DAY 37 KEEP IT CLEAN

Today I’m going to stand on my soapbox and make a statement about energy consumption.

I just got done doing some laundry. In my broken Spanish and the manager’s broken English I managed to find out where the hotel washer and dryer are. The washer is next door at the albergue (hostal) and the dryer is the rack set up on the hotel veranda where guests can sit in the sun and enjoy a late afternoon drink. Apparently they don’t mind sipping a glass of vino tinto while my bloomers flap in the breeze.

Everyone has a clothesline in their yard. The few apartments we’ve stayed in have washing machines but not dryers. They did each have a rack to set on a balcony or inside to dry clothes.

Couldn’t we cut back a little on energy consumption and hang our clothes in the sunshine? Think of the added benefit of how good clothes smell when they’ve been dried outside. You can even exercise while hanging laundry. Put some wrist weights on while you hang your wash.

Now that we’ve taken on the laundry we can start working on motion detector lighting in hallways and bathrooms.

DAY 36 THE PRIMITIVO

Yesterday we walked to Palas de Rei on the Camino but were unable to get accommodations so we taxied off the Camino to a b&b with the intention of taxiing back in the morning to pick up where we left off.

As it happened the b&b was located right on the Camino Primitivo. It is said that in the 800s when the bones of St. James were discovered, Alfonso II (or Alfonso III, or the Bishop of Cluny, no one is sure who) went to Santiago to pay homage and the Primitivo is the route he took.

The Camino Frances has been really crowded with lots of new people arriving at Sarria and walking just the last 100 km. The quiet of the path is suddenly disrupted with excited new pilgrims. So walking the Primitivo today has been a dramatic change.

It has been so quiet. As we stepped into the primitivo a man passed us by

and with our presence the the Camino the population just increased 300%!

The Primitivo is very diverse. Within 2 kilometers you can walk through a pine forest, pastures, an orchard, a town, and an area that resembles the Blair Witch Project 😮. Spain is truly a beautiful country.

And one more thing…

Melide is known for its octopus so we went to one of the top two restaurants for lunch. Octopus is really delicious 🐙. It’s sautéed with a little hot paprika and drizzled in olive oil. Yummy!

DAY 35 TABLE FOR FIVE

When you spend an evening with friends that you’ve known for a long time your conversation is comfortable and dwells on the every day bits and pieces of lives: your children, your grandchildren, shopping, a new recipe, what’s going on at work and then sometimes just to spice it up a little bit you’ll hit on the topic of politics just to see how much you can rile up your friends. Because you know they’ll still be your friends at the end of the evening. But when you’re on the Camino you find yourself in situations with people you’ve never met before in your life.

Last night we had dinner with three complete strangers. This is a different kind of conversation. You are, to be honest, unlikely to see each other ever again and yet you find that you want to know each other on a deeper level. So you gloss through the mundane and settle quickly into bigger subjects.

We sat down to what is possibly one of the best meals of the camino at a bed & breakfast that exuded comfort and hospitality. Two older couples and one young woman (at different tables) shared our spiritual hopes for the Camino and experiences we have had along the way. A spiritual director would be asking the question, “Where is God in all this?” It was truly a spirit filled meal.

The chicken in a white wine sauce with rice was to die for. And my sardines on toast were delicious.

Share your Spirit stories with one another.

Buen Camino and Bon Appetit

DAY 34 LEAVING SARRIA

Once again the air is filled with the sound of foreign voices. They’re excited, they want to talk. Sometimes they ask where I’ve started. When I say St. Jean I hear a little sucking in of the breath and then a low “Wow, you’re doing the whole thing.”

And I say to myself, “I have been doing this for quite a while.” My rhythm is that of the Camino.

Walk Wash Eat Sleep

What will my rhythm be when I return home?

I did hit a milestone today.

100 kilometers to the Cathedral of Santiago.

Buen Camino

DAY 33 THE PRESIPICE

Tonight I am in Sarria. This is the beginning of the last stage of the Camino. In order to receive a Compostela a Pilgrim must declare at the Santiago Pilgrim’s office three things…

1. The Pilgrim walked the last 100 km.

2. The Pilgrim carried all of his/her belongings.

3. The Pilgrim is walking the Camino for spiritual reasons.

I never wanted to make this walk about the Compostela and yet it is looming large in my mind. Even though I’ve taken three days off of the Camino and taken a cab at the end of two other days I have walked nearly all on the Camino.

Now is the final push into Santiago. I feel some of the same fear I felt leaving St. Jean Pied de Port. But there’s no time to dwell on fear. The first steps have been taken. All I need to do is continue on.

Buen Camino

DAY 32

I am back on track for a short 9 mile day to Triacastela. We are really and truly in Galicia the province where Santiago is located.

Apparently Galicia is the land of one million cows and here are just a few.

It has been a rainy, misty day. I walked mostly alone. Time to think about the last stage of the Camino. On the one hand I am anxious to return to my bed and my own cooking. On the other hand what will I do each day when I don’t have to walk. What parts of the Camino will come with me and what will I leave behind?

It’s late and I’m tired despite it being a shorter day.

Buen Camino

DAY 31 ANOTHER DAY OFF

Today’s post will be very short. Once again I had to take a day off for my ankle. In addition it was a steep climb to the next hotel and by the time I arrived the altitude was really effecting my head. So I laid my pack on the floor, crawled into bed and slept. Tomorrow is a shorter walk and hopefully I’ll be back to 100%.

Thank you for all your prayers and support.

BTW I’ve been spelling Buon Camino wrong. It’s BUEN CAMINO!

DAY 30 OLD FRIENDS, NEW FRIENDS

Definitely out of the Meseta and back in the mountains

We are only 2-3 days away from Sarria which is the 100 kilometer mark from Santiago. The Camino seems more crowded but it’s not the same people we have been traveling with. The Australians, New Zealanders, Germans, Dutch, Norwegians, and French have gotten either ahead or behind us.

This fresh crop of pilgrims are newer to the Camino. We’ve seen the buses stop at the hotels and watched them debark. They’re cleaner and less worn looking. They smile brightly, wave heartily, and call out “Buon Camino” in a cheery voice.

Some of these pilgrims are rejoining the Camino where they left off last year. After all not everyone has six weeks to do this. Some of them don’t have the time but want to reach Santiago so they start in Leon or Astorga or even Sarria. And some are part of a tour trying to capture the Camino experience. They have smaller daypacks and the tour company provides them a gourmet lunch to have along the way. The sag wagon is available for pilgrims who get tired along the way. I’m not judging them. This is the way I bicycled through Tuscany several years ago.

I biked a few hours to the first test stop and then rode the sag wagon in to lunch and awaited the rest of the riders while drinking an aperol spritz and writing postcards.

It was the way I wanted to do the ride just like everyone does the Camino in his or her own fashion.

Buon Camino!

DAY 29 FOOD ON THE CAMINO

So there’s something I haven’t talked about yet on the Camino and that’s the food. Before coming on the Camino I researched Spanish food and tried out a few dishes with some success.

Garlic Soup

The first food we heard about on the Camino is garlic soup. Now to be honest my first impression was that I’d see a few garlic cloves floating in some broth. So I hunted for a recipe online and found one that was particularly good. Essentially it is the same form as French onion soup. The garlic and broth form a base, add in toasted day old bread, and then crack an egg and let it poach over the bread. Not to toot my own horn, but this was amazing. Garlic soup on the camino is a little bit different. The garlic and broth still make a base, but the egg is whisked into the broth like an egg drop soup. Bread is served on the side, usually not toasted, and you can dip it in the soup if you like.

Paella

This is paella and it’s wonderful. This guy works at the farmer’s market and every week has a huge skillet of this paella that he sells. Frequently in Spain you will see signs in front of restaurants advertising Paella Mixed, Chicken, Seafood, or Shrimp. This paella is pretty good. I had it twice on the Camino. Just don’t think that this is something the owner is cooking up fresh in the kitchen. These are commercial paella sold in individual servings that the kitchen heats up. It is good, but not as good as the picture above.

Fries

Fries come in all shapes and sizes. Ask for fries and you may or may not get something that looks like McDonald’s. And like all other fries it depends on how you like them cooked. I like my extra crispy which I didn’t always get. One thing I can guarantee is that these fries do not sit under a heat lamp. They are hot from the fryer.

Chili Rellenos stuffed with Cod

Finally you have to be willing to try something different. Chili Rellenos is not like the Chili Rellenos from your local Mexican restaurant. Spanish food is not terribly spicy. Having said that these Rellenos were among the best food I had on the Camino. Sweet red peppers stuffed with cod and smothered in a cheese sauce. Yes, I ate the whole thing.

The last thing I want to say about food on the Camino is this…frequently I just didn’t know what I wanted to eat after a long day of walking. I’m not even sure I was really hungry. Often what I craved is protein. I ate eggs every chance I got and I would be willing to bet that most of the eggs I ate were retrieved from under a chicken 🐓 a few hours earlier. Most of the time breakfast is coffee, juice, and toast. Those carbs burn off quickly and don’t really get you up any hills.

In no way did I cover all the food I had in Spain but I hope you’ll find some Spanish recipes to try out.

Bon Appetit and Buon Camino

DAY 28 1 SHIRT, 2 SHIRT, ORANGE SHIRT, BLUE SHIRT

I had a little melt down today. I was trying to get dressed. I have two shirts, orange and blue, and two sports bras, orange and blue.

I got all confused because the shirts were both dirty and I ended up wearing the blue shirt with the orange sports bra…

It was a mess. Tonight there was a washing machine at the hotel and I got things straightened out.

Phew!

Buon Camino!