Odds and Ends omitted, but now added.

23 Oct

People are asking me about my experience of the Camino.  Teresa Harwood Lynn who along with her husband Ben traveled the Camino in June of this year asked me a question that got me thinking.  Originally, the four of us were going to do it together, but due to scheduling conflicts, they couldn’t take the time in September.  Teresa asked me “did you love every step?  I loved every step”.  Well my answer had to be, no, I did not love every step.  Many steps were painful, many steps were hard, some steps made me tearful.  Every step was a remarkable experience to be sure, and I am awed that I did it!  Toward the end of the Camino I began to be eaten by bed bugs.  I had bites all over my legs, arms, & chest.  Paul had none, and I was breakfast lunch and dinner.  We couldn’t see them, never did see them, but I was itching, and my “plastic clothes” had to be put in quarantine as I was covered in red blotches, not to be confused with the red heat rash I got all over my body  when I suffered from a bout with heat exhaustion, earlier on our journey.  Paul didn’t get a heat rash either.   I was the first to get horrific blisters from pounding the pavement in and out of,  hot Pamplona.  He got one later on his toe.  As I already mentioned, I went from thinking I had a shin splint into having a full blown lower leg infection.  So , no I have to say, I didn’t LOVE every step…I was grateful that I, like millions of other pilgrims over the centuries was able to carry on, and I made it to Santiago, tired , exhausted, overwhelmed and tearful, BUT on my own two feet, carrying my own backpack .  I was a tremendous lesson in patience for Paul.  Bless him, I am so lucky he loves me.  33 days of me lagging behind him wasn’t always easy I’m sure!

walking along the road

 

Every step was amazing

 

Is that MY foot?

 

 

 

 

catching up after the fact

23 Oct

October 23, 2011
On Monday October 3rd, Paul and I flew from Madrid to Gatwick, and traveled by train to London, where we went to the British Museum.  Their current exhibition is Medieval European Reliquary .  The incredible  thing about the display was that it included a sterling silver scallop shell from the Camino de Santiago…from the Medieval period!  Really, what it was, was a souvenir that a well-to-do pilgrim would have bought.  Reliquary on the other hand was made to hold, perhaps a hair or bone or piece of fabric, some kind of “a relic” from a Saint. Maybe even a piece of wood from Christ’s original cross!   The bones of St James, are housed in a beautiful silver “coffin” in the Cathedral in Santiago.  The silver coffin would be an example of what we were looking at in the British Museum display.  Oh my, some pieces were made of Gold, encrusted with cabachon’s of rubies, sapphires, pearls.   Everything was just  stunning.  Relics were an integral part of  the medieval Christian belief in the miracle working power of saint’s relics.  This display showed the incredible works of art that were made to hold these said relics.  Talk about PERFECTION!!!!!  What icing on the Camino cake to view these artifacts.   I was awestruck.  Here we were pilgrims coming from the Camino, our back packs still in tow, wearing our hiking clothes and boots, trying to coat check our rucksacks in the museum.  The lady was VERY accommodating to help us.

 

In front of the British Museum

After closing the museum, we grabbed a quick pint, and “jacket potato” at the pub conveniently located across the street and headed back to the train station to travel to Derby.  Julie, Paul’s sister would be meeting us there to take us to her home in Wirksworth.  I had my REAL clothes there !!!!  As well, Grand Dad’s upcoming 80th birthday celebration !

The Madrid Experience

4 Oct

Paul booked us in to a wonderful suite accommodation fairly near the airport.  It’s about 10 km from downtown Madrid.  We spent  Saturday relaxing, and hanging around in a neighbourhood that had just about… nothing.  How strange to be here.  The park is unwatered, and dried up, there is litter everywhere.  In all fairness, the area is an industrial area, so the weekends would be pretty quiet.  Our suite however is really cool.  Bedroom, livingroom kitchen and bath.  Now had we made it to town in September, we could have had use to the HUGE swimming pool.  But alas October brings a padlock to the gate….darn.

Sunday arrives, and it’s into downtown Madrid to attend an Anglican service, and in English no less.  Whoa a block prior, and there’s Starbucks!!  Hey, a Starbucks that will not except our North American coffee card!  My “americano” was terrible!  No pitchers of milk to add your desired amount to the coffee.  Other than that we could have been in Starbucks, anywhere !  I told Paul, let’s not go to Starbucks while we are here.  He agreed.  We walked up the street to the church.  How different from what we are used to.  It felt a little bit boring to me- I felt a bit of a let down-

Off now to the Museo del Prado.  What we saw when we arrived at the main central square were hundreds and hundreds of bicyclists!  No cars, just folks on their bikes.  They were having some sort of  bike in or something.

I visited the Prado in 1969 when I was in Madrid, and it’s weird to say, I don’t remember anything about this building in front of me except, seeing some of these paintings before.  We spent several hours enjoying the works of Goya, El Greco, Velasquez, Rubens and Rafael and many others.  Paul said “I’m sick of these royal family paintings”, I said “really, I’m loving them the most”.  Most of the rest of the paintings were Biblical stories starring very European looking people.  I also quite enjoyed Rubens idea of feminine beauty, and the very round women.

Monday morning we  leave Spain, after experiencing SO much.

I will say, it will be good to finally wear my real clothes.  These “plastic clothes” as I have come to refer to them as, are really beginning to get to me.  But first , it’s off to another museum (dressed in my pilgrim’s clothes-backpacks and all) as Paul and I fly to London to go to the British Museum.

 

 

 

Santiago

1 Oct

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October 1, 2011…Our stay in Santiago was so full. Full of everything! As Paul and I stood in the square standing in front of the Cathedral, I just started crying. Paul said “we’re here,”! There were various stages of pilgrims milling around, those like us, who had just arrived, others who were a day or two in town, and some who seemed to just get off a tour bus! So much excitement, emotion, and action. I honestly felt a little overwhelmed, and shell shocked. Where were all of our people, our “community” of walkers? Enough of that, we had to find a place to stay. We ended up staying in a beautiful former seminary school, that was just magnificent. It felt almost like we were staying in a castle. Walls and floors of thick stone, floor after floor of rooms. Several floors were just for pilgrims to stay. The location was so centrally located! the Cathedral was right across the square. It truly was in the hub. My concerns about seeing our fellow pilgrims soon began to fade, we began to see all our travellers one by one. There were days ahead of hugs and sharing.
The pilgrims’ services each day in the Cathedral are attended by most. We were so fortunate, we actually got the HUGE botafumeiro (incense burner),”show”. We found out that only when someone sponsors (pays) for it, does the service include it (except on Sundays, when it is always used). It was unreal. The pipe organ “wailed” while the silver burner was swinging on a gigantic rope from the ceiling! It takes six strong men to make the darned thing swing back an forth. Paul and I were constantly amazed and very thankful with how charmed and blessed we were throughout our journey!

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Besides all the other excitement in the Center of Olde Santiago, there was a three day Medieval Festival going on. This was my favourite character walking around the square. What a kick he was. The person inside was a great actor, and had given the character a wonderfully sweet (in a gruff way) persona.

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Somehow the goodbyes weren’t so painful and sad. These people are part of my pilgrimage, they are embedded in all of my thoughts, and experiences. Of course there is a feeling of loss, because they won’t just appear around a bend on the path, in my day to day life, with a smile or an encouragement (or vice versa).

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We did hitch a ride with our Australian friends to “the end of the world”. Finisterre appeared to be just that. The tip of land that meets the Atlantic ocean! Just a vast expanse of ocean all around you. It was awe inspiring.

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As the hour of our departure got closer, I started to really feel a sense that it was time to move out of Santiago to make room for the new pilgrims. We caught a flight to Madrid this morning, which is where I sit now updating my pages to you. I’m hoping Paul can download some photos to upload them here to share. Be peaceful, and know you are loved.. Kate

Arrival

30 Sep

September 28… We’ve arrived. 795 kilometres later, and here we stand. The walk into the city is just about pounding the pavement, and ouch on the feet. It makes me so tired. Of course the oldest centers of the cities we visit are miles from the outskirts, and can make for a lot of pavement, it’s the old, “when are we gonna get there.”?
HERE WE ARE! Almost into the city area, we passed a young man coming toward us. He was walking back home to Normandy after walking to Santiago, and then Finisterre…yikes! A double Camino, but hey way back when, every journey had to have a return home, and there certainly weren’t any other forms of transportation for a pilgrim! At least Paul and I get to fly!

Arrival

30 Sep

September 28… We’ve arrived. 795 kilometres later, and here we stand. The walk into the city is just about pounding the pavement, and ouch on the feet. It makes me so tired. Of course the oldest centers of the cities we visit are miles from the outskirts, and can make for a lot of pavement, it’s the old, “when are we gonna get there.”?
HERE WE ARE! Almost into the city area, we passed a young man coming toward us. He was walking back home to Normandy after walking to Santiago, and then Finisterre…yikes! A double Camino, but hey way back when, every journey had to have a return home, and there certainly weren’t any other forms of transportation for a pilgrim! At least Paul and I get to fly!

The last walk-September 28, 2011

28 Sep

Well today is the walk into Santiago. There is no way I can express the myriad of feelings and thoughts I am experiencing. One little funny thing…when we began the Camino, it was pouring rain in France. We started out using our rain gear. Well how appropriate that today as we begin our last walk, it’s pouring rain ! I have to dig out the rain gear, step outside, and begin walking like any another day.

I will continue to update the blog as I can as our journey continues to Madrid, and then back to England. I know that Emily Irene is chomping at the bit for us to come home. Lucky (the little dog) is driving her out of her mind, and she wants to end his life. Of course I said that that would be unacceptable.

I will post this and prepare to begin. With love as always…..Kate