O’ Cebreiro, O’ Man! 

Well, we made it to O’ Cebreiro! The climb that has loomed before us for weeks has now been conquered! After checking in to our albergue on top of the world, getting settled in and taking care of our arrival duties, we went for lunch. Ryan and I had the Galician soup which was delicious! Scott had a pasta dish. Scott and I each had a cervesa with lemonade which is really quite refreshing. 

By then it was 3 PM and that could only mean one thing….SIESTA! With what strength I had left, I climbed up on my top bunk. My sleeping bag had the familiar and comforting smell of analgesic cream. I snuggled into my bag amidst talking pilgrims who had made the same climb. I considered putting in my earplugs and donning my eye mask to shut out the noise and light. Somehow, I couldn’t. Much like the analgesic cream, there was something comforting about the buzz in the room. I heard Miriam, the German girl I got the giggles with one night at a communal dinner in our albergue, visiting with a friend. I heard laughter rise from Doris, one of Ryan’s and my first roommates the night we arrived in St Jean Pied de Port. I heard other exhausted but happy pilgrims chattering in other languages and greeting those just stumbling in from the day’s climb. I lay there wrapped in this beautiful experience called the Camino de Santiago. I felt whole and happy and it wasn’t long before I drifted off.

Tomorrow we start the descent and the final days of our walk. It’s time to start processing the fact that this experience is coming to a close. In the past few days, the topic has begun to come up. When it has, we all manage to touch lightly on it then quickly change the direction of conversation. It’s inevitable that these random paths that have converged in Spain will all head back from where they came. It will be very sad to say goodbye but when we do we’ll each take the richness of friendship and experience with us. 

I can’t help but wonder if each of us returns home with a bit more understanding and care for our fellow humans. Maybe the Camino has a way of showing us we’re all the same regardless of race, nationality, gender or religion. We all want to be loved, understood and accepted. My hope is that I come home with the fragrance of the Camino on me and it permeates my life, home and community. 

On the Road Again!

Quick update. After not walking for one day, the worst day of the Camino for me, I’m back walking! Today’s walk was beautiful and exhilarating. So, so happy to be doing so well. Tomorrow we have a 19 mile walk and the day after a bit shorter walk with a very high, steep ascent. We passed Cruz de Ferro today which was amazing! I’ll have to post photos later because again, we have no wifi. 


I’m 21 days in with 11 to go. I’ve climbed and descended a 4100 foot mountain in the rain and cold, walked across a long plateau in the heat, traversed 4 large cities, walked through forests and along busy highways. Through it all I’ve felt strong and capable. 

Today I hit a wall! Smack! Last night I discovered a large blister under a callous on my right heal. I did my best to drain it and patch it up but blisters under callouses are really hard to treat. I’m not sure if it was the sudden attention on my feet or that my feet have simply had enough but during today’s walk my feet started screaming out in unison. Next, it was the pad on my left foot, then it was the pinky toe on my right foot, then the muscles and tendons decided to have their say. With two miles to go, my normal gait slowed to a hobble. 

They say the Camino provides. This has proved out true for myself and so many others along the way. Two days ago, Scott reserved a room at a nice hotel here in Astorga because he had an important business call that required strong wifi and a quiet place to work. I had told him I would likely stay in the albergue so I could stay focused on the Camino. I was quite adamant in my mind! Funny how things change. At this moment, I’m snuggled under a warm, fuzzy blanket in a bed that allows you to raise your feet up. My head is on a big, fluffy pillow. Analgesic cream is slathered all over my legs and Ibuprofen is pumping through my blood. I’m listening to my dear husband’s soothing voice on his call. I’m very cozy and happy right now and I may not move for the rest of the night! 

I have a decision to make though. Most people take rest days. I chose not to. So, tomorrow I either send my bag and have a very slow walk day or I simply take a bus to the next destination and let my body heal. The thing is, we have 5 very demanding days up next. Each day is either an 18-19 mile day or has steep ascents and descents. Day after tomorrow, we pass Cruz de Ferro. No way am I missing that!! I also don’t want to miss the climb up to O’ Cebreiro. So, I’ll just lay here under my cozy blanket and figure out what tomorrow looks like for me. 

The goal here is to get to Santiago. Everyone has their own Camino and we’ll see what mine ends up looking like. If I decide to take a bus, I’ll have no shame. It simply doesn’t matter. I didn’t come with this thought though. I came determined to walk every step carrying my backpack. In my idealistic and inexperienced expectation, it would be shameful to allow myself to do anything less. What I’ve come to know is that expectation is a harsh master. It tells you that you’ll never be good enough. That if you don’t make the mark, you’ve lost. Our good friend, Paul Young says, “Expectation is disappointment waiting to happen.” 

I’ll keep you posted as the story develops. Right now, my feet are the authors.

Things to Know When Using the Toilet in Spain

1) Expect to have toilet paper, soap and paper towels but never all three in any one bathroom. And many times none of the above. 

2) If you plan on spending more than 2 minutes in the stall, know your surroundings because the lights are on a timer and will leave you in the dark slapping the wall to find the switch. If the light switch is outside the door into the room with the sink, memorize where the doors are so you can get out both doors in the dark. 

3) Never get in front of an older woman who is in desperate need of the toilet. Though you tell her you don’t understand Spanish, she goes on and on about her health issues, pantomiming the details of her ailments. 

So, now you know. 

Two Weeks and 200 Miles 

….and man, does it feel like it! I feel great! My back is strong. My knees are doing well. I’m not slathering my body with Tiger Balm (analgesic cream) or downing the Ibuprofen anymore. Everyday is fairly easy after the initial warmup in the morning. The meseta has been very peaceful with warm sunshine and a cool breeze. The past two days an easy 12 miles each. 
Last night we stayed in a sleepy little village with very few beds to offer the tired pilgrims who came stumbling into town through early evening. Many were turned away to walk or taxi to the next town. Some slept two in a tiny, twin bed and some slept outside on the steps of the cathedral. We were so grateful to have arrived early enough to get beds! 
Our friend, Nadav from Israel cooked a family dish for lunch called Shashooka. It was so delicious! I love how so many here want to share their culture through shared meals.
Later, we heard there was a bar in town run by two Irish sisters. The rumor was that not only did they have good food but there would be live music! So, our plan was to scout it out then go back to the albergue to get organized for the next day’s departure. Once there, we were immediately offered a cold drink by Emma, one of the sisters. An Irish couple we’d met a few days prior was there helping set up for the night’s dinner. So, we stayed and enjoyed the lively company. As the night went on we ended up at a table with five Irish people. The night was filled with laughter, good food and music. After the main act, Nadav got up and led the crowd in a few songs. It was all very fun! That is until we got back to the albergue. All lights were out and my things were all over the place! My phone didn’t provide enough light to find what I needed so I just went to bed with my clothes on and hoped in the morning I could pull myself together, again in the dark.
After a not so restful night in a hot room, I threw everything in my pack hoping I hadn’t left anything. With clothes on from the day and night before I pulled my boots on and tromped on to the next town. It was another beautiful walk through the meseta. Once checked into the albergue, you can bet the first thing I did before leaving for dinner was get organized!