Thursday, September 23, 2010

An Ordinary Day at the Magic Kingdom

Notre Dame has a webpage:  I try to visit every day, but I didn't go there at all during my trip.  I stumbled upon many postings that were relevant to my trip.  But here is one that especially caught my eye:

On my trip, I was hoping that something magical and extraordinary would happen. That all of the blinders that I find myself struggling against would be removed and I would see the grand purpose in my life.  But a friend reminded me early on that it was "only a trip."  I wasn't going to magically grow up, figure everything out and turn my life into a work of God in 16 days.

"Mostly the Kingdom comes to us in the little things that move our story another day down the road, not in big events. No magic wine at a wedding feast, no blinding light knocking us to the ground, no crying cock to make our betrayals memorable; not even an enigmatic parable to keep us thinking. Instead the Kingdom serves up an opportunity for patience with a crying baby or a whining colleague, a chance to bite the tongue on a gossipy remark, a saved moment to whisper a quick prayer of no great eloquence."

Every day, no matter where you are is a chance to serve the Lord and be a part of his kingdom.  He never promised grand revelations or that every day would be a picnic.

Sunday, September 19, 2010


Our "family" before we left for Santiago


I have to admit that arriving in Santiago de Compostela was far less spiritual than I though it would. More on this...

Last night we went to dinner at a beautiful restaurant. I had pasta with wild mushrooms. It's gonna be hard to go back to my cliff bars and peanut butter after eating such awesome food. It was so great to travel with a guide that knew what to order and the wine to go with it! Martin made a slid show that we watched. Angela and I had made Daphne duck awards for Martin and Pedro, so we presented those at dinner.

We went out for a few drinks after. Martin, Pedro, Karen and I ended up on the terrace of our room talking until about 4:30. So much for going to bed early!!!! The funny thing is that Karen and I are both messy, so our room liked a hurricane hit it! The boys are very neat, so they were horrified!

I woke up at about 8, even though we had grand plans of sleeping in until noon. I went to the cathedral to stand in line for 70 minutes to awkwardly hug the statue of St. James. I arrived just in time eat breakfast with Pedro, Martin and Karen. I will miss dessert for breakfast, that's for sure!

We packed up, said goodbye to Los Pequenos Portugues and left out stuff in the hotel. Karen and I went to the cathedral to get wireless (I had found free wireless while I was waiting). We spent a while looking for somewhere for her to stay. Then we walked to the train station. We had a nice lunch of Tortilla and then went to the Pilgrim museum.

We parted ways when I left for the train station. Its weird to think that I stayed with these people for 8 days and probably will never see them again! :(

I'm on the train now. I met an interesting man from Valencia while I was waiting for the train. He walked from Sarria in three days! I'm not sure how many km that is...but the walking pilgrims amaze me!
In case some people are worried (mom), I don't think I have a concussion. We woke up every few hours to make sure I wasn't dead. I have a scrape on my forehead, a little black eye, some bruises on my legs and scraped on my hands. The coolest bruise is on my chin. I was taking a picture of it today and I thought the number four had been imprinted on the picture. But when I looked at it in the mirror, I saw that it is a lighter purple un the outside and in the very center is a dark purple perfectly formed four! Crazy!!!!!!!!

My mindset is much different from the train ride out. Although the bike ride wasn't as spiritual as I thought it would be, I think it's what I needed. I needed to get out of my own head and be with people. I am so happy I got to meet the Australians (and learn some new words! Snory!!!!!! Txchungurro!!!).

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Into Santiago

Today we had a short ride to Santiago (about 25 miles). It was chilly when starter out, but we warmed up quickly on the climbs.

Pedro left us arrows with inside jokes!

Right as we started out on our ride today, we passed this mother cow and her calf. The calf was so recently born that the placenta was still attached.  I've never been a mother, but this is as close as I've been to the miracle of life being presented in front of me.  It reminded me of the importance of valuing life and the precious miracle that we are given each day.

Unfortunately, it's not a trip until Laura gets hurt! I was riding through a small town and had to stop quickly. I pulled the front brake instead of the back and so I went over the handlebars. I hit my head and a piece of my helmet flew off. But overall I think I'm fine. I have a few scrapes and bruises. I'll probably have a nice shiner tomorrow and my chin is already smarting a nice bruise!

Have no fear!  I finished the ride.

The rest of the ride was pleasant and I arrived at the Cathedral a short time before the others. There were so many pilgrims. Over the last few days we've seen an increase of Pilgrims on the Camino as all the routes converge. Yesterday, there were 100's. Today we weren't on the actual Camino much to avoid all the foot traffic.

When we got to the hotel I was feeling super sick and tired, so I took a Snory while the others went to lunch. I felt much better after!

I woke up about 5:30 and walked to a cafe and got a Coca Light and a Maxibon (yum!!!!!!). Martin and Pedro found me and took me to the others where we waited in line forever to get our certificate of completion of the Pilgrimage.

Castle on Thursday

On Thursday Karen and I convinced Martin to take us on a detour to a castle, Castelo de Pambre. The ride was gorgeous. We rode through the Spanish countryside. It was spectacular. We arrived at the castle just in time to be allowed inside the walls. We really lucked out because they just started accepting visitors on July 1 and they closed for siesta at 2 (it was 1:30). All of the wood on the inside was gone, but we could see where the floors and rooms were and imagine what it was like. It was amazing to think about all that happened there over the centuries (it was built around 1375).

The alter inside the castle

Inside the castle walls

The Granary

The irony of Martin talking on his cell phone while in the castle

Then we pedaled to Azrua. We hadn't eaten since breakfast, so we were pretty well spent by the time we arrived. Dinner was fabulous. I had carne asada (not the Mexican kind) and the meat literally fell apart it was so tender.

Karen set her alarm to remind us to go to bed....which somewhat worked. We got to bed around midnight.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Boring day

Daph and her new friend from Australia

Today we only rode about 40 miles on some slight rolling hills. The countryside was pretty and I stopped at a monastery to pray. But other than that it was calm and quiet. And I didn't get lost!!!!!!
Coca Cola even has vending machines, with a map of the Camino...or America, can't keep our capitalist noses out of anything!

We had some free time, but there really wasn't much to do in Portomarin, so we took a snorey (my new word for nap! Love it!).

For dinner we had Paella and green wine. The wine is called a green wine because it's made with white grapes before they are fully ripe. It was fruity and good.


Green wine

I'm too tired to write anything philosophical. We did have some good education talk at dinner tonight.

The stars in the sky

The stars in the sky
Spanish Quemada
I'm gonna regret staying up to write this. Tonight we had a fabulous dinner. There was good food, good wine and good people. We remet some people from Germany (holla to Christel!!) that we met earlier on the Camino at dinner. We all shared a Quemada. It's hard to explain, but essentially it's 90 proof alcohol in a big pot that you light on fire. Then you play with the fire. In tradition there is an incantation to ward of evil spirits and invoke the spirits of your loved ones. It was cool because first it was done in Spanish, then German, then English. After we drank the Quemada we sat around and talked and drank more wine. A young German girl joined us. Martin was telling her I am bionic and asked me to show her my scars. She saw that I had on Sketchers Shape-Ups. The line of the night became, "She has the same shoes as Brittany Spears!!!!"
Then we climbed up a hill and looked at the stars. It was truly amazing. I don't think there is anywhere in the US that you could see the stars so clearly. We were all at different levels of sobriety, which always makes for good conversation!
It was truly one of the more memorable moments of my trip and perhaps my life.

Ayudame o Jo-f*ing-der

I thought of many titles for this post while I climbed for 20 miles

Well if yesterday was a climb. I'm not sure what today was. I was still kind of sore when I woke up, but tried to eat some protein for breakfast. The house that we stayed at was beautiful, surrounded by vineyards to make it's own wine. The weird thing was that the man who rebuilt the whole place felt the need to put his face everywhere! Including the toilet paper!!!!


My room - yes I can make a mess internationally

View from the balcony overlooking the vineyards

Sunrise over the vineyard

And because I love babies....

We left and almost immediately started climbing!!! There was a small rest in a little town where there was a church that St. Francis de Asisi built. I also was lucky enough that the graveyard was open and i got to walk around. I know it's morbid, but I love graveyards. I like to read the people's names and dates and imagine what their life was like. I recently read an article about the top 5 things that old people wish about their lives. I'll have to dig it up.

Anyway, after that town, I climbed and climbed and climbed and climbed and climbed.

 Then we climbed some more! Then I stopped for lunch. I, of course, made a wrong turn and so I ended up in the footpath (quite a treacherous one) with my bike for about 10 km. It was really hot.


I just keep pushing my bike and singing to myself. Eventually, I came across a man with his cows. I asked him if I was lost and he said no, to keep going. So I did. Good gravy! But before they left, one of the cows shook her head and all of the snot hanging from her nose onto me!!!

I finally reached the top of the footpath. At the top i was so tired!!!!! I saw some dogs, so I started talking to them in Spanish I asked if i could take their pictures, etc. There are so many random dogs here. I am trying to take their pictures, I think it would make a nice calendar: The Dogs of Spain. I didnt see the group of pilgrims coming up behind me. Pretty sure they were having a chuckle at my expense!!!

A candidate for my Dogs of Spain calendar

I stopped for some water and kept going. I ended up riding/walking about 7 more km until I got to the top. It was a beautiful view, but my legs were so tired. I suppose it's good I ended up in the footpath because I'm pretty sure I felt some tibia cracking while I was climbing. At least when I was walking the other tibia was under stress. Gotta keep the fractures equal...they get jealous!!!!!

On the last five km i pretty much just kept repeating, "Ayudame, por favor," or "Gracias para la fuerza." It wasn't pretty. But I made it to the top and Martin had made me some food since I missed his brilliant picnic lunch!

Our "family" at the top of the hill

I think that from here things get flatter and cooler!!!!

A statue of Santiago

Monday, September 13, 2010

It's between you and God

"Yo soy el camino, la verdad y la vida. Nadie viene al padre sino es por mi."
I am the way, the truth and the light (life). No one comes to know the father but through me."

One of our guides, Pedro, always says: It's between you and God. Today I was joking that since I'm always ahead, i could just take a taxi to Santiago and no would know! "Well thats between you and God!" This really caught my attention because I am always worried about what so and so will think. I don't always care about what others think of what I wear or have. But I get caught up in having people know where I've been, what I think, what I've done, etc. In the end, it just won't matter. It will be between me and God. It won't matter that I married who everyone else thinks I should marry or had a hard job or had a Pottery Barn couch. More often I let people think things about me thy aren't true (like if I took a taxi to Santiago) because I want them to think that and I don't want to take responsibility for my own thoughts and feelings. I think what will matter is whether I was kind to others, loved God and did what made me happy. This is my life, given to me by God. It is mine to live. Others can make their own decisions with their lives and I need to make the decisions that are right for my life. I know that some decisions will lead to heart ache and that is what others try to protect me from. But heart ache is part of life and by avoiding it I may also be avoiding the joy that also comes from making your own decisions.

Climbing, climbing, climbing...

Long ride today!

Long ride today!
Today I stuck with the group. We rode from Astorga to Cacabelos. There were a lot of really interesting things to see along the way. We stopped at a cross where people leave rocks and other memorabilia from all over the world. I left a rock I had picked up earlier. But the Australian had brought a little koala to leave. Others had left rocks, shoes, helmets, toys, jerseys, a clock and random other trinkets. It was interesting.

We stopped for lunch in El Acebo. We ate some "mountain food.". This included some yummy mushrooms and a taste of deep fried sandwich. I am always interested in all of the buildings. Some of them were built in the 1500s. I am also intrigued by the number of abandoned buildings as we ride through Spain.

Mountain food

Poster inside the restaurant

The ride today was hilly. But the views were gorgeous. I, of course, somehow ended up on the Camino footpath (which isn't paved). When finally found or group, Martin (our guide) said, "Bet the pretty Pinarello can't do that!"  Haha...probably not! On the descent it was easy to go 55km/hr.

This guy claims to be the oldest Knight of the Templars

Tribute to a fallen German cyclist on the Camino

We ended up going on a detour. We rode through some beautiful country, along a canal on our way out of Foncebadon. Our guide, Martin, was trying to keep us of the busy road because Angela doesn't like traffic. We ended up off-reading a bit. Then John got a flat tire an we noticed a big slash in his tire. Hooray for the Gu trick! I totally saved the day!!! We rode for a bit longer until we got to Cacabelos. The rest of the group has a drink and we called Pedro to come and get them. Martin and I finished the final 10km, for a total of about 85 km for the day. I was the only one (guides included) that finished the day's entire ride! We rolled in about 8:15pm. That is the longest it took me to do 60 miles ever!!!!! I'm tired. Staying with the group meant a lot of stopping and my body doesn't like that, but it was nice to stay with the group.

We ate dinner (we're staying at a Palace!!!!!!). Then Martin and I walked around the vineyards. I'm freaking exhausted. But this place is gorgeous. I cant wait to see it in the morning.