Ribadiso: Our Last Day

15 October 2019

Today is our last day as volunteer Hospitaleras at the albuergue in Ribadiso. As hosts, we enjoyed greeting hundreds of guests from all over the world while staying at this historic albuergue that has been welcoming visitors since 1523. Now it’s time to say goodbye.

We’ve gotten used to candlelight breakfasts.

This is the main dorm. It has three levels. After we get the straglers moving, we usually do pre-cleaning by removing debris and sweeping. It usually takes between 15-30 minutes. The paid staff comes in later to do the real cleaning, disinfecting and floor mopping.

Terry and I said goodbye to Maricarmen, one of our Xunta supervisors.

Farmer Alfonso is finally fixing the fence so the cows can’t escape.

Home Sweet Home! We spent a couple hours cleaning our cottage and washing linens and towels. Thankful there was a washer & dryer here.

We stopped next door at Meson Rural to say goodbye to our friends. Sylvania poured us a Gin & Tonika.

A toast to Ribadiso and our two weeks in paradise.

Even little Chisco came by to say goodbye.

This is Lolo our cab driver for the past two weeks. He said next time we return we need to speak more Spanish and he will learn more English. He gave us a ride to the bus stop in Arzua. From there we took the bus to Santiago where it was raining hard. We had a few hours to kill at the bus depot before catching our all-night ride to Madrid. From Madrid we fly to Boston and then to Minneapolis and back to reality.

It’s been an awesome five week adventure in Spain. Meeting and sharing so many experiences with people from all over the world has been enriching, enlightening and inspirational. It’s time to head home now but I have a feeling Jane will be in Spain again.

Adios Amigoes!


Ribadiso: Monday Monday

14 September 2019

Today it is more than just cold rain, it is a downpour. It rained most of the night and the Rio Iso is rising. The water is moving much faster than before. Most of the pilgrims have stopped walking for the day

Dark skies all day long accompanied by rain most of the day.

The river is rising.

The water used to be so clear you could see every rock on the bottom. Now it’s muddy and murky.

We showed up for our 1:00 pm shift and it was still raining hard. Ana the Albuerguesa sent us on our way. It is too cold. We spent most of the afternoon at Meson Rural drinking wine, blogging, backing up phones, catching up on news and talking.

Terry and I have been together for almost five weeks. One would think we would run out of stuff to talk about …. never.

Here’s another nook at the Meson Rural. This is the indoor grill. Looks like they stoke it with charcoal. It has a very large vent over the top.

Taylor from Long Island, New York said her realtor license expired today and she was happy about it. Didn’t like working 24/7. She’s walking the camino to discern her future. She graduated from Art & Design school a few years ago. When she returns to NY, she would like to start out doing retail window display design.

Ken from Toronto, Canada is done for the day. Walked in the rain and cold and has had enough.

This would be our last day working with Ana. I made a batch of Mahnomen Porridge, a Native American recipe from Mahnomen tribe from Minnesota. We packaged it up and made a thank you card to go with it.

Mahnomen Porridge: Wild rice, roasted hazelnuts, dried blueberries, cranberries and cherries, maple syrup, cream. Serve warm.

Cow rebellion: Rosella, Agnes and Elsie rebelled and made an escape. They left their pasture, crossed the river and walked through the Albuergue. Freedom! And where did they go — straight to the neighboring Pension’s fenced in garbage. It smelled so good they were licking the wood.

In the meantime, poor Bernadette was all alone. She did not leave the pasture, would not cross the river and did not approve of the others going. She paced around the pasture and moooed a lot. She was quite upset.

The great escape: Elsie takes off over the bridge

Agnes hides behind a tree.

Rosella makes a run for the weeds.

The three renegades went through the weeds, crossed the river again and ended up where the grass was greener.

Terry comforted Bernadette who stayed behind.

Alfonso and Chisco got everything under control. The gals are all heading to the barn.

Today’s Cutest Couple: Bernadette and Rosella

As you can tell, things have gotten slow at the Albuergue. Time to go home. We leave for Santiago tomorrow.


Ribadiso: A Cold Rainy Sunday

Ribadiso Albuergue

13 October 2019

Fall is definitely settling in here. The days are getting shorter. It’s dark at 8:00 am and dark at 8:00 pm. It’s windy, cold and rainy. Not a good day for pilgrims to be walking today. Sunday morning is very quiet at Meson Rural.

One of my priorities today is to call my son Owen, it’s his 20th birthday. He is going to school at NDSU in Fargo. It’s about 3:00 am in Fargo, so I better hold off until later today.

First Pilgrim to Arrive Today: Pablo from South of Seville, Spain. He said he walked in rain the entire way form Palais de Rey.

Melissa from Seattle on a rental bike. She said the bike was rented through Cycling-Rentals.com. The bike was at her first stop when she arrived. It came in a box with directions on how to attach the pedals and adjust the handlebars which were packed for shipping. It also came with a helmet, tool kit and the panniers. When she reaches her last destination, she leaves the bike as is with the helmet and panniers in a garbage bag next to it. Someone comes and picks it up. She said they also rent e-bikes which I think would be a great option for this terrain.

Melissa said biking is about as fast as walking because she stops often to take photos or look at the scenery. She said while riding, her eyes are focused on the road mostly.

Cutest Couple: Rose and her brother Clarence. Both are from California. Rose has walked four caminos and Clarence has done two. She’s already planning her next one.

The Ladies from Taiwan: Ching Lee, (Terry), Maria, (Jane), Teresa. Agnes is taking the photo. We may take a lot of photos of pilgrims staying at the albuergue and passing through Ribadiso, but we are also in a lot of photos. Many pilgrims take our picture or want us in a photo with them. As the saying goes … there are no strangers on the Camino, only friends who haven’t met yet.

Teresa from Taiwan wanted a photo with the American Theresa. Very sweet!

Even though it is a damp cold with mist and rain today, people are still in the icy cold water of the Rio Iso. It’s good therapy for tired feet. Our numbers are dwindling … it was just a week or so ago and the river was full of pilgrims.

Farmer Alfonso had the cows in the pasture across the river from us. Three of the four cows crossed the river and came on to the Albuergue property. Bernadette our favorite cow does not leave the pasture and gets upset with the other cows for leaving.

Dinner tonight is spaghetti with a sausage meat sauce and Parmesan. Of course it is accompanied by a bottle of wine, some good bread and salad mixta. A hearty meal to end a cold, rainy day.


Ribadiso: Fiesta National de Espana 2019

Ribadiso, Albuergue

12 October 2019

Happy National Spain Day! Today is a national holiday that WHAT?? Commemorates Christopher Columbus?? I guess we still kind of have remnants of that in the US too but they are trying to call it Indigenous People’s day or something like that. We were a little disturbed with the origins of National Spain Day but after some research, we feel that the people of Spain get it about Columbus and are trying to switch it to more of an indigenous day similar to what is being done in the United States. From our observations, it is also a day when they celebrate the Spanish military and those who protect the public. It’s a day that families celebrate together at home but in Ribadiso, it was just like any other day.

Today is a very rainy and cold Saturday morning. As usual, I went over to the Meson Rural to blog. There were only a couple people there and they had the TV on with a typical news type show. The segment I caught showed a line art depiction of a coffin being removed from a floor tomb inside of a big church or cathedral. The line art animation showed the hole where the coffin had been, being filled with cement and covered to match the rest of the floor.

Terry happen to arrive at Meson Rural and I asked her who was being removed from their burial site at a big fancy cathedral. She thought about it for a moment and said it was probably the Spanish dictator Franco. It was controversial because he was buried at the Valley of the Fallen which is a Catholic basilica and a monument memorial. It is a national park north of Madrid where the remains of 40,000 people are registered. Many thought that Franco did not belong there. Also, his followers were becoming a distraction at this sacred place. I’m not sure why they were showing this on National Spain Day but the bartender at Meson Rural assured me it was not part of the Spain Day Festivities.

The next thing that came on TV was the royal family of Spain; King Phillippi the 6th with Queen Letzia and daughters Leonor and Sonja. They took their seats in a special viewing station on the parade route.

The opening highlight of the ceremony was when a paratrooper leaped from a military plane. He parachuted down with a giant spanish flag. It was a beautiful sight … the paratrooper flowing through the air with the Spanish flag until …. splat — he collided with a street lamp. The crowd gasped as did everyone at Meson Rural.

That poor man! They showed him and the flag tangled. He struggled to pull a tool or knife from his gear to free himself. But was unable to do so. The stoic King and Queen did not lose composure. They smiled and clapped politely. I wanted to laugh really hard but I didn’t know who was around me and how they might react.

The paratrooper remained hanging from the light post. The ceremonial ground troops found another giant flag, unfurled it and the show went on. They marched down the street carrying the giant flag that the king would ceremoniously raise on a flagpole. We later saw on an internet news posting that they brought in a cherry picker to get the paratrooper untangled from the street lamp.

After the flag was raised all of the military was on display. The airplanes, the helicopters, the tanks. There was even a military boat on a trailer with it’s crew in place and ready for action. The part we enjoyed the most was when the Guardian Civil rolled through. They had a police dog riding front and center on their vehicle in a place of honor.

What an honor for this police dog to have such a prominent place in the parade.

Eventually, the bar staff shut the TV off and started playing music. Time for us to return to the albuergue.

First Pilgrim to Arrive Today: Marcia from Salavador, Brazil.

Pilgrim dog had to carry his own supply of dog food.

This is Diego from Matzalan, Mexico who obtained the beet from an English speaking farmer. Diego is a doctor and analyzed Terry’s ankle. Because the pain is still persisting and its coming from the inside of her ankle, there is a possibility of a fracture or break. There is nothing more to do but rest, ice, elevate and have it looked at when she gets home.

Three chicas with matching headbands are from Mexico: Graciella, Alexandra and Dulce (Sugar).

Melissa, Jose, Diego and Quique from various parts of Spain. Very tired and hungry from a long trek today.

It was a slow Saturday. Less than 30 pilgrims staying at the Albuergue. We retreated to the cottage early. Tonight’s gourmet dinner was a concoction of mashed potatoes, sausage and cheese.

It’s a joy to relax at the table with no worries and to gaze out the window at the green pasture, the rapidly moving river and just ponder whatever comes to mind.


Ribadiso: A Trip to Melide

Ribadiso Albuergue

11 October 2019

It’s Friday morning and we leave next Tuesday. Our time in Ribadiso is running out. This morning we are going to visit the little town of Melide which is about six miles away. We had stayed in Melide three years ago when we walked Camino Frances.

Two camino routes meet in Melide, camino Primativo — the oldest route and Camino Frances — the busiest route. The two routes become one to Santiago. Tourism from the two routes plays a major role in the economy of Melide alongside more traditional agricultural activities.

This town square features a statue of Mary with a beautiful blue sky background.

The streets of Melide are very broken up and hard to follow. The square in the above photo is bordered by the church of San Pedro (Saint Peter). We visited this church three years ago when we were walking Camino Frances. The church is from the 1400s and has many interesting features.

… Naked baby Jesus behind bars is one of our favorites.

This is the burial site of Alfonso Vazquez de Insua from the year 1415. We’re guessing he was a knight and fought in some major battles of his time. There was some verbiage but it was in Galician and google couldn’t translate it.

Sun shining through the stain-glass embellished doors of the church.

Back on the streets of Melide we came across a mural of the camino. I think the pilgrim in the mural must be dreaming of reaching his destination of bread, cheese and eggs. Above the mural is a horreo — The grain storage unit that has become ornamental throughout Galicia.

We walked through a wine shop that also had a very large display of antique seltzer bottles.

We needed to return to Ribadiso by 1:00 pm and many restaurants don’t open till then. We found chicken wings and chicken strips for lunch. We’d catch up on the vegetables at dinner time.

Time to head back to the albuergue. Pilgrims would be arriving soon.

Pilgrim of the Day: Loy from Manila, Philippines — Loy was meeting her Japanese friends at the Albuergue and it was a happy reunion.

Cutest Couple: Terri and Jim from Boise Idaho. We saw these people every where we went and it was always fun running in to them. They started in Sarria which is 100k (62 miles) away and were looking forward to finishing in Santiago in two days.

Loveable Local: Diana — Diana is the first waitress we met at Meson Rural. She speaks a little English and always greets us with a smile. She lives in Melide and works full time at Meson Rural.

Friday was a slow day in Ribadiso. I took time to put my feet in the Rio Iso like all the pilgrims do. This spring fed river is Lake Superior cold, but it does feel good on the feet.


Ribadiso: Many Visitors Today

Ribadiso Albuergue

10 October 2019

It’s another beautiful day in Ribadiso. It has been an amazing experience to be staying in this beautiful countryside with a babbling brook flowing under a 6th century Roman bridge that leads to our 16th century accommodations. I feel so fortunate to experience this in addition to having the opportunity to meet and greet people from all over the world.

The Rio Iso flows under the 6th century Roman bridge.

Today we have a special guest. It is Annie, our American Pilgrims on the Camino (APOC) contact person. Annie is an American who now lives in Santiago with her husband and five cats. She is fluent in Spanish and has served in various capacities for the APOC organization. Annie was one of the leaders at the Hospitalero training Terry and I attended two years ago in the Twins Cities.

Annie is working with the Galician government to help oversee the pilot program at the Ribadiso Albuergue that allows Americans to work as volunteers. According to Annie, there are many pilgrims from a number of countries who do not speak Spanish as a first language or in general. They found it helpful to have English speakers assisting to welcome these pilgrims. In addition, it has been challenging to find Spaniards willing to volunteer. Volunteerism is not a strong part of the culture here as it is in the United States. In fact, there were so many American’s who volunteered for Ribadiso that they are considering starting the program at a second albuergue location.

Being a cat lover, I enjoyed hearing the saga of Annie’s cats. She started out with three. Living in Baltimore, she came across a mother and kitten living outside a grocery store. Not a great neighborhood and she feared for the cats’ safety. She planned to find them a home after taking them to the vet for shots and to be spayed. After performing the services, the vet announced that they were feral cats and she best take them back to where she found them. No one would want feral cats. Well Annie did, especially after investing money in their care. She packed up all five cats and flew them to Spain through an animal transport service. The cats had a layover in Frankfurt, Germany and stayed overnight at an animal hotel. The next day they flew to Santiago and a local vet picked them up and kept them until Annie and her husband arrived. What a kind hearted woman!

Annie also connected with Albuerguesa Ana when she came to visit us. Afterward the three of us went next door to Meson Rural for lunch.

Annie has been connected with the Ribadiso albuergue for several years. She has been a volunteer hospitalera here a few times. Part of her current role is to connect with the Albuerguesa and make sure the program and accommodations are in order. She helps maintain a good relationship with Galician government and workers.

First pilgrim to arrive Today: Dragon from Toronto, Canada. He said his name is Serbian. Dragon and his daughter were walking the camino together.

This is Hai from Israel. She said her name is pronounced ‘shy’ and she made good time from Palais de Rey this morning. It was a very warm afternoon and the first thing she did after registering and unloading her gear, was hop in the river and lay down. Second thing on her “to do” list was to get a beer from Meson Rural next door.

Pilgrim of the Day: Jeff from EDINA MINNESOTA!!! It was very exciting to cross paths with someone who lived so close to us in Minnesota. To top that … he graduated from the same high school as me — HILL MURRAY. However, we did not attend at the same time, he is a bit younger than me. As soon as he arrived at the albuergue, he sat down on the ground and settled in for a good long chit chat. Prior to starting the camino, he had a very challenging 18-months with lots of life changes. For him, the camino was a time of contemplation. He started in St. John Pied-de-Port which is the long 500 mile route.

This is Margaret from Beijing, China. She works in marketing for Price Waterhouse in Beijing. She was tired of her job and decided to quit so she could walk the Camino. Her boss gave her four months unpaid leave and she does have a job to go back to.

Margaret has original artwork in her stamp credential. An artist outside of Tricastella offered to paint his mark in her book.

When I returned to the albuergue, I found this artist sketching the Roman bridge.

This is the path I walk several times a day. It leads to the modern shower houses and a right turn goes to our Cottage. Beyond the clotheslines are cornfields that have just been harvested and plowed under.

This is a view of the horreo with the cottage tucked behind it on the left. The river is left of the cottage. Horreos are common in Galicia. They were for storing for grain and built off the ground for rodent prevention. Today they are mostly ornamental.

Yesterday, Terry returned to find Alfonso’s cows grazing in the back yard. The walked through the river to get to our side. Terry told Maricarmen and she came with her broom to sweep them away. These bovines are really big animals.

Here, the bovines peacefully graze on their side of the Rio Iso.


Ribadiso: Sunshine after a Rainy Day

Ribidiso Albuergue

9 October 2019

It’s Wednesday in Ribadiso! The sun is out and it’s warm compared to yesterday when it rained and was cold. When the sun is shining there is more pilgrim traffic.

First Pilgrim to Arrive Today: Bradley from Virginia. He’s familiar with the Midwest because he went to grad school in Madison. He has walked six caminos– the Ingles, the Norte, Primativo, Portuguesa and Frances twice.

Pilgrim of the Day: Girard from Montreal — “Call me Jerry,” he says with a thick French accent. This guy is a gem! Very fun to be around. After telling him there was no Mercado in Ribadiso he was going to walk 1-1/2 miles uphill to get some bread in Arzua. We offered to give him some of our bread. It was day old — to make it look better I put a ribbon on the bag. He was napping in the dorm when I dropped it off so I gently left it on his stomach.

Terry’s Bench also helps with travel arrangements. This gent from the United Kingdom was going to walk the Frances with a friend and his son. The wife became seriously ill and the friend and son cancelled at the last minute. He decided to walk it alone. He made it this far with no problems but needed help making arrangements to stay in Santiago.

Loveable Local: Maricarmen — Maricarmen is Galician and lives nearby in Arzua. She works for the Galician government as an Albuerguesa at our municipal albuergue. She alternates days with Ana, the other Albuerguesa. She speaks a few words in English but most of the time it’s “no comprende.” Her husband is a baker. She often brings us bread, eggs and tomatoes from their garden.

Cutest Couple: Simone and Mattis from Hamburg Germany — Simone had worked as a volunteer hospitalera (like Terry and I are doing now) at an albuergue in Ponferrada. Her son Mattis wanted to see where she worked and he wanted to walk the Camino. He is on fall break from school so they have two weeks to walk from Sarria to Santiago. Simone’s husband stayed home with the younger children. They had already visited the albuergue in Ponferrada and Mattis got to see where his mother worked and what she did. This kid was having a great time at our Albuergue — he was in and out of the river, playing with dogs and interacting with the other pilgrims. Bueno!

Bathrobe Bob from San Diego stopped by on his way to Arzua. He is wearing a bathrobe with a sarong underneath.

Jesus from Madrid roasting chestnuts in the Pilgrims’ kitchen. He probably gathered them on his way. As we discovered when walking Camino Ingles, Chestnuts are plentiful in Galicia.

Another French Canadian: I welcomed the dude in the red shirt in the late afternoon. He said he was from Quebec. I introduced him to Girard from Montreal. There was a burst of French verbiage, smiles and pats on the back … oui oui new friends!

Girard from Montreal gave a harmonica concert from the 6th century bridge this evening. It was lovely. (Unfortunately I cannot post videos on this blog.)

Day is pretty much done when Alfonso the farmer returns with his cows which is usually around 8:00 pm.


Ribadiso: The Féria Comes to Town

Ribadiso Albuergue

8 October 2019

This Tuesday in Arzua is Féria! It happens on the 8th and 22nd of each month. It’s kind of a festival market. Our American Pilgrims on the Camino contact person, Annie who is an American who lives in Santiago, said we should go and experience it because it’s part of the Spanish culture. And so we did. We took a cab into Azura and had the driver drop us at the Féria.

It was a rainy day but the Féria goes on. It takes place from 9:00 am – 2:00 pm. It was huge and far bigger and much more than I anticipated. There were countless vendors who sell housewares …

… lots of clothing …

… hardware …

… underwear …

… plants …

… cheese …

… many types of salted fish …

… Meat …

… really good bread …

… fruits and vegetables …

… hooves …

… this is a bit gross for me. I don’t think it’s a Halloween mask … and there is so much more that can be found at the Féria. I think this is where the locals do much of their shopping. Whether they need a winter jacket, a frying pan, a rake or whatever. There are no big department stores near here. I was told that the vendors move from town to town and it’s a regular schedule for them.

There is a covered area with tables and benches where they serve lunch. We had some pulpo (octopus) and wine. The wine comes in a pitcher and you drink it from a bowl … that is the traditional way of drinking this particular kind of wine.

They also serve charcuterie which is an assortment of grilled meat. The ribs were awesome. We took a lot of leftovers home with us. The cost was far less expensive than if we had eaten in a restaurant and the quality was exceptional.

This is the grill they cook the charcuterie on. Needless to say, we filled up on protein and wine … it was so hard to stay awake in the afternoon.

The First Pilgrim Today is Ken from Taiwan. It was rainy and cold so I hung out in the Albuergue’s pilgrim’s kitchen for awhile. Ken was making rice.

Pilgrim of the Day: Marie from Stockholm, Sweden — Marie is a retired flight attendant from SAS (Scandinavian Airlines). She’s flown internationally and everywhere else. She lives in Valencia, Spain in a house her mother owns. This is her first camino and she is in no hurry and will be taking her time to finish.

Around 5:00 pm, Terry and I headed for our cottage. The heavy meat filled lunch had done us in. We both zonked out and had a nice nap. We skipped dinner. Around 7:30 I went over to Meson Rural to do some blogging. A woman asked if she could sit at my table. Of course I welcomed this pilgrim to join me.

It was Helen from Ireland and she was charming and blessed with the gift to gab. I knew there would be no blogging so I folded up my iPad and listened. She had been walking alone so I understand she may have needed to connect with someone. We talked about so many things such as Fungi the Dingle Dolphin. I told her how David and I traveled around Ireland in the late 80s and how I liked the Dingle peninsula and the Dingle Dolphin who I assumed would no longer be around. She assured me that Fungi the Dingle Dolphin is still alive but very old. He’s not as active but he is still entertaining visitors. We talked a lot about Northern Ireland.

It was fascinating to hear Helen’s take on the Catholic Church today. She said they are the McDonalds for Catholics and only interested in their numbers and income. She also told me about the smoke test they do on new housing in Ireland to test how well a house is sealed. They fill the house with some type of harmless smoke. The inspector stands outside and watches to see if it seeps out. The house is then rated. The conversation went on and on. I finally excused myself and headed back to the cottage. Helen stayed around for last call which takes place around 9:15 pm.


Ribadiso: It’s a Small World

Ribadiso Albuergue

7 October 2019

It’s a foggy Monday morning.

Around 10:00 am, little Chisco, who thinks he’s a herd dog helps farmer Alfonso escort the cows to their pasture.

The singing pilgrim stops for a song and then he’s back on the Camino again.

At Meson Rural, there are three copper vats that hang over the bar. We have seen these elsewhere and wondered if this was some type of micro-brewery set up. Well, today we saw how it all works.

David, the Estrella Galicia beer man arrives.

He brings his ladder in and inspects the vat. Then he opens it and cleans off the inside and the outside.

Then he brings in a hose and attaches it to the vat.

The hose is connected to an Estella Galicia truck parked outside the bar.

It’s kind of like a fire truck but it’s filled with beer. He fills the empty vats. There is a nitrous oxide tank hooked up to the spigot where the beer is poured from. I don’t think I’ve ever seen this kind of system in Minnesota. Seems like an economical way to provide beer as opposed to kegs.

Pilgrim of the Day: Dieter from South Africa — He’s 80 years old and walking the camino with his son Robert. He was born in Germany and recalls living there when he was five years old and the war was on. They sent the women and children to live in the countryside in case the city was bombed. Years later as an adult, he went back to find the women who had sheltered him during the war to thank them. He lives in south Madagascar and loves living there.

Cutest Couple: Evan and Blanca — Evan is from Switzerland and Blanca is from Mexico. They live in Switzerland. They enjoyed walking Camino Frances and love Spain as well as the ambiance of the Ribadiso albuergue.

Strangest Coincidence! We started talking to a group from Michigan passing by the albuergue entrance. Somehow Terry made a connection with the man (in the above photo) wearing a blue shirt and cupping a cell phone to his ear. He was from the same small town as her co-worker Sharon. Terry gave Sharon a quick call to see if she knew this man and sure enough she did … it was her brother’s best friend and she hadn’t seen him in decades. Terry ran next door to the Meson Rural where the Michigan group was on the terrace having a beer. She connected Sharon and John by cell phone. It was a nice reunion. It’s a small world.



Ribadiso: A Magical Stop on Camino Frances

Ribadiso Albuergue

6 October 2019

Sunday is another gentle day at the albuergue. It’s a beautiful sunny morning. It’s going to be very warm.

Not sure if this horse rider is a pilgrim or a local. Pilgrim’s riding horses have a different route and they need to stay at places that can accommodate the care of their horse.

First Pilgrim of the Day: Tomas from Belgium

Cutest Couple: King Richard and Queen Ingrid — Looking at the photo, one would think this couple has been married for years. Not so, they met on the camino and have known each other for 13 days. They are so compatible and have a remarkable sense of humor. Richard is from England and Ingrid is from Denmark and they call themselves King and Queen. As they were leaving, Ingrid said to Richard, “tell them why you are following me”. His response was, “I can’t say that in front of the ladies.” There was laughter and she replied … “he follows me because I know the way.”

Loveable Local: Bernadette: Farmer Alfonso walks his gals to the pasture everyday. Bernadette is an independent thinker. On the way to the pasture, she will stop by the Pension and inspect the parking lot. When she feels like it she will return to her peeps and continue on to the pasture.

Therapy bench was busy today.

It just takes one to get the party started here.

Then a couple more take the plunge.

Before you know it, everyone is in the water. Most of these people are from different countries and are camino acquaintances. Later that evening I saw many of them again at Meson Rural. They wanted to have dinner together and the party continued.


Ribadiso: Country Life is Beautiful

Ribadiso Albuergue

5 October 2019

First Pilgrim to Arrive at the Albuergue was from Malaga Spain. Most pilgrims start in Palais de Rey which is 20K (about 18 miles). Those arriving around 1:00 pm are fast walkers or else they leave early in the morning when it is dark.

Pilgrim of the Day: Diego who originally came from Columbia but is now living in Florida. He is retired from the United States military. This man spent a lot of time on Terry’s therapy bench. A while back he lost everything in a hurricane and said the services offered by FEMA were fabulous and exceeded his expectations. He and his wife live a fairly simple life so it was easy to get back on his feet again with the help from FEMA. We are guessing that it was probably a few presidents ago. Over the years he has walked four caminos: the Primativo, Norte and Frances twice.

Cutest Couple: Viva and John from Canada. To celebrate their 40th wedding anniversary they are walking Camino Frances in 40 days.

Lovable Local: Ana is one of the Albuerguesa’s at our albuergue and she lives nearby. She is very professional and always has a smile on her face. I’m sure if we spoke better Spanish, there would be a lot we could talk about. We do manage to communicate and laugh at things but it is challenging.

Word of the Day: Rosquillas pronounced Ohs-Key-Yas. They are Spanish doughnuts. At first I thought these were some kind of cookie. They kind of have a shortbread texture with a light glaze. I did not know what these were when I first bought a bag from some people selling them at a table outside of a church near A Calle. That should have been a clue. At home, churches usually serve donuts after services. Nope, I just assumed they were cookies. The second time, I found them at an outdoor market in Azura.

After finding Rosquillas at an outdoor market in Azura, I finally looked up the word and was somewhat surprised to discover that I had been eating doughnuts … something I would normally pass up at home.

Saturday is a slow Day at the Albuergue. Most people arrive to start their camino in Sarria or further out on a Friday, Saturday or Sunday. Those starting in Sarria will reach Ribadiso on Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday. Also, the weather is starting to feel a little cooler here. More cloudy mornings with light rain. It’s the beginning of fall and the lighter season on Camino with not as many walkers.

The albuergue is usually bustling with energy but now with cooler weather and rain, it is beginning to slow down a bit.

Terry and I went into Azura to grocery shop today. At the Froize grocery store we noticed that they sell alcohol-free Clown champagne.

And here is a local favorite, the Gigante Verde with white asparagus which is next to impossible to find at home.

We wanted to get a little more exotic with this week’s menu. But not as exotic as the seafood shown above. This week we opted for shrimp, swine hocks, sausage, pasta, rice and the usual eggs, bacon, cheese, etc. I wanted to find sauerkraut to go with the swine hocks but that word does not translate. The best I could do was to find a small cabbage.

Here is the end result of the swine hocks experiment. It tasted a little bit like corned beef. We used the leftovers to make soup for the next day.

The cab ride home from Azura is a beautiful one. Ribadiso sits is in a deep valley surrounded by scenic hillsides with farms and corn fields.

After dinner tonight, I took a walk up the hill in the opposite direction of Azura. It is a very steep hill. Mostly farm land and corn fields. In fact, the albuergue is surrounded by corn fields.

I’m not sure what this building is but the sign translates as “Sale of Imported Heifers” and I have seen Holstein cows hanging around.

At the top of the hill is Bar Manuel. I thinks its only open during the day and they serve bocadillos and tortillas. They probably get a lot of business from the hundreds of pilgrims who walk by daily. During the winter months it must be a challenge to eek out a living when there are so few pilgrims walking.

Back down the hill to Ribadiso. Our municipal albuergue is just across the bridge. I’m enjoying the peace and serenity of being in farm country and being surrounded with beauty of nature.


Ribadiso — Life is a Long Camino

Ribadiso Albuergue

4 October 2019

First Person to Arrive Today is: Ton Bae Lee from South Korea. His English is very good. It seems like all the pilgrims who arrived at the Albuergue today know Ton Bae. A large group of Spaniards that looked like a soccer team came through and they were all very happy to see him. He is a very likable person. He spent some time on Terry’s Therapy bench.

Pilgrim of the Day: Luis from France This is one of the most amazing people I’ve ever met on the Camino in the last three years. He is 76 years old and recently retired. He owned a financial services company and sold it just before walking the camino. Luis said he started out as a tourist. Then he became a trekker. And now he has been converted into a pilgrim. He has amazing stories to tell and a very insightful perspective on youth, religion, spirituality and politics. Luis has been walking for 12 weeks. He started in Le Puy, France, which is about 1000K (600 miles) to Santiago. After Luis finishes the Camino Frances in two days, he will join his wife in Luxembourg where they will live.

Cutest Couple: I was forced to create this category when these two walked through in their matching attire. They are from Costa Rica and took countless photos in front of the bridge. Then they gave their cell phone to me so I could take countless photos of them in front of the bridge. Maybe it’s for their Christmas card?

Delightful Outdoor Picnic? Wrong! We were eating lunch and I smelled something unusual. I had left a pan lid on a hot burner plate (European stove) and it melted the knob on the pan lid. All of a sudden the little kitchen filled with smoke. The toxic smell forced us to take our lunch outside. Fortunately, there are big open windows on the cottage and it aired out quickly.

Strangest Thing I’ve Seen In Public: This happened at Meson Rural. The woman on the right is holding some type of massager that is about the size of a large power drill. She is massaging the other woman’s back during dinner.

Lovable Local: Alfonso the waiter at Meson Rural Alfonso speaks a little English and is on duty in the late afternoon or evening and an occasional morning. I asked him about Queimada, a traditional Galician punch. He said it is a very strong drink. Not available at the Meson.

Best party ever! After dinner I was over at the Meson Rural minding my own business blogging because WiFi is available there. Many of today’s pilgrims who were there knew my name because I had greeted them at the albuergue and showed them around earlier that day. Lisa who is an elementary teacher in Nuremberg, Germany was sitting with two Italians … Simone, a nurse from Pisa and Alfonso from Rome who was on leave from the Italian army. They kept calling to me and inviting me to join them. Eventually, I did. (Now you know why my blog is so far behind.) Everyone spoke English. The next two invited to the table were Priscilla and Angela from Switzerland. This was such a delightful group. Before today, no one at this table knew each other except for the two gals from Switzerland.

Lots of camino talk and laughter.

Alfonso (the Italian) is quite a character and the life of the party.

Our lovable local, Alfonso the waiter, brought over a bottle of something called Zoco. Many shots were being poured and toasts of friendship were being made.

Zoco is the oldest commercial brand of Pacharan. It is a Navarro liquere made in the Basque region. It is a complex combination of blueberry, coffee and vanilla in an anisette. It is low in alcohol and considered a digestive.

What a fun evening to share with these people from so many different countries. It was a lot of fun but not too much fun. The Meson Rural closes everyday at 9:30 pm.


Ribadiso: A Quiet Day at the Albergue

Ribadiso Albuergue: 3 October 2019

• First Pilgrim to Arrive Today was from: Belgium

• Word of the Day: Queixos That is Galician for cheese which in Spain is usually queso. But not in Galicia … it is pronounced with a lisp … Kay thos.

There is a special cheese made in Azura. It is white and very creamy like Brie.

Pilgrim of the Day: Tim from Taiwan. Tim recently graduated from the Police Academy and now has four months off to travel. He scored high on his police test which will help him get assigned to his hometown near Taipei. He will begin working as a police officer when he returns home.

Loveable Local: Laura, waitress at Meson Rural. We see Laura just about every day and she always very welcoming.

Laura’s t-shirt depicts a Galician festival that takes place in Melide the second weekend in September. She said people drink wine and eat Peppers Padron.

This beautifully patterned little snake is about the size of an earthworm.

Chickens from the farm next door.

Eager pups playing in the river.

A pilgrim cooling his feet.

Andrea from Austria doing Qigong on the river. She had just met the guy next to her and he wanted to try Qigong. She handed me her cell phone and asked me to take photos from the bridge of three poses.

Dinner back at the cottage. An assortment of pork and sausage in the rice along with salad mixta. It’s starting to rain. Very quiet at the albuergue.

I ended the day by taking a walk into the countryside. Very relaxing.


Ribadiso: Pilgrims on Parade

Pilgrims on parade by foot, bike and horse.

Ribadiso Albuergue: 2 October 2019

First Pilgrim to arrive Today is from: South Korea

Best Quote of the Day: “My feet hurt so bad my butt aches.” Anonymous pilgrim

Word of the Day: Vele, Vele It’s pronounced “bally bally” and usually said very fast. We’ve heard people saying it since day one in Spain. Our friend Henk from South Africa said it means the same as “ok”. I haven’t been able to find it in print and I’m wondering if it is slang.

Pilgrim of the Day: Joseph from Panama City, Florida

Joseph is one-of-a-kind. He resembles my son Quinn, but acts like our friend Chandler. Another coincidence, he does car wraps in Florida. My son Quinn who works for Wrap City, is beginning to design car wraps.

Joseph has had a tough road on the Camino. He planned to tent camp. The airlines wouldn’t allow his tent poles (because they are dangerous weapons) but they allowed (missed finding) a large Bowie knife in his backpack. He asked them several times if it was ok to take his backpack on the plane and they kept saying yes. And so he did take it.

Joseph is tough — he broke his ankle while on the camino. It was a pot hole in Zuberi at the beginning that did him in. He rested but never stopped walking. He is two days away from Santiago. In the photo above, he and Terry compare ankle injuries and commiserated on Terry’s Therapy bench. Joseph also cut his finger to the bone. Didn’t get stitches. A nurse walking the camino wrapped it for him.

Lovable Local: Chisco

Chisco is farmer Alfonso’s trusty dog. He helps herd the cows to the pasture, hangs around the bridge and the outdoor terrace at the restaurant.

Since the restaurant’s terrace door is left open, Chisco is also a regular at the bar.

In the morning, I usually go over to Meson Rural (bar and restaurant next door) to catch up on emails and to blog. They have very good WiFi. Terry has T-Mobile with cellular coverage just about everywhere in Spain. She stays at the cottage. She has a leisurely breakfast, showers, elevates her foot, reads and watches the foot traffic on the bridge from the cottage window.

I return around noon, we have a light lunch and get ready for our 1:00 pm work shift.

Today’s Albuerguesa is Ana. She and Maricarmen alternate days. Ana speaks a few words of English and always wears a white uniform when she cleans. She is a local.

Luis is a pilgrim on bike from Northern Spain.

Lots of horse traffic today.

The horses don’t use the bridge, they cut through the river. And they don’t usually stop.

A group of school boys in their underwear having a good time in the river. The flag went in with them.

Today a group from “I’ll Push You“, came through. This is Caitlin from Reno. She is accompanied by her mother Kathy and her brother Brett from Texas. The man on the right is Craig, a volunteer from I’ll Push You. They call him the mule. I think he does a lot of the pushing. The entire group of about 40 started in Sarria which is 100K from Santiago. A bus transports them back to Santiago every night where there are facilities that can accommodate them. Our albuergue does have a handicap facility. It is a separate building that has four beds and is handicap accessible.

This delightful family is from Spain and stayed at the albuergue. They are walking the Camino. They do about six miles a day which is impressive for such young (well behaved) children. They started in Sarria which is 100K from Santiago — a total of about 62 miles.

The albuergue settles down late afternoon. Terry and I usually kick off sometime between 4:00 and 6:00. Next stop is the terrace at Meson Rural for a cerveza and then back to the cottage for dinner. Tonight was a quiet evening.


Ribadiso: Greeting the World

1 October 2019; Ribadiso Albuergue, Spain

“On the Camino there are no strangers, only friends who haven’t met yet”

This quote came from an unknown source in Rabinal. Working at the albuergue we have come to realize how true it is.


It’s our first day of work at the Albuergue. Our predecessors, Chuck and Linda have left town. The Galician paid Albuerguesa has not arrived yet. At 8:00 am, the pilgrims are to be out of the albuergue. At 8:30 am, Terry and I set out to do the pre-cleaning. Basically, we politely ask anyone lingering to leave. We pick up debris, sweep and tidy things up. After we are done, the Albuerguesa comes through for the heavy cleaning, disenfecting and mopping.

The kitchen was very needy. The group of 40 from Portugal filled the garbage can. Another smaller group of 5-6 had made a tuna noodle dish in the only pan available in the kitchen. They left the remnants in the fridge. Everything gets tossed.

This is one of the Albuergue’s two dormitory buildings.

The sleeping space is broken into three levels which is very nice. It doesn’t have a dormitory look that many municipal Albuergue’s have.

We sweep and remove any of the disposable bedding that pilgrims have forgotten to toss. On our first day, after a full house, it took us about an hour. Then we are free to do what we want until 1:00 pm.

Today, we had a quick breakfast of toast and coffee at Meson Rural and then headed into Arzua which is about 1.5 miles away. It’s all uphill. We needed to pick up groceries.

Most of the same things we have at home are available here. However, we did not find celery.

Fresh assortment of fish.

Crackers are hard to find. They have a lot of toast-like things.

A bottle of vodka includes a half-dozen red solo cups.

It was hard to figure out meals that we could cook in the cottage. The weeks menu included bacon, eggs and toast for breakfast, spaghetti, pork chops, chicken, rice, homemade soup and salad mixta for dinners. We had a few tapa items, cheese made in Arzua, pate, hard sausage, crackers and wine.


Our start time is 1:00 pm. We met Maricarmen, the paid Galician employee who is the Albuerguesa, the person in charge of everything. In addition to doing the heavy cleaning, she ensures that the property is maintained by calling appropriate help like electricians, plumbers, pest control etc. She also registers the pilgrims when they arrive.

Maricarmen is Galician and speaks mostly Spanish. She does know a few English words. Sometimes we have to rely on Google translate.

Our afternoon job is to greet the world. I welcome and escort pilgrims to the registration window. The Albuerguesa asks for their passport, their credential and 6 euro. After she has registered them, I give them the grand tour of the pilgrims kitchen, the shower house and laundry, the outdoor boot rack and then show them where their assigned bed is.

Terry, who is still recovering from a sprained ankle, stays at the entrance to the Albuergue on a bench. She greets and directs people passing by. We are often asked how far it is to Azura? Is there a church? Is there a grocery store? Can I take a picture of the bridge? Can I put my feet in the water? Can I go swimming? Is there a bathroom? Do you have a Stamp? (for their credential); Have you seen my friends from Italy? Do you have a little shampoo I could have? … just to name a few of the questions we get daily.

Oftentimes, someone will sit down on the bench with Terry and talk for a long time. Terry is a good listener. People who walk alone may have the need to connect with someone. We have both experienced this. We’ve started calling Terry’s bench the Therapy bench.

Terry on the “therapy bench” with a pilgrim.

This is what our bridge area looks like in the morning …

… and this is what it looked like this afternoon.

It was a beautiful day, warm and sunny. The Camino Frances is more crowded than ever. It is a highway of people coming through. We were just on Camino Ingles and saw a few people during the day but nothing like this. This is one of the school groups that came through.

Also, on our first day, we had a TV film crew from Japan on the property.

The view from my window.

Most pilgrims arrive at our albuergue after walking from Palais de Rey which is about 25K (15 miles) away. Some want to keep walking to the next town which is Azura. We hate being the bearers of bad news but its 3.2K (1-1/2 miles) all uphill. That is not what they want to hear after walking all day.

First dinner we cooked in the cottage was pork chops with rice and salad mixta.

A Slice of Life in Ribadiso

Our albuergue has 62 beds so we usually meet and greet at least 30-45 pilgrims per day. But in addition, we talk to dozens of people staying at the other pensions in Ribadiso and those walking on to Azura. I feel the need to feature in my blog some of the people and things we encounter. Therefore, I will be starting each daily blog with Pilgrim of the Day, Word of the Day and a few more categories as I think of them. I think you may enjoy a slice of life in Ribadiso.


Pilgrims of the Day

Those chosen for this honor have met Terry and Jane’s criteria as interesting people. And our criteria is totally random. There really isn’t a rhyme or reason why … it’s just someone who stood out in the crowd and caught our attention.

PILGRIM OF THE DAY: Tuesday, October 1st

Mary from Vancouver! She not only works at a hardware store, she owns it with her husband. Their hardware store, Skyway Hardware, is pretty big and includes a lumber yard. In addition, Mary has walked from St. Jean Pied de Port which is the full distance of the Frances camino.

Kyle from Northern Ireland! This quiet lad is a cook at a restaurant in Holywood, Northern Ireland. He is 20 years-old and walking the camino to discern his future. He said he is Protestant but now it doesn’t matter because no one cares about religion. Very thoughtful youth and seemingly good sense of global perspective.

WORD OF THE DAY: Mochilla A mochilla is a backpack and the reason we learned this is because many pilgrims send there mochillas by courier to their next stop. Just about every day I help a pilgrim chase down their mochilla. They are never delivered to our Albuergue. So we start looking at the bar next door and if it’s not there, we go to the Pension, then the next Albuergue and if someone is really unlucky, we walk to the end of Ribadiso to the last building.

Yesterday, a pilgrim asked Maricarmen (the Albuerguesa) if her rucksack had arrived. Maricarmen looked confused and said, mochilla?? The pilgrim said, “no, a rucksack”. I intervened and told the pilgrim I would help her find her rucksack and told Maricarmen, yes it is a mochilla. We found it eventually.

LOVEABLE LOCAL: Alfonso the Farmer. Alfonso lives next to Meson Rural, the restaurant. Everyday around 10:00 am he walks his four cows to their pasture on the other side of the bridge. And around 8:00 pm, he walks them back to the barn. I have walked with him to the pasture and he speaks only Spanish. I am able to dribble out a few words. We often see him riding his scooter, mowing the lawn, puttering around the barn.


Next Stop Ribadiso!

30 September 2019

Santiago, Spain

We were excited about our next adventure as Hospitaleras in Ribidaso. We left the Santa Cristina pension early Monday morning. Normally, we would have walked to the bus station but with Terry’s ankle injury were opting for cabs.

We had a very nice cab driver who picked us up near the Santa Cristina. She spoke very little English. We asked to go to the bus station. Every time we said, “bus”. She would say “train”. I repeated several times that we wanted the bus, autobus, station. She would say train. We pretty much know the way to the bus and she took a wrong turn. Terry called her on it and she said she needed to go down the road to make the turn. Next thing we know, we are at the train station. We finally got through to her that we wanted the bus station. I think she felt bad. She turned the meter off at that point but it still cost us more than it should have.

Big happy face in the window … that’s how I felt today.

Here is the entrance to the very small village of Ribadiso which is about an hour bus ride south of Santiago. It is located on the Camino. That narrow road over the 6th century bridge is what cars, trucks, cows, horses and people go over to enter the town. The Rio Iso (Iso river) flows under the bridge. It is a spring fed stream so it is much colder than most rivers. We’ve been told that there are fish in it, specifically trout and that a fishing license is needed to fish.

This is the two-bedroom cottage we will be staying in until October 15th.

The tile floors have steps going up to the dining room and bathroom and down into the bedroom.

This wall with a window separates the dining room from the tiny kitchen.

Tiny kitchen has everything but a microwave.

This is the living room.

This is the room I’m staying in showing the window side.

This is the closet side.

We are replacing volunteers Chuck and Linda from California. They trained us for our volunteer work that would start tomorrow, October 1. We all went to dinner at the convenient next door restaurant Meson Rural.

Meson Rural is a lively place that’s open from 6:30 am until 10:00 pm. In addition to food, they have WiFi.

Everyday we answer the question, “Where is a restaurant?” And literally, it is right next door. Meson Rural is on the left and the Albuergue is on the right.

Chuck introduced us to the Grande Cerveza that comes in a frosted mug. He and Linda have worked as Hospitaleros at several albuergues over the years. We had some very interesting conversations about caminoes, pilgrims and how they met. Linda is from San Diego and Chuck from West Bend, Indiana. They formally met at a national APOC (American Pilgrims on the Camino) meeting where Linda was making a presentation. Eventually they discovered that they had walked the Frances camino at the same time and attended the pilgrim’s mass at Santiago cathedral when the Irish carried a boat into the plaza. Chuck reviewed his photos from that trip and found Linda in his photos. They’ve been together ever since.

This is the Pension across from the Albuergue and Meson Rural. That is farmer Alfonso and two of his four cows.

The Albuergue has 62 beds and it was going to be full tonight. Chuck forwarned us that we would have a busy morning the next day. This is a municipal albuergue and they do not take reservations, however, a group of 40 people from Portugal were staying there tonight and they must have had connections because the beds were saved for them.

The group of 40 arrived but their support truck with food didn’t. They ate dinner very late.

The truck finally came. In addition to food they brought cookware, plates and utensils.

This is the Albuergue’s 16th century dining room and kitchen.

The modern microwave, stove, oven and sink look out of place against the old stone wall. Pilgrims staying at the albuergue are welcome to cook their meals in the kitchen/dining room.

After dinner, we wandered a bit and became familiar with the albuergue property while Chuck and Linda took a walk. All four of us were sharing the cottage tonight. The second bedroom has bunk beds which is where Terry and I stayed that night.

Chuck and Linda were leaving before 7:00 am the next day to catch a bus to their next adventure. We were tired from a long day of travel, transition and acclimating to our new environment. Everyone was in bed around 9:30 pm.

My bunk bed seemed a little short. I wondered if it were a youth-size bunk. I did some tossing and turning and then I hear singing and it had a religious tone to it. Maybe Chuck and Linda were listening to music in their room? Terry and I tried to assess where it was coming from and what it was. We assumed it was the Portuguese group. It was now about 10:30 pm and quiet hours start at 10:00 pm.

If I were a cat I’d be dead by now because curiosity is a motivating factor for me. I got out of bed, put on my flip flops and jacket. Unlocked the cottage door and went out in the dark to investigate. I walked to the other side of our building where the kitchen was. The door was shut but it was where the singing and talking was coming from. There were a few people sitting around.

Eventually I found an English speaker. He was part of the Portuguese group. He said that the group was having a Mass service in the kitchen and that is why they were singing. They didn’t have an opportunity to go to mass the day before on Sunday. They brought a priest in from Portugal to preside. The doors opened and happy chatty people poured out.

That’s all I needed to know and I went back to my bed. Things had quieted down for the night.


Back to Santiago

September 29, 2019

It’s a rainy Sunday morning in Finisterre. Our plan is to bus to Santiago, stay overnight there and then bus to Ribadiso. We will be staying in Ribadiso for 15 and working as volunteer Hospitaleras. Our stay in Ribadiso is sponsored by the American Pilgrims on the Camino organization. Basically, we will be greeting people who are walking the Frances camino, the 500 mile one that we walked three years ago. (It runs across Spain from France to Santiago which is near the ocean.) Our role there will be to greet people and assist those who are staying at the Ribadiso albuergue. We will be showing them where the showers are, the laundry, the kitchen if they want to cook and where their bed is located. This is the first time we have worked as Hospitaleras.

Not much to do on a rainy morning so it was the perfect time to do laundry. We met Bella from New Zealand who was busy washing clothes and bedding. She is retired and spends a lot of time traveling and decided she needed a place to call home. She bought a small condo in Finnisterre where she stays for a few months each year.

It was rainy and foggy so we took the direct bus into Santiago. It was freeway all the way and not much to see. Tonight we are staying at Pension Santa Cristina. It’s located very close to the San Martin Monastery and the back door of the Cathedral. It’s a quieter part of town than the La Tita in Old Town.

Our room at Pension Cristina was up 3-4 flights of stairs but very comfortable none-the-less. The pension had a small enclosed outdoor patio.

We found a great restaurant.

Grilled ox for dinner tonight.

This dish is called Padron Peppers.

Meet Ellen and George from Seattle. Very interesting people — George is an oceanographer and Ellen a mathematician. They talked a lot about their years working at Texas A&M university. They were thrilled to move back to the Seattle area. They were in Santiago for a relative’s wedding and heading home soon.


After Camino Ingles: Santiago to Finisterre

28 September 2019

Saturday morning in Old Town Santiago … charming but it was very noisy at night. Lots of people at the bar below us, street noise, revelers and more. Terry slept in while I scurried off to the Pilgrim Offiice. I wanted to get my Camino Ingles Compostela which is a document written in Latin stating when you started and finished your Camino. There is a second document that verifies the kilometers walked. To some it is just a piece of paper but not mine. When I look at it the feeling of the camino encompasses me and brings me back to Spain.

In the past, we never had a problem getting our Compostela. But that was usually in April or May. We would finish, then go to the Pilgrims’ office and stand in line for a half hour or 45 minutes. Now, at the end of September, there are many more people walking the different caminoes than ever before. They are having record breaking numbers.

Hospedaje La Tita in Old Town Santiago is a charming place to stay but in a very noisy area.

I left at about 8:30 to get my ticket for the Compostela line. The ticket has a QR code that can be scanned with a cell phone camera. It will tell you where you are in the line. People start standing in line at 6:00 am even though its very dark out and the office doesn’t open till 8:00 am.

At 8:45 am, the ticket I received was #514. At that time, they were serving #0036. I had hours to wait.

You must be in the Compostela line when your number is called. They are very strict. If you miss your number, you have to go get another ticket and start waiting all over again.

I wandered around for awhile and went back to our Hotel. We had to be out of our room by 11:00 am, so we grabbed our backpacks and left. Terry, who is still on crutches, had to wear her backpack. We meandered through the streets to the Pilgrims’ office.

Santiago is so full of energy and life. Interesting things everywhere.

Statues of these two characters can be found in the nearby Mirador Parque da Alameda.

We found a nice cafe near the pilgrim office to wait until my number was called.

This small cafe is a very busy place with many pilgrims waiting for their numbers. I went in to get coffee, juice or a croissant so many times that the server would laugh when he saw me coming.

Waiting, waiting, waiting. We are leaving for Finnisterre as soon as I get my Compostela. The last bus leaves at 3:30 pm. Hopefully, I will done by then.

When the line got close to my number I went into the office and stood with others who had upcoming numbers. Even though I wasn’t winning the lottery, it was exciting to be a few numbers away from #514.

Finally! Around 1:30 I went to the station indicated on the electronic board and processed my Compostela. You have to present your passport and credential with all of the stamps obtained along the way. A few questions are asked and then they finish the document by writing your name in Latin on it and sealing it with an embossed stamp. The credential is also stamped and sealed as completed.

Camino Ingles is completo!

We were waiting for a cab to take us to the bus station when we crossed paths with David from England whom I had met in Siguero. He was pleased to meet the injured Theresa I had talked about in Siguero.

We’re finally on the bus to Finisterre. An interesting man from Chicago sat across from us. His name is Mark and he is a retired film director and he now teaches.

We took the longer “scenic route” bus which goes along the coast to Finisterre. The direct bus in quicker but it’s mostly highway.

Unfortunately, we booked an albuergue several months ago when we didn’t know Terry would be on crutches. We arrived a little bit late and we were lucky they didn’t give our beds away. We got one upper and one lower bunk. It’s always been challenging for me to climb the ladder and maneuver with my new knee especially in the dark at night if I need to use the restroom. I offered to take the top bunk, but Terry refused.

By the time we got to Finisterre, we were very hungry.

We love the seafood and it’s always good there. We went to our favorite restaurant near the waterfront. The scallops were delicious and the seafood casserole has awesome assortment of delicacies.

Next stop is the lighthouse at the end of Finisterre to watch the sunset.

Part of our tradition is to have a gin & tonic at ‘the end of the earth’ which is what Finisterre is believe to be.

And it was a great sunset and finish to our Camino Ingles adventure.


Sigüeiro to Santiago

27 September 2019


Feeling a bit apprehensive, I got ready to walk the last 10-15 miles of the Camino into Santiago. Yes, I was spoiled because I always followed where Terry went. Now I had to think for myself and be cognizant of the trail markers especially when entering Santiago. Last Camino when we walked into Santiago from Camino Finisterre, we had a difficult time following the signs.

We are in the municipality of Oroso which has a lovely logo. (The last municipality was Ordes.) It’s been difficult to figure out how the autonomous community of Galicia is pieced together.

The map is of the province of A Coruna with its municipalities. A Coruna is a province in Galicia. I’m thinking it would be similar to our system of counties.

Today’s breakfast is very thinly sliced ham on toast.

Terry’s new boots were mailed home this morning. With crutches, she would have enough of a challenge transporting her backpack to Santiago.

Back on the road again. The Camino Ingles did not have much pilgrim traffic this time of year.

This is first snail I found that had a shell. Kind of like a backpack. Being a slow walker, I appreciate what snails go through.

This is somebody’s scary scarecrow. I wouldn’t want to cross paths with it at night.

Lazy day even for the cats and dog.

There were a few steep hills today but the view was worth it.

Lunch break — a bocadillo without Terry is like a day without sunshine hahah!

Lunch stop was at a conveniently located hotel with a cafe right on the trail. In the upper left corner of the photo is Merwyn and Debs (not a typo, she called herself Debs with an “s”). We met them a couple days ago. I chatted with them for a bit. They had already crossed paths earlier with Terry who was killing time at the cafe. Merwyn had some foot problems and Terry shared her ibuprofen with him and he was feeling much better.

The parking lot wall had a nice camino mural depicting the various stages of Camino Ingles.

The next part of the camino went through the “Enchanted Forest”.

It truly was enchanted. Many of the trees were covered with vines and it was a beautiful walk …

… until I came to the industrial area. Merwyn and Debs took a cab into Santiago from here. They have already walked the Camino once and had no interest in walking through the industrial section.

As I approached Santiago, I found the biggest grave yard ever. It was in the industrial area and from the outside looked like a construction site. I didn’t see a church anywhere.

I entered the gate and saw a long stretch of little stone mausoleums. Being a curious person, I needed to take a closer look.

The first mausoleum had a glass door on it. Some interesting artifacts of this person (or family). I wonder what the chicken was about.

Graves as far as the eye could see. It would have been easy to kill some time here but I needed to get moving. I had about 12-13 miles to cover today.

I could tell I was getting close to Santiago because the markers were vandalized. No directional arrow and no distance indicated. People like to take these for souvenirs even though you could buy replica’s in many of the souvenir shops.

It is a treasure hunt to find the yellow arrows. This one is painted on the street lamp and leads down the center of a street.

With arrow markers like these, I’m starting to get a little nervous about entering the city. I stopped at a cafe/bar for another stamp and WiFi. I turned on my phone and pulled up a map of my location.

A kind patron of the cafe/bar led me around a truck that was blocking the yellow arrow and he pointed to the direction. I wonder if the locals ever get tired of giving camino directions.

I can see the cathedral and now I’m on the last stretch into the city. Yay!

This is the bagpipe tunnel that leads into Cathedral square. Man on the left in photo is playing the bagpipes. The Frances and Ingles camino meet before the tunnel.

I have arrived at the Cathedral. I’m tired from the many miles covered today. I am happy to see the facade of the cathedral for the first time without scaffolding. I feel sad that Terry isn’t with me.

Many people are celebrating their arrival. I wasn’t in a celebratory mood. Time to move on and find the hotel where Terry is waiting.

I made my way through the old town streets and found Bar LaTita. With WiFi I texted Terry to let her know I had arrived. A very nice tapa arrived with my beer. It was the specialty of LaTita. It’s called a tortilla but was more like au gratin potatoes. Our room was above the bar …

… exactly five floors above it. The staircase shown here was made of stone. Terry said a kind woman she met in the bar carried her backpack up the stairs for her.

This is our room. It has a view. We shared a bathroom down the hall which was not a problem.

It was a very nice reunion. More tapas. We both made it to Santiago.

Terry crutched back to nearby Cathedral square so we could get the traditional photo in front of the cathedral.


A Calle to Sigüeiro

26 September 2019


There are two days left until we reach Santiago. Obviously, Terry would not be walking the rest of the way. Her walking camino had ended. We talked and she assured me that she would be fine taking a cab to our next hotel reservation and she would ice, elevate and rest. This left me to decide if I wanted to walk the remaining 20 miles by myself — an intimidating thought. I don’t speak much Spanish. I usually don’t pay much attention to the route because I’m slow and I follow Terry. Today’s route was about 6-7 miles, straight through with no stops, no cafe’s, nothing. I couldn’t think of a compelling reason not to walk. So, I walked alone today.

A cab took me to yesterday’s end point, the O Cruceiro cafe bar. There were several people waiting for it to open for coffee or breakfast. They waited a long time. It took them over an hour to catch up to and pass me.

Leaving A Calle, the houses were quite nice and well maintained.

This house had as cross tribute to the camino pilgrims.

In town house with horses.

Even banana trees grow here.

A lovely shaded walk.

Finally figured out what these trees are … if you break through the fuzzy green shell, it’s a chestnut.

Into the woods. It’s a little bit scary going alone.

I need to pay more at tention to the camino markers today.

This elf appeared from nowhere. He was very chatty and I couldn’t understand anything he was saying. Either he had a speech impediment or he was speaking Gallego or both. I wasn’t keen about hanging around to figure it out.

The leaves are changing color and it’s starting to feel like fall.

Corn harvesting time.

Sheep territory again.

I made it to the first picnic area much faster than I anticipated. Perhaps walking alone made me faster.

Grape arbor.

These are the smokers. I kept passing them when they stop for a cigarette break. I later found out from an English speaker in their group that they are retired Spanish military, mostly generals and colonels. They are walking Camino Ingles section by section. Every night a bus picks them up and they return to their hotel in Ferrol. The bus brings them back the next day to their starting point. I think the four men from Majorca that we met in Neda are with this group.

There is a long stretch of industrial buildings going into Sigüeiro.

There were no bathroom stops between A Calle and Sigüeiro. I wanted to find a secluded tree but pilgrims on the Camino kept coming to rest in the park which made it impossible.

I’ve reached Sigüeiro now and on a park path into the town.

I needed to get a stamp for my credential so I stopped at this cafe/bar. The server behind the bar was “in a hump” as a British woman commented to me. She was the only server working and there were many customers and dirty dishes everywhere. The British woman called out to her in English. The server snapped backed in English, “I only speak Spanish” and continued in her frenzy. Thank goodness I knew how to say, “cerveza por Favour”.

These delightful people struck up a conversation with me. Terry, the guy on the right and David, the guy on the left, had seen me wandering and wanted to know why I was alone. I think they were going to ask if I wanted to join there group. I told them about Theresa’s accident and they were very sympathetic. Now that I reached Sigüeiro I needed to find Theresa.

Into Sigüeiro. I needed to find Terry. And I did. She was the in the cafe at the albuergue we plannned to stay at. The taxi brought her there and poor Terry had to sit for hours and wait for me to arrive. We had lunch and got settled in our room.

I told her about the shoe store I saw on the way in. She got off her death bed (hahah) and wanted to crutch to the store. It was very close.

We loved the store. Everything is hand made.

These boots are a Galician style and found only here in Galicia.

What fun shoes …. but they cost about E110.

This is Ava. She made the boots. How often do you get to meet the person who made your shoes. Terry did buy some boots.

The store had such style … it was lovely!!!

Unfortunately, we had booked an albuergue. With Terry’s accident, we did not feel like sharing space with the world. The woman running the place put us in our own room even though there were two bunk beds and she could have squeezed two more people in. We were thankful.

Terry was still feeling a bit down and out, so I bought a few things at the Gadis grocery store for dinner. We had a bottle of wine, a bag of Mister Corn, olives and chips for dinner.