León in sight – on the Camino

I am told that if one makes it this far on the camino then the chance of success in reaching Santiago is almost assured.

The days walk is now done. Usually the night before pilgrims on the Camino determine their next day mileage. If traveling with a Camino family then some choose to just hitch a ride and let the “glue” of the family make all the decisions as to mileage, breaks or even the albergue to stay at.

The iPhone is charging, the shower was warm, laundry consisting of underwear and socks were hand washed and are now drying on a multi purpose Euro heater.

The biggest question now facing me is why is the dog whisperer on Spanish television not speaking Spanish. I thought the guy so why is the announcer repeating everything Cesar says in Spanish.

Today I half expected to walk all the way to León. Another 40 km day like yesterday.

However, something happened, I beat Manuel and Fran out of the albergue just before sunrise and they never caught up.

At 6:00 am I was the first downstairs for breakfast. once passed me up. Seems like everyone was taking it gently today for some reason.

My laundry drying in what I refer to as a multi use heater.

Rick I turned your rain pants into shorts. Much lighter and multi purpose.

I am running out of toothpaste will reload in Leon. So honey, what do you think about a Camino tattoo. Just testing to see if she reads my posts.

My credentials slowly filling up. Two stamps per day is how many one needs.

Now finally the smallest packs yet. Tonight they walk a 40 k day all the way to Leon.

If I did the same then the most fabulous meal of the camino would not have gotten eaten.

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A Camino Story

His wife was given just three months to live. Cancer was the diagnosis. In Spain there was no cure available at the time. So the husband and wife team did what others have done for the past 1000 years. They set off in 2007 on the Camino de Santiago in search for an answer or a possible intervention of the spiritual kind.

The man says they reached the “Iron Cross”. A special place on the Camino. Pilgrims leave usually a rock at its base. The rock is suppose to possess all the worries of your life, anything, anyone that has caused you ill harm.

For the couple the turning point came at the albergue they stayed at that night. The wife befriended an Italian woman Doctor who told her of a radiation treatment available in Italy. They left for Italy after their camino. His name is Santiago. Born on July 25th the day of the saint Santiago. He says that as they waited for what was months for an answer from the medical team. The phone call came on the day of his birthday July 25th. All tests were now negative. The cancer was gone.

He prayed to god while on the camino. If his wife would survive he would sell everything he owned and open an albergue to aid other pelegrinos.

For the first four years he was in the red. Until recently the albergue began to make a profit. His wife is happily cooking for the Pelegrinos today.

He is tending to everything else. Life he says can only be lived if you believe that anything is possible.

Buen Camino

A true story

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The herd and the Camino de Santiago

Back home in the USA we get it. We tend to gravitate for some alone time from time to time. Why do we do it?

Here on the Camino alone time is overrated. Every one interacts daily with everyone else from the moment they get up to the moment they are done with their day.

Camino families are somewhat different. When a participant needs alone time he or she walks slower or faster signaling to the others alone time to reflect meditate or stop to pee, poop or take a picture only you see and the others don’t.

Camino family: People walking together on the Camino from all walks of life, usually staying together for longer and longer periods; one pelegrino usually becomes the glue that binds the others. Every one I ……….. more to follow

The country is usually the ice breaker. Then it is fairly easy to size one up by looking at their hiking garb and pack. For me being a ……… more later

If the person is young and fit. It doesn’t matter how big the pack. Everyone cuts the young slack on anything. Their young. They can afford to lug that extra 20 pounds of useless junk hundreds of miles without using any of it. Tossing it today may make it expensive to purchase later on.

This is where I see those that hang on to baggage and those willing to lighten the load.

When we move at a rhythm of our bodies and arrive ready to party vs ready for a nap or otherwise bet your body has finally met your mind. Both are at peace and the world if not, will feel like a much better place.

This story was in my head a while ago and then it left. Sometimes it takes me as long as a full 15 minutes from start to finish to write.

But, with Camino friends all around sometimes the story won’t fully get told until much, much later, when we have returned to our loved ones.

Buen Camino

Rafa

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A day in the life of the Camino

Was I kind to someone today? Did I compliment anyone. What did I do to make myself a better human being. If this is one day in the life of you then would you trade it for a different day. Did you seize the day. Did you arrive at your destination ready to party or ready to complain, nap, criticize or other. Did your body reach a rhythm about itself that only you understand? These and other questions similar are what I now contemplate. Earlier today a mountain was climbed. Many other like minded people gave me the energy and so did the waking day to live my day to the fullest. I cannot say enough that speaking the language has enriched my camino by about 70%. Thank you my Spanish culture.

We spoke of ancient peoples, religion, war, being born in 1946 and 1955. Of the technology of its day vs now. The good the bad and the ugly of mankind.

This day may never repeat itself ever again in my lifetime. Such is just a mere demonstration of life on the Camino my dear. And like I’ve said time and time again to those not like minded; if I had to explain it to you, then you probably still wouldn’t understand.

Thank you Los Angeles Adventurers Club for letting me find you when I did in my life. I am a better, more complete man in this lifetime for having done so.

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My first night in an albergue – Camino de Santiago

My walking day ended early so as Well arrived into town I arrived as Armand was just opening the albergue doors. The albergue across the street, which I recently dialed on the telephone by touching a phone app was my first choice but, no answer on the phone or when ringing the doorbell.

I then walked into the albergue I spent the. night in. Very nice I thought to myself. A modern layout and well organized. I knew right away this was a better choice.

Let me just stop the story here and say it’s now the next morning at 0615, I’ve already shit and showered, I’m also dressed and my trusty backpack is now by my side.

The weather app says it’s 35 degrees outside and sunrise is at 0740. Partly cloudy to sunny expected all day.

Breakfast may be cooking but I do not see any sign. Ahaha. Self serve. Coffee is done and a bland toast and marmalade is all on the counter.

Everyone else in the entire place is still sleeping. I got a good night sleep and feel well rested. There is one blip to last night though. When I laid down to sleep I left my apple phone on and turned on a noise app. of an air conditioner.

About 15 minutes later this couple is hovering over me talking to one another wondering where that noise is coming from.

The UK guy says it’s too noisy for him. I say enjoy your snoring neighbors dude. I swipe across the app to the rain and puddle or light thunder sounds and without missing a beat go right back to sleep.

Immediately I am back to an encapsulated cocoon shielding me from any external noises and the UK couple. She has bad hair and he has bedbug bites on his back possibly from another albergue; or hair from her moms genetics.

I called it correctly. The two from Spain and Australia next to the couple snore to a loud perfection. The Canada girl on the other side of them is also a great snorer. Snoring comes and goes but, I only feel it like a small distant rumble.

Armand first took my documents passport and pilgrim credentials. He then accepted my euros for the nights stay and a pilgrim dinner and breakfast which cost the same amount.

Around 9 euros for the private albergue and the same for the meals. Next he takes me over to a shoe shelf where I was to store my shoes. I noticed that he was wearing the same popular Solomon shoes as I. I next asked about someone walking out wearing the wrong shoes.

He’s seen it happen he said. I next shared a story about our hiker boxes and how a girl I once knew while on the pacific crest trail made the mistake of leaving her dirty shoes outside.

Someone must’ve noticed and assumed that she was tossing them out and they took them. Not wanting something similar to occur I LoJacked my shoes by tying a clip and string to connect both shoes. This way me losing my shoes would have to be more than an accident.

He then gave me a tour of the remainder of the facilities that included laundry, a lounge and the kitchen and vending service.

Upstairs are several double rooms that are private and can be reserved.

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My momma once told me there’d be days like this – on the Camino

To say this day is magnificent may not yet do it justice; it’s only half way over. To quote myself on a previous day; arrive ready to party not ready for a nap or sleep. If one plans their training correctly before arriving then this too can be you.

Today not different from the past few days is one more precious day of my first ever camino. I continue soaking up each day as if it were my last day on earth.

After saying goodbye to my friend Rick after breakfast our day started out dry. We walked from near the Burgos Cathedral to the out skirts of town.

I literally walked fast and also even ran on account that I knew I would be staying tonight in an albergue.

I planned on exhausting myself so that sleep would come easy. Perhaps that is why Matt from Vermont carried a bottle of whiskey. Sort of a night cap in disguise.

If you don’t yet know what an albergue is then let me show you a picture. Your guess is the same as mine as to which bed will sleep the snorer.

My first new country Portugal. The young man stayed with me long enough to chat and then he hinted that his body was now warmed up and off he speed.

My body had not yet found its rhythm of the Camino or else I would’ve followed. Soon thereafter I did my good first good deed for the day.

An Italian older gentleman kept searching fountains for water. Non seemed to work. Finally I said come here. Took my water bottle and filled his. Once again the Canadian girls started referring to me as the good guy. I’m now starting to feel the winds sprouting.

Earlier on the camino I heard myself on a subconscious level thinking in different voices. One of those voices was of a warrior voice.

A warrior voice that kept telling me to move, to go faster; for when we finally get over the mountain; the enemy will not kill them selves. We must do it for them.

Today once the warrior spirit and my camino rhythm kicked in I was truly a warrior on a mission. Those former years of Army forced ruck marches still continue to paid off; for today I kicked butt. Sorry to say the competitive spirit also made itself known.

Another possibility may be on account of meeting another Rafael (Ralph) who is from Brazil.

Sitting with him was Stuart from the UK whose hat is decorated daily with at least one wild flowers from the country side.

And then they both held out to me the peace pipe. What it contained I know not. Finding a communal spirit I accepted the peace pipe. Moments later a cafe con leche, then a Spanish Coca Cola and I was like a lithium battery totally charged up, locked and loaded and ready to roll some more miles but first the albergue experience.

Buen Camino

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Burgos Cathedral and rest day

I found a statuette of the good guy.

Another good guy depending on the correct religion

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The Good Guy and the Camino de Santiago

There once lived a guy from California who called himself a “good guy”. Whether this story turns out to be a fairy tale or a war story is anybody’s guess by now as I don’t yet have any idea where the story is heading.

This guy enjoyed his life so much that one day his wife told him to go; walk at least 500 miles on the Camino de Santiago and don’t return until you are a better person for having done so.

Several years earlier he walked the Pacific Crest trail spilling his guts, some body and lots of soul. His beautiful and supportive wife again supported him. He honestly did return to her a better person with three life lessons that still to this day he takes to heart.

1. You always need someone to love.

2. You always need something to do.

3. You always need something to look forward to.

While on the Camino de Santiago and previously in his life in general he truly believed he was being a better person for doing the things he did. Following many years of military and law enforcement work it left him somewhat spent inside. To this day the tears spill out for no apparent reason. Perhaps tears of joy, perhaps tears shed of cleansing the soul. I like to think so.

And now is the Camino testing him? Is the Camino he is on sending him out to learn more valuable life lessons. Is he doing the things he does for desire of something while living? Paying penance for a past life lived?

Or is he doing what he does out of true kindness for others?

Or for building up his karma of life. Those questions and more are what now tug at his mind and soul.

His Camino body is now accustomed to most anything thrown at him being of the physical in nature type. He still gets bored easily. Perhaps this is a warrior spirit way of keeping him attentive to any and all perceived activities around him.

Perhaps more alone time on the Camino should do it. Perhaps not?

Right now he is feeling pretty good with life in general and believes his guardian angel has sent him here for a reason.

Feeling like a medieval guardian of sorts without a sword. A warrior spirit that now needs tempering. Patience. To learn to accept the things that are. To continue to guide the unguided. To seek out opportunities and go where life takes him. These are the voyages of the USS Enterprise guy. To seek out new countries, boldly go where others over 1000 years have gone, traveled and even perished. Yeah I know the story just got wacky of sorts. The good guy is now hungry after a long nap and day ? of the road to Santiago.

So you tell me? A fairy tale or a war story? I don’t yet know but, I do feel better for having just starting to make some sense of it and telling a small part of what’s inside.

Buen Camino

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USA History and El Camino de Santiago

A little Americana history and the Camino. I recently learned that our second President John Adams walked or rode on mule back the Camino backwards. For much of the journey, Adams followed the Camino de Santiago trail across Spain with his 12 year old son, John Quincy Adams

This journey of two future US presidents is the stuff that Hollywood movies are made of.

The ship carrying John Adams started sinking in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean!

Adams was chosen almost unanimously by Congress to travel to France. It was November 1779 and Adams was being sent as minister to negotiate treaties of commerce, and most importantly – peace with Great Britain, if it should come.

As the threat of sinking shot through Adams’ mind, he probably regretted bringing his two sons on board with him, twelve-year old John Quincy and nine-year old Charles.

When a sailing ship of those days ran into trouble on the vast Atlantic Ocean, the captain and crew were totally alone. No SOS distress signal could be sent to nearby vessels; no GPS coordinates could be flashed to friendly coast guard monitoring stations of all nations.

The ship just silently sank with all crew and passengers on board. Usually no sign of the vessel or people was ever found.

Just a couple days after having set sail from Boston on November 15, 1779, the doomed French frigate – le Sensible – with the Adams entourage on board, sailed into a storm.

The captain immediately began to have the icy water pumped out, crew and passengers alike all working the pump frantically twenty-four hours a day.

The leak got worse, so a second pump had to be installed and used. Even with the group’s best pumping efforts, the leak was getting worse. The ship was sinking!

The question was whether the boat would make it to any land before it totally sank into the freezing Atlantic waters.

The Captain Chevalier De Chavagne decided that their only chance would be to try to make it to the first friendly port they could get to.

In 1779, that meant Spain, an ally with France against their common enemy – Great Britain.

In the morning mist of December 7, 1779, the rocky piece of triangular land called Cape Finisterre was spotted.

It was the westernmost tip of Spain and for many centuries considered to be the end of the earth.

John Adams was now stuck on the northwestern tip of Spain, almost 1,000 miles from Paris, not knowing if he should wait for ship repairs (which could take months, if possible at all) or just hoof it from Spain to France?

For the week following the port landing, Adams was wined and dined in El Ferrol by Spanish and French officers, chief magistrates and local dignitaries like the French Consul from Coruña.

Adams was gracious, but impatient. “Yesterday, I walked about the Town but there is nothing to be seen …“… very few Horses and those very small and miserably poor; Mules and Asses were numerous but small.

There was no Hay in the Country: The Horses, Mules &c. eat Wheat Straw.” One night he was taken, grudgingly, to an Italian opera, “… a dull Entertainment to me.” But Adams’ sweet tooth perked things up a bit for him: “Breakfasted on Spanish Chocolate which answers the Fame it has acquired in the World.”

The next morning, Tuesday, December 14, “We arose at five O Clock;” Adams and entourage were sailed around to the southern tip of the bay from El Ferrol to La Coruña.

There Adams wrote, they “mounted our Mules. Thirteen of them in Number and two Mulateers … We rode over very bad roads, and very high Mountains” to reach the old, walled city of “Corunna.”

He begged the French for money and weapons to kill the British. The French hesitated. They weren’t pleased that the American diplomat didn’t speak French (bien sûr!). Nevertheless, the French agreed to help this rebellious America terrorist.

It was June 1779, three years into the American Revolutionary War. Without French assistance, America may not have turned into the nation it is today.

This partly explains why Americans returned the favor when they helped to liberate France from the Nazis 165 years later.

This man, who traveled much of El Camino de Santiago in reverse, from Fisterra to Paris, to save our nation, returned a hero and became America’s first Vice President, serving under George Washington.

Later, American elected this man to become the second President of the United States. His name was John Adams.

And the rest as they say is just history on this 1000 year old pilgrimage.

Buen Camino

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The Good Guy and the Camino

There was this guy once who attempted a thru hike of the Pacific Crest Trail in the worse snow pack year (2011) however, he learned three valuable lessons when finally coming off that mountain.

1. You always need someone to love

2. You always need something to look forward to.

3. You always need something to do.

Now with these three new valuable lessons he began to live life to the fullest.

A new trail and a totally new experience and already new lessons learned.

1. Do something daily on the Camino for someone else.

2. If you put enough thought into it the Camino can and does provide.

3. If you are not already sociable then learn how to be so on the Camino.

And as for the part about the good guy; it’s part of my job title – Professional Chocolate Taster, Adventurer and Overall Good Guy.

Buen Camino

“Making me a better person since 2019”

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