Sunday, July 24, 2011

So what happened????

Well, I've been home 13 days and so many of my friends and family have asked, "What happened???  I was following your blog and you never posted anything about the final days!!"

I know and I am so sorry, but I have a couple of good explanations!  First of all, while I was still in Spain I couldn't find a computer with a darn card reader and therefore couldn't upload any more photos.  I felt like I needed pictures to accompany my last thoughts.  And then when I got home...well, honestly I just couldn't bring myself to turn on my computer.  No REALLY!!  I had no desire to surf the internet, look at my blog or log into Facebook.  And those who know me, will agree when I say that it was so unlike me!  I resisted as long as I could, but I have finally given in--only to some extent :)

It was great to get home and see my family, but I must say that I have had a hard time adjusting to reality.  I feel like I'm in limbo.  I feel so out of the loop and lost without the trail.  My responsibilities at home, work and church are slowly creeping their way back into my routine and causing me to miss the Camino more and more each day.  Even with all the pain and struggles that I had, I would love to be back out in nature with my boots and trek poles.  Heck, I even miss hand washing my clothes--well, maybe only a little! haha

I think what I miss most is the simplicity of the trail and being unplugged from a world that is always on fast forward.  I miss NOT having to choose my outfit for the day or NOT spending an hour doing my hair!  I miss the friendly faces of my fellow pilgrims with their helping hands and caring attitudes.  I miss being in a state of mind where you don't worry about anything anymore.  You don't worry about what you will have for dinner, where you will sleep that night or where you are going the next day.  You just let things happen and accept them.

I am so grateful for the opportunity that I had to walk every step.  I'm grateful that my mom was willing to go with me and walk the trail for the third time!  I'm grateful for the wonderful people that I met along the way.  They will never know how much they have influenced my life with their words and kindness.  I will never forget them!  I have learned that it doesn't matter where you come from or what you do for a living, but we are all connected and can easily make a friend by offering a smile.

I have included some photos from the last day as we walked to Finesterre--THE END OF THE WORLD.  I am so glad that we decided to continue as this was probably the best and most beautiful part of the whole trail.  It was a great feeling to walk into Santiago, but it was an AMAZING feeling when we reached the coast and the Atlantic ocean.

Thanks to all those who have followed us on our journey.  I felt your love and support every step of the way.  


On the way to Finesterre!

Coming over the mountain and seeing the ocean was an amazing feeling!  It was a sense of accomplishment that I've never felt before.

The last marker telling us that we had truly made it!

ZERO!!!!!!  Accomplished in 37 days!

We felt so great that day!

I made it to the END OF THE WORLD!

So proud of my mom for her accomplishments!

The ocean was more beautiful than I had imagined!

My mom celebrated with her favorite beverage--wine and I stuck with my Agua con Gas (mineral water)! haha

We received our 2nd certificate, declaring that we walked to Finesterre.

Along the trail we received many stamps from the cities that we stayed in,
but this was the ULTIMATE stamp!!


Monday, July 4, 2011

Back In The Saddle Again!!

Well, it looks like we are on the trail again!!  We spent  2 days in Santiago and fortunately my mom recovered very quickly.  We walked around, sat around, took a nap, ate great food, litened to some fantastic musicians, took some photos, did some shopping, took a tour and realized that we were completely bored!  We are much happier when we are walking.  Crazy, huh?!  So, we decided to give Finesterre another try!  Originally, we had planned 4 days for the 55 miles trip but now we only have three so, we have to really pick up the pace.  We may end up taking a taxi somewhere in between to help us cover ground.  We have to be back in Santiago on Thursday night and will be flying to London on Friday.

Today we left at 6:30am.  It was amazing to see the square in front of the Cathedral, completely empty, quiet and dark.  During the day, there are hundreds of people wondering around.  But this morning it was only us--very nice.  We headed out with no real map or information about the Camino to Finesterre.  But, again we have complete faith in the yellow arrows and will rely on their direction.

We were pleasently surprised with the the landscape.  It is beautiful and lush.  We both agreed that it is probably one of the best on the entire trail.  So glad we decided to come!

Here are a few pics from this week....

Made it to Santiago!!  Standing in front of the Cathedral.  It´s definitely a masterpiece!

Vegetable paella!  Yummy!!  I can´t believe how much we´ve eaten!

My mom proudly displaying her third Camino certificate!

This was about a week ago.  The weather went from HOT to COLD overnight.
I was wearing everything I owned that day!  My mom said that I looked scary! haha

Today´s lunch.  I have to say that I´m a bit tired of french fries.
We have them with almost every meal.  Although they do give us the calories that we need to walk 20 miles :)

On our way to Finesterre, we came across a beautiful town with a river going thru it.  The camera will NEVER do it justice.  It was one of the most beautiful sites we´ve seen on the entire trail.

We spent a lovely Sunday afternoon in Santiago.  It would be odd back home, but here in Spain it´s very common for musicians to set up right in the middle of the street.  The surrounding buildings make for some amazing acoustics.  This orchestra had to have professional musicians.  The music they played was so beautiful.

This is us taking in some caffeine before we head up the mountain at O´Cebrerio.

Yes, I´ve really pee´d outside behind bushes!  My mom caught this shot of me coming back out onto the road! haha

Flowers are everywhere!  I´ve been puting them in my pack and on the back of my hat.  We expecially love to carry sprigs of lavendar!

Saturday, July 2, 2011

So Close and Yet So Far

Yesterday, we were very close to Santiago--only 5 or 6 miles away.  We decided to walk a longer distance and quit outside of Santiago, in hopes that we could arrive early in the city and find a place to stay.  We went thru our daily rituals of showering, washing clothes and napping.  When we awoke about 7pm, we went down to dinner and my mom mentioned that she was not feeling so good.  She tried to eat her beautiful salad, but her stomach would not allow her to finish.  She decided to head up stairs and go to bed early.  I, on the other hand, finished my huge steak and french fries:)

During the night, she began to feel more nauseated.  We were worried because several of our Camino friends had similar symptoms and became very ill.  She did not sleep well and continued to feel nauseated.  When the alarm went off, she announced that she would have to take a taxi into the city.  I agreed that it was a good idea.  Then, I began to think about how close we were and I didn´t want to take a car after coming all this way.  I suggested that I walk and meet her there.  She said that this was the most important part of the trail and really wanted to give it a try.  She got up and started to pack.  After about 5 minutes, she forfeited the attempt and agreed to take the taxi.  She went back to bed and I left with my pack.  We agreed to meet in 4 hours in front of the Santiago Cathedral.

I´m not sure if I ran or flew, but I made it in record time!  As I came into Santiago and made my way thru the large city, a thought came to my mind... Here I was all alone, in a foreign country, not able to speak the language well, without a map and had never been to this place before---but yet, I was completely at peace.  I had no worries about where I was going or when I would get there.  I felt completely safe and comfortable.  I followed the yellow arrows and trusted their direction.  I walked thru alleys, neighborhoods and busy intersections--all with no cares in the world.  Finally, I arrived at the main square and laid my eyes on the Cathedral for the first time.  It was so massive and the detail was amazing!  It was still very early and there were only about 5 others besides myself in square.  I stood there quietly and peacefully and thought about our accomplishments over the last 5 weeks.  That in itself was just as amazing as the cathedral.  I still can´t believe that we´ve come so far--by foot!

I hadn´t eaten breakfast and was started to hear grumbling in my stomach.  I decided to wonder around and look for a bar (cafe) and order a croissant and cola coa (hot chocolate).  Right away, I ran into some ladies that we met weeks earlier.  They are from South Africa and invited me to sit with them.  I told them about my mom being sick and how I had walked in alone.  They suggested that I go right away and get my Compostella (certificate).  I left and made my way thru town looking for the Pilgrim´s office.  Within minutes I was at the office and presented my pilgrim´s passport.  This has documentation of my travels with stamps from every city that we´ve stopped in.  They handed me a beautiful certificate with my name written in Latin and offered congratulations.  With a big grin I said,"Muchas Gracias!" and accepted it.

I went back out to the square and again ran into other pilgrim friends.  We all hugged and offered congratulations to one another.  Within a few minutes, my mom came walking around the corner.  We were both very surprised to see each other there so early.  I was glad to see that she was feeling well enough to make it to the Cathedral.  She had taken the taxi and already checked us into our hotel.  I felt bad that she was so close, but yet too far to walk in her condition.  At noon, we headed back to the Cathedral for the Pilgrim Mass.  The inside of the Cathedral is beautiful!  It was standing room only and we had 2nd row seats.  As soon as it was over, my mom decided to go back to the hotel room and lay down for a while.  She definitely needs rest for a speedy recovery.

Unfortunately, I don´t think she is up to walking to Finesterre.  We would have 3 or 4 days of 30-34 km--IN A ROW!   As we have watched our pilgrim friends recover from this bug, they are not up for walking such long distances.  So, as of now we have decided to stay one more night in Santiago and possible go by bus for the remaining 50 miles.  If we had more time, we would give it a try--but at this point, we would not make it in time for our flight home.  Sure there is some disappointment, but when I think about what we´ve accomplished, we have nothing to be ashamed of!  Especially my mom, as this is her third time to walk the entire Camino!  Walking any futher could cause her to become more ill and that´s just not worth it.

I´ll keep you posted and let you know how my mom is doing.  If I get a chance later this eveing, I will post some photos.

Buenos Dias Amigos!

Friday, July 1, 2011

Day 31 (I think) We´re almost there!!

Mileage to date:  800 km or 497 miles!  
Actually, we have walked close to 540 miles.  This is figured by taking into account the mountain ascent and descents.

Well, we did a very long 20+ miles today in the hot sun.  We chose to stop at 4pm and just 5 miles outside of Santiago.  By stopping here, we will arrive early tomorrow and have a better chance of finding a hotel room.  There are many, many more pilgrims now than there was in the beginning!  We will also get in line to receive our first certificate and information about Finesterre.  We are anxious to meet up with our Camino friends as we enter Santiago.  Everyone is planning to celebrate by attending the noon mass at the Cathedral and then dinner that night.  It will be a great celebration!

We had originally planned to walk to Finesterre in 3 days, but people are telling us that we will need at least 4.  We will have to do 18-20 miles for 3 days in a row!!  We haven´t had to do that  yet and I hope we are up to it.  I have decided to ship my pack ahead each day.  I want to enjoy walking without weight and possible ankle pain for the last few days.  I think it will be a good choice!

It´s almost 9:30pm and I need to get to bed.  We´ve got a busy week ahead!  Hugs and kisses to everyone!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

The Camino is NOT for Wimps!

I have had several conversations with my fellow pilgrims, who say that their friends think they are on a wonderful, relaxing vacation.  OH BROTHER!!  i am here to tell you that the Camino is not for wimps!  It has been one of the hardest things I have ever done!  So far in my blog, I´ve highlighted the fun, interesting and beautiful things that we´ve seen and done.  I´ve also thrown in a few hard experiences.  But, let me tell you more about the things that we´ve had to go through. 

In my opinion, the Camino is a personal challenge.  It isn´t so much a sight seeing tour (at least the way we have been doing it), but more of an athletic event.  I am truly amazed at the extent at which I´ve been able to push my body, mind and spirit.  I have walked with excruciating pain for weeks from blisters, and joint & tendon pain.  I have been so cold that I had to wear ALL of my clothing.  I have been so hot, that my clothes were completely saturated with sweat--down to my underwear and socks!  I have been so exhausted and felt like there was no way I could take another steph.  But, somehow I found the will to keep going and walk 15-20 miles EVERYDAY!  I´ve learned so much about myself and what I´m capable of.  I´ve also learned that I can do anything!  I can do anything if I am prepared, if I take it step by step and if I ask for the Lord´s help.  Many days when I knew that I couldn´t go on, I prayed that Heavenly Father would give me the strength and courage I needed to continue.  I promised Him that I would keep moving my feet and not stop until I reached my goal if he would give me the energy and will to go on.  There were times when the heat seemed to be unbearable because there hadn´t been any shade ont the trail.  But time and time again, a little miracle would present itself...Just as I was at the end of my rope, a pocket of shade would appear from a tree and a cool breeze would blow across my face.  Each time, I would thank God for this blessing and promise to keep moving.  I knew he was there and would not leave me alone.  Not everyone can come to the Camino trail, but it would be so wonderful if each of us could find something that would push us to our limits--something that would show you how far you can really go physically, emotionally and spiritually.  The Camino trail has truly been the hardest thing I´ve every done, but also the most amazing.  I´m grateful for the opportunity and Heavenly Father´s watchful hand.


Day 30 And We´re Back!!

Wow, it has been a whole week since I¨ve been able to get to a computer.  Somehow we got off track and have been ending up in tiny towns.  No one seems to have a public computer or phone!  Fortunately, I have still been writing in my journal and can give you some highlights.

Mileage to date:  767 km or 477 miles!  

We are in Palas del Rei today and ONLY 42 miles from Santiago!!  Then it´s only another 55 miles to Finesterre!!!  I can´t believe after so many weeks that we are only 2 days away from Santiago.  The sad thing is that it will take us 2 full days to walk there and in a car we could reach it in 30 minutes! LOL  Santiago is the end for many, but a limited few will walk to Finesterre.  When we reach Santiago, we will be presented with a certificate and we will receive a second one in Finesterre.

There are many more people on the Camino right now.  Many people start about 10 days out and still receive a certificate.  If you ask me--that´s cheating! LOL  There are many high school students who come with their teacher as a final project or Senior trip.  They are fun and full of energy.  My mom and I keep commenting about the fact that teenagers act the same no matter where they are from :)

So, when I made the last post we were in a town called Rabanal.  Here are some of the week´s highlights...
  • After we left Rabanal, we finally made it to Cruz to Ferro.  This is where I left the stones that I brought from home.  I was very excited to reach this point.  We took many photos and some video.  I left a rock that my friends signed, a rock that said SASSY on it and an Arizona key chain (from the Stewarts), along with an American flag key chain.  It was so fun to see all of the other items that had been left before me.
  • On the same day, it was very hot and many of our Camino friends were ill.  We couldn´t figure out if it was the food, water or dehydration.  In the end, they think that it may have been a virus.  We were lucky enough to be passed over.  On our way into the next town, we saw some police on the trail.  They were waiting for an ambulance to pick up a hiker.  She was curled up in a ball on the ground.  She had been vomiting and was badly dehydrated.  She was taken to the hospital and fortunately released 2 hours later.  All of the pilgrims were very concerned and praying for her and the others who were ill.
  • That night we had dinner at the Albergue.  We met a man who must have been 75.  He is doing the Camino trail backwards by bike.  I´m not sure where he started, but by the time he reached Santiago he had already ridden 1000km --over 600 miles!!  I think he had another 1000km to reach his home!  AMAZING!  A couple of days ago, we also saw a young guy riding a unicycle on the trail!  I wished I had gotten a photo!  He was too quick and I was too slow!
  • As I mentioned, the weather has been pretty hot.  People were complaining and we didn´t think it was that bad.  When we reached Villafranca, we checked into an albergue.  It was old but comfortable.  The temperature dropped a bit in the afternoon and everyone was happy.  I was starting to get a chill and put on a jacket.  When it was bedtime, my mom offerered her sleeping bag to me.  By the way, she hasn´t even used it!  She covers up with her silver emergency blanket and does well.  Anyway, that night ended up being FREEZING!  We realized that there was a 5 inch space along the floor.  The wind howled that night and needless to say we didn´t get much sleep.  When we left the next morning, I was wearing just about every piece of clothing I had.  I even had my face covered!  We decided to quit early that day and treat ourselves to our first Hotel!  They even had a TV!! LOL  It was so nice to have our own space and even a bathtub!  Both of us took a turn soaking in a hot bath :)  We needed the good rest, because the next day would be our steepest climb yet--O´Cebreiro.
  • For 4 weeks, I have been hearing about how steep the climb is to O´Cebreiro.  People were saying that they were going to ship their packs ahead and some were even going to skip the entire thing.  My mom kept telling me that I needed to take my time and go slow.  We started our ascent after my mom had a coffee and I had a Coke.  I don´t know what the big deal was!  I practically ran up the hill!  It felt so great after being in so much pain for so many weeks.  I kept thinking that it was going to get worse, but it never did.  I think we´ve done climbs that were longer and harder than this one.  But, it was a relief to get it done.
  • After O´Cebreiro, we decided to keep going.  We were coming to a town at the top of yet another mountain.  It was called Alto de Poio.  Geez!!  That was much worse than the last climb.  It was hot and there was no shade.  When we finally reached the top, we opted to stay at one of only two buildings in town.  It was an old hotel, but we didn´t care.  Again, we got a good night sleep and planned to leave earlier in the morning to beat the heat.    We hadn´t gone more than 2 miles when we saw a new albergue!  My mom had forgotten that it was there.  We were kinda bummed because it would have been nicer and cheaper than the hotel we chose--plus, we could have spent time with our Camino friends.  As we walked past, some pilgrims came out to join us.  They said that it was a terrible morning and were feeling pretty bad.  Apparently, four pilgrims had been robbed and $400 Euros had been stolen.  They said that everyone was mad and accusing each other.  Many were sad, because they hadn´t experienced anything like this and it put a damper on the Camino spirit.  I´m glad we decided to stay where we were.
  • On the same day, we had planned to walk all the way to Sarria--little did we know that would change.  So, the weather has been quite unpredictable during the last week.  First it was hot, then cold and now hot again.  A Red Alert (heat advisory) was issued this day for Spain.  It was all over the news and the Spanish people were suffering.  From what I could tell, the temperature reached 37 degrees Celcius which is 98 degrees Fahrenheit.  They said that it was the worst heat Spain has seen in 50 years!!  We had plenty of water and chose a mountain route which provided plenty of shade, so we weren´t worried.  As the day went on, we could feel the heat taking it´s toll on us.  Finally about 3pm and too far from Sarria, we just couldn´t take it anymore.  With heat exhaustion, we found a little mirage in the desert...a Pension!  A pension is the highest quality hotel.  We walked in with beet red faces and asked for water.  My mom also asked if they had any rooms available.  The lady said yes, but it would cost us $70 Euros ($100).  We looked at each other and decided against it.  Maybe we could rest and make it to the next town.  The lady quickly made another offer...$35 Euros!  We happily accepted and she showed us to our nice, clean, cool and private room!  During the night, it was very humid and so about 1:30am, my mom opened up the window.  We thought we could hear thunder and saw lightning in the distance. 
  • In the morning, it was definitely more humid and the heat was still there.  My mom had been telling me about a cute little bed & breakfast that she wanted to show me.  We arrived at 11:30am and called it quits for the day.  That is very, very early for us to be stopping--but we had already been walking for 5 hours!  When we arrived my clothes were completely saturated from sweat.  Fortunately, we had been drinking plenty of water flavored with electrolyte tablets.  The Casa Rural (B&B) was very cute and they treated us well.  They gave us our own little cottage and charged us only half of the original price :)
  • Again, we woke up extra early and planned to leave by 6am in order to beat the heat.  We would be walking thru the forest and it was very dark, so we opted to go back to bed for 45 minutes and wait for light.  When we finally were on our way, we were FREEZING!  We just kept saying over and over, how grateful we were that the heat was gone.  The fog was so thick and there was a mist in the air.  As we continued to walk, it began to rain but we didn´t mind it at all!!
  • It has been freezing cold ever since!  This morning, I had 3 shirts on with my rain jacket, my gloves, a face guard and my hat--and I was still cold!  The heat should be past us as we are nearing the coast.
  • Yesterday, we met a man from Madrid.  He is 82 years old and had walked all the way from Madrid to join the Camino trail!!  He´s full of energy and is an inspiration!
  • We are now in Palas de Rei and purposely stopped early so we could have access to the computers and phone.  
  • Yesterday, I dropped my camera while the lens was extended.  Unfortunately, it´s not working anymore :(  But, I still have my video cam which also takes still photos, so I should be good to go!
We will be home in about 10 days!  I can´t believe it´s almost over.  I was telling my mom this morning that I am missing home and ready to sleep in my own bed.  I´m sure, I will be missing the Camino life in a few months:)

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Go back to your Childhood on the Camino...

Today´s post is a short one.  I hadn´t plan to write anything, but couldn´t resist sharing this.

My mom and I took a nap this afternoon and when we woke up, we were discussing the day and what what was ahead---- we couldn´t stop laughing!  We decided to create an advertisement that might help others want to join us on the Camino.

Return To Your Childhood
By Going On The Camino

  • Wake up at the crack of dawn--much earlier than anyone else is ready too!
  • Use vaseline on your buns to prevent chaffing!
  • Don´t comb your hair or brush your teeth if you don´t want too!
  • Have cookies, cake or candy for breakfast if you want!
  • Spend your days learning to walk!
  • Your mom will bribe you with ice cream to get you to walk to her!
  • Play outside ALL day!
  • If you can´t find a toilet close by--pee outside!
  • Learn to tie your shoes!
  • Take a 3 hour nap every afternoon!
  • Go to bed before everyone else does!
  • Have no cares of the world!
  • Only responsibilities are to EAT, POOP, PLAY & SLEEP!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

A Picture Is Worth A Thousand Words...

Mileage to date: 487 km or 302 miles

 Happy Father´s Day
to my Dad, My Husband & My Son, Chase!
We love you!

As I am always limited on time when using the computer, I decided to upload some more photos.  They will help tell the activities of the week...

We met these children in Leon.  They are from South Korea and are traveling throughout the world for 10 months--with their teacher.  They are ages 9 thru 13 and they have been walking on the camino!!  They started in the same city that we did and are also carrying instruments.  In each town, they give a concert wearing traditional Korean dress and singing many songs.  They are so well behaved and very polite.  I was amazed at how young they are.  After they finish the Camino they will be traveling to such places as Turkey, India and South America.

 Don´t hate me girls, but this is a typical breakfast for us!!  There are no eggs and bacon for breakfast.  It is usually pastries, toast & jam, coffee, hot chocolate or fresh squeezed OJ.  I was actually afraid to eat this kind of stuff as we know it has many calories.  But after walking 8-10 hours a day, we need it!  My mom and I have also had ice cream at least every other day :)

This is actually a funny situation.  We came to fork in the road and before we knew it, there were about 10-12 pilgrims gathered.  Everyone was discussing the map and which to go.  After about 10 minutes, everyone except my mom, I and two others went to the left.  We chose the road on the right and were very happy that we did.  It took us to a nice little albergue where we had a really fun time!

 My mom is adjusting her boot.  This is something that we do many, many times a day.  If we do not listen to our body and make adjustments, we will pay for it later.  I had been checking my feet every morning and every night.  I would go over every square inch and add tape to any hot spots.  About a week ago, I became lazy and ended my routine.  Needless to say, I have 3 very large blisters.

This old guy was from France.  He is a good example of the ¨Senior¨ pilgrims on the trail.  There are many people 70 years and older.  We couldn´t keep up with this guy!  His upper body looked like an older man, but his legs looked like they belonged to a 20 year old!!

We are always up before the sun!  This means that EVERY morning we get to see the sun rise :)

This is an example of one of the wash basins where we hand wash our clothes.  I have become an expert agitator! haha  It may look dirty, but it´s actually the color of the rock.  The water is always ice cold, but refreshing on a hot afternoon.  After the sink, it´s off to the clothesline!

I can´t remember the city that we were coming out of, but this was one of the longest climbs we had yet.  It may not appear so, but it is VERY steep.  It´s small baby steps as we carry our heavy packs up the road.  Once we got to the top, it was an amazing view of the city and the valley below.  We have one more climb before we finish.  It will be much steeper than this trail.  Hope we make it!

 This is an example of the signs they post in the albergues.  Every night, everyone is always joking about who will snore the loudest.  Although, I must say that it has not been a problem.  The only thing keeping us awake is the people in the cities who stay up all night!

This is us after a long hot afternoon.  Even though we were on the floor we were so happy to have lots of space.  And we didn´t have to climb up or down from a  bunk bed.  We also had the window right above us.  It´s quite an honor and responsibility to be in charge of the window! haha

This is one of my Camino Angels!  Her name is Ingrid and she is originally from South America, but has lived in Holland for over 40 years.  When I was having terrible ankle pain and doubting that I could go on, she came but and lifted my spirits.  She told me story after story.  Many of them were hilarious.  She helped me get thru some very hard times on the trail.  I will never forget her :)

As I mentioned, we arrived in Leon yesterday.  It was an amazing sight to see so many people.  Normally when we arrive in a town, it is siesta time.  Even the larger cities look like a ghost town, but  not today!!  There was a huge farmers market and thousands of people.  I went around and around with my video camera!

Vender selling beans

This is a side view of the cathedral as we came down the streets of Leon.  This was definitely one of my favorite cities!

More of the farmer´s market

Ladies were going thru linens that were laid on the side walk.  It must have been a 75% off sale, because they were going crazy!

This is a familar scene.  The pilgrims are waiting for the albergue to open and take a rest from their packs.  I have truly enjoyed staying in the albegues.

This is what my ankle looked like yesterday.  The swelling comes and goes.  I think my blisters hurt more than my ankle.  When we arrived in town today, the hostess at the albergue noticed I was limping.  She said, "I have a fantastic Physical Therapist here.  I can have him look at your foot if you like."  I immediately accepted.  Later after I showed and washed my clothes, she called me to the kitchen.  Out came this old man who was very scruffy looking.  He was wearing a little white hat, white tshirt and pants and a white apron.  He was unshaven and had long grey hair.  He also had  a long braid in the back.  HE WAS THE COOK! haha  He asked me to sit down and he placed my foot on this leg.  He began to inspect and massage.  He asked the lady to bring him some tape and he bandaged my ankel.  Then he said (in spanish),"That should get you to Santiago!"  I gave him a hug and a kiss on both cheeks.  Then he immediately went back to the kitchen to finish preparing our dinner!  We are having a family style dinner and he is serving a HUGE wok of Paella!  I´ll definitely be posting pictures later.

This is my friend St. Jacque. He is the patron Saint for the Camino.  I leaned on him and told him that I was tired.

If all goes well, we plan to be in Santiago on June 1st.  This will give us plenty of time to walk the extra 90 km (55miles) to Finesterre.  Many people are doubting that we can do it.  We will go slow if we have to, but we hope to make it to the END OF THE WORLD!!

Love and miss you all!  Yvette & Yvonne

Saturday, June 18, 2011

In Leon!!

It´s Saturday, June 18th and we made it to Leon this morning!  It´s a beautiful and busy city.  We visited the outside market where they had the most amazing fruits and vegetables!  I was hoping to upload some photos, but there is no card reader.

Yesterday, was tough as my ankle was giving me trouble again.  We had to walk 15 miles on the old roman road.  It is covered in stones and is very painful on my ankle.  Hoping to rest and be ready for tomorrow.

As we checked in the Albergue, we noticed a group of Asian looking kids.  We found out that they are from South Korea and they are between the ages of 9 & 13.  They are here for 10 months (in europe) with a teacher.  They started walking the Camino in St. Jean Pied de Port--just like us.  I can´t imagin how they can do it!!  They are soooo young!  They also have instruments with them and have been performing along the way.  We hope to watch and record them tonight.

That´s it for now!  Love to all!  Pictures coming soon!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Day 17 continued....

We are now walking on the meseta, which is the desert portion of the Camino.  It is very flat with very little scenery.  Hikers are saying over and over that they had previously prayed for flat ground when we were climbing mountain, but now they are so bored.  I have done a few things to keep myself occupied during our 10 hour days on the long straight, flat roads.  I have sung many songs to myself.  Here are the top 10...

  1. Yesterday by the Beatles
  2.  Hey Jude by the Beatles
  3.  Michelle by the Beatles
  4.  Hard Days Night by the Beatles  ( I don´t know how the heck I remembered these!!)
  5. 99 bottles of beer on the wall  ( I only get to 84 before I stop)
  6.  Child´s Prayer
  7.  Star Spangled Banner
  8.  Over the hills and thru the woods
  9.  Happy Birthday
  10. Come Away With Me by Norah Jones
While I´m walking I think of so many things that I want to share, but by the time I get to a computer, I forget.  So, I play a little game by creating a list and adding items thru out the day.   Here´s a list from yesterday...

  • Sun on my back-  I´m grateful that as I´m walking the sun is always on my back and not on my face.
  • Blanket- I´m thankful for the blankets provided in the albergues.  They keep me warm as I have no sleeping bag (sent it home).
  • Hot- Everyone thinks it´s hot here, but this AZ girl thankful for the cool breeze!
  • Bugs-  As we walked yesterday, there was about 5 miles of road that had swarms of gnats.  There were several kamikazes that aimed for my eyes and mouth!  I was thankful to get past them!
  • Clouds- After we had been walking with no shade for 6 hours, we were blessed with overcast!  I was thankful for the clouds.
  • TP-  I was thankful for the toilet paper in my pocket that I carried from the last town :)
  • Songs- I´m thanksful for the songs that I was able to remember.
  • Body-  I´m thankful for a healthy body that is taking me to Finesterre.
  • Equiptment- I´m thankful for the nice equiptment that I have and especially my boots!

Day 17 Access to a computer...FINALLY!!!

Oh my goodness, I have so much to catch up on!!  I will be spending a pretty penny (Euro) on these next few posts!

Mileage to date: 424 km or 263 miles in 17 days!
It is 764 km to Santiago, so we are more than half way!! 

It is hot and sunny here.  The Europeans are dying of heat and it´s only about 28 degrees Celcius or 82 degrees Fahrenheit!!  There is a cool breeze and we feel like it is late winter or early spring in Arizona!  A lot of people are starting at 4 or 5am and stopping at 1pm.  We start at 6:30a and end at 4pm! haha

My ankle is mas mejor (much better)!!  Today was actually the first time that I could walk on it normally.  But, yesterday I did develop my first blister.  It covered my entire little toe!  I popped it right away and bandaged it up.  I have been telling everyone that I am an official pilgrim now that I´ve gotten a blister.  The English and Irish say that I am now a PROPER  pilgrim! haha

I think I mentioned in a previous post that I was lucky enough to meet a Physical Therapist who taped my ankle and enouraged me to stay off it for a couple of days.  I think it made a big difference.  But, I also met another angel along the way.  His name is Andres and he is from France.  He said that he was a medic and could help me with the pain thru injections.  I was a little leery and thanked him for his offer, but decided to pass.  The next day, he asked if he could look at it.  I took off my boot and sock to show him my attempt to wrap it.  He said that it was too tight and that he´d like to cut some of it off.  I agreed.  It did feel much better after that.  He again offered the medication thru injections and said that it would help with the pain.  Again I declined with a smile.  Finally on a third meeting, he asked if I was feeling any pain.  I said yes and that it had been a very hard day.  I was tired literally watching EVERY step that I took to avoid rocks and divits.  He said that he had his medical bag ready and could give me the injections if I wanted.  Without hesitation, I accepted and immediately took off my boots.  He carefully prepared the bottles and sterilized needles.  He examined my ankle and poked around--I yelped with pain.  He told me that he was going to begin the injections.  I closed my eyes and waited for the painful prick.  SURPRISE!!  There was no pain!  He was only making multiple, tiny pin pricks all around my ankle!  I decided to grab my camera and snap a photo.  As he was working, many other pilgrims started to gather.  They watched intently and made grimacing faces as he continued to poke.  I assured them that it didn´t hurt at all.  Someone from the crowd asked, "Are you a Doctor?"  Another asked "Can you help me?"  He continued to work but answered them quietly by saying, "Yes, I am a doctor.  I am a specialist of the bones and tendons.  And yes, I can help you."  He was an Orthopedist and he was helping me for FREE.  The word spread quickly thru the albergue that there was a pilgrim who was a doctor and surgeon and he was helping people.  He was  a blessing to some hikers that were in a lot of pain.  I´m not sure what he used on me, but I must say that I feel great!!  We did buy him dinner and had some great conversation that afternoon.  He has done the camino 4 times and had some lovely stories to share about his time of the Camino.   I´m thankful for his generousity and will never forget him :)  I


Sunday, June 12, 2011

On the Road Again!

Mileage to date: 

I´ve completely lost track of time, but I think it´s Sunday and Day 13.  Yesterday it was exactly 2 weeks since we left home.  Time has gone by so quickly!

Well, as the title says--we´re on the road again!  Yesterday was my first day to be on the trail after being diagnosed with an injured ankle.  The swelling has gone down just a bit, but the tips of my toes are still numb.  When I stop for an extended time, they begin to burn like they are frost bitten.  We have begun the second phase (of 4) in our journey.  During this time we will experience a lot of flat roads--which is just what the doctor ordered.  Today we experience only the second day of sunshine!  Everyone was laughing at me because I kept saying that I was an Arizona girl and I could die without sunshine! :)

I thought I would do something a little different in this post.  You already know that we are walking and walking, but we are experiencing so much more.  Maybe some random thoughts and experiences might give you a better idea of what´s going on here...

  • I rarely hear English each day--sometimes only from my mom.
  • An Italian man was trying his best to speak English as he told us a story and he said, ¨When I stand up in the morning...¨  We busted out laughing because he meant, ¨When I wake up in the morning..¨ LOL!!
  • I´ve met a wonderful lady named Ingrid.  She is originally from South America, but has lived in Holland for 43 years.  I just chuckle everytime she tries to get up from a chair or bed.  She always, ¨Yoy, yoy, yoy, yoy, yoy!¨  It´s just so funny the way she says it!
  • When we buy a sandwich (i.e. ham & cheese), they always have it already made and sitting on the counter--UNREFRIDGERATED!!  I will buy one, eat half and save the rest for much later.  It doesn´t spoil!  Also, they do not put lettuce or condiments on it--just meat and cheese.
  • I sent home 9lbs of stuff yesterday and probably got rid of 5lbs before that!  My pack is so much lighter.  I no longer have a fleece jacket, sandals or a sleeping bag!
  • I have worn the same clothes (all day and to sleep in) for 3 days in a row!!
  • I have done two things that I swore I would never do on the camino...Shaved my legs and wore socks with sandals while wearing shorts! LOL
  • I am completely comfortable sleeping (in a separate bed) next a complete stranger from a different country! LOL  I am no longer ashamed of how I look in the morning!
  • On the trail, everyone is equal!  It doesn´t matter where you come from or how much money you have--everyone is an instant friend.  The camino has brought us together!  Nobody tells what they do for a living.  Although, I suspect that I have met some every important people :)
  • Yesterday, we met a man from France.  He asked me about my ankle.  He said that he was a medic and if I needed any help, he would be happy to look at it.  He adjusted my tape today and I can tell by his bedside manner and medical vocabulary that he his a Doctor!   
  • When you are walking on the trail, another hiker will never walk by without saying hello and buen camino.
  • We have many meals with others who do not speak the same language, but yet we are able to communicate.
  • It is still light at 10pm.  It looks like it´s more like 6:30pm.

This is a typical day for us...
Wake up around 6am  (in our clothes for the day)
Quickly pack out things and brush our teeth.  Forget the hair and makeup! haha
By this time it is 6:30.
If there is a bar (cafe) open, then we could get a hot chocolate and toast.  If not, we must wait until we arrive in the next town.  This may be 6 or 7 miles away (2 to 2 1/2 hrs).
We walk and walk and walk for a 7 to 10 hours.
When we arrive, we immediately go to the albergue and hope that there is a bed open.
You must remove your boots, show your credentials (passport) and pay.
The Albergue can cost anywhere from 5 - 10 Euros ($7 - $14)
You are shown to your bed--where there are at least 6 other beds and as many as 20 in a room.
We shower right away and take our dirty clothes to the sink where we can wash them by hand.
We hang them out on the line, hoping that they will dry by the next day.
After that, we may find lunch but usually we are too tired and the feet are aching.  We will lie down for 2-3 hours and sleep. 
If I cannot sleep or have extra time, I will locate the computer or write in my journal.
The afternoon is quiet time for the pilgrims. 
By 6pm we are awake and check the laundry.  We also look for a place to eat.  Dinner is served at 7:30, but occasionally we can find something earlier.
We eat, visit with new friends and then return to the albergue for bed.
We are usually in bed by 9pm and it´s lights out at 10.
Then we do it ALL over again in the morning :)

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Day 10 More pics

 This is Rafael.  He is the host at the albergue that we are staying at while my ankle heals.  He has been so nice and taken us under his wing.  He told the other volunteers to make sure that we got the suite with the ocean view! It was actually a view of the handwashing sinks for laundry :)

My mom found a comfortable cement lawn chair to relax on after a long climb up a hill yesterday.  We managed to cover 19 miles in 10 hours.

 Because it has been raining so much, the snails are out and about.  As they crossed the road, we tried to avoid stepping on some, but unfortunately a few lost their lives.  The lucky survivors were the ones who made their way up a tree and hung on for dear life! LOL

 Here´s an upclose portrait of Mr. Snail.  These guys are huge!

 I thought this was a good representation of the spanish landscape... Vineyards (left), red poppies, wheat fields and rolling hills--with some rain clouds.

Walking in the mud is like walking on fly paper!  This was definitely a contributor to my aching ankle.

More to come...