Tuesday, May 12, 2009

E-Mails Home from My Camino

[MARK Here: Hello all -> I am the spouse that got left behind and I have gathered all of the e-notes Virginia has sent out and I decided that I should post them for her. There will be some editing for the mushy stuff and the typing errors but you will get most of it. The dates listed are based on the dates I received the e-mail not the dates sent. Since I get the notes on two different e-mail servers some times it is one day on my main server and a day later on the other. I tried to put them in order but if I make a mistake remember it is my mistake and not Virginia's. Read on!]

4/20 -> Virginia left this morning from Santa Fe at 4:30 am.

4/21 -> Hello ... I am in Roncevalles and getting ready to go to mass...and dinner...I have been traveling the whole time ' it is about 7 pm here and we just arrived and got assigned a bed...beautiful area, lovely place to stay... having trouble with his keyboard so won't be on long

It has been wonderful to see the old places and (I am sooooo grateful to be here...hope to write more...maybe later...can't quite figure out the screen or the keyboard...

4/22  -> Dear Mark, I am checked in at the Alburque in Zubiru (sp?) and waiting to find something to snack on .dinner won't be till around 8 and it is about 4 now. I walked about 22 kilometers over the beautiful mountains today '''started at about 7 AM and got here about 2.. Grrreeeeat weather! I am enjoying the interesting people and managed well with my pack today. We did have a long stretch of mud where I slipped and slid a lot... There are many sheep and lovely cows and he hillsides are covered with flowers and really green carpets of grass. Tomorrow evening I expect to be in Pamplona and hope to get a calling card there... I seem to have the settings goofed up on the camera - it is making a video I think

Well, my Euro is about gone so I will tell you I wish you could share this crazy adventure with me...it is wonderful so far...walking should be easier and after today I should have a bit more time to organize and get stuff done...last night I was wiped out and had to deal with lots of people in he Alburque...tonight the place has only a dozen or so beds...


4/24  -> Gooood Morning Mark, I am in Pamplona at the library and will walk only a short distance today. I have not received any email from you yet...I hope you are receiving mine! I miss you and wish you could be here to share this adventure with me. Of course it would not be the same adventure then would it.(Can´t find question mark on this Spanish key board!)

Tomorrow I will not have Internet because we will be in a tiny village. In the morning we will ascend a steep pass. We are avoiding the pass in the sunny, hot afternoon and will do it tomorrow. So perhaps tomorrow night I will have internet again. I bought a phone card and will try to call sometime today or tomorrow.


I will not dally here. Today I am walking with a couple young women from Barcelona so my Spanish is improving or at least my ability to mimic Spanish. They are agreeable young women and are very helpful. Everyone is very helpful...they are respectful of pilgrims. My walk yesterday was lovely, but hard. Midday, I felt a bit ill and uncomfortable, but kept going and it passed. My muscles are not aching and my feet are fine. Yay! There are other pilgrims (including strong young men) who already have painful blisters and knee issues...

4/26/0 -> Hello Spouse, I am checked into a large Alburgue in Estella after a long slow day walking about 25k. 5 of it because I missed a turn, in the town, no less! My knee gave me pain most of the day and as day progressed, I slowed down significantly. Finally I was walking alone and hobbled into town at about 6. It has been rainy and windy off and on all day so my poncho got a work out. I managed to get money from the account and ran into the guy who gave me the "loan"...paid him back and have my greenbacks back in custody. I walked most of the day with the young Spanish women I mentioned before...but I think they were kind of glad to be done with me. So here I will meet new people perhaps. We shall see how my leg is tomorrow ...I may stay an extra day if I need to and not walk...a little healing time. That will mean a hostel or other accommodation that does not kick people out after a one night stay. This place costs 5E and has breakfast (unusual!) for only 1.5 E.

I am going to head out for dinner so I can get back before curfew...will write more later....


4/26/09  -> Hello! I am back from dinner - soon they will lock up the door and a few minutes later turn out the light...very strange being in a dormitory and sharing facilities and hearing all the snoring and all he different languages. Since I was soooo late arriving I did not launder my clothes so I guess I will wear them again tomorrow. We shall see how the leg feels tomorrow - there is a Red Cross place here that cares for Pilgrims so I will consult with them.

I dined with a Canadian Chaplain and his journalism and photography teacher ... they are from BC and we have much in common...great stories from them and we ate Turkish food because it is Sunday and no place is open and of course it was far to early for a Spanish place to be open, I HOPE to have a shower with hot water before I crash after my challenging day...I am using a bandanna as a towel...have not yet washed my hair...all very glamorous information eh,,,,

This is challenging, humbling, also exhilarating and such a unique experience - interesting to watch people learn and grow...

The countryside is beautiful...amazing terrain... I have walked over several mountains...when I look back at where I walked it is a bit amazing...but a car could cover the distance in no time at all!

I am heading off to bed...hope to call soon...I am getting a better understanding of the routines and so on. It takes a lot of energy to accomplish the most basic things and dealing with language and cultures....sooo many people from all over the world...it is wonderful....

4/27/09 -> Hello! I am just sitting down to lunch...will talk later...short walking day and met the film crew for the documentary...staying at a church run Alburgue tonight...on a mountaintop...beautiful weather...lovely day ...happy, happy, happy!

4/27  -> It is evening in this small village on a mountaintop. Tomorrow I will walk 12 K to the next town and then, no farther....I hope my knees are happy. I think my decision to stop was wise...

It is a lovely area...I am happy to relax a bit and let my leg heal...

I find myself thinking about how you would enjoy the place....

I will shower and be in bed by 9 and maybe up and walking by 8AM...

You would love this walking...wish YOU were here....

I imagine the dogs are happy to have you organizing their time...

I will write more tomorrow. It is good just to stop and do nothing...Tomorrow I will go on and hopefully my leg will NOT talk to me too much! Even with my knee pain... I am happy to be here...The recording crew (did I mention them?) Will connect with me later this week...the PBS documentary...

4/28 -> Almost time to turn out the lights...still limping along...only 12k today...leg feeling a bit better, hope to walk farther tomorrow. I am in Los Arcos...beautiful old church lovely river through town center...Belgian-run Alburgue. Stunning scenery today...can't type much because lights go out in a few moments.

How Aare you and Miss Zia doing?

Saw A WOMAN DRIVING A CART today...two lovely horses and a B&W dog trotting along beside the wagon. They are from France...

SO MANY INTERESTING PEOPLE, GREAT STORIES...TIME ESCAPES ME.

4/29/09 -> Hello! It is Saturday night and I am in Puente La Reina. It is about one day west of Pamplona, if you are looking art a map. Yesterday I walked with some Spanish women, youngish) who work at McDonald's in Barcelona. They are very kind and have keen senses of humor. We stopped at the first village past Pamplona yesterday to avoid scaling the peak at Alto de Perdon in the hot afternoon sun. Bella, one of my companions, suffered from blisters. We ended up in a really lovely Alburgue with a turtle pond and lots of gorgeous flowers. Several of us cooked a meal...many of my companions had to have their blisters treated there...it was like a hospital waiting room. My feet are fine. Today I walked alone most of the way up the hill, then walked down with a French-Canadian who speaks no Spanish. It was cold today and overcast...very cold at the top of the ascent. Yesterday was 28! Quite a change! On the decent, my knee began acting up...so I had a farmacia experience - a bandage and ibuprofen...maybe just a tendonitis kind of thing. I walked 23 kilometers today-. The Spanish women caught up with me and we are now sharing a room for 6 in a large Albugue.

Spain is beautiful in spring and the people I meet are wonderful...I am so grateful to be here and wish you could share the experience.

I will try the bank today...I had to borrow 50 Euros from a German (one of the blister-suffering people who cooked with us last night)...actually I gave him $30 USA and will probably see him again later to gave him Euros... Anyway, I should be able to manage better now that I am in a routine...today the Alburgue was only 5 Euros and pilgrim menu only 8.9 so coffee and toast and a few snacks made up my other expenses...

Sorry to be so boring about my descriptions...I will be more forthcoming on stories later. Last night the Internet experience was frustrating. I bought a phone card and intend to try calling sometime...probably on your cell phone...maybe tonight. I do not see to have the access code for the USA so we shall see. Not many people from USA here...very strange to hear all the mixture of languages.

I will send this now and see if I can find another Euro to buy more time....I hope I have no trouble getting cash tomorrow (Sunday)...

4/29 -> Hello Mark, I have arrived in Viana (near Logrono) only have enough coins to talk for 15 minutes...sigh. I am tired and need to find food and rest a bit. Just wanted to let you know I'm fine...long walk today and beautiful weather. The Alburgue is an old building in city center...lovely. 6 Euros and triple bunks!

Never seem to have much time on the Internet - one computer, many pilgrims and different specific coins required so I never have the correct change!

No notes from you...sigh. I wish you were here to share this with me. Today I walked from 0800-3 PM took a break at 10AM only. Climbed over several peaks...poppies and lots of wild flowers in bloom...

My leg is better, but still aches a bit. I may have a blister on one toe cuz I put my wet feet into sandals and had no socks on...

4/29 -> It is 8PM now...there is a mass at church, but I am here. The Alburgue is in the old town...very lovely with great views. The city of Logrono is in the distance and mountains flank the view. I will walk there tomorrow and meet the film crew. This weekend is a Spanish holiday so we are advised to find accommodations very early...I think the practitioner is doing good work. My knee is good...got a small blister on my right foot though...but I managed the 20 K alright with no real stops.

The weather has been perfect - bright, but not hot enough to cause sweat. The terrain changes frequently - we walked through a mule-killer ditch today...lots of rocks and climbs and descents... My friend Reese cooked a meal for me tonight and our Danish roomies from last night (older couple) shared the table with us. Nice to chat and hear why people are doing this walk. Spain is so beautiful...

Well, dear Spouse.you would enjoy this town. I sat in he square watching children play, had some churros y chocolate... nice. I seem to get to translate stuff for Germans, Dutch and French...funny huh!?!

4/29 -> Hello! Thank you so much for your prayerful support as I make my way across Spain. Today I felt strong and much more comfortable than I did yesterday and the day before. The Internet connection I have here in sunny Spain is running out (about 2 more minutes) but I will contact you again with more details...for now, know that I am very grateful for your prayer and thoughts. Please continue on my behalf.

Life is so good...and better because of people like you...

I am signing off now and may connect again Thursday evening from Logrono...


4/29 -> Hallo! I am in Vinana (near Logrono) enjoying a wonderful sunset after a 20 kilometer trek up and down mountains! Tomorrow I plan to go only to Logrono and then make further plans. Life is good....The knee is better! Yay!

4/30 -> Hello, I was the first to check into the Alburgue here in Logrono. It is a lovely old city in Rioja and I look forward to exploring a bit. My knee is better. I may pick up my pace after today...though it is quite nice to only go 10-14 K and then stop, explore, relax a bit. You would like this town - makes me think a little of Ukraine.

Tomorrow is the beginning of a holiday weekend here in Spain...expect to see lots of Spaniards walking and beds filling up fast at the Alburgues.

Well, I am off to find lunch...

4/30 -> No note from you...sigh...I had a wonderful evening ...had the chance to eat the cooking at a men's gastronomical society here ...langostinos and white asparagus...you would love this place. The film team invited me...but I had to leave mid-meal cuz the Alburgue closes at 10...time to turn off the computer...off to bed...hope to hear from YOU tomorrow night ...planning a 20 k walk...maybe...rainy...

5/1 -> HELLO! Another short walking day. I think my knee pain has relented this afternoon. The walk was through a lovely park by a reservoir and up around a mountain...The town (whose name I have forgotten actually) is small (1200 people) and has medieval ruins about. It is good to have a nice shower and wash clothes in a washing machine. Most days have been rather rushed. Many of the pilgrims arise soooo early and set out before sunrise. They do not seem to look around much. They seem concerned about how many miles they cover rather than taking in the people and culture. My days are not exciting...tranquil and I simply walk. No rest stops - walking 3 hours or so and stopping for coffee and setting out again. Tonight I hope to cook a meal in the Alburgue. I have been walking with Reese, a woman from Oregon. I may outpace her tomorrow though...we shall SEE.

Today is a Spanish holiday (Friday) and two more holidays follow so things are closed. I am taking photos but cannot share them from the Internet systems I have access to. I deposit a Euro for 15 minutes and the time flies...There is no place to download photos, so you will have to wait.

Logrono, the city I stayed in last night was lovely...but we had rain and today is cloudy and cold...good for walking, but not for the end of the day look around in the villages.

I know you would enjoy seeing the countryside and how things have changed. I am glad to be here, but wish you could share it too.

5/3 -> Hola! It is afternoon, about 4...there is a queue to use the Internet. People arrive, shower, wash clothes, us Internet and find food...basics of life during this adventure. There is a festival today (Fiesta de la Cruz)...and it is also Mother´s Day here. Reese and I walked from 0700 till about 1200 - the terrain is wine country with snow covered mountains in the distance. We sang Moriah and other folk songs...beautiful blue skies and gentle temperatures. The hills are steep and so many of the paths are quite challenging - glad we are not dealing with mud we had earlier in the week when it was rainy!

Poor Miss Zia must feel a bit abandoned. I stop to pet every dog I see and every cat too. Spaniards are seemingly doing well in the EEC. Many have fancy small dogs to walk about. We walked from the tiny village of about 100 (can't recall the name just now) and had late breakfast in Najeers...they were preparing for a medieval festival there...it would have been fun to linger, but the day was fine and my knee feeling better so we continued on to the smaller town of Afsora (I can't actually recall the name of this village of 320). I was greeted by a local who thrust a bottle of chilled wine in my hands when I entered the village! Such hospitality. Later they had tapas in the square and I sipped wine with the mayor!

Tomorrow I may try to get to Granon (to sleep in the church tower) or I may stop in Santo Domingo (story about the chickens )...

Well, I must stop as my 20 minutes has almost elapsed...minutes seem shorter when you pay for them.

I hope your day is going better than the one you described!

5/3 -> Well, I checked my e-mail...no notes from you. I am finished with dinner and will shower and be in bed almost before the sun goes down. Crazy schedule and crazy life. Tomorrow will be a long walk most likely. Sometimes I walk alone and sometimes I am walking with others. Always interesting.

Beautiful weather and lovely interactions...you would enjoy much of this...maybe we can have a short trip here and "do" a little of the Camino someday so you will have a taste of this adventure!

I love you and like to hear what you are thinking. Maybe I will have Internet tomorrow...only 2 minutes remaining so I will close for now!

5/4 ->  Hello Tiger, Drizzle today - slowed me down a bit so I am Santa Domingo, in the Spanish Confraternity Alburgue. It is just meters from the cathedral in the old historic part of the city. This year marks a jubilee celebration of Santo Domingo so there are special masses, etc. This is the cathedral that houses the two chickens in remembrance of the old pilgrim tale regarding a boy who was framed by a wench and hanged, but was rescued by angels. The mayor was asked to cut him down and give him a reprieve, but he laughed and said that was a s likely as the chicken he was dining on singing and dancing...which they promptly did, much to his astonishment.

I am tired...it is damp and cold and the Alburgue is muggy and full. I feel restless. Wishing I had a novel or a private place to nap. Some of the pilgrims this morning sent their backpacks ahead by taxi (knees and foot problems) and one pilgrim took a cab. My pack is comfortable and not heavy. My knee is feeling pretty good. Walking non-stop for 4 hours is tiring, especially in wind, mist and up and down hills. There will be days ahead when I must walk 7-8 hours and where getting supplies is challenging - no stores, no villages, no fountains...plan ahead...

5/6 -> Hello Mark, I spent five minutes scrolling through e-mail, but no notes from you. Quite a let down. I am always happier when I have a note from you. Last night I slept in the bell tower in Granon...very fun place. Cold showers only and a community dinner and mass. Storks on the roof...most enjoyable. Today I hiked across Nebraska or Iowa or even parts of South Dakota...that is what it looked like and the sun was harsh. Hiked from 0800 straight till about 2...not servicios to be found! I am now installed in a 5 Euro a night Alburgue in Belerado. The next few days will be more flat, hot walks and at an altitude. This area used to be where robbers assaulted pilgrims. Not many places to stop or get supplies.

There was no Internet in Granon.

There are chickens in the yard next door...I will go out on the patio, sip some wine and makes some notes about the day and then get a shower. I am eager for a hot shower...and a little privacy and or space in the shower rooms.

I will try to get on the Internet later tonight and find any notes you may send. There is only one terminal and it is a euro for 20 minutes....

5/6 -> Hello - Glad to find yours note buried in the boring e-mail.It seems hard to get up and out of the Alburgues...but they boot you out early so everyone races to be out the door. The problem is many pilgrims get up and fumble around in the dark or with headlights to get their packs stuffed and ready to go so no one can sleep. And yes the snoring is a nuisance. And lights and people rising to use the toilet. I try to stay in smaller places with fewer people. Sometime they put 6-8 beds in a room so it is a bit better. Today I must walk through the bathroom (co-ed) to reach my sleeping room. I have the top bunk and it is situated right next to the neighboring bunk...I am not too pleased with that arrangement! But is is typical.

The clock on my Internet is almost on zero so I will sign off now...

5/7 -> Hello! Just 4 minutes left of my Euro...Today I met a Polish journalists...he took photos of me and my walking stick and ribbons....fun to speak Russian to him. Lots of interesting people here and also some people who seem quite rude or oblivious to others. Some seem to think this is a race!

I am keeping some notes on things here and taking photos. The camera seems to eat batteries so I am frequently replacing them. Not sure when the card will be full. Need to look into buying a card I guess. Just getting the daily stuff done is work. I sleep pretty hard at night, but with many people sharing quarters there is much noise, flashlights and farting...lovely...crazy...cheap at least!

Well, I will send now and e-mail again...maybe later tonight. (It is about 3:30 PM here now) Life is good....

5/7 -> I walk along singing all the songs I can remember - strange how many words I have forgotten. I make up words about pilgrims though. I also use my walking stick like a baton sometimes ad twirl it about or like a rifle and do cadences. I will be in sunny, treeless places for the next week I guess. I could be in Burgos in a day, but probably two. I will climb tomorrow and stay at an old town that has no store...a monastery at the peak. The town I am at today is a burg of little importance or character. The guidebook calls the walk "soul-less". The trucks on the highway come fast and furiously...not fun walking. I finally had a really nice, hot shower in a space where I had room to get dressed again with any grace. The shower areas are cramped and challenging - no hooks or shelves. The bag we bought at REI is coming in VERY handy!

I hope to get up and out of here very early tomorrow and get some kilometers under my belt before the sun kicks in. Hard to imagine this adventure in July or August with all the heat and the crowds!

Went to mass last night - the priest corralled a few of us to help put the icons back in the church (post Easter)...it was interesting. The Alburgue had a flock of chickens in the yard adjacent to the garden so I sat watching the poultry and rabbits and their young until the almost-full moon came out and it was time to crawl into bed.

5/8 -> Hello! It is Friday evening, about 9 here in Burgos. Yes, I made it to Burgos. I am Wonder Woman - walked 40 kilometers today and over two high assents and down again too! I walked alone and started at 0600 and arrived at this lovely Alburgue at about 1615. My smallest toe has a huuuuuge blister that needs to be burst...sigh. My legs are stiff. I wonder how I will feel tomorrow. I did not intend to walk so far, but I missed a sign and ended up on an alternative route which took me up to a great view and a labyrinth with a cross at the peak. By the time I realized my error, I did not see a reason to back track, but perhaps I should have. I ended up going through 3 villages with not even a bar and then trekked across the industrial suburbs and downtown of Burgos...

The meseta - it actually begins tomorrow. The land I have walked across is not as barren or flat as what is ahead. I have not been using sunscreen, but wearing long sleeves, long pants and a hat. My hands are very brown and so is my face. People think I am Mexican or Italian now. I may buy and umbrella for the 90 or so kilometers of meseta. I plan to begin at 0600 and stop before the midday heat kicks in. Hard to imagine people doing this stretch in summer months.

Burgos is wonderful. I sat at a cafe and dined on calamari and sipped a nice white wine. Later another pilgrim woman sat with me and we had coffee. She is from Finland and quite interesting...good conversation. All around us crowds of Spanish families sipped coffee or beer or wine and watched their children play in the plazas. There is a merry go round by the river and just sooooo many beautiful places to feast the eyes on. There is a castle which I hope to see tomorrow - hope I feel more like walking then. (It is easier to walk in my boots than in my sandals.)

Well, I am glad to hear from you...I wish you could be here experiencing this with me. It is rather strange to see all these people doing this walk...why do pilgrims do this? There are not real answers, but there are many people doing it. I hope my photos come out...I take many ...need to buy another card and more batteries...

I am off to bed, hoping the snoring and such are not too bad tonight.

5/10 -> Here I am on Mother's Day in Hontanas ¿sp?...I am at the Internet in the local bar...very slow, but nice to find you note to me. The hard part about stopping is that there is idle time but I am tired and in a small village there is little to see anyway. I will be in bed by 8 probably. It is five now and the rain threatens making sitting on the bench less fun.

5/10 -> Happy Mother's Day!I am in a village west of Burgos and typing on a funny Spanish keyboard so disregard the typos and off punctuation please. The Camino goes well...a very strange experience that challenges me and also allows me to observe life in wonderful ways. I am walking across terrain like Iowa and Nebraska now so I started at 0630 under the setting moon today and avoided the harsh midday sun. I walk about 20 kilometers most days, but Friday I walked 40K and amazed myself - it was in the mountains so was challenging terrain. Even the flat, high plains offer challenges to walkers...my feet feel the stones...sigh.

I seldom get much time online so am not keeping up on e-mail...just posting to Mark and occasionally adding a status update on Facebook.

I just wanted to wish you a happy Mother's Day...Life is good..."Ginn"
In Spain, Under Rain Clouds and Done Walking for the Day

5/10 -> Hello! No note from you and lines behind me waiting for Internet...Just want you to know where I am - Boadilla del Camino...small village after 30 K over treeless, hot prairie and a hard, long climb. Tomorrow I will try to get to a town about 25K away and will take money out because there are 2-3 days of walking where banking is not an option.

Three weeks left...moving pretty fast now...life is good...but, I miss you very much....


[MARK Again: That brings us up to date. I did not get a note tonight and I will try to update on a more regular basis from now on.]

5 comments:

sagalouts said...

Thanks for posting Mark
good to know your wife is fine and enjoying the journey.
Ian

Caminante said...

Thanks for the postings; I know where she is (walked the Camino in its entirety), can feel the tendonitis in the knee, the blisters on the toes, hear the snoring in the albergues, remember the silence that comes with hours of walking... yes, the posting brings back the Camino.

¡Buen Camino!

Tita Pat and Tito Bert said...

Ditto ... thanks Mark.

Hi Ginn,

Enjoyed reading your thoughts and thinking about your experiences during this pilgrimage. I took particular interest in your and others' fott conditions.

Do you feel the prescence of your son? I hope so. Buen camino.

Kiwi Nomad 2008 said...

Thanks for posting. Hope Ginn's walk continues to go well for her.

Laura said...

Thanks for the update. Can you post again to let us know how she has gotten on?