Posts Tagged With: Camino rain

The Journey towards Arriving

Wednesday night the Casa Rural served dinner at 8:00 and guests, pilgrims all, could barely stay awake, even though we knew that tomorrow was Santiago.

I sat with Jonathan and Colin, two brothers in their 60’s. They were from South Africa; Colin has lived in England for decades, and they walked the Camino to reconnect. There were other folks at the table I’d met the night before, a jolly bunch, younger women from Ireland.

Everyone revived when the food arrived. There was lots of vino tinto in jugs , but at this point in the journey, I’m now ordering the local, better wine by the glass. Colin is a wine importer and I enjoyed talking Spanish wine with him.

The conversation was still flowing at 10:00 when it hit me that tomorrow I’m really arriving in Santiago. I said goodbye, and went back to my room to do the pre-pack. Outside, it continued to rain and rain.

At 2:00 I was fully awake. I’d cranked up the radiators to dry my clothes and boots, and the room was stifling. Still raining. I got up and wrote on the blog, trying to unload the torrent of thoughts that was running through my mind.

In the morning I took my time, thinking the rain would follow the pattern of the last week and slow at 9:30. No dice. I watched everyone from the night before launch themselves into the rain.

So I took off with the fully-loaded pack. I did a better packing job, and it didn’t feel so heavy. I used one of the Hefty tall kitchen garbage bags that Jean gave me as an extra weather protection between the pack and the rain fly.

I walked an hour and stopped at the RV park (!) bar. Inside was a funny scene: about 6 Female German pilgrims seeking shelter sitting at tables, and 3 Spanish male taxi drivers hoping for business. They we’re bring complimentary and charming. But all of the pilgrims were determined to walk the last few kilometers into town, and they were a sorry group.

I needed two more stamps for the last day, so got one there and took off again. Pouring.

Water everywhere, burbling in streams along the road, streaming down the asphalt, moving, glowing in abundance. I may have received a new theology of baptism walking in the deluge.

Got to Monte de Goxo, or Mount of Joy, where pilgrims see their first glimpse of the cathedral. No glimpse today.

I was getting worried about my iPhone in my pocket. I’d bought a water-resistant Otter Box, but skipped the military grade one. My pocket was getting soaked. Not many photos of my trip into town.

I crossed over a 10 lane Autovia, and train tracks. Said a prayer for those killed in the terrible train crash.

It takes a long time to enter a city in foot. Finally I got to the medieval, human-sized streets. I kept following the shells in the pavement. There weren’t many other pilgrims.

Then all of a sudden I heard bagpipes, and saw the side of the Cathedral. The Camino goes through a charming tunnel, where street musicians play, and spits you out on the grand plaza in front of the Cathedral. I was there!

Hard to take a photo in the rain, but one of the German women I’d met earlier took my drenched iPhone a snapped a few.

I wandered my way over to the Pilgrim office and presented my credential, and received my Compostella. I felt dazed and all keyed up. I checked into the place I’d reserved, but it didn’t feel right. Too stark and one fluorescent tube light and hard surfaces.

It was only when I checked into the nice hotel the next day and went to the pilgrim Mass at 12:00 that I felt like I’d arrived.

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Categories: Camino, Camino de Santiago, October 2013, Santiago de Compostela, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

Arrival on Thursday

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Categories: Camino, Camino de Santiago, October 2013, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

Last full day on the Camino

My thoughts throughout the day:

It began like all the other days this week, having coffee before the sun came up at 8:45 and waiting for a break in the rain; setting out, letting the feet and ankles warm up; leaving last night’s stop behind and moving forward towards the next one.

I realized once again how I would never go outside on a rainy day like today at home, let alone walk along a busy highway in the rain and then follow a path into dark woods.

But now it feels normal and I relish the sense of being out in the elements, and noticing how the weather changes from minute to minute.

I have a feeling I may be taking rainy day walks when I get home. Sadly, I would not feel safe walking by myself in the forests of the East Bay hills, which feel so much like these Eucalyptus woods.

I haven’t met many Bay Area pilgrims, but yesterday, I met women from Orinda, Redwood City, and San Francisco. Charlene, from the City, lives in the same apartment building as my cousin. We’re going to have dinner in Santiago.

Spent a fun couple of hours last night in the Albergue bar visiting with several nice guys from the U.K. and Ireland. One was in his late 60’s and had grown up in Liverpool. He saw the Stones and the Hollies at the Cavern club. Had fun talking about British Invasion musicians and sharing photos from the Camino.

One of the joys of the journey at this point is looking back and talking about specific places on the Way and comparing experiences. Did you stay at Orisson on the first night? What’s your pace been? Did you stay with the nuns in Carrion de Los Condes?

I decided to walk 18k today and then have a shorter 8k walk into Santiago tomorrow, and carry the full pack into Santiago instead of transporting the daypack like I have been for the last week.

Last night the rain was non-stop, and the gale force winds and rain lashing the stone house kept me awake. It was my only episode of insomnia on the Camino. I’ve usually been zonked out from all the exercise.

My mind was swirling with questions and uncertainties about what I should do after Santiago with my 5 free days before my flight home, and processing the fact that I’m nearing the end of the journey.

I will greatly miss the walking, and the combination of the meditative and the physical. I’ll miss the unfolding of the countryside, one village at a time, and so much more that can’t be immediately quantified.

The walk today brought me by the Santiago airport, and into the old suburbs on the hill above the city. Up, down, zigs and zags. I checked into a Casa Rural and met up with some of the same folks as the night before.

Today, as I walked, I wondered what does Santiago mean to me? I’m sure that was swirling around in the night of insomnia as well.

It’s an icon, and like the Emerald City in the Wizard of Oz, it’s glittered out in the distance for a long time.

I know I will enjoy it. I’ve loved Pamplona, Burgos, and Leon.

There’s more to it, of course. The mileage markers on the Camino have been counting down for days. It’s the end of the pilgrimage.

At the heart of what Santiago means to me as a Christian, and from the more Protestant angle, is the tradition that James, one of Jesus’ beloved disciples is buried there.

What does that mean? I’m still meditating on that. I don’t have the medieval belief in the cult of the saints, and the modern sense of the saints as intercessors isn’t part of my belief system. Certainly the mystery draws me. I want to experience the Holy. As a priest, there is a depth of
Church history, theology, and faith embedded in the city that I feel drawn to experience.

And the sense of being swept along in this river of pilgrims that’s flowed this direction for centuries has been inestimable.

Tomorrow I’m going to take my time and savor the experience of swimming in that river of pilgrims. And arriving. As my dear friend, a sailor, commented, it’s a major landfall.

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Categories: Camino, October 2013, Santiago de Compostela, Spiritual Growth, Spirituality, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , | 7 Comments

A Mindful and Blustery Day

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This morning in Castenada, it was pouring. At the bar where I had desayuno, the TV news showed flooded streets in Santiago. It’s supposed to be the first big storm of autumn. So I hung out for an extra hour at the bar in hopes that there would be a break in the storm.

Right then I saw on the Spanish news that there’d been another mass shooting at a school in Nevada. The bar person asked if I was American, and shook her head. It was one of those moments when you see your own country from an outside perspective.

That’s when Walter walked in. He sat down at my table and we began talking. He’s from Tasmania, and has traveled all over the world. He’s about my age. There were the usual questions, “when and where did you start the Camino?” and then he told me how his friend in Tasmania had just been diagnosed with cancer, and began to cry.

We bonded over how the Camino has made us cry every day, for seemingly no reason.

Sometimes at random moments it’s clear to me that we’re walking a path that people have walked for 1,000 years. People have suffered and loved and left something of themselves along the Way. And I can feel their vibrations sometimes, it’s a mysterious thing. And also, the Camino brings you to heartbreakingly beautiful places you would never see otherwise. And you meet people from all over the world.

I think all the exercise and the new people you meet break down your defences, too. The whole experience is cathartic.

The sun broke through briefly around 9:30, and we began to walk. He’d told me he had diabetes, and then said he also had cystic fibrosis, and was very long-lived for having the disease. He periodically had to stop and cough, which was difficult to witness.

We ended up walking most of the day together.

It was a mindful day for me, where I wanted to walk alone some of the time and process where I am at this point on the pilgrimage.

In many ways, he was just the right companion. The fact that he was walking the Camino was inspiring, and he had many life insights from his living with CF and doing amazing things like climbing mountains in Borneo, being a guide in Australia, long-distance biking.

Somehow there were enough periods of sun that I didn’t get too wet, and there also were times of blasting wind, thunder, and downpours. I put my rain gear on and off about 15 times during the day.

The Camino led us mostly through a canopy of ancient trees that met over the top of the trail, provided shelter. It was like a long, long nave in a way.

A couple of times we looked back and saw clusters of big box stores and the highway–but on the Camino we were in a protected, timeless tunnel of green.

Walter continued on past the Albergue I’d reserved. I hope to see him in Santiago.

Tonight I’m staying at an Albergue/hotel combination and I’m sharing a room with a Hungarian woman. It reminds me of my week sharing rooms with Monika.

My hair is like a fright wig, I’m sick of my clothes, and I’m treasuring this night of sitting in the bar trading pilgrim tales with Irish folk, and South Africans.

A good day. I’m glad I have one more day to walk slowly and take my time. I’m not quite ready for this epic journey by foot to end.

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Categories: Camino, Conversations on the Camino, October 2013, Spiritual Growth, Spirituality, Wisdom | Tags: , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Getting Close

Today was rainy again. The online weather report said 50% chance of rain, and it would have been easy to write off the day for walking. But I’m on the home stretch and need to walk the last 100 kilometers to receive the official Credential.

So I wore the rain gear, and took it on and off about five times today,as needed.

Last night I thought I’d join a fun group I had dinner with and enter Santiago with them.

Today I felt like I need to go into Santiago alone. I’m sure I’ll see many people I’ve met, but I need to enter Santiago on my own time and be free to be a pilgrim on my own pilgrimage.

Today there were several 13th Century churches open. It was a welcome change from all the locked doors in Galicia.

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Categories: Camino de Santiago, October 2013, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , | 3 Comments

Rainy Day walking

After my ode to the fully loaded Albergue, guess what happened? I check into a nice new Albergue in Portomarin, and I end up being the only guest!

I conversed with the owner for quite awhile, and realized how little Spanish I know. I think she said she and her husband, who was a contractor, built the Albergue last year, and then he died. It was beautifully new and clean with a full kitchen. As I sat in the common room to read, an elderly couple came in and asked me a lot of things in rapid fire Spanish. I think they were the owners’ parents. They came by to “supervise” several more times. They reminded me of my own grandparent, who used to stop by and “supervise” my Mom.

I had a quiet evening by myself. Cooked an omelet, uploaded photos, and settled in for the night. It felt strange at first, but then, kind of homey.

But first , I had trouble getting the stove to turn on—all those cryptic international symbols. Mari, the owner, came down to help me and I could not understand a thing she said. It was the first time I felt tears if frustration. Then it dawned on me that the burner only went on if the pan was sitting on it. That’s what she meant! Yet another one of those European energy-saving strategies.

I took off into a rainy morning, feeling grumpy about it, but determined to walk the rest of the way to Santiago.

It became fun after a few kilometers. Rain, drizzle, sun. Pine forest, ancient oak trees.

After 8 kilometers I came to Gonzar, a busy pilgrim stop. It felt like a ski lodge on an inclement day. Wet gear slung everywhere. I sat down and started to write.

A woman I’ve seen earlier along the Camino came over and sat down. “You look like an Amazon out on the road!! Very strong!” And she made a stern face. Yes, that’s my scowly face that I make when I’m concentrating. She made me laugh.

“It’s a wet day! Let’s have an herbal Galician drnk!” So she bought two herbal liqueurs and we had a long visit. She told me all about her spiritual quest, and how the Camino has changed her outlook on life, told with much energy. She had a beautiful face, like Ingrid Bergman in “For Whom the Bell Tolls,” short hair and all. She was amazed when I told her I was a priest, and we talked some more.

Then the sun came out and it was time to walk. She passed me and said, “good-bye, lovely turtle!” I haven’t seen her since. Maybe in Santiago.

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Categories: Conversations on the Camino, October 2013, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , | 7 Comments

Galicia, Galicia

Last night I felt a bit low. I had a private tour of the Monastery at Samos, which was huge, and impressive, but it left me slightly cold. Such a giant place for 19 monks. The style was baroque and neo-classical; only an archway was left from the 9th century. Although the arch did have a carving of the Jerusalem cross that almost matched the Celtic cross I’ve worn for years. I was just in a grouchy mood.

Also, the rain was getting to me. There’s a reason I don’t live in the Sunset district!

The morning dawned clear and dry. I decided to taxi to Sarria and walk from there, about 10k from Samos. That way I would have a whole day to make progress from Sarria in good weather.

My taxi driver was female, and I enjoyed our 15 minute ride together. Somehow she understood my Spanish, and we had fun conversation.

Sarria is the 100k point from Santiago. If you start there you can receive the official credential for the pilgrimage. There seems to be a shift in the atmosphere; it’s a little more touristy. The menus posted outside the restaurants are in four languages with little flags of Britain, Germany and France.

It was as foggy as the Sunset district when I arrived in Sarria, and as I left. The Camino passes an elementary school, and it was fun to see kids being dropped off—such a big part of my life for so long. But this was 10 a.m. So that’s the secret to small children staying our at restaurants til late at night!

The Camino was magically green and ferny, with massive chestnut trees and oaks. It passed through farm after farm, with stone fences. It looked very British to me. I encountered shepherds guiding sheep, goats, and cows. The pungent smell of dung, and woodsmoke followed me all day. I felt light and energized.

I was able to let go if my worries and my fears, and be totally in the moment.

Tonight I’m staying at another Albergue, new and ultra-modern in design. I’m enjoying the Albergue life, hanging out my laundry, and gathering it in after dinner.

My iPhone refuses to take any more photos so I may have to switch to my camera for awhile.

Sometime today I passed a boundary where I really am going to get to Santiago, and probably earlier than I thought.

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Categories: Camino, October 2013, Uncategorized, Wisdom | Tags: , , | 3 Comments

Water

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Categories: June 2013 | Tags: , , | 1 Comment

Wet!

Rainy walk out of Pamplona. Now I’m a real Peregrina! Let go of my fear of getting wet. Boots have walked through streams. Having coffee in cute village with Gina and Caroline from Chicago.

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Categories: June 2013 | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

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