Friday, November 14, 2014

Sacred Journey

Sacred Journey
We are in the south of Spain and staying in our usual place enjoying a bit of down time. We were intentional in this choice because of it's ease and familiarity to us. Surprisingly, it is not physical rest we need, but time to begin to unwrap the gifts of our journey and allow them to begin the process of change in us.

Our journey was sacred. There is no doubt about it. The more we contemplate it the more sacred it becomes. It is as if we were looking through the lense of a camera, intentional in the way we viewed things so we could capture the depth and beauty of the moment and have it forever ingrained in us. Suddenly, there was beauty everywhere.

Whether it was the hue of the many sunrises and sunsets, pink snails, cows grazing in green fields, the reflection of light in tunnels, exquisite companionship in our time alone with each other, or just the day to day beauty of our walk...the ordinary became extraordinary. We looked at people differently and were the recipient of so many gifts we might have missed had we not been open and willing to participate. I still weep over the kindness. This perspective was intentional and it is the sacred beauty that moves us toward change. It is no longer enough to live on the surface of life.
We have been blessed with an extraordinary life. We have a beautiful family. We have had illustrious careers. We have had the opportunity to travel the world and live and experience life in a way that has brought us tremendous joy. I could not have asked for anything more. I have learned so much and yet, at times, I have been so overwhelmed. What I must confront sooner or later is that the way I spend each day of travel…is the way I want to spend my life. Intentional. Unencumbered. Free. Inspired by our journey I long for balance of where my travels and home life overlap. I want to do this right...

So now the real journey begins. Unencumbering our lives. Letting go of what was and nurturing what is to be. I think of the grapevine and the pruning that takes place each year. Lush vines that produced an abundance in their season must be cut back so new growth can occur. This is where I am. In a season of moving forward and letting go there must be change so new growth can occur. We are about to begin another sacred journey.

So, we rest here in the south of Spain. We walk, we watch the sunset for the pure joy of it, we talk, we are silent, and we think of you. Thank you for being apart of this journey with us. You are loved so very much...

Buen Camino.

Friday, November 7, 2014


It is with deep emotion I write about Finisterre. Our original plan was to walk from Santiago to Finisterre and then maybe into Muxia. There is such a feeling of accomplishment after you receive your Compestelo and attend the pilgrims mass. Words and even pictures can never do justice to beauty of the pilgrims blessing and the tradition of the Botafumeiro as it swings above your head and you take in the smell of the sweet incense around you. It is a good thing you have done...

There is an excitement in the air as you celebrate your accomplishments with those you have met along the way with dinner and lively recollections of your times together. We have shared in something that words can not even define and yet we reminisce for hours over good food and wine. At the same time there is an unspoken change in the air as your traveling companions began to leave and return to lives very different then the ones you have just shared. We were yearning to get back on the road again but with the torrential rains and gusty winds we were in conflict.

We had decided to wait a few days for the rains to clear and they just didn't. For us in California it is hard for us to imagine the amount of rain that falls in this region at this time of year. Suffice to say, what they got in a few hours exceeded our total rainfall for all of last year. And, it was cold and very windy. We had decided we would leave on Tuesday and give ourselves four days to walk the 90km in the current weather conditions. When we woke up Tuesday morning the rains and winds were ferocious. We sat there dressed and ready for about an hour and then just decided to do what we had not expected to do while on this trip. We would take the bus.

I must say that both Tom and I can be legends in our own minds. Some might even say stubborn. Once we put our minds to something we tend to stick with it. We talked about what we had learned about trust and flexibility and enjoying the beauty along the way as opposed to following a preconceived notion or plan. We relinquished our plan and asked God for His. We were blessed beyond what we can say.

The bus ride was warm while it was incredibly wet and windy outside. We drove through the small inland villages where we would occasionally spot the yellow arrows which had become so dear to us these last few months. We missed our packs and being on the road. As we turned into the final leg of our journey which took us up along the coast, the weather suddenly cleared and the warm sun shone upon the waters like diamonds on the sea. We looked at each other and asked the bus driver if he would stop and let us out so we could walk into Finisterre. He quickly obliged us and soon we had our backpacks on headed along the coast to the End of the World, The End of the Way.

It was stunning! We walked the 20km or so into Finesterre and then another two hours to Faro de Fisterra which is the western point that had once been considered the End of the World. We sat on a rock holding each other and watched as the sun finished setting for the day. How fitting this was...

We know there is still plenty for us to see and do. We have many journeys left to live and we are free and able to do so. We know we will be okay at the end of each day. We have everything we need already. We are blessed beyond what we could ever say. We are loved by our God and He has a plan for us. We have you...

Looking forward to a Buen Camino...always.

Santiago de Compostela

Santiago De Compostela

Dust and mud, sun and rain,

Such is the way to Santiago.

Thousands of pilgrims and more than a thousand of years.

Pilgrim: Who calls you? What hidden power attracts you?

It's not the field of stars. 

Nor the great cathedrals.

 It is not the beauty of Navarra.

 Nor the wine of Rioja. Nor the seafood of Galicia. Nor the fields of Castilla.

Pilgrim, who is it who calls you?

What unseen power attracts you?

Not the peoples of the camino nor their rural customs. It is not history nor culture.

Not the rooster of the Calzada

Nor the palace of Gaudi

Nor the castle of Ponferrada.

All that is seen in passing,

And it is a joy to see it all,

Is still less than the voice that calls...

The feeling that is yet so much deeper.

The power that pushes me, the force that attracts me, I know not how to explain it

Only He who is above understands it.

These words were written by a fellow pilgrim and are written on the walls of Navarra as a beautiful mural. The beauty of them touched my heart as we passed but when we arrived in Santiago I began understand them in a way I had not before.

I have long thought it is no accident that we would be here at this time. What had once been a feat to accomplish, walking from France through Spain, became a calling for the both of us. Only He who is above understands it...

We have walked over 635 miles one step at a time. We wanted for nothing. We were the recipients of exquisite kindness. We were well cared for. Each morning we started out with the knowledge we were heading west for the day and by nightfall we laid our heads exactly where we were supposed to be. Some parts were challenging but we learned so much during those times and that we would be okay at the end of the day. We were given such exquisite gifts...the gift of time, of delightful conversations, of stillness and quiet, of companionship, an unlocking of our hearts to dream about what is ahead, and time in communion with God. It was so freeing.

I recall the words I have spoken during these last few years of transitions... it is not the end of something we celebrate...but the beginning of something new. Never were these words more true than they are right now. We are excited and well rested and eager for what is yet to be. We are glad you are with us to share this season.

It has been a Buen Camino.

Sunday, November 2, 2014


Since we entered Galicia, I feel as if we have left Spain and are now walking in Ireland. This area is so lush and green with rolling hills and stone fences I am sure I am somewhere other than the Spain I have come to know and love. Hours pass by and I find myself continuously in awe of the beauty of this area. We meet an occasionally shepherd or farmer as we walk through these small villages and enjoy our conversations with those we meet along the way. We are surrounded by beautiful chestnut forests and a flurry of wildlife. Hours go by and we do not speak.

I am lost in the beauty and simplicity of life here. For us, we just decide each day we are going to take a walk and then allow the beauty of all that is around us permeate into all that we are. We pass through many a quaint village enjoying the antiquity and simplicity of life until it is time for us to call it a day. Our pace is not hurried and usually find that as we climb up and down the hills in this area we are ready to stop at about 3:00 in the afternoon.

We have less than 100km to Santiago de Compostela. The way is marked now at each half kilometer. We press onward with mixed feelings. Moving forward...letting go. We certainly are not the same as when we began.

You are on our minds. You are loved and missed. You are why we return.

 Buen Camino.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014



We have officially crossed into Galicia. In Spain, the country is divided into regions and each of these areas are so distinct you might think you have entered into another country. The beauty of the meseta (Castillo de Leon) is quickly replaced by a region that is lush and green and reminiscent of its Celtic roots. Everything from the language to the style of their homes and the foods they eat has changed completely.

The mountains of Galicia are the first object in about 3,100 miles that the westerly winds coming across the Atlantic Ocean hit so the weather is typically cooler. It is easy to see the Celtic influence in this area with its small, intimate fields delineated with old stone fences and lush pastures which are grazed by sheep, pigs, geese, chicken, and cattle. I found it interesting that they shelter all of their livestock under their homes. The villages in these areas appear isolated but when I spoke to a young man who lives here he says that this area is thriving and that there are many young families who continue to stay in this area. It is beautiful...

Amidst the ever changing landscape there is a constant. The Camino de Santiago meanders through this landscape and like days of old brings many people to this area. The Way is continuous, unbroken, and yet, parts of it are changing. The constant is the sound of footsteps which is the heartbeat of this pilgrimage. I am in awe that I am here and apart of something that has been around for over 1500 years.

  Buen Camino.

Villafranca del Bierzo

Villafranca del Bierzo
As we entered this small village nestled in the foothills of the Sierra de O Courel mountain range we thought we were dreaming. It seems to be the best of all worlds and looked like something out of a fairytale. Green hills, gold and red valleys and a small village nestled in between. We were excited as we entered this area and very happy to be here.
This area is well known for it's wine production and agriculture. Because of the prime weather conditions here many types of fruit and vegetables grow abundantly. The fields are stunning and the soil rich and fertile as we walk through this areas.
I think the real beauty here is the people we met. We had intended on staying in an albergue in the middle of town. We usually choose an area near the center because that is where the cathedrals are located. When you find the church you find the plaza and hub of the city. Our spot of choice had burnt down a few months prior and now we needed to find another place. This is not terribly complicated, we just had to walk and find it. We ended up one street off the plaza in an old beautiful neighborhood checking our map when a lovely young woman asked if we needed some help. When we told her our dilemma, she invited us in to her home which had just been renovated into a home for pilgrims. It was one of the most beautiful homes I have ever seen and an honor to stay with this family and call this our home for the day.

We loved our time here and will always hold this place in our heart. We spent our evening in the plaza dining with friends and when we returned home they had a warm fire waiting for us. We warmed ourselves by the fire while enjoying some local wine and figs. They played the guitar for us and we listened to the most beautiful music. This moment permeated our souls and we will carry it onward with us.. These are the times I miss you the most, in the moments that touch my heart to it's core.

You are loved. Buen Camino.

Saturday, October 25, 2014


We are comfortable with the ebb and flow of our days. There are times we plan our distances based on where we want to spend our afternoon and evenings. Today we chose Ponferrada so we could spend some time in this area and visit the museum and castle of the Templar Knights. Our friends Victor and Pepe had told us about this and so we are curious to see what is here.

We walked about 12 miles today over a mountainous terrain and then straight down a shale path. As we approached the 'city' it started to look a lot like Napa Valley in the fall. The colors are vivid and are all my favorite colors-the colors of fall.
This area is infamous because the Templar Knights were once headquartered here. It seems that during the 11th and 12th century there was a three-tier class system. Royalty, The Knights, and the laborers or peasants. The function of The Knights were to protect the working class and interestingly, the pilgrims as they passed through. In those days, Pilgrims were considered potential prospects for the trade market and could easily be exploited. One of the functions of the knights was to protect them along the way so they could complete their journey without being held captive. There seems to be some mystery surrounding these Knights and the stone masons and when we return home we will research this history more fully. It is interesting and we look forward to studying this piece of history.

We will head to Villafranca Del Bierz tomorrow. Only about 17 miles...

Buen Camino. We are thinking of you each and every step.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Rabanal del Camino

Rabanal del Camino
I am not sure what happens as we enter into these small towns but this one quickly became one of my favorites. It looked more French then Spanish and as we walked through the streets we could quickly sense there was something special about this town and its people. When we walked into the Casa Rural we were hot and sweaty. We were quickly shown our room and our hostess offered us cool drinks and then offered to do our laundry for us. I am not sure why this is so moving and heart warming to me but it almost always makes me weep as they care for us. We picked up some fresh fruits and vegetables from her little mercado and proceeded to have a picnic lunch.

We had heard that the monks in the monastery were going to sing vespers in Latin in church that evening. I can not even begin to tell how beautiful and sacred this sounds. They are reciting some of the Psalms and their beautiful, pure voices resonate in a way that may you think you are listening to angels singing in heaven. We were very moved.
There is one restaurant in town and we met up for a lovely dinner. Our group consists of Australians, Canadians, an English couple and ourselves. We enjoyed lively conversations and delicious food.

I find myself thinking of you in these beautiful places. Longing to share this with you...looking forward to the times we are together again. You are loved...

Buen Camino.


Astorga is a lively city which sits atop a steep ridge. It is both modern and quaint and surrounded by medieval walls and ancient architecture. It's notoriety began in the 11th century where the convergence of the French Way aka The Camino Frances, the Roman Way aka The Calzada Romana, the southern route from Sevilla aka Camino Mozarabe came together. It became a very popular trade route and a place known for its care of pilgrims along the way.

In the late 1800's the famous architect Antonio Gaudi was summoned to Astorga to oversee the building of the palace for the Bishop at that time. It was built in the traditional Gaudi fashion and interestingly enough is the current Museo de los Caminos (Museum of the Pilgrims Way).

Astorga is also the home of some of the best chocolate in Spain and I can personally attest to that. We enjoyed a lovely day and evening in this area. Many of the locals insisted we try the food specialty in the area and so we conceded. We enjoyed Cocido Maragata. It is a four course meal which consists of (and in this order): sliced tomatoes with olive oil and vinegar, fresh bread, seven different kinds of meat and I can only identify one of them-chicken (I think), a plate of chick peas, cabbage, and potatoes, chicken vegetable soup, custard with cinnamon and wine,water and a liqueur drink and coffee. It was phenomenal and we will not need to eat for three days.

Tomorrow we head to Rabanal del Camino. We will begin the upward trek over the mountains and toward Galicia. Galicia is the region that first feels the winds of the Atlantic Ocean. Change is coming...we are ready. We think of you each and everyday.

Wishing you a Buen Camino.

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Astorga

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Astorga

When we left Leon we had our days planned. One day to VIllare de Manziffe and then onward to Astorga. A funny thing happened along our way. We stopped in Hospital de Camino...and stayed. It was 1:00 in the afternoon when we entered town and as we were about to leave we just stopped and said this was the place for us. Nothing could have been more true or right.

We stayed at the Albergue San Miguel. We knew when the hospitalerio (host) Alberto offered us a comfortable seat and glass of wine we were in the right place. He gave us our room and quickly offered to wash our clothes for us. His kindness towards us will never be forgotten. We had some refreshments and then begin to explore the town.
We were in the right place at the right time. A traditional Spanish Maragata wedding was happening in the plaza and we were there. We were invited to stay and we did. It was so exciting to watch and participate in. There was dancing, fireworks, and incredible cultural festivities. We had so much fun.

We have been the recipients of so much kindness and favor. We never know where each day will bring us but we know that we are exactly where we are supposed to be. We thank our God for His goodness to us as we find delight along our way. It was a spectacular day.

Buen Camino. You are loved so very much.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

We Have a New Traveling Family

We Have a New Traveling Family

When we arrived in Leon we had decided to spend a few days to rest our bones and to just enjoy the area. Some of our traveling family did the same and others chose to move on so they could complete their walk on their own schedules. When we set out we chose the alternate route and noticed that we were the only people we knew. Leon is also the starting place for new peregrinos so there were many new faces along the way today.

We finished the day in Villar de Mazarife and to say it way lovely would be an understatement. The area is exquisite but our hosts were extraordinary. A hodge-podge of people came together under the roof of Pepe and his wife and after a lovely dinner and stimulating conversations we became family.

There are so many blessings for us along this way. We learn so much from those we meet...about life, love, and the pursuit of happiness. We love the people we come to know and enjoy their company immensely. Looking forward to what is ahead.

 Buen Camino.

Beautiful Days

Beautiful Days
We had a delightful evening before we left Leon. We dined in a place where the locals eat and the gentleman who seated us also cooked and served us. We were a bit early for dinner...8:00 which is early by European standards but since we wanted an early morning start we decided to try to find a place that accommodated peregrinos. We did and it was a fantastic dinner.

We enjoyed a lovely breakfast before we checked out of our hotel room. We left the city and its beautiful architecture and quickly the landscape began to change. Gone were the stunning cathedrals of old quickly to be replaced by the beautiful colors of fall in Spain.
We chose the alternate route today which is a bit longer but goes through the countryside. I can not describe how beautiful the area was as we watched the sun and clouds change the color of the miles of countryside along side us. It was spectacular and we would go for hours without speaking while just trying to capture the beauty of these moments. The hues of the land would change from silver to gold and then to green and blue with just the movement of the clouds. We were lost in our thoughts and quickly fifteen miles went by.

We had lunch in Fresno del Camino even though it was a bit out of our way because we liked the name of the town. We are spending the night in Villar de Mazarife and will head to Astorga tomorrow which is about twenty two miles away.

Looking forward to tomorrow and living in the beauty that is around me.

Buen Camino. You are loved...

Sahagun to Leon

Sahagan to Leon
We were intentional in our plans to enter Sahagun early in the afternoon. There was a 100% chance of rain and on the meseta this is usually accompanied with ferocious winds. Either one of those things can wear you out over a period of time but the combination takes it toll rather quickly. If the rain did appear as predicted, we would lodge in Sahagun. If not, we would go on.

 The rains appeared and we had a lovely day in Sahagun which is considered the half way mark of the Camino Frances.
We checked into a little Hostal which in this case was like checking into a small cave. I mean a really nice cave. I was feeling cold which for me is unusual even in rainy, windy weather. Our host took our wet clothes and washed and dried them for us. We were given a down comforter, took a hot shower and then a lovely siesta.

When we awoke we took a walk to the place where the Camino Frances and the Camino Madrid meet. This is just past the halfway mark of the Camino Frances and you can get a Half Compestella if you chose. We opted to wait for our complete Compestella when we complete our journey.

We travelled onward through the small town of Puente Canto which is legendary in this area. First, it houses the infamous five arch bridge which was built before the 11th century and still stands today. Secondly, and I rather like this story, there is a grove of poplar trees known as The Copse of Charlemagne's Lances. Legend has it that the lances of his troops turned into these very trees and were meant as reminder of his superiority on the battlefield. Those trees stand today in perfect alignment.

We traveled through many small villages before we landed in Leon. We looked forward to a time of resting our bones for a bit and have checked into a lovely old Inn in the center of the old city. We are warm and dry and have spent our days exploring this city with a magnificent history.

We heard the nuns sing vespers and spent the day in the infamous cathedrals and cloisters of Leon. We visited the museums and of course, the tapa bars.
We are having our siesta for the day and then head out for a little nightlife. Tomorrow we are back on the are thought of and loved so very much.

Buen Camino.

Way Signs

Way Signs
One of things we needed to understand and fully appreciate as we embarked on this journey was the value of the way signs. These are the identifying markers that mark the way and point you in the direction should go. It is important to recognize and watch for them as they will lead you out of one country and across another.

Traditionally, it is a yellow arrow that points you into the direction you need to be going. In the countryside you can find these on everything from trees to rocks and sometimes even on the earthen walls. In some places rocks are arranged in the shape of an arrow and we must follow these. These markers lead us into the small villages along the way where we find food, shelter, rest, drink, and whatever else we may need to sustain us. When it is time to move forward they lead us onward.
In the bigger cities we look for both the yellow arrows and the symbolic conch shell. These shells are often brass and are universally recognized as a directional marker. Each of the bigger cities have some variation on how the shell is displayed (on the walls or on the road) but the symbol is recognizable to all.

When we leave early in the mornings it is often dark. In those early mornings and through out my days I find myself praying to see those signs so I will not lose my way. I watch for them and am quick to heed the directions they have for me. I have come to depend on them and trust that they will take me exactly where I need to be. I am becoming attuned to the direction they are leading me and can, at times, sense if I am off track.

I have hours each day to think of this and know who truly is My Way, My Truth, and My Light. I am thankful for this time.

Buen Camino.

Friday, October 17, 2014

I've Had a Change of Heart

I've Had a Change of Heart
For those of you who know me well, you may find what I am about to say hard to believe. There are not many things that are hard for me to live with but I do have a slight aversion to a couple of things. Namely, snails and slugs. I am here to say that Spain has the most beautiful snails I have ever seen.

I began to notice beautiful, small, white shelled and body snails as we left France. They looked like small pearls as they clung to the branches of the plants along the way. I tried to ignore them as there were hundreds of them and I don't (ever) want a snail to dominate my thoughts. But as we meandered into Spain I accidentally noticed they were changing and becoming colorful. I even stopped to take a picture of one which for me is a first. I have since become fascinated by these beautiful creatures. I have even stopped cringing when I walk past them.

Not all snails will look like these I know. They don't have too. The thing that has changed is my perception of snails. It reminded me of how a change in perception can change almost anything. For the most part, our day to day lives don't change much. What changes is the way we look at things. Sometimes the change in our perception can change the course of our lives. I am thankful a small snail reminded me of this.

Now slugs...that's a different matter! Still working on that.

 Buen Camino.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Villacazar de Sirga and (Until Recently) Other Unknown Places

Villacazar de Sirga and (Until Recently) Other Unknown Places

One of the things that happens daily is the coming together of our fellow travelers. We may stay in different places along the way but we eventually catch up with each other at a meal or break time. Here we catch up with each others travels, any interesting places to see or things to do, or just how everyone is faring. It is quite lovely and feels like family coming together.

Until yesterday we had never heard of Villacazar de Sirga. Over coffee in the morning we heard about the Templar Church that was in this small village that we would be walking through later in the day. We made plans to stop and check it out. Villacaza de Sirga is a small town with a population of 216 and is well known for its hospitality having welcomed pilgrims since the 12th century when it became the commandry of the Knights Templar. The town is home to the Templar Church of Santa Maria la Virgen Blanca and houses the tombs of nobles and royalty. It was phenomenal to walk through this place.

We passed through the Canal de Castillo which is a canal system with 50 locks. During the 18th century it was exclusively designed for irrigation purposes and for the transportation of crops. Later, it was used to power the corn mills in this area. It was beautiful to see as we walk by.

After Carrion we walked along the original road to Santiago which was used nearly 2000 years ago. This road was built by the Romans and over 10,000 tons of rock were used to lift the road above flood levels. Our feet touched the ground of those who have walked along this way for over two millennium. It was beautiful and humbling.
We have come to appreciate the beauty of the history around us. Places we had never heard of are now known to us and of great interest. We are walking on sacred grounds...this thought takes our breath away.

Buen Camino.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Castrojeriz to Fromista

Castrojeriz to Fromista
We had just left Hornillos en route to Castrojeriz when the winds began to pick up. It was blustery and cloudy and on those rare moments when the sun peeked around the clouds we were not sure if we should take off our coats or not. We would no sooner make a decision and the weather would turn and we would have to switch everything around. This area is stunning and we were enthralled by its beauty. We weren't sure how we missed the first signs but when the rainclouds gathered and we heard the first rumbles of thunder we knew we were in for a storm.

It was sensational. Hail and winds so fierce we had to take cover behind a tree. We were soaked! We haven't seen rain like this in...well years. We waited a few moments and then just decided to proceed. We were already wet. We had about four miles left to go before we reached our destination for the night. We found a lovely albergue and warmed ourselves with a hot shower and dry clothes. We had a lovely dinner and went to bed with extra blankets.

We heard there was a 70% chance of rain for our walk to Fromista. We began to prepare for the day. It never appeared. It was one of the most beautiful days we have experienced. The weather was cool, the sun was shining, clouds were moving quickly over us and we covered nearly eighteen miles without a drop of rain. Fromista is a lovely place and we have enjoyed our time here.

We have come to realize we need not fret over anything. At the end of the day we will be good...sometimes dry, sometimes wet...but always good.

  Buen Camino.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

The Beauty of the Meseta

The Beauty of the Meseta
It is as if we went to bed one night in a familiar Spain and woke up in a different country. As we enter the meseta everything feels and looks different. The rich, fertile farmlands are replaced with a pale soil which seems only to be able to nourish the basic of crops...wheat, hay, and an occasional oat. Our weather has changed as if someone had flipped a switch. We have blustery winds and copious rain. We are happy...

I think the thing that surprises me the most is that out in the middle of nowhere there are these oasis of places that harbor the kindest people and lovely communities. We are cared for by all we come in contact if the only reason they are along this way is to help us in some way. We met a woman along the road who offered us fresh fruit and chocolate. No cost...leave what we can. We hugged each other as if we had known each other for ever and then we were on our way.

 We stayed in a lovely farmhouse in Hornillos and the owner gave us fresh fruit and vegetables from his garden. It was a most beautiful gift.

We will continue in this area until we reach Leon. We could be there in a week or so. Until then we are savoring the the beauty that is this area. Hours to think of you...Buen Camino.


We have left Burgos and officially entered the meseta. The meseta is the high plains area of Spain and, interestingly, a place avoided by some traveling the Camino. It came as a bit of a surprise to us that some people actually leave the Camino to bypass this area and reconnect later on the trail. It can be hot in the summer and windy this time of year. A lot of people think that after the beauty of the first part of the Camino this pales in comparison. We think it is beautiful in its own way.

A fellow traveller told us that the first part of the Camino is for your body (physical strength), the second part (the meseta) is for your mind and the third part is for your heart. We tend to agree and as we travel miles of this high plain area we have time to think of many things.

Although we have never been to Hornillos before we know of this place. We had heard of a local priest who had been a missionary to Zaire (DR Congo) and was killed during the revolution. We took the opportunity today to see the monument his village placed in his honor. For this small village it was quite sensational that a local priest was sent on this particular mission and to lose his life on that mission has never been forgotten.

It is quiet here and we are well rested after our holiday in Burgos. We are staying in a Casa Rural and are enjoying fresh fruits, vegetables, meats, cheeses, and wine provided by our host. The breeze is cool, the sun is warm on our backs and we are thinking of you...

Buen Camino.

Accidental Tourist

Accidental Tourist
We left Ages early in the morning so we could reach Burgos by noon and spend the day sight seeing. We had familiarized ourselves with the area and were excited to see what was in this city. Since both Pamploma and Logrono were considered tourist areas as well as Burgos, we looked forward to our time here. Our friends Pepe and Victor were a day ahead of us and had made some recommendations of places to see.

It was Sunday after church when we arrived and the day of the El Cid festival. There were thousands of people out in the plaza. I have to admit it was a bit overwhelming after being on the trail for the last several days where I knew or at least recognized most people along the way. We decided to stay in a hotel and chose one rather randomly. It was a lovely four star hotel which honored the fact that we were pilgrims. We quickly cleaned up and walked to the plaza where we enjoyed some tapas. I'm not sure what happened exactly but suddenly after seeing so many unrecognizable people I began to cry. Right in the middle of everything. I was missing my familiar. I realized that we have been living a very simple and predictable life on the road. I was missing the simplicity of my daily routine and the beauty of the stillness around me. I found that I wanted my familiar. We went back to our room and took a nice long bath and laid down for a siesta. Something about the cool clean sheets and the down comforter also felt very soothing and familiar. We rested well and got up for dinner. We met a couple of our friends and all of us had had a similar feeling about being in the city again with all of its busyness.

I woke up in the middle of the night and realized that I have been looking for balance in my life. For hours each day one way or another I have been praying for this very thing. I realized today that I am still in a training program. While I have begun to feel comfortable with the ease and routine of my days not all my days will be this simple and predictable. I will not always live a life of solitude but what I want is to live my life simply. I know this will be a process and will take some work on my part.

We stayed in Burgos an extra day. We accidentally became tourist. We meandered through the plaza, into the cathedrals and museums, and just enjoyed a leisurely time. We will ready ourselves for tomorrow and then hit the road again. We are learning so much along the way.

  Buen Camino.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Santo Domingo to Tosantos

Santo Domingo to Tosantos

Santo Domingo was stunning and when it came time to leave we knew we would miss this beautiful area. We ejoyed a late lunch in the plaza, Tom had a pizza and I had yellow asparagus. We picked up our packs and headed...west. We were not sure where we would stay the night but when we neared Tosantos we knew this would be the place. There is only one albergue and it is a parish run hostel. The moment we entered we were given a glass of cool water and a soft place to sit. Our hosts, Fabian and Miguel, took our packs up the stairs and explained what the activities of the evening would be.

First, there would be a tour of the church which was built into the mountain side in the 17th century. Then, as a group, we would cook paella for dinner. If we desired, there would be a pilgrim blessing in the small chapel before bed. It seemed low keyed and a perfect plan for the evening.

We treked up the hill to the small church. It was incredible. We were asked not to take photos inside. Instead, we were to let the impressions of what we saw here burn a place in our heart and then asked to remember the people of this church in our prayers. There are no words that describe the inside of that small church. It was simple compared to others we had seen but you could tell that this place was considered Holy by those who entered and cared for it. We were so honored to be able to go inside.

Our dinner was fantastic! Hot paella, fresh salad, good bread, soup, wine, and fruit. It was lovely. Everybody pitched in and then our hosts served us. It was humbling to be served by these two men who had worked very hard to prepare for us. As we ate, each country represented had the opportunity to sing their country's national song. Eight countries were represented and it was beautiful and fun listening to everyone sing.

We had a time of prayer and blessing following dinner. Each of us read a letter left behind from a previous pilgrim in our own language. These letters contained prayer requests and it gave us a moment to remember other pilgrims on this pilgrimage and the needs they may have. Although a lot of languages were being spoken it was a very spiritual moment for all.

This was a beautiful experience for us. We are thankful that for a moment this was the place we called home. Buen Camino.



Santo Domingo de la Cazada

Santo Domingo de la Cazada
This afternoon we found ourselves in Santo Domingo de la Cazada. It is considered the heart of the Camino because of Saint Domingo's influence in this area. When Domingo was a young man he wanted to enter the monastery and become a priest. For reasons unknown he was refused but chose instead to dedicate his life to the service of others. Specifically, he cared for the pilgrims who walked along the way to Santiago de Compestella. It is said he built the pilgrims hospital whose remains are still visible today and the bridge that crosses over the river Oja.

We set our packs down and toured the cathedral and tower. They were built in the 11th and 12th century and are stunning. One of the most interesting exhibits in the cathedral is a chicken coop which contain two live fowl. It relates to the story of the Miracle of the Cock. Embellished over the years, it has become one of the more endearing legends along the Way of St James. Legend has it that a pilgrim couple and their handsome son were traveling along the Way when an innkeepers daughter became smitten with the young man. He spurned her advances and in her humiliation she hid a silver goblet in his rucksack and accused him of stealing it. Unbeknown to his parents he was hung but his life was spared by Santo Domingo who's sole purpose was to care and rescue pilgrims along the Way. He was found hanging from the gallows but miraculously still alive. When they went to report this to the sheriff he was just about to eat dinner. He retorted that their son could no more be alive than the cock he was about to eat, when suddenly the cock stood up and crowed. Hence, a rooster remains in the cathedral to this day.

The antiquity of this area is remarkable and we are in awe of all that is around us. Our journey is not just the acquisition of miles and credential stamps. It is stopping along the way to enjoy what is around us. Our thoughts are now focused on what is to see and experience as opposed to where we will lay our heads for the evening. We are experiencing all God would have for us and trusting that at the end of each day we are exactly where we need to be. It is so very freeing...

Not sure where we will lay our heads tonight...but it will be good for sure.

  Buen Camino.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Life in Balance

Life in Balance
As we entered Viana in the early evening we had walked nearly twenty-three miles. We had felt so rested the day before we opted to go a little further than we had planned and then take a short walk into Logrono the next day so we could spend some time sight seeing. I have come to love the spontaneity of our days and the ease in which we can make our plans.

Along the way we have met many people and have enjoyed our time spent with them. What I find fascinating are the reasons people have chosen to walk along the way. Some are here out of tragic loss, unexpected changes in life or career, some for the adventure, and others, for time. Time to think about life and get a perspective on it that wasn't there before.

Today we are in Logrono. Logrono is a good sized city with a population of about 130,000. It is part of the Rioja region which is infamous for it's wine production. The last week of September is their annual wine festival. Our timing is exquisite although most of the big events are winding down. We can concur, the wine here is some of the best we have ever tasted.

What is first and foremost on my mind today is the balance in life. Working hard...resting deeply and richly. Being joyous in all seasons of life. Today it is my most prevalent thought. I want my Life in balance...

So our boots are off, our packs laid down and we are exploring the area. We are having tapas with some fellow pilgrims and then, perhaps a little siesta. Looking forward to what lies ahead...and the delight of just being.

Buen Camino.