A Travellerspoint blog

DAY SEVENTEEN – LEDIGO TO BELCIZE DEL REAL CAMINO

semi-overcast 13 °C

It was a magical day to walk today. We traveled only 27 kilometers, and it was cold but we had the beautiful green fields around us. It rained a little bit, which made us to walk quite a bit faster, but we left today a little later than our normal time because the people in the albergue where we stayed did not get up early like they normally do and we overslept by an hour.

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Officially we crossed the middle point between St Jean Pied de Port and Santiago de Compostela, where we had done 398 kilometers and have another 398 kilometers to go. But, I have discovered there are two more places to walk after Santiago - Muxia and Finisterre. This last place is a latin word which means The End of the World. It was a place that people thought of as the end of the world before America was discovered in 1492.

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We are therefore thinking to change our plans and carrying on walking to Muxia and Finesterra after we reach Santiago; we will leave this decision for later but I think it would be a great experience.

Tonight it was an amazing night for us. I had heard there a wee still some of the first albergues that pilgrims used to sleep in from decades ago. We had not had any luck finding one until now, and this was thanks to the hospitalario Carlos who told me about these places where we could still visit. I had been dreaming about this place ever since he recommended it and honestly this albergue was more than my expectations and imagination could dream of.

The albergue was special because it is really old and has been used by pilgrims for many years, it is also free to use with only the request of a donation if possible, and the hospitarios are volunteers.

As we mentioned, we left later than normal this morning and I was so excited to arrive at this place that I walked really fast today. We arrived and the door opened to admit the pilgrims five minutes later, ha ha ha (so it was lucky we left late this morning). Two amazing volunteer hospitalarios opened the door, Alan and Otto, one from New York and the other from Germany. They were two of the friendliest and most helpful people we have met during these weeks walking the Way, which is saying something because we regularly meet amazing people.

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They have been working in this albergue as a hospitalarios for two weeks and they were telling us that people can help in some of the albergues on the Way, but only for two weeks per year as the work is really intense: cleaning the place, greeting the pilgrims, helping the pilgrims, organizing them for cooking the communal dinner, preparing the breakfast, and finally saying goodbye to them the next day.

The albergue was the old church of the town, and it was a really old brick place. Otto and Alan made it clear they were there in SERVICE to all of us. We arrived, got rested and showered, and around 6:30 they put the ingredients for dinner out and invited everybody to come down to help if they wanted – which we both did. Some people prepared the salad, others cut the vegetables for the pasta, others did the bread, and the fruit for dessert as well. Otto and Alan organized the tasks for us so well and we all had fun doing it.

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At 7:30pm the idea was to go and see the sunset but there was no sun and it was raining. Therefore the plans changed and we went the small chapel in the Albergue to read some prayers and sing a special song. It was the well-known La Bamba but with special words for the camino experience. Here is a paragraph:

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It was absolutely hilarious and we all thoroughly enjoyed it. After this we had the most delicious and filling dinner. At 10pm Otto and Alan played a babies lullaby over the speakers for all of us, meaning that the lights were going to be switched off and it was time to go (or run) to bed. A simply stunning night for me!!!

At 6am another song started playing, this time it was louder and energetic to encourage us to get up and go and have energetic big breakfast for the long days walk ahead of us. This night was so memorable, we made amazing friends, shared a lot, and learned a lot about service.

It reminded me of the Kopua Monastery in New Zealand, a place where service is practiced by the monks there. Alan and Otto were here for two weeks to give what they had received when they did their Way. It was a way to say thank you and give a little (or a lot) back to the Way. An amazing lesson for me!!

I am finally understanding the meaning of the Way in my life. I knew the beginning was hard, and it was certainly for difficult for my feet, but now that I decided not to pay so much attention to my feet, things have started to flow.

Meeting people, finding angels, helping strangers, been helped by strangers, listening to amazing stories, hearing reasons why the Way has called us all to come here to walk for a week, or several weeks, or for months or more. I am starting to see how human beings can be special in the most loveable ways, how simplicity and the creation of things from nothing are magical, and how love is there in everything. This walk is becoming what I always hoped it would be - magical, full of angels, complex but also very simple, hard but enjoyable, time to discover God, and find the power of inspiration …,.

I do not know how to describe this feelings but the Way is really unique, powerful and transforming. I am here in tears writing this, to feel how blessed I am to be able to be part of this dream, my dream from when I was much younger, and the dream for many others, hundreds, thousand, and maybe millions of people who all wanted to walk the Way and share the dream to give time, effort, and commitment and enjoy life how it really is: simple and special.

Posted by erika_simon 09:02 Archived in Spain Comments (0)

DAY SIXTEEN – CARRION DEL CONDE TO LEDIGO

semi-overcast 7 °C

Today we had a new experience in our Way, with dark gray clouds over us during our six hours walking. It was a cold day at around 5 degrees and visibility of no more than 200 or 300 meters; it made us walk faster - everybody was running because of the cold and possible rain.

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We did not stop in any towns today, but this stage was special because there wasn’t a town for the first 18 kilometers, only a long flat path to walk in a straight line. Because of the weather the landscape was impossible to see very well, but the frost made things interesting for us today. We could see some trees that were far away and it looked like the fields were becoming green and brown again.

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The place we decided to stay was a small village and the albergue is located next to the pub, and the life of this pub was quite interesting. Three men from the town were sitting all afternoon having coffee, beer, and whisky, ha ha ha. When we arrived they were at the bar of the pub having coffee, and three hours later they were still in the pub and meanwhile I am writing I can see them drinking something even stronger, ha ha ha. They were really happy guys enjoying their afternoon watching pilgrims stop in the albergue, or in the pub or pass through the town, while they drink and play cards.

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Also I could be witness the farewells of two pilgrims. Their ways separated at this point, one of them had three days to arrive in Leon, the other one has five days. They were really upset to separate and took around half an hour to say goodbye to each other.

I was talking today with Simon about Kevin and Carlos the people who we have met during the previous days. The dream of Kevin is to build a boat and live on it for the rest of his life, and the dream of Carlos was to develop his albergue and continue supporting the Way for the pilgrims. We thought what original dreams: to enjoy life at sea and to live in a small hotel along the Way.

This stop is the middle point of our walk and we have around 16 more days to walk to complete the Way. We have done well we are sure we are going to survive the rest of this beautiful dream. I have met a lot people who inspire dreams and support crazy ideas. I can name my friends in Palmersaton North who are the same; Patria, Isabel and Mel. These ladies have the skill to support, offer alternatives and encourage people to make their dreams come true.

Another thing that I will mention - my feet have been much better. Last night a Spanish lady told me “remember that the gender of the feet is masculine and you are paying too much attention to them, therefore they have been naughty like most men”. To explain this a bit better to all of you; in Spanish the article “the” and the last vowel of a word usually indicate the gender of the things (there are probably many more rules about this); for instance the house ‘casa’ is female; the car ‘carro’ is male. For the feet, their gender is masculine, so I have decided not to pay more attention to them and it seems to have worked because they did not bother me today. Lesson: I should not pay too much attention to my feet, and should try and put talcum powder on Simon at night, ha ha ha.

Posted by erika_simon 08:52 Archived in Spain Comments (0)

DAY FIFTEEN – FROMISTA TO CARRION DEL CONDE

semi-overcast 18 °C

Today was another freezing day, but we were blessed to have our thermal clothes on, gloves and hats as well. There had been a frost last night, and it was really cold for nearly all our walk.

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The landscape changed one more time today and we had green colors back in the fields. The contrast with the blue and pink colors of the sky and the brown and green color of the ground were absolutely beautiful.

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It was an easy walk today with only 21 kilometers which were done by 1pm. We arrived at a gorgeous convent. This is the first time we have stayed in a convent. The nuns are in charge of this convent which is unusual because the convents are normally looked after by people from the local towns.
In this one the nuns do everything, the registration, the cleaning, the cooking, etc. The beds were not bunk beds but normal singles, and we shared the room with only ten other people. The nuns suggested we push our single beds together to be able to sleep together, ha ha ha.

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We met for first time a “hospitalario” who is a person who works along the Way in one of the Albergues. Carlos had done the Way around 5 years ago and decided to resign from his job and start a new life in a small town in an Albergue for a pilgrims. He has walked the way five times now, but this time he is doing it in the other direction from his albergue close to Astorga to Roncesvalle, and the most impressive thing is he is doing the Way without spending any money from his pocket. All his accommodation and food is requested by him as a donation in each place he has visited.

He was telling us how difficult sometimes it has been, and he has had to sleep on the street a couple of nights in the cold weather. However, most of the days he finds a place in the albergues and they give him some food too. He said he chose this manner of doing the Way because it is like the old times, as a real pilgrim. It made me realize how blessed we are not to have chosen this way to do this pilgrimage, and to have the resources to pay for a night in an Albergue, and have nice food most days (some days the food is much better than others).

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I also went to the mass and I got the blessing of pilgrims again. I hope it gives me enough energy to arrive at Santiago. One important thing about the mass was the message: to thank life every day for three things.

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I have been upset with my feet, but at the end of the day, I love my feet and thanks to them I have been able to walk for around 6 and 8 hours per day for fifteen days nearly consecutively, and we have done more than 300 kilometers so far. The beauty we see every day is amazing, the people or friends we have met are also a great gift, plus the time for Simon and I to spend together, and the most important thing is the time for myself to think and appreciate my life.

I also remember today and should thank the friends I have in New Zealand. Today enjoying the blue sky I remember my group of South American ladies who I love so much. They have taught me how easy it is to create real friendships, how easy to create from the most simple things something unforgettable and how to find a family and a community to appreciate and enjoy.

Posted by erika_simon 06:44 Archived in Spain Comments (0)

DAY FORTEEN – HONTANAS TO FROMISTA

overcast 20 °C

Today I arrived in tears at the albergue, I usually don’t have a difficult kind of relationship with my body or what messages my body sends me, but I am really upset with my body at the moment.

This is probably one of the big lessons from these two weeks walking -the relationship between my body, my soul, and my mind. Today was another long day with a little more than 32 kilometers to walk with cool weather, very cloudy and a nice breeze.

We had a high mountain to cross at 300 meters high over 2 kilometers and the rest of the way was flat. The landscape was yellow and brown like in a desert and sadly no more raspberries or grapes, and not much water today either.

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I met incredible people today, Giovanna and Pedro were a Spanish couple running to get the bus to Burgos; a Canadian couple who I had a great conversations with, they are only 65 and 75 years old and were in better shape to do the walk than me, ha ha ha; and Annette a lady from Denmark (61 years old) whose husband died 5 years ago. She dedicated most of her time to work as a teacher for deaf children until she decided it was time to stop working and use her time to travel the world. She helped me a lot in my last hour of today because we were talking and talking and she distracted me from my painful foot.

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I was absolutely happy this morning, my body was great, my feet were happy, knees were only so so, but no too bad, hips much better with some marks but nothing painful, and shoulders doing great. We did 25 kilometers and stopped for our first decent break, and after this was the last seven kilometers and my body nearly died.

I got a new blister but by this point I have learned to walk with them so this did not worry me, but the worst was an awful pain in the shin of my right leg each time I took a step. It made me really annoyed with myself.

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I arrived to the albergue, had a shower and went to wash my socks (the typical routine for a pilgrim, except for Simon because I wash his for him ) and I could not do anything more, tears were in my eyes, ha ha ha. Kevin, my new American friend saw me and dedicated a song to me -Miles from nowhere by Cat Stevens, with a special line “Lord my body has been a good friend but I won’t need it when I reach the end”. This is me, after this walk I will not need my body anymore and will trade it in on a new one. For a while, my body was in excellent shape, ha ha ha, but I am questioning myself today about this relationship with my feet. I am nice to my feet, I cuddle them, I put cream on them everyday, I talk to them, …. I just don’t know what else to do.

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I am so happy and enjoy this experience so much, and everyday I have grown and learned an abundance of new things, made wonderful friends, but the most important relationship, apart from Simon and my mum, is with my body and for this month we have not been working well as a team, ha ha ha.

Posted by erika_simon 06:21 Archived in Spain Comments (0)

DAY THIRTEEN – BURGOS TO HONTANAS

semi-overcast 18 °C

Today was a really long day -32 kilometers of walking. We had been thinking to abandon our thermal clothes to reduce the weight of our backpacks but thankfully we didn’t. This morning the temperature was only seven degrees and as soon as we left the building that morning we really felt the cold.

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To leave the city, Burgos, took us a surprisingly long time. It was like 5 kilometers just to cross the city. Most of the way during this day was flat and the valley was really dry, a bit like a desert with many windmills spread around us.

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On my way I met an interesting guy walking towards us. He was walking with a dog and is from Guadalajara, Mexico and flew in to Santiago. He is currently walking from Santiago to Rome, and after he want to walk to Jerusalem. His mission is to give and receive hugs around the world, and he is only asking for love, peace and truth. I asked him ”How long do you have to walk through all these countries? His answer was “All my life”.

I found this incredible, meanwhile I am committed to the task of finding the value of this tiny walk (compared to his walk), he has decided to walk for years and years, with a mission of seeking love, peace and truth, amazing!!!

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On my way across the desert today I remembered two bits of advice that we have received from many of our fellow travelers: Keep walking and keep smiling. These two things have sometimes been the most difficult things to do here, walk and smile. I could not believe it, because it sounds so easy and natural, walk and smile, ha ha ha. I remember my great Latin-American group in Palmerston North. Last Christmas during one of our meetings we created envelopes and exchanged messages between each other wishing the best for the projects of each of us for the coming year, then put the messages to us in our envelopes to open when we needed to read something special.

I have brought the envelope with the messages they wrote for me, and it has been these seeds of energy that I need to carry on walking, smiling and enjoying this amazing experiences. Of course, together with your comments and emails, thanks.

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In Burgos we stayed with a great couple who prepared the best bread we have eaten during our Way. We had a wonderful time with them and their cats, and last night they gave us a half a loaf of bread “the Lord of the Rings bread” which is full of energy, positive thoughts and encouraged us to carry on walking and of course, smiling. (Hopefully this bread is never finished, it is yummy)

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On another hand, my feet are much better, but Simon has now problems with his blisters –it is now his turn. We had decided to put the needle and thread as my friend did to me. For first time I had done this, really hope it works for him and I had done a good job sowing his feet.

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Posted by erika_simon 03:44 Archived in Spain Comments (0)

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