Sunday, August 30, 2009


A very good morning, afternoon, or evening!
Saturday at the Pilgrim Mass the botafumeiro flew but I was late to the service and missed out. Yesterday, with a HUGE crowd, there was no B flying. Today, no again, but apparently it will on Wednesday. The good thing, Manfred, was that June arrived. Yes, the young slow coach finally got into gear and did a few days in excess of 25km. She met with and chatted long to Stephanie of S Africa. It was very good to catch up since we haven´t seen each other since Redecilla, I think. Also re-met the Oz couple who needed a refuge in Carrion de los Condes.
Yesterday evening we had the second of John´s Santiago Birthdays. It was a lovely relaxing time though not as special nor as spiritual or reflective as Sat. evening. There are some times that really stand out and it´s hard to put your finger on it. Why is this occasion more special than that one? I guess if we could put the special-occasion essence in a bottle, we could make a fortune, but then, if every occasion were special, special would be ordinary. (Or, as WS Gilbert said, "If everyone is somebody, then no-one´s anybody.") Both will live on in memory. As Will said, It´s the people we will remember. Will told us a story, and I´m unlikely to retell it orally so listen up.

Will was asleep in O Cebreiro (at the end of the steep climb) when there was a cry in the night. A German pilgrim sat up and fell out of bed. A nurse, a dentist, and a policeman were in the room and set to work, the first two trying to revive him and the third recording all that was done. The ambulance arrived without any equipment but a doctor pronounced the pilgrim dead. People gathered around and sorted out his belongings, isolating his Credencial. They notified his wife to assure him her husband did not die alone and that people cared for him. In Ponferrada they organised a funeral service attended by crowds. Therafter they carried his Credencial from place to place, stamping it with sello after sello until they arrived last week in Santiago. There they organised for a to be awarded to him and presented it to his widow.

The shopping is done and I am surpirsed by the weight of things I´ve chosen. Ouch. Last time I think I bought T-shirts - a bit lighter than books and such like. I sent home two parcels today. The first was a book and some papers and cost 35€! ARGGH!! The second was my Compostela with some small presents and cost less than 5€ despite being registered. There´s a moral here somewhere.
I´ve sort of decided to take the train for a few days in Spain, first to go south (Toledo? Cordoba? Granada?) then up north again to the Yuso Suso monastery before going to Pamplona (maybe) to sell the Carrix. I think there wil be no shortage of buyers after their three or four days of walking from SJPP. That should help the funds a bit and enable me to travel in France (Le Puy? Conques? Monsac? Vezelay? Carnac? Coucy? Chartres?) There is no end to the places I want to see. Trouble is, there´s no one to see them with! Sob. Lee left this morning. She has suggested I come to visit if i have time, but I think she won´t have time, returning to receive a crowd of visitors and being heavily involved in the July 4 celebrations.
Am feeling a bit flat today. Oh well. Even the best of things comes to an end.
Despite my loneliness in France and for big slabs of the first week or so on the
camino, this has been a wonderful time.
All the best to you

Friday, August 28, 2009

33 - no 2

Last evening was an absolute hoot! In 2000 a group of about 8 of us sat around a table and enjoyed a wonderful summation to our pilgrimage/travels. I then went to Italy and had my birthday on the train to Bari. This time I thought why not invite people to a party? The numbers grew and grew and people who knew people invited away. I was getting quite concerned as it appeared 12 would be going and where could we be sure of accommodating that number? I spent two hours in the late afternoon exploring and soon discovered that most places were opening around 8 or 8:30. So I went further afield, close to my abode but a little off the beaten tourist track of the cathedral and its surrounds. Soon, near Alameda Park (and Sa Garcia, Manfred), I found just the place at the end of a blind alley with umbrellas. They had a menu del dia for 10€ and said I didn´t have to book as they were open all the time from 11:00am. It was perfect.
At 7:00 I stood at the steps of the cathedral wondering if I had any friends at all but by 7:10 there was a bigger bunch than I had dreamed of! Eventually we started moving off, but one guy had forgotten his camera so the second bit was later arriving. A German guy I had never met said he would help round up the stragglers and may well have done so but he was not sighted again. (A pity. Who did he eat with?) I told people I was paying 8€ a head, and if they spent more would they please cover it. More confusion as MdD was 10€. Mine Host was staggered and flustered. All these people! He had plenty of room but it transpired there was only himself and his wife working. Tables were grouped together, then regrouped until 21 folk sat laughing, talking, and eventually eating and drinking. Sharon, the Scot speaks Spanish but the host was having great difficulties. Eventually all were served but at pay up time so much money was put on the table I ended paying less than 8€ myself, even after leaving a tip!
How to describe the mood. Frankly, I can´t. Everyone was of one mind, and we shared and listened and contibuted and interrupted, laughed, told jokes, and laughed again. It was much less a birthday party for me (though what a party! and I lay exclusive claim to it) than an immaculate finale to a wonderful camino.
Charlie, bless his heart, led the singing of H Bday to me and then I sang, as he had previously suggested I may, though at a different time and place. It was a song of a bloke´s secular and lifelong camino, text by ?, music by R Vaughan Williams.
Give to me the life I love,
let the lave go by me.
(Mumble mumble rhubarb rhubarb)
Bred in the bush with stars to see
Bread I dip in the river
There´s the life for a man like me,
There´s the life for ever.

Or let autumn fall on me
where a-field I linger.
Silencing the bird on tree
Biting the blue finger
White as meal the frosty field,
Warm the fireside haven.
Not to austumn will I yield
Not to winter even!

Let the blow
fall soon or late
Let what will be o'er me
(Mumble mumble rhubarb rhubarb)
Wealth I ask not, hope nor love
Nor a friend to know me.
All I ask, the heaven above
and the road below me.

I sang only one "verse" made up from the first and last verses and people seemed most appreciative. But of course the song is nothing like the real camino or John, because without people earlier on I was in serious disarray at times. Buildings and churches and monuments and history are all very well but it is being part of each other´s caminos which will be remembered and talked of - probably for years. And the mood among us was so warm and loving.
Charlie spoke again and gave a most generous speech on me and I replied to it, putting in as much of my camino-bought wisdom as I could. Soon after, people started to go and by 9:30 we were all on our way. A few of us saw the cathedral bathed in the red-gold light of the setting sun and headed off there where me met a Spanish couple aho invited us to hot chocolate (thick stuff - you wouldn´t like it, Jenny, Kate, or Deb!) and churros (Spanish doughnuts, only they´re sticks). I had decaf. But again we had a wonderful time with our genial companions talking mainly about politics, the new Europe, and why the E Constitution had just been rejected decisively by the French and Belgians. MOST interesting. One item was that the constitution had not one word about Christianity. How is it possible to leave that out when it is the basis for law? No doubt a new Constitution will be written, maybe several times, but it does appear that Europeans want closer ties and are very happy with the Euro, etc which have already happened (except in UK).
I must tell you a story. I walked part of two days with Henry from Canada and forgot to invite him to eat with us. As we turned into the alley towards our restaurant, there he was! but very worried. Oh he said he was having a terrible day when I apologised and invited him. Had he eaten? No. But his ankle had been sore for a week and a half and he was worried, too worried to eat, as he could not find his hotel, and the print was too small to read on his card. This was quickly sorted out and he was prevailed upon to sit, first to chat, then to drink, and last, to eat. He talked and laughed and felt quite at home. At the end when I asked how had his day been, he said excellent, especially the end.
We all have had angels on the track (I told you of Flemming, one of my many, who has now walked on to Finisterre). I was given the opportunity to be angel to Henry. There are just too many items here to be coincidences: we were off the beaten track! He was there just as we came! Fortunately I recognised him! (no mean feat as we see so many people and I have a good forgetory) and was not so bound up in my own probs that I could not give him the brief time he needed. We all get opportunities to be angels every day, and I pray that we all, more and more, will be given the grace to take those opportunities.
In the cathedral shop today I met Petra. She had waited last eveningat the wrong steps! Anyway, she´s coming tonight. So far there seem to be 12 as there were 8 of us for lunch (paella, and good, and cheap too - 9€ a head) but as these things go it may be there are many more. To make sure our host was prepared, Jean and I sought him out after lunch. It transpired that Sharon´s Scottish accent had been too hard for the guy and he had not understood one word! I guess he panicked and then nothing made sense. Well, he understood Irish Jean OK, so he should be a calmer chappy this evening.
The botafumeiro swung yesterday but not today, which was a pity. I had a trial run with the camera in video mode and it worked wonderfully so I hope to see it again before leaving permanently. I have to hang around a couple of days at least as my replacement jacket has not arrived.
All the very best to you all!

Saturday, August 22, 2009


(Actually there were 16 around the table in Arzua.) Despite what I said, it became clear that to stay at Monte del Gozo was impractical in the extreme. Pack up and get out by 10, then book in again sometime after 1:30. Bang, the day´s gone.
Flemming left about 6:45 and after humming and haa-ing (we say these things but how to spell them!) I packed and walked to Compostela. Only got lost once, which is better than last time. I have a triple room for 25€ per night in A Nosa Casa where I stayed in 2000. Currently I will leave on Monday, but still have little idea where I´m going.
I pIcked up the Eurail pass from the PO but to my mild surpise and irritation it is for France only, whereas the previous one was for Spain and/or France. I really wanted to spend more time in Spain, so I guess I´ll just have to spend extra money on travel. I had ordered an E-Book from Franklin but it has not come. Would someone at home please check if it has gone there, please? If so, I wont have to look here, but I´ll eventually be sending it back for a refund.
Before I left the Albergue this morning I met Petra who has invited me to her place in Germany. I confirmed with her that I will stay with her after spending a day or three with Manfred and Luciana. (I´m ticking off the countries. Yes, I shall breezily say, I have been to Germany and Switzerland, and little will they know the tiny length of time spent or the microscopic parts of those countries I will have seen. It´s a bit like saying I´ve been to Spain, when all I´ve seen so far is the deep north.)
The feet are groaning from yesterday´s effort but there are no new problems. I´ll take it easy today and tomorrow so they should settle down. Several of our toutring group of pilgers I have seen this morning and arvo. People seem well and fit enough if a trifle dazed.
Compostela is bustling today with pilgrims and locals plus tourists. Shops are all busy, with hustlers out trying to entice the unwary in. There was a market this morning but I had no time to shop then so i had an aspargus omelette with bread and water for lunch. It was OK. I´ve now got the job of trying to find a place where we can celebrate my b´day this evening. There could be 12 people there which makes the search a little more interesting than just what´s on the menu.
ALSO I have to get my Compostela, the certificate to show I´ve walked the requisite distance. I went to the office before lunch but the queue was so long I had visions of fainting again.
Anyway, it´s 2:45 and time I was a-doing.
God bless you all

Wednesday, August 19, 2009


Good morning or good afternoon or good evening to you all!
After writing yesterday I went shopping and on to the albergue where I hoped to find friends to eat with. Wise move! About 8 of us sat down to eat and another 4 came in later to have coffee. The biggest surprise was Lee. I left her in Melide where she ate in the church yard, took out sleeping bag and had a snooze! When she woke she felt as refreshed as if it were a new day and she started walking again, arriving in Arzua at 6:00. She was as pleased as Punch and actually laid the blame at my feet, saying what an inspoiration I am! Me!
We had a wonderful meal. People were quite concerned about where to stay and all resolved to either book reservations or leave very early. It was apparent that in the villages ahead there were not the places to cater for the pilgims in Arzua. The bedroom was quiet so I didn´t wake until 6:10 which meant I was not ready to leave until 7:35. I made good time and then was overtaken by Birgit (D), Charlie and Diana (NZ) who sang happy b´day to me. At the time I was walking with Henry, a Canadian. Soon we caught up with Lee and we stopped for coffee.
Lots of people came over to say happy b´day - it is such a contrast to 2000 and my private celebration on the train to Bari, Italy. I then left them and walked on with Charlie, having a great time. Both of them are extremely friendly, outgoing people and our chats covered a lot of ground. At Arzua (18+km from Compostela) they walked on while Birgit and I looked in at the Albergue. There were over 60 people lined up for 100 beds which meant no bottom bunk for John. B stayed and I went off looking for a hotel. There is only one and it was full. (I swear the girl said "Qantas" so maybe thay are having a convention of flight attendants, but later she did say "Completo".) What choices now? Go back? NO WAY! So it was sleep on a top bunk or go on. I walked on.
It was already 2 before I got going with the only accommodation at Lavacolla 7km on, or Monte del Gozo (Mount of Joy) 5 or so km from Compostela. I stopped for a drink 2km shy of Lavacolla and chatted briefly to a tour party of Germans who were walking assisted by a minibus, and staying in hotels. Along came my angel for the day. Yes, folks, the Lord answered my prayer before I made it, which is often His way. Flemming Petersen is from Denmark, speaks excellent idiomatic English, is 30 and walks big distances. Here he was having walked already from Melide and being tired he was delighted to be able to slow down and chat with a geriatric (hey, 65 means I´m officially old).
Let´s put this in perspective. Last time I took 4 days to walk the same distance as I have walked in 2 this time, because I actually made it, with no apparent damage though greater than the usual aches and pains, to Monte del Gozo! Last time the final 17 km I thought would never end but Flemming helped me a lot today. He walked 50km(!) for the day and I 34km, another personal best which will likely stand for ever.
The first night here is free but we have to pay 7€ a night for up to two more nights - not bad. (I´ll be pretty cross if they make me pack up and move tomorrow, but it will still be cheaper to stay here.) The place is huge with dormitory accom. for 2800. There are shops, a tiny Supermercado, hairdressing place, coffee shop/bar, and a self-service cafeteria. Fl and I had a hamburger with the lot for 2.75€, then went next door for more. The prices are very reasonable so I am surprised the Guide says that the place is expensive.
I will go in by bus tomorrow and spend the day there - Pilgrim Mass at midday, Correos (PO) if it is open, planning my next itineraries at the Information Centre, shopping for family gifts, (please pretend to like them and fall on them with glad cries) and of course finding the right venue for my HB Party.
Our paths the last few days have largely been through forests of native trees including oak, beech and elm, and large quantities of eucalyptus. Sometimes it has been extraordinarily beautiful, with the branches arching above, vines winding around trunks, and grasses filling the gaps. While the surface varied, mostly it has been gravel and sands, with leaf litter in the forests. The closer we got to MdG to uglier it became, which is really why I don´t want to walk again into Compostela. It is dreary, dreary, dreary until you walk through the gate to the old city.
Last night as I looked out the fifth storey window over the distant, misty hills I was struck with sadness to think the grand adventure is almost at an end. Monday will probably see my departure and most of the people I now think of as friends I will never see again. Charlie and Diana have invited us to to stay with them, Jenny, so our planned visit to NZ will be even more interesting.

Still, it´s not the end of life but a beginning. If I have learnt anything on the Camino this time apart from relearning to unhesitatingly trust in a God who loves me and cares for me, it is to take one day at a time, one section at a time, one step at a time.
God bless you all

Thursday, August 13, 2009


There´s nothing wrong with my memory, I just can´t get in contact with it reliably! Yesterday we passed the first eucalyptus tree and it was a great joy to me. Today we encountered some new plantations, which surprised me, since they have long since escaped into the Galician countryside and in some areas become the dominant species after having been introduced 90 or so years ago. Spaniards are not big on timber homes, concrete and brick being more their style, and their timber workers are just not geared to the use of such hard timbers. I guess they are using them for fuel.
Yesterday´s Pension was quite good and at only 10€, very popular among those who found it. Sabina from S Africa found it and brought her daughter Stephanie and me. I found the further 10 people. Why me and not the owners? The lass turned up at 10.35pm to collect the rent! If they just had someone hanging around the albergue they´d fill the place every night.
I ate out with Sabrina, Stephanie, and Sergio from Brazil. The pulpo was good but not as good as the first time. Apparently the best place to eat it is in Melide and since we passed through there today I think I´ve had my last octopus meal for a while. The Santiago tart is good and I´ve enjoyed several pieces. It´s an almond tart with a stencil of St J´s cross on top and is very popular.
I had my Carrix and sac transported to Arzua 29km away, dropping it off at 7:30am. Walking without it or a backpack is a relative breeze. Quite a bit of today´s walk was up and down hill and those with sacs were struggling. The transport man pronounced the Z in Arzua as a"t" with a touch of "th" to it.
Met up with Lee on the way. I was walking at 5km per hour and caught her after 2 hours. She had left at 6:00am. We were both pleased to see each other. Part of our conversation was on old time remedies. She has a book about rememdies grandma knew. Several concern the use of urine. She told me that for the first time today she tried one of the remedies. She used her own urine to wet her socks as she was walking using shoes she had not used for weeks. The idea is to prevent blisters. Hmm. So I told her of Jenny´s grandma´s diary in which she said that her mother kept a spotless house except for the cobwebs under the porch. These were used on cuts and abrasions to help the blood clot. Oh, said Lee, I use onions for that. Apparently she cut her finger to the bone once, grabbed an onion and found the membrane between the layers. She then pinched the skin together, pressed the membrane over the cut, and it healed with no scar! I left her at Melide as she was not sure how far she could walk, and I HAD to get to Arzua or be without all my necessaries. I hope to meet her again before I leave Compostela.
Then joy of joys bumped into Jean, Deanne, and Barry and walked along with them. Jean told me they were staying in Hostal Rua. After picking up the Carrix from a Repsol service station I found it was on the way. A room with baño is 25€. Fantastic. The hostal is nearly new and very nice indeed, but the baño was only a ducha - a shower not a bath. Still I had a really good shower and lay down for a bit. In fact, I went out to it for an hour. And here I am, on the computer in a new large facility that includes a children´s play area, a smaller version of Rare Bears in Hartwell.
I´ll head off to the albergue to see who´s there and then eat. It´s 6:40 pm now with the sun still shining as it will until after 10pm. This arvo as we walked Jean told me the stack with bells on it is a foxglove and she believes them to be wild. They are remarkably big since most wildflowers are quite small. The closer we got the more misty it became and the temperature has also dropped. I hope this does not indicate a change to rain. We have been very fortunate so far and are quite happy to remain fortunate, thanks very much.
Tomorrow I expect to walk only 18 km to Arca which will leave 14 or so to Monte de Gozo. This is a monster facility to accommodate 2800 pilgrims plus those who camp. The first night is free and there are buses to Compostela so both those ideas attract. I don´t expect to be many days in Compostela. The arrangement is to meet friends outside the cathedral on Saturday, 7pm and I´ll go there on Sunday at 7pm as well. Then will begin the grand tour, and frankly I have no idea where or what I will go and see. There´s too much! sob.
And with that note of pretend regret, I move on.
All the best to you

Saturday, August 8, 2009


G´day Pholks
Bro Allan says he received only the word "We" for 29 so I hope it actually got to others in fully form. Unfortunately the computers were down at Portomarin so I could not write yesterday.
Set out to Porto on the track but the first section had several very steep sections so I took the road option as soon as I could. This was not a good choice as it was not well marked and longer, the last 9 km seeming to take forever. All beds in Albergue were taken but they opened the old school building and i got a bottom bunk. The showeres were not so much warm as uncold but I braved them. Ate out with four Canadians - Anne and John, and a mother and daughter whose names I have never known. Frankly, it´s not the first thing we pilgrims ask or say but it is remiss of me to have not asked. A week ago I bought a thriller book called 24 Hours about a kidnapping. It is very engaging, but I wondered if it were the trigger for the TV series 24? Halfway through. Read a big section last evening and slept very well. That shows how tired I am.
Left at 7:15 this morning and on the way met Lee, the Czech woman married to an American whom I had assumed had come to grief crossing the route Napoleon. As it is, she did exactly what I did - walked to Valcarlos on April 25, and so on. She had far too much weight and has shipped home (to Luxemburg) at least 5kg. It was excellent to see her. She walking slowly but clearly welcomed a chat. This slowed me down and together we devoured the kms. The 24km for today was the most she had walked and she was delighted. We walked the whole way on the track which was in very good condition and mostly level.
Lee told me that as Germans living in the Sudetenland in 1945, she aged 9, her younger sister, brother, and her mother had to pack their belongings and were shifted in cattle trucks close to the border. They then had to walk for days (she can´t remember how long) before reaching East Germany. She and the others played hide and seek while their mother toiled up and down the mountains with a backpack and all the belongings they could pack in it. Her mother had packed a new backpack but it was stolen and so had to use an old one with leather straps that dug in. They had to hand over their house keys and any jewellery before being trucked away. Even while Lee played she felt guilty and feels now that one of the driving reasons behind her camino was to be at one with her mother´s experience. Her mother is still alive.
We arrived at Palas de Rey to find no bottom bunks available but managed after some time to find single beds, she in a sort of hotel for 18€, and me in a Pension for 10€. I have a single room, sheets, and towels. Not having to unpack and then pack again the sleeping bag and liner is like a holiday in itself.
The computers are in a cafe and cost 2€ for 66 mins which is quite fair. Yesterday and today we have seen large purple bell-like flowers arranged up stalks. They are so large they look like garden escapes and I suppose it is possible they are, but there are so many! Today we saw brilliant yellow flowers with 4 waxy petals, and huge quanitites of purple heather. It was sunny the whole time but with a good breeze. We are having marvellous weather with only three wet days. Quite amazing.
In this same cafe, on arrival we saw Barry, Deanne and Jean, but they have moved on another 5km. I forgot to have my bag shipped today so I did not have had the energy to go with them. Anyway, I have invited them to my birthday party in Compostela. I´ll supply the Santiago tart and maybe subsidise the bill. It will be good to celebrate with others, though on the train to Bari in 2000 was an unforgetable experience.
Time to go. God bless you all.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009


We´ve been walking through the hills and there has been no internet available - hence no e-mails from me.
We worked it so when faced with the steepest climb on the Camino, we were close to it - about 10km to O Cebreiro. Most of us paid a taxi to take our bags to the top and believe me it was a wonderful feeling to just step out with only the daypack. The first 1.5 hours were beautiful, on well-marked tracks well off the main road. Then it got steeper but we just slowed down and strolled. I was with a group of 4 Canadians married to each other (you work it out!) and we had a great time chatting. Then we were in misty clouds, climbing through a chestnut forest. Suddenly we were there! The only person complaining was Barry from NZ who carried his backpack, so that must be the difference. The book said that experienced walkers should allow 3 hours and we did it in 2h45, so in a sense it was anticlimactic. There was quite loud Celtic music playing (the Galicians are proud of their Celtic origins) and Gregorian chant in the church. There must have been four cafes and more tiendas in what is a tiny place. Two German pilgrims wondered when the first MacDonalds would appear on the Camino. Tourist buses rolled in and out, and all the while the fog was fairly dense with visibility down to 100 m. We all decided to walk on to Fonfria because there was a rumour new albergue there. We set off, cresting two ridges (Alto de San Roque and Alto de Poio) over 1200m high. Then we dropped down to Fonfria - about 27km for the day, about 5km more than my body enjoyed. Yes, the albergue was new and matched with a new restaurant both built by the same family. There is no shop ... get the picture? The four Canadians and I booked in with a guy (7€ each), grabbed our bunks and unpacked when in rolled the hospitallera. It was fiesta time for Corpus Christi (o no, we groaned) and no doubt she had been otherwise occupied. No, we could not use those bunks as they were reserved for a touring group of kids. Well, after a lot of tooing and froing she relented and when the kids came, some of them were bused back to Hospital (a village, not an institution). When Barry, Deanne and Jean arrived there were only private rooms available, the ones which had been offered to us. They took them gladly, so all were happy. For dinner I bypassed the Menu del Dia and had instead Pulpo, the great Galician signature dish. Pulpo is octopus and you will be pleased to know it was chopped up and cooked. Actually it was wonderful, leaving the impression of having been cooked in wine, with a light touch of virgin olive oil. I will certainly be having it again. The pieces were mainly discs around 1 - 1.5cm thick and had a lovely not-too-chewy texture. It cost 8€ and as I had only bread and water with it, the price for the meal was still most reasonable.
The wax ear plugs are great! I had a sound sleep and heard nothing of the fiesta. Barry said the band stopped at 4am. Next morning we walked through Triacastela (which has no castles and certainly not three), through Renche which was having its CC fiesta on the Sunday, to Samos where we enjoyed a guided tour of San Julian monastery, and the 6 o´clock mass. Apparently almost the entire monastery was burned out in 1959, but the walls were fine so it was rebuilt pretty much as it had been. This is the place whence set forth in the mid 19th c, Don Salvador to found the Benedictine monastery at New Norcia some way out of Perth. He is described as Apostol do Australia.
The monks singing was not fine as 5 yrs ago so I think they need a music director. A hesitant and feeble organ accompanied the singing which was dominated by the monk/priest who runs the shop, and the president of the service who last time was cantor. There are only 15 monks now but about a third are young (monjes in Spanish, with nuns monjas). OK, it was CC, so after the service there was a procession out from the church and through the cloister. Everyone joined in and the wafer representing Christ´s body was held in a dazzling monstrance, with a pall held over it by 6 men of the town. The women walked before the monstrance bearing candles. (Monstrance has the same root as demonstrate, not monster. Thought I´d sort that out for you.) I asked Deanne what she thought and she was ecstatic as it took her back. Apparently her church no longer processes.
I ate with two women from South Africa. They are recently divorced, I would say, and heard of the camino only months ago. They are walking to clear their heads, enjoy the simplicity, and work out what is important. We all had the M del D and it was OK. We felt sorry for the poor waitress as she was alone and literally running. I had bean soup and 4 rings of calamari and chips. Pulpo was better. (Later I saw the hired help having 8 rings, so it pays to work there.)
Arrived in Sarria in 2.5 hrs and chose the only one of the 5 albergues in the same street to be open. 6€ plus 6€ for washing and drying clothes. That´s fine.
Walking into the city centre I passed the Centro do Culturo, bowled into this old school where there were no signs or sings of life. Eventually found 2 people on the third floor, one of whom brought me to the ground floor and in through a blank-faced door to a library. (Now, don´t advertise you´ve got a library - someone may actually want to use it!) Sure enough, they have two fast computers with Net access and NO CHARGE! WhooHOO! That´s what I call cultured.
I hope this arvo to have my pics transferred from chip to CD ROM. I´ve pruned the number down to around 700, I think, so it will be a good insurance policy. You know, I have only had to charge my battery twice? Pretty good.
A couple of weeks ago Manfred and I swapped aphorisms. Mine was, A traveller may lie by authority, while M´s was (probably from Dante) A traveller has no shame. Folks, while I MAY lie by authority, all I tell you is the truth, but it is true that we travellers have no shame. You should see the piles of rubbish we leave by the road. And we wee by the track and get changed in our dormitories. We are all terribly discreet and nobody perves (an action done by a perverted person), but I am sure the attitudes will change back home.
Yesterday as I walked by the road I studied the grasses alongside me. There were flowers in abundance with whites, bright yellows, russets, reds, and browns, and the grasses themselves ranged from new growth in light greens to yellows and browns. Through it all there was the wild life - birds, butterflies, ants, spiders - and I thought how as I child in class I had painted my pictures with green grass and blue sky. We have to learn to observe, and have to time for it. I wonder how often we notice a fabulous sunset or rejoice in the new growth of spring? Of course we do when away from home and especially in a new environment. I know I need to make time for this. So often I just don´t see anything except what i have to do.
God bless you all

Saturday, August 1, 2009


Yesteraday was SO HOT! But it remained so into the night. This morning the first person left, banging the door, at 4:00. The next repeated the early morning call at 5:00 so I got up, dressed, had breakfast etc before 6:00 at which time I was able to pack. A bunch of us left at 6:30 and after the usual hassle of getting out of the town, we were on the track beside the road. With the opening of the motorway much of the traffic has gone anyway so walking beside the road was notn so interesting or attention-demanding as the fact we were walking beside a swiftly flowing river and a strip forest. We made good time and I was in Vega de la Valcarce by 10:30. The new Brazilian albergue did not open until 1:00 so I walked to the municipal one, booked, had shower, washed, had lunch, all before 1:00.
Then there was some serious bed rest and book reading. Actually just before that was the most dramatic event of the day for me. I removed a plaster from my smallest left foot toe and thought decent advice was needed. When I showed the Farmacist (my spelling is WRECKED!) she said O my God and she wasn´t being an American teenager for the day. The toe is pink to just beyond the joint and is then a ghastly white. I will lose the toenail eventually and she impressed upon me the necessity of keeping it Iodined. So, iodine, gauze, and something to keep the gauze in place, changed twice a day. Oh well, so long as it doesn´t become infected, and I can continue walking.
The albergue is OK - a bit old and rundown but the kitchen is open on one side, there is a small eating area, a large open room with stadium seating and too few WCs. The newer one is better, but I´m not complaining. Vega is a tiny place but well eqipped with three banks, two supermercados and one tienda, a panaderia, and a couple of cafes. In summer "they" dam the river and there is a most pleasant swimming area and shaded resting place.
Tomorrow several of us are having our bags taken to O Cebreiro so we can walk the hardest steepest climb of the Camino relatively unencumbered. I will still take water, a little food, poncho, and something warmish as the weather can change up there in an instant.
Time to go prepare the meal.
God bless you all.