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.