Tag Archives: pilgrims

Camino Day 25, Portomarin

Day 25. Friday, September 19, 2014. Portomarin.
88K from Santiago. (Correction to yesterday’s entry: Sarria is 115K from Santiago. It is the last CITY on the Camino where you can start to complete the 100k requirement to earn the Compostela).

We were disappointed to start the day facing constant drizzle, fearing the day would be a washout. We passed through Sarria and then a wooded path which led steadily uphill. We stopped after an hour for coffee and croissants, and by the time we were done the rain had stopped, giving way to a beautiful day. It remained that way until midafternoon.

The number of pilgrims on the Camino today was noticeably more due to the pilgrims just starting the last 100K. It’s easy to spot those just starting. They are fresh and clean have energy. They also seem more hesitant reading the trail markers, not quite in their stride and as if they haven’t found the right adjustment for their backpacks. Those who have been at this for a while, as one pilgrim put it, have “attitude.” We aren’t concerned with what we look or smell like, we are just pushing through to out goal.

We continue to see familiar faces along the Way, sometimes those we haven’t seen for several days. Especially with the addition of the newbies, we have an even greater connection and solidarity. We don’t always remember each others’ names so we use descriptions, usually by country (the German girls, the Danes, that young guy walking with his dad… we are probably “those priests”). We all know who we are talking about. We are like a big group, who together with our possessions, are being swept together across northern Spain. If someone loses something along the way someone is bound to pick it up and return it to you down the road. It is a great sense of being in this together.

Today was a pleasant day through farms and countryside. This section of the Camino seems much more developed, with better walkways and more upscale cafés here and there.

Today was the first time we had to share the Camino with cows.

Portomarin has an interesting history. It had originally been in the river valley, but when a dam was installed the whole town was moved to higher ground. The church was disassembled brick by brick and reassembled in its new location. If you look hard enough you can still see the numbers! You can also see the remains of building foundations under the bridge as you enter the city.

The images of St. James seem to increase as we get closer to Santiago… in most city squares.

There is a new energy as we close in on our goal. Four more days until Santiago.

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Reflection at Carrion

Last night at Carrion we have a beautiful Mass at 8 pm. The church was full with locals and pilgrims. After Mass the priest invited all the pilgrims to come forward for a blessing and a little gift. So many came forward and we acknowledged our nationalities. So many people of different languages and nations united in one faith. The Catholic church is truly the most exceptional institution on the face of the earth! One Dutch Protestant pilgrim whom I met on the way a few days before knew I was a priest. He told me this morning that when he saw a priest bless a priest he was brought to tears. After the blessing the priest invited us to the Mary altar and we chanted the Salve Regina. I listened with heartfelt devotion and my heart was filled with thanks to profess the Catholic faith in the midst of such linguistic diversity. What a blessing to experience the universality of the church.

Camino Day 6, Estella to Logrono

Day 6. August 31, 2014. Both of us had been dealing with some physical issues over the last few days… Jim has blisters on his feet making the way difficult and Tom a worsening rash he feared could be from bedbugs. Sunday morning found us at the Health Center getting diagnosed. The rash was just a rash but it was clear Jim needed to stay off his feet. It was a good experience as the staff was patient with our Spanglish, but you could see they had dealt with pilgrim issues before. Since we are not on European healthcare they will send an invoice to our homes. We don’t know the cost but the surprisingly low cost of our prescriptions has us optimistic.

The visit lead to great talk with the two who run the alberque. ANFAS employs and advocates for persons with intellectual disabilities throughout Europe. Because of Jim’s diagnosis and the lateness we decided we had to take the bus. Also, fearful that we will be short on time we decided to advance one stage to Longrono. Logrono is in the Rioja region and we had the opportunity to not only see the Old Town and its great architecture and ancient churches, but to treat ourselves to their famous wine and famous tapas with locals and tourists in the bustling St Augustine district. The advancement of the trip means, sadly, being one day ahead of those we have formed relationships over the past days.

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