Friday, September 21, 2007

Hola de Santiago de Compestela

I have made it to Santiago on the 18th. I am in Madrid now visiting the city. Sad as it is my last night. I am to fly back tommorrow morning to London, Toronto then Seattle. I really will miss things here. I weighed myself today lost 25-30lbs. My body had changed from walking 500 miles. I still can not believe it when I look at myself. Changes are not all on the inside.

August 15th

The Irish girls wanted to find a bar that played the world cup in Rugby. It is Saturday night and Spanish soccer rules. We did manage to find a place. The Irish girls drank 2 bottles of wine each and I had a couple of beers. I had met Arturo from Portugal. He came in the bar to see what we were doing. I learned some new things tonight. First Galacia the last part of Spain on the camino is so green. Looks just like Seattle area. So weird to get off the train were it was hot and desolate like the plains of US to such green and lush view. Second lots of history here. Celtic ties. Irish music in the stores and mystical believes. While the Irish girls were watching the rugby match I chatted with Arturo and the owner of the bar. He told me to try Orojo. Local drink. Quite strong. He then wanted me to come back at midnight for a quimada. It is a blessing/spell for the camino. He would not give it at 11pm. We had to go back to the albergue. I was tempted to leave
and go back to find out about quimada but did not want to get locked out. Went to bed instead.

August 16th

Walked to next town. Had dinner with some new Spanish friends and Arturo from Portugal. and with Irish girls. Because Irish girls much slower I had decided to go on my own after this night. Got emails and will write.

August 17th

Walked morning by myself. Quite nice. I have never walked any of the camino by myself and decided needed to. Put in IPOd to keep people from talking to me. Only worked until after lunch. I took ipod out and heard American English. I have met my first American. He was walking with an English girl and German guy. I ended up hanging out with them and played cards until bedtime in the next town.

August 18th

My last day on the Camino. I got to Santiago about 2pm. I met alot of people now so close to the end. One person every 50 feet. The woods smell like home except for that there are so many Eucalyptus trees. It will be my memory of the road to Santiago. The smell of Eucalyptus. I went fast as I have alot to do in Santiago. I can walk about 5km an hour now. My feet are pretty bad now. I am glad to have skipped 7 days. I though how sad to come into the city alone. Just as I was feeling bad I had a tap on the shoulder. I was Katia. I cannot believe we met up in the city of 50,000 on different days than we we both thought starting together. The Camino is strange this way. Always giving you what you need. We hung out all day. I recieved my certificate for completeing the camino. Ate the local octupus speciality and saw the famous cathedral. I am sad to fly out tonight as my name will be read at noon mass tommorrow along with my age and country of origin. I hope I represented well.

August 19-22

Adios until tommorrow.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Hola de Portomarin,España

Sept 13th

Going into Leon. Day started off bad. They had the pilgrims go across bridge on 4 lane highway into city. I tripped and fell almost into traffic and scraped my knee and tore my pants. The only thing good is that it made me stop itching my bug bites because my knee hurt more. We stayed in the abbey with nuns. Very clean and welcoming to pilgrims plus 2 blocks from Leon Cathedral. I put 2 links on site to right. Amazing building. I had been depressed about not seeing Lety and knowing that I only had another day with everybody before going on to Sarria. I was hanging my clothes out to dry when guess who had stayed to find me. Lety!! She and I are like sisters. We both love to laugh, are spontaneous, though it gets us into trouble sometimes, and love travel and adventure. We sat and chatted. She had stayed at the other albergue that does not have a curfew and had gone out till 1am night before. She met another Spanish amigo to travel with. He had done the route last year on bike. They were going to Astorga and wanted me to go with them. If I could quit my job and go I would. We sat and chatted and agreed to met in Astorga tommorrow and then I could take the bus from there to Sarria. I went to find the rest of my friends. In Spain everyone goes to the Plaza Mayor. Plaza Mayor is in every city. Found Toiya, Tony and Theda. They were surprized to see me and that I had found them. Found out the 3 French I have seen the last week where at the next table. They speak English. We chatted. Tony laughed with the waiter. 3 Germans other table, 2 sweet French girls on the other side that also spoke English. Tony was the only one who does not speak English and the only Spanish. Funny in his country. Toured Leon cathedral. Amazing. Saw 10th century church Basilica and other famous sites. Went to bus station for next day ticket. OMG they are idiots. Tony who is Spanish was so frustrated with me. You can only get as far as Villafranca from Leon. The next stage you are in a new county and they do not have a phone number to contact nor is there a schedule. They only know one bus daily and you should ask someone in the village when it leaves and where. What!!!? The autobus lady then got frustrated with us and turned her back on us. We then headed to train station. I can get as far as Sarria on the train for a little more money around 20 euros. I had to take it. I will have to walk 30km a day to make it to Santiago by 19th as is. I have underestimated the time it will take to walk the Camino by a week and because of my blisters. Amazing that a 4 hour train ride saves you 7 days walking. But because I need to get to Santiago by 19th I can not stop in Astorga. I am going to cry. Toiya wanted to go to the mass in Leon Cathedral but because so much time was spent helping me we must eat dinner and return to albergue for curfew. Went to the 10 pm mass in the abbey. I am really getting more spiritatual on the camino the longer I walk. The service was very nice.

Sept 14th

I have walked with about 100 people a day. Most are familiar faces now on the Camino and near the albergues in the cities. Though I have not had a chance to chat with all of them 30 came to give me hugs when they found out I needed to take the train closer today. I will keep in contact now with about 30 people including the 3 French. I am crying again. We went to mass in Leon Cathedral. How many people can say that. Not only do the Spanish not charge to go into the church it still has mass daily. I can not express how amazing the sound was with the singing. You can see why the church was built for vocal expression. Cried again saying bye to Tony and Toiya. Promise to write and visit. Theda came with me to train station. Cried again saying bye. Met two Irish girls on train with same problem as me and they were sad to leave their friends. We traveled together to Sarria. The new albergue was horrified to find out about the bedbugs and I am to write in Santiago where I think I got them and they will investigate. Toiya, Lety, me and now Gronya who has them too

Sept 15th

Walked to Portomarin today with Gronya and still trying to figure out other girls name. First time in weeks can talk fast and easy in English and it is their native tongue too. We are making dinner tonight in the kitchen. Not sure if I can travel the whole way to Santiago with them as they have an extra day than me. At least through tommorow. Cried again today. Lety had been so happy to get to Astorga to see me and when got email she cried that I was not meeting her. Now I am crying that she cried. The camino is very spiritual and I now understand why people do it 5 times or more. Connections to the human spiriti like you can not believe. It is what I talked about with the Irish girls today. The camino has changeed me in so many ways.

Talk soon

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Hola de Mansilla de los Mulas

Yes the town has something to do with mules at one time hence the name. Kinda funny.

Sept 9th

Stayed in Convent with Spanish nuns as municipal Albergue was full. Bad idea. Lety ended up going to hospital for rash. Had a great Spanish lunch in cafe. Learned today about meals in Spain. There are five desayuno, al muerzo, comida, merienda, and cena. The last starts at 10pm. I cannot eat that many times a day. Tony loves to eat all the meal times and enjoy the siesta. I finally had to stop going out today after merienda. I was too full for cena.

Sept 10th
Lety stayed in Carrion de los condes for another doctor diagnosis. I should have stayed with her. She said she was fine. I continued on. though about her all day. I started itching. Learned I had been bitten by bedbegs. Lots of Spanish names for these. I have bites everywhere including my face. Learned Rascar-to itch in spanish. Picadura-bug bites. My vocabulary increases by 20 words daily. We ended up in a nice Albergue waiting for Lety. She did not show up. worried we called all the albergues on the way. found her in the town before us. She also had reacttion to bedbugs and given injection. talked to her awhile and went to bed.

Sept 11th

went to an albergue that ate dinner and breakfast together. Cute young hospitaliero (guy that runs the albergue) flirted with me. Toiya and Tony in their 60´s consider my their daughter and were given him a bad time. went to watch a game of Patonca. Spanish game where a small red ball is thrown and two teams with bigger balls try to throw closest to red ball in sand. all the old guys in town were playing. when they saw us watching they asked use to join. I was the only girl. did alright for not knowing how to play and comprehension about 30 percent of conversation. titar -to hit in Spanish. watched the sunset in town with everybody. Kinda nice. town like south dakota desolate in the plains of Spain. Saw some news about US rememberence of 9-11 on the news here. Not to much about US comes through Spanish news other than Iraq war. Been invited anytime to visit Japan to see Toiya and his wife. I have met so many people here.

Sept. 12th

Have lost Lety, so sad she is on her way to Leon. At super nice alburgue today. decontaminating everything. I will be in Leon tommorrow and will have to take the autobus to get ahead after that. Will miss my other new friends and will have to start over. Hopefully will keep in touch I have met through email. Katya emailed me she is ahead past Leon. I will try to met her so I know someone from before in Santiago. I am in a bar on internet. Weird drunk Spanish guy just kissed the top of my head. I must now tell him to keep his distance. Running out of euros. See you tommorrow in Leon.

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Hola de Carrion De Los Condes

I am having a cafe con leche and writing on the computer in a cafe.

Sept 7th

After exploring the town and looking for Lety twice she found me at my Albergue. She was in a private one that was more hippy than anything. I sat and enjoyed the sun with her at her Albergue. At 8pm I went back to mine. I sat with Toiya and practiced Spanish until bedtime.

Sept 8th

Left with Toiya and his new Pelogriño friend Tony from Valencia. Rule: no English. I learned alot in 8 hours of walking. Feel better about communicating. We arrived in Fr´omista about 2pm. Was getting hot. Lety arrived about 30 minutes after us. We each have our style. She goes slower and I wait for her in the town. Seems to work out better. I had the Pilgrims special at the bar with Toiya and Tony. The town was closing for a parade. We joined in the crowd. I am not sure why there was a parade. Something to do with a Saint. The children were doing a local dance. Great fun. Took lots of pictures. Bad news, I took off my bandages. 9 ampollas are almosted healed. 1 was infected and had alot of bruising around it from the pressure of the shoe against the blister. I had to go to the pharmacy (farmacia) again. I hoped on vacation not to be in the pharmacy so much. Tony is an expert on Ampollas having made the trip to Santiago 5 times. The Spanish pharmacist gave me more special bandages and some betadine and an insulin needle. Tony had to use the needle to extract 1ml of fluid from my foot and inject back in the betadine to get rid of any infection. Toiya held my shoulders down as he injected the Betadine. OUCH! Afterwards off to the bar where everyone gathers to eat and drink suddenly reopened. We had some wine and went to bed.

Sept 9th

Slept and my foot already is much better. Does not hurt to touch. Walked with Tony and Toiya again as Lety slept in a little longer. Again no English to be spoken. I have become a better listener. Met Theda ( a German dentist from Goettingen) she joined us our travels. Saw some old churches and had lunch at a nice cafe. It was close to 30 degrees today. Hopefully will stay nice weather for the rest of the journey. After the cafe Lety caught up to us. There was also this cute dog that reminded my of my dogs. Spanish looooove dogs. They are everywhere even in the cafes. I wanted to take the dog with me. We walked into Carrion de los Condes. The first person we saw was sitting on the side of road fixing his bandages on his foot. He was named Siento Picasso from the Phillipines and walked from Le Puy, France so far. He had just pulled out his second toenail. Everyone now does not feel bad for me as this guy was a mess. I hope he makes it to Santiago. He planned to walk 50km today. We only walked 18km. I was to walk 38km but needed to take it easy on my foot. Because I am a little behind I must at Leon take the Autobus to Ponteferrada to make up some time. Darn Ampollas. Will write soon.

Friday, September 7, 2007

Hola de Castrojeriz, España

Sept 5th
Walked to Burgos. OMG my feet are on fire. It is about 50km including the city of 100,000. The albergue is on the OTHER side of town. 10km through the streets of Burgos getting lost. I was so tired could not even enjoy the Burgos Cathedral. Barely made it to the Albergue at 2050 pm. They yelled at us for coming late and were not going to give us a bed until they saw where we came from. We got the last bed. Had to share with Lety. They had so many people that the bunk beds were pushed together. 3 Italian bike riders on the Camino were next to us and above us in the bunks. Our bed was original another guys but because we would be next to the strange French guy from the other day we switched. The Italians loved it. Keep kiddding to the one guy sleeping next to us that he had two women in is bed and snapping photos at us in the dark. Everyone in the room was laughing. So tired from walking 12 hours slept immediately.

Sept 6th
In morning the cute Italians still laughing about accomidations. Got European kiss on both cheeks from them.We got some pictures of us together. They will ride 100km we will walk 20km. The Swiss girls from the Paella party in Logroño are here. One has decided to bike the Meseta from now to Astorga. We shall see. Saw Burgos Cathedral and some other site seeing. Amazing. Try to walk about 30km today hopefull but only made it to Hornillas.
Hornillas is a dirty little town in the middle of no where. Walked from Burgos. Met a Spanish chica from Mallorca. She speaks some English so she walked with us today. Staying in a silo/gym because rooms are full. Mattress on floor with about 20 of us in the room. Had another great bottle of wine with Lety and Berlin(from Mallorca) until she met someone from Barcolona and took off. Another guy sat down at the kitchen table. Roberto from Spanish. Another bike rider. Will probably not see again. Great fun drinking wine with him too.

Sept 7th
I am in Castojeriz the largest town I have seen since Burgos. Has amazing cathedral built around 1100. Paid a Euro to see the inside. No photos allowed but pretty amazing with the arches and stonework and stained glass. I am in a nice albergue. Very clean and hip. All modern with video games and washer and patio to have coffee on. I am in a bar on the internet. Able to communicate better and understand more and more Spanish. The day is beautifull at 26 celcius and not a cloud in sight. Lety needed some space it seemed today. Not sure where she is at the moment. I walked with this Austrian this morning. He is like the 7th person I have met that has walked out his door to walk the camino. Will by Santiago walked 3000km!!! He has lost 20kg already. Met some Irish guys coming into the town. Will see who is here by tonight.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Hola de Burgos,Spain

It is early here. Everyone woke up around 6am. Could not sleep.

Sept 3

Nothing rememberable. We finally reached the boarder from the Rioja region. It was like Sonoma Valley in California without the commercialism. Endless fields of grapes. We saw again some Danes and met a new guy half German-Dutch grew up last 4 years of high school in US. He has an American accent kinda weird. I finally saw my first American working at an Albergue in another town where we were asking for directions. Anyway more on the German-Dutch guy later. We made it to some small town population 300 for the night. There is nothing but wheat fields before the mountain into Burgos. The albergue was pretty basic. Since nothing to do in the town Jan the German-Dutch guy and some others drank themselves into a stupor. Of course he was our bunk mate. Snored (Reconadar-spanish for to snore) like you would not believe. Left early the next morning.

Sept 4

Lety had pains in her knee. We had hoped to make it to Villafranca de la Oca but we only made it 10km into Villamajor. It was raining and cold. Town again about 200 people. We got there about 1pm. At first kinda depressed with the weather, speed and what to do for the day. Went to the Pannaderia and bought some ham,bread, cheese and wine. 3 euros gets you a nice bottle of wine here near the wine country. We sat at the table. Because of the weather everyone was giving in early before the mountains and stopping here. We met another fun Spainish family of 4. The retired father was telling dirty jokes that I half got. We spent the next couple of hours talking. My Spanish is getter better. We saw at least 4 Germans, the Danes and some others from previous Albergues so we had plenty to talk to. We did not mean to finish the wine but conversation was fun. Perfect time for Siesta. Met strange French guy that came in late. First to speak English to me. He said he begged his way through the Camino. More on him later. We went to bed early.

My time is up. I will write later today on the adventure to Burgos

Sunday, September 2, 2007

Hola from Azofra, Spain

Hola, I am in pilgrims paradise. Will explain below.

August 31 continued

Escabamos de Alburgue. Once we escaped the Alburgue and went out we immediately ran into the 5 Spanish. Now it was tough. Javier from the family did not know the 5 Spanish though both had been walking the same route. When we had checked into the hotel the manager forgot to give us keys to the door. Jave had the only set. Can not lose him. We started off together but lose Jave in the crowds. Luckily we called him and he was sitting with about 20 other Spanish. He was kinda mad. Told him to hang out with us. Had many shots of some kind of Spanish liquor. We then decided to go dancing. Danced until 5am. Turtolitos not getting along. Have great pictures. Javier and the 4 Spanish guys hit it off. Walked back to the hotel and crashed.
Realized many pictures were taken. Cannot wait to see them.

September 1

Woke up with terrible headache. Bo Kwong (Spanish name of Letti because Spanish cannot say her name. Will refer to her as Letti from now on.) had huge bruise on foot. My feet are a mess. Dancing was not productive for healing the blisters. Can barely walk now. We went out with the 11 Spanish for breakfast. Saw the 5 Spanish and 11 Spanish off on trains. Very sad. Do not know where my German friends are either.

We walked only 9km to next Spanish town of Naverrete to stay. My feet need to rest. Found out how to care for feet and not get blisters. Will write a page on this later. Anyway Naverrete is a horrible strange town like some where you would see in a horror film that seemed quite but had strange vibe. First town with no Holas, Buen Camino, and lots of stares. Also had a wedding at the great Baroque church, Everyone dressed up and made me miss my real clothes. Cheap Albergue was completo (see a previous post for this word) had to stay in private for 10 euros. We were so sad not to reconize anybody on the street. At the Albergue it was almost filled with strange, boring people. Only a dutch couple to talk to. Everyone else keep to themselves and went to bed at 9pm. We were so depressed just went to bed too.

September 2

We woke up and walked to Azofra. On the way passed through Na'jera. It is the furniture capital of Spain. Like North Carolina to us. Had a great lunch of tapas and coffee con leche. Gonna miss those in the U.S. Snooped through the town. Made it to Azofra about 4pm. This is the most amazing Alburgue for 5 euros. Built eco-friendly with pool, garden, patio, two beds per room, clean, kitchen and lots of vending machines even a coffee one. Because it is Sunday nothing open. Can not get breakfast at the pannaderia. Vending machine next best thing. Of course nothing is perfect. This town has so many flies. They are on everything. Terrible. First thing in the Albergue we ran into yoga Spanish couple ( so sweet, they are the Spanish that was in room with weird French guy in Zubiri, saw them do yoga standing on their heads, got a picture, she always looks perfect with make up) Australian Dutch couple from Zubiri, German guys from going to Los Arcos, the Dutch couple from yesterday, met a Swedish lady named Anna ,nice, and this Swiss lady that we walked with this morning. She forgot her creditial and had to take the bus back from Najera to Naverrete (only 20 minutes) last night. This morning there are no buses on Sunday so walked with us and it took 4 hours by foot. Town full of holas also. Nice to see familiar faces again.

Hasta Luego Michelle