On the edge of adulthood…

…excitement, anticipation, anxiety, questioning, wondering…

This Bible passage seems to speak to young people as they look forward to graduation.
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Thoughts race through young minds on the cusp of a new world. Which direction should I go? Which school or vocation should I pursue? …and the age old question – What if I fail?
So many opportunities before them in high school and beyond. If one tries, there is an activity or pursuit that will fit their talents, personalities and interests.

I am usually in envy of young people with their whole adult lives ahead of them, but should I be? I am in a transition phase, as well, but I have many years of experiences and efforts behind me.  I already know what I can and cannot do so that narrows the field. (Lots of things I use to be able to do that are not options now)  I also know what I want to do which is also a plus.

The big question, though, is what SHOULD I do?

O.K., so maybe I’m not so different from these young guys and gals after all!  Maybe the Bible passage is a good one for all of us in any of our stages in life.  Hmmm…

Takin’ Care of Business

Segovia, Spain…a day in the life.

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Spain-1050288dmvcrWash day break to catch up on the news.

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Spain-1040993dmvpopLast drag on the cig before 10th grade math class…

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Spain-1050279dmvEven this little bird has found its own little spot in this world ~ a special perch on the aqueduct.  I guess we all have a special place and purpose and that makes the world go around.

All in a day’s work… Gypsy style

A day in the life of a Gypsy:

Pace the area going up to the famous Segovia aqueduct monument and show your saddest eyes.   Approach a tourist who happens to have a kind heart.

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Now, bring out your prettiest shawl and wave it in front of tender-hearted Randy. (Meanwhile, I am gesturing and shaking my head) No! 

Bonita y cuesta 10 euros

Muy bonita! 8 Euros…

No, gracias.

Siete Euros… muy, muy bonita.   Randy agrees to purchase the pretty shawl and takes out a 10 Euro, but she says she has no change.  No problemo, she offers two scarves for 12 Euros.  Randy goes for it and gives her 12 Euros to purchase two shawls. His reasoning:   But she has such sad eyes and needs business.

We get back to the hostal and look in the bag, only to discover she has switched the really fancy scarf for a scarf that is not as flashy.  The old” bait and switch” trick.

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Hey, that’s my fancy shawl she’s trying to sell!   It’s a living, I guess…

Day 9… It’s what you CAN do…

…not what you can’t.

A man on a bicycle approaches us speaking Spanish and, through his photos, we understand his purpose.

Spain-1040239dmvRandy is signing the guest book of sales. This gentleman, on the bike, pedals the Camino selling t-shirts to fund trips to Para Olympic athletic events. His binder is full of news articles and photos of his participation to help prove that he is legit. Scam or not, we purchase a 10 Euro t-shirt and don’t regret it. You just have to trust once in a while.

Spain-1040242dmvcrPlus, he shares a cell phone photo of his baby AFTER the sale (Or, maybe he thought we’d buy more shirts).  I mention to Randy that it could be anyone’s cute little baby, but Randy chooses to trust that the story is all truth.

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I’m happy to discover that he is legit and our t-shirt purchase is going toward an honest endevour. Check it out at this website:  http://ionutpreda.com/

Spain-1040247dmvThe path is along the side of a tar road and the old wall has a sturdy appearance.
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The origin of the horreo is the horreum from the Roman Empire, and is an old technology that has nearly disappeared in the rest of the empire regions.

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A horreo is for storing grain off the ground to keep rodents out and the design dates back to the Celtic era. Some are quite substantial and made all of stone.

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Hmmm… So many signs to read. Oh, look left!! Oh, my goodness!!!

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This photo doesn’t really imply the height of this monument built to recognize the pilgrimage and a papal visit. We estimate it to be around 50 feet high.

Spain-1040262dmvMonte do Gozo (Hill of Joy) is a hill in Santiago de Compostela, Galicia, Spain. It is known for being the place where Christian pilgrims on the Camino de Santiago (Way of St. James) get their first views of the three spires of their destination, the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela. At 370 meters (1,210 ft), it is the pilgrims’ last hill and last stop before reaching the cathedral, with about an hour’s walk still to go, and by tradition is where they cry out in rapture at finally seeing the end of their path.  ~Wikipedia

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Another pilgrim tells me that I should be able to see the cathedral from the monument hilltop area, but I can’t seem to make anything out.
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This modern sculpture utilizes all four sides in its design.

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The Capilla de San Marcos looks rustic, but isn’t all that old compared to what we’ve already seen.  Follow another path and it takes you to an albergue that has 500 hostel beds in rooms of 4 to 8 beds.

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We are not stopping here so I guess we’d better follow the arrow to the right and head down the hill.

One more hour of walking…

Camino Day 8 ~ Walkin’ on sunshine…

Day eight…. really?  We’ve been walking THAT long!

Spain-1030867dmvWalking through Arzua takes some time with streets, traffic and so much to look at.  We stop at a grocery story for snacks and look forward to a short day of only 10 miles.

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The old kilometers marker contrasts the modern setting.

Spain-1030873dmvIt’s interesting that centuries old walls still stand and buildings are built alongside and  around them.

Spain-1030879dmvNot too many pilgrims this morning.

Spain-1030883dmvThe tired remains of an old stone building is a reminder of earlier days in this city.  Follow the yellow arrow…

Spain-1030884dmvMeet our new friends from Germany.  A mother, father, and two children in their late teens spend their holidays on hikes throughout Europe and the UK.  Favorite hiking destination?  Ireland.  That may be worth checking out!

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Finally out of town and enjoy the company of a few pilgrims this morning.

Spain-1030892dmvThe path takes us through woods reminiscent of old fairy tales with winding vines, while the countryside seems to explode with the vibrant greens of spring.

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Spain-1030907dmvcrWhy does the tractor have a 40 on the back?  Slow moving vehicle sign?

Spain-1030911dmvWe see a few modern Camino highway signs, but even these seem weathered.

Spain-1030915dmvThese connected buildings appear to be one home using the old stone walls, but installing modern doors and windows.  I’m guessing the round attached building may be a grain storage facility?

Spain-1030920dmvcr The street name is Preguntono, house number 15Bars on the windows… is that a security system?  Hmmm…not everyone means well on the Camino?

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Mo-o-o-o…

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Lugar means place,  and Pregontono, I believe, is the street name spelled slightly differently from the other house.  Albergue in the busy season?

Spain-1030926dmvThe yellow flowers are providing gorgeous scenery today and the sun is trying to shine.

Spain-1030928dmvLooking back over the village of Rua as we trek up the hill.

Spain-1030938dmvWe visit with the Dr. and his fiancé as we stroll along. Randy is answering their questions about farming / livestock and the Dr. is answering Randy’s questions about sore knees and the like.

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Looks like they didn’t use all of their chopped wood this winter.  Grapevine is ready to do its thing.

Spain-1030949dmvFollow the arrow to find the right path.  Some of the Camino markers don’t have numbers, so they just mark the path.

Spain-1030950dmvcrThis is the most pleasant day of walking so far. Temps are warming up, as well.

Maybe too pleasant…

Camino Day 7 ~ Walking in a winter wonderland

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We wake up to a winter wonderland in Palas del Rey and put on our warmest clothing to start day seven. The hotel last night had nice heaters for our socks and shoes, laundry facilities complete with dryers and a restaurant/bar nearby.

Spain-1030748dmv  Oh, baby, it’s cold outside!

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Everywhere is walking distance if you have the time. ~ Stephen Wright

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Built in the 13th century,  Iglesia de San Tirso  church has a  Romanesque doorway and scallop shell motifs.

Spain-1030767dmvWe are walking through downtown  Palas del Rey (2nd time for some of us) where there are many bars, restaurants, albergues, hotels and small shops. Here we also see the typical Galician Ayuntamiento, Town Hall, built with a mixture of granite and whitewashed render.

Follow the shells, follow the arrows, turn here, turn there and we eventually find ourselves outside of town and on our way.  Listen… I hear some cheerful singing.  It’s the Spanish angels!  The video is short due to pushing the on/off record button at the wrong time.  (Another note to self:  figure out video settings)

 

Spain-1030778dmvO carteiro means “the postman.”   Looks like a good place for a break  and a person could send a postcard. Ultramarinos means “groceries” and a snack does sound good.

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Beverages purchased and apples for the road.

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Buen camino!

Spain-1030780dmvRemains of someone’s fun last night sitting outside the bar along the street.

We will be walking through Ponte Campana, Cazanova, Laboreiro, Melide and will be aiming our sights on Ribadiso today.

Day seven is warming up a little with just a few snow and rain showers, so far.  The leg muscles even feel better, but ohhhh, the blisters!

Camino Day 6 ~ Meet Carmen, Luisa and Ireland

Portomarin was where we slumbered last night in Albergue Ultreia which is run by a charming woman named Carmen.  Carmen’s eyes sparkle and shine and she has a way of getting her message across with grand gestures of arms and hands.  She is a strong, hard working woman, grabbing two wet backpacks and hoisting them up a flight of stairs as though they were merely purses.

We settled in to our dorm room filled with about 10 bunk beds and were immediately invited into the kitchen area by a fun group of young Spaniards having happy hour before their home cooked meal.  They offered us shots of some kind of liquor that had a good “kick” to it, so that helped warm us up inside and out.  I’m guessing it’s the anise liquor made in Spain. Again, must have been too tired to take a picture.  You will meet them later, though.

We were lucky enough to have a washer and drier which is accessed by going outside to the upstairs balcony.  Carmen’s English speaking daughter, Luisa, is extremely helpful with everything from washing and drying clothes to planning our next day, day six.

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Thanks to Albergue Ultreia, our clothing has been washed and dried and our boots have been on little heaters all night.  The blisters on Randy’s feet catch the attention of one of the young Spanish girls staying at the hostal and she offers sympathy and blister salve, if he needed it. People on the Camino show such kindness to complete strangers, that it warms the heart and gives a positive outlook towards mankind.

Coffee machine in the kitchen brews me some delicious, hot java to get my groove on and we eat the rolls we had purchased the night before at the local grocery store. What a great way to start a new day!
Spain-1030715dmvWe are in the center of town so Lori is getting directions from Luisa.

Spain-1030714dmvDiane, Jane and Joan pose for a photo with our friend, Luisa.  Luisa is also a pharmicist along with helping her mother with the albergue.  We met Dad this morning when he was opening up the albergue for the day. Wonderful family.   I am wondering if the black and white photo on the wall is of the old Roman bridge that is now under water.

Spain-1030720dmvLuisa manned the camera, so this is one of the few photos I am in.  I notice the sidewalk is dry and no rain is falling ~ Hooray!

Spain-1030724dmvcrMeet our new friends from Ireland.  They are all turning 30 years old this year and are celebrating their birthdays together on the Camino.  They signed up with a travel tour that transports their luggage for them, so they only have smaller daypacks.  With or without bags, they will still get wet today. Rain gear is essential no matter what you are carrying.  From now on they will be referred to as Ireland.  Such as…

Did you see Ireland at the pub today?

Yes, I did see Ireland at the pub today!  No, wait… that’s tomorrow. 

Camino Day 5 …and the beat goes on…

The best thing one can do when it’s raining is to let it rain.  ~ Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Spain-1030694dmvThe challenging path continues to be flooded in areas and muddy at best.  I think all of us are beginning to wonder what we’ve gotten ourselves into and what may lie ahead.  Water-soaked boots are heavy weights and pull on our tired, sore leg muscles as we schlepp along.

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We are now in Galicia and the scenery has blossomed into the emerald green of spring as we weave through woods and dale.  We crossed into Galicia on day four before crossing the snowy mountain and the village of  O  Cebreiro sits near the top.  I must have missed the sign.  (Better go back and hike that mountain so I can see the Galician border sign.)   I’ve read that in the Galician language,  O replaces El.  Our final destination, Santiago de Compostella, is the capitol of Galicia.

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Two languages are official and widely used today in Galicia; the native Galician, a Romance language closely related to Portuguese with which it shares the common Galician-Portugal medieval literature, and the Spanish language, usually known locally as Castilian. 56.4% of the Galician population always speaks in Galician or speaks more in Galician than in Castilian, while 42.5% speaks always in Castilian or more in Castilian than in Galician. ~ Wikipedia

Spain-1030704dmvOur path continues through a muddy, hilly wooded area and we come across a colorful, although tacky, looking memorial made of cast-off clothing, snack garbage, socks, hats…  It appears as though it is the  pilgrim dump.  I am not impressed with this area since it contrasts so starkly with the quiet, remote woods,  farmlands and small villages.  The site does kind of remind me of Jamaica with its bright colors.  Randy would like to take home that nice jacket on the lower right, but it’s not his size.

Spain-1030705dmvI have no idea what the pine cones are all about.  Any ideas?

Spain-1030707dmvcrRomanesque stone walls border our path as we cross through pasture areas, working our way down to the city of Portomarin.  The slimy mud pulls on our boots and the path is also mixed with  sweet smelling cow manure ~ Watch your step!   The farmer is getting the herd adjusted to their new pasture grounds using a stick and his dog.

Spain-1030712dmvRomanesque walls border the path and pasture and makes for an interesting cattle fence.

Portomarin bridgeThis long bridge over the rushing waters of the Mino River is the only thing between us and our destination for the day, Portomarin, Spain.  I hang tightly onto my walking poles as the strong gusts of wind push, tug and pull on me as if playing the old playground game, King of the Hill.    ~ Photo from Google images.

Portomarin is tucked in amongst the hills of Monte do Cristo and the river intersects the village.  During medieval times people lived on the right bank of the river, in an enclave (territory surrounded by another territory) by the Camino de Santiago.

The Portomarin we see today dates mostly from the middle of the 20th century with much of the old town now below the waters of the Miño.  In the 1950’s Franco decided he wanted to build a hydro-electric dam 40 kilometres down river and in doing so would flood the town of Portomarín.  The townspeople wanted to save some of their most important monuments and transported these stone by stone up to their new home, high above the river, which you see in the photo above.   Now, that would require some heavy lifting!  Parts of the old town resurface in the fall when the water level gets low.

As we first come across the new bridge, we pull our tired bodies up some steps to an arch where we see the Iglesia de Santa Maria de las Nieves, built on the site of a former pilgrim hospital.  The staircase is actually the sole remaining part of the original 2nd century Roman bridge, which was destroyed by Doña Urraca.   I would have taken a photo but it was raining.  Go figure…

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Wet, tired, stiff, sore, hungry… A-h-h-h-h…. home, sweet, home.

Camino Day 5 ~ Angels among us

All God’s angels come to us disguised. ~James Russell Lowell
camino-frances-26O CebreiroWe eat our normal breakfast of tostados with coffee or tea and hop in the taxi  at 8:00 a.m.  We are fast forwarding the mountain from Vega de Valcarce, and will go  about 30 miles to Sarria due to the weather conditions. The van is  large enough to hold all seven of us, plus the driver.Spain-1030656dmvThe treacherous roads are full of slushy snow and it is sleeting. The taxi driver is carefully maneuvering through the icy mountain roads and we are quiet, so we don’t disturb his concentration.  It would not be a pretty sight if we slip off the mountain road. We don’t see any other vehicles going over the mountain this morning.

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After about an hour, we arrive in Sarria and begin our 14 mile trek to Portomarin.  We tip our driver since he did such a wonderful job and did not charge as much as we had expected.  He keeps trying to return the tip.  No es necesario!  We finally convince him to keep the tip since he is very deserving and is well worth it.

Spain-1030668dmvWe begin our march through Sarria and grab a quick beverage and snacks for the road.

Spain-1030663dmvcrFollow the arrows and you can’t go wrong.  Rats!!  It’s starting to rain again.

We look ahead and see that our path has been washed out and fast, deep water is rushing across.  (It seems much deeper than the photo depicts and we don’t see the grassy area on the other side of the rocks, yet.)  I hear a gasp and discover it came out of my mouth.  How are we going to cross this mess?

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Listen… Do I hear angels singing?

Yes, I do!   Singing Spanish angels have appeared out of nowhere to save the day.  Randy goes ahead to crawl over the rocks and is ready to help the rest up and through to a grassy patch that wasn’t so deep.  The Spanish Angels take over the middle and rear to help us up and over the rocks.

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Now that we are all safely across, they proceed to splish, splash down the water-filled trail singing their happy Spanish camino songs.  Buen camino!

I wonder if we’ll see them again?

Spain-1030688dmv Stepping stones help us get through this flooded area.  The walking sticks are valuable to help keep balance with all the water rushing by.

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Kathy gets the prize for the most waterproof boots, but even her feet are wet now.

The cold rain continues to fall.  This is going to be another long day.

Longest Day EVER!

camino-frances-24Day 3 continues…

After a quick lunch break at a cafe, we attempt to wind our way out of Ponferrada.  It is a busy city so we step lively as we cross streets to follow the Camino path.  Follow the sea shells, follow the arrows… and, if all else fails, ask someone.  It is obvious to the locals that we are walking the Camino de Santiago, so they are helpful if we appear lost.  Muchas gracias!

We walk and we walk and we walk…

Ponferrada is one of the larger cities we pass through on our walk with a population of  68,736 according to the GeoNames geographical database.

We walk and we walk and we walk…

We exit Ponferrada without getting lost.

We walk and we walk and we walk…

IMG_6595to ponferrada

This stage of the Camino is a good section to make up time due to the relatively flat terrain, but the rain does not help our cause.  It starts raining at the edge of Ponferrada and continues to rain thoughout the rest of the day.  (Which is also why I have very few photos today since the camera stayed dry inside my pouch).  Our rain ponchos keep us relatively dry, but water starts seeping into the boots.  The lotion/vaseline between my toes will only do so much to prevent blisters.  We can feel the hot spots on our feet as the blisters threaten to inflict their pain.

…and then we walk some more. 

It is 6:30 p.m. and we finally drag our wet, exhausted bodies and blistered feet into the town of Cacabelos, a city which dates back to the 10th century.

Am I dreaming? Do I really see a hotel?  We stop to inquire about hotel rooms and discover they do not have enough beds for us.  We must look quite sad and pathetic as the hotel clerk offers us free samples of wine and snacks.  She is such a wonderful person and recommends a hostal and even offers to call them for us.  They do have vacancies.  Hooray!  Away we go in search of Hostal La Gallega. Click on the link for more photos and info about our hostal tonight.

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After close to 12 hours of walking our prayers are answered.  Hostal, restaurant and bar are all inside under one roof for 17 Euro each.   Hallelujah!!  Praise the Lord!  God sure knows what we need at the end of a tough day.  Now it’s time to start drying our boots and socks while we hydrate and refuel our bodies for another day.  The hostal even has a pulperia which means a small grocery store.

Spain-1030590dmvMeet our neighbors.  (Backyard view from our hostal balcony)

Oh, my sore feet and stiff legs! 

Time to say our prayers and go to bed after walking over 20 miles today.

Maybe it won’t rain tomorrow… z-z-z-z-z-z-z-z-z