Thursday, June 30, 2011

What the **

Ok in an effort to make things manageable for those who are well as myself in editing...any entries with the apparent cursing going on, ** are new entries with pics and captions only! Hope this is helpful.  Looks like only a day or a two at time.  The upload process ain't exactly greased lightening. Oh that's right a pilgrim is always grateful...but then I ain't in pilg mode anymore... I am home!!  (insert evil witchy laugh here!)

Wednesday, June 29, 2011 last!

Ok....have begun inserting pics in the chronologically appropriate places...but not 100% sure if this is a good idea...or should I just start a second section of order?  Will take advice or opinions from one and offense taken...just excited as all get out to be able to share them with you all at last. 

Ahhhh...that's right..breathe, just breathe!

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Today is her day!

Today is my beautiful granddaughter Anna Karina's baptism.  Today is the day that made me hurry a little more than I might have liked, across the north of Spain.

My dearest and darling little one, I hope you will know how much I missed you!  Someday maybe you'll realize how many people know this is your day!  People in S. Africa, Germany, England, Ireland, France, Brasil, Italy...they all knew why I had this intense look some days, the look of someone with a goal.  A goal beyond just Santiago de Compostella!  So as I sit and write this with the sun coming up over my shoulder, I lift my cafe con leche to you my little one!

So Anna, and Clare Grace, my other beloved, still waiting in the wings....Omi is home!

Anna Karin Samulis (and her Omi!)

Friday, June 24, 2011

God is so good to us!

As much as I dreaded the reentry, it is going so much better so far than I'd ever expected.  Now this is coming from a woman who only laid her head on her own pillow about 8 hours ago! 

My last day in Santiago was a bit of a whirlwind that allowed me not to have too many meltdowns!  I meet and enjoyed my time with so many people that day, including Joachim and Hanna, who walked from Burgos or was it Pamplona, to celebrate their 40th wedding anniversary!  Awesome couple and so much fun to spend time with.  We decided to meet for a final dinner as I had the night train to catch.  This left me now with an afternoon to fill.  One last afternoon in my Emerald City, what to do?  I had to do some shopping but was just having the worst time buying "things".  I just couldn't.  Yet, I wanted some small thing to share with my loved ones at home.  So, putting all things in the hands of someone larger I went off, knowing I had to meet dear people in front of the Cathedral at 6pm

Wandering the streets I saw some lovely things, and yet none of them spoke to me.  At all.  Well, one pair of earrings did, that were very very modern and looked like cherries in a silvery/pewter/gold fabrication.  But that would have been for me, a memory of cherries shared along the road, wild and those given to me by a local couple harvesting from their own front yard tree.  No earrings.  I wanted to check out the Convento and the church attached, but siesta intervened.  Hmmmm...continue wandering the streets, starting to feeling the slightest anxiety that I wouldn't have any "thing" to share.  When what to my wondering eyes should of my all time favorite things...a museum. 

Now my poor family knows, if there is one thing I am liable to dive into anywhere anytime, it is a museum.  Once again, the Camino provided.  It was the Museum of Pilgrimage.  It was free.  It was terrific.  It also allowed me to get something of remembrance without feeling overwhelmed by the commercial.  I was still in a small way supporting both the museum and the local economy.  So a few small items, some music and I was free to finish and meet my friends.

Our final dinner was in a small restaurant, frequented by locals only as it turned out.  And the food was excellent.  I simply indulged in my last Ensalada Mixta and last Tortilla Espana.  Followed of course by Tarte de Santiago.  We wandered around a bit after eating and found ourselves once again standing before the Cathedral in the Praza de Obradorio.  All was well till I realized this was truly my last goodbye in this wonderful journey and with a quick hug to all, I fled.  Grabbed my bag, had the concierge at the Seminario call a taxi, and headed for the train station.

I was, I believe the first pilg to show for the train.  Got my ticket, on the cheap, a seat not a berth which would have been more than double, at 120 euros.  So for 50 I had a comfy seat.  Or so I thought.

Getting into my seat 2A on Coach 6, I discover myself sitting across from a man about 6' 5"!  At first he didn't say a word as we four tried to settle ourselves.  After a few moments, he realized I spoke English and lit up.  Apparently hadn't heard a word for two days! Turns out to be ex British military, heading down to visit a sister in the south of Spain.  His dad was also there and at 97, not doing well, so he was doing whatever and where ever to get there ASAP.  And of course as cheap as possible.  The flight, last minute would have been 600E ! So anyhow, we chat abit and decide to head for a coffee, which actually turned out to be a beer (smarter option if you wanna try and sleep upright I think). 

Back in our spot on the train we struggle to get comfortable as possible, and Matt and the other pilg next to him said I should put my feet up on the seat between them.  I looked at them in complete horror, as they were bare feet, Camino feet with healed blisters that are starting to peel and really look, well, disgusting!  They insisted it was ok, so, lets not be stupid, I did!  We all nod off as well as we can, with Matt doing like my friend Joe here, instant coma!  Somewhere during the night I feel something on my legs.  Ummm. Ok.  Turns out Matt noticed my capris, and my cold legs, and was tucking me in with a shirt from his pack.  Now tell me the Camino doesn't provide the most amazing angels along the way.  Nasty slightly dirty camino feet and he tucks me in so gently I almost didn't notice.  We parted with a hug and a kiss on the cheek in Madrid.  I know I will never see him again, but neither will I ever forget him and his kindness.  Matt, I hope it goes well with your Dad.

Back home after a long set of flights with all kinds of delays and near misses, I realize I have to call home.  I am too late for any trains.  So much for wanting to walk the last 2k to the house under my own steam.  My phone had gone dead, and yet one last time, Camino Angels appear.  The girl at the counter for the limos, hands me her phone (unasked for) and says to call my husband.  Another girl waiting for her pick up hands me a phone to double check that he is heading to the right stop at Newark Airport.  This is Jersey folks.  This is highly populated, urban, busy, hectic and yet, people are good.   

So now here I sit, having made my own caffe con leche and eaten a bit trying to think of what to do.  I do know I need to go outside.  I haven't been in a building this long in nearly six weeks.  I need to walk.  I need to go see my granddaughter.  Oh GOD, that means I need to drive. Oh this should be interesting!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Tick, Tick, TICK!

I´m down to hours in Santiago. Just as the city begins to feel home like, it´s time to leave.  It really is.  I´m ready, or as much as any of us is after a fairly long walk, to reenter my real world. Reenter without scaring the hell out of my family and friends.  In my own weird way, I think after finally arriving in the City, I felt maybe a little like Moses did when he came down from the mountain, and people couldn´t look at him.  I just wasn´t ready to have "regular" conversations. I wasn´t ready to think about daily tasks.  Tasks that weren´t walking, washing laundry by hand, and eating something before sleeping again. Tasks that were anything but being, praying and enjoying the world as a whole.

OH....more tears here in the Emerald City!  Sitting here typing, Rita, with whom I literally began my walk, appeared!  We set our feet on the path to Santiago, together, on May 13th just before the gate in St. Jean Pied du Port.  Today on my very last day, she is here with me again!  Some how, it seems to round things out, complete and close a chapter.  Beautifully.  I think as of now there is only one friend I haven´t been able to say a proper goodbye to.  And in it´s own way that is ok too. 

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Here´s to small quiet voices

This morning, the dawn of midsummer, I woke up thinking I´d take the bus to Finisterre.  My tummy felt a tiny bit wobbly, so I figured breakfast was in order.  I wandered down to the dining hall, where the Seminario has a fantastic breakfast buffet.  I ate.  I drank coffee con leche.  I sipped juice.  I still felt just the tiniest bit off.  So I wandered off to the cathedral.

The cathedral at roughly a few minutes after 8am is delightful. Quiet.  Truly peaceful.  I could really enjoy the silence, the polychrome pillars, the infinite variety of the chapels, the old and the new all  living side by side.  I watched quietly from a pew as some priests did their divine office, and then mass.  I knew I wasn´t going to make Finisterre today and that was fine.  I walked around the Portico del Gloria, admiring the work and looking a the restoration in progress over the next few years. 

Needing more fresh air I went out the main steps and stood looking out over the Praza.  A pilgrim sitting with his bag at the bottom smiled back as I mouthed "Hola".  Then I saw why I´d had a wobbly stomach.  Renate!  Renate Gunther!  I think the world of this young woman, and haven´t seen her since Leon.  We spent the morning catching eachother up on all the happenings, and various folk from our Camino Families.  I´d forgotten that she and Hunter were also good friends.

So I´ve been given once again the gift of friendship and time with good people.  Tonight Hunter and I have reservations to look at the roof of the Cathedral.  Not a bad spot to toast midsummer !  Wonder who else I might run into in the process!  So here´s to those small quiet voices gently pulling you back from a plan that looked so promising at first light.

Monday, June 20, 2011

** "Last" day...or where to now? **

How do you put into words, this last day, walking ... It rather reminds me of the line in a song from the movie "To Sir with Love" where she says "how do you thank someone who's taken you from crayons to perfume?" Well, I may not have been quite that young...but...  How do you quantify, measure or even begin to know how much you've changed over these days and weeks and actually months?  For the now, thank you Santiago, for the place, Gracias, Espana and all my fellow Perigrinos, for everything...Gracias, Danke.   Thank you all the angels I met along this way... I am so grateful and happy to say I am not the woman who began this trip...whoever she was.  I can also say, who I am still becoming..don't quite know, but thank you for that too!

Yes, it was this dark when I started walking!  this was probably the only day I left this early.

It took a lot of manipulating to get this picture to show...but the hayloft was so lovely in the near dark, I wanted to crawl up there and wait...for the sun and the rest of the world...
Finally the sun, as always decided to show his face and help me along the way.

At long last, enough light to seen the yellow arrows...and the boots sitting on top of the stele..

So long awaited and now actually dreaded.  This is it, city of my dreams.

A little humor always helps too!  And another one of those tiny notes, which always leave one with that bittersweet wondering, did they meet...did they reconnect?

The equally long awaited words...Monto de Gozo, Mount of Joy.  From there pilgrims can see the actual Cathedral for the first time.  Now mind you, I've been there before, so I wasn't thinking it would hit me....

Well, Duh!! Of course it did...I was trying so damn hard to smile, which only made me cry more!! Of course I can laugh at it now...The Dutch pair who took this for me, and I of them, wound up sitting in the same corner at Mass!  It was a mother being helped by her son...who was only a bit younger than me.  Lovely to see them together.

There they are..smack dab in the middle between the trees, the misty spires of Santiago!  What can I say, the mist matched my eyes this Sunday morning in Santiago.

The road into downtown was amazingly crowded, and it was here I lost the two ladies from Sweden! 

I almost thought the boot was part of the sign.  The couple walking by, in the background, they thought I forgot it!!  He chased me down, and I had to explain in my pitiful Espanol, No mi Zappato and pointing at my feet and my now nasty looking Keens, Mi solo Zappatos.  It was incredibly sweet of him to try and do this...I kinda felt bad...but even for the last 3km, I wasn't carrying another thing!!

When I said on my earlier post about Santiago, about my sitting in a corner and I couldn't believe Enzo and Pepy actually found me sitting  here, my pack tucked into the corner between the sign and the wall, me, as you saw above, all in black!  Apparently the angels were hard at work again.

Stepping into my room at the Monastery, that Enzo and Pepy steered me into, this was what greeted me outside my window!!  My angels...still at it, day and night.

Bliss, aka Room 401.  Those are real cotton sheets and comforter...and a door...that only I can lock or open! and a bathroom..all to myself!  and breakfast too, all for 23 Euros!!!  Ahhhhhh!

Angel of God,
My guardian dear,
To whom His love
Commits me here;
Ever this night
Be at my side,
To light and guard,
To rule and guide.
Sleep tight pilgrims everywhere...don't let the bed bugs bite!!


Ok ya´ll, I have a date with a young man from Florida in about 45 minutes...and the computer has only about 25 minutes left, at the gets what ya gets!!

Where to begin...ok, maybe back in Santa Irene would be great idea? Made that tiny village late on Saturday, along with my beautiful friends from Sweden.  Ingmarie and Evelille (spelling?) started in Sarria, the last major outpost  for those "only" doing the last 100km.  As much as I tried or wanted to look down my weary and old pilgrim nose at this, their joy and delight at being on the road together was infectious! We enjoyed walking sorta together and then meeting up to find an alburgue or hostel.

In Santa Irene, we tried really hard to find the private alburgue, and failed.  Too tired, as we´d just completed a bit over 30km for the day.  So we stayed in the public one we´d stumbled too, and were rewarded with a room to ourselves.  Joy of Joys!  NO Supermercado or anything else, so back up the hill and into one of three restaurants there.  We´ll St. James was looking out for us as it was one of the best meals I´ve had.  The girls ate ensalad mixta, I had a lovely veg soup.  We all agreed to fish, so it came family style.  And oh what style! No Pomme Frites for us.... Real chunks of potatoes, with olive oil, and three kinds of grilled fish!  Salmon, Hake and Calimari! Evelile finally tried calimari and declared it good.  For Postres, we had fruit macerated in orange juice.  Peaches and plums etc.  Absolute perfection..all at the staggering price of 9€.

The girls had also given me another gift, for helping them along the way (that´s a laugh with my un poco Espanol!)  But it was one of the most precious gifts, especially to a woman living out of a bag for more than a month.  It was a tiny bottle of conditioner.  I can comb my hair properly using the small brush that Emmanuel from Stuttgart gave me (lightening his pack and making me feel like a girl again!)

So..anyhow...At five in the morning, with my miners lamp firmly on my head, I left, hell bent on making my way into Santiago in time for the noon pilgrims mass.  It was dark.  Really dark.  However the sky was clear, the moon was out and I simply had to take my time.  So, happily I can report I made it thru the forest without a faceplant and any other untoward  happenings.  Didn´t even scream in the one town where the motion detector sign that talks to you began to greet me in the dark!!  Very proud of myself for that one!

Now my family will find this hard to believe, but I walked nearly 12km before I had  a cuppa coffee (con Leche of course!) But I did it and have to pinch myself from the shock of it.  After this one lonely cup, I pushed on, and to all of Santiago, Mea Culpa!  That had to have been one grim faced perigrina that passed you all on a Sunday morning.

Make it in time for Mass?  You bet I did! Found me a padded seat on a confessional, huddled my now cramping legs and bawled (family, are you surprised?) It was a lovely mass, especially when I looked up and Pepy from Italy was standing over me smiling and telling me he and Enzo had spotted me!

So after Mass, they steered me to a place another friend from the Camino Forum had recommended (thank you Ian!).  I knew it existed but by this point was too tired to even figure out how to find it. Turns out they were all staying there!  So Enzo, my lovely heart transplant friend, literally took me by the pack and gently shoved me over there.  Pepy and he shortened and stashed my poles.  They made sure I got the Alburgue floor which is only 23€ including a fantastic breakfast buffet. So now I too can heartily and joyfully recommend the Semenario Menor (?).  Beautiful, clean, friendly, and.....a room all my own, with a bath of my VERY OWN!! I can stay neeked for more than thirty seconds!  I have white sheets...and a fluffy towel!!

Ok...time for my date with Hunter, touring the Cathedral roof and such!

Tomorrow...Finisterre per Autobus!!  Midsummer on the beach...looking at home and thinking of all of you, at home and all of you elswhere...I love you all very much!!

Saturday, June 18, 2011

** Melide **

Left Ligonde quietly in the near dark...alone again.  It felt better than the previous days, and suddenly it began to really hit me..I was days from Santiago.  My epic was nearly over.  Or so I thought at the time.  Journeys like this...they stay with you, in you forever.  Rather like having a child, you are never ever quite the same. 

I was still meeting new and wonderful people.  Some of them long timers..some really new to the road.  It took an effort to remain open to new encounters, but it was worth the effort.  There were the girls from Sweden, Johann from Germany and many others, esp. the cyclist, who really just fly thru our lives.

Making it into Melide I was dragging a little, but feeling fairly contented with my journey.  Just needed to find the Alburgue. No sooner was the thought clear in my head when another pilgrim, neatly scrubbed and ready to see the town, grabs me and points me in the direction, telling me to hurry, but there are still beds!  Well thank you!  I found it, although with a little more direction.  New, large, possibly a little sterile and with a bathroom shower area..designed by a man!  No curtains, no doors..rather like being in gym class all over again.  Although at this stage, I quite frankly didn't give a damn!  The only concession was that the bathrooms were not co-ed!

There was internet in the area..but not in our Alburgue, rather at the little hostel next door.  It took a bit of waiting and standing around to get my hands on one but I was glad I did.  Not only did I get to blog, as you can see by the entry sans pics!  I juiced up my iPod nano!  I had completely resisted the urge to listen to music the entire time.  I felt, for me, that I'd rather be completly aware of everything around me when I was walking.  People are less likely to talk to you if they see earbuds and wires dangling down the sides of your face.  So for the last five plus weeks I had completely given myself to being present to what ever was.  The last few kilometers loomed, I thought a little help might be in order.

Melide was also the site of my Alburgue break IN.  While happily blogging, a fellow pilgrim and I suddenly's past 10pm.  Like 5 minutes past.  So we scrambled, grabbing our electronic gear and other stuff and bolted out the door like a pair of kids who are about to get grounded by their parents.  We get to the front door. It's locked.  We ring the bell.  No answer. We ring again.  No answer.  So at this point he goes around the corner...and after one more ring I follow.  We find a window to the dining area.  There are several people, including a "slightly" inebriated Frenchman who is sitting right at the window.  He tells us the doors are locked.  Very perceptive!  It takes us about 10 minutes to convince him to close the window, one of those with variable was open at the top only...and swing the damn thing open so we could climb in.  After we finally achieving this and get ourselves in (I needed a leg up cause of laughing way to much!) what does he do...he jumps out the window check his laundry.  Not quite sure how he clambered in as I was still laughing too hard and simply headed up to bed.

More and more, people were leaving notes along the side of the road.  Some were fresh..others left you wondering, rather sadly, had they been able to get together again...would they?

And then the reminders  that time is precious and sweet for each of us.

A small dose of humor never hurts!  Noticed a lot of these had funny faces on them.

A Camino version of "no pain, no gain!"

Okay, my mojo is everywhere and I am seeing them all and loving them!
Church in Melide...where we never did find out what the correct time for Mass was!

We'd come into this rather swanky restaurant...hoping to eat before the Mass (which we never found!) and had planned on being frugal..till the waitress delivered this to the table next to us.  MEAT...real meat that you need a knife for...with lovely peppercorn sauce..ahhhh!!!

Another of countless roadside shrines.
Dinner...4 k back up and I do mean UP the road.  It turned out to be one of the best dinners.  The soup  and salad were great, the entree...wonderful.  Three kinds of fish, potatoes with olive oil and bread.  For Postre...fruit macerated in orange juice.  The grilled calamari were the best!  These are the two ladies from Sweden who made my last days such a pleasure.

Mangolia!!  Mojo back!!!

Hydrangea....I can hear one friend telling me "this is not a botany lesson!" :-)

A fixer upper....loads of charm though!  Just needs the right person to tame those grapes!

Friday, June 17, 2011

El Acebo moment!

Ahhhh stories!!  I told you all earlier about the Naked Pilgrim...well, stories do travel up and down the pilgrim path...sometimes with amazing speed!  I mentioned the story to someone else and they said, "Oh yes, we´ve heard about the naked pilgrim!".  At this point I nearly had an accident!  I had to let her know it was a story I´d made up to keep a friend and myself laughing along the way when it got too hot or just too!  Too funny!

So, now for the second coming!  Yes, ya´ll read right.  El Acebo is a lovely quiet village up in the mountains with the most amazing views and a number of wonderful spots to stop and have a drink, or stay the night.  I choose both.  The Parochial Alburgue was very very nice, our hospitelero, Pedro was wonderful and was there without ever being intrusive.  We had a fabulous dinner of pasta, cooked up by two fellow pilgrims from Italy.  Everyone had more than enough to eat, followed by a bowl of the most lovely green apples for dessert.

Now for those of you who have been in El Acebo, you may remember the cross in the park at the end of the village?  Well, it is "the" spot to watch the sun go down over the mountains and view a bit of your next days walk down into the valley of Astorga.  I found the spot, alone, and unintruded upon.  This in itself can be quite a feat somedays of the walk, so I was really enjoying the absolute quiet and the sun slowly setting.  After a while, I got more than a little chilled, so I chugged on back to the Alburgue, grabbed the blanket off my bunk (top bunk with the pillow arranged so I could look out the window at the amazing view!) and toddled off to the cross again.

Now here I should explain a bit.  The cross is rather large.  It sits on a three tiered platform of stones.  My blanket was exactly the colors of the stones.  I had on a tan/brown jacket with a hood.  I can sit really really really still.  For a long time might I add.  So there I was, listening to nothing more than the beautiful birds, the breeze and my own thoughts.  Till.  The dogs at the house behind to my right began to bark with a vengance.  They were really going to town.  So I thinks to myself, what the heck, others are coming, I have had nearly an hour to myself, so take this as a sign to go to sleep!

So up I stand, and start back towards the Alburgue.  There is this sudden commotion.  There are two guys there with cameras...jabbering away at each other.  WTF!  Ok girl, keep your eyes down.  Just DON´T make any eye contact, these two are whacked.  And so hood still pulled up, blanket wrapped around me, I kept silently walking.  They keep dancing around taking pics..nut jobs!  Till I come even with them and one asks do I speak English?  Uh...yeah! 

So now it´s my turn to be shocked.  He shows me from his view point, what happened. They were walking towards the cross at a few minutes before sunset.  There is the cross up ahead.  Suddenly from the base of the cross a figure rises.  All in silhouette mind you!  Wrapped in a "robe" with a hood.  Looking for all the world like something (someone!!) rising from the dead.  Or maybe Mary sitting at the foot of the cross...but anyhow, the laugh was totally on me in the end! I haven´t seen them again.  So...if ya ever see a pic of El Acebo and the second know who it really is.  And my advice would be .... RUN!  Cause I was a tired Perigrina, in need of a bed to sleep and not in a great mood at that moment!! 

Melide! the Pulpo capital...and having a hard time deciding between stuffing my face with Pulpo or going to church in thanksgiving for everything!  If I try to write too much here, they´re gonna look at me funny, cause I´m gonna cry!

This trip has been so much more than I ever expected.  There are so many kind people.  So many beautiful sights.  I´m desperate to put my pics in here but at the moment, still haven´t mastered the art of getting them off my camera on a public computer. (Of which there are very few here in Melide!)

A quick note...we took the route from Triacastella to Samos as we´d heard it´s praises from many along the way.  It was an incredible piece of walking that I´m so happy we all got to share.  Funny thing was, there was another pilgrim....apparently Spanish, who did everything in his power to disuade us.  "It´s along the road, many trucks, not pretty etc"  Well the first two or so were exactly that.  And then it all changed!  I was quiet, green green green!  There was a lovely little river running thru it all, we found a place to soak the feet and just had a fabulous last day walking together!  Mike and Helena were planning to stay on in Samos, Robert was/is in a hurry to get to Santiago, to meet his girlfriend and so on the following morning, I pushed off into the darkness, alone.  It made for a rather lonely day, but I am in the groove of walking alone again and enjoying it completely.

Sarria, for my money..sucked.  I just didn´t care for the vibe and pushed thru in a hurry.  Turns out I wasn´t alone...most of us long timers feld the same.  However, I´ve met a few who were just starting and suddenly saw the excitement in their eyes, the raw newness of walking each day and it made me smile.  SJPdP seems a lifetime ago. That uncertainty...the touch of anxiety...the fear of blisters!  When I get more time...I will have to finish filling in some of the blanks...but right now I´m doing wonderfully well, and hoping to make around 30km tomorrow, with the hope of Sunday Mass in Santiago!  I think the current going rate for that distance, for me at least, will be two more new small blisters a price I´ve learned to pay easily and right now...gladly!

Family...I may try and delay my flight by a don´´t freak...ok!  Just want a few more hours in the city after all this work to get there....and maybe a quick day trip to Finisterre to wave at everyone!! 

Thursday, June 16, 2011

** Quiet time **

A new dawn...and yes it's true a good nights sleep makes such a difference.
The "kids" fro St. Xaviers and I were both fascinated by these boots topping off the fence posts.
The bridge at Portomarin.  And the nearly empty resevoir, that moved an entire town!
These steps nearly made my knees buckle...just thinking of climbing them...actually weren't that bad once you got going!!  This entire town was ups and downs though...and what little I saw...was worth it!
This church was moved from the valley floor below.  Each stone was marked and then taken down and put back in place high above it's original home.  The result is a new old church, clean sharp and still beautiful.  There is an air in this one of being used, where some of the others you sense are rarely used or on their way are the villages they are a part of.  Loved the contras here of the modern tree candelabra (which reminds me of many a menorah I've seen!) and the fragile attenuated looking Christ.  The Spanish have a special knack for making the crucifixion powerful and real. 
I have to be honest, I actually started to laugh when I saw this one.  My first thought was ...barbecued ribs!  Really not sure what he's holding and has his teeth on, but it certainly made me think...of food!
So little of the polychrome left, but what is was beautifully displayed.
The canopy.
Once again, gotta be brutally honest...I'm not 100% sure this Madonna was in the Portomarin church....but she moved me like few others did in her incredible simplicity.  The only comparable ones for me was one on the wall in Burgos and the one in O' Cebreiro.....with the flash photo incident!  All the others I refer to these kinds of things...too "pink and fluffy" aka, girly for my sensibilities.  These are so serene, gentle and approachable.
So you thought coming in to town was interesting...this bridge over the ravine was quite interesting too, especially for those who aren't the greatest fans of heights!!  But I'd watched four cyclist barrel across so I knew it would hold, at least as long as my nerves would!!
My theory, a form of stile to get up to the next area quickly...not quite sure why, perhaps grazing animals??

The purple school room. Yeah this deserves a moment more than some of the others!  The group from St. Xaviers, well they kinda took over most of the space in the little village before Ligonde.  So, when Lille Marie, Evalille and I got there, the word was "nada" as far as a place to lay our heads!  So, after a little help from one of their group, who had perfect Spanish, we determined there were rooms in Ligonde.  But only 7 places remaining!  This meant we had a minimum of 4 km to do in less than an hour, at least as far as we could determine.  You can't imagine how funny we must have looked, darn near running down hill to the next village.  When we got one was taking our money, no one was stamping our passports, no one was concerned at all.  There were open beds everywhere, so we plopped our stuff down and got ourselves all cleaned up.  Long before the hospitelera showed.  So all was good, we had a place to sleep in what was once a school house.  Very basic, very clean and very comfy!

Now below are two very interesting pictures.  We had to convince the young men in the restaurant to allow us to order and eat outside.  It was glorious we did prevail!  As a result, we got to watch the traffic, or what passes for rush hour traffic.  First the cows heading in for milking.  Then came the Caballeros, heading out before any other pilgrims...gotta beat the morning rush.  Oh wait, they were actually putting on more miles before the sun went down!

This one was taken a bit earlier in the day.  I was on my own, and decided it was time for a little pause, a little meditation and some lunch.  So I park myself in a field, taking off my lovely red pack and settle into some bread, cheese and fruit.  Behind me I suddenly hear familiar sounds and grab for my camera.  As I spin around to snap a picture of Caballeros on Camino, I realize I must have looked "picturesque" too, 'cause the head Caballero was snapping a picture of me at the same time!  We both laughed and waved....  I have to say, Spanish horses are beautiful (the men on them weren't half bad either!)

Apparently my mojo was returning too, as I was beginning to notice the flowers again.  This is a combo of white spirea and I believe the pink are a type of honeysuckle! is good.

** Samos to Ferreiros **

Such mixed feelings...leaving behind some of the most memorable walking days and walking companions.  And yet... so much still ahead...such goodness, so many angels!

I immediately thought of Munsch's painting, "The Scream" when I saw this piece.  It completely matched my mood at the moment, and actually made me laugh!  And cry.
Trying to stay focused, on what was new in my day, what was being given to me...although these blooms seemed so paltry compared to so many seen on previous days!
Had to laugh at this one, which resulted in singing that wonderful Dead song, Touch of Grey....which after this many weeks on Camino...certainly applied to me!!  Thank you Jerry Garcia or is that Gracias Garcia!

Of course Spain continued to be beautiful, even if I wasn't really in the mood to see it.
A road side shrine.
Housing the first of many angels I'd meet along the way this particular day.
First encounter!  I'd heard about yet another school group, this one from St. Xavier's in Louisville, Kentucky.  Wasn't sure what they'd be like, so I hurried on to get ahead.  They turned out to be amazing, wonderful, fun and some of the best young ambassadors I met the entire time.  My hat is off to them and their chaperones.
Church in Sarria.  Loved the use of natural stones...hated the way the new portico cuts into the arch over the door!  What were they thinking??
Looking into the cloister.  There is a school here, and you could hear childrens voices ...very lovely!
My Waterloo!  I was so hot, tired and cranky, I forgot there were finally some others within earshot...and muttered about this stretch being really which point... they surrounded me...and walked with me!  They were so encouraging and helpful, needless to say... I cried!! Duh!   I didn't realize I was sick until then either.  Gunther turned, looked at me and said if I wasn't at the Alburge, which was 1.5 Km, in a half an hour he was coming back to get me.  Apparently my anemia, was literally showing.  They all told me later I was almost white. 
So here, from Santiago is my hero, Gunther!  This was again, one of those moments, your with people, talking about someone you met and saying you wished you could see them again to say thank you....and they walk around the corner of the Cathedral!

Back in Ferreiros he also wound up spending the night sleeping out on the porch of alburgue in protest when the hospitelera wouldn't allow one more pilgrim, Helena, to stay when she was really in a bad way.  His repayment...he got to watch the lunar eclipse in his toasty sleeping bag!  Gunther...I will always have a very special place in my heart for you!  Vielen Dank!