he said that he didn’t think it would be fair to whoever he was with because she would never be his wife. Oh gosh, this was one of the most romantic things I’ve ever heard. We walked around and stopped into a pastelería. Roger has a sweet tooth, just like me. We had our fill of delicious pastries and called it a night.This day would have been a lot rougher if it weren’t for Roger. I am so glad that we met him. We gained a new friend this day, but also lost something, a diamond from my engagement ring (boo). I guess I gave back to the Camino, maybe I am meant to return many times to “look for it” and repeatedly find myself. When we went to bed, Roger said that he’d be leaving early in the morning and that we’d have our privacy and when we got up, he was gone.

 

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Camino Things…

In my journal I kept track of a few small lists. Things of the Camino that I felt were worth remembering.

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Life Lessons and Thoughts:

  • I was just as grateful to see a sign saying I was headed the wrong way as I was arrow on treeseeing an arrow indicating I was on the right path.
  • One step at a time, don’t go to extremes to correct something. (After feeling a little warm and taking off my jacket, scarf, and long sleeved shirt, then promptly feeling too cold)

Sounds of the Camino:  

  • Roosters!
  • Barking dogs :(
  • Birds :)
  • Fireworks (all day on Easter and the next day) – we claimed it was for our anniversary
  • Church bells :)
  • Waterfalls and springs

Rooster waterfall

Songs stuck in my head:P1040646

  • Me and Bobby McGee
  • Shelter from the Storm
  • The Weight
  • Here Comes the Sun (Paul and I sang this together, we did not know all of the words)

Things we want to have:

  • An espresso machine
  • More Kinder Bueno
  • Oddly enough, ham and cheese sandwiches (more me than Paul) street view day 1
  • The orange juice machine (we later found out it is called a Zumex and is very expensive)

Movies we want to watch when we get home:

  • The Labyrinth
  • Princess Bride
  • National Treasure
  • Monty Python and the Holy Grail

Things that point to Future Harwood:P1040478

  • The ceramic gift with a man, woman, and child
  • Christina told me that a woman pregnant with twins had our hotel room two nights before us
  • We fed a pregnant cat
  • I lit electronic candles under a pregnant statue in a church in Tuí

Things I want to learn more about: P1040570

  • The cathedral in Tuí
  • Other languages

Foods of the Camino:

  • Ham and cheese sandwiches
  • Orange Fanta
  • Natural orange juice (naranja natural)
  • Pastries
  • Café con leche/ espresso
  • Kinder Bueno
  • Mint tea

P1040081 ham and cheese and pastries

Looking back on these lists makes me smile. For some reason I left it was important to keep track of these things.

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Day Six Camino de Santiago

Day 6 4/23/2014 – Tuí

ancient bathtub journalI am sitting on an ancient bathtub with Paul, eating Kinder Bueno (a yummy chocolate bar). 12 miles today and we crossed into Spain! We are halfway to Santiago!!! We stopped at a farmácia to get more ibuprofen and I asked the pharmacist which was his favorite place for dinner. He told us to follow him and he left his shop and walked us through the town to a restaurant. He shouted something in Spanish to the bar owner, who shouted something to the chef, who agreed to something, and there we were, he had ordered for us! It was such a neat experience. I like Spain so far, there are new friends Thomas and Carolinefriendly faces in our albergue, as there was on the road, and every café we stopped into. It is nice, like we are a group of friends with shared experiences. I was inspired today by a man who is living a dream I have. He is from Canada and he walked the Camino Portuguese, fell in love with it and is now building a beautiful albergue (which he gave us and Evelyn a tour of). It will have a café attached and it feels like it is almost in the middle of the forest. Ahh, to passionately pursue and commit to a dream. That is a dream, but what is my dream… maybe the Camino will answer this for me. For now, I always want to be happy, I want to be a positive light for others, I want to be in love and be loved, and I want to one day be an incredible mother.

view from albergue cemetery

This morning was fun, almost everyone from the group was at the first café, and the second… Our walk was through a lot of beautiful countryside, it was warm at times, but a good walk. We hope to rise early tomorrow and accomplish many miles while remaining healthy.

Buen Camino

In Spain, it was harder to find locals who spoke English and there were no more signs in tile work SantiagoEnglish. It was a bit isolating, but most pilgrims spoke some English so we could communicate with some people. There was a neat couple from Costa Rica, who spoke no English, and we tried hard to communicate with them, but it did not work. We saw them for several days and kept trying though. We went through a lot of ibuprofen. The good thing is that in Portugal and Spain it comes in 600 milligram tablets and it is very inexpensive. This blew our minds as it is quite expensive and only 200 milligrams in the States. The dinner that the pharmacist ordered for us ended up being chicken fingers, of all things. Our first dinner in Spain and we have chicken fingers! I will say that there was a good spicy dipping sauce. We took the left overs to carry with us the next day for a snack. We went to a Supermercado to buy some food for the next day as we knew there wouldn’t be many places to eat along the road and it was a many mile day. Fruit was easy to eat along the way, babybell cheese came in handy too.  Cafés were the most welcomed sight. You could spot one coming by the signature red umbrellas and tables. At this point we stopped at almost every one as they were spread far apart and we could use the break. We fell in love with café con leche, which is equal parts espresso and steamed milk in a small cup. Paul also became a straight up espresso drinker. We usually got a café con leche, pastry, Kinder Bueno for the road and fruit, if they had it. And ham and cheese sandwiched, that seemed to be the only actual food you could get. Paul was starting to hate the sight of a ham and cheese sandwich, while I was beginning to love it, I would get so hungry that I could kiss a ham and cheese sandwich.

leaving Portugal Spain

There was the most amazing cathedral in Tuí. I want to learn more about it. It made me think of a Dan Brown novel or the Knights Templar. It was beautiful and had statues and symbols of so many things that I knew nothing about… There is so much that I don’t know. We took a bridge to cross into Spain. There was a huge Portugal sign on the Portuguese side, a long bridge over  river, where Paul’s shirt fell off his pack, and a German couple (also Pilgrims) grabbed it for us and then a huge Spain sign on the Spanish side. This was our first night in a Xunta, which is the Spanish government run albergue. Thee had a fixed rate of 6 Euros a night, which was nice. This there were a lot of pilgrims over a few floors. We slept in bunk beds, we both were on the top bunk, with a stranger underneath. I can picture this place so vividly as I write.

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Day Five Camino de Santiago

4/22/14 Rubaies

arrowamazing waterfall

So far Ponté de Lima is my favorite city. There are a few people in the albergue that we met in the albergue last night. The woman from Holland is very nice and we run into her a lot. There are two men from New Zealand who are really cool as well. One of them passed out while riding his bike on the Camino, woke up in an ambulance, recovered for 10 days in a hospital, and is now walking to Santiago. That is dedication. We climbed a huge mountain today but were rewarded with a downhill trip to the albergue. Paul shipped 2 kilos of his stuff home this morning, so his load was lighter today. I had washed my clothes at the albergue in Ponté de Lima and hung them to dry, but it rained rainy dayovernight and my clothes were all wet. I hope they dry tonight. Tomorrow we are crossing into Tuí. I am excited for this. There is nothing really going on in this city, but we may go to the bar for dinner. Tuí should be much more exciting, plus it is in Spain! I felt homesick last night and we still have a ways to go, but I am very happy to be on this journey and will be proud to reach Santiago. The knee brace I got yesterday morning has helped so much. This is the best I’ve felt after a day of walking yet. 11 miles today. Paul’s ankle is hurting very bad, I hope the ankle brace helps him.

hand holdin

Reflecting on José and Christina again, I imagine they don’t fight. If Paul were dying, would I bother to point out every time he did something that annoyed me, or did something in a way I didn’t like? No. I’d like to remember this and live this way. Unless truly offended, why bother to make a bad situation by criticizing. I am wishing now that I could send a note to my family and let them know how the trip is going. There were two cowscows in the road today (I was hoping I would see that) and when we stopped to eat we encountered other pilgrims and two cats that caught mice for a treat of their own. It rained for about an hour this morning, which made the rain gear useful. I am getting better at peeing on the side of the trail. Paul and I have broken some bathroom/ modesty boundaries (mostly me). Last night, while feeling homesick, I wanted Paul near me for comfort. Then I had a strange feeling that Paul and I are strangers. We are married, that is ridiculous, but I can’t shake this feeling. Do we really know each other? Am I fully myself with him? This is a weird feeling, but an interesting one, like I am looking forward to getting to know each other. That is a journey itself.  Bom Camino!

cross and arrow albergue

Day 5 again, just had a great dinner at the one place in town. We went with Holland (I can’t pronounce her name), we met two American pilgrims there, the New Zealand guys came in and then the Irish girl we met earlier came in by herself and we invited her to eat with Holland and us. Her name is Evelyn an she is really cool. She considers herself a Lady Moc. She has her bag sent ahead and has a hair dryer and makeup. She was a semi-professional hurling player. Great conversation. By the end of the night 4 more pilgrims (Germans) from our albergue showed up. I love the moments with just Paul and I and I also love these interactions. One German couple told us that a lot of Germans are inspired to do the Camino because of a book written by a German comedian called something like, “I’m going away for a long time.” I’d like to check this book out. – OK good night.

Bom Camino

Up to this point, I had been sleeping in one set of clothes and walking in another. Since my bunk bedsday clothes were soaking wet in the morning, I had to walk in my night clothes, which had been relatively clean. We saw so many incredible things every day. It is interesting, the things I chose to write down and capture each evening. Our routine was that when we checked into our albergue each night, we would shower, then Paul would lay down for a bit and I would write. Then we’d go explore the town we were in and get dinner. It stayed light really late there. Oh, and we’d also rub each other’s feet after we were all fresh and clean again. This was a necessary part of the journey. I had never experienced the feeling of being homesick before. To be honest, I don’t think I ever thought that was a real thing. I can only describe it as a mild anxiety and general feeling that something isn’t right. This is likely what generated the whole, “Paul is a stranger feeling”. I cant really put into words what that feeling was like. It wasn’t a bad thing, it made me think for a minute almost like someone presented me with a handsome man and said, “this is your husband, figure it out.” I look back fondly at this feeling. I’m sure there is a lesson in it somewhere.

Ham and cheese & pastries! Again.

Ham and cheese & pastries! Again.

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Day Four Camino de Santiago

Monday, April 21, 2014 Ponte de Lima

arrow in the sceneryI am in the albergue in Ponte de Lima. This is the most incredible location, a room with this view would be considered a luxury. There are 40 beds in this room with about 33 albergue bedsoccupants. The  woman we met yesterday from Holland is here, she is very nice. We met a lot of people in our albergue and it was wonderful having dinner on the patio in the city and saying hello to our “friends” as they walked by. This morning I woke in our beautiful hotel room after having the best night’s sleep I have had since last Monday. We leisurely got ready and had an amazing breakfast buffet served by our hosts. We asked José where the pharmacy was so that we could get ibuprofen and after breakfast he drove us to the farmácia and dropped us off at the Camino. I have learned so much from José and Christina and I pray that I don’t forget their lessons.

view from our albergue 2 view from our albergue

Sadly, one of the lessons learned from them is the beauty of living like you, or your loved one is dying. José has a problem with his lungs, which has moved to his brain, it sounds like cancer, and he expects to live only a few more months. He is expecting his first grandchild in one week. José sees the beauty in life , his wife, his family, and his home. It makes me wonder how I would live and be if Paul or I were dying, which we all are in a sense. Their anniversary is April 23rd, just three days after us (but 24 more years).

path moss covered wall

The firework continued all day again and I can hear barking dogs. We walked a little over 10 miles. I am so glad that we split the 20 miles in half, for a million reasons. My left beauty of the wayknee is quite sore as is Paul’s left ankle, this albergue has no pillows or blankets, so we will make do without. I miss the intimacy that is absent when you are n your own bed and/ or sleeping bag. Again, our bed last night was a gift. Forests and more vineyards made up most of the day’s walking. We heard the song “Sunny” playing from someone’s garage and saw a frenchie today, I miss my baby girl. The church bells just chimed 10pm and someone turned off the lights. Bed time. Good thing my kindle lights up. My wish/ prayer for this trip is to strengthen the bond between Paul and I, to come home a better version of myself, and that God’s will will be done regarding children for us. Is it possible we conceived last night?, we’ll see…

Buen Camino.

Looking at my journal and laughing as after the lights had gone out, I was no longer writing in the lines. I can’t believe I didn’t write more about that breakfast we had. It was the best breakfast buffet I have ever had, or seen. José and Christina had asked us the day ponte de lima bridgebefore if we could wait until 9 am for breakfast, they were worried that we’d want to get back on the Camino early and it takes them 8 hours to prepare the breakfast. But they said that if it was too late, they’d get up even earlier. I am telling you I have never experienced hospitality and kindness to strangers like we did in Portugal. It was unbelievable. A trait that I very much wanted to take home with us. We had a tearful goodbye with José and Christina. We told each other that we would always hold each other in our hearts and I have every intention to. One of the more magical moments of the Camino was when José dropped us off and he asked me to give word to St. James for him. I felt honored to be the bearer of this powerful request.

patio dining ponte de lima 2

Ponte de Lima was my favorite city. It is a place that I would love to live. It has a main city street right on the river with an ancient bridge. Cafés and restaurants lined the street and people walked everywhere. I long to live in a city where people walk everywhere. We also saw people walking their dogs which was nice, because up to this point and throughout most of Portugal, we only saw barking dogs used as watch dogs and they were chained up and did not seem happy. This city was beautiful and the buildings and their windows were trimmed with lights which made the night seem grand.

bridge lit up ponte de lima at night

A fun little side story from this night was that there was a German woman (who we later referred to as  the crazy German lady) who was doing the Camino with her 14 year old grandson. When we met them in the albergue, she was in panic mode as her grandson lost quick resthis passport. She believed it was left in the previous town the day before. I can’t imagine loosing my passport while traveling abroad. While we were eating dinner later that evening, the German woman and her grandson walked by and said hi. She told us, that someone from the previous town had found his passport and driven it to Ponte de Lima, assuming that this was their next stop and they had somehow found them and returned the passport!! This is the kindness that we saw everywhere.

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Day Three Camino de Santiago

Aka Our one year wedding anniversary aka Easter!love you arrow

This moment is so magical, I am almost in tears. We are at the most incredible hotel with the best host ever, who told us that for today, this is our home, and I wish it was. We are at the Casas do Rio, a sprawling landscape of heaven. Green everywhere, it has beautiful trees, it is on a lake, there is a fountain, pool, jacuzzi, swans, a duck pond, chicken area, and a game house with billiards, a beautiful chess table, darts, and foosball. As I am writing we hear church choir music filling the whole valley. This is like nothing else. Our hosts José and Cristina are about to celebrate their 25th wedding anniversary. When we asked for marriage advice, José (pronounces zho-zay) said that there will be troubles, but we should use our troubles as ways to grow closer. Our room is awesome, it has a fire place, orange canopy and a really nice bathroom. The rug by the couch felt like a cloud under back packinmy sore feet. We talked to José after walking around a bit and he shared their story. He was teaching at the university and worked for a company and he wanted to find a place that touched a river. They found this place, which was really worn down, and have fixed it up over a nine year period. The original Camino route passed right through the property as did a Roman route to an important Portuguese city. Back to their story, the quit their lives and followed this dream. He described it as doing something without knowing why you are doing it, so beautiful! José told us he was once told that there are three parts to our brains; instinct/ fear, pleasure, and affection/ happiness, and that affection and happiness suffer when the focus is on pleasure. Cristina told Paul that we have to come back for our 25 year anniversary. I say “yes, let’s do it”.

hotel beauty amazing breakfast

Our walking journey today: We were hungry when we left the albergue and wanted real breakfast (no more cafés). While asking someone where we can find a ristoranté and gesturing ‘food’ , a man drove up and asked if we wanted “comida” and he drove us to a place to eat. It was cool, but only had café and pastries. I wanted eggs so bad, but oh well. We started our Camino and Paul read from our guidebook, “Ask, and ye shall receive, seek, and ye shall find”. We walked through a pretty vineyard and the things I asked for in my mind were received. There was a café at the perfect moment. After leaving the café, we saw a fellow pilgrim we had met the night before (we think his name was Andreas). We walked with him for a bit and a pilgrim lady from Holland joined us. She dropped off soon, but we walked with Andreas (who is from Austria) until we had to veer off to get to our beautiful hotel. While walking I was in pain. My collar bones and feet hurt from the weight of my pack ad I have blisters on the pads of my two smallest toes on both feet. As I am writing now, we just got back from dinner (where someone who works there drove to pick us up and drop us off). Looking forward to a bath and a good night’s sleep. As we walked past many homes, including our hotel, we saw that a lot of people put flower petals leading up to their door. I imagine this  is for Easter, but want to research this further. Bath time.

Buen Camino!

flower petals to doorstep our dear friend Jose

There is no way I can ever put into words the magic of this day. We heard fireworks all day long, from morning until night. Paul said it was for our anniversary, but Easter may have had something to do with it. While we walked we heard people ringing bells and saw what looked like a priest with a small entourage walking through the towns. Apparently, the

Cheers to one year! In my homemade anniversary top.

Cheers to one year! In my homemade anniversary top.

flower petals leading up to the doors is an invitation for them to stop by and bless your home. So cool. I want to decorate the path to our door next Easter, I imagine the neighbors may think this is strange. At the hotel were other guests, who were dressed like they’d be staying in a nice hotel. I felt so dirty and scrubby in comparison as I only had the clothes I had been wearing on the Camino. I wanted to look nice for our anniversary dinner, but had limited options, so I started playing with the scarf I had brought and, with Paul’s help, managed to twist it into a one shouldered top which I wore with my black leggings. It was small, it helped make me feel like I was “dressed up” for a moment.

This is the coolest one year anniversary I can ever imagine.

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