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DAY 34: Sunday, June 28 2015- A. Our Last Post as we Depart Santiago for Madrid after walking about 1,425,000 steps over some 950 Km


Today was our farewell visit to Santiago Cathedral. We have not seen the giant incense burner, the Botafumeiro, swung, but that is fine. In ancient times it was used to send the prayers to heaven and to cover the odours of the unwashed pilgrims but now it is more for entertainment at the end of some Pilgrims’masses. If groups wish to pay a sum of money, the Botafumeiro will be lit and swung for them.
Santiago is a lovely, old city. The citizens of Santiago are very aware and proud of its religious significance and also, they are cognizant of the impact of the Camino pilgrimages on the economy. The Camino and the pilgrims are treated with honour and respect, despite our sometimes coming in droves. We have heard of no altercations but we have known pilgrims who received free medical care. Everywhere we went, people were kindly and would go out of their way to help us. All pilgrims we met have encountered the same hospitality and goodness.
The origins of St. James’ tomb in this remote Galician village date from between 788 and 838 AD, the exact date lost in the mists of time. What is certain is that these events changed the history of what was a sleepy village with cows in the streets and made it into one of the most important pilgrimage sites on earth. There is so much in Santiago. It is a museum unto itself. Over our three days here we have managed just a glimpse. It is almost overwhelming. Despite tourism somehow Santiago remains a special place….hopefully, it always will.
Later today we, too, did a bit of tourist shopping but mostly just enjoyed the various pilgrims arriving in the square. Some arrived singly, others in large groups and every other configuration. Today there were those on horseback and others on scooters. It was a celebratory moment for all when some physically handicapped pilgrims riding hand propelled tricycles arrived with their caregivers on bicycles. Emotions are high whenever pilgrims come into Praza do Obradoiro. There is singing, chanting, sobbing, applauding and laughing. Some pray, some are just quiet. Pilgrims kiss the ground, prostrate themselves, hug one another, lie down looking skyward or with eyes closed, sit leaning against their backpacks, dance and, literally jump for joy. It is a time of jubilation expressed in so many different ways.
On our arrival a few days ago, we were among the hot and weary celebrants, who touched the shell in the centre of the plaza, gave each other a hug and sought the cool of our hotel quickly. It was when we attended mass and walked about the old town that the fact we had arrived in Santiago and had finished our Camino became real. However, even now, we still have moments of disbelief.
It has been an amazing adventure in all ways. Would we do it again? Well, not right away. We have met pilgrims who have walked all of the various routes to Santiago and some who have walked Camino Frances many times. Would we recommend it? Yes!!
This is our final blog from the Camino. Thank you for sharing our walk. Thank you for your prayers, your encouragement and your patience with the blog. Some of you have taken every single step with us and we felt it. xo
Although a pilgrimage is not a vacation trip, we hope you enjoyed the bits and pieces about what we saw, the people we met, and the traditions and customs of this part of Spain. Perhaps, some of you may even consider a similar journey.
We leave the Camino unable to adequately describe what it has meant to us. Neither of us experienced an epiphany, but we feel it was good for us in every way. We are committed to living the rest of our lives remembering the things we have learned on this journey together. Hopefully, at a later time we may have an occasion to be able to tell you more.
Until then, quoting a kindly greeting of the Camino: “Ultreya” — go forth with courage.

Rod and Delana

Sitting on the steps of the Cathedral, reading about Ladysmith, on our way home!
Sitting on the steps of the Cathedral, reading about Ladysmith, on our way home!
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Some of the flowers of the Camino

A sunflower happy face done by pilgrams
A sunflower happy face done by pilgrams

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Such a beautiful and restful rural hotel this was our balcony sitting area overlooking the courtyard.
Such a beautiful and restful rural hotel this was our balcony sitting area overlooking the courtyard.
Typical of Camino Entrepreneurship: a small B&B, a coffee stop by day and a garden that is so exquisite
Typical of Camino Entrepreneurship: a small B&B, a coffee stop by day and a garden that is so exquisite
Roses, roses roses everywhere on the Camino. Here outside the manor house.
Roses, roses roses everywhere on the Camino. Here outside the manor house.

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Looking like a miniature blue hollyhock, these weeds bring even more colour to the route. Note the line of plane trees ... There are miles and miles of thers trees, and remarkably, they are ALL WATERED by a watering system!
Looking like a miniature blue hollyhock, these weeds bring even more colour to the route. Note the line of plane trees … There are miles and miles of thers trees, and remarkably, they are ALL WATERED by a watering system!
Lavender, lavender.... Everywhere!
Lavender, lavender…. Everywhere!

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We took this picture because it shows that  there are places with more dandelions that at Forever House!
We took this picture because it shows that there are places with more dandelions that at Forever House!
Every day we are treated to a chorus of songbirds, determined to lift our feet and spirits. Here is one little guy sitting atop some broom, just  determined to make us smile.
Every day we are treated to a chorus of songbirds, determined to lift our feet and spirits. Here is one little guy sitting atop some broom, just determined to make us smile.
Grapes, grapes and more grapes. Interesting, rarely do the pilgrims even touch them
Grapes, grapes and more grapes. Interesting, rarely do the pilgrims even touch them

DAY 33: Saturday, June 27 2015 Santiago to Finisterre 89 km ( by bus)

  • We were up early enough to see Praza do Obradoiro completely empty.
    The cathedral highlighted in the glow of dawn was stunning.
    Today we took a day long tour out to Finisterre, which until the discovery of North America, was thought to be where the world ended. This was an hour and a half trip one way, through a lovely countryside and along the northern coast of Galicia. Enroute is was evident that this area of Galicia is more prosperous than any we have walked through. Perhaps, it is the proximity to Santiago or the success of their off shore fishing industry. It was good to see. The coast is beautiful. The many indentations called “rias” are said to have been made when God rested and put His hand down— His fingers creating the rias. Low granite mountains green with scrub brush and fern rise above the sea. Gigantic granite boulders cover the mountains, some doing incredible balancing acts. It is understandable that so many myths and legends abound in this area.
    All the coastal villages are fishing ports. One, Muros, is renowned for razor clams that they grow off rafts in the ria. Rod had the clams for lunch and said they were delicious but tasted a bit different from other clams.
    When we reached Finisterre we were confused. The Finisterre we were expecting was the one in the film, “The Way”. The real Finisterre has a lighthouse, chapel and a granite cross. It is significant for pilgrims arriving at Cabo Finisterre to bathe in the waters ( carefully, as there is a serious current),watch the sunset at the Cape and burn their Camino clothes. Finisterre is an adjunct to the Camino and many come here because they cannot face the farewells yet or they do not wish their Camino to come to an end. Our next stop was near Muxia on the point called “Pedra dos Cadrises”—this is where the final scene from the movie was filmed. Here are the two ” magic stones” believed to be the boat and sail of the stone ship that brought the Virgin Mary to St. James when he was anguishing about his mission in Spain. Her encouragement inspired him to continue, although his discipleship here was not hugely successful. Part of the story has to do with back and kidney problems. If you circle the “sail” of the boat a certain number of times, touching it, you will be healed…also, apparently this stone  moves — the tide does not reach the stone and it must weigh at least a ton, so it is not the wind….
    There is a small chapel up from the beach, ” Sanctuary of our Lady of the Boat” which has several model boats hanging in it to honour the Virgin’s boat and the seagoing vessels of their village. It is a simple and welcoming place.
    At one point, gazing out of the bus window we passed some pilgrims walking to Finisterre. For a moment we both had a sense of guilt that we were not walking with them and actually wished we were. However, we stayed on the bus and the “Camino fever” moment passed.
    An interesting bit about our hotel. As it was once a pilgrim hostal built by royalty, the mandate for it to assist pilgrims still remains. Each day at 0900, 1200 and 2000 the first 15 pilgrims to arrive, on presentation of a copy of their Compostela certificate are given a free meal. This is allowed for 3 days after a pilgrim’s arrival in Santiago.
    We had a little glitch in our itinerary, as the baggage handlers in Madrid are on strike. Ryanair will take us but not our checked baggage. It is a bit iffy to send your baggage by bus or train unaccompanied, especially if you need it within a couple of days. So, now we will be going to Madrid by train which should be a nice journey.
    There were more stars tonight and they shone brightly.
The next series of pictures, hopefully in the order I want them to be! Tell the story of the joy and agony at the finish.  Yes, some who completed the Camino were excited.  Here I am at the Camino shell symbol in the very middle of the square in front of the Cathedral.
The next series of pictures, hopefully in the order I want them to be, tell  the story of the joy and agony at the finish.
Yes, some who completed the Camino were excited. Here I am at the Camino shell, symbol in the very middle of the square in front of the Cathedral.
This picture is out of place, but I wanted to throw it in somewhere....Remember earlier in one of my science and statics classes, I spoke about the fact that 25% of Spain's electricity comes from wind and solar sources?  And within 10 years they expect that portion to increase to 48 % ....  You should see the quiet Giants along the shoreline near Finisterre.
This picture is out of place, but I wanted to throw it in somewhere….Remember earlier in one of my science and statics classes, I spoke about the fact that 25% of Spain’s electricity comes from wind and solar sources? And within 10 years they expect that portion to increase to 48 % …. You should see the quiet Giants along the shoreline near Finisterre.
A more subdued couple standing before the giant she'll symbolizing the end of the Camino.
A more subdued couple standing before the giant shell made in 1705, symbolizing the end of the Camino.
The tradition calls for a pilgram to carry a stone from the beginning of their camino, to the end. This is one step beyond: hereRod throws a stone from our beach at Firever House, into the 'end of the world' at Finnistere. Delana's amazing timing: look closely, the stone has just departed my hand!!
The tradition calls for a pilgrim to carry a stone from the beginning of their camino, to the end. This is one step beyond: here Rod  throws a stone from our beach at Firever House, into the ‘end of the world’ at Finnistere. Delana’s amazing timing: look closely, the stone has just departed my hand!!
Before we got too critical of those on horseback, we learned that some come, with their horses, from as far away as Brazil and Mexico, just to raise money for a cause.
Before we got too critical of those on horseback, we learned that some come, with their horses, from as far away as Brazil and Mexico, just to raise money for a cause.
As I tried to get the right angle for this picture I was overwhelmed by emotions.  These are real pilgrims. They have overcome adversity, they have struggled, some I am certain with every ounce of strength they have.  Just like the thousands before them, they have learned the meaning of being a Camino Pilgrim.
As I tried to get the right angle for this picture I was overwhelmed by emotions. These are real pilgrims. They have overcome adversity, they have struggled, some I am certain with every ounce of strength they have. Just like the thousands before them, they have learned the meaning of being a Camino Pilgrim.
Anyone care to take a wheelchair over 800 kilometres of steep vertical climbs, frightening descents, 30 degree rock faces, over 12 - 18 inch boulders, steep surfaces of round rocks that keep you from stopping your descent,  water obstacles of mud to your boot tops, ascents of over 4000 feet in a day over a summit of goat and sheep trails.... Now that  is a pilgram.
Anyone care to take a wheelchair over 800 kilometres of steep vertical climbs, frightening descents, 30 degree rock faces, over 12 – 18 inch boulders, steep surfaces of round rocks that keep you from stopping your descent, water obstacles of mud to your boot tops, ascents of over 4000 feet in a day over a summit of goat and sheep trails…. Now that is a pilgrim.
The chapel at Finisterre. Note the fishing boat suspended from the ceiling.
The chapel at Finisterre. Note the fishing boats suspended from the ceiling.
Finally, at Finisterre, the end of the world. The exact rock from which Martin Sheen threw the ashes, the last scene in the movie
Finally, at Finisterre, the end of the world. The exact rock from which Martin Sheen threw the ashes, the last scene in the movie “the Way” – a movie we recommend that you all see. It was our son Gavin who recommended it to us along with the chalkenge to walk the Camino ourselves. Thank you,Gavin

Xxxxxx

This is a “cruceiro”, a distinctive Galician landmark. They are usually simple, stone crosses on long, slender shafts.

They are found in plazas or at crossroads and sometimes, what appears to be randomly, in a field. Cruceiros mark significant events and date back to the 14th century.

Here we are, leaving our stones . that we have carried throught the length of the Camino, at mile zero at the Finistere lighthouse.  Zoom in on our hands and you will see the stones.
Here we are, leaving our stones . that we have carried throught the length of the Camino, at mile zero at the Finistere lighthouse. Zoom in on our hands and you will see the stones.
Our last Martin sighting, at rest in a pasture after a long walk!
Our last Martin sighting, at rest in a pasture after a long walk! Christian, Savilla, Vivienne, Clara, Garner, Emmitt and Elodie—Martin is very happy in his new home. xo

DAY 32: Friday, June 26 2015 Santiago, Spain

After a luxurious long sleep and a wonderfully relaxed breakfast, we were off to the Pilgrim’s Office for our Compostelas. The line up was not too long. We were in and out within 45 min, much less time than the several hours about which we had been warned. We had the distinction of, today, being the oldest pilgrims to receive a Compostela for walking the entire Camino. A young Boy Scout from Portugal who was there with his troop asked to have a selfie with us. We can imagine the commentary to his presentation “….and these are some old people from Canada.”. The Mass was long and primarily in Spanish and Latin, but the meaning was clear—- gratitude for a safe journey, prayers for a good life on earth following the steps of our Lord, and life Eternal. With Mass there was also, communion. It was amazing how efficiently 2500 could receive the sacrament without the loss of sincerity. Truly, practise makes perfect. Centred at the back of the high altar there is a large statue of St. James. There seemed to be movement there. Every once in a while the top of a head would appear and then disappear. The oddest happening was when a pair of hands would encircle St. James’ throat. Finally, after our being quite diverted from prayer with watching this, Rod solved the mystery. There is an area to see both the sepulchre of St. James and the statue. All during the service people were entering a door behind the altar and either kissing the statue of St.James’ feet or embracing him from behind—the latter, from the pews looked like they were choking St. James. Surely, the church officials must know this happens…or are we the only ones to find this distracting….and we must admit, sort of funny? The cathedral is a large, cross shape with a very ornate altar. The organ pipes, alone would fill our little church in Ladysmith. St. James is variously depicted throughout the cathedral as either a gentle pilgrim ( sometimes by his expression he looks lost) or on horseback killing Moors with a large sword. At our service the cathedral was full with many standing or sitting on the floors. There seemed to be as many tourists as pilgrims. Regardless, it is a prayerful place and exudes a sense of awe. After the service, the prayers we have carried from home were put in a small wooden box and placed in the sacristy. They will be opened, read and prayers will be offered for each individually. Again, thank you for entrusting your prayers to us. After a little shopping followed by dinner ( remember dinner is at 8pm and later in Spain) we went to a Galician Folk music and dancing show. It was free and in a quaint old theatre just a few blocks from our hotel. We think it may have been a quasi political rally for an independent Galicia judging from the emotion and response of the audience. The musicians played drums, the gaita, an accordion, and tambourines. The melodies were all reminiscent of Gaelic music, the lyrics in Galego, and the dancing was a mix of lively footwork, individually and with partners. The solo dance resembled an Irish jig. The crowd and performers related so well that the gaiety was contagious and we enjoyed ourselves very much. Walking home we looked skyward for stars since this is Compostela, “the field of stars” but there was too much ambient light…..perhaps tomorrow night we will see the stars.

The view of the square in front of the Cathedral  of Santiago, the exact
The view of the square in front of the Cathedral of Santiago, the exact ” kilometre 0″ of the many different caminos that cross all of Europe. The day we arrived almost 700 pilgrams were recorded as recipients of the Compostela, the certificate of completion of the Camino.
What is special to us – this is the view from our room! We were able to do a lot of pilgrim watching.
That's Delana in the center, we are in the lineup to receive our Compostela ( certificate of completion).  What a picturesque area to wait!
That’s Delana in the center, we are in the lineup to receive our Compostela ( certificate of completion). What a picturesque area in which to wait.
The alter area of the cathedral.
The alter area of the cathedral. See the silver botafumeiro in the centre.

 

 

 

Pilgrams of all cloths attended the Pilgram's Mass
Pilgrim of all faiths attended the Pilgrims’MasS
The Galetian celebration we attended at a small local theatre. 25 singers and more than 15 pipers, drummers and dancers entertained a very local audience. How fortunate we were to have been told about it. We suspect we may have been the only non-locals in the crowd.
The Galician celebration we attended at a small local theatre. 25 singers and more than 15 pipers, drummers and dancers entertained a very local audience. How fortunate we were to have been told about it. We suspect we may have been the only non-locals in the crowd.
Pretty hard to see a field of stars with the Cathedral illuminated!  Note the difference between the newly cleaned tower and the middle, yet to be refurbished.
Pretty hard to see a field of stars with the Cathedral illuminated! Note the difference between the newly cleaned tower and the middle, yet to be refurbished.

DAY 31 June 25 2015. Last day on the Camino. Rua to Santiago ( 25 km )

This is THE day! We cannot believe we have finished the final kilometers of our Camino.
The weather was good for walking, not too warm and with a little breeze. Best of all, although the trail was through eucalyptus forests, we walked under gnarly, old oak trees which provided excellent shade. There were other pilgrims around, bu far fewer than we were expecting at this point. Sometimes, when we were on our own for awhile without seeing other pilgrims, we were certain we had missed a Camino marker.
Enroute we stopped for a break at Lavacolla which is the place pilgrims of old would have a good scrubbing before continuing on to Santiago.
There were more climbs today than stated in the guide books…. Finally, when we reached Monte do Gozo ( Mount of Joy) which is 5 km from Santiago, the guide book did say “last climb”. From there we could see the steeples of the cathedral. For many this was an emotional few moments. We both felt disbelief that we were almost at Santiago. It is interesting that ancient pilgrims were expected to continue their pilgrimage barefoot from here on.
There is a large monument on Monte de Gozo called ” the Pope’s monument”. It was built to commemorate Pope John II speaking to youth on this spot at an international youth conference. Many dislike the monument considering it too modern. Actually, the four bronze panels at the base are very nice depicting St. James, Pope John, pilgrims and youth. The top is a bit odd.
By the time we once again climbed, yet another hill into the old town of Santiago, we were weary. At the gates, we could hear the gaita gallego being played. We were being piped into the main square!. What a grand surprise!! Our fatigue fell away.
There was a free outdoor concert with the Santiago Municipal Concert Band on the steps of the cathedral in the evening. While Delana saved our spot on the stairs, Rod conjured up a picnic supper. What a perfect close to our first day in Santiago and the end of our walk.
We are treating ourselves and staying at one of the paradors, The Hostal dos Reis Catolicos. Our room opens onto the Praza do Obradoiro and is directly across from the Cathedral de Santiago de Compostela. Until bedtime we were serenaded with the happy sounds of Galician melodies.
Tomorrow we officially end our Camino, after receiving our Compostela certificates. We will continue the blog for a few more days as Saturday we go to Finisterre, ” the end of the earth” in Medieval Times.

A very determined pilgram. Despite being struck by the van, or maybe because of it, Delana persevered and defeated everything that the Camino could throw at her!
A very determined pilgram. Despite being struck by the van, or maybe because of it, Delana persevered and defeated everything that the Camino could throw at her!
Looks just like another old pilgrim at the end of a long day!
Looks just like another old pilgrim at the end of a long day!
The monument on Monte de Gozo called " the Pope's monument", just out of Santorini.
The monument on Monte de Gozo called ” the Pope’s monument”, just out of Santiago.
Speaking of a couple of pilgrims..... Yes, there are all kinds.
Speaking of a couple of pilgrims….. Yes, there are all kinds.
A Templar pilgram? Or a Templar knight, depends what book you are reading! Realistic statue just outside Santiago.
A Templar pilgram? Or a Templar knight, depends what book you are reading! Realistic statue just outside Santiago
So fortunate... We were treated to an orchestral concert by the Santiago Concert Band and we sat on the steps leading to the Cathedral. Quite a welcoming for a couple of pilgrims! Life is good!
So fortunate… We were treated to an orchestral concert by the Santiago Concert Band and we sat on the steps leading to the Cathedral. Quite a welcoming for a couple of pilgrims! Life is good!

DAY 30: Wednesday, June 24 2015 Happy Birthday, Ryan! Rest Day near Rua, Spain

Today’s casa rural is a lovely stone manor sitting on a water driven mill built long ago to grind corn. The hydraulic source is the Rio Mera which runs through the property powering the mill and providing irrigation by way of a series of aqueducts. The whole lower level of the large old stone house is a museum with artifacts some very old and some newer ( 60 year old radios) – all in need of a curator who could make the collection something very special.
Our room is comfortable and last night’s dinner was a feast. So often we have found the casa rurals and pensions being run by multi tasking persons, often only one with a part time helper.They work very hard and their hours are long. This place is no different. It seems the young woman is the concierge, clerk, chef, server, maid, gardener and on and on. She is cheerful and does an amazing job. We almost feel guilty for not weeding the garden.
The day began grey and misty. We spent a restful time, planning for our time in Santiago, doing some admin things and walking around the property. Later when the sun came out, we crossed over the road to the local bar for coffee. Every hamlet, even if there is not a store, seems to have a bar. We liken these to the English pub—a neighbourhood tavern. Spanish bars serve all sorts of beverages but most also serve food. Many pilgrims eat their breakfast at a local bar or buy “bocadillos” ( sandwiches ) for the road. Men do gather in the bars, but women and children are often there as well. In good weather, outside seating is popular and people may linger as long as they wish. The bars are a vital part of the social structure in these rural village. Pilgrims are very grateful for them, too.
With the advent of the sun— our laundry dried!! Hallelujah!

There has been an interesting phenomenon along the Camino the past few days. During the walk we have noted taxi company numbers posted on kiosks, trees, and such. We were glad for these, as a pilgrim never knows if or when they may need a ride. However, as the end of the Camino nears pilgrims are weary, in pain and some are behind schedule for various reasons. Now the taxis are very visible at junctions and wherever pilgrims must cross a road. It is like the taxis are circling for vulnerable prey. The drivers even call out their prices as they pass by.
Tomorrow will be our last few kilometres on the Camino de Santiago de Compostela. These days of walking the Camino have truly been a life within our lives. It has been a wondrous journey.

Our last stay before arriving at Santiago was at an old water driven mill that had been built to grind corn. Delana is standing over the open spillway, were it closed the water would be diverted into the mill.
Our last stay before arriving at Santiago was at an old water driven mill that had been built to grind corn. Delana is standing over the open spillway, were it closed the water would be diverted into the mill.
Another view of the hotel and mill - Delana is standing directly over the   gate that would have allowed  the water to flow from the mill in the basement of the hotel, back into the stream.
Another view of the hotel and mill – Delana is standing directly over the gate that would have allowed the water to flow from the mill in the basement of the hotel, back into the stream.
We know you have seen these shots before.... But it is so typical of many paths in the Camino - the umbrella of green provides welcome shade and probably lowers the temperature by as much as ten degrees. Today was hot - into the mid, maybe upper 30's so you can understand just how welcome this  was!
We know you have seen these shots before…. But it is so typical of many paths in the Camino – the umbrella of green provides welcome shade and probably lowers the temperature by as much as ten degrees. Today was hot – into the mid, maybe upper 30’s so you can understand just how welcome this was!
All along the Camino home owners pay tribute to the trail by displaying the Camino shell in some way.  Often it is in a fence, just like this. And of course there are always roses, by far the most prolific flower everywhere along the route.
All along the Camino home owners pay tribute to the trail by displaying the Camino shell in some way. Often it is in a fence, just like this. And of course there are always roses, by far the most prolific flower everywhere along the route.
There were two resident dogs at the water mill hotel. Trotsky and I bonded ... He was such a gentle creature.
There were two resident dogs at the water mill hotel. Trotsky and I bonded … He was such a gentle creature.

DAY 29 Tuesday June 23 2015 Arzua to Rua ( 18km)

Galicians say today is a typical June day—-overcast, with a mist of rain and 17C. We started out wearing our rain gear, but the mist felt so nice we soon packed it away. This was perfect walking weather. The path was described as “undulating” which translates to “hilly” which further translates to “steep”. There were a few inclines but nothing to veteran “caminantes”which being less than 40 km from Santiago we are:-)
Again, we walked through villages both derelict and well tended. Everywhere there were hydrangea in bloom in colours we had not seen— indigo blues, pure white and deep purples. Not quite as pretty were the rusting soda machines—- another one of the side stories of the Camino. Along the Camino, sometimes even historians have difficulty separating fact from fiction. During the Middle Ages the Camino was a noted pilgrimage, but by the 16th century, the Black Death, the Protestant Reformation and political unrest in Europe staunched the flow of pilgrims for several hundred years.. Then in the 1970’s a pair of historians walked the Camino with some college students and wrote about it. The priest at O Cebreiro did his doctoral thesis on the Camino de Santiago and spent the rest of his life literally marking the route with yellow arrows. Being declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site and European Cultural Site increased interest in the pilgrimage greatly. Two visits by Pope John II in 1989 and 1993 were major influences as well. The small villages along the Camino prepared for the influx of pilgrims. They spruced things up, added many scallop shells and yellow directional signs, opened eateries and hostels and even installed soft drink machines outside their houses.. Pilgrims came in droves those years but the without the Pope and a holy year, understandably, the numbers dropped in the following years. The soft drink machines were no longer needed and so they lean, looking out of place and time.
We were happy to pass and be passed by our Aussie group today. We tend to pace ourselves by them and it turns out they pace themselves by us. Several of the Aussies are here celebrating 50th birthdays and they will be doing this tomorrow in Santiago. For some reason, we have become their “inspiration” and they want us to meet up with them in Santiago, which we will try to do. It seems we have been voted the tidiest and most well coordinated ( dress wise) walkers, which we find pretty funny. We think it must be Delana’s purple shoes. Whatever, it is a dubious distinction on a pilgrimage.
We also walked with two lovely Irish women ( one a nurse, the other a teacher of Gaelic).They are doing the 100 km but what a pace they set! While chatting with them, suddenly 8km had whizzed by.
We arrived at our most rural of casa rurals mid afternoon. With the skies overhead grey, the place looked dull and a wee bit derelict. We were hoping we were not the only guests. Our focus for tonight and tomorrow was to rest and do our laundry before Santiago. The young woman who welcomed us was discouraging about whether our clothes would dry in 36 hours. Mmmm……obviously, no electric dryer. Well, we are walking the Camino, a pathway of faith. We should at least believe our clothes will be dry enough to wear.( Slightly damp will be OK except we will risk losing our “tidiest and well coordinated” award). So, faithfully, we washed our clothes.

Where we stayed last night. A view of the main building  - the oldest piece on the property, the manor is a wonderful retreat for good food and tranquility.
Where we stayed last night. A view of the main building – the oldest piece on the property, the manor is a wonderful retreat for good food and tranquility.
So we have told you how the horreries were designed centuries ago  to allow corn, grains and even meat to dry, safe from hungry and scavenging animals. So how come Toto sits here looking like the perverbial Cheshire cat ??
So we have told you how the horreries were designed centuries ago to allow corn, grains and even meat to dry, safe from hungry and scavenging animals. So how come Toto sits here looking like the proverbial Cheshire cat ??
Put this in just because it is so typical of houses in this area. Imagine what it could be turned into?
Put this in just because it is so typical of houses in this area. Imagine what it could be turned into?
” Peregrina ” ( pilgrim ) beer. An enterprising bar owner has labeled his own beer. He would have a gold mine were he to market it from the beginning of the Camino. There is no doubt that there are many money making opportunities, 225,000 pilgrims registered for some portion of it last year. Having said that, we hope it doesn’t change; the real meaning of the Camino is characterized by its being so noncommercial, amazingly clear of litter and with a sense of trusting innocence at every turn.
In a country of brunettes this is called a  'Galician  blonde!'
In a country of brunettes this is called a ‘Galician Blonde!’
Pollarded plane trees forming a beautiful canopied pathway.  This is so common in Spain.
Pollarded plane trees forming a beautiful canopied pathway. This is so common in Spain.
Not pollarded but once again, such a common sight along the Camino trail.  So many of the paths are sheltered by a line of trees to offer shade.
Not pollarded but once again, such a welcome sight along the Camino trail. The paths sheltered by a line of trees offer blessed shade.