Monday, March 4, 2013

Botafumeiro - fly it once more!

The day we arrived at Santiago they did not fly the botafumeiro but they did the next day at the Pilgrim Mass. Perhaps that was due to the many priests visiting from USA, Italy and Germany on that day. Who knows? It sure was nice to hear the first reading proclaimed in English! We were sitting at the north transept so the view was a bit obscured but we were happy to see the botafumeiro flying again.


Saturday, March 2, 2013

My favorite Camino beverage

After hours of huffing and puffing over snow-laden trails we reached the albergue Monte Irago in Foncebadon on January 23, 2013. We were going to stay in Rabanal but decided to push on to Foncebadon to make the next day's walk a bit easier, knowing the descent to Ponferrada would be long and hard. We were very happy to see Philipe (the owner and the hospitalero) 2 years after we first met him. After dinner, he asked us if we'd like some after dinner drinks and I happily opted for a glass of pacharan while J and James from NY both opted for a glass of orujo, a typical but very strong Spanish liquor. We talked about our discovery of the carajillo, an espresso drink mixed with (a liberal amount of) cognac or orujo, and how much we've enjoyed it, especially on cold (and wet!) days. Philipe then decided to show us how to modify orujo with fruits and sugar to either drink it as is or make carajillo with it, instead of with just cognac or straight Orujo. Apparently, this is very common in Spain and many people in rural villages make their own versions. It was fun to watch Philipe adding apples, lemons, and coffee beans to the orujo, and then setting the whole thing on fire. The excess alcohol burned away as Philipe enlightened us on this small part of Spanish culture. We all shared a warm, and fun filled evening in front of the fireplace (with lots of laughter) knowing our soaked clothing and boots were being dried for the next day's walk, as we sipped Filipe's magical elixir.


Jan 22, 2012 Approaching The House of God

So we finally found David's house - The House of God, as he named it. It was much less than a shack that he hand-built off of a deserted barn. I know for a fact that most pets in America live in much better conditions than David. But, what about his beaming smile? What about his voice filled with genuine gladness when he shouted "Hey, where are you from?" And, what about his last words to us; "Just enjoy!" Meaning, 'you think you are lost but you are never lost'. Okay, here is the kicker... When we were saying good-bye to him, he said, "Okay, bye! but, I am always here!" and he pointed his finger towards my heart....

I shall remember David whenever any doubt creeps into my mind that I might be lost....

It was a memorable day, to say the least. I don't know why, but both J and I thought about St. Francis a lot on that day.


Jan 22, 2012 Walking out of Hospital de Orbigo - Lost in the snow

This video was made in the morning of the 22nd. We left Hospital de Orbigo, heading for Castrillo and soon afterwards we got lost because all the way marks were covered by snow! But, everything happens for a reason, right? Enjoy the rest of the story....

A Love Song - a video from Jan 8, 2013 Najera

This elderly gentleman came in when we stayed a night at the municipal albergue in Najera. I found out later from our hospitalero that he does this frequently. He simply enjoys spending his evening hours amongst the pilgrims. Luke, one of the pilgrims from Charleston, SC., spoke Spanish so our evening together convened. He said he has been a singer all his life and started to tell us some of his life's stories. Since I sing, this perked up my interest and he promptly seized the opportunity! He sang many songs including the one he composed for the Spanish Soccer team when they won the World Cup (sorry, I don't know when this took place) and sang at the local stadium. He even showed us a picture of him, singing at the stadium! I figured it was many years ago since the man in the picture looked very young...

I don't know if it was the wine we were sharing or perhaps, he just felt comfortable with us, for he offered to sing one last song, his favorite. I asked him if it was okay for me to video his song - he delightfully agreed.

Enjoy his love story.....

Friday, March 1, 2013


IPad mini with cover

On our previous Camino I kept our blog by using those coin operated computers that could be found in various locations. That was a very inconvenient solution. These days, with WiFi popping up almost everywhere, I chose to carry an iPad mini (10.25 ozs. including a magnetic cover). This worked out quite well. We were able to find WiFi almost every day except in the more remote mountains areas. Most municipal albergues do not have WiFi, but many private ones do. As I recall it was only the albergue in Burgos that had WiFi, but that was because the city provided the coverage. You have to go to the Tourist Office by the cathedral to register and get a password. But, many bars and restaurants now provide coverage. Always ask as many places that you might think would not have WiFi, surprisingly will have it.

I use Blogger as our blog platform. It's mobile application is not very user friendly, so I downloaded an app called Blogsy to create, and edit posts. Blogsy worked very well. You can do everything offline and save multiple posts, with photos, until you find a WiFi connection to upload them. I was going to try and add some video clips but Blogsy is a bit clunkier (as I recall) when it come to adding video to your post. Photos are a snap. I found that composing the post and placing the photos was easier with the WiFi turned off. If it is left on then you have another step to go through, uploading selected photos to a hosting site. I didn't spend a lot of time trying to see if I could work around that, as switching the WiFi off allowed me to place photos directly from iPad photo directory. I never had any bug issues. Blogsy worked as advertised. Initially I had some concerns over the extra weight of the iPad but those concerns faded almost immediately once I started using it. This is my posting solution until something better comes along. Just a short side bar on pack weight while we are discussing this. I can be obsessive about pack weight. However, I discovered on this Camino that carrying what you need is more important then shaving a few ounces here and here. Of course you do not want to wind up with a forty pound pack, but a couple of pounds here or there will not make any difference. The sooner you stop agonizing over pack weight, the sooner you will accept whatever it is, and just carry it. I always found that putting on the pack in the morning was the time I noticed its weight (18-20 pounds). Once out the door and on the Camino, other things occupied my mind and pack weight wasn't one of them.

I considered using Robin's iPhone, or the iPad, as our primary camera, but the photo quality I wanted called for a proper camera. One thing I have noticed is that the iPhone, and the iPad, take some pretty nice video. In the end I carried the same Sony camera I used on our last Camino and it was great. Again, it is a bit more weight, but it was well worth it. I used an SD card reader to transfer photos from the camera to the iPad. This is a very short and light cable that worked perfectly.

Sony DSC-HX5

I will close with a final encouragement to document your Camino in some way. Whether you choose to blog, or keep a journal makes no difference. You will be drawn back to what you have written time and time again. Also, take lots of photos. You will be surprised how much you will enjoy looking at them long after your Camino is over.