This time last year I was in the City of Leon, celebrating my 64th birthday.  Yesterday I celebrated my 65th, I consider my magical year.  The celebration started on the 1st of September as it was the day I became eligible for Medicare.  Is that a good reason to celebrate?  I think so.  On Friday, the 13th, I drove up to Camp Sacramento, over 7,000 ft high, to attend the Echo Summit Contra dance weekend; a 3-day camp of contra dancing, music, dancing with contra dancers and meeting new ones.  Thoroughly loved the exhausting 3 days of dancing.  What a way to live my passion. 

Last year, I took 2 full complete days of rest.  My walking partner was Carol and we decided to take off from our walk to spend the weekend and stay at the Parador in Leon.  Awesome city to rest.

In the year since I returned from my pilgrimage in Spain, the changes I’ve made have impacted my life.  I’ve tried to be more patient and accepting.  I’ve decided to really live my passions.  Romantic life has been sporatic but have accepted that I may live this life alone.  Of course, I’m leaving this part of my life in the hands of God. 

I traveled to Hawaii twice; once to the Big Island to attend a full week of contra dancing and attend a niece’s wedding in Maui.  I met a gentleman in the Big Island and flew to Maui three months later and enjoyed 10 days of happy times in the island.  I flew to Atlanta in May to attend a dance camp and met so many nice contra dancers, where I was advised where there are many contra dance camps in the country.  One of my desire is to someday visit Boston and I will get that opportunity next month to visit that city and then attend a dance camp in Maine.  As you can see contra dancing is one of my passions.  Love the energy of this dance and the friendly atmosphere of the dancers.  You can see the smile on the faces of them.

Since my pilgrimage to Santiago, it’s been on my mind to go back again.  God willing and my good fortune to have excellent health, I hope to do another pilgrimage.  Plan is to start in Lisbon, Portugal.  I have some concerns starting in this city as the distance/walks are anywhere from 18-20 miles from one lodging to the next.  It looks like the first six stages of the walk will be long.  I’m reading the blogs of several pilgrims who are on the journey now who are commenting on hot weather and long weary walks.  However, they all talk about the beauty of the country and the nice Portuguese citizens they have encountered.

I’m excited about the journey next year.  I’m continuing my walks, at least 5 days a week and plan to train at least 6 months before I leave, longer walks carrying my pack. 

For those who are now receiving my blog, I will be starting a new blog, with a new address.  If you’re interested in reading my blogs, let me know and I will share the new address.  Currently I have not created the new address.

The best to you all.

Lil

 

 

After 52 days of travel, I’m home now for a week. Back to normal home life. I just haven’t taken the time to walk. A scheduled walk on Monday was canceled due to rain. I scheduled a 6-mile walk tomorow morning. No rain in the forecast.

Although my feet is fine, it is not 100% back to normal. Noticed I’m losing one toe nail. No pedicure yet for Marilyn and Elizabeth.

My pilgrimage clothes worked very well. I loved my REI hiking pants. They were sturdy and held up for the 33 days. I did purchase a pair of tights to sleep in which I threw out when I got home. I lost a pair of undies, don’t know where; one of my bike gloves (I know where I dropped it). The only items I didn’t use were the small Trek & Travel pocket shampoo, hand wash and body wash. Didn’t need them. I loved my small pocket Swiss knife which I also lost. Thought I placed it inside my shoes which I boxed up and mailed home along with my sleeping bag, trekking poles and small other items. But couldn’t find it when I opened the box. I used my bladder water container a lot and glad I took it with me. I couldn’t reach the side pockets of my backpack so it was really easy to drink from my bladder. Would recommend taking the poles and bladder. I decided not to bring flip flops but ended up buying a pair. I thought my Teva sandals would work in the showers but it was cumbersome. I believe my pack weighed 14 lbs and a bit more when I carried another bottle of water and my hiking books. Speaking of hiking boots, I probably wore them 90% of the time. Toes just were not happy when I wore the boots, especially when I was going down. Toes hit the top of my shoes and were just uncomfortable. Something I need to work on as I hike more.

Trip to Paris was awesome. It is a city to see; lots of museums, churches, history, restaurants, great food, especially the pastries, and historical drama. Charlie and I did a lot of walking. Museums were awesome. Love the D’Orsay, my favorite. Walked up 670 steps to the second level of the Eiffel Tower. Walked to the top of Arc de Triomp Etoile, 284 steps. Couldn’t help but notice the number of steps. Just me being a walker! I wish we had taken less days in Paris to find a smaller village or town to wind down. Paris has a lot to offer but it was crowded with tourists even though it rained quite a bit. I would come back again as there were a lot we didn’t see or experience.

Of course next time I will learn the language. I was getting mixed up, speaking Spanish. I don’t know very many French words or phrases. I have an App on my IPhone to translate English to French. But the pronunciation is a challenge. The few I knew I tried to teach Charlie. He sounded like a Texan.

Trying to download my pictures into my PC and hopefully add music to all the photos I took during my pilgrimage walk. I’ve been asked to make a presentation to my senior meetup group and to show the many pictures I took would be magnificent. I just need to get some help in creating the video.

I’ve been in contact with two of my pilgrim friends – Carol from England and Annemieke from South Africa. These are the two ladies that I walked with for many days. I was separated from Carol after Rabanal when she stayed in a different albergue and got ahead of me when she had taken a taxi with Barbara from Germany. All of us are back in our home countries. I hope someday to see them again. I’ve not been in England and that is in my bucket list. And perhaps I’ll add South Africa as well.

I think often of my trip to Spain. It was an incredible journey, one I will remember for years to come. I was asked if I would do it again, or even perhaps lead a group. Yes, I would do it again, but maybe another route. There were, however, many villages and places I missed on the Frances Way, such as the monastery in Samos. There is a route from Portugal that leads to Santiago. I’m considering that. Lead a group? That’s a difficult question. Each person has their unique requirements and experience. It wouldn’t be fair to expect everyone to follow me. But maybe, I don’t know.

For now, thanks to my followers; hope to see all of you soon. And to my pilgrim friends until we meet again!

Lil

This morning I set out to the Cathedral to attend the noon Pilgrim’s Mass. I’m glad I left early and was there 45 minutes before Mass started. Was able to find a place to sit with John from England. There were several other pilgrims that I recognized. Because it is Feast of the Angels they perform the swinging of the giant incense burner Botafumeiro. It was originally used to fumigate the sweaty and possibly disease ridden pilgrims. Now it is only conducted infrequently. I was quite surprised that they did this ceremony after the Mass. Some people had said it was being conducted at the evening Mass.

I can’t explain the powerful emotion I felt when they performed it. Wow! I was not able to capture the burner when it was swinging from side to side, so my pictures did not come out well.

Tomorrow I leave for Kaiserlautern Germany to visit a former co-worker and his wife. I’m returning back here on Sunday on a layover to Madrid. My two earlier walking companions Lana and Mandy will be here so I may have an opportunity to see them before I leave for Madrid. It will be a joy to see them as they were the first walking pilgrims I met when I started in Pamplona. I didn’t see Carol and I had hoped to see her again. I had a drink with Barbara from NZ yesterday afternoon and she said Carol had arrived a day ago. I met other pilgrims I had walked with in the last few weeks last night. They were celebrating. i was asked to join them to Finisterre as several of them were driving there. i wanted to spend the whole day here in Santiago and attend the Mass so i turned down the offer. I’ll save Finisterre for next time.

And today I spent the afternoon with Jan and Mariane. We had a wonderful day shopping, eating lunch and buying local food for supper. Thanks ladies!

And now I want to thank all of you who have followed my blogs. Love you all!!
Gracias!

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Thank you for maintaining the path/trails to the Camino de Santiago.

Thank you for the yellow arrows to point which way to go. I used two guidebooks which were very helpful to determine how many kilometers before reaching a village/city and other useful information but you can easily get lost w/o the arrows. Especially helpful when you reach a point where there are several choices. Which way? Where’s the arrow? Once you see the arrow you know you’re heading the right way.

Thank you for the little villages in between where you left and the one you want to go. The dogs which I had feared behaved. Didn’t need my whistle. But of course it wouldn’t have helped me since it was inside my pack.

Thank you for the bars/cafeteria for serving us pilgrims with cafe con leche, tortillas, croissant, bocadillos to energize and sustain us so we can continue our journey each day.

Thank you farmacias for helping us mend our pain and injuries. They always knew what we needed. Just point to your feet. Quite funny when I had a cold, and it was like playing charade to let her know I need cold medicine. Just cough.

Thank you to the many churches where they held pilgrim masses and gave us special blessings for a safe journey.

Thank you for the albergues and hostels for maintaining beds for us. Where do you find a place to stay for 5 euros?

Thank you for the incredible weather. In my 33 days, there were only two days of rain. At least I had a chance to use my raincoat and pack cover.

Thank you for the amazing views & incredible mountains. Spain is a beautiful country.

Thank you for the statues and other religious artifacts on the roadside.

Thank you for the old cathedrals.

Thank you for the people who served us.

And lastly, thank you, Saint James.

Muchas gracias Espana!

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Need to get out earlier than I normally start out to get to Santiago by noon. Will be there until the 3rd and since I’m arriving 4 days earlier, I will be flying to Frankfurt to visit a former co-worker Tony and his wife Cathy. I’m happy to get a chance to see them both. He was involved in a very serious car accident back in July.

To be continued …..

Got to Santiago before noon but it was quite a walk to get to the old town where the Cathedral is located and to get to office to get my credential.

Leaving the hotel this morning overwhelmed me. It was just a bit dark so I had my head lamp on until I could see better. The trail was again lined with eucalyptus trees so the fragrance was nice. It was also a bit foggy. Later the sun came out. Interesting that the woman I walked with later in the morning was a Canadian nurse whom I’ve heard about.

Her backpack was stolen before Leon when she put it down at the side of road while she went to relieve herself. She was done when she heard a car door closed and was in time to see a van leave and her backpack was gone. Her passport & half of her money were in her pack. She tells me the story that she had to go to Leon to report the crime and had to stay for the weekend. She later went to Madrid to obtain a temporary passport. She didn’t let this episode ruin her Camino but when she was in the Metro train in Madrid to return, a pickpocket tried to open her fanny pack; she caught the act in time so she didn’t lose anything. She’s just glad that she was not hurt. The sad thing is that there were two men who were acting suspiciously around her before her pack was stolen. Sometimes you just need to trust your instinct.

Lesson learned–watch where you leave your belongings.

Coming into city was a bit disappointing to me. The city of course is modern and commercialized. It was a little difficult to find your way to the Cathedral. It seemed like I walked forever. The headstone marking when I started indicated I had 14 km until Santiago, but I suspect I walked more than that.

My name that they write on the certificate is in Latin. So my Latin name is Lilianam. Pretty cool.

After finding my hotel (more walking), I was exhausted and feel asleep for a short nap. I later got up to go back to the Cathedral. I wanted to see the inside of the church.

Met Jan and Mariane as they were leaving the Cathedral. Made plans to meet them tomorrow to attend the Mass and have lunch.

The inside of the Cathedral is incredibly beautiful. I walked around and entered a room behind the altar where you walk up behind St James statue and place your hands on his shoulder. I am touched and now overwhelmed on completing my journey. I cannot believe I walked over 400 miles. I can remember my first day in Pamplona and the first few days that follow, unsure if I can continue. Did it get easy? No! Each day brought challenges but I became more confident. I’ve enjoyed the many people I’ve met and I believe some will be long time friends even though they live in different countries and live far away. We all shared the same agony and pain and of course the goal to get here. We all had personal reasons why we chose to do the Camino. What an experience. I am very grateful and thankful to the Lord for allowing me to complete this walk .

Praise to The Lord.

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Last 14 kilometers! I can’t believe I walked over 27 km today. The Advil did its thing in masking the pain on my left top foot. I was limping along until I stopped an hour later and had some tortilla for breakfast so I can take the pills. Walked a bit with a lawyer from Texas (funny I discovered later that I met his girlfriend whom I walked with two days ago). I stopped for lunch where I met up with Jan & Mariane from Canada. We talked about stopping at Santa Irene for the day; however, when I got there, there were two albergues by the highway and didn’t find the two ladies so I decided to keep walking. Was on a roll until I got to a forest serene area. Eucalyptus trees surrounded the trail.  However, no other pilgrim in sight. By then I started getting concern as there was no one behind or in front of me. When I finally got to an open area I was close to a hotel and it is now just past 4 pm. I decided this is my stop for the day. I normally stop walking around 3. I am glad that I did continue walking as I am much closer to Santiago. There’s a Mass at noon tomorrow at the Cathedral. I will try to get there by then but I still have a 4-hr walk.

Met an Australian couple, very cute and enjoyed having dinner with them. Thanks Mick for the Limon/cerveza.

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I thought I would only walked 20km today. I ran into Michael from DC and when we arrived in Melide famous for their octopus dish, well, just need to try it. So we had cerveza and a plate of the dish, very good, not chewy but just right. I would have liked some tobasco sauce to spice it up a bit .

I’m staying in a B&B house . My two Canadian (Nova Scotia) friends were here already (village called Castaneda)and stopped me to check it. Wow nice room, all decorated, provided their own toiletries and towels. What a find!

I’m a happy pilgrim. And I almost stayed earlier in an albergue, so glad I kept walking. Angels are definitely keeping an eye on me. Had walking companion to talk to, some quiet time to pray and now a wonderful room to get some sleep. No snorers!

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