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Reliegos

New Albergue in Religios

New Albergue in Religios

In the post, “Signs of New Life,” I wrote about the insights that arose for me as I walked and rested along the Camino from El Burgo Ranero to Reliegos. Because my foot was hurting, I had to go slowly, and that made be more open to the Spirit.  Here’s a little more about the end of that day, and my next day of walking to Mansilla de las Mulas.

The new albergue where I’d sent my daypack was at the entrance to Reliegos, and I was relieved to see it come up so quickly because I was limping.  It was only about 2:00, early to stop, but it felt like the right thing to do. I had the whole place to myself. The beds were all regular beds, not bunk beds, and there were plugs next to every bed!   I asked for some ice at the bar, and went back upstairs to ice and elevate my foot. The bedroom was a nice spare place to relax and stretch out.

Bar Elvis in all its glory

Bar Elvis in all its glory

Then I did some laundry, hung it out to dry, and walked a little farther into Religos to see if Bar Elvis was open. It was one of those famous Camino spots and it was briefly featured in the movie, “The Way.”  Of course, it was closed for siesta time, so I didn’t go in.  The graffiti all over the outside was wonderful, though. I really liked this advice:

Good Advice for Life

Good Advice for Life

 

When I got back to the albergue,  a friendly young Peregrina arrived and claimed another bed.  Her name was Alice, from South Africa. She was a divinity student at Oxford!  Alice had just started her Camino in Sahagun, so this was her first night on the Camino. We became acquainted over dinner.  She was so smart and wise beyond her years.   We were the only ones in the dining room, and half way through dinner, I noticed that I was bending her ear.  I must have been feeling a little isolated not having talked to a native English speaker for several days.   Among other things, we talked about our call to ministry and her experience as a female divinity student at Oxford.

When I told her about my sore foot, she said, “why don’t you send your big pack tomorrow, and give yourself a Sabbath?”  She said it with such disarming kindness that I found myself saying, “Yes, I’ll do that!”

An Italian guy showed up later that evening and took another bed across the room.  We greeted each other and got into our sleeping bags, said “good-night.”  Once again I was thankful for the company of pilgrims, and for the trust we had in each other.  It was one of the best sleeps of the trip.

Big Sky heading towards Mansilla de las Mulas

Big Sky heading towards Mansilla de las Mulas

The next morning I followed Alice’s advice and left my big backpack in the vestibule for Jacotrans to pick up, and just carried my daypack.  We walked together to the end of the village.  I was limping, and she was full of energy and ready to conquer the world. I wanted to walk with her but she was way faster than I was.  So we said good-bye.  She was headed to Leon and the mountains beyond, without a poncho or a coat.  I hushed myself and refrained from going into “Mom” mode.  She could take care of herself.  I was glad to have met her. She was someone truly called to ministry.

Trees along the Camino

Trees along the Camino

Later that morning when I stopped to rest, and picked up my daypack to put it on again, I was shocked by how light it was.  I felt like I was floating down the Camino!  What was going on?   I felt like a great burden had been lifted off my shoulders.  It had, of course; the extra 15 lbs. were with Jacotrans.  But there was something more to it.  Alice giving me permission to leave the heavy pack behind was rather profound.  It’s what I needed to hear.  It was an absolution.

Like the day before, when everything in the landscape seemed to speak to me of God’s presence, that slow 6 kilometers to Mansilla de las Mulas carrying just the daypack spoke to me of God’s forgiveness, and how light it feels to live without the baggage I usually carry around.  I walked slowly and with joy to Mansilla de las Mulas.  Thanks be to God, and bless you, dear Alice!

La Virgen Peregrina

La Virgen Peregrina

Categories: April 2015, Conversations on the Camino, Favorite Albergues, Return to Camino, Spirituality | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

Dark night of the Snore

After my pleasant dinner by myself in Fromista, I walked across the street at 10:00 to the Albergue and pulled open the heavy wooden door to the courtyard. Or I tried to. Locked! What? I’d seen a sign that said “quiet hours” after 9:30, but didn’t realize it meant the door was locked. Albergues usually  close at 10:00. And usually, I’ve had dinner there and hung out, then gone to bed. This night was different because the Fiesta was on and the communal dinner was cancelled. I could hear and see the Techno concert going on at the other end of town. No doubt my Albergue guy, whom I’d met when I checked in, was down there.

I ran back across the street to the restaurant for help. The guy at the desk told me to talk to the hotel connected to the Albergue. I did that and there was no answer. I rang the doorbell over and over and an elderly woman opened the door. I explained my predicament and she was not amused. But after a few minutes her husband, who was standing in the background, said he would open the door. I walked back around the corner to wait for him, and no one showed up or opened the door. I wondered if I could scale the wall? I began to feel very foolish for even thinking that and for being in that position at all. It was like a flashback to my travels in college.

Just then, Mr Albergue walks up the street, smoking furiously. “Why are you out here? You should be asleep! You are Pilgrim!”

Thus ensued a huge argument between us in my bad, but loud Spanish and his bad, but loud English. Finally, he let me into the pitch dark Albergue and I found my bunk.

Unfortunately the woman sleeping next to me had what sounded like pneumonia and snored loudly and coughed throughout the night.  My white noise app was only of partial assistance.

Fromista had a few more things to teach me.

 

Categories: April 2015, Return to Camino, Santiago de Compostela | Tags: , , , , , | 4 Comments

Training 

I’m stepping up the training with my fully loaded pack. Walked twice around Lake Merritt in downtown Oakland for a total of 11K in two hours. Feeling good! The whiffs of weed drifting along the breeze from my fellow East Bay walkers and relaxed folk certainly didn’t hurt.

Near the place where I met the fellow Peregrina, I passed this trash can…Camino symbols are everywhere!

Yesterday I circled twice around Lafayette Reservoir for a total of 8.6K in two hours.  Once again, someone passed me coming the other direction and said, “Buen Camino!”

Feeling good! More hills, less weed wafting along the way in the suburbs. But some weeds were blooming.

They, too, were signs of the Camino.

Categories: April 2015, Return to Camino, Santiago de Compostela | Tags: , , | 9 Comments

Spring Break on the Meseta

I’m excited.  A little panicked. Excited.  But mostly excited.

I’m beginning Camino 3.0. on Easter Monday!  I’ll be walking from Burgos to Leon, a distance of 112 Miles, or 181 Kilometers.  I have mapped out about 12 days of walking plus getting to and from Madrid.

Why Burgos to Leon?  When I walked in June of 2013, my ankle gave out shortly before Burgos.  Then I bussed across the Meseta, staying in Fromista, Carrion de los Condes, and finally Leon.   My good-bye photo was by the statue of the tired pilgrim at the San Marcos Parador in Leon.

When I went back on my second Camino in October of 2013, I started in Leon, at the same statue in front of the Parador, and walked to Santiago. It was a marvelous feeling to walk out of Leon.  This time, I’m going to have the pleasure of walking into Leon.

That segment across the middle of Spain has been calling to me.  With its wide open spaces, and big skies, it’s known as the third of the Camino for the mind. I’m sure it will be.  Along with being for the mind,  I see this trip as an Eastertide Retreat, a time to walk and meditate, and pray.  And an opportunity to feel that mind/body/spirit alignment again as a Pilgrim.

Since the Meseta is very hot during the summer, walking it in the springtime sounded more and more appealing.  It will be green and there should be wildflowers!

I’ll be flying into Madrid and taking a bus from the airport to Burgos, where I’ll spend the night. I’m taking  a jet lag day in Burgos and then heading out on the Camino the next morning. Burgos is a beautiful city, and I am looking forward to seeing the Cathedral again, and heading out onto the Meseta!

In the meantime, I’m training!   I’m working out with the trainer at the gym, and I’ve been walking around Lake Merritt in downtown Oakland with my full pack on, which is fun.  I can make it around the 5.5 K lake in an hour with no blisters and minimal fatigue.

Halfway around the Lake today someone stopped me and said, “are you getting ready for the Camino?”  Turns out she had walked it twice.

It was great to hear someone say, “Buen Camino!” again.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Categories: April 2015, Return to Camino | Tags: , , , , , , | 6 Comments

What I brought on the Camino

I’ve been home from Spain for a week, and my pack has been sitting at the end of the bed, half-unpacked.  Today I began to put it away in the garage.

Contents of October Camino 2.0

Contents of my pack for the October Camino 2.0

But wait! I know you’ve been dying to know what was in it. So I’ll give you a tour.

Osprey Kyte 36

Osprey Kyte 36

The pack is an Osprey Kyte Woman’s S/M, 36 liters. You can see my Pilgrim’s Shell and my patches for American Pilgrims on the Camino and the Pilgrim Network.

One of the most valuable features of the pack was its waterproof rain cover.  It’s integrated into the pack, and completely covers it, then stuffs back into its own compartment when not needed.  It’s something that I’d probably never use in California, but I used it a lot on the Camino.  Best of all, it kept the body of the pack very dry.

The straps did get wet.  But it was only on my last day when the rain was pouring for hours that the pack itself eventually got soaked.

REI Travel Sack Sleeping Bag

REI Travel Sack Sleeping Bag

My sleeping bag lived at the bottom of the pack.  It was one of the best items on board. I was really glad I had it towards the end of October, when the heat was not turned on in many places I stayed in Galicia.   It was also very comfortable when I was on the beginning of the Camino in June.  It weighs less than l lb.  BTW, it has arm holes so you can wear it around the house!

Keen Targhee Boots

Keen Targhee Boots

On one of my many trips to REI in September, I bought a new pair of boots.  Beware, you’re supposed to break in your boots over a course of months—but these Keen Targhee boots were the best—terrific toe room, and they were comfortable from day one.  I only got one itty bitty blister the first day out, and that was it.  To top it off, they’re waterproof!

Above the boots you can see my three pairs of Darn Tough wool socks from Vermont.  I decided to take three pairs so that I wouldn’t have to do as much laundry, and I was glad I did.  It felt luxurious.

Next to the boots are my Keen sandals.  I brought these in June, and they were fine in October, too.   Many people brought Crocs or flip-flops, which are a lot lighter, but I like my Keens, they protect my toes.

Patagonia Torrent Rain Shell and Decathelon Rain Pants

Patagonia Torrent Rain Shell and Decathalon Rain Pants

It rains a lot in Galicia, and I’m so glad I invested in some real rain gear.  The Patagonia Torrent rain shell kept me fairly dry even in the most wet conditions.  It was amazing!  The rain pants kept me dry, but didn’t breath as much.  Together with the rain cover on the pack, I felt confident walking in the rain.  And it turned out to be fun!

When I walked in June I expected to carry my pack every day.  Then I discovered Jacotrans, and other services that, for a small fee, will transport your pack to a destination you designate, farther along the Camino.

REI Flash 22 Daypack

REI Flash 22 Daypack

In October, I brought a small, lightweight daypack with me  so that I could use the transport service more easily. Even with the transport service, you want to carry your guidebook, water, and whatever else.  I liked how this pack had big cargo pockets on the side for my guidebook and water bottle.

With the wet weather, I ended up off-loading heavier items to the daypack, and carrying my Osprey pack because it had the rain cover.

In an case, I would recommend using the pack transport services.  There are days when the terrain is rough, or you just feel like having a lighter load.  For between 3 and 7 Euros a day, it’s a great deal!

Black Diamond Trekking Poles

Black Diamond Trekking Poles

Here are my “Jesus poles.” I used these Black Diamond trekking poles everyday.  They were great for stability in muddy conditions, going uphill, and especially going downhill on rocks, and slippery terrain.  It took me awhile to realize that there is a left and a right pole, and there’s a correct way to use them.  The straps are there so you can put weight on the poles.

Jesus tape

Jesus tape

I’ll show you a close-up of the Jesus tape on them.  My colleague at Trinity, Menlo Park applied the Jesus tape, and I often thought of how Jesus really was walking with me every step of the way.

Trekking poles cannot go on board an airplane, and mine don’t collapse down to fit into the pack.  So I had to come up with a creative solution.

Lightweight Duffel Bag

Lightweight Duffel Bag

The night before I left, I went to Big 5 and bought this lightweight duffel bag. I checked the pack and the poles together in it.  I thought about mailing it to myself in Santiago, but ended up just carrying it the whole way. No big deal.

In June, I swore by my Camelbak type 2-liter water system.  Hydration is critical when you’re walking a half-marathon a day.

Platapus water bottle

Platapus water bottle

Goldhara McKay, a fellow pilgrim, recommended this kind of collapsible water bottle on the American Pilgrims on the Camino Facebook page, and I decided to try it instead of the Camelbak type system.  I started out with two of them, but left one at the Molinaseca albergue—I hope someone is using it right now.  They’re terrific!  When empty, you can curl it up into a pocket, and it weighs nothing.

REI high fashion

REI high fashion

What to wear everywhere.  Who knew that REI was such a fashion house?

I wore these convertible grey pants from St. Jean Pied-de-Port, France, to Santiago de Compostela, and on to Madrid.  (In the evening I changed into the yoga pants.)

Add a black or vino tinto colored  T-shirt, a Merino wool half-zip, and a Buff or the Camino scarf, and you’ve got an outfit.

Was there anything I wish I’d left behind?  Yes, my zip lock bag of toiletries, which seemed to weigh a ton.  Somehow I collected full size containers of shampoo, toothpaste, and moisturizer, plus foot care supplies like foot cream and blister care items.

But I was glad I had my BB Cream, blush and lipstick to dress it up a bit each morning.

Buen Camino!

Categories: Camino, Camino de Santiago, Camino Logistics, Reflections, Return to Camino, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , | 2 Comments

First Day on the Camino 2.0

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One of the perks of jet lag is waking up early. So when festival revelers woke me up singing drinking songs in the street at 5:00, I was ready to go. After much internal debate about where to start and how far to go, I did my online morning prayer and came up with the following: walk through Leon to the Parador, where I left the Camino in June, and then call a taxi out if town, skipping the suburbs and sparing my feet on day 1. It always feels good to have a plan.

So I left Hotel Q after desayuno in the dark at 8:00, and walked the Camino route through the medieval city. From all directions there was the tap tap of hiking poles. My fellow pilgrims were also headed out. I have been so consumed with travel arrangements and whittling down the contents of my pack, that had forgotten the impact of common purpose and fellowship between Peregrinos. “Buen Camino!” We said in the dark as we converged on the Way. That was my first tearing up episode. Then, a few minutes later as I paused in the Plaza San Isidore searching for which way to go, a guy standing outside the church pointed the way the Camino exited the irregularly shaped plaza. That was the second tearing up, followed by approaching the Parador, where I had decided to go home after my ankle injury. I asked a fellow pilgrim to take my picture by the statue, then went inside to have them call a taxi. All was the same as June. The taxi came and I started I Virgen del Camino, where the path leaves the suburbs. Suddenly I was back on the Way, and inexpressibly happy. The weather was clear, about 65, beautiful walking weather. A high point of the
day was talking to an old shepherd who had three German Shepherds herding gigantic cattle, in my rudimentary Espanol.

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Categories: Camino de Santiago, October 2013, Return to Camino, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , | 7 Comments

Leon again.

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Yesterday I arrived in Leon by high speed train, pretty knackered from my journey. But Leon gave me a second wind. HotelQ, which I’d booked online, turned out to be one that was full last time when I was hobbling looking for a room in June, so there was a certain sense of closure there. Tons of people out in the evening for a street festival with Bagpipe bands, dancers, and booths set up along the way to St. Isidore’s, people of all ages together, and kids playing everywhere. It felt like coming home to Spanish life. Though reveling went on outside all night, I was able up sleep 7 hours, and feel ready to do some walking this morning to Villar de Mazzarife.

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Categories: Camino, October 2013, Return to Camino | Tags: , , | 1 Comment

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