Almost there, but not there… Melide

Today is going to be the longest day of the trip as we cover about 30 miles or close to 50 kilometers.
Portomarin-to-Palas-de-Rei-Elevation-MapPortomarine is a couple of kilometers to the left of the map above.

Palas-de-Rei-to-Arzua-Elevation-Map Randy, Bryon and Liz start walking and their destination is Melide which requires walking the full distance of the top map and half-way into the next stage.   Will the feet survive?

2014Camino-3 Adios,  Italia!!! 

2014Camino-1070619dmv

2014Camino-1070620nrFoggy day in the woods.

2014Camino-1070625crOccasionally a cement picnic table will appear to facilitate a quick break.

2014Camino-1070627dmvThe path is worn down from centuries of pilgrims walking to Santiago.

2014Camino-1070632dmvcrWhy can’t we stay here?   In March of 2013 we did stay here and woke up to fresh snowfall.

Have Joan and Joyce been kidnapped?  Where could they be?  Um-m-m-m… shopping?

2014Camino-But first we go to the Church of San Juan since it is Sunday. This church was reconstructed brick by brick when the dam flooded the town to build a hydroelectric power plant and they were forced to relocate the city of Portomarine.

We say a little prayer for the other three trudging down the 30 mile path today.
IMG_20140824_042957_700dmvNow we hop into a cozy taxi for a joyride to Melide where we check our group into the albergue.   Every Sunday in Melide you will find a fruit, meat and cheese market where farmers bring their produce in to sell. Randy took my camera so I’m stuck with a low-end cell phone camera and Joan’s Ipod to document the day.

IMG_20140824_043026_673cb

IMG_20140824_043244_987_dmv

IMG_20140824_043403_529dmvcr

IMG_20140824_043511_793dmvcrPigs feet?  Not sure how I’d cook them so I’ll pass this time.

IMG_20140824_043540_275dmvcrThis little piggy went to market…

IMG_20140824_043601_120dmvcrNorwegian cod caught in Spanish waters. Is this like lutefisk?

IMG_20140824_043626_426dmvcr

IMG_20140824_043740_452dmvcrThe air is filled with noisy chatter.

IMG_20140824_060430_499dmvcrJoan negotiates our transaction and we will be supplied with delicious cheese straight from the farmer for the next several days.  Delish!

IMG_20140824_060507_631dmvJoan and I have the great plan to walk back on the trail to meet the rest of the gang to show support.  We walk and walk, but don’t see pilgrims.  This can’t be right?  We go back, find the right road out-of-town, and wait for them…and wait…and wait… and wait some more.

Finally, after almost every pilgrim has gone by, we finally make radio contact and walk to meet them. The last 10 miles have been brutal and Randy, Bryon and Liz finally limp into town, too tired to take pictures.

Painful feet, blisters and exhaustion dictate the mood tonight.

How about some cheese with that wine?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

Planes, trains, buses… oh, my!

us-europe-mapflatIt took three days of traveling by planes, trains and bus to finally arrive in St. Jean Pied de Port, the traditional start of the Camino Frances or the French Way of St. James, to begin our hiking adventure along an ancient Roman road steeped with history along its challenging path.

Plane from Minneapolis to Iceland (8 hour layover), another plane from Iceland to Paris and train from Paris to Bordeaux, from Bordeaux to Bayonne, train/bus from Bayonne to St. Jean.  Whew!!

map

Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port (literally meaning “Saint John at the foot of the mountain pass” in French) is an ancient town in south-western France in the foothills of the Pyrenees mountains. The town is also the old capital of the traditional Basque province of lower Navarre.

2014Cam-1070128dmvBasque people have managed to preserve their own identifying characteristics such as their own culture and language throughout the centuries and today a large part of the population shares a desire to be self-governed, either with further political autonomy or full independence.  ~ wikipedia.org

2014Cam-1060799pophpLooks like we aren’t the only ones to discover this location.  Are all of these people really going to start walking early tomorrow morning?  Crowd and traffic control may be needed, if that is the case!

2014Cam-1060797popdmvIn St. Jean Pied de Port, flows the Nive River. For years, it has been an inspiration to artists such as in The Bridge at St. Jean Pied de Port by Louis Dewis.

2014Cam-1060789dmvWe find our cute little hostel, Gite Azkorria, leave our boots in the entry and settle in to our home for this night only.

7325973Hooray for railings on the top bunks!  Not always the case…

2014Cam-1060795pophpcrPilgrims attempting the walk may light a candle at the local cathedral before embarking on their journey.

2014Cam-1060800popcrWe found a local outdoor bar, instead, to calm our nerves for the upcoming start of our hike.  A restless night of sleep lies ahead as we wonder if we have bitten off more than we can chew.

2014Cam-1060803dmvhpThese jet lagged, travel weary pilgrims are just chewing at the bit to get started – can’t you tell?

Friends of San Lucas… Guatemala Dreaming

Poleaewski-1471chaistThe Friends of San Lucas was created to carry on the legacy of Fr. Greg Schaffer, by listening, responding to and walking in solidarity with the people of San Lucas Tolimán in an effort to alleviate the suffering and dependency created by the ‘process of poverty’.  ~Friends of San Lucas website

A Catholic youth mission trip to Guatemala has had such positive impact on this young person’s life.  I am truly inspired and in awe of the passion she shows for mission work  as she speaks of her experiences.  Her eyes light up the room as she describes the details of her work last summer bringing school supplies to needy areas and helping with various building projects. It is one thing to acknowledge our own blessings, but it projects to a whole other level when steps are taken to look outside our small part of the world and become a blessing to others.

For more information on the San Lucas Mission in Guatemala you can click on the Friends of San Lucas Church above and on  San Lucas Mission  for the history, mission statement and program information.

Another positive example of our rural, southwest Minnesota youth in action.

 

 

 

 

“If you reject the food, ignore the customs, fear the religion and avoid the people, you might better stay at home.”

~ Title quote by James Michener

Our backpacks are ready to make their last trek of this trip, and we see the ever impressive Aqueduct as we leave the hostal.Spain-1040888rhp  We saunter to the Segovia, Spain bus station, drinking in the sights before we head to Madrid so we can fly back home to cold, wintry Minnesota.

Spain-1050295dmvWe pass by the butcher shop with its unique (to us) featured products.  What is that large white item in the window?  Pig stomachs? Brains appear to be on the lower shelf.

Spain-1050091dmv

Last chance for shopping. Spain-1040851 Spain-1040852
We’ve learned that completing challenges in life can be an empowering experience.

Spain-1040845Last chance for a group photo before we go our separate ways.

Spain-1050307I look out the bus window to see this trio sharing a good laugh.

Could it be the sight of Randy and his “harem” of women getting on the bus that is tickling their funny bones?

Spain-1040355dmvWe’ve been living out of backpacks for about 2 1/2 weeks now and the comfortable feeling of home is calling our names.  This whole Camino experience has had a surreal feel to it and I often had to remind myself that it wasn’t a dream.  The Camino has been a unique experience in that we not only visited Spain, but also visited with people from all over the world, joining us in the communal mission of reaching Santiago on the Way of St. James. Gives a United Nations feel to the Camino.  Plus, the side trip to Segovia was just icing on the cake.

Walking the Camino de Santiago may be the hardest thing I’ve ever done ( Even childbirth didn’t take this long).  Would I do it again?

In a heartbeat.

Cathedral of Segovia

The massive Cathedral of Segovia was built between 1525-1577 except for the dome, built around 1630.

Spain-1050121dmvpop
The Cathedral: Located in the Plaza Mayor, this beautiful Cathedral looms over Segovia’s historic center. It was built in a Renaissance Gothic style in the 16th century following the destruction of the previous Roman cathedral. It has a museum which has the first printed book in Spain from 1472. This Cathedral is acclaimed for both its size and beauty, designed by Juan Gil de Hontañón, it has 3 naves with adjoining chapels on each side.   http://www.euroresidentes.com/euroresiuk/guides-spain/guide-to-segovia.htm

Spain-1050088dmv Spain-1050074dmv Spain-1050065 Spain-1050073 Spain-1050051 Spain-1050047dmv Spain-1050042dmv Spain-1050029dmv Spain-1050030dmv
Gruesome, life-size sculpture of the crucified Christ. Makes one think…