Friday, October 31, 2008

People dancing in Santiago.

Crosses as you get to Santiago.

Reaching Santiago de Compostela...

When I finally reached Santiago it was almost anti-climactic in that
you never get a good view of the Cathedral from afar, but it was more
of a gradual merge into the outer city to the inner part. Although
Santiago itself is a fun place to be, the real pleasure was the
journey and not the end goal. Through good luck I found a great cheap
pension just across the street from the Pilgrim office and right next
to the Cathedral through a fellow pilgrim. Santiago is known for it's
wonderful seafood, especially the calamari. Still a vegetarian and
wanting to do another Camino I decided to move on after a few days.

Even my bad days are good.

I caught myself the other day complaining about little things like the
weather, how much further the next town was, and other stuff. Usually,
when I feel sorry for myself I just put things in perspective with all
the suffering I've seen around the world to realize how lucky I am to
have so much... so on and so on. Today I had to laugh at myself
because I realized that the biggest worries of my days are how far is
the next beautiful town, or when's the next cafe where I can get a
cafe con leche, and other petty stupid things. I'm such a fool
sometimes, because I forgot that I don't have to work right now or get
up early every morning.:P

I'm traveling in different countries, meeting wonderful people,
learning about different cultures, eating delicious food, and having
an awesome life. I have no complaints.

As I met more pilgrams along the way I discovered a few interesting
things. One was that pilgrams could continue past Santiago
to Finisterra. Once known as then end of the earth, Finisterra is a
popular destination for pilgrams to finish and some even burn their
clothes and/or shoes. I also heard about other Caminos people had done
that sounded facinating, such as the Camino Portugese.

I then decided to take the bus one last time to make sure I had enough
time for the last 100km to qualify for the certificate you get
from the Camino. I then ran into a group of 30 pilgrims who were
headed to Santiago for a 50 year Catholic Anniversary of some sort.
Plus I got to enjoy a concert of snoring throughout the night. How
lucky was I.

Eventually, I reached Arzua, the crossroads of the Camino del Norte
and Camino Francaise where both paths merge to Santiago de Compostela.
It was such a change from seeing no other pilgrams on the walk to
seeing a lot of the same faces. I also heard stories of rampent
bedbugs and bad weather for the Camino Francaise, which made me so
glad I chose the north route.:-)

So finally finishing the Camino del Norte almost two weeks ahead of
schedule I decided to do another one, the Camino Portugese.


Hola bonita!

So I have this new idea of saying, "Hola bonita!" as my first greeting
to the gloomy customer service people. Guy or girl, I'll just say, "
Hola bonita!" and go from there. For the girls I know they will smile,
but for the guys I'm not sure. Maybe I'll get a confused look, better
than a sour one right? I'm sure to get a more positive response. I'll
let you know....

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

I'm sure you have all been wondering how my feet and Olukai's are doing. There Great! I can walk through anything and not worry about wet socks or stinky shoes.:) However some people on the Camino have some serious foot odor that almost knocked me out.



Saturday, October 18, 2008

Being a vegetarian on the Camino.

It really depends on how you look at it. If you go out to cafes and
restaurants, ya it will be a challenge. However you can buy all the
vegies you need at the supermarkets so there's really nothing to worry
about. You will NOT starve to death.

As for me, I'm still going strong with no meat cravings, to my
surprise. My energy level has been good considering I've been walking,
have a new vegetarian diet, and eating less.

I have seen some wonderful seafood dishes, which is to be expected on
coastal towns. Seafood is also considered something vegetarians would
eat here. So when you order food you have to be clear that there's no
beef, pork, or seafood.

I also found a great website that has a listing of vegetarian
restaurants and grocery stores around the world. Of course Nepal and
India will be vegetarian heaven.



Thursday, October 9, 2008

Wine at the Monostary's gift shop, now that a good shop!

Relaxing after a long day at Monasterio de Sobado de los Monjes.

Attack of the cows and their little leader!

The local tapas in Baamonde.

One of the tiniest bars I've ever seen. Super friendly people and one of them bought me a glass of wine.

Father Ernesto!

Can you see the little birdies?

Chill'in by the fire making chestnuts... Mmmm.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Dinner at the albergue in Guemes.

First day of rain.:-(

I was hoping to avoid it, but the rain eventually caught up with me.
However, by chance I stumbled across an awesome albergue in Guemes run
by a priest named Ernesto. It's a huge place on a hill and they only
take donations. I was given a clean place to stay with wonderful meals
and plenty of wine.

Ernesto has traveled to 75 countries around the world and and has a
huge library of information and photos.

In the Basque region I had a great map from the tourist office, but
once I got to the next region, Cantabria, nobody had a good map to
follow and the signs became sparce or non-existant. Fortunately I was
able to dazzle the locals with my ten word vocabulary of Spanish
(English is not common at all) to get around and find the right path.

I decided to take the train from Deba to Bilbao and then the bus from
Bilbao to Castro Urdiales because the path was either not interesting
and/or went through cities.

When I finally reached Ernesto's albergue I was so exhausted I crashed
for a few hours. Then I woke up, stepped out of my room to the
veranda, and saw the French couple I met in San Sebastian. It was a
great surprise and we caught up on stories, but I had to tell them I
cheated a bit to get there. Then later that evening, while we were
having dinner, in came Inga all dazzed and tired. I yelled out,
"Inga!" and we caught up over dinner.

Ernesto said that the Camino in this region is confusing because there
are numerous paths and each book tells of a different one. Once you
loose a path, then you could easily stay lost.

The next two regions are Asturias and Galizia, hopefully I'll
findbetter maps there. Otherwise, I'll just keep meeting more people
to ask:-)


Look it's Inga again!

These figs were very interesting to me, besides being green both on the inside and out the taste was not too strong and had a melon flavor.

iPhone and the Internet on the Camino.

During the Camino del Norte I've been using my iPhone (my laptop would
be too much to carry) to post on the blog. I have yet to pay for the

If you go to the local library they will have free Internet for
anyone, and about half the time they have wifi. I've also been lucky a
couple of times in getting random open Internet walking around. Of
course people usually have their Internet password protected...
Where's the trust...


Me and my Olukai's.

It's been about two weeks since I have been walking in my Olukai's and
it's been great. I finally made some impressions with my toes, the
arche support is still good, and there's no signs of wear on the soles.

Of course I still get the funny looks and reactions of others when
they realize I'm doing the Camino in flipflops. I love it. Some
travelers have even taken pictures. Probably to show their friends the
crazy American, but as my friend says crazy is interesting.

In packing for the Camino with my day pack it's already too much. I
brought my tennis shoes as a back up and three pairs of tank tops and
shorts. I would throw them all away if I didn't need them for after
the Camino.

I would suggest any backpack with a hip belt and when you think you
have the bare essentials packed, then take half away(everyone says
this because it's true). Over days and then weeks even the smallest
amount of weight will wear you down. Also I've notice that even the
way you pack things can make a difference on your back.


Look only if you dare...

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

I'm a giant!

Pygmie goats with cool yellow eyes!