Monthly Archives: May 2014

Experiences On the Road


We slept last night in Carrion de los Condes in an albergue provided by the Hijos de San Vicente de Pablo. The sisters were lovely, warm and welcoming and highly huggable. They offered an oracion in their chapel last evening that included this composition. I offer it to you in the sisters’ charming translation:


The Camino de Santiago is considered a WAY INSIDE, especially for those, who do it for religious reasons. For this reason there are prayers performed during the course of what is considered the Way of Life:
*Look hear, breath deeply, find tracks and wonders contact with nature, the peoples and their people, art history, the other pilgrims the hospitaleros That’s the beauty!, Something unique! footprints
*Enjoy the silence, solitude, seeking look. Pilgrim, Friend and Companion: Jesus walks with you. He is “WAY TRUTH AND LIFE”. Sit by the slowly…
*Read his word carries inside yourself and ruminating a passage along your way alo. Jesus offers what you get in the way, what you carry in your heart, you’re looking crave, talk to your loved ones, for those who suffer … We hear each other, share the word.
*Eat your bread of life the Eucharist
*Arise with joy, pilgrim march back to “home” now begins for you the true way, the daily life, consider what you have experienced and live in gratitude on the road … The road has operated profound changes in you, live with the right and necessary, greets and smiles, serves shares help.

I think their translation is spot on, and I will carry it with me on the Way.

Poppies on the Meseta

Today I walked 20 kilometers (around 12.5 miles) with relative ease, for which I am profoundly grateful. Our Burgos rest day was healing.

Today we walked up onto the vast central plateau of the Spanish peninsula, the Meseta. I am glad to be out of the city and back in the Spanish countryside, where the silence is profound, the sky is immense, and the choices are limited. Red poppies are everywhere.


Cherubs and Skulls ( More Lessons from the Camino)


We are in Burgos. Today is day 14 of our Camino de Santiago walk. The photo above, of a sweet little angel cradling a skull, is from the nave of Burgos Cathedral. It reflects how I feel perfectly.

The Camino is so much harder than I expected. I have been tempted to bail. Then, as I walk, I reflect on the hard things I have done in my life, and how glad I was and am that I did them. These hard things include being married, being a parent, learning to teach middle school, writing a thesis, moving… I’m not saying that just because something is hard it’s worth doing. Sometimes the right choice IS to walk away.

A few days ago I was sharing foot pain stories with a pilgrim from Ireland.
Kieran’s words, “You’re a pilgrim, not a martyr,” have helped me, and a few others, on the Way. I’m not sure exactly what the difference is yet. In many ways I feel more muddled up by the Camino than clarified.

Here are a few things I DO know:
1. Don’t squat in nettles.
2. Rural Spain often smells like wood smoke and sheep dung, a surprisingly lovely combination.
3. It’s possible to feel profound intimacy with people I’ve only known for a day, and with whom I don’t share a language.
4. There are some really loud snorers in the world.
5. I will indeed be one of those people that get out the albergue door at 7:00, walk fifteen miles, check into the next albergue, shower and do hand washing, and be sitting in the “plaza mayor” drinking a well-earned beer by 3:00. I find this incredible.
6. Forty people sleeping in a room can be pretty cool.
7. Community alleviates physical pain. At least a little.

Tomorrow we walk onto the Meseta, Spain’s central plateau. It’s raining as I write. Thank you for your prayerful support and positive mojo. Ultreia!

What I’ve Learned So Far on the Camino


Only 36 hours on the Camino and I have learned so much already! Jed and I are in Zubiri, in Navarra. Yesterday we crossed the Pyrenees from France, a day that I have been worried about for months. We spent the night in Roncesvalles, in the Albergue Provincial at the foot of the Spanish Pyrenees, a monastery since medieval times. Here’s a little of what I know so far.

1. Transitions can happen when I’m not looking. We crossed from France into Spain and I didn’t know it because I missed the border sign, which I had been watching for. It didn’t matter. The transition happened anyway.

2. Mass in Spanish may still be incredible moving, probably more so than in English. I understand why people miss the Latin mass. “Esta noche, Espana es el mundo.” I cried. Of course, I was VERY TIRED.

3. What I think will be the hard part might not actually be the hard part. Twelve miles of interminable climbing yesterday was a piece of cake compared to the last two downhill miles, which hurt like a son of a bitch.

4. The oddest things evoke a visceral response. In the old church last night in Roncesvalles, there was a simple statue of St. James that spoke to my heart much more clearly than the gilded Virgen de Roncesvalles that dates from the 1400s. My response has nothing to do with my ego and everything to do with my heart.

5. Sometimes good advice is to “get up more times that you fall,” and sometimes good advice is “enough is enough.” Wisdom is probably being able to tell which one applies at any given moment. I hope I learn how to do that.

Less profoundly:

6. I really like waking to the serenading of volunteer Danish hospitaleros strolling through the dormitory singing “Wake up, little Suzy,” and “Morning has broken” at 6 am. This is a thoroughly charming ritual and I want more of it.

7. There are gigantic slugs in Spain, also.

8. Basque macaroons and pate are delicious, as is red wine from Navarra.

Most profoundly of all:

9. I am learning that I can walk farther than I thought I could (fueled primarily by cafe con leche and toast) and that I am so blessed, especially to be here with Jed.

Thank you all for your prayers and positive juju. I am grateful.

More lessons to follow.

Buen Camino!