Nearing Santiago

The last two days of walking have been beautiful. The weather has been good and the terrain not to challenging. I have come to be convinced that the Camino path was designed by some very talented, yet sadistic, golf course designer, It can humble you and almost bring you to tears one moment and the next, give you hope and encouragement.
We have just two more days of walking and then we will arrive in Santiago. This is a strange thought as until a day or two ago no one seemed capable of thinking beyond a couple of days into the future – one step at a time, one day at a time – that’s how you get to Santiago.
As I will be spending some time in Spain after arriving at the end of this path, I will be share some more and hopefully deeper thoughts with you in the near future. For now some pictures from the last two days will have to do.










Two Short Videos as Promised

Here are the two short videos I have been trying to upload from the other day. I finally found wifi with a large enough band width. They are not quite worth the wait but funny when you realize they happened within an hour of each other.
The best part is at the very end of the second clip, catch the facial expression on the cowherd in the very last moments of the video, even he thought the whole thing was kind of amusing – enjoy

A Good Day for a Walk

Today was the perfect weather for a nice walk. It was cool, overcast and dry most of the day. We did get about an hour or so of light rain but not only was it no problem it would have been missed after so many very rainy days.
As we have passed the 100km mark to Santiago the path is becoming much busier. That said, at times today it was quite quiet.
A very large percentage of pilgrims only do the last 100km of the 800km Camino. Tradition provides full pilgrim privileges to those who walk at least the last 100k. Modern schedules have made this a much more attractive and accessible goal for most. I am glad that this provides a piece of this wonderful experience to so many, but I would not trade my 5 weeks and 800km for anything – this time has been a real blessing in many different ways and I will be processing it for some time to come and will never forget it.

I still can’t load the video from the other day, but here are some pictures from today.








Snow – yes snow!!

The thing about hyperthermia is that it takes your mind off your pneumonia and your feet. But wait, so that you can better understand the last three days I need to take you back. Back to a time long forgotten in a place far far away – or about 6 days.
I was sharing a bunk room with the three Aussies, Stacy a nurse from Big Sir, Ca and Walter. Walter is the largest person from Holland I have ever met (not big as in fat), very tall, big hands, big feet and big heart. As we were waking up at our typical time of 5:30-6, Walter sat up and announced that he was having “angina.” At the word “angina” we all quickly woke up and Stacy was ready to jump into action. As it turns out “angina” sounds just like the Dutch word for sore throat. So Walter was not having a heart attack – he was getting a cold.
Two days later, Stacy was sick and the next day David and I were sick. Lots of congestion and as is usually the case when I get sick, is quickly moved to my lungs and I was running a fever and coughing constantly. So that is the background of the last three days. Sick, Sick, Sick.
Before you start worrying, I have gotten my hands on some amoxicillin (don’t ask) and I am starting to feel better – I plan to be back to my splendid self tomorrow.
The last few days have been interesting. We have climbed quite a bit and done a lot of miles, which is not easy when you can’t breath. That has not been the interesting part. Two days ago we walked through pouring rain, some snow (yes snow), and gale force winds. We walked along an unprotected ridge-line for nearly four hours in some of the heaviest (and coldest) winds I have ever experience.
Lots of fun and amazing things happened as well. At one point it had stopped raining and Stacy and I were enjoying a cup of coffee at a cafe in a tiny little town (I never remember the names of where I am or where I have been) we looked up and there were two huge pigs standing in front of us. One would think this was a strange but at the time it seemed so normal.

A little while later I was walking up a steep, rocky and very narrow incline to be met as they were coming down by a group of 7ish very large cows being herded by a dog and followed by the cowherd. Again you might think it a little strange but at the time it seemed so normal. I have some great video of this but all the rain seems to have played havoc with my camera – hopefully I can share them later.
So you get the point, lousy weather interrupted from time to time by great views, funny happenings and good friends.
I have lots of photos to share of the last three days – hopefully later, maybe I should not be using my camera in so much rain.
The weather seems to be clearing as is my chest and we are only 100km from Santiago.
All is good and I am looking forward to seeing many of you soon, although I will miss this place, the walking (not the blisters) and my new friends.





600 down and 200 to go

Somewhere between yesterday and today we pasted the 600km mark. That leaves us with 200~km to go. Today’s walk was really nice and easy. 24km (15miles) of rolling hills through small villages, family farm plots and vineyards. It was a nice break for my feet and a chance for some good conversation along the way. The weather was forecasted to be rainy, but it turned out to be a nice cool day. For those of you who have been wondering the weather since those first couple of days of rain, sleet and snow has been beautiful – far beyond anything that I expected or could have hoped for. The mornings and nights have been cool and the days warm and sunny. All that is about to change.
Tomorrow we begin 2 of the most physically demanding days of the camino, there are three mountain ranges on the Camino and the third starts tomorrow, and it looks like a big storm is on its way – in fact it looks like the sky is about to open up any minute now.
Tonight is the first chance I have had to cook since I have been here. I am making a basic pasta with meat sauce and salad with some good local bread and red wine for the folks I have been walking with. The kitchen is small and poorly equipped in the hostel we are staying in and is presenting a bit of a problem, but no worries – all is well. While it will not be the best meal I have ever made it will be nice to share it with new friends. We eat together nearly 3 times a day but it is always different when you can offer the fruits of ones labors to others and the kitchen table is where I am the most comfortable doing that. It is also always interested to cook for a group of people from a mix of cultures and with a mix of likes and dislikes. If it is not a disaster of a meal I might share some pic tomorrow or the next day.




What goes up must come down

The last 2 days have been very interesting (i.e.: hard as hell). We have walked nearly 60k and climbed 1505m, meaning we have also come down. I don’t mind climbing,I kind of like it, but I hate descending, it hurts my feet. Over the last two days the weather has been perfect, sunrises beautiful, mornings cool and afternoons hot, food really good (stewed pigs ears), the path has been narrow, rocky and steep and the company wonderful.
We spent last night and part of today’s walk with 3 retired British military officers (all dentist), 2 of which are treating the Camino like a military campaign and one wonderful guy who turned 70 on the Camino. Yes, 70.
My foot still hurts, but I have come to the place where I know it will for the rest of the walk – so be it. My biggest obstacle is that I miss my family terribly but that is also a blessing.
Tonight I will sleep in a room across the street form a Knight’s Templar Castle – How cool is that?
Pray for me and know that you are in my prayers.

Here is a bunch of pictures – enjoy, and yes that is my right foot.


















Quick and Easy – easing back into it

Today we were back on the road after a much appreciated and enjoyed rest day in Leon. Leon is a lovely city with a number of quite good museums, a beautiful cathedral, a bunch of churches (shocking!) and lots of good food.
It was a great day to walk. The weather was perfect, with the sun out and a slight breeze. The path rolled and was not to rocky nor did it spend to much time parallel with any significant roadways. As we began to walk the comment was made that it was nice to be easing back into being on the road. The response was something about how things/we have changed from the first days – when did 23 km become easing back in?
Not a lot to say about my time in Leon other than the day and a half off was a good idea and I saw many beautiful and ancient things while there. We even saw what is said to be (possibly) the Holy Grail.
Here are some pics:











You Never Walk Alone – unless you want to

The last few days have been some of my best on the Camino so far. Yes, the weather was beautiful and the scenery interesting, but that has little to do with my enjoyment of the past few days. It is the people whom I have spent it with that have made is what it has been. For the past few days I have been walking with 3 Australian men, 2 my age and one, a catholic brother who is a little older , a young women from Dusseldorf who is a recent college grad (thankfully fluent in Spanish and English – our little roving bands translator) , another German – this one a man in his early forties who has the energy (and personality) of a 12 year old from Berlin, he is great fun and a young Japanese women.
While we walk in and out of the lives of the same 50ish people (our own little UN)- we have chosen to travel together. This happened without conversation or agreement – it just happened.


Sometimes there are conversations, at other times we walk spread out lost in our on thoughts. We eat together and we relax together – but most importantly we journey together. Life stories have been told, jokes laughed at and sadnesses and joys shared. We are all walking our own Camino, but for now we walk it together.
Today was a rare day for me – my head and heart and feet were just not into the walking. Most days I love to walk, even with a few pains, but not today. I don’t know why – I just wasn’t. David one of the Aussies must have sensed this and made a point of walking and talking with me for hours, making the time pass much faster. A kindness that I had done for him a couple of days ago when his feet were not doing very well. Nobody says anything about it, it just happens. David is a great guy, funny, crass at times and very caring. After 25+ years of working for a telecommunications company in Queensland he has quit his job and is going back to school to become an elementary school teach (a life long dream). He is a big hairy man with a strong accent, loud laugh and will make a wonderful teacher of small children. This is just one example of the people I am meeting on The Way.

Here it comes and you knew it was – This has, once again, all reinforced my faith and belief in the power of community. Life is full of these little moments – lives weave in and out of each other, effecting a moment, a day and sometimes a lifetime. God is alive and well on the Camino. In the simple hola, help with a blister, quick joke, coffee paid for or in a long silent walk.
God is good – Always







Happy Mother’s Day

As this is my first Mother’s Day without my mother I have been thinking a lot about Mom today, as I have been for the last 3 weeks. Throughout this walk I have many times thought how much she would have loved to hear about every moment of every day and to see all of my pictures (so I have inflicted them on you) . I frequently will see something and think to myself- “I should take a picture of that and show Mom.” While I can not call her or text her I know that she is very much a part of this journey as she is very much a part of who I am.
So to all of you who who are mothers or play that role in the lives of others – Thank you and Happy Mother’s Day.
Two of the greatest blessings of my life have been the blessing of having Jan Hooper as my mother and Priscilla Hooper as the mother of my children – it does not get any better than that.