St James of the Field of Stars (Santiago de Compostela)

 

photo81

This month is the 5th anniversary of my Camino walk. The Camino was life changing and I miss it often.  Enjoy this lovely memory with me.  My daily posts on the Camino can be found in the archives in May and June 2014.

My book Pilgrimage: A Modern Seeker’s Guide was inspired by my walk on the Camino and many other pilgrimages around the world and close to home.  The e-book is now priced at $5.99.  Check it out at Amazon. 

First Published June 2104

It wasn’t until the last week on the Camino that I could even think about Santiago, yet that was always the goal.   Every day I concentrated on the next 20 km or talked about the next big town, Pamplona, Burgos, Leon.   After Astorga, Santiago started to come into focus.   There were rumors about a celebration in Santiago about the time I planned to get there.  That was when I realized that if I arrived one day early I would be in Santiago for Pentecost, a holy day and a guaranteed Botafumeiro, the mammoth swinging incense censer in the nave of the Cathedral.   See a video of the Botafumeiro here.

Pentecost is the graduation day for the Apostles, including St. James, after Christ’s Ascension.   The Holy Spirit came to them in the Upper Room and sent tongues of fire to anoint them to go preach the Gospel.   No more perfect day to finish my pilgrimage and graduate to the next stage of my life.

While Alexandra slept I spent Pentecost with St. James.  I first listened to the beautiful chant of the Rosary.   Next the Botafumeiro made its mighty journey through the Cathedral to the sounds of the organ and choir.  I dreamed of this moment along with the centuries of pilgrims who had dreamed that same dream.   I went to a chapel to celebrate Mass in English with an Irish priest.  He read the story of Pentecost and we sang songs and lit a candle for all of the continents and peoples.     I joined the main Mass where the Archbishop presided over Confirmation.   I was having my graduation ceremony.  I had completed my task.

I didn’t realize how much I was going to need those extra days in Santiago to process my experience.   I saw pilgrim friends I hadn’t seen in weeks and we hugged and congratulated each other on a job well done.   It was special to be at Pilgrim’s Mass with my fellow travelers, a shared experience to the end.    I saw everyone I had hoped to see again and exchanged contact information.

I went to dinner with my friends and we talked about our favorite and least favorite Albergues, tales of the food, injuries and blisters and things we learned.  One pilgrim was in tears because he finally forgave his father, others had come to terms with their past or had new hope for their future. We were all proud of our strong bodies and loose hiking pants.   I cherished every moment of the language of the pilgrim, I miss it so much.

The next day my friends arrived by car with clothes for me and to share my triumph.   It was hard to move out of the pilgrim world.   The first day I put on a new shirt.  The next day I put on different shoes but still wore my hiking pants.  I had to reenter the world gradually.   We went to Mass together and they were treated to the Botafumeiro, and I was glad to see it another time.   We went behind the altar to touch the statue of St. James and went below to the crypt where his bones are kept in a silver casket.

All of my pilgrim rituals where complete and it was time to go.   I left my worn out shoes and some clothes I couldn’t bear to wear again and a piece of my heart in Santiago.

photo 5

Worn out shoes

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St James of the Field of Stars (Santiago de Compostela)

 

photo81

This month is the 5th anniversary of my Camino walk. The Camino was life changing and I miss it often.  Enjoy this lovely memory with me.  My daily posts on the Camino can be found in the archives in May and June 2014.

My book Pilgrimage: A Modern Seeker’s Guide was inspired by my walk on the Camino and many other pilgrimages around the world and close to home.  The e-book is now priced at $5.99.  Check it out at Amazon. 

It wasn’t until the last week on the Camino that I could even think about Santiago, yet that was always the goal.   Every day I concentrated on the next 20 km or talked about the next big town, Pamplona, Burgos, Leon.   After Astorga, Santiago started to come into focus.   There were rumors about a celebration in Santiago about the time I planned to get there.  That was when I realized that if I arrived one day early I would be in Santiago for Pentecost, a holy day and a guaranteed Botafumeiro, the mammoth swinging incense censer in the nave of the Cathedral.   See a video of the Botafumeiro here.

Pentecost is the graduation day for the Apostles, including St. James, after Christ’s Ascension.   The Holy Spirit came to them in the Upper Room and sent tongues of fire to anoint them to go preach the Gospel.   No more perfect day to finish my pilgrimage and graduate to the next stage of my life.

While Alexandra slept I spent Pentecost with St. James.  I first listened to the beautiful chant of the Rosary.   Next the Botafumeiro made its mighty journey through the Cathedral to the sounds of the organ and choir.  I dreamed of this moment along with the centuries of pilgrims who had dreamed that same dream.   I went to a chapel to celebrate Mass in English with an Irish priest.  He read the story of Pentecost and we sang songs and lit a candle for all of the continents and peoples.     I joined the main Mass where the Archbishop presided over Confirmation.   I was having my graduation ceremony.  I had completed my task.

I didn’t realize how much I was going to need those extra days in Santiago to process my experience.   I saw pilgrim friends I hadn’t seen in weeks and we hugged and congratulated each other on a job well done.   It was special to be at Pilgrim’s Mass with my fellow travelers, a shared experience to the end.    I saw everyone I had hoped to see again and exchanged contact information.

I went to dinner with my friends and we talked about our favorite and least favorite Albergues, tales of the food, injuries and blisters and things we learned.  One pilgrim was in tears because he finally forgave his father, others had come to terms with their past or had new hope for their future. We were all proud of our strong bodies and loose hiking pants.   I cherished every moment of the language of the pilgrim, I miss it so much.

The next day my friends arrived by car with clothes for me and to share my triumph.   It was hard to move out of the pilgrim world.   The first day I put on a new shirt.  The next day I put on different shoes but still wore my hiking pants.  I had to reenter the world gradually.   We went to Mass together and they were treated to the Botafumeiro, and I was glad to see it another time.   We went behind the altar to touch the statue of St. James and went below to the crypt where his bones are kept in a silver casket.

All of my pilgrim rituals where complete and it was time to go.   I left my worn out shoes and some clothes I couldn’t bear to wear again and a piece of my heart in Santiago.

photo 5

Worn out shoes

Camino Day 37

It was a very breezy, overcast morning and rain was in the forecast. We have really had incredible weather on this trip but in everyone’s life some rain must fall.  I didn’t take any pictures so I’ve sent some random ones from other days.

day37

The trail is now very busy with big groups of people and a long line of pilgrims in front and behind. The large Japanese group has a bus strategically following them in case someone can’t go any further.

day37b

Late morning it did finally start raining so we ducked into a worn out bar for some lunch of an omelette and tomato in a baguette and a coke. We suited up to head back out in the rain. The pilgrims had scattered and the trail, which was more like a stream, was ours again.  The whole day was mostly tree-lined lanes and a few bits along side the main road.  The last few miles our feet we soaked and we were ready to stop for the day.

day37c

Our Albergue was brand new and large to accommodate the increasing flow of pilgrims. If IKEA built an Albergue it would look just like this, modern and efficient.  What it lacks in old Spain charm it made up for in lights, electric sockets and hot water.

Albergues

Dinner with friends and a bit of shopping, since we don’t have far to carry our treasures, finished off the night.  Back to our bunk beds for one final night of communal living.  Tomorrow we arrive in Santiago and have a hotel.  I think we had 25 nights in albergues so we definitely had the whole pilgrim experience. Albergues and pilgrim’s food are the two things we won’t miss but without them the Camino wouldn’t be the same or affordable.

We loved many of the albergues and had a wonderful sense of community there. Others were just a place to sleep and a few were grim and depressing. Some albergues have made for great stories and stand out in my memory and are tales to be retold.

camino

One more day to Santiago!

Camino Day 36

We started the day with a cuddle from this sweet little one.  She and her many siblings were in a yard next to the hotel. She kept following us around for more love. It was hard to leave her behind.

kitten

By mid-morning we were in Melide where we had a snack, got some tissues and more money. The local delicacy is octopus- “pulpo.”  They boil it in large vats in the restaurant window to entice you in. There is probably nothing in the world that could entice me to eat boiled octopus  so we headed on down the road for a tomato and cheese sandwich instead.

We walked through more lovely tree lined lanes and over this rock bridge. There are many eucalyptus forests that smell amazing.

foot bridge

day36b

The trail got much more crowded today as larger groups are now walking the last 100 km.  It has change the atmosphere some and makes beds harder to find but it is part of it. We were able to find a lovely Albergue and shared a room with six French women.  I was lucky enough to be first in line for the washing machine.

stone house

We found friends we hadn’t  seen in many day and ate dinner together, swapping trail stories and talked of our lives before the trail. We don’t have any idea how are lives will be after we finish, probably not obviously different but I know my appreciation of life and the simple things is forever changed. Everything on the trail is brought down to the simplest form; clothes, food, sleep, friendship all wrapped up in the beautiful package of the natural world.

stone bridge

Camino Day 35

The morning started with a light misty rain which soon lifted. We stopped for second breakfast then elevenses before finally having lunch with some American friends.  I treated all to Spanish hot chocolate which is the consistence and taste of hot pudding.  Thick and rich, a little went a long ways but was delicious .

The afternoon part of the walk was by this charming ancient church and this adorable hobbit house.

ancient church

hobbit house

The last few miles were on these beautiful tree lines lanes, next to wild flower meadows, with mountains in the distance.  Combine that with my sweet daughter just ahead and a soundtrack and I had a bit of bliss.

day35b

day35d

day35c

We had booked a hotel ahead and I was very glad of it. Turns out I have a bit of a cold so an afternoon nap was needed. My cough was worse so I was relieved I wouldn’t disturb a whole Albergue. The room had old stone walls with a niche and tiny  windows with green shutters and lace curtains, so charming.

Just three more days and 60 km for 36 total days of walking.   We hate for it to be over and yet at the same time are ready to reach Santiago. The good news is the Camino will be part of us for the rest of our lives.

Camino Day 34

I was happy to leave the grim Albergue and get some eggs and toast at the bar next door.   We reserved a much nicer place for the night.

Portimarin

By mid-morning we crossed this beautiful lake into the town of Portomarin. We had coffee, visited the church and got a stamp, saw this pilgrim statue and got a few groceries for a picnic lunch.

Pilgrim

The walk today was nice but had times of really smelly barnyards. These unique small buildings are everywhere.  We tried to guess what they are used for but finally asked. The farmers use them to dry corn. We found a cow willing to be petted and of course the usual cat worship.

day34a

We stopped and had a picnic lunch of cheese, sausage and bread which we shares with a fellow traveler.  We then continued on together talking about opera when we came across this lovely spontaneous art instillation where I added my bit.

Pilgrim art

By 3:00 we were at our nice Albergue  The room had a view of sheep so later I was able to finally have a sheep and lamb encounter. One mama sheep was so friendly and insisted we keep petting her.

sheep encounter

Alexandra found made some friends her age and enjoyed their shared experiences.    I shared a picnic with my friends. I unfortunately have more allergy problems so had to manage another cough but I was tired enough to sleep well. Not so sure about my fellow roommates, a bit of revenge on the snorers.

Camino Day 24

Alexandra had almost an IHOP breakfast of fried eggs, bacon, OJ and croissant and it made her very happy. We had 14 miles to go today with no towns for breaks.

The weather was perfect, cool with a light breeze. Just out of town we came to the old Roman road that went straight through the flat farm land. In the distance were tall snow capped mountains.

Roman Road

 

With no pilgrims in front or behind the quiet road became a meditation. Just me and the land.

roman bridge

Alexandra and I took a few breaks to rest and have the snack I bought the day before. It was after 2 before we finally came to a small town for a ham omelette sandwich and ice cream.

The last few miles were on a tree lined path parallel to the road. We were happy to finally get to the town of Manzilla de la Mulas which once had a big Mule market.

dappled path

We found our Canadian friend and made plans for the next day and got some supplies and food for supper.

We stayed in the recommended Albergue in the center of town. The host was friendly and the courtyard full of clothes drying and relaxed people.

busy alberque

The Camino has become very popular over the last few years and although there is still a spiritual aspect much of it is more like adventure travel. I can best describe it as: a mobile international adult summer camp where drinking is allowed.

You make the Camino your own and it gives you what you came for and what you need. I have been very happy with the gifts I’ve received.

beautiful path marker