Saturday, May 16, 2009
The Palacio Espiscopal, Astorga, one of Gaudi´s better works (in my humble opinion). This is the view from my room at Hotel Gaudi where I stayed in 2007 to recover from blisters. I am here again and this time with no blisters, what a blessing that is. I seem to have been a slow learner as it has taken me five camino walks to solve the blister problem.
The Route Changes
After a long walk I am in Astorga one of my favorite cities along the Camino Frances. The journey along the Via de la Plata (VdlP) was not without its problems, both physical and spiritual, and thankfully my family, Melinda, Katie, Dawn, Caroline, Andree, and Kees are all helping me here. I thank you all who are folling and keeping me in your thoughts. The VdlP is from Sevilla in the south to Astorga in northern Spain and meets the Camino Frances (CF) here so all will change (more later).
We had over a week of worries about Karen who was suffering from a collapsed lung. Sometimes seemingly better and at other times Karen was not good at all. Then came the horrible night when I was staying at an Albergue, and all pilgrims know, lights out at ten and cellphones off, when Garry called after nine (all pilgrims in bed) to let me know that at that moment Karen was undergoing surgery on her lung. I was awake all night night worried about our beautiful daughter-in-law. I could not turn my BlackBerry on in fear that an SMS would arrive and with the high-pìtch tone the BB has I would have been booted out of the Albergue. So it was wait until two or three the following afternoon to call Houston at the appropriate time. Karen came through surgery fine with the ruptures in her lung repaired and suffering a lot of pain when trying to breathe. The thought of having a tube stuck down her throat to help her breathe made her breathe deeper and now she is at home recuperating. All the best wishes come your way Karen. Love, Ma
If you have been following my Blog then you know that I was to meet my good friend, Andrée, from Canberra, Australia, here in Astorga on May 20. Andree was all prepared with backpack, walking sticks, sleeping bag, headlamp and other necessities for a pilgrim and she was diligently practicing walking with her backpack and sticks. Unfortunately one day Andrée fell and damaged a knee. SMS message to me that all was well, no broken bones, so full steam ahead. Then bruising set in from the top of her thigh to the ankle and she has major damage to that leg. Andrée´s doctor has advised against her walking the camino this year. It is sad but best this way or she could have found herself in a Spanish hospital somewhere along the way. For me, we were ahead of plan and walked into Astorga yesterday and will walk out tomorrow gaining three days to allow a slow walk through Galicia. All the best Andrée for a speedy recovery.
I have spoken with Rolf almost every week and he is doing well. He had his last chemo two weeks ago and sees his doctors again at the end of this month. As always Rolf I am thinking of you.
Now for the VdlP ...
If I lived on the memory of the last four days of the VdlP my view would be strange. Small pueblos with no real food available. A Bar in one pueblo opened at noon and closed at six offering only Bocadillos (sandwiches). The way was flat and shadeless with two of the days along tarmac most of the way, which is tough on feet but the knees liked the level surface. For one kilometer there was no choice but to walk on freshly sprayed tar, oh the boots at the end of that, they were a sticky mess. The last three Albergues there were only three of us, one I understand why, the guidebook mentions cold showers. However, when we arrived the showers were hot, a new hot water system in place, GREAT! The Alija albergue has to be the oldest albergue that I have stayed in, and quite strange, the women in charge insist on holding your credential until 8:00pm to place the sello (stamp). Oops, like your USA Passport you do not like letting go. In La Baneza the Refugio had hospital beds, not bunk beds, and they were comfortable. A 40 bed albergue and only three of us.
From Sevilla to Astorga the way has been delightful with many birds of prey and when in old woods the cuckoo can be heard, and seen. This always makes me think of Roland who said his camino was going fine when he heard a cuckoo. I adopted this for myself and always smile when I hear a cuckoo. To place the Astorga photo I surfed through some of the photos that I have taken and gosh it seems so long ago that I was in those various places. The beautiful National Parks in the early days, the two very different reservoirs that you walk around, tranquilo and relaxing but you know you have some kilometers to go so must continue on. The cities, Zafra with its wonderful food (Torta de Queso and the best Jamon) and Salamanca the most beautiful city in Spain with its grand Plaza Mayor (with many cafes and restaurantes).
Camino Frances (Via de la Plata)
My Credential (Pilgrim Pass) from Sevilla is completely full of stamps so I needed a new Pilgrim Pass from Astorga. A Credential is what one needs to stay in Albergues and is a record that you are a pilgrim along the way. Last year Bev M. told me she thought this an absolutely ridiculous idea in a conversation but sorry, this system has worked well for many years, if not centuries. I have my new Pass from the Astorga Cathedral and a beautiful stamp from the Pilgrims Tienda where I bought a new shirt. I have shopped at the supermarket for supplies (Shampoo, deodorant, toothpaste) and at the Farmacia for more Voltarem (for my aches) and Pentoderm (blister protection). So I am all set to continue on to Santiago de Compostela (SdC) - although as all pilgrims know, my pack is going to be heavier with the new supplies, YUK.
I will walk out of here tomorrow and be reminded of the two previous walks from Astorga, the people I met and walked with in 2002 and 2007. Tomorrow night I will be in Rabanal where I met Maureen and Martin (M&M from Yorks., UK) with whom I walked into SdC in 2007 along with Roland and Wolf. M&M some days the song goes through my head and I have difficulty letting it go. It´s a long way to Santiago ....
There are many more pilgrims along CF and they just keep on coming into Plaza Mayor but I have managed the CF before and will do so again. I see many injured pilgrims, limping, bandaged ankles, blisters, knee braces and more. Hopefully I will not be the slowest along the way.
Well folks this has to be it for today as my brain is fried. I´m sorry folks, I do not have time to check email and my pilgrim brain does not want to go there, sorry. I send love and best wishes to you all and sorry if I have not mentioned your kindness to me.