Tuesday, December 28, 2010
Sunday, December 26, 2010
Today Robin and I are holding up in Villafranca Montes De Oca. We are trying to allow a large group of scouts to move on up the camino ahead of us. We will leave tomorrow for Ages and then on to Burgos after that. Our plan now is to spend a couple of days in Burgos before continuing on. We have struggled with photo uploading and internet service these last few days but hopefully the photo upload will get sorted out soon. These days since Najera have been great walking days with cold temps, occasional snow showers and gusty winds. We walked into Santo Domingo De Calzada on December 24th after a very cold walk only to find the albergue closed (just for that day). This was not a good scene. Fortunately we were able to convince someone to make a phone call and the doors were opened to our shivering group. We were eight pilgrims from Mexico, Germany, Canada, Korea, and the USA. We spent Christmas eve around a communal dinner table and had a truly marvelous evening. On Christmas day we made our way to Belorado where we also found the albergue that was supposed to be opened, closed. Luckily we discovered a pension nearby and booked three rooms there for what was now a group of five moving along the camino together. The days have passed filled with great walking weather (cold but nice) and warm beds at the end of each day (much luck there). Today with our decision to hold up at Villafranca we have separated from our group. They were all great companions on the Way, but now we have to adjust our schedule a bit to match our own timetable. We are not in a rush to complete the camino. We just want to move at a reasonable pace and enjoy our time together on this remarkable journey. I will add some photos as soon as I can find a computer that will allow me to do that (always blame the computer). Robin and I remain healthy with sound feet and legs (thank God) ready to continue our journey westward. Weather reports indicate a warming trend in the Burgos area over the next few days. We will see what that does to the walking conditions (mud?). Hopefully another post tomorrow from Ages. Bye for now.
Thursday, December 23, 2010
This is our 8th day on the camino. J and I have walked many cities and towns. If I am to summarize my experience so far, I will tell you with smile that I am incredibly happy. Though, finding ways to one´s inner self can sometimes be a tricky thing. For instance, we find ourselves completely relying on camino way markings, especially those arrows marked by fellow pilgrims who have walked before us. Sure, there are many official markings to direct us but in between those, I am convinced one can get lost without unofficial markings. It gets even harder in the big cities to maintain your focus (go figure) and find markings you need, as they are obscured by many traffic signs, business signs, etc. So we need to be vigilant. This not only applies to finding one´s way but also to other aspects of this experience. While I am not 100% clear on the reason for this camino, I do not wish it only to be a physical experience. I felt a welling of sadness when I started out from St. John on the first day. In my haste to leave, I forgot to sit and dedicate the day. How easy it is to ignore the really important part of the experience! Also, an aching body is a constant companion on the camino, especially, for me, those days with 15 miles or more. I was at the end of my limit this afternoon. The bodily pain feels so real and so urgent! Of course, you do everything that everybody tells you; drinking lots of water, take care that you sleep well, or, take a day off if you feel pushed, etc. I knew that the issue of bodily pain would be there until we reach Santiago; it is not a matter of choice but you just have to find ways to deal with it. I thought about what St. Paul had to say. He heard Jesus said ¨My Grace is sufficient for you´´ (2 Corinthians 12:9) upon asking his bodily infirmity to release him. I also thought about what Thomas Merton said that we should not reduce our identity only to our 5 bodily sensory system. So for now, this is how I deal with my aching body. I tell mysel that I am not just my body. As Jesus suggested to me that I shouldn´t get all worked up by it because a body is just a body. Instead, I wish to keep a constant vigil that I may hear God regardless on my bodily condition.
.....speak to me Lord, your servant is listening.....
.....speak to me Lord, your servant is listening.....
Tuesday, December 21, 2010
Monday, December 20, 2010
Sunday, December 19, 2010
We left Cizur Menor, ay 9:00, under cloudy skies and temperatures around 40 F. It being a Sunday there was a rather large group of day hikers on the camino. We all got it in gear and started the long climg up to Alto de Perdon. The cool temps made the climb a lot easier to deal with. It is a long climb over a stony path that has some steep sections to challenge you. We kept at it and a bit under two hours later we were at the summit. Now the fun began trying to negotiate the decent. The trail down is covered with round rock that makes it hard to establish good footing. But, we got through without injury (thank God) and continued on towards Puente La Reina, our stop for the night. At a small village, Muruzabal, we took a detour to see a slendid octagonal church at Eunate associated with the Knights Templar. We arrived in Eunate under slendid partly cloudy skies and temps approaching 50. It felt like an early fall day. We took some great pictures of the church and as soon as I can figure out how to upload them, I´ll post them. We arrived in Puente La Reina at 2:30 and are now ensconced in the albergue run by the Padres Reparadores. It is well equipped and very clean. Robin and I will attend the 7:00 mass tonight. We have much to give thanks for and not just for this splendid day walking, but for all the blessings of this trip. We have been truly fortunate. Off to Estella tomorrow (21.9 kms). I´ll try to post again tomorrow.
Saturday, December 18, 2010
Thursday, December 16, 2010
Wednesday, December 15, 2010
After 33 hours of travel we arrived safely, if somewhat weary, in St. Jean Pied de Port. During the train journey south we stared out at a rictus of hoar frosted fields and frozen ponds flashing past as the TGV sped towards Bordeaux. Our thoughts drifted to the Pyrenees and the cold climb ahead of us. But, as the kilometers clicked off the weather moderated and our spirits climbed with the thermometer. Upon arrival in St. John we departed the train station into a dark empty town. It was right around freezing but calm as we climbed the steep narrow streets searching for the Pilgrim Office. A well practiced Kabuki of gestures augmented my high school French and miraculously we were led through the shadows by kind strangers to an iron gate which in turn led to the only visible pool of light along the stone wall of what turned out to be the Pilgrim Office. A knock on the door ushered us into the presence of two very kind men who registered us and gave us our pilgrim credentials. Antoine then took us up to the municipal albergue where we were to spend the night. He also walked us down to a bar where he arranged a meal for us. The kindness of people in this town is remarkable. It is as though they keep a silent vigil, awaiting the next pilgrim to wander in off the road, anxious to answer their needs. It is now Wednesday and we are off to Valcarlos under a clear cold sky. The Port D'Espagne, our exit from the town, awaits us. Very soon the crunch of gravel under our feet will mark the start of our camino. What an experience so far and it has only just begun.
Monday, December 13, 2010
|Le grand sausage|
Sunday, December 12, 2010
Friday, December 10, 2010
"A journey can become a sacred thing: make sure, before you go, to take the time to bless your going forth, to free your heart of ballast. So that the compass of your soul might direct you toward the territories of spirit. Where you will discover more of your hidden life, and the urgencies that deserve to claim you. May you travel in an awakened way, gathered wisely into your inner ground; that you may not waste the invitations, which wait along the way to transform you. May you travel safely, arrive refreshed, and live your time away to its fullest; Return home more enriched, and free to balance the gift of days which call you."
J has packed his back pack tonight and I am about to pack mine. It is time, to leave behind what is comfortable to us and travel into the unknown where everything will be shaped by the openness of our hearts. My friend D told me that every step I go forward will take me closer to the heart of Christ. So I repose, in thanksgiving for all the possibilities that reside in me.
"Hail Mary, full of grace, bless the journey, bless the place we go to and we leave." Pilgrim Prayer
Thursday, December 9, 2010
|A local path along the Columbia River|
|Mt. Hood from a viewpoint near our home|
Monday, December 6, 2010
Wednesday, December 1, 2010
In effort to maintain my pack weight at minimum, I have packed, unpacked and repacked many times already. I mean, I intellectually understood that the weight should be kept light (sounds logical, anyway) but I didn't realize how deeply I am attached to those little things as if my survival would depend on them. I have never been an outdoor person. I used to joke that my idea of camping would be to stay at the five star hotels. So it has been already a very interesting journey, to just pack my pack! For instance, I am not yet convinced that I can live without a stick of lip balm, Q-Tips, Kleenex tissues, etc. But as I, almost brutally, under the watchful eyes of J that is, list every single thing on the paper and weigh them, it is unreal how everything adds up so quickly to an intolerable number! Finally, I arrived at the point where negotiating isn't even an option. I just had to learn how to say no. I cut my hair short as I had to say no to the traveling size shampoo (for my dry scalp), conditioner, all make-up items, etc. I even said no to the neti-pot.... Well, I will just have to leave my allergies at home, won't I?. No to vitamins, and basically no to any and all things that have contributed to the comfort of my life. I am carrying with me two sets of base layers to keep me warm underneath the water-proof outer shells, three pairs of undies and sox, a very thin and rather small towel to dry my body (I am concerned about this...), one soap which will be used as shampoo, facial cleanser, body wash, and laundry detergent. Well, you get the idea. It is strange, though. I feel so happy about this. I am so excited that it is possible that I could be absolutely comfortable with how I might look without the help of all these things. I tell you, if nothing else, this Camino will be one heck of a stripped down wellness program!