Sunday, May 30, 2010


We walked a short day and arrived in Najera about noon. This is quite a large town on a river and it seemed everyone was out for a Sunday stroll along the banks, lying in the shade or having cafe con leche at tables outside the bars. Sorry to call them bars because that has a certain connotation in America that is not quite right here. A bar is where you go for a glass of wine or beer, but also for coffee or a juice drink, or to eat a light meal. It is the meeting place of a town, a place to sit and talk for a long while. The photo shows a welcoming sign for peregrinos to stop and rest, and spend some money! And we did!
Sent via BlackBerry by AT&T


We left Logrono this morning and it seemed to take for ever to get out of the city, through the suburbs and industrial parks. We had to walk a long way alongside a major highway. The city was so jarring after days of walking in the peaceful countryside. The photo shows a fence that separates the camino from the freeway where peregrinos have fashioned thousands of crosses from whatever is at hand and put them on the fence. So, of course I had to do the same. We are now in the little town of Ventosa in a beautifully restored albergue. Tomorrow I will take pictures of it. My friend, Truus, has had a bad fall today, and we are thinking of taking an easy day tomorrow and just going 10 km to Najera and getting a real private room for a day and relaxing. Camino veterans always recommend this and I think I need a day's break. We have another couple of German boys in our room tonight. I swear I should have studied German instead of Spanish!
Sent via BlackBerry by AT&T

Friday, May 28, 2010


Don't you love the Spanish style doghouse in the photo? This scene was at the entrance to the town of Logrono. We are officially 395 miles to Santiago. It still seems impossibly far away. I am now traveling with a 64 year old Dutch woman. We keep meeting up with two delightful sisters who are from Dominican Republic but living in the US. They have walked the camino before, and they say they are walking this time in honor of the Black Madonna and asking for her help for them to start a school in DR. They are so much fun and know the best places for food and lodging. Everywhere they go they spread joy and laughter. I spoke with the older sister called Mercedes about her last camino. She is full of wisdom about the spiritual aspects of the walk. She said many people quit at Burgos. The contrast of being in the huge city and all its temptations causes many to question why they are doing this and they just go home. Burgos is about a week away. Today was the first day of overcast weather. There had been rain last night and the skies were cloudy. It was nice and cool for walking and never did rain but a few drops. It was also the first time we were turned away from an albergue because it was full. We found another one, but we are seeing more and more pilgrims on the roads. Lodging may become more of a challenge in the next few weeks.
Sent via BlackBerry by AT&T

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Torres del Rio

This little town is probably not on many maps, but tomorrow I should pass through Logrono, and a hundred miles or so along my journey. It has been gorgeous walking. The road was mostly smooth and winding through verdant fields of wheat and barley as well as endless vineyards and olive groves. But it has been a really sad day for me as I had to make the decision to leave my camino friend and walking companion in Los Arcos. As I was becoming stronger each day, it was becoming more difficult for her. She had a very heavy pack which I encouraged her to lighten by sending things home. We have had a few short walking days already, and Nora felt she had to stop after only 14 km. She felt she had to be careful of her heart. I had to decide if I should stay with her as she encouraged me to go on. I knew if I were to have any hope of reaching my goal in the timeframe I have, I had to move on. I did so with a heavy heart. I wish I had a photo of her to share with you, but they are all on the camera. I forget to get out the Blackberry at the important moments! So, again the camino is like life. People come and go, and we must value the moments we have with them.
Sent via BlackBerry by AT&T

Wednesday, May 26, 2010


I am humbled by all your comments and good wishes. I would like to answer each one but am limited in megabites, so will have to send out a general THANKS! This is a photo of me at the Irache Bodega or vineyards where the owners have been so kind as to have an open tap of their wine for peregrinos. They also have a web cam of all the folks who stop by so they can make sure there is no abuse of the privilege and so you might be able to see us indulge in a taste of excellent Rioja vino. Go to We had a beautiful day. You must be praying hard for good weather for us. We are now at an albergue at a little town on a hill called Villamajor de Monjardin. It is a donativo albergue which means we pay what we can and what seems right. It is quite primitive. There are 18 mattresses on a platform. A German man lies to my right, Nora to my left, a Brazilian boy beyond her. There are two other Americans here, two sisters from the Dominican Republic, a few Frenchmen, an Austrian, assorted Spaniards and Italians. We communicate with each other in a polyglot of what one pilgrim called "peregrino talk." It includes a lot of hand gestures! I don't believe I have ever taken out my Spanish phrase book. It is marvelous!
Sent via BlackBerry by AT&T

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Eating and Lodging

Several of you have asked about my food and accomodations, so here goes: The food has gotten much better the last few days. In the mountains, it seemed that all we had to eat was meat and potatoes, lots of potatoes. The food actually has been wonderful as we get into wine country, the Rioja area. The Spanish don't go in for breakfast much. Coffee with lots of milk and some bread or a croissant. It is just as well because you do not want to hit the road with a heavy stomach. Sometimes I will buy a bocadilla, a sandwich with bread like a French loaf, with some jamon, a kind of ham, and some fruit to take with me. But many times I am not very hungry. I have gone from 7:30 to 4:30 without hunger, only thirst. One blogger pilgrim said the Camino is a walking prayer and fasting, and she is right. We head for an albergue which is a special lodging place for pilgrims. Many times it is in an old monestery or church, or even an actual pilgrim hospital as they were called, where they have been lodging pilgrims for hundreds of years. Sometimes it is wonderful, as it was at Arre before Pamplona, and sometimes not so great. But always, there are bunkbeds and a mix of men and women from bunk to bunk. This is no place for modesty. After we arrive, we usually fall onto the bunk and sleep for an hour or two, then get up and wash and hang clothes to dry in the sun. There will be a special pilgrim meal at the albergue or somewhere in the town, at a special price. Some meals are great, others pretty bad. But a pilgrim humbly accepts what is offered. And it helps that the price always includes wine. There, too, sometimes fabulous, other times very cheap.
Someone asked how high the Mount of Perdon was. It was 2590 feet up. A molehill compared to the Pyrenees peak at 4757. I have walked about 50 miles, with about 450 to go. I met an English woman who had walked the camino about ten years ago. She said we will get stronger as we go and will soon be able to walk 50 kilometers easily. Right now 15 kilometers is hard. Not so hard on a level paved road, but on these paths many times it is like walking on a dry creek bed. So, we will see. Right now I am on a free internet at the albergue, and it is time for me to get off. It is a challenge using the keyboard. Everything is different. So, back to the Blackberry.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Puenta la Reina

Mission Accomplished! We took the hill. The ascent to Alta del Perdon was not bad at all. I can feel myself growing stronger each day. When we reached the top we could see windmills for miles all around us. The picture shows me at the iconic metal sculptures of peregrinos. I have another picture in my camera of cabelleros and their cabellos tethered to the sculptures. What a great feeling! The descent was not as bad as I had feared. My knee was fine. It just needed a day of (relative) rest. I finally met some Americans! A man from Santa Rosa, CA, and his 80 year old professor dad (like Indiana Jones) and a young man from LA with his side kick Mexican American friend, who was complaining about his back and feet. The young man (I didn't get his name but hopefully I'll see him again) was shaking his head about Colon. "He doesn't understand, it's all a mind game, man." I said to Colon, "don't call it pain, it's just an interesting sensation." Colon wanted to call a company that carried your mochilas for you. "My back hurts, man," he said.
Sent via BlackBerry by AT&T

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Cizur Menor

Today's walk was just about 11 kilometers along city streets through Pamplona to the outskirts and a quiet little albergue in Cizur Menor. I have found a walking companion in Nora from Heidelberg. She used to climb the Himalayas until she had a stroke and is determined to do the Camino for a comeback. There are so many stories along the Camino: Compostela Tales, with a nod to Chaucer. The old town of Pamplona is very run-down. But then why would you want to fix it up when you have a herd of bulls and very drunk men tear through it every year? What Disney could do with this place...just kidding. Well, tomorrow we tackle the Alto del Perdon, the Mount of Forgiveness. We had a pilgrim mass this morning, and I stopped in a church in Pamplona to pray, for good measure. Your prayers will be appreciated, too, as Nora and I seek penance at the top of the mount in the photo. I hope to send a better photo from the top tomorrow!
Sent via BlackBerry by AT&T

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Almost to Pamplona- Trinidad de Arre

I learned something today: lesson #2, there is no "easy day" on the camino. Just because the way doesn't go way up or down, has nothing to do with the smoothness of the path! I experienced many kindnesses along the way and begin to see familiar faces over and over. Helga shared her bocadilla with me when there was no open bar for a meal. A Spanish man talked an official into stamping my credentiale, even though they were closed. I was even able to be a "camino angel" when I found a wallet on the path and was able to return it to a grateful bicyclist. You should have seen his happy face! The photo is of a picturesque ancient bridge leading to a church which has cared for peregrinos for many centuries. It is so peaceful here in the courtyard.
Sent via BlackBerry by AT&T

Friday, May 21, 2010

To Zubiri

Zubiri is a modern town supporting a Magnetite factory close by. Nothing special, but I was extremely happy to see it. The last two miles of my day's journey was like my imagination of purgatory. Imagine descending the path below with an extremely sore knee for about three hours. Tomorrow should be a fairly easy day to Pamplona. I think I deserve it!
Sent via BlackBerry by AT&T

Thursday, May 20, 2010


Photos of the Pyrenees will have to wait. They are all on my camera. Here is a picture of the College of Santa Maria in Roncesvalles.

To Roncesvalles

It just about killed me. 29 km, all of it up except about 6 km. And down wasn't exactly a picnic. But the scenery was "to die for". The mountains reminded me of the Great Glen in Scotland. Sheep and horses and cattle dotted the hillsides and always one of the group had a bell on, so the air was always filled with the sound of bells. In my life I will never forget this day

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

St. Jean Pied de Port-the Journey Begins

I arrived at the St Jean Pied de Port station and walked with a bunch of pilgrims into town, looking for the Pilgrims information place. I soon had my credential, a scallop shell, and a room. The town is ancient, but very lively. I have met an Italian woman and an Irishman who has ridden his bike from Holland. I was actually able to help some non-French speakers to be understood. It is a struggle to try to understand a foreign language constantly, but thrilling when you succeed. Tomorrow will be a tough day. Pray for good weather. Bon soir.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

The Camino Frances

Here is a simple map to follow as I make my way along the camino.

Lesson #1: be flexible

My bags are packed, I'm ready to go, but my stand-by flight's not lookin' too good. My pilot friend has advised that Tuesday looks better. Time to be flexible...
Sent via BlackBerry by AT&T

Friday, May 14, 2010

Thanks to my P.E.O. Sisters

As I am making final preparations to leave for France on Sunday, I would like to send thanks and love to my PEO sisters of Chapter Z, KY. Their enthusiasm, support and love mean so much to me, and their pledges per mile to support my favorite PEO philanthropy, the International Peace Scholarship (for women who will take the knowledge that they gain through study in this country back to benefit their home country) will help keep me going. "Educate a Man and You Educate an Individual …Educate a Woman and You Educate a Nation."

Sunday, May 9, 2010

An Awesome Sunday

What a wonderful Mother's Day I've had. I gave a short presentation on my forthcoming pilgrimage to my Sunday School class and at our two church services. My church family responded in such a loving way, and I feel so uplifted by their encouragement and promises of prayers. I also am "walking for  a cause" and asked for pledges per mile towards one of my favorite charities, New Life International, which makes water filters and sends them all over the world so that people can have the most basic of necessities, clean water. The response was wonderful! If you would like to pledge also, just send me an email and I'll put you down. Remember to do the math: a penny a mile will add up to $5.00 if I walk 500 miles.

I have been preparing for this adventure for a long time, now, and I am so ready to go. Scared a bit, but ready. I just looked at Google Earth and went to the town where I will start my walk, St. Jean Pied de Port. I hadn't realized before that you can make the software show you a view as if you are walking and looking at the horizon. The Pyrenees look so beautiful! Try it yourself and see. You can also see photographs that people, mostly pilgrims I suspect, have taken on the Camino. It is breathtakingly lovely. I hope in my blogs that I can convey something of the beauty and experiences of the Camino to you all.

Ultreia! (Onward!)

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

A Practice Sending Blog from Blackberry

Monday I went walking in the beautiful Bernheim Forest. I just decided to walk as I pleased and not worry about the miles, so I just walked for four hours or so and enjoyed the time. I brought one of my trekking poles and found what a great help it is in walking up and down hills and jumping across streams. The photo is a sculpture in one of the gardens of a boy emerging from the stone. Reminds me of that Michaelangelo one--don't know the name.
Sent via BlackBerry by AT&T