Monday, August 2, 2010

Our Camino Prayer a.k.a. Anima Christi

One morning when we set out walking with Billy and Christine, Cullen began the day as we always did, with "our" pilgrim prayer. Billy told us he learned that prayer as a child, so it really isn't a pilgrim prayer per se, but it is the prayer we started each day of our pilgrimage. It is the "Anima Christi". Here it is with a bit of variation:

Soul of Christ, sanctify me
Body of Christ, save me
Blood of Christ, inebriate me
Water from the side of Christ, wash me
Passion of Christ, strengthen me
Passion of Christ, comfort me
O my Jesus, Within thy wounds hide me
From the evil malignant one defend me
At the hour of death call me
And grant that I join your angels and saints
and proclaim your glory.
Now and Forever. Amen.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Our Camino in Video

We've put all our pictures of our Camino to video in three parts - enjoy!

Part 1 - NYC, Bordeaux, St Jean Pied de Port to Belorado

Part 2 - Belorado to Villar de Mazarife

Part 3 - Villar de Mazarife to Santiago de Compostela and onto Finisterre

Sunday, July 4, 2010

The Best, The Most Surprising and Practical Advice

Practical Advice:

I definitely recommend using net sacks for keeping your clothing sorted. We used plastic and the "eau de pilgrim" gets overpowering after a couple of weeks. The net sacks allow for ventilation and they are less noisy than plastic.

Learn as much Spanish as you can. Though most (not all) pilgrims from non-English speaking countries do speak English, and you can make yourself understood to most business proprietors, our experience was so enriched by Cullen's ability to converse with the locals and the Spanish pilgrims in their language.

My boots were 1 1/2 sizes bigger than my normal shoe. I would definitely go with 2 sizes bigger to accommodate the one foot that is bigger than the other (this is probably true for most people). I believe this is the reason I had trouble with the toes on my right foot. It is definitely the bigger of my two feet.

Pilgrim etiquette - Like anyplace else, there are people who don't behave well. Don't worry about it.

What We Liked Best:

- The simple life.

- Running into familiar pilgrims.

- Making new friends, especially Dieter, Becky, Christine and Billy, Ants and Rebecca, Kaija, Patricia and the three amigos, Tomas, Enrique and Luis!

- The big sky of the Meseta.

- The hospitaleros in CastroJeriz, who put on a Quemada ceremony, sang "Amazing Grace" in Spanish while preparing the Quemada and sang Auld Lang Syne in Spanish as we walked off in the morning down the deserted street.

- The Pilgrim's mass at the convent in Astorga and the priest asking us to carry the prayers of the sister's to Santiago.

- Starting each day with our Pilgrim Prayer.

- Introducing other Pilgrims, especially our Kiwi Kids, to the Sol y Sombra.

- The great, swinging incense burner at mass in the Cathedral de Santiago, knowing so many others, over so many years experienced the same thing.

- The appreciation the old Spaniards show the pilgrims and their calls of "Buen Camino".

- Last, but certainly not least, the Spanish Bars where you know you're going to have a great cup of coffee.

Most Surprising (in a not so good way):

- The number of meals (Pilgrim meals and meals of the day) which included french fries as a side dish.

- The number of Spaniards, old and young who smoke cigarettes and the enormous amount of cigarette smoke in bars and restaurants.

- The villages that seemed deserted, as if no one was living there.

- The significant number of dogs kept on short chains.

- The amount of manure on The Way..cow, dog, bird.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Post Camino

Well, it has been a little more than 2 months since we finished our Camino. As soon as we finished we began our touring of Spain. We've been home for 2 weeks and thought it would be a good idea to share some "superlatives" with those of you followed our journey. First though, we'd like to thank each and everyone of you for the comments, thoughts and prayers you sent our way! It really meant a lot to us.

Towards the end of our Camino I thought, "how can people want to do this again?" Sure, it's beautiful, you meet wonderful people, drink good wine, etc. But you can never recreate the experience. So I just figured that somehow the good things must be pushed forward in your mind while the difficulties (sore feet, wearing the same clothes day after day..) are pushed into the back. But here we are, after 2 months post Camino, starting to have thoughts like all the rest of the pilgrims on the Forum ( and the pilgrims I met on the Camino who were doing it for the second, third or fourth time. It really is the simplicity of "The Way" that is most appealing. Getting away from the fast paced life, the traffic, the news, the yard work, etc. Having time to just enjoy nature and being part of something bigger than ourselves, something intangible.

So how does one bring the simple life of the Camino back to your life at home? Right now I have the feeling that, that is more difficult than walking the Camino itself. Perhaps with each Camino you bring home a bit more of the simple life.

Anyway, we wrote some notes while on the bus to Finisterre, making lists of what we liked best and least, our most cherished experiences, our "nightmare" experiences and what we least expected. When I look back on my notes I also notice that what starts out as a "nightmare" ends up being the "most cherished". More to follow.....

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Day 38 Santiago to Finisterre (April 25)

We took the bus for 12 euro each and it took about 3 hours.  It was a nice drive and we welcomed the ocean views.  The bus made quite a few stops on the way, but we weren't in a hurry.    When we arrived we were surprised there wasn't a big bus station, this is the end of the earth after all.  There was an organized run going on so the bus dropped us off on a corner in town.    There were a lot of folks waiting to board the bus.  We thought we'd find the tourist office to get info on accommodations but there wasn't an official tourist office instead we were directed to the albergue which acts as the tourist office.  They were very helpful in recommending the Casa Velay, a nice pension as well as a restaurant.  They also had bus schedules to our next stop, La Coruna.  The double room with bath was 36 euros.  Once we were settled we decided to walk up to the lighthouse.  We ran into Urtzii in town before starting.  The walk was about 6 km round-trip - all on the road.  When we got to the lighthouse the view was wonderful.  I was surprised at how few people were there.  Not many tourists at all.  There were a couple of fires burning so Cullen added our items for the obligatory burning ritual; a sock of mine and his clothesline and clothespins.  When we got back into town we decided to look for the restaurant recommended to us by Jose Andreas, the famous Spanish chef. When we were at his book signing back in December he had recommended that we go.  Turns out the chef at the restaurant is married to the sister of the lady who runs the pension where we are staying.  It was about 1 km, right on the beach.  The name of it is Tira do Cordel.  We didn't have reservations so they seated near the grill where they do most of the cooking.  Of course we loved that!  The food was great-razor clams, a scallop which Cullen thought was the best thing he had ever eaten, and  sea bream cooked perfectly.  The cooking grills were huge and they were built so the chefs could lower or raise them over the hot coals.  The fish was brought in fresh from the ocean.  We also had a great Albarino wine.  When we finished we walked back to town and saw a few pilgrims we had met on The Way (Ramon, Marc, Urtzi, a young German woman).  We chatted with them for a while and had a nice evening on the waterfront.  Thus ended our Camino adventure.  We now begin our tourist adventure traveling around Spain and ending up in Rome.       

As an update we had a chance to check out our photos when we visited our friend Iker in San Sebastian and much to our horror it appears that when Cullen dropped the camera on day 21 most of the subsequent pictures are out of focus. Once we get home we'll post. 

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Wines from Spain

I had wanted to taste many good wines while we were in Spain. Unfortunately I was a bit naive as to what I could accomplish. While walking the Camino, I stayed away from the high.end and middle end wines focused on the vino de la tierra and vino de la mesa. I had many average wine and a few good wines but sorry to say I found nothing spectacular. Then We went to Finisterre and we had our first WOW wine at the restaurant called Tirra do Cordel. The wine was an Albarino called Marques de Vizhoja. The next time we had a great wine was while we were visiting our friend Iker in San Sebastian. It was a txakolii called Txomin Etxaniz. While in Sevilla we decided to eat at La Taberna del Alabardedo, which is also in Washington D C and we tried two wines from Andalucia which were fantastic. We are now in Sanlucar de Barrameda, where we just finished a "private" tour of the La Gitana winery and I must say we were really impressed with the sherries, as every sample we tried came right out of the barrel. We have two more weeks in Spain before we leave for Rome and hopefully we will try a few more outstanding wines. Of course all these "wow" wines I will need to tell my friends at The Wine House in Fairfax, Va, and hopefully they can add them to their wonderful selections of Spaniah wines!

Friday, May 7, 2010

Day 37 Santiago de Compostela (April 24)

Last night was the most noisy night we've had in Spain. Our room in the Hostal Girasol was on the street side and there were a lot of people partying (pilgrims) until the wee hours. I thought I was done with earplugs but I had to dig them out of my backpack at 2 am. When we got up around 8 we packed up and headed over to the Hotel Windsor where they told us we could store our bags until check-in. We headed back to the cathedral area and had coffee then entered the cathedral to look around before the noon pilgrim' mass, but by this time it was nearly 1000 so we decided to stay for the 10 am mass with the intention of staying for the 1200 pilgrims' mass as well. There were a lot of people at the mass who were obviously with tour groups.  Many of them were quite noisy.  So much so that the priest had to ask for "silencio" several times.   We enjoyed the mass and when they started to swing the Botafumeiro,the the giant incense burner, it was very thrilling for us.


Knowing this tradition has been carrying on since medieval times is very moving.  We thought we'd stay through at least the beginning of the next mass just so we could hear "two pilgrims from the United States walked from Saint Jean Pied de Port", but it was only 1100 so we headed outside thinking we would just head back in at 1145.  When we stepped out there were so many people waiting to get in, we knew there was no way for us to get back in for the 1200 pilgrim mass.  We saw many of our fellow pilgrims (Kaija, Tomas, Enrique, Luis) who were also frustrated at not being able to attend due to the number of tourists.  It is really sad that the cathedral folks do not make some kind of provisions for those pilgrims that have walked long distances.  Missing the pilgrsass just seemed to take away from the Camino experience.  

Afterwards we did some shopping and stopped for a coffee with Patricia and her husband who joined her in Santiago from France.  We returned to the cathedral square we met Duke and while we were talking, Rebecca and Ants arrived in Santiago.  We were so glad to see them!  We walked a bit and found the Three Amigos sitting outside enjoying a drink of herbal orujo, so we joined them.  Afterwards we bought them a sol y sombra.  A religious procession comprising of a band of drummers passed by. It was quite dramatic.  There were a couple of dozen players of different ages, men and women, dressed in white robes.  It was very exciting.  We made plans to visit Tomas and Enrique as we travel through Spain the next 5 weeks.

Next stop is to the end of the earth - Finisterre, but this time we are going by bus!