Thursday, May 31, 2012


Muxia, the tip of which causes a lovely natural harbor, and a neighborhood called "la Cruz". We stayed at a small, fabulous hotel with the same name, and had a big window overlooking the beautiful bay & harbor, and the sight of wind turbines rimming the other side of it. All night we could hear the waves hitting the strand. We went to Camarinas, a lovely piece of coastline north of here. Then drove to an ancient waterfall/cascade down a gorge with the very ancient Galician houses made of stone placed strategically over the water, with waterwheel mills to get energy, now connected to the electric grid! At the lower end the creek empties into the bay. We drove to the capes of the next two bays-- Tourignan, and Finisterra. The stony cliffs jut into the ocean dramatically, like Point Lobos, and Big Sur. At the peak of Finisterra, there is an ancient stone circle which is very beautiful, where you can see both sides, the ocean and bay, and a grand sweeping view. We came back to Muxia to spend the night, as the car makes it possible-- and we went to the beautiful beach at sunset again--- so quiet-- no other people! --- we swam in the gorgeous and healing ocean here in the morning. My body is starting to heal from the aching joints and my feet are much better. This morning at our favorite cafe, O'Xardin . Next will be heading east on the north coast towardi Santander, Bilbao and San Sebastian. Love to all!

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Old home week at the cathedral

Pentecost-- many people speaking in many different languages-- so resonant with our experience here!
We were able to go to the cathedral for mass this morning, and see many fellow pilgrims. It was a very special event also, because we saw our friend Glenn, the semi-retired doctor, who is also a deacon in his Parrish in Wisconsin, up in the circle around the altar, and I got to receive communion from him! He also got to help put incense in the big silver pot they swing so dramatically at the end of mass. I was able to go up behind the altar to touch the golden cloak of the statue of StJames, also. Andy got good photos. We visited with many of our companions of the way. We had a lovely lunch of paella at a restaurant close to the cathedral. Then we went on the bus to the airport to see about car rentals. It costs an extra 1k to take the car across a border, so we got a deal to return it in San Sebastian. I will take the bus back to Biarritz from there. Then we headed to the beach at Muxia. Walking on the lovely beach here was like a miracle-- a perfect end-of-the-day for us, to wiggle our toes in wet sand , and watch the sun go down over the western sea. My feet are so happy to have been in the ocean again at last! Sending love to all, & prayers of deepest gratitude!

Monday, May 28, 2012

Get me to the church on time!

Santiago de Compostela

Today we made it-- got our Compostela certificates! We walked at the fastest pace I could go, 6 hrs from Arcua de Pino-- with a midmorning stop for coffee and bathroom access. My body is very tired and sore, but we got to mass at 12:15-- in time for the sermon welcoming pilgrims from everywhere, and blessing our efforts. It was so sweet to be able to go to communion; even though we couldn't sit down, and still had our packs. We had Lunch afterwards at a great restaurant with Chung-woo Song from Korea; he and Andy became film buddies several stops ago. We got our certificates, then found our hotel-- Pazos Al ba. It is lovely-- our room looks At the Cathedral through the park, and we have a bathtub!! We will explore after I rest. Tomorrow we take the bus to Finisterre. I had a little prayer I was saying as we raced uphill toward the city-- " to, with, in & through, from and by God"-- and kept thinking about both my parents, & their strength and love and support. It is somewhat wierd to be an old lady now, and have people congratulate me for making it here, but my hair is now mostly white, so I fit the archetype. Last night we had dinner with Glenn, a semi-retired family practice doc from Wisconsin, and his son Tim. They have been going along at about the same stops, so we were glad to visit with them . I also met Gabriel from Barcelona and his 19 yo son, Marcelo. So we are not the only family pair-- also saw Michelle & her dad agAin today. I feel blessed, and grateful; so many hidden pairs of angel's wings, and prayers from loving friends got me and Andy this far! Hugs & kisses, martina

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Peregrinos & pradera

Well, we are on the home stretch! Andy wants to do the whole last 42k in 1 day, but I can't face it. We left Ligonde at 4:30 am, as snoring in the next bunk and firecrackers in the street outside (local football win) made it impossible to sleep. It was the first time i used the headlamp. We could see the stars so clearly--- Andy was so happy to be looking at the Milky Way, and having all the "under the stars" resonances. The air was cool and the countryside beautiful and quiet-- and we were on a flat good road with no traffic for hours. Today was a battering ram of 30ks, from Ligonde to Ribadiso, just before Arzua. By mid-morning, it rained, I wore the periwinkle poncho from Debbie, and after5&1/2hrs, I sent the pack on with the Jaco-Trans people, which made it barely possible to keep putting one foot in front of the other. Andy went faster, and after finally getting to & through Melinde, I was able to get some money from an ATM, but pressed on, due to rain and overall nervousness that if I sat down I probably wouldn't get up Again. My blisters are stable and bearable, but bone pain in legs, knees and hips is hard. I am taking more naproxen, and tramodol at night now. When I was about 8k from Ribadiso, a young woman behind me started singing " when you walk through a storm" from Carousel! I sang it with her, and we sang a few more songs, which helped me to not feels so bad!! She is here after graduating from Parsons with a degree in design, with her dad, sister and two uncles. The whole bunch were dear and wonderful companions. We made it to Ribadiso and lunch with Andy by 4 pm. We got a room for 2, with our own shower, and slept the rest of the day. Tomorrow-- heading to Arca de Pinos. Day after--Santiago! We are excited but I am still trying not to just see kilometers, but really savor the countryside. Love to all-- martina

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Ultreya -- keep going!

Fälling Asleep to crickets in the tall grass, now in green and beautiful Galicia, just outside of Portomarin. Very long day' s hike--- almost 30 k from Samos. The monk giving the tour of the monastery asked for translators for French& English, but he raced along without giving us time to translate! Several people thanked me for trying, I am going to ask a Benedictine friend to write a one- page explanation of their life & rule-- people wanted to understand more about the monastic tradition than the art & architecture of this grand edifice. I told them about Thomas Merton, and Kathleen Norris "' Cloister Walk." I also think St Benedict would want us to have pillows in the Albergue, as he was so big on hospitality!!
We got to a perfect refuge-- it is hard to leave it-- showers & clean clothes, blisters rebandaged, but early morning is the best time to walk! I saved the fresh cheese -- like Brie here-- and homemade quince preserves from yesterday' fantastic lunch to eat at breakfast. Then we stArt again-- we have less than 100 k to go, now! Ultreya-- there are more pilgrims coming in now--- love to all, martina

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Pair-a-gringos ambulating

Morning-- leaving O' Cereibro; birdsong, and sun light on the stone buildings, and puddles of fog in the valleys of hills beyond hills at the horizon. Sunrise was magical. Yesterday we left Villafranca early, and walked a pleasant day's worth---then at Herrerias we took the smooth road instead of the bumpy path. It was a bad mistake-- we walked for 3 hours next to the freeway, in hot sun. We finally got to a crossroad with buildings, and I refused to walk any further. We needed about 8 k to get up and back to Cebreiro, and it was 6 pm. Then a miracle happened--- a young lady offered us a ride. It turns out that she is working in Paraguay, for a Spanish firm. She is going back on Monday! Her name is Vanessa Garrido. I told her to look up Sonia Fanego of Ybycui, and Marcos Tatewski--- what a small world!!! So she got us to Cereibro at 6:45, just in time for 7 pm mass. The Albergue was full since 1 pm, but a sweet Norwegian lady named Reidder had felt sick, so she was moving to the last room in the hotel, and gave me her bed in the Albergue! We went to mass, which was lovely, and they gave a special blessing to pilgrims---we found John McLean in the pew in front of us, and he and Reidder joined us for a great dinner at the Venta Celta, with Matilda, a great hostess. We had met John in Astorga, and it was fun to get another wonderful meal with him. Dinner was Galician soup, stewed ribs, with great flavor, and local fresh goat cheese with honey for dessert. I fell into the sleeping bag & didn't move til morning. I think we walked 40 k yesterday, uphill.
Today we are trying to go to Samos. I walked about 6 k, and then felt so done-in I called for a taxi. Andy is a little tired too-- and willing. We are on a lovely hilltop waiting for our ride. The birds are singing. I listened to Palestrina for this morning's hike. Yesterday Palestrina got me through hours of trudging in hot sun. I cannot say anything especially meaningful, but we are in Samos: will try to get to mass tonight, and pray for enlightenment, and sore feet!

Monday, May 21, 2012

To laugh like a brook when it trips and falls

Over stones, on its way...
The land here is beautiful-- we saw many vineyards, and lots of roses, the homes are beautiful, although there are many old stone and mixed adobe , wood and stone houses falling into ruin. There are lots of village fountains, and great water--- de grifo-- from The tap. I want to build community swimming pools, with airplane hangar-type roofs, with solar panels, and American gym-type showers! The ones here are those hand- held hose-showers, awkward and not stable, and the drains and floors are badly made--- too slippery, small, cramped-- without good doors to keep floors from getting wet and slippery. I also miss big towels! I think community pools for swimming would be great-- in some towns there is gym equipment in the parks-- and the magazines often have headlines about trying to lose weight. There is also a problem with trash now; way too much plastic. Today we climb the last mountain, to o'Cebreiro.

Spanish poppies and cherries: el Bierzo

Now in el Bierzo, many beautifully groomed small plots with ripening cherries, vegetables, and. Barley fields with poppies. Yesterday laid the stones at the Cruz de Ferro--- late morning. Andy found a friend-- Alex is a Galician philosophy student-- very fast on downhill slopes. Suddenly I was alone for4 hours of gruelling stony narrow path down the mountain-- and met not a soul for several hours, as it was siesta time. I got to Molinaseca at about 7 pm and was so crippled I could hardly make it through town to the Albergue, but I found a note from Andy at the bottom of the mountain that he had gotten beds for us and the name of the place. What a relief! I prayed all day, listening to Palestrina on the iPod. Today was a similar experience, but less arduous, and I got here to Villafranca del Bierzo by 5 pm, with time to eat. Both of these towns are lovely, and worth coming back to. Today I listened all day to Sound of Music over and over. I hurt, but some things are less painful, and Andy is going faster but rejoining me in the evening. I didn't realize how much alone time I would have, and there are not many places with wi- fi, and there are not many places to get rescued with a bus. Today I did take a bus through Ponferrada-- I want to walk in the prettiest places!!
Sending love and prayers-- martina