El Camino

30 May 2008

Day 28 of Walking

Hello everyone,

You must be praying harder as we did not get rained on today. We arrived safely in our albergue in Arca before the rain started. And we are splurging on a washer and dryer for a change, so the weather won´t keep our clothes from drying. All in all, we are very happy campers.

Today we walked about 19 km, or 11 miles. We walked through a lot of trees today. Here is one photo of today´s walk. Our book said there was Mass at this church at noon, but when we got here the sign said they only have Mass on Sundays.

video video

We have uploaded two more videos from earlier this week for you to watch. One is of us praying the Rosary and one is of the cows going by.

This area is known for a couple of specialty foods. One is almond cake, which we have all tasted and enjoyed. The other is "pulpo," which is octopus. Most of us have tasted it, and some of us enjoyed it more than others. Last night Ruth ordered a plate of pulpo. Here is a picture of her & Tom eating a couple of tentacles. (ugh.....)

Here we are enjoying our morning cafe con leche before praying morning prayers.

Over the past four weeks we have heard some comments that we thought you´d enjoy. So here they are, in no particular order:

"This soup is different. What is tripe, anyway?"

"I tried to push my earplugs in until they met somewhere in the middle."

"Tom, is this a hill or a mountain?"

"Shall I wear my blue fleece today, or my blue fleece?"

"Only 25k? Why the easy day?"

"How many days can you wear your socks before you´re required to wash them?"

"You´re not a real pilgrim until your underwear is hanging from your backpack."

"That´s not rain coming in, it´s just clouds." (followed quickly by a huge downpour)

"Dos cafe con leches, por favor."

"Here, have a poisoned cookie."

If we come up with any more, we´ll post them.

Tomorrow we plan on arriving in Santiago in time for the noon pilgrim´s Mass. Then we´ll find an albergue and try to post some photos. Thanks again for all your prayers. We continue to pray for you and your intentions.

29 May 2008

Day 27 of Walking

Hello everyone,

Thanks to all your prayers no one got sunburned today as it rained again. Oh well, we´re saving on the sunscreen.

Today was a fairly short day, only 28 km (which is about 17 miles). We decided that the publisher of our guide put the maps in upside down as it said there would be downhills today but we went UP a lot of hills. We can tell we´re getting in shape as we can now pray WHILE walking uphill.

We did have a pleasant surprise today. As we were walking into the small town of Boente, an elderly priest in a cassock was standing in the doorway of his church. His name was Fr. Andres. He shook our hands and invited us inside. Then he began singing "Immaculate Mary" in Spanish so we chimed right in in English. He seemed a bit surprised. After that song ended, he began singing "Salve Regina" and we chimed in in Latin. How wonderful that no matter our native tongue we were able to sing together of our Blessed Mother in Latin! Afterwards he pointed out all the statues in his church and named them for us. You could tell that he was proud of his church. Here is a short video of us singing together.


Since we have a fast connection today we thought we´d post another video for you. This is of our friends Manfred (in black) and Siegfried (in orange) chanting after Vespers last week. They are from Germany and have beautiful voices. This video was shot in Rabanal del Camino last Thursday when they celebrated the feast of Corpus Christi. The chapel belongs to the Benedictine Monasterio San Salvador del Monte Irago. We hope you enjoy it. Their example has encouraged us to sing "Immaculate Mary" after Mass a couple of times now, and the locals have responded favorably. (One lady even turned the BVM´s lights on for us.)


We will get to go to Mass at 8 pm again tonight, which is such a great blessing. We joked about receiving "viaticum," which is the Latin word for the last Eucharist the dying person receives. It means "food for the journey." Thankfully we´re all in good health, but we need this food for our pilgrimage journey, so it seemed appropriate.

We uploaded a few more photos for Days 18 & 19, so you may want to check them out. Two more days of walking. We hope to arrive in Santiago on Saturday by 11 am or so. If possible we´ll post again tomorrow. Keep those prayers coming, and know that we pray for you daily.

Los peregrinos.

28 May 2008

Day 26 of Walking

Hello everyone,

Today´s walk was easier than the past couple of days. Still, we started right off the bat with a 20 minute hike uphill that got us REALLY warmed up. Funny how a 20 minute hike uphill doesn´t seem like such a big deal anymore...

As far as the weather goes, you guessed it. Rain. We decided our best investment for this trip were the rain suits. Here is a picture of us walking through a woody area of the camino today.

Every morning we have a "holy huddle" where we pray before walking. This morning, as we were huddling a woman walked by. She heard us, stopped, and blessed herself. We hope that we are reminding people of God and prayer and the true meaning of pilgrimage. Hopefully any seeds like that which are planted will bear fruit in the future.

We now plan on going to dinner and then 8 pm Mass. Off to bed early after that. We have been challenged to see how many "3"s we can come up with since we only have 3 more days of walking. We will work on it as we walk. (Here´s one: "Dios le bendiga" three words which mean God bless you.)

We pray for you and your intentions every day. Please continue to pray for us. God bless you!

Los peregrinos.

27 May 2008

Day 24 of Walking

Hello everyone,

Today we walked from O´Cebreiro to the Benedictine monastery at Samos. The monks there have been welcoming pilgrims for 1000 years. (Well, not the same monks. You know what I mean.)

Here are a couple of pictures of the monastery. It´s very big, yet the part where the pilgrims stay was fairly small.

Here is a picture of the inside.

We took a tour in the afternoon. The diminutive monk who showed us around was so very cute! He didn´t speak a word of English, but was very earnest in whatever it was he was saying. During the tour, he showed us the sacristy where they have a relic of St. Benedict. It was his whole tibia! The statue here is of St. James.

Along the way we saw lots of houses built of stone with slate roofs. The whole area is shale. In fact, as we walk it looks like wood. They have fences and walls made of shale, too.

That´s it for today. Keep praying for us - we keep praying for you.

Los peregrinos.

Day 29 of Walking

Hello everyone,

Thanks for all your prayers - they are paying off as Sunday, Monday and today´s walks went very well. They were tough and long, but we did it. Tomorrow´s walk is easier, only 15.6 miles. Keep the prayers going as we´re feeling beat up after these three days, but the end is in sight.

We started off early and were joined by a Canadian, Bernie. He is Catholic and joined us in a couple of Rosaries. His wife told him about the camino 15 years ago and they planned on walking it one day, but she died of a heart condition 6 years ago. So he is making it by himself and thinking and praying for her along the way. Here he is walking with us. (This is the second man we have met who has lost their wife and are doing it in their memory.)

We have shared the road with other pilgrims, bicyclists, and cows. Today we met two groups of cows as they were switching fields. After you pass the cows you have to be very careful as to where you step, if you know what I mean....

There was a lot of mud today as it´s been raining most every day this month. Here is a picture of us trying to not step in mud that goes over our shoes.
Here are also a couple of pictures of the countryside, and the beautiful yellow flowers that seem to be everywhere.

We stopped in the afternoon for a short break and got talking with a couple of men who were making the camino by bicycle. One man was from Spain, and the other was from Ireland. Turns out that his last name was McDonough, too! Except he spells it wrong (McDonagh). What are the odds that we´d run into a McDonough while on the camino?

We were able to go to Mass tonight, which is a special blessing since we are used to daily Mass and miss it when we don´t get there. Tonight they had the Rosary before Mass, and the priest also said additional prays before a beautiful statue of Our Blessed Mother. Many of the statues here have real clothes and real hair. It is great to see so many pilgirms in Mass.

Thanks again for all your prayers and comments on the blog. We continue praying for all of you and your intentions. Please continue to pray for us. God bless you!
Los peregrinos.

24 May 2008

Day 22 of Walking

Hello everyone,

Thanks for all your prayers. They are paying off as we all felt pretty good this morning and the weather held out until we reached our alberque in Villafranca. While we were eating lunch, the rains came, so that was good timing for once. We can see the results of your prayers!

Today we walked out of Ponferrada. It was a nice walk, mostly on flat pavement so our sore feet were grateful. Before we left town, we passed by a church and heard singing inside. There was a group of children practicing singing. We stopped inside to listen, as did about a dozen other pilgrims. It was so beautiful. There are many chapels and churches that we pass, and a quaint one was open so we stopped in a looked around. It seems that one cultural tradition here is to have the corpse of Christ in a glass coffin. We are seeing that quite frequently. Then as we walked out of town we passed through LOTS of vineyards. Some of the vines look very old, and are as thick as tree trunks. The vineyards line the hills. It is very picturesque. We have also been hearing cuckoo birds almost every day. But we have discovered the truth about them: they keep horrible time. For a while, we were resetting our watches by how many cuckoos we heard, but boy were they wrong.

Please pray for us especially hard the next three days. Tomorrow we´ll go 31 km, on Monday we´ll go 31 km, and on Tues it will be 34 km. For you English speakers, that´s 18 miles, 18 miles, and ... more than 18 miles. (multiply the km by .6 - I was never that good at math.) Also, it is uphill. One stop will be at O´Cebreiro, the site of a Eucharistic miracle. We will keep all of you and your intentions in our prayers at that town.

Hope to post pictures soon (I know, I know, you´ve heard that before). We miss all of you and look forward to getting together to show you our gazillion pictures in person. God bless you!

Los peregrinos.

23 May 2008

Day 21 of Walking

Hello everyone!

Today was one of the hardest days of the camino. Our walk today was 34 km, which is over 20 miles. We left early, around 6 am. There was a fine mist in the air, and we walked for the first hour or two in a dense mist/fog, so we really couldn´t see anything. Although right along the path were BEAUTIFUL flowers. We could only imagine how beautiful it would have been if we could have seen it better.

Today we hit the highest elevation of the whole trip (1517 meters, whatever that is in English). Because we started out higher than in the Pyrennes, the incline was not too bad. The fog gradually lifted, but since it turned out to be a cloudy day, we could only see the closer mountain ranges, which were very beautiful. Lots of white, yellow, and purple flowers, and snow on the top of the higher mountains. While the incline wasn´t very tough, the path certainly was. It was probably the rockiest path we´ve had so far. And because the downhill was so rocky, it made it very difficult and slow-going. We didn´t arrive in Ponferrada until 3:15, meaning we are in the overflow basement area. The day was hard on all of us, but especially JoAnn, who suffered through most of the day with a bad hip and bad feet. Colleen´s feet and ankles are very sore, too, so please keep those prayers coming.

Tom says we have an easy day tomorrow, so we are grateful for that. As for now, we are headed to dinner and then Mass at the Basilica. We are so blessed to be able to go to Mass as often as we have been.

Thanks for all your postings. You are so faithful! We enjoy reading them. As you´ve probably guessed by now, there is no port on this computer for posting pictures. But as soon as we find one, we have lots of photos to show you.

We continue to pray for you and your intentions. Please continue to pray for us.

Los peregrinos.

22 May 2008

Day 20 of Walking

Hello everyone,

Today was a fairly easy walk day. Due to your prayers, the weather was beautiful - thanks! We left Astorga around 6 am and arrived in Rabanal del Camino by 11:15.

God greatly blessed us today. When we arrived, there were flowers strewn on the main street. We found out there was Mass at 12:30, so we went. We were so happy to see that it was the celebration of Corpus Christi! (They do not move it to Sunday.) There was a small group of people playing instruments while heading to the church. One man was playing both a drum and some kind of flute. Three others had castenet-like clappers with ribbons on them. After a beautiful Mass, which included Gregorian chant and some of the prayers in Latin (the Gloria, the Our Father, and the Agnus Dei), the two priests processed with the Blessed Sacrament and the whole congregation to the monastery´s church, Santa Maria, about 3 blocks up the street. Santa Maria is a 12th century Knights Templar church. All the people fell in behind. There was even a canopy over the Blessed Sacrament. The local ladies sang a beautiful song. We all went into the monastery church, where the priest reposed the Blessed Sacrament. What a great blessing for us to be here in this town at this time! As soon as we find a computer where we can post photos, we´ll put some up for you.

We´re staying at the albergue which was formerly the priest´s house. The hospitaliers are from New York, so their English is fairly understandable :) We´ll be praying Vespers at 7 pm and Compline at 9:30 with the monks. The inhabitants of this area are known as "maragatos." Their ethnic origins are unknown for certain, but perhaps the Phoenicians or the Berbers from the 9th century. Whichever, they were a race apart and for centuries were the muleteers of Spain, doing the job now done by 38 ton trucks. (Bill wants to hire one to carry our packs to Santiago.) They are renowned for their honesty and unique customs.

We continue to pray for you daily. Please keep us (and the weather) in your prayers. God bless you!

Los peregrinos.

21 May 2008

Day 19 of Walking

Hello everyone,

We began the day with the moon in front and the sun coming up behind us.

We completed our easy 18 mile walk and arrived in Astorga about 2:00 pm. It turned out not to be quite so easy as we had some very rocky hills up and down, and it rained the last hour of our walk. We were happy to get to our alberque and happy to have nice hot showers today. We know - not very penitential.

We hung our clothes up to dry, got some food for tomorrow and had an early supper.

We said our evening prayers and then went to mass at 8:00 pm. After mass our German friends, Manfred and Siegfried, sang in Latin as they walked to the front of the church and invited us to follow them. They sing like angels. Even many of the locals were mesmerized by their singing. Manfred said that it is very important that we pray for Europe and that they pray for America.

Our walk had some interesting sites today including one of the oldest and longest Roman bridges in Spain. Unfortunately this computer will not allow us to upload photos, so we will do that another time.

Tomorrow we begin crossing another set of mountains. This will be a challenge as we have a few nagging aches and pains. Please increase the intensity of your prayers - especially you slackers! If we survive the climb you can reward your efforts with more ice cream. It´s off to bed so that we can get an early start tomorrow. Our prayers for you continue.

Los Peregrinos

20 May 2008

Day 18 of Walking

Hello everyone,

Last night we stayed at a Benedictine convent in Leon, and it was one of the best places yet. We looked around the Cathedral, which has beautiful stained glass windows. We were blessed to go to the 6 pm Mass, then dinner. For the first time we ate NOT from the pilgrim´s menu, and it was great. We had helado (ice cream) for dessert. I know that doesn´t sound very penitential, but we decided there was enough suffering on Sunday´s long rainy walk to justify the indulgence.

This morning dawned bright and beautiful, and it was a short walk (12 miles) to our next stop, Villar de Mazarife.

Here is a silhouette of a pilgrim, one of many that we have seen on the way.

It is a new albergue, clean and nice. The owner was born in Bilbao, Spain (he´s a Basque), but lived in Idaho for awhile. He moved here 2 years ago and has been running this place ever since.

Here Colleen and JoAnn are washing out some clothes in the laundry facilities at the albergue (no extra charge for the use of the laundromat!)

Brendan is still walking with us today. He´s the young man (in red) from MA who is going to join the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal (Fr. Groeschel´s group). We are blessed to have him walking with us.

No chance to get to Mass today. We are finding that while there are many churches along the way, most of them are not open during the day. Seems they have the same situation here that we do back home: one priest to cover many little towns. We are grateful to get to Mass when we can. Speaking of vocations, we spoke last night to Jim O´Sullivan, a man from Ireland. He said that they are also hurting for vocations. In fact, there will only be 3 men ordained this year for the whole country of Ireland! And to think of the many priests they used to export...

Tomorrow we´ll have an "easy" 18 mile walk to Astorga, then we´ll be back into mountainous terrain. A couple from Holland told us that while today is sunny, they are calling for rain for the next 2 days. Are all of you back there praying hard enough for good weather?!?!

We´re not able to upload photos today as the port on the computer is broken, but we try at every stop to do so. We are praying for all of you every day, please continue to pray for us (and pray a little bit harder on that weather thing!)

The Peregrinos.

18 May 2008

Day 11 of Walking

After arriving in Burgos late yesterday we toured the cathedral. As we arrived we were surprised to find a mass that was to begin in a few minutes at 9:00 am, so we attended that and then had breakfast at a nearby cafe. After breakfast we toured the cathedral for about an hour and a half and then set out on our way.

Here we are leaving the city. The weather was cool, and later on it rained consistently until we arrived at our destination.

Upon arriving in Rabe de las Calzadas we found that the alberque was full. Cold and tired we set out for the local bar-cafe where we ordered some hot cafe con leche. Soon other pilgrims began arriving, all without a place to spend the night. We finally determined that the owner of the bar had a house with beds to rent. It was not quite a 5-Star, but the roof didn´t leak and it had a toilet. Allison, from Ontario, Canada, whom we had met previously and sitting next to Colleen in this photo, arrived and joined us. Helmud, from Denmark, also arrived as did some others from Germany, so we had some good conversation. The owner, in the blue-green shirt seated next to JoAnn was very friendly and accomodating. We were very grateful for a dry place to spend the night and had a great time sharing stories with others in the bar.

Here is a photo of the church after the rain stopped taken as we were heading for our lodging for the night.

This is a picture of a church with storks nesting on top. We have seen many of these on churches, and it is interesting to see the various nests that they have built. Occasionally we here them make a very unique chattering-type sound. The first time we inquired about them a lady said that they were the birds that bring the babies.

17 May 2008

Day 15 of Walking

Hello everyone!

We have arrived in Sahagun and are washing and hanging out clothes. This is a nice albergue here - the owner greeted us with a glass of water, which is a first. He has walked the camino, so he knows how the pilgrims feel when they reach the albergue. We plan on exploring the town a bit since we got in early. Today was an easy day. Yesterday was a long day (22 miles) and tomorrow will be about the same (21 miles)so today we´ve taken it a bit easier. The flat terrain helps us recover from our injuries so we should be ready for more mountains in a few days.

None of us slept much last night as there were probably over 60 people in our room, including some worldclass snorers. And as a bonus, a couple of people (German & French) who talked in their sleep. That was a new one! So we are thankful for an easy day today since we´re running on little sleep.

After dinner last night, Manfred from Germany, a man we are repeatedly seeing on the camino, asked to pray night prayer with us and offered to sing the Magnificat. He has a beautiful voice, so we were thankful that he joined us. And today, Peter from Italy stopped and turned around when we were praying the Rosary, smiled and said that it was beautiful to hear.

We continue to pray for all of you, and we are more thankful than you can imagine for all your prayers. We´ll post again when we can. ¡Dios le bendiga! (God bless you!)

The Peregrinos.

16 May 2008

Day 14 of Walking

Today was our longest day so far - 22 miles. We got an early start again at 6:00. We were expecting cold and rain and were blessed with temperatures in the 50´s, partly cloudy and a good breeze. We arrived in our alberque in Calzadilla de la Cueza about 3:15 and have a place to stay and do some laundry. We were again on the meseta today which was very flat and at an elevation of about 2900 feet.

We walked by field after field of wheat, and yellow and white flowers and red poppies were bordering the trail along the way.

We again met some new people - this time from France, Sweden and Germany. The two young men in this picture are Daniel from Sweden, on the left, and Magnus, from Germany, on the right. Magnus will be going to World Youth Day in Australia.

There are many statues of St. James and pilgrim along the way. Here are Tom and Ruth with a statue in Carrion.

We are now sitting in a cafe drinking cerveza and celebrating Bill´s birthday. Bill is doing quite well for being such an old man (48). The ladies want you to know that they have found only three public restrooms along the way. The men are trying to figure out why that is an issue. Still trying to upload photos - hope to succeed soon.
We are generally getting stronger and recovering from our injuries. Thanks for your prayers. After we walk one kilometer tomorrow we will be at the halfway point and already beginning to regret approaching the end.
The Pilgrims

15 May 2008

Day 13 Walking

Hello everyone.

Today we rose and left Castrojeriz by 6:05. In the first hour we went up a BIG hill to the top of the meseta. Who needs coffee when you have hills to get your heartrate going? Then down the other side, and across the meseta. God continues to bless us with good weather today as crossing the meseta in driving wind and rain would have been miserable. But today we had dark cloudy skies, a breeze, and walking across the meseta today was just beautiful. The last hour or so we walked next to a large canal.

We´re now in Fromista. We had to adjust the walking schedule due to a very small alberque in the town where we planned to stop. So tomorrow will be a long day - about 24 miles. So if anyone wants to walk from Dubuque to Dyersville in solidarity with us, go for it!

Shortly before 11 am, a small, old man, "amigo de los peregrinos" came walking towards us. He carried a small notebook and wanted us to write something in it. Then we got our picture taken with him. (We´ll post it when we find a computer that has a port.) Before leaving us, he wanted the women to give him a kiss on the cheek. As they say, when in Spain, do as the Spaniards do. So he got three kisses from us.

Tonight we plan on trying a restaurant known for its Castillian food, then Mass is at 8:00. We´ll go to bed early as tomorrow is a long day.

We continue to pray for you daily. Please keep praying for us.

The pilgrims.

14 May 2008

Day 12 of Walking

Hello everyone!

We are now in Castrojeriz, in the Meseta. Today we walked in beautiful weather (finally!) about 18 miles.

Yesterday someone told us that May is now the busiest month for pilgrims since everyone saw that most people were going in July and August. So it kinda feels like a race for a bed each day. Here we are passing through the Arco San Anton. It is an ancient monastery and hospice of the Antonine order. The Order´s sacred symbol was the T-shaped cross called the Tau.

Two days ago we arrived in Burgos, and for such a large city (200,000) they only had one albergue, so we ended up in a hotel. It was expensive, but unavoidable. Yesterday morning we toured the Cathedral at Burgos - just beautiful! It took 300 years to build it.

Some of you have asked about our daily routine. We usually get up at 5:30 and try to get out ASAP (this morning it was 6 am). We make brief stops for cafe con leche (YUM!) and maybe lunch. We try to arrive at our destination town in the early afternoon, but we´re finding that many times the beds are already taken. Then we have to decide if we go on to the next town (which could be 5 miles or so away). Dinner is usually around 7 pm (two courses followed by dessert, so we´re not losing any weight), and often we´ve been able to go to Mass in the evening. Hopefully in bed around 9:30 or 10 pm, and start all over the next day.

This cross, with a dagger at the bottom, is the type of cross seen along the camino. We have seen many of these. This is at the begining of the meseta.

We´ve been walking in a lot of mud, which is tiring, but the meseta is flatter, which is good. They´ve had a lot of rain here for a couple of weeks, so the rivers are high. The temps have been cool (41 when we started this morning, and I don´t think it got above 55 today). Early on, day 2 and 3, were hotter, in the low ´80s.

We´ve been meeting people from all over, especially Germany and France. We´re getting along in Spanish with a mixture of high school Spanish and charades. So far we haven´t insulted anyone (that we know, anyway). Our roommates tonight are from Korea, Australia, and France.

Bill made a friend outside of our albergue.

Please continue praying for us as collectively we have shin splints, blisters, sore shoulders, sore hips, sore feet & ankles, and soapy knees (Colleen has to learn to rinse Bill´s pants better). But our hearts are happy, we´re able to pray many Rosaries every day, have lots of silent time, too, and have been singing our way across Spain.

On Friday we´ll be halfway through the Camino. We hope to find a computer with a port so we can upload pictures (we have lots to show you). We pray for all of you every day, please continue to pray for us.

The pilgrims.

09 May 2008

Day 7 of Walking

We are unable to post photos tonight, but there wasn´t too much to see today because of the rain. We are in Nareja this evening and have just returned from mass a few minutes ago. We met a seminarian there from Strasbourg, France who wants to pray the rosary with us tomorrow morning. We just checked the weather, and sunshine seems to be scarce in the future. It rained lightly today but is supposed to become heavy rain tomorrow and continue for the next few days. We are prepared for this and will make the best of it. We appreciate the emails and posts from all of you. We pray for you and ask that you keep us in your prayers as well.

08 May 2008

Day 6 of Walking

We are on schedule and doing fine in Logronos. A little rain and lots of muddy trails but are doing great with a few aches and pains. We are on our way to mass in the Cathedral now. Keep the prayers coming. They are working well! We have been very blessed with excellent accommodations and food and making many new friends from all over the world.

We are limited on time that we can get on the internet, so this will be briefer than we would like.

Here are some photos from the last two days.

A wine fountain in a wine region of Spain. This is a large winery where free wine is available from the tap on the wall.

We had a light rain that started as we finished our lunch and only lasted for an hour or so. It gave us a chance to test our raingear that all worked very well. We appreciate the wonders of modern technology that were not available to pilgrims centuries ago.

The church where we attended mass on day 5 and received a special blessing by the priest at the end of mass. When he invited the pilgrims to come forward (in several languages) he was very surprised at the large number. We have heard several times that the number of pilgrims on the camino this year is much larger than in the past. This means that we must keep moving each day to ensure that we arrive in time to have a place to sleep. We have seen pilgrims turned away each day, but we have been very fortunate to find a place each day.

It rained overnight quite a bit during the night but only lightly after we started out in the morning in the dark. We had a lot of muddy trail which made it difficult and a little treacherous going down the steep hills.

Approaching the small town where we stopped to visit the church and warm up with some good coffee in a small cafe/bar.

The mud sticking to our boots was an added load today. By the time we took this photo much of it had come off on the paved road that we walked on for the last kilometer or so leading in to this town.

We have been traveling in the state of Navarre, home of the University of Navarre, since we entered Spain from France. Today we left Navarre and entered the state of Rioja which will have fewer mountains and more farmland and small towns.

06 May 2008

Walking Day 4

Here are some photos from the first four days of walking. The story that goes with each photo was accidentally deleted by some clumsy fingers and will be put back in again later.

L´Esprit du Chemin - Just before starting out we stayed at the auberge behind us. It is a great place, run by a Dutch couple who have walked the camino. Everyone staying there was Dutch. Some were biking the camino, two women were walking it alone! We got our pilgrim credtials stamped across the street.

Crossing the Pyrenees - Notice the snowcapped mountains in the background. This was our toughtest day, buat the views were spectacular. We walked over 15 miles and ate lunch at the base of this statue, Pic d´Orisson. We´ve seen a few Marian shrines along the route so far, so we know Mary is watching over us.

Day 2 walking was also difficult - downhill on shale. Rough on our knees, feet and thighs. Heck, hard on our whole body! We are offering all our sufferings for you, resident pilgrims!

Pilgrim Dinner Our Second Evening

We sat with people from Spain, France, Germany, Norway and Italy.

Crossing the bridge into Larrasoana. The hostel was full, so we had to look for a private "pension." But that guy wanted 65 euros for 3 people in a room - that´s almost $100! So we walked to the OTHER private pension and got some beds there.

Pilgrim´s Clothes Drying in Cizur Menor. This was a great set-up, and because it was a beautiful, sunny day (thanks to all your prayers!) we were able to do lots of laundry. The owner showed us how to tie our shoes to make them tighter for going downhill. Tom doctored up lots of blisters. We celebrated the Becker´s 35th anniversary tonight with a beer. Please say a Hail Mary in thanksgiving for the wonderful couple they are.

Approaching Cirquiqa where We Planned to Stay
Unfortunately there was no room in the inn, so we had to push on another 5 km. We stayed there, in Lorca, in one of the nicest albergues yet. Thank you, St. James!

05 May 2008

Day 3 of Walking

We are on schedule. We are finding the internet access is such that we are not able to plug in our camera to a port, so we are just posting comments for the time being.
Tomorrow we go over another mountain, but Tom assures us it´s just a hill. We are learning - don´t trust an ex-olympian to plan your cross-country route! Everyone is well. We are praying for you. Please continue to pray for us. Will write again as soon as we can.

03 May 2008

Day One of Walking

Due to your prayers, we made it over the Pyrenees! While the terrain was very difficult, the views were spectacular. The internet connection that we have today will not allow us to upload photos, but we will do that as soon as we can. We´re in Roncesvalles, a quaint ancient town. Tonight all of the pilgrims received a special blessing at the end of mass.

The weather is beautiful - 70s and sunny. Thank you, St. James. As we had heard, not many people on the Camiino are doing it for spiritual reasons. But on a couple of occasions, as pilgrims walked by us when we were praying, they corossed themselves. People seem surprised when we say ¨God bless you.¨We continue to pray for you. Please continue to pray for us.

01 May 2008

Sendoff Mass and Pilgrim Blessing

Thanks to Fr. Bob Gross and all of our family and friends who joined us for this mass. Now we are heading for O'Hare and Madrid! Vaya con Dios!