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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,

#MyComfyCamino realities..

I'll bet you $'s to €'s that you've never read such a post as this!

Older men issues on the Camino….

It looks like #MyComfyCamino blog post earlier this month struck a nerve in a mostly positive way.

But, I left out a few important and practical matters about why I choose to find my best "uno habaticion privada" options on My Camino. It's for me AND for my nightly group of fellow pilgrims, for what are just a few more Euros going to good people anyway.

My Comfy Camino issue #1:

I wake up too early. 3am last night. Almost 4am this morning. Toss and turning. Deep breathing. No more sleep for now. Tossing makes noise. Getting up makes noise. Connecting with home and reading on my phone creates a light. If one is self-aware at all, who wants to be that guy who invites all around him to his wake up party?

My Comfy Camino issue #2:

Older men usually have to pee in the wee-wee hours of the morning. On road trips, My Love and our girls would joke about "dad's bladder of a yak" when stopping more frequently for them to make water. (Granted, this was before google and our Encyclopedia Britannica, Vol. "Y" was back at the house. If we insulted any yaks along our way, sincerest apologies to any offended yaks.)

Back to the here and now. Getting up to relieve oneself is annoying enough to the one you sleep with at home. I can't imagine the level of irritation from any light sleepers when one or more of us pilgrims/strangers get up at random times, maybe shake the bunk a little, maybe creak a bit with the floor, squeak a door or two, then FLUSH!!!!, and creak and squeak all over again upon return.

You feeling the love for older men yet?

My Comfy Camino issue #3:

Older men make noises. Snoring is one of the top pilgrim complaints. Ear plugs can help, but what if there's a chorus of men AND women heavy breathing to sawing very tough logs with their symphony of esophageal instruments? No one sleeps well, especially the ones suffering from sleep apnea, which is fairly common with larger people. I had it years ago when I weighed over 300 pounds. Not pretty for all involved. And, we older men make other noises just breathing, clearing the throat, sniffing, snorting, and blowing our nose too. We just do and everyone we love, who's travelled with us, knows this so well.

I understand that the pilgrim experience is different for everyone. My Comfy Camino may not be the cheapest budget, but I appreciate the Comfy options for me and, indirectly, for my fellow pilgrims. And I'm sure that our various hosts here in Spain appreciate the extra Euros. It is, along with communal meals, how they pay their bills. Gracias.

On that note of thanks, I must take my leave and do what older men do, just across the hall. This former yak must empty again.

BTW, this is one pilgrim who refuses to poop on the Camino. I would give you my older man secrets there, but I've shared enough already. 😉

Buen Camino. 🌅

Ultreia!🇪🇸

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

There are no words….sans Perfecto!

I love Spain. That is fairly clear.

America is fine…but Spain.

Perfecto.

Quiet walk today. No open kitchen nor agua for 18km. I was fine.

Met María & Roland from Italy 🇮🇹 once again. One lovely couple. Getting their rental bikes ready to cross to Astorga.

May see them again. May not.

So quiet today….until….the return of Isaac from Wales. Hilarious 😂 with his Italian travel companion. 2 young blokes just trying to figure the Camino out as cheaply as possible. They argue in different languages like a freakish old married couple, with an occasional f bomb. Leon may just see another reunion of ours. Hope so.

Now, I sit here with my paella and I must dig in now.

Perfecto. Now Jamon croquettes. And small insalata. Limon vinaigrette???? Perfecto.

This place, Restaurante Gil, is THE place at 4 o'clock. Not much else to do and the shady weather is perfecto too.

I've never seen so many thirsty locals and limping peregrinos in one patio bar. Back to my Jamon.

I've also never heard "Americano" used so much around the patio and bar doorway. Who do you possibly think they are discussing? No problem. My flan is here.

This young lady at Gil is taking good care of this Americano. Gracias!

Ahhhhh. They play cards here. Now I get it. Stupido . Americano.

Three bars in this tiny town and they all have a really different vibe and feel. You'll figure it out.

Supermercado is about three phone booths in size, but has all I need. €1.95 bottles on vino tinto for dessert. Muchos gracias.

Nap time in one sleepy town.

Great sights today and a nice time in a tiny town before walking into Leon on a Sunday!

But first, my veg dinner at my veg Albergue. Kait, our youngest daughter should be so proud.

So, returned to my sweet little Albergue Ada to find the owner and his Familia having their lunch.

Very cool and sweet. They all gave me attention and I just pointed to their table and group and gently offered my patented "perfecto" and they all smiled.

Up for my siesta now. Be back later.

Whew! Excellent siesta!!!! 😍😍😍

Great walk today. Excellent Albergue find, thanks to Pedro (owner) and Grace (volunteer from Argentina). Both very sweet.

About time to eat again. Only me in my habaticion for 4 so far. €10 for my maybe privada bunk. Not bad.

7:30 approaches rapido! Delicious vegetarian meal 🥘 to come on another beautiful, sunny ☀️ Spain 🇪🇸 evening! ❤️

That is my back yard for tonight.

Tonight is slipping away fast. Huge insalata mixta with quinoa and a delicious Rioja …

and, now, this….

Veg & queso frittata creation with a flaky crust! Yum!

I'm stuffed and heading outside to hear a young Buddhist monk play his guitar and sing. Should be wonderful.

Goodnight from 🇪🇸, friends.

Cliche’ Alert: “The Camino provides”

….but, if you allow it, the cliche' becomes true.

After a very relaxing afternoon and restful night at La Morena, an oasis of its own, we hit the trail at 7am and sunrise for another day. Their last day on their Camino.

Another beautiful Camino morning for all who are up to enjoy it.

Our morning went on with searches for breakfast and allowed us fresh zumo de naranjara , as Brierley's book was no so bueno.

We finally found a crusty couple who opened up their bar fashionably late, seemed to be irritated by pilgrims, but actually had real food that was not commercially wrapped in plastic. More zumo and croissant pour moi. It was delicious and came with a healthy serving of disgust. Buen Camino.

Hours later, we made it through our walk, very personal conversations, and fine vistas to reach the ceremonial mid-point of the Camino. For Jen & Ron, it was time to stop, for now, stay the night in Sahugan, train back to Madrid, and fly home to Massachusetts.

I've never met a happy, American couple on the Camino like them. Americans are rare anyway. We are typically solo and have reasons to be here alone. Jen and Ron had been here before. Time only allowed them their St Jean to Sahagún Camino over two weeks, as they still have careers back home….and a sweet beagle and two grown kids too.

We hugged, exchanged phone numbers, and settled up the €3 each for beers and ample, free tapas that we inhaled quite nicely on Sahagún's Plaza Mayor. And off I went…

My Camino continues for a couple of more hours and I pass a young lady that seems to be grinding out each step and an Italian couple who is about done like me.

Another small village awaits to provide a nice bed and lots of delicious food and conversation over vino tinto . First, at check-in, the nice Italian couple walks in and kindly offers me Italian and Spanish lessons about requests for non-peregrino menu options….nice effort. Hot shower and clean clothes later, and I'm outside with all cafe tables occupied. Very nice German couple that I had exchanged pleasantries with over days had a seat at their table. I asked. They obliged with smiles. Lovely, lovely couple. After an hour or so, they had to go and meet a bike delivery van to help speed up their Camino to fit their German life back home. Peddling to Astorga tomorrow. Not moments after they left, a young girl leaves her table and her parents as well. I recognize them from the last few towns too and ask to join them. Another sweet couple from France and their 3 teenage kids, with two other families, totaling 14 on their walking Camino. Lots of stories there. We talked about family, politics, and other cultural things until their sleeping kids arose and joined us for tapas and cola drinks.

A young man sitting beside alone finally chimed in when I was inspired to whip out my jaunty, Cockney accent to make a point "there guvnah!" He is a philosophy graduate from London, who's father is Indian and mother is Nordic. Handsome chap with a wealth of conversation. Thus, he must join me for dinner.

He reminded me of that fellow in "Lion" and the "Marigold" hotel movies. Young, smart, global, and fairly seasoned for a man of 25.

We both shunned the peregrino menu and ordered the grilled steak and chips (double insalata for me, no chips). Delicious slab of beef was devoured by each of us. €9 each with a shared bottle of vino tinto. Like our long, very personal conversation, that meal was a joy and nourishing beyond food.

We settled up at the bar, since no one auto-presents the check here…take your time in Espana….and we said our good nights.

That was one remarkable, global day that will never be repeated. I love that.

Most of us shall meet again. No doubt.

Buen Camino.

Great exhausting, peaceful, and a restful day!

Quite the 46,000+ steps over 32km today, my first day back walking, according to my wrist gadget. The first 21km felt like nothing big. Minor twinges in knees and hip. No big deal.

But. I had really fueled up…here…

Quite the delicious starter at the AC Burgos…had my fill…right before a band of American senior citizens had their way with the buffet. It was overwhelming. It was cruel. It was Shock-and-Awe…and that was just the hotel staff. I expected it, once I saw and heard the first of them loudly complain about something I've already forgotten . I just sat back and pretended to be the 6'3" , 265lb wall flower that I am….until….Friar Tuck, younger and with his full head of hair, wished me "Buen Camino" and then he had to explain that to the group. That was my cue to leave.

The sun was rising and I found myself at this place of The Way movie…

Lots of flats to come. The Meseta.

Some call boring. Some avoid.

I call it a breadbasket. I would not avoid its beauty and purpose. Sunflowers and hay feed us one way or another.

Breezed into Hornillas so easily.

Too, too easily.

Grabbed Jamon, chorizo, sin pan, grande cervesa, agua, and switched out for fresh socks/Keens and I want to go past Hornillas (pardon, spelling from memory).

10km to Hontanas should be fine.

It was as long a 10k as I remember from my last Camino. Feet were fine until the last 2km. Same for my attitude.

FYI. Cursing, even to oneself, is probably some kinda sin. Granted, I do tend to sin a bit.

All was fine until those last 2km that I could have saved if I wasn't a brief idiot. I believed my guidebook over the arrows. Stupid. Stupid. Stupid.

It was as long a last few kilometers and then, after this pilgrim's walk there she was. Very welcomed, indeed.

Agua was my highest priority. My fount of hydration was right there next to Mother Mary. Perfecto.

Descending into town, I stopped, looked it over, and quickly booked my habiticion privada at Juan de Vepes. She sits at the highest point in town, with a nice green space, and views of their sweet church and surrounding countryside.

(photo above taken right before bedtime)

As I type, the Mass bells ring sending the birds of its belfry flying. Now. They fly back. It's a bird version of happy hour on that bell tower.

My room is perfecto, if my needed hot shower and two hour nap were any indication. I feel like a new man.

Woke up refreshed. Dressed for dinner here at Juan's and went for,
of all things, a walk around town.

From my Albergue to the municipal pool at the west end, more interesting characters. Very few gringos and I do love it.

Walked back and I'm settled here for the night. Pilgrim dinner at 7, of course. Limited to 12, and I will be delighted to join the communal dinner. Paella is on the menu. Just for 12, it should be perfecto. We shall see.

My love wants to chat now via FaceTime on her lunch hour. Ciao for now.

Great chat over some time. All is good back home.

Peregrino dinner at 7 sharp.

Perfecto.


Chunks of pollo love sprang from this deliciousness.

Beautiful perigrino dinner sprang from my fellow solo, albeit French, dinner companion and three pairs of Germans, Italians, and Russians, respectively from front to left around. Teenage Russian boy served his mom with gusto. Loved that. Italian ladies kept to themselves. But I gave them the handshake of love and let them go to safer feelings. The German gals (pictured above) could understand some English as a team effort. It was a sweet effort. They were cool. Even sharing my brilliant, youngest daughter story. Danke, new German friends. If not for them, it was just me and Frenchy chatting between helpings of a huge insalata and wonderful paella.

More to come here. Time to go and wifi here is blaaaaahhhhh.

Ciao for now!

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