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Category: Education

Ciao, Camino! It’s been belissimo. Really.

Now is the time.

Goodbye, my Camino Frances.

I may not return, especially alone.

If you’ve followed this blog, you know how I love โค๏ธ Spain ๐Ÿ‡ช๐Ÿ‡ธ and, at this moment, detest my Divided States ๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ of America. So happy to have four weeks away from the man who shall not be named.

Regardless, it’s about time to fly home to the D.S.A. and my loved ones.

Really loved ones.

Many post about the post-Camino blues and readjusting to their normal lives. Back to normal responsibilities and cares that don’t involve 20-40kms walking ๐Ÿšถ per day.

I admit that I did had a bit of that after my first Camino. My first European experience was special and rather emotional with my two daughters.

Not as much this time. Just as special, just much less emotional. Except for happiness. Very happy few weeks here with everyone. I love this world ๐ŸŒŽ even more now.

Moving on…

I have a wonderful, gorgeous, and super successful wife, partner, mom, and sales pro supporting me and wanting me home. Two boys that miss me too. Two girls out on their own adventures. And a great life and belissimo hometown to return to in no time.

This last week began in Samos and its Monastery from the 6th century. I made a couple of friends from France ๐Ÿ‡ซ๐Ÿ‡ท and Boston/San Diego and they made my lunch and my evening walk joys.

This was and is a lovely town of Samos.

Off to Sarria and just passing through. Too overcrowded. Roughly 60% of Camino pilgrims start there. 5 days to Santiago for that piece of Compostela paper. To each his own Camino.

I filled up my APOC credential and I am now using the Espana credential that I bought for โ‚ฌ2 at the Samos Monasterio. Lots of room for stamps.

This last week, as well as parts of the last four weeks from Burgos to Santiago, have been my long goodbye. I know the end of a very good thing when I experience it. Like a sweet beach town with nothing but locals in business turning over to chains and big $$$ business interests. That’s when I need to move on. The magic is gone.

Our Camino now smells of ample Euros. What was โ‚ฌ5-7 is now โ‚ฌ8-11. Habaticions to ordinary pilgrim meals, the smell of money ๐Ÿ’ฐ is in the Camino air. BTW. Check out the number of BMWs and Mercedes in very strange Camino places. One huge BMW parked on the lot/sidewalk of the newest Albergue in Trรญacastela. Not a pilgrim, I’m guessing.

Standard “sandwich ” signage everywhere for sugary desserts and carbon copy pilgrim menus. Hamburgers and pizzas??? I came here to escape America. Not eat more of it.

Please understand.

I love Spain ๐Ÿ‡ช๐Ÿ‡ธ!!! Her countryside. Her authentic food and her vino tinto. Her happier people. Her rare villager who will smile and offer “Buen Camino!!!” …those 3 older folks…one sweet woman in her gown with a cane, one cigar chomping man on the road, and one beret wearing man sitting under a tree in his backyard….three brief joys and my heart and mind were lifted as I responded “Gracias!!!” to each “Buen Camino!!!!!” each of those three offered right when I needed it. All too rare moments this time on my Camino.

I will indeed miss the cool daily walks on uncertain paths and the sights, sounds, and smells of rural Spain. No doubt there. But, as I’ve shared with many, one can make one’s own Camino everyday, anywhere. Just walk.

Walk through any wooded park. Walk through fields. Walk around any small town or village, if they still exist.

Just walk. And think.

No phone. No tunes. No distractions. Just walk and listen to the natural ๐ŸŒŽ world including your own footsteps. Easy to do in rural Spain. Little traffic. Mostly people on foot. Locals and pilgrims alike. Just walking.

Outside the old to ancient towns and villages, there are a million+ calm and beautiful places to walk by and through…..excluding the tissue strewn areas where grown men and women squat and literally dump on their Camino. ๐Ÿ’ฉ Yuck.

I’ll never understand that level of disrespect for such a special, historic Way of St. James. Tissues used to wipe off the disrespect are all up and down the Camino and don’t think that the locals haven’t noticed. Hence, the lack of “Buen Camino” in the air. More Camino magic lost on me.

Back to the beauty of my last week here in Spain.

Beauty is everywhere here.

My walks alone. Walks with others. Just walking.

Jeremy, an actor from California, was another joy to walk and chat with. We only learned our names hours later at the top of Sarria. Funny. Hours after meeting in the Trรญacastela dark. I had a flashlight for us to see our way.

What I love most about my Camino, and travel anywhere , is the unknown that turns into a discovery. A wonderful discovery. Sarria is too big and busy. Barbadelo offered a resort and farmhouse. I wanted more. Delicious menu and belissimo company for the evening. Si. Every night!

Is there a country spot that’s peaceful and smells of fresh air? Yes, there is.

Milano de Marzan.

Her owner looks very young, but acts like a mom to this middle Age pilgrim. Kinda funny. She did not appreciate my efficiency for vino tinto consumption in very remote regions of Spain ๐Ÿ‡ช๐Ÿ‡ธ. Fair enough. She grew on me.

I chose to miss out on the Barbadelo resort for a farmhouse that wasn’t attended until 1pm. It was 11am. I moved on, with my trusty guide book, and found my paradise for one night. It was more magic.

Once the usual cleaning and laundry was hung, I went for …what else???…another walk. Met several peregrinos along The Way and offered all Buen Camino! with gusto. Most were happy.

God was watching and caring.

I arrived home that night to an almost full room of Italians. I had just slept with a small room of Italians the night before. No bueno.

This group was different. Young to my age. Maybe older. Who knows??? Very friendly. Not detached like the albergue before. They were and are very sweet at dinner and beyond….

I won’t forget our belissimo time together that night and the brief morning walk together too. More than belissimo.

Made my way to Portomarin and very familiar sights. Small river town, but not as small as the Gonzar ahead that we enjoyed before. This town did not smell of cow ๐Ÿฎ and had more dining and sleeping options.

However, “Completo. Completo. Completo….” was all I heard until I ventured off my Brierley guidebook grid and found a small, family bar albergue with two bunks, four beds and that’s where I settled, washed, and cleaned early.

Sometimes, you just take what you can get for 10โ‚ฌ.

Later, to be joined by one BASQUE biker ๐Ÿšต and two other Spaniards. There’s a difference… Basque is not Spain ๐Ÿ‡ช๐Ÿ‡ธ, even though the Basque territory straddles Spain and France ๐Ÿ‡ซ๐Ÿ‡ท. Watch “The Way”. It explains.

All 3 gents are very nice, very fit, and probably very curious about this large fellow that is not from around here. I understand.

Fine healthy meal, churchside!

y

Belissimo siesta. Bueno tour around Portomarin.

No cow smell. All good that night.

Tomorrow is another day….

What began as a short 4 hour day turned into an almost 7 hour day covering about 27kms. About my maximum. The nice cafe owner 10km back advised me that his albergue was Completo or full with reservations tonight. One group. A growing Camino issue that goes against the history and spirit, in my opinion. So, I kept walking. I’m pretty well trained these days. Another 10k came and went with beauty…

Until, after offering “Ciao!!” to my Italian ladies, I found my next albergue paradise. First one there again….

Casa Domingo was recommended by a friend of the owners at the Ant sculpture albergue that was Completo. I made it. I rested. I napped. I ate. And I loved Casa Domingo…

After I inhaled my super burger for only 4โ‚ฌ, I chatted with the owners who live in the distant farmhouse. They own 8 albergues. Guess where I’m staying tomorrow night?

But, another dinner with a lovely Italian family of 4 and my bunkmate, a German….

The 21 yr old daughter was my family interpreter. They were a joy.

We chatted in the yard all afternoon and after siesta while it rained at dinner. All belissimo. Italians are very curious about America.

I tossed and turned a bit that night, let most bump and thump their way out by 6 and I finally rose to get ready to walk at sunrise.

Other than my classic sunrise ๐ŸŒ…, grande croissant ๐Ÿฅ, and those ancient Roman bridges…all that’s left to show before today’s siesta is the most beautiful young couple in the ๐ŸŒŽ!!!!

That photo cannot begin to describe how beautiful these two new “friends” from Madrid are!!! Then, add their curiosity, their youth, their spirits, and their collective energy….so beautiful to spend seconds with them everyday and a good hour with them today!!! They will be missed, as we had to say buenos Dias and Buen Camino to Marta & Danny one last time….

Goodbyes sadden me.

A few family updates and a short siesta later. I’m back. Ready for dinner. Menu sounded so limited and bland, but I am stuck in this one kitchen town. So I thought!

First, my sweet server gives me choices.

Insalata, por favor…..ehhhhh…no tuna. Jamon??? Si, she says. Grilled steak???? Si!!!!

The best grilled meat, fried potato, and fresh insalata with Jamon I’ve ever had…no dressing needed Perfecto!!!!

Then St. James tarta and a mysterious shot. Looked harmless.

Goodnight, sweet Saint James.

Another 20km done today in rain. A 4 hour slog was enough for me and The Way Pensiรณn I booked in Brea allowed me in 2.5 hours early. Being soaked may have helped. The pool is perfect for kids and polar bear challengers.

Hoping for the sun to make an appearance soon or sometime tomorrow. Then on to Santiago on Thursday.

I recall a pretty industrial landscape between here and Santiago de Compestella. Not going to bore anyone with those sights.

Not going to selfie the historic Cathedral either. Plenty of those out there.

I’m just going to end my almost three year fascination & Love affair with Frances this way.

The Way. My Way.

My Love, you know who you are.

Our way from now on.

Gracias for following along.

Find your Camino where your heart is…just be there, walk long walks, and think about your Way everywhere and everyday.

Finally…..

Buen Camino!

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Home. Camino. Home. All sweet.

I miss home…again…and that’s a very good thing. Just a few great reasons why here…

When we get away from home, it’s almost always as a family, sometimes as a couple, and rarely on business or pilgrimage. That’s just how we roll.

Although, My Love did ask me the other night if she could go stay on the coast of Mexico next February with a great friend and fellow working-hard mom/business pro. I’m in Spain for four weeks. I’m sure you can guess how easy my answer came. Of course.

This will be my last Camino Frances for a while. I need time to process and explore other pilgrimages with loved ones. It’s just not the same solo. I did not expect that thought. But, it’s true for me.

We all need to getaway. With family or alone or with best friends. It’s healthy and makes you realize who and what you miss. But, you also have super, rare moments that will be etched in your brain forever…

My 2017 Camino is etching beautiful caverns in my brain this month. Half of it dig a little deeper with the help of July, 2015. Other half brand new.

The kind of caverns I see My Love and willing kids and others carving through all of Europe by train and foot, through the Sea of Cortez, Caribbean, Mediterranean, and ??? by sail, moorings, marinas, and other friendly confines. Deep memories that last for generations. Not what we did for a living. Nor what we owned. But, what we did with what we had and who we shared it with…that is my intended legacy for our future kids I’ll hang with and those I’ll never meet. In the meantime, My Love and I plan to share really fun, interesting, and mind-altering places and people with the kids we have, those they bring to the adventure and those we cannot imagine.

If you can’t tell, I’m already thinking about post-Camino.

A sad American curse is struggling to live in the moment. We are always thinking about the next thing. Or 22 next things. It’s sad and I’m guilty too. Another reason to love Spain and other “in the moment” cultures.

Dinner outside at 10pm , even with kids, with little regard for tomorrow. Siesta in the middle of the afternoon because you need it…and it’s just feels good.

I had a communal dinner several nights ago with 6 Italians, 1 older German gent, and 1 very young Hungarian gent…all very entertaining and too curious about the America that I gladly left behind.

Tonight, it’s dinner with my new Israeli/Irish young couple. Already caught up with them after siesta as we lounged on our respective bunk beds in our cool (literal and figurative) bunk house/room with a new bath and stairs to it!!!!

The other 3 dining companions were Italian, of course…it is August…and worked very hard to speak English for all of us to understand. We did. Another young couple and a fellow a few years younger than me with a story of love. His new love is just a couple of days walk behind up. We wants to wait for here here or in the next town. Not sure how that love is going to work out. We shall see.

These five from Italy ๐Ÿ‡ฎ๐Ÿ‡น, Ireland ๐Ÿ‡ฎ๐Ÿ‡ช, Israel ๐Ÿ‡ฎ๐Ÿ‡ฑ, and our hosts from Brazil ๐Ÿ‡ง๐Ÿ‡ท & Italy ๐Ÿ‡ฎ๐Ÿ‡น joined in a round of Happy Birthday ๐ŸŽˆ in their respective languages…so, Reagan had a happy birthday from this world ๐ŸŒŽ.

So sweet.

Take #2 happened (to be posted later) with a different group of pilgrim diners since I decided to hang back and stay in La Faba, Spain ๐Ÿ‡ช๐Ÿ‡ธ a second night. Not usual for a non-injured guy on my Camino like me. I just need my second dose and I will move on. Maybe. We shall see. Hard to move on from all of this lush green and simple agrarian life. Except for animal poop everywhere. I could live without that, like people ๐Ÿ’ฉ along the Camino.

Then, today, a little 4.5km day trip to O’Cebreiro….up there and back….

…to pay homage to Father Don who , before his death in 1989 at age 60, he led the yellow arrow waymarking movement along the Camino. Many salutes and memorial plaques with his likeness outside and his resting place in this church. Thank you, Santiago & Father Don for The Way.

A day trip to O’Cebrieo was a good morning climb, kind of touristy past the beautiful church, but also had gorgeous views and I met several beautiful young people from Wales and Spain on foot and on bikes. Both asked for pictures and I took mine too plus conversations with each, before I went one way and they another..

Back up early before 4am. Cannot make too much noise, like the Italians behind me…

…during my lunch today.

We were in bed and not a courtyard. I waited for the two Spaniards to wake up and make noise before I even moved.

Then, back in the dark to Galicia…

Long 26km to Trรญacastela. Passed my Canadian friends as they pushed their bikes a km or two to O’Cebrerio. Arrived there. Filled my 1.5 liter agua bottle. And onward through several little towns. Jewel of a meeting was Elizabeth from Australia ๐Ÿ‡ฆ๐Ÿ‡บ. About my mom’s age, I’m guessing. So strong. So beautiful. Left her son in her dust. Oh, so funny too. Our encounter was just minutes, as she needed coffee โ˜•๏ธ. I can only imagine our conversation past family chat we had. I was strong and needed to keep moving. No caffeine required. Which led to meeting Louis from Paris. I passed him at a cafe and he quickly caught up. He had a hearing issue or something that we did not discuss. We just walked and talked.

Fortunately, he was a fan of Americans and his English beat my French hands-down. We walked a long way together, discussing life , and parted ways when my body told me to find rest. His young frame took him onward, I’m guessing.

I passed the Albergue that I knew from last time, toured and declined the historic one I liked in my book, then tripped over the chosen one. I helped “Completo” this one. Bunking with more Italians. All Italians. Maybe one family. Very loud people. Everywhere.

Moving on. Great 10โ‚ฌ meal with calamari, pulpo, Santiago tarta, and a bottle of vino tinto. Alone. On a patio. No Italians. By design.

Now relaxing in my pension garden. All clean. Clean clothes. All packed for quick launch ๐Ÿš€ tomorrow and ready for Jean.

Jean is the very lively U.K. gal I met while she searched for an Albergue. She seemed so relieved meet someone who spoke fairly good English, by mother land standards.

She asked if I had enjoyed dinner yet. I said “no, I just ate it” and she carried on to eat hers. I’m expecting Jean anytime for sundowner vino tinto….

…alas, Jean never made it back. Must have had a better offer. Goodnight, Jean. Off to bed to rest with 7 Italians in our tiny bunk room. Then. This!

and then this…

Most peaceful, tranquil, and lovely solo walk over 10k in my life. Only to arrive here early and find my ideal habaticion privada for โ‚ฌ20 in …

Samos town revolves around this 6th century Monastery that is one of the oldest and largest of its kind in the western world ๐ŸŒŽ. Pretty cool, no?

Si….

Last picture. My room view. Gracias.

Samos is small and lovely. I walked around town in a few minutes. Found places of rest. Ate a late lunch…

8โ‚ฌ plus vino tinto de la Casa๐Ÿท. Done.

Then, siesta in the lounge….

…with windows open and a nice breeze.

The Camino provides again!

Home for tonight. Still thinking about our actual home ๐Ÿก and my loved people. Happy to share with and speak to some via FaceTime today with this strong wifi.

Less than one week now to Santiago. Last week of 4 weeks away from home. It will be time. I could go home now.

But, I will finish. I will continue. I will pray even more. I will take it all in as it reveals the journey to me. And, I will continue to share the highlights.

All great. Goodnight from Samos in Galicia, Spain ๐Ÿ‡ช๐Ÿ‡ธ !

Buen Camino.

And, Ultreia.

God. Again. And again.

I found God in several places and faces this morning. It was pretty easy.

El sol. The sun. It rises everyday, everywhere in our solar system. And there it went again today.

Spain ๐Ÿ‡ช๐Ÿ‡ธ takes beautiful photos when the sol makes her 14 hour, daily appearance. God certainly makes great things happen here. Our sun โ˜€๏ธ is at the top of my list, since Earth depends on it.

Lots of pilgrims leaving or passing through Foncebadon at sunrise, which was tempered by descending winds with thick clouds off Mount Irago.

I walked alone. A bike or two passed by. That was it.

2.5km later of beautiful vistas to the east, I arrive at El Cruz de Ferro. Half dozen pilgrims there taking turns for photos. I took these:

Then, I placed and arranged our prayer stones for our family loved ones on a spot with flowers for now and protected from the 300,000+ pairs of feet that go up and down that pile of stones below the revered Iron Cross.

God was on and is in the cross. Great to be back there and to pray one long prayer this Camino. 2 years has made a big difference, it seems.

The vistas. Oh, those Godly vistas. Scientists have spent a century or two trying to understand how another tiny blue marble hasn’t revealed itself. Only one with the ideal relationship with its sun. Hmmm. To me, I see God smiling down upon this.

I hear God in every greeting, every hola, Buen Camino, and buenos dias. That’s real social media of human nature. No iphone needed. No translations required. One language for all. God’s Camino works very well.

Then, I was eerily all alone again. God’s dark side came through with heavy clouds and cold winds swept over the other side of the mountain.

Then, burnt landscape showed up…surrounded by new growth that is thriving.

The Old Testament darkness was replaced by a bright light and my New Testament light, warmth, and green growth. Just in God’s time.

God just kept the wonder coming. One view. One memory. One after another.

As I rounded another Camino corner, I found my town for this night. Acebo.

I was met with “Completo” early and wondered if Molinaseca was ready for me. This very historic town is beautiful but maybe not for me.

When I reach the last stop, flags waving from many countries…well, I had to ask. Popped in. Young lady explained that the Albergue dorm is available for โ‚ฌ10 and dinner for the same. Not sure to stay or go, I hear a beautiful English accent from the dining area. Sweet family of 4 sitting there finishing breakfast. They asked all questions and I answered. They were a joy, with two girls that were our girls age back when we took them to B&B’s and the like. We talked for a while and then we were interrupted.

Young German fellow yelled “Brad” and we were reunited. 3 Germans, one man + two young ladies, are here. We dined together day’s ago.

R&R for two days. Nice place. We all leave tomorrow, but they will leave me.

My heart โค๏ธ is in Molinaseca in any Camino. My perfecto Espana village for picnics, chilly water, sun, and lots of food options. The Camino provides…

Back to my Albergue, the two girls from England told me that the pool was freezing cold. I believe it.

Fair warning. I took my vino tinto and a chaise lounge and parked myself under the furthest thatch umbrella. Nature took its course and I siesta’d for two hours.

Up and rested, I headed back up into Acebo. Not much going on, but the B&B gal spoke exceptional English and my vino tinto & plate of charcuterie came out to my patio seating. It was over an hour in a garden well spent.

God’s creations were many right in my face.

I paid my โ‚ฌ11 and ventured north. Lots of laundry to go with peregrinos hanging out. Made it to the top and the town intro sign and turned around to head home.

What do I smell???? I enter an Albergue and follow my nose …I take a left into la cucina. There he is. Older. Wiser. Been doing this a while…I push the stringed beads aside…no door is without loud beads. I take a left, enter his cucina , and I say “Hola!” He says the same and cuts short mi espanol. “American ?” He says. Si. Turns out that this tiny Albergue has a chef from N. California and his name is Walter. Can’t make this up.

He’s a joy. We chat. He cooks. Smells divine. I tell him where I’m from and pardon myself when a peregrino needs his attention. Anyway, I have my own peregrino dinner for โ‚ฌ10 to attend. Off I go.

If my first course is any indication. Well. Perfecto. It is an insalata work of art.

Everyone else is late or, in ๐Ÿ‡ช๐Ÿ‡ธ , perfectly on time. I nibble on my queso & Jamon as long as I think is appropot. Bon apetit, Bradley.

Others made it. All sat and kept to themselves…for a while.

Americans are rare around here. My “look” was discussed again. How do Italians and English and Germans at our table avoid their look? They were more fun to chat with as dinner proceeded.

My young Germans stopped by one last time. It was sweet. Snapped last photo for my memory. Very sweet and curious peregrinos.

Night is falling en Spain ๐Ÿ‡ช๐Ÿ‡ธ!

God saying “goodnight, my child “

Buenos noches, my God.

Camino stories..

I love stories.

Not fiction. Real stories.

Real people doing what they do and not afraid to share it.

Walking every day across the north of Spain certainly offers a lot of stories, given generously or slipped in maybe by accident. Maybe not.

Two tough gals from Germany ๐Ÿ‡ฉ๐Ÿ‡ช, over fresh paella, made my first communal dinner this year much more interesting and entertaining …

I text my daughter about her German experience and both women were so cool ๐Ÿ˜Ž about it. They knew exactly where she had lived and served outside of Munich.

I’m not quite half-way through this Camino and I cannot possibly transfer the conversational interaction between myself and around two dozen or so other pilgrims. Mostly Italian this time, then French, German, Spanish, English, Argentinian and Hungarian…as seen here….love them all……

Just 2 happy Americans and they were married, thank God.

This is the greatest place in the world to really find out what other cultures think of our American culture AND their own. Same the other way around. What this Americano thinks about Espana and the man who’s name shall not be mentioned. Abundant honesty is here on the Camino, since we may never see one another again. Or will we????. Walls come down that way.

Perfecto! This IS the wonderful space to escape America and all of her current dysfunction right now.

A deserted island ๐ŸŒด would work well too, but Spain ๐Ÿ‡ช๐Ÿ‡ธ has varied scenery, sweet people, delicious tapas, pulpo, vino tinto, and cervesas. They keep you going after a long half-day of walking 20-30km and afternoon siesta.

And dinner. Sweet peregrino dinner with Italians all..

I will really miss mi amigos , Nicoletta & Filippo , dos kind & sweet people. I โค๏ธ them. My Love and I have our Italian friends when we sail their way. Jump on our catamaran, you two lovely friends!!!!

A little more than two weeks and I will walk or limp into Santiago and get my next Compostela in Santiago.

Then back to Madrid and fly home.

The Camino is at home too. Trails resemble the peace and the chaos of regular American lives. Cars rule the day. Schedules rule the lives. Nature is slowly paved over. Progress is profit over peace. All very American.

I prefer any alternative to that.

Pura Vida in Costa Rica ๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡ท?

Not Costa Rica, but you get my Good Life, Pura Vida point, no?

Spain ๐Ÿ‡ช๐Ÿ‡ธ & Italy ๐Ÿ‡ฎ๐Ÿ‡น have a very similar way of embracing life.

And those kinds of cultures tend to allow people to live longer and show their future generations what really living well is. Pura Vida, si.

Gracias, amigos. Thanks, new friends for lifelong memories and valued education about a bigger world ๐ŸŒŽ than our little America.

Buenos noches,

Losing it, them, and me….

Get lost!

It's what you think and/or say to things and/or people that annoy to anger you. These damn flies right now are my tiny, annoying nemesis's .

Even our largest social media enterprise makes "like","dislike ", and "banished from my kingdom" distinctions available to us. But that's not the real world nor real loss. Really getting lost has costs.

Getting lost on one's Camino takes on several possible meanings.

I lost my water bottle. True story. Big blue is lost to me. But found by someone at my hostel in Leon. Cheers!

I lost my shirt. No, not $$$ gambling. I had an ink pen explode of me and I looked like a shooting victim who bleeds black blood…right as I enter Leon. I temporarily lost my dignity too.

I lost my senses. More than 30km walking a week ago from Burgos to Hontanas, I lost my senses, hydration, and ability to photo or film life right side up. None of you have seen the upside down world that I captured. Funny stuff.

I really did get lost today. Saint James and Jesus must have been laughing their sandals off at this "pilgrim" going astray down an unknown road, whipping out his compass, and wandering through the wilderness to the road of golden arrows. With my wits and I little help, I found my way. Ha!

I lost my good healthy body. That is inevitable on the Camino. We just hope and pray for decades more to share when we return home. My swollen lower leg pales in comparison to the life taken recently and a lovely family left to deal with that loss of a kind man, husband, and father. That is true loss to a turn in good health.

On that note, not to long ago, I lost my heathy sobriety. When outed, I then chose to lose my Russian-American alcoholic me for a much better Euro-American alcoholic me. Took a few millions literal steps to arrive there. One dozen just wouldn't do for me. Cheers!

Decades ago, I lost my marriage. I must have been lost in other ways too to just lose a love that was once there. Terrible loss then became a tremendous gain later with My Love taking her place forever.

Years later, I lost people who mattered. From my business mentor and his wife, our great friends, to old school chums and really good men who died so soon, to my father, who at 78, was relieved of his pains, suffering, and memory loss as I was almost 45. All too, too soon…but dad's gain was our loss, for sure.

Lost it. Quite a loaded phrase. We all eventually lose things. People. Ourselves.

Our challenge is to find meaningful things, people, and, yes, ourselves.

It certainly does not require a trip to and pilgrimage across Spain, but this place certainly does not hurt my sense of meaning and purpose.

I don't missing any THING. I only miss my people. My Love. My other Loves. Granted, they are all in 4 different cities. Thus, I miss one or more at any time. But missing all of them is very rare. Again, I don't miss America and all of her trappings, distractions, false gods, and materialism. But I do miss my people. It's that simple.

Expect losses, large and small, and your gains in life will be sweeter because YOUR gains can be others gains too, while you are still here.

Buen Camino.

Ultreia!

Long day with a few blessed oasis sightings…made it to Leon!

It's always strange to be the first pilgrim up and moving. Hosts here not up. Other late-arrival guests were not moving. I had a €10 bunk in a 4-bunk room all to myself. Window open. Cool and quiet past 11pm. Slept fairly well.

My alarm goes off at 6 everyday here. I get up about 6:30 or so and get out the door by 7. 7:15 today and the sunrise 🌅 and Galicia mountains glowing purple in the far distance was my morning highlight.

Not much to see from Religeos to Leon. Few places to eat and be refreshed. Pack your own snack and the first town I walked to surprised me with this very green peregrino park.

Beyond that, not a lot.

Until you reach Casablanca!!!

Delicious selection, cafe seating, and very clean bathrooms. Tortilla, croissant, and grande zumo de nanjara filled me with goodness.

Several new pilgrims to me passed my way and I was alone most of the day.

But a fellow was taking pilgrim pics for his "1,200 pilgrim" book to come. Search on Instagram.

He was a joy. Used a real camera and a Polaroid too! Funny.

Dragging a bit, I ran into this cutie and dropped €.50 for a tiny spot of limon Fanta.

Sweet moment. Then.

Sweating a lot and climbing a man made hill next. Blahhhhhhh.

Then, just a few km from Leon, I caught up with an older gal from Sweden and younger gal from Ireland. The Swede was more my speed. She has quite a story too. God's speed, Camino Swede! She rides to Santiago tomorrow. Gave me advice about my challenged left shin. Gracias.

Irish gal needed to see the pharmacia, so I offered my Buen Camino and found the yellow arrows again.

Winding my way by memory, I found our first Albergue on our last Camino. Host was nice, but explained the bank holiday this Tuesday that somehow fills up the city on Sunday. Could not even pull up my Marriott app to fix this. With no cell service nor free wifi available, it was up to me and Brierleys book to figure this out. I walked around a while, found completo signs on doors, briefly considered the Parador, then desired to leave town for a B&B I barely recall about a mile from the bridge leaving town.

But, Brierley strikes again.

Here I am. Next to a miniature Central Park with no crowds. Sweet Rhea serving me a starter cervesa and now my dinner with chilled vino tinto. Life just got a little better. When I saw the mix of older and younger couples staying here, I knew that this was my place. And it is. Picture staying the afternoon and evening in a cool corner of Brooklyn or like vs. Times Square.

So yummy.

4 hours to sunset and what shall I do as a well fed, still large for Spain, ready to stroll guy. I think I'm about to find out.

Beautiful still in Leon.

Then, I must find Jamon.

All delicious. Jamon, chorizo, queso and vino tinto too. Perfecto!

Buen Camino

Burgos, Spain…today!

That's how I'm ending my long travel day and 10kms walking all around Burgos. Simple dining alfresco from my hotel room now…

Buen Camino and goodnight!

Getting to ONE’s next Camino…

1 day away…then here!

Love those relaxing Saturday mornings at home.

This Saturday was special.

Coffee. Cool weather. Cereal. No humidity. Yogurt with honey, blueberries, strawberries, and granola. More coffee. No TV. Chocolate chip pancakes. NYTimes. A sweet morning for 4, 2 boys and 2 parents. Mom goes for a run. Dad goes to Kinko's too anally retentively copy his passport, credit cards, and other id documents.

Sweet last hour of lunch on our patio and customizing messages on stones.

Prayers too. Then, we load up for the airport.

We are there 2 hours before my fight. One hour less than recommended. It was fine.

Hugs. Kisses. Love you's. Texts of well wishes and Love. All good. Really. Great.

Breeze through security and I'm roaming around my gate and concourse.

Then, my Camino officially began. Tap. Tap. And, two nice gents, long-time pals, just stopped me in international concourse to ask about my Camino out of the blue. They noticed my backpack shell. It begins here, it seems. Unbridled friendliness, curiosity, and quick fellowship, before we all 3 take on our Camino's (theirs from St. Jean in France). That wonderful tap on my shoulder ended with handshakes and, of course, "Buen Camino!"

I can almost taste Spain after that.

Suffice it to say, this flight is not Air France. Delta is fine. Just enough. Adequate. Our last trip to Spain went through Paris and it showed. This one went through Atlanta and it shows. Even sleeping on this flight lacks in potential for recharge, relative to the French. C'est la vie.

On our plane, a lovely college girl named Jessica plops down beside me. She's heading to Madrid to intern with disabled kids. Good for her. Plans to graduate on a six year plan after changing majors. She's young. Plenty of time to figure that out. She reminds me of our
girls, especially when she curls up on the two seats reserved for both of us , as I gave up mine to cross the aisle for more room for both of us. Much to the displeasure of a young man who thought that he could make a sofa out of three mid-plane seats. Sorry, Charlie. You might just have to sleep upright or leaning into the middle seat like a grown-up flying to Spain. FYI. It's not even 6pm, my friend.

Even after cocktails, I'm jazzed, finished a Doc about stand-up comedians, and I'm blogging. And dinner is on it's way. Smells good, but we shall see.

Before and after the big reveal….

Okay. Delta veg lasagna tastes good. The rest. Ick. Cheesy lasagna is just fine.

Back to #MyComfyCamino …it's here. Nighttime over the Atlantic. Delta folks just killed the cabin lights. I guess mom said that we are all supposed to sleep now. Hmmmmm… nope. Not me. Watching or listening to another stand-up comedian and I'm fine. Just sayin'. Okay. Okay. Mom, I'm just blogging again!!!! And falling asleep. Never was good at all-nighters.

Made it to Burgos…next post will just let my pictures and videos do the talking, from walking into Burgos from the nearby bus station to my AC Hotel by Marriott, to my walking tour and 3 tapas & wine stops for under €15 combined. Pulpo (€3), seafood combo (€2), and 3-course (€7)…all three with vino tinto.

Can't you just taste Spain????

Ultreia!!

So you think you might want to hike the Camino? ย Let me help you, por favor.ย 

Just read. Read a year before. Read that entire year. Read on the plane. I bought four of the best books I thought Amazon could produce and each offered good to great advice. The best, by far, was the upbeat, practical, and even mystical back-pocket sized book of all Camino books…

  

 

Looks a little rough. You bet. If I wore you out for two weeks straight, you might not look too good either. This was my Camino bible. 

Next, what to pack. Quick dry shirts (Patagonia or Mtn Harware), same in shorts (Columbia , Marmot, Mtn Harware, Patagonia),  and underwear (Ex-officio only) work the best. Just 2-4 of each depending on your laundry accessibility. I took 5 of everything , which was too much. Lesson learned. Oh, and hankies. It’s our family thing.  But I used a lot of handkerchiefs on the Camino. A sun blocking Columbia hat too. Where did all of my stuff go …
  
…my Osprey 24liter backpack. Light, compact, fits easily on planes and trains. Held more than I needed for the Camino, plus strapped a water bottle, my back-up Keens, and a bottle opener to it. No problem. 

No trekking poles for me. Too noisy. Not physically helpful to me. Just adding tap dancing to a peaceful hike. 

Most important items of all:

Great wool socks (SmartWool or Wigwam, my choice) that may claim to be “blister-free”..and they almost were. But those dry socks with these big ol’Keens…

  
And you have a winning combination. 

No running. Just walking and hiking. Unless… cervesas are up ahead.  

(Yawning my head off…I’ll finish this tomorrow)

I’m back. You know Ameican influence has reach Madrid when..

   
 
Nothing rustic cafe’ about this AC Hotel and its breakfast buffet. But, I digress. 

Sure, bring all of the toiletries you think you need, but my toothbrush, floss, comb,  gel, soap, shampoo, quick-dry towel , and deoderant all fit nicely. 

Lastly, bring plenty of euros and your wifi capable smartphone and you will be set, with Camino bible as your ultimate guide to each day’s landmarks & destinations. 

Lastly, for real this time, bring a best friend or loved one to share this journey with and remember forever. I’ve been on Dad-daughter adventures to our known places of NYC and Pass-a-Grille, but never two weeks plus into the unknown.  If you just want to be alone, I guess it’s possible. Come to the Camino alone and you will meet a wide spectrum of characters, 99% well-educated Spaniards, French, German, Italian, or Canadian.  We Americans are rarely seen or heard on the Camino, at least during our two weeks in July. And it was wonderful. One retired steel mill fella from Ohio, who strongly resembled Santa Claus, was the loudest person at each cafe’ stop. His vast knowledge of everything reminded me of my Dad. 

Go do it, if you like. Alone or not, you’ll never really be alone. You will be with various “pilgrims” as you go. 

As the song says, you will never walk alone, at least on the Camino. 

Our Camino proved it. 

For more prep, laughs & mostly true things about the Camino (we had no bladder issues) check this out:

http://matadornetwork.com/notebook/20-truths-walking-camino-de-santiago/

Hope all of this helps. Go explore. If you can affordably get to France or Spain, do 100km, 300km (like us from Leon to Santiago), or the entire 800km from St. Jean. You will be challenged and probably glad you did. 

Just travel. Wherever you go. 

Cheers. 

  

Camino reflections.ย 

For anyone who has followed Brianna and her old Dad for the last two weeks, you have seen & heard sights and sounds that the two of us have never experienced before. 

Imagine walking, not running, a marathon everyday for 13 days.  Cross-country marathons with hills, valleys, mountains, and river and creek beds. Farms and villages. Dirt paths to concrete roads. Highways and rarely used back roads. You get the pictures…..

   
    
    
    
    
 
Like our world, the Camino is diverse with places & paths,,,,,and people. We walked between and lived in 14 different places, most called albergues, over these last 14 nights. Every single one was managed by capable folks, but varied wildly from hippie style to chic. Throw in an eclectic bunch of pilgrims at each stop, all randomly brought together based on timing and levels of exhaustion…and you have a different dynamic every night. 

   
    
    
    
    
 
This is a beautiful thing. Like God’s creation, each of us are our own little miracle. You don’t need a long hike to figure that out. But, I digress. 

Any travel you do, local to afar, is about the big 3. People. Places. And things. Or, nouns, as I like to call them. 

The last being interesting to totally boring. The middle being required to get you out of your daily comfort zone. And, the first, to engage you in conversation, laughs, and memories that can never be duplicated anywhere..

.to be continued tomorrow.  I’m tired…

 (7.5 hours of needed sleep later…)

Good morning !   I’m up.  As I was saying, before exhaustion overcame me….Things are just things, Places get you going and out of your comfort zone and the People are many reasons to motivate you to get out there. Be it your daughter who asks for that Spring Break trip to NYC or the beach or for weeks walking Spain…..I know. What young person asks to spend precious vacation time with old Dad? Well, evidently, mine….the point is to find a way and just go. 

None of us are getting any younger, especially yours truly….

   
    
 
Yeah, that was me & My Love when our girls were tiny. Me and my Mom. And miss Lilly, our newest addition. 

How does one go from such black to gray, you may wonder? Life details provided in my initial posts are archived here.  My 40’s started in a rough way and we’ve regrouped, downsized, and prioritized like the younger me could not anticipate.  Two constants, over most of the last decade, have held steady.  Family and travel.  Sure, we lost both of our Dads a couple of years ago, but our family was there.  Sure, I cannot plan and bill business/pleasure trips to my company anymore. But, we still find a way to go and help our girls explore foreign lands & experiences via Delta SkyMiles. Thanks, AMEX & Delta!

What motivates you to get out of your ordinary world and explore that different place?  Or, keep returning to that place where family memories keep building up layers upon layers? 

Here are my motivational loved ones…

   
    
    
    
    
    
    
 
   
 
There you have it. The big five reasons (plus pup) why I still care. Why I’m still here. And why I made this trip to sunny, beautiful Spain (not a drop of rain in over two weeks).

Those are my reflections from this long and fruitful experience with Brianna and many others.  Santiago again today. Train to Madrid tomorrow. Back to home on Monday.  Hanging with our boys for a couple of days, then…off to Costa Rica on Thursday with My Love. Couples-only trip that she earned with her business team.  Nice July, heh?

As I’ve tried to make all too clear, I may not be getting any younger, but my loved ones and the places & experiences we share together are about as good as any fountain of youth that this mind & body has found. Or. Maybe they found me. 

Maybe that’s what God had planned all along. 

Maybe. 

Stay tuned…..

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