Monday, April 12, 2010

Nearing the End

Last night I received some more photos from the hikers, and as of the time of this writing, I believe they are finished walking the trail. It's my understanding that Mom and Glenys are chilling out somewhere in northern Spain until their flight whisks them back to Canada sometime this week. Without further ado, the photos:

Sandra with a dry knapsack walking through a very long tunnel
just before the incident with the knapsack falling in the drain!

Sandra with a fisherman on his way home with a "water haul".
Some fishermen friends of mine can relate to that!

A pilgrim from South Korea who makes a few dollars playing
his drum along the way - he sang us a Korean love song

A fisherman trying his luck like others we know!

Glenys enjoying a beautiful river the first day we started walking backwards.

The iron cross at the top of a high mountain where people
bring their prayers and special requests before God.
A strenous walk to say the least

A helper from the Albergue in Astorga who showed us the way
to the train station so we could get our ticket to head to Pampalona -
we´re on on way to the station now. That algergue and its
people were very good to the two "Canadian Senoras"!

This used to be the "Bishop´s Palace."

So, I'll probably add one more post when the pilgrims return home, but other than that, this will likely be the last content from the trail itself. There's certainly a lot of fishing in Spain, and perhaps Frank should have went along and brought the fly rod. Of course, then there would have been no one to fix the ceiling in the basement. And one last thing. Bishop Cy should keep his eyes open for job opportunities in Spain. I hear there's an awful lot of walking, but the accommodations more than make up for it. ;)


Wednesday, April 7, 2010

A Quiet Easter

With Mom in Spain and Aaron and Danielle gone to Mexico (and not to mention the Spanish-speaking world under threat of tomfoolery), the rest of the Tilleys had a relatively quiet Easter.  Also, as Mom wasn't here to fulfill her traditional duty, Allison was left to "carve" the turkey.  Allison is an excellent cook... but not so much with the turkey carving.  Here's the most recent updates from the travellers.

Hi Guys
Trust you all had a Happy Easter. We got up early today, packed our knapsacks and got a taxi to the Bus Station. Bought a bus ticket and headed off to Piedafita - three hour ride (where the bus dropped us when we skipped aheaded to walk to Santiago in time for Easter). Mailed some postcards there, had some lunch and hit the trail. Walked 10kms today to Vega de Valcarce. We´ve just finished supper (8:00pm), going to head back to our room, get showered, get ready for tomorrow and then hit the old sack!!
We now have approximately 90kms to walk to get us back to Astorga - hoping to finish that sometime Friday. Guess what? There´s no rain, snow, hail or wind!! We had beautiful weather today - yay!

Then there was this message yesterday:

Hi everyone,
Well yesterday we warmed up with our first day back and did 12 kms. This morning we left Vega de Valcarce and walked to Cacabelos for a total of 26kms. This is Fiesta Night here with an orchestra set up in the square directly behind where we are staying. That will be followed by fireworks at 1:00 am! There are crowds of seniors (maybe I should say mature) dancing in the streets! I think we´ll sleep to background music tonight - that´s a fringe benefit of 26kms!!
As you know we are going reverse on the trail from Piedefieta (can´t spell) to Astorga and I have to tell you it´s a lesson in itself. It´s actually quite difficult when you have to try to see signs from behind you plus when the route takes a turn you don´t necessarily see it. In spite of all that we have found our way, not always because we know where we are going but maybe because we make the most sensible deduction and we end up in the right place by having gone there somewhat of a different route. The learning goes on - I must confess I find myself reflecting on what it all has to say about the journey of life (maybe too much time in silence!)
Things are going well and we hope to finish this section on Friday. We will hike up to Cruz de Ferro on this section (that´s where people place the rock & prayers they have brought with them)
That´s it for now
Sandra & Glenys

That's it for now. In less than two weeks they'll be back astounding us with stories.  Until then I remain most Sincerely Yours,


Thursday, April 1, 2010

No Room At the Inn

Not a lot of time to embellish today, but here are a couple of recent emails I've received. It looks like they're going to make it.
Hi everyone,
First let me say what a wonderful project on the old Stadium - I´m so proud of you Ben and so happy to have your project on our Blogsite. I´m sorry I´m missing your Heritage Fair but I´m sure mom will take some pictures that I´ll see when I get home. What a boy!! In fact two good boys (Jason & Ben) and little boy on the way (how exciting!) Never mind Allison, I´ve been a minority in my own home all my married life - thank goodness for the female dogs!
Something I forgot to include on the last blog message - the one going up the hill in the snowstorm. We were stopped on the top of one rise, taking a rest when a vehicle stopped and a man with a camera jumped out and took pictures of us trudging through the snow with our knapsacks on our back - he is a photographer for a magazine on the the Santiago Trail. So who knows we may be published BUT there was no promises! He was impressed we were from Canada, said we were use to this, to which we quickly replied we had less snow at home than in Spain.
Now let me go current again - Palm Sunday, March 28th
We´re thinking we´ve encountered just about everything since starting in Logrono on the 3rd of March, so we trudged on for approximately 24kms on a beautiful day and arrived at Portomarin. But fear not, there´s more to experience! There is no room in the inn!! Literally, the albergues are full, as are the hostels, the habitations and yes the hotel. Besides that it is 7kms to the next town - we´re too tired and the toes won´t cooperate!! So here we go - buy a foam roll up mat and bunk'er down on the floor in a sport´s facility along with approximately twenty others who can not find accommodations. Needless to say it was hard with only one inch of foam, it was cold with no heat and there was one toilet at the opposite end of the building (I only made my way there once during the night!), and open public showers in the basement (that we decided to pass up in order to conserve body temperature for the night!). We were all in the same boat and understanding of each other plus a young man and two young women from England were very kind to us and made sure we were ok. The good news - we had a roof over our head, food to eat, company, each other and God to give us courage and hope. The bad news - we woke up to rain.
A short version for yesterday - we started out in fairly light rain, it cleared away during the day, we walked through lovely countryside. The last 4 kms was torrential and we were soaked by the time we reached Palas de Rey - checked all the albergues during the last 4 kms and they were all full. You´re right - everything in Palas de Rey was blocked!! BTW Hundreds of Spanish people joined the trail last Friday, some walking all the way, some being dropped of daily by the bus load. It is traditional for many of them to walk from Sarria to Santiago (or somewhere in this area) for Easter and this is especially so this year because 2010 is a Holy Year. Again there´s good news; a young man in a hotel we checked phoned around and found another hotel 10kms off the road that had vacancies and with two young ladies who were in the same boat as us we got a taxi out there (only 9 Euros). The taxi came back for us this morning and brought us back to the trail again. We are finding the Spanish people very helpful.
Back on the trail again the morning with rain but some sun in between. Not a bad day walking. Just stopped in the Internet cafe so we could email while we ate - had a tasty pizza! Gotta hit the road Jack. We´ve walked 14.5kms so far today and need to go another 11.5 or 13.1 - let´s hope/pray there´s room in the inn tonight.
Talk later - two more days after this one and we´ll be in Santiago (where I might add we have a hotel booked!!
Probably be in touch from Santiago.
Sandra & Glenys

I received this one yesterday:
This will be a short one. It´s March 31st and tonight at midnight we Newfoundland Canadians will be celebrating our 61st birthday! Today we left Boente at 9:00am with the weather questionable and by 11:00am there was no question - it was pouring. Tonight we are in Arca after walking 24.8kms. That means we are now 18.5kms from Santiago!!! We are in an Albergue with a bed each (good considering the first two we checked were full). But look out - tomorrow we move into a hotel for three full days and nights to celebrate Good Friday, Holy Saturday and Easter Day in Santiago - how exciting is that. 
By the way we had another go at being famous today - had our picture taken (two drowned pilgrims Glenys said, I was thinking two drowned rats) and it´s going to be on Facebook identified by the date March 31st. We don´t have our address here so will have to send that later.
It´s 10:00pm so two lowly pilgrims are off to bed.
Sandra & Glenys

So again we are up-to-date.  Til next time (and have a good Easter weekend),

Monday, March 29, 2010

They're Still Going!

You'll all have to excuse my tardiness as of late.  This past week and weekend have been crazy busy around here.  A lot of mine and Ben's time have gone into his Heritage Fair Project.  We built and painted a scale model of the old Memorial Stadium.  More on this later.  First... Here's an email from the pilgrims;
Friday March 26 - What a Day! 
As I said earlier, last night was just like Christmas Eve with the Snow laden trees. We woke up this morning (in O Cebreiro) with everything completely covered in snow - an unexpected snow storm in Northern Spain that lasted Friday & Saturday. We were up, dressed and went to the restaurant next door for breakfast, took some lovely pictures and then hit the road. What a surprise we were in for - it kept snowing, the hills kept going up (we actually reached the highest peak on route to Santiago). The closest I could think of was walking up Boone Bay Hills - it was beautiful! Then the wind struck as well and we had to keep the head down, the hood sheltering the left side of our face and forge ahead. There were actually times when we had to keep our weight pushed down to hold ourselves steady. I´ve never been on the wreckhouse in a storm but that´s the thought that come to mind. We ended up walking the 23kms to Triacastela (2 more than the anticipated 21 because there was so much snow down the pilgrims had to use the road instead of the trail. In spite of how that may sound, we thoroughly enjoyed the day (excepts for the wind with the hailstone part!)

Saturday March 27 - What a Day
This time we left Triacastela with the sun shining, no snow and surrounded in green fields, sheep & cows out in the garden and beautiful tree line trails - we actually walked through a stretch of Galatia Pines, very beautiful. We had lots of uphill again today but we took our time and plugged along - enjoying the scenery and warm weather. After walking 19kms and arrived in Sarria by 4:00pm, went to the visitor´s centre and checked into our Albergue (quite nice with 20 beds - 10 bunks) Went to the Pilgrims Mass, had supper and now heading off to bed - minus one hour´s sleep!! The clocks go ahead in Spain 2:00am this morning. Hoping we might get a Palm Sunday Worship tomorrow but it´s often hard to be in a community at the right time.
Tomorrow is Uncle Mervyl´s Birthday - Happy Birthday Mervyl, have a great day and year.
We hope to head out a little earlier tomorrow (darn clocks moving at this inopportune time). We are now 113kms from Santiago - Planning to get there Holy Thursday!

Just to keep you updated, Mom and Glenys took a bus last week for approximately 100 km.  They had lost time because of the infected foot (see last chapter - J), so they took the bus to ensure that they would reach Santiago by Easter.  After Easter, I believe that the plan is to double back and hike the part of the trail that they missed.

So, all is still going well in Spain.

As I mentioned earlier, Ben and I have been busy,  Here are some photos of the fruits of our labour and Ben labouring away.

Until next time,

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Poverty, Chastity, & Obedience

"There is nothing like walking to get the feel of a country.  A fine landscape is like a piece of music; it must be taken at the right tempo.  Even a bicycle goes too fast."
~Paul Scott Mowrer, "The House of Europe"

Sandra walking on one of the trails today on route to San Miguel Albergue
in Hosptial De Orbigo just before arrival time and just before the rain

I checked my email after work today and found an email with some attached photos.  Let's get right down to it.
You must be thinking that we fell off the face of the earth - but alas No!
330km to Santiago as of March 21st
We walked 28,7 kms in the rain on my birthday; Glenys had two fancy squares and candles for the celebrations. We ate and fell into bed dead tired. We arrived in Leon early on Saturday afternoon after walking 12.4 kms and booked into the Monastery with the Nuns for the night. Later that night after Glenys (enjoying final recovery of a stomach bug) got into bed I checked my feet that had been hurting that day and saw a red streek going from my small toe up my foot - a little scary in a foreign country!. Anyway I made my way downstairs to ask about the hospital and they got Sr. Monica for me because she speaks some English. Fortunately they had a sister would was a Dr. so they got her out of bed and when she checked me she informed me that I had an infection and needed antibotics and needed to stay off my feet for a few days!
Guess you´ve heard about pilgrims walking the Camino to Santiago in order for their sins to be forgiven - Well my penance was staying in bed in Leon on a beautiful hot day! Anyway we got back on the trail lunch time yesterday (Monday) and walked for 12.6 kms to a most beautiful home where we were served a lovely supper and slept in the loft. Headed off again this morning and have walked 8.9 kms, just ate lunch and are now heading to Hospital de Orbigo, another 12.7 kms. That makes us a little behind so we´ll have to see if we can make Santiago for Easter.
Staying in Nunnery?  Picturesque I'm sure, but c'mon now.  Poverty - check.  Obedience - maybe under the right circumstances?  I'll leave it there for now, but let's just say I have visions of Whoopi Goldberg in Sister Act but without the singing.

With the gracious assistance of a gentlemen who ran one of the hostels, more photos and captions were sent along, so I'll leave them with you.

Please Enjoy,

Leon is famous for trout fishing in Spain.  See the fellow sitting out by the bridge in the middle of the city fishing to his heart´s delight.  A little different from Frank´s or Bp. Cy´s favorite Fishing Hole!!

These very big birds (ciguena) come back to wspain in the spring and make these huge nests in tall towers and lay their eggs.  Don´t miss the first & last letters of the Greek Alphabet

This was a very friendly pilgrim in a small village today who had treats laid out for pilgrims and gave myself & Glenys handfuls for our pockets.

Sandra pearched by one of the many fountains in Spain (Not sure if she meant perched or preached?  Either is possible - J)
One of our rest spots - Glenys pitched on a rock, gazing at the water and thinking that in so many ways things are like Newfoundland

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Feliz CumpleaƱos!

Mom's umpteenth birthday is on Friday, so I'm sure you all join me in wishing her a good one.  Hopefully she and Glenys don't spend the day tanked in some seedy Spanish watering hole.  For that matter, with all of the bar-hopping that's been going on over there, I'm wondering if they shouldn't have hiked through northern Mexico instead - drank some tequila and saved a fortune.

Anyway, I received this email on Tuesday past:
Just finished quite a good supper - bread ; wine, soup but I don´t know the kind, pork; fries with banana yogart for dessert. BTW they put a bottle of wine on each table. together that makes a pilgrims meal and cost us 8 euros each!!
Today we walked from Carrion to Ledigos beginning at 9:00am and arriving at 7:20 for a total of 24kms. It was a beautiful sunny day so we made a number of stops to enjoy the sights. It was mostly flat land as we are still on the Meseta. I now have my hands sunburnt but it´s a Newfoundland suntan (ie half way up my hands because of the straps on on walking sticks!!). The albergue we are in has heat in the rooms so that is a bonus.
Yesterday we walked 27kms, Sunday we walked 20 kms, Saturday we walked 20kms and Friday we walked 20kms - that gives us 111kms in five days. We have two days left in this week and would have liked to do 189kms so we´ll probably need to take 8 days to make our goal (that´s before we get to have a treat and stay somewhere other than an albegue).
Spain is pretty energy-conscious and frequently has its lights on timers so that they are automatically turned off after a period of time. This is a wonderful concept except when you are in the toilet (Spanish language) and all of a sudden you find yourself in the pitch black!! (especially an issue when you are claustrophic!!)
Looking forward to our walk again tomorrow. Going to wear our pants with the zip off legs in the event we have another bright sunny day.
My feet are doing a little better so we´ll keep trotting along. I especially like one of the Pilgrims´Prayers that Bishop Cy used at the Eucharist Blessing in Synod Office Chapel with the staff before I left. It goes like this:
Bless to us, O God, the earth beneath our feet. 
Bless to us, O God, the path whereon we go.
Bless to us, O God, the people whom we meet.
We have checked the blog and see the number of people who are following and appreciate all the support and prayers from home.
Take care;
Sandra and Glenys

Then I received this one today:

Hi Jason
Just another little update that might be helpful for the blog (you´re doing a wonderful job with it and I love your humour!). Last night we stayed in Ledigos and celebrated St. Patrick´s Day with our two Irish Friends - Patricia & Tony. Would you believe there was a bar called Murphy´s? As well myself & Glenys there were also three from the US, another Canadian and one from Holland. After we all gathered we went to the restaurant and sang Irish Songs and ate - in your imagination you can visualize me singing along!!
We are in Bercianos del Real Camino (11,3kms so far today - just had lunch) Would like to go another 18.1 but that may be too much, we´ll see. It´s a nice day, we´ve had light rain but it is beautiful right now.
Got two minutes left now to go check the blog.
Take care, say hello to Ben & Allison (& baby)

It's nice to see that they appreciate my humour, especially since most of it is at their expense.  It's funny what a new surrounding will do for you.  After all these years of living in a part of North America with such a high concentration of Irish descendants, Mom had to go to Spain to celebrate her first Paddy's Day in an Irish bar.  As to the singing... I'm not sure if Boyd Morgan is reading this or not, but as Mom's past choir master, I'm sure that he'd be more qualified to comment on her choral abilities.  At least the Newfoundland reputation for natural musical talent is being reinforced and upheld in Northern Spain.

Ta Ta until next time,

Monday, March 15, 2010

Sandra... Don't Climb the Trees!

Presumably they are still making progress. Although, after eating all of that food I can't see how anyone would have the energy to climb trees.
We hit a jackpot last night! It was a home that had a number of rooms and we had one with two single beds, toilets & showers and heat!! It had a dining room where they served a delicious supper of lentil soup, hake, salad and dessert. We shared it with 13 other pilgrims (some were staying in the adjoining aldergue). 4 of us were Canadians plus Americans, Australian, French and Spanish. The host was a young Spanish man and his family - they were wonderful with the service, friendliness and helpfulness. I was given a wonderful hot pan of water with salt and vinegar to soak my feet - what a treat!.

Up for the usual Spanish breakfast of coffee/tea (Glenys is having a field day with Spanish coffee that included half black coffee mixed with half hot milk) and toasted bread. They eat bread here by the basket load.

On the trail before 9:00 (took a pictures on their beautiful grounds). Walking along a canal with loads of scyamore trees - it´s easy to see how Zacchaeus climbed the tree to see Jesus. It´s also a nice day for walking - no snow, no ice, no rain - wow wee!!

Heading back to the trail hope all is fine at home.

Hopefully we'll have some more photographic proof in the not-too-distant future to corroborate the "alleged" trip.

Until next time,

Sunday, March 14, 2010

A Quick Note From Our Pilgrims

When I checked my email this morning, here's what I found:
We´re stopped here at a bar in Itero de la Vega for lunch so dropping a note to say hello and let you know how things are going.Last night we were in Castrojeriz at an albergue for the night but unfortunately there was absolutely no heat on the second floor where we were and very little on the first floor. We wore our clothes to bed and put a blanket over our sleeping bag but it was still pretty cold - forget the shower in these conditions, a little bit of dirt never hurt anyone!! We´ve been walking through the Meseta which is basically flat rolling hills with occassional steep assents - this morning we went up 900 meters over 1.2 kms. What a view when we got there. The Meseta also means there is a fair cold wind blowing. I still have some trouble with my feet but I think it´s a bit better. We hope to be in Leon by the 18th or 19th depending on these feet of mine (prayers for feet never go astray) and then we´ll take a night in the Hotel - oh the luxuries of life! We are going to Boadilla del Camino or Fromista tonight. Hopefully we´ll get somewhere where we can send some photos soon.
Myself & Glenys are getting along fine, not even a cross word - must be family or friend or something or maybe survival works best in twos. I think that´s biblical isn´t it?

Hope yu are all fine. Take care

So, all seems to be well. Can' t help but wondering though... did 10th century pilgrims spend this much time in bars?

Until next time,

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Sandra in Spain, Take Two

First of all, faithful readers, let me apologize for the false start. I encountered some technical issues that I won't get into right now. Suffice it to say, I think we are out of the woods now, and the timing couldn't be better. Just the other night I received a couple of emails and a small sampling of photos from our heroes.

The text in italics are quotes pulled directly from Sandra's emails to me. Enjoy!

The picture of me holding the pussy willows is a reminder of the late spring they are having in Spain with much colder temperatures than normal. The weather reminded me of Newfoundland and the Pussy Willows reminded me of the ones Frank use to bring home for me in May. Tomorrow (March 8th) there is snow forcasted - like I said it reminds me of home!

The picture of myself and Glenys is the day we started. It was a beautiul day and we walked from Lorgono to Navarrete. This was only 13 kms but we thought this would be a good warm up! We stayed at a wonderful Albergue with another couple from Spain. We just finished day 4 and I have two blister and yes, Glenys has one!

The picture of the plate of food is Tapas. This is a traditional food here that is often served in bars. Ours had shrimp, octopus, mussels, red pepper, onions and is in a vinegar marinade. The specific contents vary from one part of Spain to another. The weather is out of season but the food is tasty and enticing.

I also received this email update today after work:

We hope to arrive in Burgeos Wed night (that´s tomorrow) and we´re going to take a day off. I have a few not so nice blisters plus we would both like a rest and a look around Burgeos. The past two days have been winter weather with snow and quite cold temperatures. I´ve had to be inventive and use a pair of socks as mittens!! This is unexpected weather so there aren´t gloves readily available to buy. We stayed in an albergue last night who´s only heat source was a wood stove in the kitchen - we went to bed with extra clothes and two blankets ontop of our sleeping bag. We had a fellow from Germany in the place with us. We´ve been walking on clay roads for these two days so when the sun comes out we are walking in muck that clogs to our boots.

Having said all that, we are having a good time. Tonight we are in an albergue in Ages. There´s lots of heat and we are quite comfortable. However we did wash out our only two pair of pants that were caked in mud almost up to our knees. I hung mine on the rail outside the door and took them in frozen!! We all have our clothes spread oround the place to dry.

Drying pants out on a frozen rail? Wearing socks as gloves and falling asleep fully-dressed in a sleeping bag? This sounds more like May 24th weekend in Butterpot Park! Then again, who am I to judge.

Although, it has occurred to me that none of us actually witnessed them getting on the plane. Bear with me for a moment and have a look at that photo of Sandra and Glenys sitting on the bench. I'm beginning to think that they're having us all on. I wouldn't be surprised to find out that they waited for us to leave the airport, jumped in a taxi, and are no doubt currently camping under the bridge in Bowering Park.

Time will tell. I'll keep you all posted, and in the meantime, if you spot any female hobos hiking around Southside Road, give me a call.