Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Oct 7/11 SANTIAGO!!!

Before we left Monte Do Gozo, we wandered down the hill to where there were two status of Pilgrams standing pointing towards Santiago.  They were something! They stood over us and pointed towards Santiago in the distance.  I think these two figures were one of my very favorites that I'd seen thus far. 

Dad continued our walk into Santiago into the Cathedral grounds.  Here you'll find an open square that is where you view the front of the Cathedral and where you find all of the trekers/Peregrinos sprawled out on in having completed there this 500 mile journey.
The Cathedral is Huge and also absolutely enveloped with incredible detail.  It's hard to take it all in.
At 12 noon everyday they hold a mass for all the Peregrino's.  Dad and I sat through the service which was in Spanish, but being familiar with it in general it is easy to follow along.
Morten, Dad, Deklan, me and Els
We then went to collect our Compestellas...which is our certificates that we receive once when we've completed the Camino.  We ran into our German friends there, as well as the Norweigens. lol.  They beat us somehow.  All in good fun of course.
We found ourselves a Pension to stay in for the night and then did a little shopping.  We ran into our Irish friend Deklan who invited us out for dinner that night with a group of people he was meeting up with.  Dad said that Deklan (who seemed to be friends with EVERYONE) was someone they'd referr to as being full of the 'Blarney'. 
Anyway we met him in the square infront of the Cathedral and he, dad and I, as well as Els a woman from Holland and Morten and gentleman from Denmark enjoyed some fantastic food and a lot of wine and a couple rounds of shots.  Don't ask me what they were, but when we got back to the Pension it didn't take me long to fall asleep. :D .  It was a fitting end to a wonderful adventure.

Oct 7/11 Monte Do Gozo - Santiago

Dad and I reached Monte DoGozo today.  What an interesting scene.  There is a monument  built here in honor of Pope John Pauls visit in 2004.  Oddly enough just a few short years after it was built he passed away. There are dedications and plaques of art all around the base of the monument.  Towards the back of the monument that looks out towards Santiago there are stones and other dedications from other Peregrinos left, such as walking staffs, shoes, clothing, etc. I decided to leave the rest of my dedications here.  The first one I left was for a wonderful man who I only knew for a short time, but over came many road blocks and fought like the champion we all knew him to be.  I placed Pat Spirings LiveStrong band on the monument overlooking the beautiful city of Santiago.
My bestfriend, Leslie Wilson, lost her brother a year ago on September 2nd, 2010.  Although his passing was due to other circumstances I still wrote his name on a band and decided to place it on a branch of a tree at the edge of the platform overlooking Santiago and all of it's surroundings.  Leslie, now we can say he's seen it all.  He's traveled with me, through the vineyards, climbed the mountains, and enjoyed the intoxicating smells of the Eucalyptus trees and forests.  All my love to you and the Wilson family.

My last dedication, and certainly not the least, is on the cross formed out of walking sticks leaning against the monument to Pope John Paul.  I dedicated this one '4 THOSE STILL FIGHTING'. 

Oct 6/11 Azura - Salceda 11km

 Dad and I walked from Azura to Salceda this morning. It was an 11.1km walk.  During that walk we found ourselves enjoying the magnificent smells of Eucalyptus.  We were walking through forests and forests of the Eucalyptus trees.  Honestly one of my favorite places to date.  The smell was intoxicating and the trees nothing that I would have imagined looking like.  It felt as though we were in the jungle quite honestly.  Dad and I reached the 30km milestone and here I decided to leave my next dedication to Stan Wilgosh.  His band with his name is sitting ontop of the 30km milestone overlooking these Eucalyptus trees and forest.  I couldn't have thought of a better more relaxing place for the memory of a man who endured so much. 

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Oct 5/11 Palas De Rei - Arzua 28.6 km

Well folks I treked on today solo.  Dad woke up from a very restless sleep and was troubled with some pain from all the weight he was carrying in his backpack.  We agreed that it was best for him to catch the bus and meet me half way at Melide 15.2km from Palas De Rei.  It was best to start out in the morning because it´s seriously that much cooler.  Come 2pm it seems to be the hottest and is consistent up until around 5pm.  Honestly it has been very very very hot here.
When I left this morning it was completely hazy and cool.  I thought it might actually rain, but once I reached the top of the mountain (one of many) it started to clear up.  I left this morning around 9:30 am.  I walked somewhat behind a group of 4 people as they seemed to be keeping a good pace very similar to mine.  I ended up passing them as they needed to relieve themselves as most people do and find a place to do there business.  I´ve been pretty lucky in that when I´ve reached a destination where dad and I have stopped to have a break and a drink I just use the facilities there.  However yesterday both dad and I couldn´t wait so we did what we had to do. lol. I know you all needed to know that, but lets simply get down to the nitty gritty shall we. ha ha.
I met up with Dad in Melide.  We communicated with the walky talkies he had thoughtfully brought with him. I reached Melide at 12:41pm.  Not to shabby, but quite honestly I was booking it.  I was able to take in the scenery and get some pictures a well as stop to have a drink and get our passports stamped.  I met two irishman and a newzealander.  The three were travelling together.  The two irishman were father and son, John and Owen and I didn´t catch the other gentlemans name unforutnately.  Very nice guys and hey, you can´t go wrong with an Irish accent.  Love it!  I was going to ask them if they were "after me lucky charms" but thought I´d hold off until I got to know them better.  I chatted to them briefly, but headed off before them.  I know they made it to Melide as I saw them and introduced them to my dad, but didn´t think they were going to be travelling further to Arzua where I was going.  They looked pretty fatigued and it was already getting very hot.
Ok, so the running joke right now for me is these Norweigens.  Dad and I continue to run into them and did I mention they are rediculously fast walkers? Seriously, it is rediculous!  I started my trek from Melide to Arzua and noticed that the large group of them were ahead of me.  As I mentioned previously that whenever they see me and Dad they yell out "Hey Canada!"  So I casually, going at there road runner pace, snuck up on them and once I was behind them yelled out " OH NO! It´s the Norweigens!!"  They laughed and said hello and I walked with one of the girls, Cecilia, who had chatted with us the last couple of times we´d met up with them at our destinations.  She is a teacher in a small village of 1300 and has been teaching for 15 years.  She has been doing the Camino with her Dad. It was her first time and her Dad had been bugging her to do it with him so she took the opportunity to do so this year.  Her school was having it´s fall break so she was able to do it now.
I eventually went ahead as they had stopped for a break and some water.  So now I can say I beat the Norweigens YA!!!
During the rest of the walk I thought of Dad, because I hit some bloody steep climbs that would have absolutely killed him.  They killed me!  No joke 90 degrees.  I could chew on my shoelace, and the worst thing was when you thought you were at the top, HELL NO!  You´d go around a slight corner and BANG 90 degrees straight up AGAIN!  I actually said aloud, "Are you fucken kidding me right now?"   I was very glad that Dad didn´t have to endure that.
Well I made it to Arzua.  I had pulled out my walky talky and tried to contact Dad about 1km outside of town, but had no luck getting a hold of him. I figured he hadn´t turned it on yet.  The plan was for him to get us a Pension to stay in as the last two destinations we got to and the couple of Pensions we went to get a room at were all full.  It is honestly very busy this year with people. It´s not an anniversary year as that was last year, and Dad says it is very unusual that it is this busy with people.  There are school groups on the trail as well.  A lot of the locals start at Sarria to Santiago to get there Compastela.  As mentioned earlier you have to complete 100 miles to receive it.  So the trails are very much busier with groups and such, that I had noticed today.  If I was ever alone on the trail it wasn´t for long.
I wandered through Arzua thinking that if Dad got us a Pension to stay in it would be through the town and close to the trail leading outward.  You tend to still put on a number of kilometers going through these towns before actually getting out of them and back onto the trail.  I continued to try to get a hold of him on the walky talkies but with no luck.  Luckily I saw Deidre another Irish woman I met just a couple of days previous who I stopped to say hello to.  I sat with her for about 1/2 hour with an icetea and water and caught up with her. I explained the situation of wondering where my dad was etc.  I wasn´t too worried yet.
Anyway long story short, he had found a room for us at a Pension right when you enter the city.  So I had to walk back through the city to where I came from to meet him.  The funny part about where he was when I met him was"he had made zome friendz widz za Germanz." lol...I thought for sure the German friends we had met along the way had got him drunk. Instead he´d had a Coke. lol All was good.  I got cleaned up, and we both just finished dinner.
I´m not sure what our plan is for tomorrow. I´m thinking that I may not have the same enthusiasm as I did today to potentially do the 38.4 km needed to do tomorrow to reach Santiago.  There is no rush and what Dad and I might do is break it up into three stops.  He feels he can do a max of 15 km in a day and that is fine by me.  By the end of the day today my feet were definitely sore, but luckily the terrain was very forgiving. You don´t realize that when you walk these distances in a day that you very much welcome a sandy footing rather than the beautiful cobblestone that is absolutely everywhere.
We´ve been really lucky with our feet thus far. I have got a blister on my baby toe on my left foot, but it hasn´t slowed me down.  We saw a woman last night who was using her walking poles as crutches. She could not move. I´ve also seen many people who have there feet completely taped up.  It´s really something else.
Oh and before I forget, I walked through the most amasing Eucalyptis farm today.  You can´t miss them.  I picked a couple of leaves for Dad as he loves them. I would have cut off a branch, but it was harder than I thought to get a hold of them and I wasn´t sure I should have been doing that either way.
That is about it for now.  I´m off to bed and tending to my throbbing feet.
Love and miss you all, Beun Camino Amigos! xxoo

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Portomarin - Palas de Rei 23.9 km

dad and I had a great sleep last night.  our bodies are pretty beaten and sore so we decided to take a cab to Ligonde about 16km away.
We passed large groups of peregrinos, surprisingly large groups to our destination it was insane! 
the walk from Ligonde to Palas De Rei was about 10km.  I felt we were still really dragging. Another hot day and not a lot of shelter was no help.  The hills and decents really slow us down.  We arrived in Palas De Rei around 5pm tonight and will focus on having a good rest to recover the best we can.  The next walk is going to be tough 28.6km.  We´ll most likely cut that in half or bus it half way.  Again the hills are murder and really tough for dad and he hasn´t complained once.  I´ve been making him drink tons of water, something of which he doesn´t do this much, but he´s working really hard and we have to keep him hydrated.
We´ve reached the double digits in regards to what we have left to walk.  I believe we´re in the 60 kilometer range now.  Almost there and making good time.
The food and drink is so good over here.  I have lots of pictures, but alas I cannot post them.  I will when I do have the opportunity and share them.
Wishing you all well from Spain! xxoo

Oct 3/11 Sarria - Portomarin 21.5km

It was GRUELING today.  most of the trek was uphill and down hill, uphill and down hill.  Very steep both ways.  Plus it was another 30 + degree day.  SO HOT.
The scenery was gorgeous as usual.  Off the road into these overgrown trails between farm lands.  The trees are something out of a Disney movie. Very detailed in knots and contorted covered with ivy.  The abondance of fruit and nut trees is something to see.  Walnuts, acorns, hazel nuts and apple trees.  you have to watch when you walk by them so that you don´t get smoked in the head by falling fruit.  Very true.
Our bodies hated us today.  we´re both walking like we have something stuck up our bums. lol. Our calves are so tight.  I´m actually almots out of ibruprophin! 
it was a long day, but we made huge accomplishments today.  So we had a wonderful dinner with wine and at each dinner we have we give a toast and drink our faces off...with water of course.

Triacastela - Sarria 16km

Well it seems our 9 am morning starts are consisting of climbs.  It´s a good thing it´s cool though.  We walked through the most beautiful over grown trails with ivy covered trees.  I took some video and some pictures however later on accidently deleted the video. Not happy.  We were over taken by our friendly group of Norweigens again...damn them for being so nice.  I hate getting over taken! lol
The trail was pretty decent today, but still hotter than hell out there an NO breeze what so ever.  Still up in the mountains.  Dad and as well as everyone else we´ve seen are all walking a little slower today.  Everyone´s calves and thighs are very tight from all the climbing and decenting from the day before.
We´ve run into some peregrino´s who are walking with the dogs.  yes there little dogs have packs on them as well.  It´s great!  So dad has to stop and have a little chat with them and give them a friendly hello from Canada.
We continue to stop in towns along the way and have a drink as well as get our passport stamped.  I´ve actually been drinking Coke. Ya..pop not a good combo for me, but i can´t explain whether it´s the combination of caffine and sugar that´s helping me get by or not.  Either way it gives us a chance to rest our fire ridden feet.

October 2/11 O´Cebreiro - Triacastela (22KM)

Dad and I had a fantastic dady today. The terrain was very comfortable for the most part.  We were up in the mountains for the most part and enjoyed the scenery.  We met Susan from London today and travelled with her for a short time.  It was nice to have some company and get to know someone knew.
We struggled however with the decent down the mountain.  It was nothing I have ever experienced before.  Very painful on the feet and knees.  We had done so well up until this point.  Dad´s poor feet took a beating as did mine and our calves were screaming!!
When we did finally get down that mountain we met a couple of people from Ireland. God you got a love people with an accent like that!  Triena and Deklin.  They thought it was so great that a father and daughter were doing the Camino together.  They were staying at an Allbergue, but we moved on to a Pension which was more private very much like a hotel. After our first time in an allbergue it was like being in a barnyard.  I didn´t sleep a wink and was sooo grumpy the next morning.  After a nice hot shower and a change of clothes Dad and I went out for some dinner.  We had bacon, rice, sausage, and fried eggs with a bottle of red wine. Everything, just so you know, comes with wine you can´t escape it.  I had 3 glasses, and no dad didn´t have to carry me home. ha ha.
In finding this Pension dad and I had run into a couple of women who stopped us. It appears that rumours had been running through the grapevine or down the Peregrino lines already.  These women noticed the Canada flag on my bag and stopped us to ask me if this man I was with was the, what I understood as the one who was doing his 78th Camino. LOL  well what had happened was that Susan from London must have told someone that Dad would be 78 years old next month and was doing the camino with his daughter.  we laughed, but were delighted obviously.  But just so you know Dad is not the oldest one doing this Trek this year.  We have run into a tour group of 30+ from Norway and one of the women is 79 1/2 and another woman is 74.  You should see this group move. They are trucking it. We pass them and they pass us..it goes on and on. Everytime they see us though they yell out ´Hey Canada!´ I just laugh and joke to dad to ´WATCH OUT the Norweigens are coming!´

October 1/11 Villafranca Del Bierzo - O´Cebreiro

It´s been a busy couple of days.  Yesterday Dad and I walked from  Villafranca Del Bierzo to Pereje to Trabadelo.  It was SMOKING hot!!  9.5 kilometers later we get to Portela where we took a bus to Pedrafita and a taxi to O´Cebreiro.  The reason for this is that from Portela its is an uphill climb right to O´Cebreiro.  We were looking at 15km up a mountain. Normally this would be something I would welcome, however with dad´s bionic hips (hip replacements) he shouldn´t be at a 45 degree angle.  All of the mountains we´ve climbed and yes they are mountains, have been incredibly steep.  The unfortunately thing is the happiness of meeting that goal and getting to the top ends quite shortly when you see what the angle of decline in which you must follow with.  I can´t believe my Dad has done this particular route 31/2 times.  I know how I feel, how my feet feel at the end of the day and my calves have never EVER been tighter.  The knots..good god!  I´m fortunate to have escaped thus far without any serious blisters.

The Beginning - Ponferrada-Cacebelos September 29/11

Fortaleza Templara Ponferrada
 Dad and I took a bus to Ponferrada from Leon.  Ponferrada was our original starting point. It´s 200 km from Santiago.  In order to qualify for your Compastella you need to walk at least 100km.  With the time line I have of 2 weeks we´d thought we´d squeak in another 100k what the heck.
I had always asked dad how he knew where to go, but quite honestly if you know what to look for it is very easy.  The scallop shells in the cobble stone roads, the yellow arrows painted on the side of  a wall and on the pavement,  and upright signs at most intersections with a Peregrino and scallop shell pointing the way.  It´s really very interesting.
The weather has been fantastic, but also a scorcher depending on if you have any shelter while your walking.  We have walked through the most immaculate paths and country side you could imagine. You can´t imagine this stuff up, and it´s all natural.  My jaw has been on the floor on more than one occasion. 

We walked through a vineyard today.  The smell was unbelievable.  Wine itself doesn´t smell this good!  it was beautiful and just fascinating.  In the middle of this vineyard I decided to leave my first dedication to a wonderful lady who passed away recently of a brain tumor.  I wrote her name on a live strong wrist band and placed it on a branch amongst the vines along side this path of this vineyard.  I felt it was a perfect place for her to enjoy such beautiful scenery, scents and to enjoy one of the richest things in life.  To say it was emotional for me is an understatement.  Many mixed emotions, but what better place for my memory of her to be.  Enjoying a nice glass of vino over looking the vineyard. Rest in peace Sara.