Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Lisboa to Alverca

Lisboa to Alverca
We began our trek today with the goal of walking nearly nineteen miles from the capital city of Portugal to the small town of Alverca. While traversing a large city usually presents a challenge, leaving Lisbon is relatively easy as we head down to the mighty estuary of the Rio Tejo. We follow this large river until it meets the more modest Rio Trancao which will lead us inland. We leave one world and are about to enter another.

Once we leave the busyness of Lisbon and are on the quiet pathways we do not see another soul for hours. We are alone on this trail and have not met any one else who is walking this Camino. We are lead to a delightful cafe where we are refreshed with a light lunch and a cool drink by a delightful young man and his grandfather. Their kindness to us in the most unexpected moment will be appreciated more than they will ever know.  It is our reminder that we are cared for and we are not alone on this journey.

We stay at the home of Maria Luz Lourdes Leal who invites us in when she hears we are walking to Fatima/Santiago. She is eighty years old and speaks a combination of Spanish/Italian/Portuguese. Surprisingly enough, we are able to understand each other. As she helps me hand wash our laundry for the day she asks me to pray for her along the way. In Portugal, the Caminho de Fatima is a sacred journey and many people walk it for healing (it coincides with the Camino de Santiago so we are actually walking both routes for a while). She can not walk it at her age and so I tell her we will pray for her as we walk. She wakes up early in the morning to see us off and hugs and kisses us before we go.

We are thinking of you as the hours go by. You come across our hearts and prayers many times during the day. You are loved... Buen Camino.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015


 Lisboa (as the locals call it) is a delightful city. It is a lovely combination of old and new interwoven together to make a delightful destination. We are staying in the Alfama district which is known as the historical section. Our room is on the fourth floor of a lovely old building and the Palace of Sao Jorge is right across the road. Below us are sidewalk cafes and a delightful Gelateria where we have become hooked on the lemon-basil gelato.

This beautiful port city is the destination of many travelers and today is no exception. We have decided to join the crowds and enjoy all that Lisboa has to offer.

The many sidewalk cafes present the local specialities. Fresh fish is very popular and we are enjoying the many variations they have to have offer. The octopus is wonderful and prepared very differently than in Spain. I have come to love bufata cheese which is similar to mozzarella but much creamier. It is served with a beefsteak tomato and grilled zucchini squash. I have it with every meal.

The nightlife is incredible. The city comes to life after night falls. We went to watch a Fado which is the Portuguese version of Flamenco. Men and women sing mournful songs of yearning, sorrow, and love in a way to connect all those who have had those life experiences. They are accompanied by two twelve string guitars and it is the perfect combination. It is very stirring.

We toured around the city and got a glimpse of the different neighborhoods. It is said that Portugal is built on seven hills and each of those hills house a very different type of neighborhood. One area is the cultural neighborhood which boasts the many cultures in Portugal. Another, the university area, is very modern and the activities in that area take into consideration the preferences of the college crowd. It is a very exciting place to be.

We have registered ourselves as pilgrims and will begin our walk tomorrow. We will leave Lisboa and walk north as we begin our trek to Spain. We are excited for what is ahead. We will think of you and will hold you in our hearts and prayers. You are loved...Buen Camino

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Respite in Rota

I am not sure if it is the beauty of the white sand and blue waters, the ease of life here as we meander through this small coastal town in the south of Spain or just its familiarity to us that makes Rota such a place of respite for us. Whatever it is, we have begun the process of letting go and entering the realm of just being.
We take care of business in the mornings and then spend the afternoons walking or riding our bikes into the small town along the shoreline. We met a couple of nuclear physicists on our flight over and so we spend some time with them chatting and enjoying some of the local customs. The seafood is abundant and we are enjoying the many varieties. We are still finding things we have never tried before!
I knew I had begun the transitioning process into sabbatical mode when I noticed a woman walking along the shore. She was nicely dressed and wearing white dress shoes and a sweater. In her hand she had a fishing pole and a white plastic bag. It was beautiful to me and so I asked if I might take her picture. She was joyous at this prospect and quickly combed her hair, took off her sweater and pulled the fish out of the bag. I am reminded in this moment that there is beauty all around me and joy in just living. I don't want to miss any of it.
We have our tickets for Lisbon. We will catch the bus from Rota to Sevilla where we will spend a few hours roaming this beautiful city. In the afternoon we will catch another bus and travel along the coastline of Portugal to Lisbon. We have a pension (a room in a boarding house) in the Alfama district which is also known as the historical district. We will begin our journey from the Cathedral Se which is just down the street from where we will stay.

In every beautiful place and in every beautiful moment we think of you and wish you were here with us. You are loved... 
Buen Camino.


Tuesday, September 22, 2015

The Journey Unfurls

 I was writing an email the other morning to family and friends as we prepare to leave for our 2015 sabbatical when I found myself explaining we were about to embark on another journey. I went through the details of leaving, hoping to get a Space A flight out of Travis AFB, heading to the east coast, and then to Portugal where we would begin another 600 mile trek through the Portuguese countryside and ending on the west coast of Spain. Suddenly, I began to feel very excited about our trip. This has been and interesting year and this journey was exactly what was needed.
I began to realize that this was not really another journey but a part of my life journey. Everyplace I have been leads me to everyplace I am going. These sabbaticals are really a part of my life in which I take the time to be reminded that without the hard, ease would not be appreciated, without the mundane the beauty would not be as exquisite, and without leaving the returning would not be as heartwarming.
It has been a memorable year. There were times when I was not so sure we would make this trip. I am glad that we are moving forward. I remember the words  of a favorite quote of mine. Regret for things done can be tempered with time. Regret for the things not done is inconsolable.
So we move forward as this part of our journey unfurls. We will have no regrets as to how this will play out and we leave nothing behind. We are all in. We are at Travis AFB waiting to board a C-5 to McGuire AFB, New Jersey. Our backpacks are on board and we are ready for whatever lies ahead. We are not quite sure about what is next but know that we are excited for this part of our journey and all that God would have for us.
Buen are loved.