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Archive for May, 2013

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When I last wrote, I was experiencing intense foot pain. It appears to not be a stress fracture (yay!) but a combination of painful bone spur, plantar fasciitis, and achilles tendonitis, topped off with a big blister!

I’ve been doing a lot of stretching, taking anti-inflammatories, drinking more water, and attempting to stay off my foot as much as possible.

Staying off my foot has included taking a taxi twice – once for the whole stage, once for half. I took a taxi to Astorga and stayed an extra day there at a hotel across from the Gaudi Palace (pictured above). One was allowed to take photos inside without a flash, so I snapped a few:

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The next day’s walk was fairly flat. About four miles in, I saw a sign that my destination for the evening was nine miles away, and I knew I could make it!
The beautiful scenery helped:

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The next day’s walk included a bit of a climb and a visit to the Cruz de Ferro. Pilgrims traditionally bring a stone from home to leave there as a symbol of something they’d like to release. (I added physical pain to my request!)

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Going up the mountain wasn’t hard, but coming down was a bit tiresome. I met a wonderful gentleman from Australia whose presence helped me tremendously! Angels are indeed everywhere, as is beautiful landscape!

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Next stop was Ponferrada. The Templar Castle was quite imposing, but also not open the day I was there. The history of this area includes a lot of fighting over religion. I hope one day we won’t do that anymore!

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Yesterday was a walk halfway, taxi halfway day. Walking on pavement hurts the most, so it was a smart choice for me. I am taking another rest day before some more mountain climbs, but am optimistic I can walk the rest of the way.

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When last I checked in, I had just began my trek across the meseta. Seemingly never-ending fields. Some find it boring; me, being a wanna-be farmer, loved it. Well, except for the long stretches imbetween servicios!

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The weather in Spain has been colder than normal, as I understand. Snow in towns I’ve passed. Snow in towns ahead. I’m luckily missing the bad weather! Though the photo above was taken right before a sleet/hail event. Made me laugh to think of that kind of weather in May!

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For several days, a small group of us took the road less travelled. The picture above doesn’t capture it well, but I kept thinking I was walking through a Monet painting.

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Above, I am at the town that guidebook author John Brierley says is the halfway point.

I’m almost to Astorga now and having some intense foot pain. It feels like a stress fracture, but I’m hoping for tendonitis, as that would mean I could continue.

Today I took a taxi out of Leon and walked only six miles to a lovely casa rural. The very simple walk took me five hours! I must have looked a sight, hobbling down the road, since pretty much everyone asked if I was alright.

This sweet, young, gorgeous Frenchman told me he was jealous of me because it was obvious I was suffering for the Camino. I didn’t have the heart to tell him that I’ve suffered enough in my 50 years and the Camino was supposed to be fun … I guess we are all here for different reasons!

So I’m taking a bus or taxi to Astorga tomorrow and staying there for two nights. Probably the only sightseeing will be to the Museum of Chocolate. Yum!!!

Then, depending on how things are, I either continue walking or come home. I kept telling myself today that it’s about the journey, not the destination. And even if I don’t end up being able to complete my walk, I’ve had a life-changing journey.

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I turned 50 years old this year and one of my goals is to read 50 books. The last two books I read have the same title: Life After Life.

(Sorry, no downloaded pics from Amazon as I’m traveling.)

The first book I read was by Jill McCorkle, an author who lives in my neck of the woods. I’ve read several of her works, including Tending Virginia, about a family dealing with alzheimer’s disease. Her Life After Life is about residents in a nursing home, along with several townspeople that work with the residents, and a lonely 8-year-old girl who befriends many of the residents.

It’s not necessarily a happy book, considering the main topics of growing old, dying, and not fitting in to society.
Still, I enjoyed reading it and I only hope when (if) my time comes to need hospice care, that I have a helper as nice as Joanna.

Kate Atkinson’s Life After Life felt much “heavier” to me as it deals with war. Oh, and this little topic of reincarnation. The main character, Ursula, keeps re-living the same life, making different choices along the way. How many of us have wondered what would have happened had we made a different choice?

Poor Ursula had some rough lives!

I did enjoy this book and it does have me thinking about actions and their consequences, as well as what it would be like to live through a war. Yes, there have been/are wars in my lifetime, but I haven’t lived in a war zone.

These books are so different, it’s funny they have the same name. One of my friends went to a reading by McCorkle, who addressed the title issue. It doinds like there’s a database with all published titles. McCorkle and her publishers checked the database, but little did they know the Atkinson book was going to be released at the same time. Supposedly both books have benefitted from the situation. I know I read the Atkinson book because of it.

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One of my pipe dreams before starting the Camino was to buy land over here, amd have a little farm and casa rural. The place for sale pictured above was located right next to a monastery outside Najera, surrounded by mountains. Incredibly beautiful!

I love it here, but don’t think I’ll be buying land here. The dream has shifted to creating a similar space in the U.S. But that’s for later…

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More countryside on the way to Santo Domingo de Calzada. It poured this day, but luckily we got to our hotel before the deluge really hit. Got to hear the nuns sing vespers.

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The road to Burgos was quite rocky in several respects… We missed a cut-off and had to literally walk on the highway for awhile.

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The famous Burgos cathedral was huge. I was too tired at this point to do a tour, so just admired from outside.

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Instead of tours, I sat outside by the river and watched people go by.

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We are now in the meseta, lots of fields of grain. Surrounded by green!

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There was an area where people made cairns from all the rocks.

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This is a ruin of a monastery of monks following St. Anthony of Egypt. The guidebook talked about him being a patron saint of animals and of his followers using the healing power of love to ward off evil and cure illness.

I’m currently in Castrojeriz, and wide awake at 2:30 in the morning… Hoping to get back to sleep as tomorrow is close to 16 miles of walking. Did 19 miles the other day. I know some folks begin with high mileage, but I’m glad I didn’t. My feet are also glad to not have to do 19 every day!!!

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I’m outside San Juan de Ortega, Spain, which I think is about 350 miles away from my destination of Santiago de Compostela.

My friend S. and I are making great progress, and should have plenty of time to walk to Finisterre and Muxia.

Here’s a few more photos from my Camino. Keep in mind most photos are on my camera.

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Me, being a tourist on front of the pilgrim statue at Alto de Perdon.

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I should have posed in front of the dog!

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In Navarra.

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Also in Navarra, probably on way to Los Arcos. I wish I knew what those pink bushes are, and whether I could grow them in North Carolina.

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On the way to Navarette. This day was by far the hardest for me. The path was mostly pavement, my pack hurt for the first (and hopefully only!) time, and my feet were killing me. Mama said there’d be days like this…

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Church of the Assumption at Navarette. Quite ornate!

Again, having trouble posting, so that’s it for now. Hope all is well in your world. Mine is amazing!

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I’m posting a very few photos from the Camino. As noted before, 99.99 percent of my photos are on my camera and I’m unable to put them on my phone, which I’m using to post this.

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The photo above was from the second day, on the way to Zubiri. Note the snow on the mountains. It actually sleeted some the first night in Roncesvalles.

My friend S. and I were late getting going that morning, so we luckily missed the downpouring of rain. Not so luckily, we also missed a chance at a room in a pension or hotel. We did manage to snag two of the last spaces in a private albergue. Some folks we met later in the week had to walk to the next town, where there were also no rooms. They then had to catch a taxi to Pamplona in order to have a place to sleep!

To be honest, I had a huge fear of albergues since I have such a hard time sleeping. I’m also pretty congested and was told I snored. Sorry, everyone!

So now S., who is fluent in Spanish, is calling ahead to book us each rooms in pensions. Some of them are just a little more than the cost of private albergues, and I don’t have to worry about keeping anyone awake at night.

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I took the photo above on the trek from Zubiri to Pamplona. Slop, slop, slop through mud for the first few days.

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We stayed two nights in Pamplona so we could see some of the sites. The photo above is of a building near the hotel where we stayed. I took it so I wouldn’t get lost! So many little streets and plazas!

WordPress is not letting me upload any more photos. We’re currently walking through rolling hills of beautiful farmland. I had soil envy for days! But then I went around a bend in the trail and the soil turned to clay. Not so envious now since that’s what I’m working with at home.

The wildflowers are beautiful. Fields of canola with its yellow flowers. Red poppies. Purples and pinks and whites everywhere. Olive trees. Grape vines.

A few notes: I had been journaling on the Notes app on my phone, since I don’t always have internet access and that app would work, regardless. But then, a few days ago, most of my notes disappeared. There’s a few from the time in Paris, but everything else has gone to the great note-eater in the sky. I guess I didn’t need to remember exactly what happened those days!

Generally, the first part of the walk was a lot harder than I anticipated. Some of that may have been due to my training on hills, not mountains. A good part was due to the muddy path, some of which was fairly eroded. If anyone plans to do this walk, I’d advise train, train, train!!!

I’m glad I walked for months with my pack, and for the last month with it at its current weight of about 20 pounds.

The people both on and off the trail have been very friendly. There’s a trusting and open heartedness here that I want to carry home with me.

I had been told that one of the main ways to create friendships is by staying in the albergues. That may be true, but one can still make friends on the trail, in the bars and cafes and restaurants, snd even in the pensiones. There’s a group of people I’ve seen about every day, and we always have a quick chat. We’re about to do some detours, so those folks will end up ahead of us. But, there’ll be new people to meet.

On another note, I have had trouble eating. Wait, let me rephrase that … I have had trouble eating what I would consider a healthy diet for me— vegan with lots of veggies. There’s plenty to eat, believe me! I’ve always had access to salad, and tonight even had a delicious bowl of vegan white beans. But I’ve also had a lot of white bread and dairy. I actually do best when I buy salad fixings, canned beans or canned veggies at the supermercados rather than trying to eat out. But part of this trip is about accepting who I am, regardless of what I look like, and letting go of things beyond my control, so I am vowing to do the best I can and not obsess over my weight or food choices.

I have also had some powerful spiritual experiences, but that’s for another time. Siesta is over, so it’s time to stock up at the supermercado!

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