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A Father & Son Camino

Discussion in 'Camino Frances' started by Lipka149, Jun 19, 2011.

  1. Lipka149

    Lipka149 Active Member Donating Member

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    Hello All -

    Two years ago today Aaron and I flew out of the States to begin our Camino. Last year I sorted through the pictures he took and organized them on a daily basis so I could reflect and remember. I also wrote him an e-mail each day, sharing my memories and the feelings I was having after a year of absorbing the impact the Camino had on me that day.

    I read through the first few of these e-mails this morning and it occurred to me that
    they were a personal story ... a story that others who have been there, and perhaps those who have not ... might enjoy reading. I'm going to go out a limb here and share those writings.

    This is the story of our pilgrimage.
     
  2. Aaron

    Aaron Guest

    Greetings, everyone! I'm Aaron, and I'll keep my dad honest- I'll be interested to hear what he has to say, since I'm the one who kept a journal!
    As I recall, our flight to Atlanta got delayed, and we missed our transatlantic flight, which took us both aback but which, as with many things on the Camino, became a blessing in disguise. More on that manana. 'Sta luego!

    Aaron
     
  3. Lipka149

    Lipka149 Active Member Donating Member

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    Day 0: Biarritz to St. Jean Pied de Port

    From Aaron

    A year ago: Biarritz and St. Jean-Pied-de-Port. =

    ------------------------------------------------

    From Alan

    Yup.

    I pulled out my Credencial and looked at the stamp.

    After getting off the plane in such glorious sunshine, I remember feeling
    ever so isolated in the airport of Biarritz. No one spoke English until we
    met the lads from Ireland. Who was the German guy again ? The bus to the
    train station was great ! Remember meeting Diane and eating lunch with
    everyone at the train station ? Meeting Else on the train ... all the
    Basque signs ... the walk into St Jean ... who was that girl who helped us
    get a room ? Our first menu peregrino ... taking a shower in that god awful
    stall ... the married couple on their honeymoon ... going to bed and not
    wanting to oversleep ... like that was going to be a problem !

    Would you mind if I reminisced each day ? I did not keep a journal, but I
    feel called to write a memory book now ... <sigh> ... feeling somewhat misty
    ... :)

    ~ Dad
     
  4. Lipka149

    Lipka149 Active Member Donating Member

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    Day 1: St Jean to Roncesvalles

    From Alan to Aaron

    Brother Pilgrim -

    Upon waking up, I remember that lady's hand waving all around after she turned on the light and how she spoke French as if we understood her. She was kinda stingy about giving you a banana, remember ? :)

    The walk started without much challenge. Then it hit. Huntto to Orisson was brutal. Then it hit again. Up and up and up from there ... every turn around the hill brought another climb to another turn to another climb. That little steep climb into Frontera ... and the Camino Angel who gave me dried apricots. I carried no food for the trail ... a mistake ! ... then Roland's fountain and the level ground to the rocky road up to the peak of Col de Lepoeder and more Camino Angels with more apricots. Then downdowndown a trail laced with roots ... and my relief at finally not going up was replaced by the fear of falling forward ! Yes Virginia, going DOWN turned out to be more difficult than going UP.

    Met a nice lady on the way down ... do you remember her name ??? ... bought her a glass of wine at La Posada. Pulled in at the bottom and remember a slight rise to a single building ... but no one in sight. Turned the corner and THERE YOU WERE !!! Sucking on a beer and flirting with my lady friend.

    I was last in, I think. Took about 10 hours. Signed in to the Albergue Colegiata and took the top bunk of the last bed in the far corner. Showered and ate a GREAT meal (pasta, whole trout from the local stream and ... was it ice cream ?) Went to Mass. Camino Angels did our wash. It rained HARD during the night. 120 sleeping pilgrims played their symphony of night music ... and I slept well.

    Funny ... but I don't remember the pain or exhaustion or numbness very much. What I recall so clearly is the fulfilling sense of accomplishment for having DONE IT. And what comes back to me now is the hello you had for me when I did roll in ... and the pride in your voice when you greeted me as your Dad. I remember you bought the first beer too, didn't you ???

    ~ D
     
  5. Lipka149

    Lipka149 Active Member Donating Member

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    Day 2: Roncesvalles to Larrosoana

    From Alan to Aaron

    My Brother Pilgrim -

    Our waking was to some beautiful music ... I couldn't quite place it then, but managed to identify it later. It has since escaped me ... do you remember it ?

    I was last out and by then the worst of the rain was over. Donned my raincoat and took it off about 1km later at a crucerio. Ended up wetter from sweat than the rain ! Bought some food at a store. The six pack of energy bars was my reserve for the entire journey. I ended up eating the last 2 on the plane home.

    Stopped at a house in Espinal to ask for water ... agua ? ... the lady their directed me to a fountain in the most melodic Spanish I have ever heard. The walk up the hill after that was tough ... going down again was ok, but I was alone the whole time and wasn't sure of my way. Hit some tough rocky footing ... the Paso do Roldan walk was blessedly level, yet kinda wet and almost depressing. The effects of fatigue perhaps ?

    Came down more rocky trail into Zubiri and rested after crossing the Puente de la Rabia. Stuck my head in an albergue and asked where the fountain was in confident Spanish. Felt very good about that ! Laid down on the steps nearby and Else came waltzing out in her skirt and sandals looking as fresh as Spring. Learned that you had decided to press on to Larrasoana ... picked up my pack and followed thinking it was not far. Two hours later I arrived after a 10 hour day. Nine hours yesterday ... ten hours today ... with supper and laundry yet to do ... whew ...

    Ate beef stew at the communal table and saved my desert (una manzana) for breakfast the next day. I was learning ! Did I eat Dianne's leftovers ? I think I remember doing that ... how barbarous ! Did laundry in the shower as I washed myself. Slept on the bottom bunk and hung all my wet clothes out the window and over the bed rails. Watched Johann (the big German) dress a horrible blister. It covered the whole ball of his foot. He passed me earlier in the day going uphill at a respectable pace and I envied him his energy. Began to see several injuries that people were getting along the way ... thankful that I had good boots, moleskin, ibuprofen, and the good advice that Jonathan gave before leaving.

    Slept like a log.

    ~ D


    From Aaron to Alan

    PS- the music in the morning at Roncesvalles was the group Clannad- I think
    the tune was called Harry's Game.


    From Alan to Aaron

    You are right ! Wow ... now that fills me with "high emotion" !

    Thanks !

    ~ D


    From Alan to his (our) Camino Family

    Peregrinos !

    Today would have been the second day Aaron and I were on our Way. At this moment, I was probably struggling down Alto de Erro into Zubiri, where I would find that my young, energetic companion (that scoundrel of a son of mine) had scampered off to Larrasoana. Looking back, I remember thinking that another couple of kilometers wouldn't be so bad ... and with that same hindsight, remembering how absolutely exhausted I was when I finally arrived. They say "what doesn't kill you, makes you stronger". Well, that stretch of the Way darn near killed me and I blame Aaron (that scoundrel of a son of mine) for it !

    Ha !

    And indeed, I am stronger for it, in so, so many ways.

    Hello to you all and I hope this finds you healthy, filled with God's love and making the world a better place.

    I decided a few days ago to send Aaron a few words about my Camino memories and being a man of words himself, he agreed to reminisce with me. As long as we were expending the effort, I thought you folks might be interested in our reflections and perhaps be inspired to share your own thoughts and feelings. To that end, I will include you in future e-mails. If you think there are others who might enjoy sharing with us, please send me their e-mails and I will add them to the list. Join in if the Spirit moves you.

    All the best -

    ~ Alan
     
  6. Lipka149

    Lipka149 Active Member Donating Member

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    Day 3: Larrosoana to Cizur Menor

    Alan to Aaron

    Hi A -

    As usual, you were on the road before me. :)

    The walk along the stream under the trees was delightful.

    I don't remember too much before Pamplona. I walked with Dianne for a long time and we stopped in a pharmacy on the outskirts of Pamplona to buy band aids for her. Her feet really took a beating. Walking through the suburbs wasn't too bad. We ate a snack just before crossing the Puente Magdalena.

    Pamplona ! What a city ! Remember Iruna ? Wish we could have spent a day there. I remember watching the kids play soccer in the plaza. You found a post office there, didn't you ? We saw that percussion band in the street. They were good ! I would go back to Pamplona for a week ! Some day ... :)

    Walked with Dianne to Cizur Menor. Lots of talk about relationships. She seemed so scared of making a commitment to her wealthy boyfriend because of the recent economic downturn. I recall feeling ever so confident about me and Donna (despite my own financial losses) and sharing those convictions. Gosh, I hope Dianne was able to work through her uncertainties ... <sigh> ...

    Those last 50 yards to the Albergue Roncal were toughtoughtough. Else steered us right though. That courtyard was ever so peaceful. I soaked my feet in salt water and washed our clothes in the washer ... without soap ! Arghhh ! Had to do them again ... for 3 more euros ! I think I had shrimp that night for supper rather than the pilgrims menu ... and regretted it. I do recall the regular menu gave me fits and decided to go with the pilgrim's menu from then on unless I knew exactly what I was getting.

    Hit the sack early and slept like a log. No one snored ! Ha !

    Much love -

    ~ Dad
     
  7. Lipka149

    Lipka149 Active Member Donating Member

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    Day 4: Cizur Menor to Puenta la Reina

    From Alan to Aaron

    Dear Aaron -

    This morning you reminded me that we would see windmills for the first time. You were right ! And I remember being thrilled when they first appeared.

    More upupup. I was walking alone and there was nothing but beautiful fields all around and some ruins to the right (Guendulain). Only one tree along the path ... with a bench under it ... and there sat Dianne ! She was a very early starter and I usually passed her about 2-3 hours into my own walk. We talked for a bit and spent some time trudging upupup until just before the top of Alto de Perdon. She shared her banana with me. I broke away and topped the rise and headed down. I remember being cold because of the wind.

    The downslope was all loose stone. A guy from Hungary came stumbling down ... in sandals yet ! ... and we stopped to tend to his feet. I gave him half my alcohol swabs and wished him well ... never saw him again. Dianne caught up to me at some point and we decided to take the detour to Eunate. How delighted I was to see you and Else and Leontien ! (When did we first meet Leontien, do you remember ?) There was a wedding just ending ... and the Blessed Sacrament was still in residence. I remember losing myself in His Presence. Took some rose petals from the arrangements and brought them home to Donna.

    Obanos to Puente la Reina was an easy walk. We checked into Albergue Padres Reparadores and felt pretty good about a room with only 8 people. As it turned out, the snoring was horrible and I slept half the night in the common area.

    Had a small meal with you at the Hotel Jakue ... two Coronas ... felt spilkish and went back to the albergue. Tried to write in my journal but a Spanish peregrino talked my ear off for 15 minutes and I didn't understand a word he said ! I gave appropriate responses in ooh's and ahh's though. It occurred to me that I was not put there to UNDERSTAND ... only to LISTEN. Come to think of it ... maybe I need to do more of that ... :) Passed him some days later on a road. He was dragging a suitcase on wheels and smiling ... I hope he made it.

    Figured out that shopping for food the night before was a smart thing to do. Spanish grocery stores keep different hours than American ones ... no "open 24 hour" places ... so learned another lesson.

    Explored a little bit ... amazed that I the energy to do so. Didn't really find anything though. To afraid to go into unfamiliar places without knowing how to communicate. Struggled with that.

    Did not sleep well.

    Love -

    ~ Dad

    PS Bought some Golden Delicious manzanas today. Basic breakfast along the Way ... not a bad idea for breakfast at home. :-D
     
  8. Lipka149

    Lipka149 Active Member Donating Member

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    Day 5: Puenta la Reina to Estella

    Alan to Aaron

    Aaron Thomas !

    Once again, I was last out of the gate. Got lost coming out of Puente la Reina and had to backtrack not once, but twice !

    Struggled terribly trying to get my backpack to sit comfortably. Met our buddy Matt in Cirauqui and he showed me how to get the belt tight and let the top hang back off the shoulders. What a difference !

    I remember spending some time in Cirauqui buying bread and cheese and salami. Had a decent sandwich for the first time in a week. The Roman bridge coming out of Cirauqui was beautiful.

    This was a rather short distance today, but it seemed to take FOREVER to get to Estella. Lot's of Basque graffiti along the way. Finally limped into the Albergue Municipal ... beautiful music playing in the lobby ... incense burning ... English spoken ... cool stone steps ... and I remember that you brought me a Heineken in the shower. You later admitted to taking a swig before giving it to me, you swine !

    Had supper in Estella. That bridge over the river was so steep to climb. Do the up & downs never stop ? Became very tired during the meal and remember asking you to pay for me so I could go back to the albergue and rest. My right knee had been getting progressively weaker throughout the last few days and I was seriously considering going home if it got any worse. This was the low point of the Camino for me. I figured if I could last 3 days then the physical demands would not stop me. True enough, but as it turned out, it took until Day 5 to overcome the mental challenge. You were most kind to threaten me when I shared this with you. Threaten ? Yes ... if you recall ... you woke me up that evening and gave me some sentimental slop about how much you valued traveling with your Father and how if I went home the trip would be worth so much less to you and you would go home with me and you promised to walk with me for the next couple of days so I wouldn't feel so alone. Amazingly, my knee never gave me any more trouble. I think you missed your calling as a motivational speaker ! Ha !

    Slept well and began to comprehend the restorative powers of sleep in a way I had never realized before.

    Love -

    ~ Dad
     
  9. Lipka149

    Lipka149 Active Member Donating Member

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    Day 6: Estella to Los Arcos

    From Aaron to Alan & Co.

    Hi all!!!

    ah, camino day 6 took us from Estella to Los Arcos. I definately recall how bad the evening in Estella was for dad, but Matt from california and a few other pilgrims told me how lucky I had it... and they were night, naturally. I freely admit my frustration, but I would come to understand that the Camino was not a race track!

    I waited for you outside the Aubergue and traveled most of the day with you. 21.7 km today... we climbed to Villamayor where Leontien stopped at the Dutch aubergue. I chowed down on a jamon boccadillo in a wide high plaza, you and Else were there, as were the Cali girls. I briefly entertained the notion of hiking to the castle on the summit... it didn't happen though. surprised?

    the nice Austian aubergue in Los Arcos had a very charming courtyard, and a cooler which sold good Austrian weissbeer for a pleasant change from San Miguel. Resupplied before siesta hit- some of that dried fruit stayed with me to Galicia! It rained that afternoon- we hadn't seen very much of that, thankfully- and dinner was cooked for us by Hilda from Norway & friends, who would go unseen until our final day in Santiago! A German kid named Marius brought and shared with us a little of the vino from the wine fountain, which made me excited for the next day. And what a day that would turn out to be...

    ~Aaron


    From Alan to Aaron

    Dear A -

    Started a bit earlier this morning and I remember walking with you most of the way to Los Arcos. I know we started early, because by the time we got to the wine fountain in Irache, it had not even opened yet ! We hung around for a bit and then headed off to Villamayor. On the way up we passed poor Johann nursing his foot ... gave him some of my treasured blister padding, but it didn't look good for him. Bought fruit along the way.

    Yeah, we each had a HUGE bocadillo in Villamayor. Else was ahead of us and we caught up to her there. This is where it stared to be clear to me that following Else and listening to her advice was a good thing to do. Besides, she turned out to be pretty good company, don't you think ? :)

    Albergue la Fuente was indeed a homey little place to stay. And who should we run into there ? Johann ! He hopped a bus and gave his foot a break. I remember the meal Hilda cooked. It was awful, and yes, Marius DID bring wine from Irache (which was also terrible) but but the company was great. Who was that curly haired German kid in sandals ... Michael ? He had some fairly bad foot problems too as I recall. I washed all the dishes as part of my donation to the dinner cost and our hostess was most appreciative.

    I remember the bad part about rolling in later than everyone else was the lack of clothes line space. And the rain ... yes ... I left my boots out overnight by mistake and they were filled with water in the morning. We met that guy from Boston here, didn't we ? And the couple from India ? No, they were in Roncesvalles ... but I remember washing my clothes with her ... what were their names ???

    Slept well that night.

    Much love -

    ~ Dad

    PS From the wall on the albergue ... "There is no sun without shadow, and it is essential to know the night." I was very touched by this.
     
  10. Lipka149

    Lipka149 Active Member Donating Member

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    Day 7: Los Arcos to Viana

    From Alan to Aaron

    My dear Brother Pilgrim -

    Our longest stretch yet ahead of us today ... and you wimped out on me in Viana ! :)

    Up early and not the last out of town. It was HOT. The up and downs were brutal. Dianne had a particularly bloody pinky toe ... blister gone bad ... I gave her band aids to wrap it with. I think we lost Vivian on this day ... she was struggling with the weight of her backpack and her hips were giving out. She said she was not going to risk permanent injury. I hope she went back to complete her journey with greater wisdom about what to pack ... and what to leave behind.

    Was this where we met that French couple ? Alex & ... who ?

    We stopped in Viana for lunch and I was not ready to eat yet. Wanted to press on ... gotta keep to the schedule ! We had already lost a day ... no time to burn another one by stopping now ! You made your case for staying and we looked at the next few days to see where and when we might make up the time/distance ... I remember Else was aghast ... AGHAST ! ... that I would even think about leaving Viana ! This was the first opportunity I had to really put my own "plan" aside and go the way of my Camino Angel. <sigh> Else was right ... stay. I stayed.

    What a delight to give in and enjoy the afternoon. You and I and Else and Dianne and the Cali girls had a great time around the table that afternoon. Albergue Andres Munoz had those 3 tiers and the wonderful common area. Showers were good ... and the sound techs were playing parts of JC Superstar in the amphitheater right next door. Fantastic ! The view from the garden terrace towards Logrono ... a two hour siesta ... internet access ... the incredible sunset ... talking with Matt ... the only bummer was how the doors slammed when people went in & out of the rooms !

    This was a good stop and the rest and consequent stops over the next few days proved to be better than I would have expected. Does Else have wings ? Or what ??? :) She sure was our Camino Angel, don't you think ???

    Viana will always be a special place for me.

    Much love -

    ~ Dad
     
  11. Lipka149

    Lipka149 Active Member Donating Member

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    Day 8: Viana to Navarette

    Alan to Aaron

    Hi A -

    Up early again this morning and off to it !

    We spent time with Else at Felisa's and got a hug from her ... met that guy who traveled thousands of miles ... where from ? Austria ? Passed through Logrono and saw a nice cathedral. Which one was it ? Stopped at the lake (Plantano de La Grajera) outside of Logrono and had a popsicle. For the third time, heard music that went to my heart. This time, Fields of Gold by Sting.

    Don't remember much about this leg of the Way, but I sure remember Navarette ! Had some nice tapas (octopus for the first time) and spent the afternoon relaxing with you and Else and Leontien and the Cali girls. Took a nap, but it wasn't enough. Perhaps the best pilgrims menu of the whole trip. The espaghetti was wonderful in that olive oil and basil dressing. I crashed half way through the meal and had to go to bed.

    The plan for the next day was another jolt from Else ... take a car to Ventosa and start walking from there ! It was MY turn to be AGHAST ! I so much wanted to keep my camino "pure" by walking all the way. By this time, however, I had put my trust in her and it did not take long to be convinced that sleeping an extra hour in the morning was a good thing.

    Slept well ... no snoring that I can remember. We had a good group in the room that night.

    Love ya !

    ~ Dad

    PS Is this where we met Pedro & Kris ?


    Aaron to Alan

    I personally looked forward to Logrono. We got there midmorning, had a cafe con leche and a snack in the plaza near the first big catedral, and watched the city start to wake up. Some very interesting graffiti, and Else showed us the statue of Sant Iago Matamoro on a horse with a huge head outside a different church. We walked through a nice natural area with a big lake, and stopped to get helado and cokes at the snack bar on the far side. Very peaceful.

    Navarette was a good aubergue, although I felt bad for Michal and Orlie- Michal's ankle was acting up, the fact that they used a taxi shouldn't have been held against them. Oh well, they got burned on the categorical imperative- a taxi is a taxi, and there was only just enough room for weary pilgrims. We still had a fine time shooting the breeze at the cafe, and I do believe that was where we spoke with Pedro and Kris for the first time. It was a happy evening.

    It was also a happy reunion with Leontien!! What a long day she had to get to Navarette. I remember Matt well: funny to hear him mentioned so often!! I only met him once in Estella, but he seemed to interact with alot of people who I would get to meet later, so I added his email above- so you can say hello, Leontien!!! and Matt; if you read this, what you told me in Estella that afternoon.... spot on, man. spot on.
     
  12. Lipka149

    Lipka149 Active Member Donating Member

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    Day 9: Navarette to Azofra

    Alan to Aaron

    My dear Son -

    I made breakfast this morning ! Used the left over jamon from Villamayor and some eggs I found in the refrigerator. Else ate some (brave girl) and had to "pay me back". I certainly did not want to be compensated ... but I took the cerveza grande she offered a few days later ... :)

    We walked together for quite awhile this morning. The climb up through the mountain pass was not so bad. Credit the car ride that cut almost 8km off our journey.

    Else stopped us at a place littered with stone cairns. She explained their significance ... cares and concerns pressed into each stone with a prayer and left behind forever. I added my stone ... and several more along the way.

    The climb out of Najera was short and steep. I walked with Dianne for awhile. By now she had become silent ... often lifting her pack with a pole held under it and visibly struggling to keep going. Many of us had counseled her to lighten her pack ... she simply refused to do so. She was carrying so much ... baggage. <sigh> We walked into Azofra together, sharing companionable silence and eventually finding our way to Albergue Municipal.

    Again ... Else led us to a little piece of Heaven. A wading pool in the courtyard ... private rooms with 2 beds ... wine for sale at the front desk ... a washing machine ... and the company of a few good friends. Soaking my feet was such a wonderful feeling. Sharing a room with you ... no snoring ! Wine ... the 5 euro bottle I bought was better than the 3 euro bottle you sprung for. I did your wash ... again ! Will I ever stop being a father ??? I remember RUNNING up the hill to dinner. What a showoff ...

    Slept well.

    Goodnight !

    ~ Dad


    Aaron to Alan & Company

    I loved those storks!

    They became a sort of symbol for me; I remember how happy I was to get a feather in Belorado- the lovely swiss hospitalera sewed it into my hat. I took tender care of it every night and got upset when it was rained upon. That feather made it all the way to Santiago, where some Spanish scouts asked me for it as a token of my pilgrimage... it was painful to give it up, but it was one of the gestures that signaled an end to the Camino.

    That would be weeks away; a year ago today, we drank terrific Rioja in the aubergue and soaked our feet in the fountain there and I helped Ingrid with her camera. Little did I know how closely we would follow one another!

    What times!
     
  13. Lipka149

    Lipka149 Active Member Donating Member

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    Day 10: Azofra to Santo Domingo

    Alan to Aaron

    Aaron Thomas !

    A short walk today ... 15km to Santo Domingo. Some of our group went on to Granon ... Iris and Sabina perhaps ? I remember the beautiful countryside and the climb up to the Rioja Alta Golf Club. Ciruena is a blur.

    But Santo Domingo isn't ! Cock-a-doodle-dooooo ! Went to mass in the cathedral at noon and bought postcards ... wrote them out and mailed them at the albergue (Casa del Santo). This was the place where the greeters carried our stuff to the room, remember ? Ate lunch in a lovely outdoor cafe. Ate dinner by myself ... needed some quiet time ... you partied with some other folks and just beat the curfew at 10pm !

    Zzzzzzzzzzz ...

    ~ Dad


    Alan to Family back home

    Hello All !

    Today completes the 10th day of my backpacking adventure across the north of Spain. Aaron and I have covered over 200km now (on foot, no less !) and we have about 25 more days of hiking before we reach Santiago de Compostela. If we get there a day early (which we hope to do), we will take a BUS (!!!) to Finesterre and jump in the ocean. What a way to take a bath after so many days on the road !

    And speaking of bathing ... and washing ... oh my ! The facilities are somewhat spread out and living out of two sets of clothes can be a challenge if one wants anything really clean. I have come to appreciate a washer and dryer ! The dormitory sleeping arrangements are something else again. Everyone in the world seems to snore ! Of course, I don`t ... <heehee>

    Today we are in Santo Domingo de la Caldaza, with it`s beautiful cathedral. The churches here are old ... and absolutely beautiful. This one has a live pair of chickens right in the church and the rooster cock-a-doodle-doos during Mass ! They keep the silly birds there all the time to commemorate a miracle that happened centuries ago. Imagine that ... a chicken coop in a church !!!

    This has truly been a wonderful journey for us. Our feet are sore, but no blisters or twisted ankles or other injuries. We have met many new friends, eat the pilgrim`s menu (pasta or salad, fish and fruit), sleep well despite the noisy accommodations (thankful to have them, quite honestly !) and always seem to head out in the morning with a hop in our step and a song on our lips.

    Looking forward to more experiences to share as our journey continues. I will stay in touch. Please keep us in your prayers and know that all of you are in mine as I make my way over this holy, holy ground.

    Love to all !

    Alan (and Aaron too)

    :)
     
  14. Lipka149

    Lipka149 Active Member Donating Member

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    Day 11: Santo Domingo to Belorado

    Alan to Aaron

    Dear Aaron -

    This part of the journey ... for some days previously, and until we reach Burgos ... are hard for me to remember.

    Physically, I know I can do this. Getting past day 5 proved that, with my knee and all ... but the past week has been a mental struggle. I seem to be lost in the challenge of putting one foot in front of the other. My body is functioning ... but my Spirit is not yet convinced it can release itself. I focus on the basics ... dealing with pain ... getting rest ... squirreling away food for the day ahead. I am developing a system ... 4 ibuprofens when we stop for the day, 4 more before going to bed. That takes care of the pain. I do not take anything while walking because I believe pain is my body's way of telling me when something is wrong. I do not want to eliminate the pain ... I want to learn from it. Dealing with it when I have the time to do so seems to be working ... and I am indeed learning about walking within my limits. This is something Jonathan told me I would face ... he's pretty smart for one so young ... but then again, he IS my son ! Ha !

    Naps are working. I still crash immediately after supper and ask you to pay my way ... many thanks for taking care of that ! It is nice to just walk away and know I am covered.

    Apples and oranges now make up my breakfast and snack as I walk. I try to keep 2 of each all the time. To this day, I believe golden delicious apples are manna from heaven !

    My "system" is leading to a rhythm of life. Soon I will give over to this and my Spirit will become aware of other things ... but that is a story for another day. :)

    A wonderful little albergue in Belorado ... was it Santa Maria ? Nice lady as hostess ... two showers, one kinda stinky ... good bed, no snoring from the Cali girls (or you) ... as you know, I don't snore ... ha !!!

    More tomorrow !

    ~ Dad

    PS Where did we go from here ? Did we go ALL THE WAY TO Atapuerca ? Sheeesh ... I just can't remember ... :-}


    Aaron to Alan

    What a motley crew we were...

    Those were gray days on the Camino, for which I was grateful. Grain and vineyards, hard dirt track. Few towns, and small. A "pre-meseta" which excited me for the real thing beyond Burgos. Chimneys had stork nests atop them, uttering strange wails. there were a few little stone huts in the middle of nowhere.
    St. Domingo was a great aubergue, but the snoring within was second only to Astorga. Bad bad bad. I was exhausted enough to desire sleep, but when it came it didn't stay very long. It made for a tough wakeup; but once I got past the edge of town, I fell into my rhythm. Walking was my escape, and (today at least) more restful than sleep!
    You caught up to me at a cafe midmorning in Granon, where I had met Susan from Tuscon... after barely seeing her for the rest of the Camino, she would walk into Santiago with me. But today, we just kvitched about "John" and his guidebook. I must have walked alone mostly, but you, Else, and Leontien were all headed to the same place.
    We stopped for lunch at a truckstop in Villamayor de Rio and I ate a jamon y pimento boccadillo- the ham leg was prominent on the countertop. for slicing, I guess. Then we arrived in Belorado, walked past the first aubergue which had a pool I think, into the parochial aubergue which was donativo and run by two wonderful Swiss women. The afternoon was the last we would spend with the Cali girls before they headed to Corsica. I would miss singing away the kms with them! We stocked up on fruit/snacks, ate a peregrino menu all together-white bean soup and lumo for me- and SHOCK arranged for a taxi in the morning to skip to the Mtns. of Oca. I received my feather.
    Yeah, the next day got us to Atapuerca- then Burgos- then the trail hit the meseta... Sanbol... Iris...

    Alan to Aaron

    Yesyesyes ! Although I do not remember the snoring, it was here (and not
    Navarette) that we caught the car. As you can see ... things at that time
    are not quite clear in retrospect ! :)

    Susan ... wow ... not only did you walk into Santiago with her, but she
    greeted ME on the way in and told me you were there !!! Wow ... Susan ...
    <sigh> ... wonder what she is doing now ?

    Restaurant Leon ... TWO ham legs ... and they overcharged Else when she
    bought wine ... sons a beeches ... :)

    The Swiss ladies ... they sent us off in the morning with a loaf of real
    bread ... not that skinny, crusty pan ... and some BUTTER. Of all the food
    on the camino ... I missed the butter the most.

    Michal gave Leontien her walking stick. Wonderful sentiment, but Leontien
    soon gave it away.

    Things are (believe it or not) about to get better ... :)

    ~ Dad


    Aaron to Alan

    Ha! Glad I kept a journal then... keeps us both honest. ;)
     
  15. Lipka149

    Lipka149 Active Member Donating Member

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    Day 12: Belorado to Villafranca (by car), then to Atapuerca

    Alan to Aaron and Company

    Hello everyone !

    This began as a daily reflection I wanted to share with Aaron ... but with so many others adding their thoughts and feelings, I decided to change my focus and address my notes to all of you. It is so nice to re-connect this way ... :) ... and if anyone has e-mails of other caminantes, please feel free to add them to our list.

    Began this morning with a slice of bread cut from a real LOAF and covered with BUTTER. That skinny, crusty, dry bread served with the menu peregrino was getting old.

    At Elsa's suggestion, we take a car to Villafranca and begin walking up Alto Mojapan. I was loath to ruin the "purity" of my camino by using any other mode of transportation than my feet. As things turned out, it made the day ever so much more enjoyable. I remember the walk across this beautiful forested land and how nice it was to experience it in the fresh morning air instead of the mid-day heat.

    I believe we walked together for some time and spoke of many things. Although I cannot recall details, I remember very clearly being HAPPY. There is no question that I am undergoing the metanoia I have so longed for.

    We arrived in Atapuerca before the albergue opened for the day. It is small, and fills fast, so I am glad we arrived when we did. Remember those 2 kids who were with their grandfather ? They asked me to play cards with them but I was too tired to do so ... I look back and wish I had been more open to them. We met that Canadian scoutmaster ... never saw him again ... and our sleeping room was somewhat crowded even though there were only 8 of us. I remember Kris snored that night ... ha !!! Such a sweet voice when awake ... :) ... and what a trooper ! More than anyone else, Kris was my inspiration when I felt physically unable to continue. After I saw how tired SHE was after a long walk, and how she always had a smile and a kind word despite her exhaustion ... <sigh> ... it always seemed to lift my spirits and motivate me to carry on. Thanks Kris !!!

    We lose Else tomorrow, as she will be busing through Burgos. I want to go with her ... you are firm that we stay on foot. I felt badly about losing Sebastian and the Irish lads ... but losing Else weighs heavily on my heart this night.

    Pleasant dreams !

    ~ Dad

    PS Note the scratches on Elsa's leg in this picture. Remember when she fell ? I worried it would get worse, but I guess angels are immune to infection. :-D


    Aaron to Alan and Company

    Speaking for myself, I have zero recollection of Kris snoring in ATapuerca. The Camino had had it's way with me that day, and the promise of Burgos loomed large in my dreams.

    It was our last morning w/ Else, and though I knew the time was coming, I denied it. of COURSE she would keep walking with us over the meseta. Naturlich! A bus in Burgos? Never! Last I would see her in person was in a shady cafe half-way to Burgos; she arrived as I was departing, I greeted her and said I would see her soon... but like most things in my life, I insisted I would walk when I was ready, neither waiting for others nor expecting anyone to hold up for me. She had been with us since the train to St. Jean, and had become more than our guide- for days, I was a little sad and kept looking for her on the trail. Eheu, non videbatur.

    I still had dad, and I recall cresting a hill with him and finding a vista of Burgos beneath us. Wow! Having skipped through Pamplona, having passed through Logrono... the prospect of staying in a real city excited me, if only for the variety. And a catedral! and a BAR with GUINNESS instead of a can of San Miguel! (What were those other cervezas called. I remember Estrella Galicia well enough...) we walked down in to Burgos together.
    Later, I remember seeing Pedro and Kris walking in the afternoon, after we staked out our aubergue, while I was out and about and looking for a correos to buy stamps. They gave me directions. I saw a lovely shady promenade packed with people watching me go by, I felt so consciously like a pilgrim and walked faster (er, sort of). Big statue of El Cid in the middle of a busy road. Leontien was with us and ate dinner with us, but dad was wiped out at the table and said very little. In contrast, I was charged up to do stuff, and when the wait staff was slow I had to be assertive... I missed Else's calming guidance... I was sinking into a bad mood when I spotted Iris sitting out of doors in a plaza! She had been one cool character back in Roncesvalles, but now we greeted each other happily. Like that, the world righted itself.

    The catedral was big and mysterious. But I had to get a view of it from up the hill... craziness, I suppose. But up that hill I went, slowly, favoring my sandaled feet, and was pleased with my pictures.

    I began to learn something that day. I had to be mature enough not to lean on Else, which has a lot to do with acting independently and standing up for myself... but I also needed to be comfortable enough to ask others for help, a lesson which would soon become spotlighted in Leon! I started to think of the Camino as a community instead of a hierarchy.

    I had hopes that dad might do my laundry for me, but I did them myself and found out that it is important to do your laundry early enough in the day to let the sun dry them... I had to leave them out overnight. There are lessons, and lessons.
     
  16. Lipka149

    Lipka149 Active Member Donating Member

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    Day 13: Atapuerca to Burgos

    Alan to Aaron & Company

    Hola Peregrinos !

    Not much in the way of memories getting to Burgos, but something HAPPENED when I got there !

    It was a short 18km or so, and Aaron walked in with me. We arrived before the albergue opened and saw a lot of backpacks set out in line ... apparently waiting to enter. We did not want to leave ours, so we went exploring. Found a bar with both Guinness and Heineken on tap ... with tapas ... so we actually sat and had some food with a frosty beverage (or two). For the first time since we began, I was feeling quite human after the walk ! :)

    Entered a beautiful, modern albergue and showered ... rested while Aaron climbed the hill to see the fort up there. It was closed ... all that for "just the view" ... ha !!! :) We toured the Burgos Cathedral and saw the resting place of El Cid. Amazing. Dunked my head in the fountain and felt the thrill of just BEING ALIVE !

    The bells in the cathedral courtyard were quite eerie ... but nothing gave me the creeps like that huge rosary with beads of human skulls.

    Interesting architecture. The restoration of this building was such a contrast to the cathedral in Santiago. Despite its magnificent ... presence ... I found it quite ... lifeless. A museum rather than a CHURCH. The observation reinforced my understanding of Church as people living in community with Christ as their center.

    So now Aaron and I are somewhat alone ... having lost familiar faces and trusted guidance ... and not yet having forged the relationships that would mark our way going forward. We are getting to know each other, however, in ways that are both wonderful ... and annoying. Ha ! There will be a great deal of "interactive conversation" before we are through. Right now we are still relating to each other as Parent/Child ... but we are working on changing that to Adult/Adult. I believe both of us will have more to say on this as our reflections continue. :)

    I rest well this night. It has taken two weeks to capture the physical, mental, and emotional aspects of my camino. The spiritual is yet to come ... :)

    Love to all !

    ~ The Man in the Orange Shirt
     
  17. Lipka149

    Lipka149 Active Member Donating Member

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    Day 14: Burgos to Hornillos del Camino

    Alan to All

    Hello all -

    Left Burgos late … lagging behind again … and got lost in the suburbs. Bumped around for a bit and finally picked up the trail. Thank heaven for yellow arrows !

    This was the first day on the “incomparable meseta” … as John describes it. It was not quite as remarkable as I would have expected. Its most redeeming feature ? It was FLAT ! :-D

    Walking straight, level pathways gave time to appreciate the surrounding sounds and colors. The grain was so beautifully brown … with green trees and scrub defining the edges. Weathered stone outcroppings added a bit of gray and some texture to the horizon. Wind became a new element to contend with. What an interesting sound it made as it raced across the tops of wheat, barley and oats. Dust. Thirst. Cold. Cold, for heaven’s sake ! I was not prepared for the cold ! My backpack was markedly lighter as I wore darn near everything I had to keep warm in the morning chill.

    It was interesting to observe that the towns were built in the depressions along the plateau and not on the meseta itself. The drop down into Hornillos was steep. I think this was the day I walked a lot with Leontien and Aaron met us just before we descended. He was perched on a big pile of rocks waiting as if there was nothing else in the world to do … Ha !

    The albergue municipal assigned beds … a fact I conveniently ignored … and paid the price for. My nap was cut short by the hospitalera insisting that I move. <sigh>

    A wonderful fountain in the courtyard … a friendly puppy for friendship … a good night’s sleep. Gosh … what fun this is !!!

    ~ Alano
     
  18. Lipka149

    Lipka149 Active Member Donating Member

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    Day 15: Hornillos del Camino to Castrojeriz

    Aaron to All

    Last time it was July 8, I was walking into Sanbol. It was a windy morning, and I was cold in the shade, but the little shelter was a welcome haven. Iris, Michael, and Ruth all showed up, and we had a merry little breakfast. I was reluctant to leave! But the meseta calls...
    Kris and Pedro were waiting for us in Castrojeriz, and while dad (and everyone else) took a siesta, I bopped around town looking for them. Big hill, little shade. They were staying in a different aubergue, but their familiar faces were a pleasant relief. We chatted in a plaza while I sipped a cerveza.
    Alas, it was Leontien's last day on the Camino for now! We found a restaurant on a hillside and ate a final peregrino menu with her... I think i had trucha. Dad prayed, I think Ingrid was there too... we were four. Leontien, it was a great honor to share our caminos with you, and I will always remember you! My fondest congratulations on your new grandchild and may you have many, many happy years together! Perhaps one day you will tell about the father-son who you met years ago in Spain...


    Alan to All

    Peregrinos !

    Coming out of Hornillos it was cold and windy. Sunshine ... and the promise of 80 degree temperatures by noon.

    Stopped at San Bol on a whim and bumped into Aaron ! What a smile I had when I saw Tim, the backpack and his green bottle outside the door. Chatted with Miguel for awhile and washed some dishes from the night before. That spring water was COLD ! It is reputed to have healing powers for the feet ... I was not going to dip my tender toes in water THAT cold ! Even so, my feet seemed to feel better after that. Another miracle of the Camino.

    We walked together and looked at some old ruins just off the beaten path. I climbed a bank about 6 feet high to get to them and Aaron was amazed ! Up to this point I had been husbanding my strength to just finish each day ... now it seemed as if I had energy to burn. We continued on to San Anton and rested in the convent. I ate an orange. There were several people I knew, but I cannot recall exactly who they were.

    We stayed at a small albergue (Casa Nostra) and I remember relaxing with Pedro & Kris. Yes ... Leontien went back to the real world ... did the folks from Malaga leave us as well ? Iris and Ingrid and Sabina ... was Michael with us then ? ... I remember being so self conscious about wearing my socks with sandals ... comfort, however, triumphed over style.

    A good sleep.

    Hugs to all !

    ~ Alano

    From my Credencial, courtesy of Miguel at San Bol ... El que lo da todo, tiene todo. Wow ...
     
  19. Lipka149

    Lipka149 Active Member Donating Member

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    Day 16: Castrojeriz to Fromista

    Alan to All

    Hello all !

    Out of Castrojeriz and up a steep hill to the meseta. Then down and through some of the most beautiful wheat fields ... Tierra de Campos ... across several canals ... only small, gentle hills to climb over ... and on to Fromista. Two things happen to me on the way.

    First, I pick up a stone and begin to compress my feelings into it. Instead of worries and cares however, I begin to push my overflowing happiness into it. I realize with a start that this is a stone to KEEP and not leave behind ! It will be in my hand or pocket from this point on and I still have it here at home.

    Secondly, I begin to understand that my Camino is about walking out of my past and into my future. I have struggled for several years to clear my mind and heart of a past relationship so that I can offer myself to another with no doubts or regrets ... and this difficult, difficult walk is a metaphor. I now see that I can leave the shattered relationship that has consumed me behind. I begin to realize that just as I have worked through the breakup of my marriage, so too am I working through my journey to Santiago. There is still some distance to travel, some pain to bear ... but now I know I won't die in the process ! Ha ! I know I'm gonna make it ... and be better for it.

    As with you, Pedro, this was a turning point.

    The walk into Fromista was along a canal and I remember waiting at the locks for Aaron to catch up. Ha ! He was way ahead of me, drinking beer with Iris. He must have passed me when I stopped to go potty. Hey Aaron ... was this when I bought the expensive wine for dinner ?

    Remember the trees that grew with their branches TOGETHER ? Completely different trees ... whose branches seemed to connect with each other ... how did they do that ???

    Slept well this night.

    Dulce suenos !

    ~ Alano
     
  20. Lipka149

    Lipka149 Active Member Donating Member

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    Day 17: Fromista to Carrion de los Condes

    Alan to Everyone

    Dear Friends -

    Headed out of Fromista with Aaron ... we seem to be walking together more now ... and came to ... THE CROSSROADS !

    Poblacion de Campos provided the best picture (IMHO) of the camino. Yellow arrows going BOTH WAYS !!! Ha !

    We took the route to Villovieco where two things happened.

    First, we met Pepe. Stopping to eat a snack at a tree shaded park, Pepe appeared and gave us some hard candy. He jabbered on in Spanish, which Aaron returned, and I just smiled. Pepe's story will continue in a moment, but before that ... we meet ...

    Anne !

    Out of the distance along a deserted road comes this big smile with a young lady attached to it. In sandals, for God's sake ! I couldn't believe it. She greeted us in English and Aaron (never one to pass up an opportunity to get to know a pretty girl) flourished his charming nature (which he inherited from his Dad) and soon the two were engaged in earnest conversation. As we walked towards the path to continue, we bumped into ...

    Pepe !

    Again !

    This time he was standing by his car and insisted on giving us cookies for the way. He also inquired as to why I had no walking stick ... and proceeded to pull one out of his car, whittle a handle for me (he gave Tim a little trim too) and sign it "PEPE". Just as you, Leontien, I did not want a walking stick (and please forgive me for making you feel bad about Michal's) but I took it out of kindness upon receiving a gift. As it turned out, "Pepe the Stick" proved to be my companion all the way to Santiago ! I used him for balance, to be sure, but mostly to carry my canteen slung over my shoulder. Raising my arm to balance him this way gave welcome relief to muscles used to straining in a different direction against the straps of my backpack.

    Carrion de los Condes provided us shelter under the roof of Albergue Santa Maria. A wonderful communal meal ... everyone brought something ! ... went to Mass and read the Scripture in English ... others read the same Scripture in their native languages ... the Sisters of Santa Maria gave us individual blessings before we went to bed ... and Anne translated everything for us from Spanish to English. I still have the star Mother Abbess gave me.

    Slept like a rock to the symphony of snores ... :)

    Hugs to all -

    ~ Alano
     
  21. Lipka149

    Lipka149 Active Member Donating Member

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    Day 18: Carrion to Terradillos de los Templarios

    Alan to All

    Hola !

    Carrion to Terradillos de los Templarios with Aaron today ... a mere 27km.

    No bars for the first 17 ... until we run across a tent about half way with some entrepreneurs selling grilled sausages ! We stop and greet Pedro and Kris and Maria Teresa and Iris and Ruth and Ingrid ... some coming, some going. I think Aaron was talking to Bea the whole way ... again, another pretty girl. <sigh> :-D

    The Way is along the Via Aquitana ... so we walked where Roman emperors trod (or more likely, rode). Flat pathways lead eventually to Albergue Los Templarios where the we pull in and grab una cerveza grande ... well, maybe dos. Supper with Iris and Sabina and Michael ! Do you remember Michael's laugh ??? Ha !

    Slept well ... very happy.

    ~ Alano Tomas
     
  22. Lipka149

    Lipka149 Active Member Donating Member

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    Day 19: Terradillos to Calzadilla de los Hermanillos

    Alan to All

    Here we go again ! :-D

    This is perhaps the best day of my Camino !

    Two incredible memories ... both involving this wonderful young man who I am traveling with.

    Walking with Aaron again and we determine to cross Ermita Virgen del Puente. We come to the place where we think it is and cross a road on this side of a stream ... meet some farm workers who tell us THERE IS NO BRIDGE ... we walk on anyways and find out ... THERE IS NO BRIDGE. Ha ! So walking back, we see Iris and Ingrid on the other side of the stream yelling "American boys !" We act as if we know where we are going ... and eventually meet them at the chapel by the bridge we were looking for. To our amazement, the bridge no longer crosses a stream at all ! Aaron feels badly that he has taken me the long way around, but at this point I am filled with the joy of walking and it is no big deal.

    Besides ... there were two lovely ladies waiting for us on the other side.

    :)

    We walk through Sahagun and Calzada de Coto. We stumble (and I mean stumble, as it is TOTALLY unexpected) on Fuente del Peregrino. After 25km of hot, dry walking, this tiny sliver of heaven appears. The few moments we spent soaking our feet in ice cold water ... the peace and quiet ... the friends we were with ... <sigh> ... it was just wonderful. For me, it was the best moment on my Camino other than greeting Aaron in the plaza of Santiago.

    Stayed in Calzada de los Hermanillos ... can't remember the albergue for the life of me. No matter ... the day was packed anyway.

    Hugs to all -

    ~ Alano
     
  23. Lipka149

    Lipka149 Active Member Donating Member

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    Day 20: Calzadilla to Mansilla de las Mulas

    Alan to All

    Amigos !

    More travel along the Roman road. I must have been lost in thought, as I remember nothing of the walk to Mansilla other than the solitude.

    Tomorrow ... Leon !

    ~ Alano
     
  24. Lipka149

    Lipka149 Active Member Donating Member

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    Day 21: Mansilla to Leon

    From Aaron to All

    It has been a few days since I last reflected on where I was last year...

    I have skipped several important points, including reading poetry with Anne and Bea in Carrion de los Condes, how dad found Pepe and received a palo, the Fuente de los Peregrinos a few km before Calzadilla de los Hermanillos, the Via Trajana, and Gabor playing guitar in Mansilla de los Mulas. Pedro,Kris, and Maria Theresa were reliably visible along the Way, comforting.

    Leon was an affront to my senses, which had found their peace along the meseta. too many cars, businesses, and the Camino itself seemed veiled and doubtful, hidden behind construction signs. Anne had blitzed ahead the day before, covering something like 40 km to arrive in Leon, and I was prepared to resign myself to never seeing her again- like I had with Else, the Cali girls, Leontien, Matt, Bea, Sebastian, and many others. It was a joyful reunion then in the spacious entance corridor to the Leon aubergue! There was a line for admitance when we arrived. The Benedictine sisters who tended the place were kind, and later there was a compline service which i made a point of attending.

    Leon was better than Burgos in several ways- bar hopping in the afternoon with Anne and Ruth was relaxing and pleasant in the all-but-deserted plazas. My bank card didn't work and I sort of freaked out- it was the first major hiccup I had on the Camino, and although I was fortunate enough to have dad nearby to help, I really had to grapple with my desire to be independent. Ultimately, I had to stop worrying, but for a few days I was really off my spiritual stride. The Camino provided, and I had an opportunity to learn about humility and necessity from my fellow peregrinos.

    Finally, I took one of my favorite photos on the Way- the lifesize bronze of a seated medieval pilgrim resting his feet, eyes closed, hands folded. I identified with him!! Farewell to Leon, and we entered the last phase of the journey; up and over the Montes de Leon and onward into Galicia.


    From Alan to All

    Hola a todos !

    Out of Mansilla with Aaron and we walked together for awhile. It was cold and when I stopped to get my clothing adjusted, Aaron forged ahead. We met again at Arcahuela and had coffee together. I fed a little puppy some chips. :)

    Sunflowers everywhere along the say. All of them pointed towards the sun. Every time I see them I think of Kris. :)

    Arrived in Leon with enough time to actually have lunch ! Ate well, went to Mass in the cathedral and we hooked up with the Brits ... campers they were ... what were their names ?

    Entering the albergue Santa Maria de Carbajalas was an interesting experience. The hospitaleras took their time checking everyone in and those of us waiting took the opportunity to converse freely and no one complained about waiting on line ! Another miracle of the camino ... one I have taken back with me. Aaron and I introduced ourselves as padre y hijo ... hermanos ... which seemed to delight the nuns. Our dormitory was 50 strong and the snoring was truly symphonic ! Pedro and Kris took a private room ... a good choice ! ... and a practice that we employed more and more as our journey went on.

    After gathering my wits, I decided to explore the city and promptly got lost. How wonderful ! Aaron tells me he does this in order to get to know a city, and I must admit it has its ... exciting times ! At one point I stumbled upon him entertaining Anne and Ruth ... I stopped and had a glass of wine with them ... then carried on without even asking for directions ! I really enjoyed Leon ... here I am 3 weeks into my Camino and I'm walking around playing tourist. I never thought I would have the energy for it.

    Adios !

    ~ Alano
     
  25. Lipka149

    Lipka149 Active Member Donating Member

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    Day 22: Leon to Villar de Mazarife

    Alan to All

    Hola Amigos !

    Out of Leon with Aaron and walked through the suburbs. The statue of the Peregrino with his sandals off and that "look" on his face was deeply moving to me as well. Many beautiful buildings ...

    We came to a crossroads and while we milled about trying to figure out were to go, a lovely camino angel invited us into the Church we were standing by. It turned out to be Santuario Virgen del Camino. The rest was appreciated ... I was sorry we came too late to celebrate Mass. The facade was somewhat scary ... Apostles in bronze and 12 feet tall !

    Villar de Mazarife was our goal today and we ended up at Albergue Tio Pepe. No doubt, my palo led us there ... where we found Anne (who walks very fast) and a new friend Gabriel ! We roomed together and I had the distinct pleasure of watching and listening to 3 young, educated, adventurous adults read classical poetry at the supper table ! Later, Gabriel offered me a pipe ... it had been 20 years since my last ... and I enjoyed burning my tongue while blowing smoke in every direction. The company, combined with the food, wine, tobacco, and beer proved to be some of the best of my Camino.

    By this time, Aaron seemed to be slowing down a bit and we walk a lot more together. His exuberance at the start was typical of his personality, as is the pace he has set for himself now. We have managed to get on each other's nerves more than a few times. He is a bit sensitive ... I a bit parental ... <sigh> ... but we talk and walk through it. It has been a dozen years since we have spent this much time together and the test of time is most revealing. Padre/hijo to be sure ... hermanos by choice.

    A good night's sleep ... no one snored !

    ~ Alano
     
  26. Lipka149

    Lipka149 Active Member Donating Member

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    Day 23: Villar de Mazarife to Astorga

    Alan to All

    Hola !

    Out of my favorite albergue late ... and on the way for our first 30km walk.

    Aaron headed out early and I caught up to him in Hospital de Orbigo. We had a snack together and walked on to Astorga. We missed a turn in Santibanez de Valdeiglesia and stopped to dunk our heads in a fountain. Thankfully, the next yellow arrow was pointed back the way we had come, so we turned around and got back on track. Rather than be upset, we rejoiced that we had the opportunity to see such a beautiful little fountain and refresh ourselves. We made friends with some cows.

    Entering Astorga up a very steep hill seemed a bit unfair, as we had faithfully trekked over 30km already. Even so, Anne was sitting at the top on the stairs of Albergue Siervas de Maria where she greeted us warmly and there we stayed.

    Patrick joined us here ... his feet were horribly blistered. There was someone else with bad feet as well, Michael I think. We later learned he threw away his boots and bought new ones. By now Aaron and I were "keep the feet healthy" experts and we nodded at other's wounds knowingly, offering advice and medical supplies when we could.

    Dinner in Astorga was wonderful ! I ate an entire chicken.

    Not much sleep that night, and we considered spending the day in Astorga to look at the Roman ruins. Aaron wanted to press on, so press on we did.

    Adios !

    ~ Alano
     
  27. Lipka149

    Lipka149 Active Member Donating Member

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    Day 23 (cont): Villar de Mazarife to Astorga

    Lost Manuscript - Aaron to Alan

    My toughest day (and subsequent night) was the trip from V. de Mazarife into Astorga- the first day we broke 30 km.

    The morning was cool, but I got up a little later than I was used to- that is, 7:15- and the early morning leg I spent hoofing it with Pao from Barcelona and talking in terrible Spanish/English about Catalan. My journal records that the Catalan word for tadpole is 'capgrosse'- which looks like it might be deciphered in German as 'big head'! I stayed with him until Hospital del Orbigo.

    There was a long bridge, we crossed it, and I decided it was the ideal place to wait for you to catch up. I took up residence in a cafe on the far side with a patio view over the bridge and watched the pilgrims passing by. Cafe and boccadillo. Gabriel caught me there- he had a funky walking stick with him- as well as Danny and Alex, the French couple. It was a pleasant wait.

    After you caught up and we had rewatered, we made our way through town and into the wild. The montes de Leon loomed closer, and we were already entering the foothills. The change of terrain did not seem sudden, but I remember the realization that we had left the flats and were headed up up up... We stayed more or less together, there were cows at one point, an outdoor pilgrim shrine surrounded by notes and worry stones, and we nearly took a wrong turn in one little town but caught a fleche amarillo pointing- in reverse!

    Dust, hills, open forest, on and on and on. Along the sloping trail, stones had been moved into shapes of hearts, or arrows, or short spanish phrases. Wind. A couple of kindly Guardians greeted us from their BMW Mini (which evoked in me a pang of nostalgia for Adrienne, who also drives one) and they gave us water and a big slice of melon. On and on. It was windy as we crested the last rise and saw the outskirts of town, then down into civilization again, across the tracks, up one more etape, and there at the Aubergue? Anne, Ruth, a few others we knew. I was whipped, the last 5 km drew heavily upon my reserves. We ate a whole chicken apiece for dinner, and even a Guinness for me at a different pub! I think we met Patrick here too. Michal and Sabine were around, but not Iris. I had chocolate churros with Anne and Ruth. Gabor and his wife were the entertainment, even though my patience was wearing thin for almost anyone.

    I was frustrated by snoring that night... tired as I was, I could not block it out. It was one of those bloody Spanish bikers. My waxy earplugs were no use. I actually fled the room at one point in the night, But I was so frustrated by that point that pointless anger kept me awake there, so I returned to my original place and somehow, eventually, dozed until morning.
     
  28. Lipka149

    Lipka149 Active Member Donating Member

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    Day 24: Astorga to Rabinal del Camino

    Alan to All

    Hola a todos !

    Out of Astorga to Rabanal and both the weather and terrain are markedly different. The cold persists ... the wind blows all morning ... the sky becomes overcast and threatening. The trail starts going up into the mountains ... quite a difference from the relatively flat land we have been walking for some time. There are more trees ... scrub ... rocky paths. A bench under a tree that I found particularly comforting ... :)

    Aaron and I enter Rabanal together, passing several albergues until we come to the end of town. We go back to the nearest, Albergue Gaucelmo. We are among the first to arrive and manage to restock our traveling rations before the stores close for siesta.

    The albergue begins to fill and several friends arrive. Iris and Ingrid, Pedro & Kris & Maria Teresa, Ruth, Gabriel. Danny & Alex stayed at a casa rural. Patrick and Michael at another albergue. We met a mother/daughter team ... a Mrs. Larsen and her daughter Eva. The Australian hospitaleros were a delight to observe. As the albergue filled, more and more space was converted to sleeping quarters. First the stable was opened, then the dining room ... and still los peregrinos came. Somehow we all fit and no one was turned away. The miracle of loaves and fishes, only with beds and mattresses !

    I remember grumping about the days to come ... two 30km walks, the second being up O'Cebreiro ... and how Aaron encouraged me to take heart !

    Slept well that night but shushed a group of Spaniards at 5am the next morning for their inconsiderate noise so early. :-(

    Buenos noches !

    ~ Alano
     
  29. Lipka149

    Lipka149 Active Member Donating Member

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    At this point in my narrative, I stopped writing. Having faithfully posted an e-mail every day for over 3 weeks, I found that I just could not go on. Everything that I had internalized along the Way seemed to bubble up inside of me and take the words away.

    The last week of my Camino was filled with a certain pride in knowing I had come this far as well as a bittersweet anticipation for it to end. A year away from the actual experience and I was ... at a total loss for words to describe what I was feeling. So I wrote this to explain my silence ...

    Dear friends -

    At Leontien's urging, I am sending this quick note to let you know I have not stopped writing ... far from it ! Would you believe I am still working on the experiences of Day 25 ? Forty seven pages, and I'm not done yet ! Ha !

    It is interesting indeed that I find so much meaningful reflection at his point in my journey. I believe that the element of fatigue was dealt with and somehow, someway, my mind became clearer and ever so much more sensitive to the people. places and things that surrounded me.

    The truth is ... I cannot find the words to capture the thoughts I was having on Day 25 ... nor have I been able to find words for any of the days after that, despite many, many happy memories. Oh, it's possible to relate the events ... but my FEELINGS ... ahhhhhhh ...

    In time they will make themselves describable. When they do, I will share. Until then, know that I think of you often and with great love.

    Ultreya !

    ~ Alan


    Now two years removed from the Way, I am better able to describe it. So I have started to write again, beginning at Day 25, and already have had responses from those I was sending these e-mails to last year. I will post them here when I am done. It will be interesting to note how the flavor of these two year memories differs from those written one year after.
     
  30. ClaireB

    ClaireB New Member

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    Better late than never Alan, sometimes it takes time to process such big things and take so many thoughts and feelings and put them in to words you can share and I look forward to reading them
    Claire
     
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