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...


Mileage to date: 134 miles (in 9 days)

Let me tell you why I chose the title for the post.  We have been a bit behind schedule even though we have walked for 8-10 hours a day.  Yesterday, we decided to go for it and make up the mileage.  In 10 hours we walked 31 km (19 miles) to Santo Domingo.  There came a time during the day when I was having a lot of pain in my ankle and was going very slowly.  My mom was about 30 yards ahead of me and was waving something.  As I got closer, I could hear her saying, ¨Cookie, cookie, cookie!¨ She was trying to get me to walk faster by bribing me with a cookie!  I yelled out, ¨I don´t want a flippin´cookie!  In fact, I don´t even like those cookies!¨ LOL  Needless to say, I finally made it over to her.  We were in the midst of farmland and there was a shallow cement canal.  I took off my boot and soaked my ankle in the icy water. Ahhhh!  My left ankle has been swollen and feeling very bruised for the past 3 days.  I chalked it up to long days and many miles.  With the help of Motrin, everyday I was able to move on.  Although yesterday did push my limits.  During the last few miles into the town, all I could do was shuffle.  I had to stop and wiggle my ankle about every 100 yards.  This would help me go a little bit farther.  Finally, we reached the abergue!!  I was relieved to get off my feet.  In my mind, I wondered if I would be able to continue with this kind of pain.  At some of the albergues there are volunteers who massage your feet.  At the one we arrived at, there was a physical therapist--free of charge!!  He had many people wanting his help and I patiently waited.  When it was my turn, I explained that I had no blisters or sores, but that my ankle was very sore/bruised and the tips of my toes were numb.  Right away he started to poke & twist my ankle.  I cringed and yelped at the pain.  After a thorough inspection, he said, ¨You have a dangerous injury.  It seems to be a problem with your ligaments.  If you twist your foot on a rock, you will probably break your ankle.  This is something that you don´t want to mess with.  I can wrap it, but you need to stay off it for at least 1 day.  And you should not carry your backpack for 2 days.¨  I told him that I couldn´t stop and he warned me that if I kept going in this shape, I would severely injure my ankle.  He also said that I could just ship my backpack ahead and then I won´t have to carry it.

So, we received special permission to stay in the albergue one more day.  Unfortunately, we will have to take a bus to the next city, which is Burgos.  I´m disappointed because it will take a few miles off of my total, but I guess it will be worth it in the long run.  I must say that it has been nice to rest.  I am finishing a book and catching up on the blog.  I am also uploading a video and will post some more pics later today.

Overall, we are doing great!  Having fun, meeting so many new people and enjoying good food! 

Monday, June 6, 2011

Day 7 A few photos...

Had a few mintues to post some photos....

Ensalada Mixta--This is very popular.  It´s a salad with tuna, egg, onion, olives, tomatoes and the long white veggie in the middle is a peeled asparagus.  I have not had any soda since I left home, I am drinking Agua con Gas (water with bubbles).  This is one of our favorite meals :)

This from today.  The last two days have been unusual as we have been close to other hikers.  There were many days that we hardly saw anyone.  Today was also fun because we all had plans to go 30 km to Logorno.  As it turns out, everyone was pooped when we arrived in Viana and most everyone stopped for the day.  Tomorrow we may have to make up for lost mileage :(

This is not an unusual scene.  This is what we are seeing everyday, time after time.  Isn´t it beautiful?  We were very lucky to have overcast and rain ALL day today :)

These are my two new friends, Kevin and Fichra (Fi-gra).  We had dinner with them on our first night on the trail.  They are from Ireland.  Fichra has done the camino once before and this is Kevin´s first time.  They did not know each other before coming to Spain--now they are the best of friends.

This is a shot that my mom took of me.  We couldn´t help but stop and look at the beautiful landscape.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Day 6 Feeling good, feeling tired

Buenas Dias Amigos!  Que tal?  Estoy muy buen!!  LOL!  I´m feeling a lot more comfortable with my spanish in only one week.  I find myself running words thru my mind quite a bit as I am walking.  Today, my mom sent me into a restaurant to order dinner while she reserved a table outside.  After she sat down, she realized that maybe she should have been the one to place the order.  Not necessary!!  I was able to order to plates of spaghetti, a hot chocolate and a glass of wine--and ask them to bring it outside :)  It´s amazing how little English I hear in a day.  If it´s not Spanish then it is French.  I am also enjoying all of the different accents.  Over the last couple of days, I have tried to record a few conversations.

Yesterday, was the 24th Wedding anniversary for me and Carlos.  I think this makes 3 years in a row that we have been apart on our anniversary.  We tell people that´s why we´ve been together for so long! LOL  I was able to call him and spend about 20 minutes talking.  I miss him and the kids.  I wish they could be here to experience this with me :(  Carlos said that one day we will come back together.  Carlos did get to celebrate our anniversary--my dad took him out to dinner! LOL  Thanks Dad!

I did not write over the last couple of days for two reasons.  First, I was just too dang tired on day 4 and there was no computer on Day 5.  I decided today that I may have to limit my computer time as it is getting very expensive.  It costs me 2 Euros for 40 minutes.  If I use the computer everyday, that would be 14 Euros a week, which is about $20.  Over 6 weeks, this is $120!! Aye, ye, ye!

We are still feeling great!  We have been making good time and getting into town each day about 2 or 3pm.  This gives us plenty of time to handwash our clothes and hang them out to dry.  We shower and take a nap for about 3 hours.  Then it´s time for dinner at 7:30 and off to bed.  We have been trying to get up and out the door by 6:30am each day.

We arrived in Los Arcos today and have covered approx 137 km or 85 miles!!  All of the maps take into account the acsending trails (which are very steep) and will add to the distance.  So it may be closer to 90 or 95 miles.

Here are todays HIGHLIGHTS:

  • We were almost hit by a biker!  He was coming down the hill at amazing speed and seemed to be out of control as he skid towards us.  I didn´t know what else to do except grab a tree! LOL  Fortunately, he missed us.
  • If that wasn´t funny enough...We were walking along and a car was coming towards us.  We have learned that it is safer to turn facing the road.  This eliminates any possibility of your backpack being hit by a side mirror.   So as the car approached (closely and quickly) I turned to face the road.  As I did so, I took a step backward hoping to get further from the road.  What I didn´t know was that there was a DEEP ditch behind me hiding in all of the overgrowth along the road.  I went sliding down, but fortunately was able to hang onto the tall grass before sliding all the way to the bottom.  My mom ran towards me and I was laughing histerically!  She was trying desperately to pull me up and all I kept saying was, ¨Take my picture, Take my picture!¨  She wasn´t interested in looking for her camera at that moment.  She finally pulled me and my heavy pack back out onto the road.  And then we both were laughing so hard, we could have pee´d our pants!  Luckily we had just visted the water closet (bathroom) in the last town :)
  • We had incredible weather  today!!  It was completely cloudy for about 90% of our hike.  This could have been unbearable as there were very few trees along the trail.
  • I did some more house cleaning and dumped even more items from my backpack.  I squeezed out half of my moisturizer and half of my toothpaste.  I also trashed several odds and ends.  I hope it helps with the weight of my pack.
My mind is starting to clear and I am able to focus on everything around me.  I realized today that I am no longer thinking about work or church assignments.  However, I am constantly thinking of Carlos and the kids.

We heard today that Martin Sheen and his son Emilio Estevez have produced a movie about the Camino.  Everyone here is talking about it.  Apparently, Martin Sheen had another son who tried the Camino.  He lost his life on the Pyraneese mountains (the ones we covered the first day).  The story is that Martin & Emilio came to Spain to collect his body.  They had him cremated and then carried his ashes on the Camino to Santiago.  I have been told there is a trailer on Youtube, but I haven´t found it.  The name of the movie is called The Way.

Okay, that´s it for now.  It´s almost time for bed.  We´ve got a long hike tomorrow--almost 30 km (18miles)!

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Day 3

Here we are today on Day 3.  We are leaving the albergue in Zubiri about 9am, which is a little late for us.  I decided to lighten my load by leaving behind a few items.  Maybe lost 2 lbs of luggage :)  Made a big difference going up the hills today!  We walked 7 hours and 14 miles.  Still a lot of up and down.  I´m actually enjoying the uphill :)  I think I am turning into a mountain goat!  We had a nice surprise today.  We came into Pamplona and hour early!!  We were very excited to see the big wall around the city.  We found an alburgue and settled in.  Tomorrow we are headed to Puente La Reina which is a little longer than today.

So, you know that we are walking and walking.  Let me give you an idea of what we are feeling like...
Our hair is silky soft, either from the shampoo or the water :)  We haven´t come close to being sunburned because it is cloudy and cold.  I´m starting to develop a callus on my hand from gripping my trek poles so tightly.  Our legs are sore and stiff only when we stop.  I was having quite a bit of trouble with my knees from all of the downhill, but they are feeling much better today.  I learned to release the straps on my pack and it took all the weight off of my knees.  We haven´t gotten any blisters yet.  I was feeling some tenderness on my big toes and wrapped them with duct tape.  We are hoping to stop by the pharmacia to buy some Compeed. It´s like a skin or callus that you can put on your feet.  Works very well.  When we stop for more than a few minutes, I can feel the tightness in my quads and calves.  I´m sure it is from all the hills that we have climbed.  I  cannot believe how we seem to go up them with ease.  We are slow but steady.

I have to tell you more about our trip over the Pyraneese mountains on the first day.  The weather was cold and it never stopped raining, but we were mostly warm and felt great.  We have talked to many other pilgrims that went over on the same day.  Some suffered from hypothermia!  Everyone has been talking about how unusual the weather is right now.  We are greatful that it is on the cold side rather than too hot.  The hills would be even harder.  Many people said that they have never seen the kind of weather that we experienced on the mountain.  We were very lucky to make it thru without freezing!

We just finished a spaghetti dinner down in the square of Pamplona.  There are a lot more people here and it is very busy at night.  When we arrived there was not a soul in sight--kinda weird.  But, it was siesta time and everything was closed.

We have met so many people from all over the world!  All of the hikers are friendly and say hello.  The common phrase as you pass someone on the trail is BUEN CAMINO!!  That means have a good camino!  Let´s see if I can name some of the other countries... America, South Africa, Canary Islands, England, Ireland, Germany, Norway, Spain, France, Italy, Canada and the list goes on and on.  My mom is not shy about talking to people.  She will go right up to them and ask what language they speak and where they are from.  Then it´s a big game as we try to communicate.  Most people are fluent in Spanish & French with good English.

Well it´s 9:30pm and I´ve got to get my pack ready for tomorrow and then hit the sheets...uh I mean, sleeping bag :)

Love to all!  Adios!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Day 2 We go UP and We go DOWN

After paying 10 eurosWe settled last night into our bedrooms and then headed to our 8:30pm dinner appt.  Many of the restaurants offer a Pelegrino dinner (for pilgrims/hikers only) which is a set menu of maybe 2 choices at a discounted rate. You have to choose a time--either 7:30pm or 8:30pm.  And they seat you at a large table or assign you to sit with people who speak the same language.  We were assigned to sit with two young (25 yr olds) from Ireland.  Boy they had thick accents!!  One was named Kevin and was his first time to try to Camino and the other was Frigra and it was his second.  We had great conversation and they were very interested about Arizona.  Their was only once choice for dinner--trout.  Everyone except Kevin was not excited.  We asked if there were any other choices.  The waitress brought us 2 eggs over easy, 2 slices of cheese and french fries.  Oh ya, we also had soup.  The meals are very simple and very small.  It reminds me of how much we over eat in the states!

We had a good night´s sleep and headed out at 7:30am--with no breakfast.  We made our way to a small town called Biergetz where we had a nice little breakfast made up of thinly sliced ham, cheese, orange cake and Cola Coa (hot chocolate). We headed out the door and planned to walked to Lorasona.

I don´t think we walked more than a mile on flat road today.  We went UP and we went Down.  The hills are VERY steep.  We were HOT and then we were COLD.  We stopped several times to put on and take off our jackets and long sleeve shirts.  It never rained, but the wind what icy.  Several times along the road we could see our breath.  I didn´t have any gloves to wear because they were soaked from yesterday´s rain.

Anyway, after 8 long hours and 15 miles, we finally made it to Zubiri.  We did not go to Larasona because we were exhausted and our legs were giving out.  My knees are really aching and I hate going downhill.  We decided to find a place to stay and rest for the day.

We found another beautiful albergue--actually quite fancy.  For 27 euros they include breakfast and dinner.  It´s a little pricey, but by this time we didn´t care.  We just wanted a hot shower and clean bed :)

After a 3 hour nap, we had a wonderful dinner with some great company.  Everyone spoke a different language, but we seemed to overcome that.  There was a couple from Argentina, who spoke 4 languages!!  They helped alot with translation.  There were 2 American ladies besides us.  A french couple.  A man from Austria, who served in the military with Arnold Swartzeneggar!  A man from spain and a man from Germany.  We laughed and had a great time!

We finally got to bed about 10pm.  We shared a room with 8 other people.  Normally, everyone is up early but our group seems to be lazy this morning.  I couldn´t sleep so I got up at 6:30 and came down to use the FREE computer.  I am going to have breakfast now.

We are going to follow the river to Larasona today, but then will go on to the next town.  Not sure how far it is, but it should be shorter.  Possible only 13 miles.

That´s it for now!  Adios!