Monday, July 31, 2006

And they lived happily ever after...

On Monday, July 31, at 11:15 AM, I completed the Camino de Santiago, from St.-Jean-Pied-de-Port, France, to Santiago de Compostela, Spain, a distance of 774.7 kilometers (480 miles), in 32 days.

the 100th entry

fittingly with such a monumental mark in the blog we arrive in santiago. did we ever really think we´d get here? probably. but even still, to be here is well, for now, indescribable. waking up this morning seemed like just any other. walking, walking, and more walking. suddenly we had reached our finally destination, descending from the hill with the city in sight, it was hard to believe this was actually the infamous santiago. success. and more.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

The Final Countdown

Just two more days left before we arrive in Santiago. The entire Camino just seems like a huge blur to me...the details are too numerous to make sense of now. I clearly remember St. Jean, Roncesvalles, and Zubiri, but after that, all of the albergues, all of the towns, all of the hikes become one unforgettable experience. With time running out, I feel prepared to finish. I always thought the finish would be the best part, but the opposite is true. With about 5 or 6 days left, I began counting down, something I had never done before. What made the Camino so great was the rhythm of daily life...waking up early, hiking, eating, napping, journaling, exploring, talking, meeting new people. For the first time in many years, time became irrelevant.

the End, wherever that is

We can feel the end coming. Along the trail we pass ¨mile¨markers that have only two digit numbers. Our talk comes around more and more to questions like, ¨What´s the first thing you´re going to eat when you get back?¨Even more serious are discussions about how we think we´ve changed since our first day back in France when we started this walk. While some of us can articulate specific ways we are different, I can´t really think of any certain except a sense of being wiser... somehow. I think we can be pretty sure, however, that when Santiago appears on the path, no one is going feel like the journey is over. We will stop walking but our answers to ¨how have you changed¨are not going to be fixed for a long time to come -- therefore the end really isn´t in Santiago. It´s coming and we all feel it, but it won´t be here for while yet.

camino fruits

When we first started walking we would pass tight green grapes on leafy vines...toward the middle of the trip Casey and I tasted sour half ripe fruit from the sides of the trail, now the grapes that cross our path are bright almost ripe orbs and the fruit hangs heavy on branches. We too have rippened along the camino. Steeped in sunlight, rain, sweat and dirt we have grown along this crazy fertile trial.

Today it hit me

Today on the trail I felt my course change. In an earlier enterview, Ryan had asked if the Camino was about the journey or the dintination. Without hesitation, I quickly realized that, for me, the Camino is all about the journey. The relationships I will carry for a lifetime, the emotions which seem to be playing on shuffle in my internal Ipod, even the adversities which myself and the group as a whole has had to overcome throughout the trip. All of these things will never be forgotten, and I can honestly say that this has been one of the most rewarding steps I have taken towards personal growth and happiness.
But today, it felt as if someone had switched my internal clockwork, and I finally felt myself moving towards a destination. I´m finding myself running through an emotional gauntlet, and I´m not sure how I will fully be effected by the journey at this time. But perhaps none of this will be truly realized until I have finally reached that point. I´m looking forward to having time to disect what the Camino means to me, and what the Camino may have meant to so many others who have traveled the journey before.
Love you Mom and Dad
Casey

Melide: 2 days to go

Today we made it to Melide. Last year the group was almost bored because we walked such short days and fatigue was no longer an issue by the time we reached this point. This year that is different. Since we walk about double the distance (both in terms of daily distance and overall distance) we walked last trip, we are always more tired. I had expected that after a month of walking, we would all have more energy at the end of these last few days, but that isn´t the case. After lunch, most of us slip away for a 2-hr. siesta to rejuvinate our bodies. What is amazing though, is that after a nap or after an 8-hr sleep, one´s body can feel just about like new. Today for the first time, talking to Kate I began thinking-talking about what it will be like when we stop walking in two days, what happens the day we wake up at say 8, instead of 5.30, and the furthest we have to go is around town? I am already feeling nostagic and we still have two days to go.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Chapter 10: Another Brick in the Wall/Sarria Sandwich*

*preface: Today on the trail to Sarria Alec and I were talking about puns and witty blog titles (note his attempts). The title of this blog is a response to a challenge posed by him to create good titles. While I don´t feel that I have suceeded please note the effort.

We all know that the sign of a particularly bad sandwich is when the slices of bread taste better than the contents held between. The past couple days have been very much like that for me. A few days ago I experieced an awesome hike during one of the most visually beautiful days that the camino has offered. I think that everyone that walked that day felt the same way, that the camino was showing some sort of appreciation for all of our hard work thus far. A couple days later I hit the proverbial wall when at the end of our hike we hit a few steep hills. After barreling up the first one I found myself pitifully stumbling up the next two, falling to the very back of the group when I had previously been in the front. The next day I was still out of gas, unable to walk beyond a snail´s pace. Maybe it was only a mental wall, but the more I tried to push myself the more I slowed down. It was an unimpressive day both in terms of my effort and the visuals (we walked along a road for most of it). The next day (yesterday) brought the hike to O Cebreiro, one that saw us hiking uphill for pretty much all day. We got up extremely early (forgoing breakfast) to catch a sunrise that ultimately left us unfulfilled. The pangs of hunger hit me almost immediately once we began to climb at which point I decided to go all out to take my mind of the hunger. The air was cool and it felt good working up a sweat not induced by a persistent sun attack. It was an awesome day to follow the two previously crappy ones. Thus the sorry sandwich was completed as I write to you from Sarria today.

Leon con Leche

I recently understood a little bit of Spanish humor. Not particularly good humor, but it made me feel special nonetheless. First I shall give you the background information:

At one particular point in time, Castilla and Leon were regions of their own. Today they are a province with the ever-so-clever title, ¨Castilla y Leon¨. Throughout the province, there are some individuals who think Leon should be an independent nation. These dorky high-schoolers write in spray paint on the wall, ¨LEON SOLO¨. We´ve seen this often.

Coffee here is simply with milk or with out it. You get a ¨Cafe con Leche¨ (with) or a ¨Cafe Solo¨ (without)

Now, last week we saw the usual ¨LEON SOLO¨ on the wall. Only this time, someone had added underneith, ¨¿O CON LECHE?¨ (Or with milk) Get it? Leon con leche? Ha-ha.

The Worst Breakfast

Several Days Ago: Molinaseca AM


The crossaints were stale. The magdelenas crumbly. The bananas were green as our sick friends who remained in bed. When we heard the news that Allie too had gotten sick overnight, I cringed at the liklihood of it not being the last we saw of that breakfast.


Epilogue: Everyone is okay. Only queezy stomachs remain.

A matter of perspective

The other day we reached a marker that indicated we were 160 kilometers (100 miles) from Santiago. At that point walking our last 160 kilometers seemed like a piece of cake, which is strange because if you were to ask me to walk, much less drive, 100 miles, I would grumble. The truth is I don´t even like walking much, I prefer taking my bike places. But now, after having trekked some 400 miles, suddenly walking another 100 miles more seems like nothing. I guess it is just is a matter of perspective.

confessions of an anti-blooger

so after living in the wilds of Maine for 6 weeks and then rushing off to Spain, i only learned about the concept of BLOG after a few days on the trail and have yet to disocover the various wonders it contains. Before the wrath of Santiago struck i decided that i would venture into this unknown blogging world....and now that i am mostly recovered, that time has arrived.
In every village we come to no matter how small and crumbling or large and busy around 4 o´clock every afternoon old people come out of thier houses and sit on benches in plazas and steetsides and stare off into the distance clutching thier canes and chatting occasionally with one another. Their presence has interested me from the beginning, so a few days ago i decided to join some old women as they sat on a bench in the shade. After a few minutes with them more and more came out of thier houses to chat. At first they were confused by my presense...but then as our conversations progressed i got to get the inside scoop on the secrets that pass along the benches each afternoon on the streetside of Ambosmesetas. They told me stories of each of the villiagers that walked by....stories about thier dead husbands and the houses that lay crumbling on the hillside...but the basic take home message they had for me was that i should learn to speak spanish better so that i can meet spanish boys becuase they are attractive and easy. i thanked them for the advice. later when i journaled about the stories they had told me i wondered how different people in my life would tell my life story.

ok, so i guess blogging isn´t soooooooo bad

Camino rapping???

So...me, Casey, Pablo, Ryan, and Alec have all decided to become rap artists. After I told them my touching story of me coming up in the game of rap at the tender age of 10, they were all inspired. I know they loved my song ¨You Go Girl.¨ So now...we have all decided on our stage names: I am Tenacious, Casey is Castrophe (you have to whisper it), Ryan is Phenom, Paul is P.O.XX and Alec is Trick-A. We haven't decided on a group name today or started our album, but when we hit big...just remember you saw it 1st on the Camino. We are going to go global! Until then...Casey and I will try our best not to get lost again, lol. And...I will be outdoing Master Chef Chun in the kitchen tonite! Oh Chun...it's on! Especially after you hurt my feelings so many times. You know how sensitive I am, lol. (Inside joke, but feel free to laugh). That's TOTALLY ACCEPTABLE!

Sorry to Landis

This blog is way overdue. I just wanted to say that I am sorry for ever doubting Floyd Landis and his abilities to overcome adversity, and I wanted to recognize the perserverance he showed in taking the Tour de France home for America for the 8th year in a row.

The Dangers of Cruise Control

So this is now my third strike with taking the wrong trail to Santiago, and each has occurred with a different group member. So guys take a note, Don´t Hike With Me. It´s bad luck. Quick explaination...
Kate and I took a slight detour about 2 weeks back which extended a 30 K day to about 34. Pablo and I were off walking in the wrong direction when the faint screams of other Pilgrims finally forced us to turn around and find the right track. And then today....Ti-Yanna and I were hauling it today trying to get into Sarria to relax. You´ll have to trust me but we were blowing away the competition. No breaks, no time for dilly dally, we just pushed on through the driving rainstorm (more like a slight mist but you get the picture). We had distanced ourselves about 15 minutes from the second group when we glided into cruise control and slipped into a great conversation. Throughout the day we kept complaining about how poorly the trail was marked beacuse we seemed to be going for long periods of time without a marker to guide our way. We went so far as to predict that someone was going to get lost today. To make a long story short..after like 2 hours of walking alone, we realized that the group in front of us was in fact the group which had once been far behind. Obviously they had not passed us, so we quickly tracked them down to inquire about the situation. Turns out they had taken a 20 minute break and still managed to beat us. So lost in conversation, Ti and I had lost atleast 40 minutes wandering in the wilderness. I guess we should have been less worried about others and more concerned about following the trail. But at the end of the day, Ti and I had a great conversation and made it safely to Sarria. Can´t ask for much more than that. But parents, I promise to be more careful with your children from no on.
Love you Mom and Dad.

Casey

Some observations about Spain

We´re in Sarria now and just four more days of hiking left! It´s hard to imagine; we were on a bus to St. Jean exactly one month ago.

I have a couple cultrural observations I find interesting and worthwhile. The first is the separatist movement in the province of Castilla y Leon. I saw literally hundreds of graffitied signs saying such things as ¨Leon without Castilla,¨ or¨Leon Solo.¨ Many also incorporated a type of bilingual play on words using Spanish and Leonese. For example, ¨Pais Lliones Llibre¨(free leonese country). I don´t know much about the origins of this movement, but it goes back centuries to when Spain was not yet unified.

Another observation concerns the press and the current Middle East crisis. The newspapers and TV stations here are much more favorable toward Lebanon than the U.S. press. For example, the TV stations show more coverage of hospitalized women and children, explosions, and other negative effects of the bombing. The newspaper editorials that I have read are rather critical of Israel. In the Galician paper today, a cartoon showed an Israeli dagger stabbing Lebanon. Seeing alternative viewpoints like this is one of the most beneficial aspects of world travel, and being able to read the Spanish press makes my semesters of foreign language study more than rewarding.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Fast times Osobrero high

So I´ve been informed we´re now in the process of transitioning from fun super-cool mountain land to smelly super-wet cow/coastland, something which sounds worse than it is because is implies flat hikes and cool (albeit dung-laden) days. The camino funk seems to have passed us after reaching somewhat epidemic proportions, and all that remains for me is a daily post-meal stomach ache and a trenchant distaste for sausage and cheese bocadillos. Our rooming schedule for the remainder of the trip was just solidified today... somewhat ahead of the usual schedule because towards the end of the camino people tend to jump on the trail and clog up the Albergues-- weak-sauce peregrino wannabees. Anyway, my softer side is getting a bit anxious to take this bad-boy home and enjoy the perks of a static residency, while a good portion of the rest of me really wants to stay in Spain for a lot longer. It´s definitely a strange emotional pull in opposite directions I think we all feel on endeavors such as these. I suppose there is little to be done but ride this crazy Camino thing as far as itíll take me. So long.

Fast times Osobrero high

So I´ve been informed we´re now in the process of transitioning from fun super-cool mountain land to smelly super-wet cow/coastland, something which sounds worse than it is because is implies flat hikes and cool (albeit dung-laden) days. The camino funk seems to have passed us after reaching somewhat epidemic proportions, and all that remains for me is a daily post-meal stomach ache and a trenchant distaste for sausage and cheese bocadillos. Our rooming schedule for the remainder of the trip was just solidified today... somewhat ahead of the usual schedule because towards the end of the camino people tend to jump on the trail and clog up the Albergues-- weak-sauce peregrino wannabees. Anyway, my softer side is getting a bit anxious to take this bad-boy home and enjoy the perks of a static residency, while a good portion of the rest of me really wants to stay in Spain for a lot longer. It´s definitely a strange emotional pull in opposite directions I think we all feel on endeavors such as these. I suppose there is little to be done but ride this crazy Camino thing as far as itíll take me. So long.

Monday, July 24, 2006

I Blame Alec

Saint James, Saint James,
Why must your pilgrims suffer so?
Their hearts as pure as gold,
Yet from their bodies, bile and excrements flow.

No Campbells soup, no mother who consoles.
How will they reach the ancient relic?
No one knows, but if they don´t,
I blame it all on Harris, Alec.

Just kidding about blaming Alec, but I would like to call to attention the fact that Alec is responsible for introducing the terrible plague which has been dubbed Santiago´s Revenge to the group. Furthermore, I would like to assure to all that the plague has been conquered, and we are all on the mend.......although I am pretty sure that Alec and I will never speak again. While I was sick, I did miss my mom, so I would like to take this opportunity to thank her for all of the loving care in past sicknesses, surgeries, and things of that nature....I love you Mom.

Today has been a very relaxing day in Ambasmestas, Holly and I had a chance to hang out by the river for a couple of hours. I tried to relax on the swing set earlier, but it turns out my butt will no longer fit in such places. Tomorrow should be a really beautiful hike into O Cebreiro. Believe it or not, 11 college students have agreed to rise at 4:30 in the morning in order to capture some amazing scenery as we ascend toward the pueblo. Should be a great day filled with great pictures and amazing memories. Love you Mom and Dad.

Casey

Sunday, July 23, 2006

another 5 bite the dust...

yesterday was unquestionably the worst day of my life. as we climbed the pass, a mild nausea slowly began to overtake me. i dismissed it simply as altitude sickness, or acid indigestion, or my mind playing tricks on me--it had to be anything other than Alecs horrible disease. Well, I was wrong.

As Casey, Paul and I came down the mountainside, Casey said he was feeling sick. I immediately said the same and we agreed to rest for a short while. After sharing some indigestion tablet stuff, we continued on. After only another 10 minutes, Casey and I both pulled to the side of the trail and within two minutes, Casey was throwing up. Five minutes later, I did the same.

After making it into town, this horrific pattern continued every half hour for the next three hours. We were literally on a five minute delay from each other. As the rest of the group slowly made their way into town, we found out that Kate and Chun-Yi had been infected too. Then I wake up this morning to find Allie had thrown up in the middle of the night as well. Santiago´s revenge is slowly striking us all down.

At the moment, I believe I hold the record of throwups with 10, although I forgot to ask Alec how many he had when he was sick. But, all you folks back home, please don´t worry; all of us that had gotten sick over the last 24hours are almost back to 100%. Kate even managed to walk today (which I am very jealous of and as a result, we can no longer be friends).

Well, time to catch a taxi to the next town and try eating something.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Astorga

Astorga ended up being a great town for a rest day. A chocolate museum, a Gaudi house that hosts a Camino museum, and a tour of the Roman ruins were all available. I skipped the first but took in the other two. The Gaudi building was the second we have seen on the Camino, but this one was certainly more interesting than the other two. But by all accounts, his best stuff is still in Barcelona. Besides a collection of Camino artifacts and Roman ruins, the museum also featured an impressive gallery of contempory Spanish art, mostly from the last 20 years. After Gaudi, the group went on a tour of the Roman ruins. The highlight was definitely the walk through the sewer system. The tunnel was only about 5 1/2 feet tall and 3 feet wide. Definitely worth the 3 euro.

Afterwards we headed for a bar and had an official Camino meeting. Everyone discussed things that could be done better, both on an individual and group level. I left feeling that we had really made some progress, and the Camino is only going to get better.

We have had a stomach virus hit some of the members, but only it seems to be a 24 hour thing. I pray that everyone remains healthy for the rest of the Camino. Only 10 more days of hiking!

On the road again

Goodbye Astorga. I will miss your Roman ruins, your historic museos, but most of all, I will miss your chocolate. Delicioso!
Upon entering today´s albergue, we were immediately and enthusiastically greeted by high school age girls from Madrid. They are full of energy and really epitimize the term ¨teeny boppers.¨ I have been talking with them a lot already, especially one of the girls who has visited the states. She has even been to Michigan. But we told the girls we want to speak Spanish so we can practice and this girl gets so excited that she can´t help but slip into english (what a show off.....just kidding but she is really good). So her friends and Pablo and I have been tuning her up a bit. So hopefully today will be a great Spanish lesson, and maybe I will learn to say a lot of Spanish words about really important things like teenage boys and Brittany Speers......One can only dream to be so lucky.
On a darker note, I am trying to avoid the terrible sickness which had drifted into camp. It is a dark, painful monster that actually does leave its victims cold and shiverring in the night as I suggested in an earlier blog.
Can´t believe the Camino is almost over. Love you Mom and Dad.
Casey

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Check out ¨where we are¨

On the right of the blog,directly under the contributors list, is a links menu that contains a new feature Mike (a.k.a. Annie´s husband) created. It will take you to a pop up window that shows where the group is on a map of the Camino. If you then click on the shell, it will take you to an external site with details and photos of the town we are scheduled to be in for that day.

Today´s link (Astorga) has a virtual tour of the town and all of the places Casey mentions in his last post on our rest day. This is a great way to see what the students are experiencing on a daily basis.

A very heartfelt thanks to Mike for putting this feature together. We hope it helps family members and friends back home visualize some of the remarkable experiences the team members are describing in their blogs.

Ready..break!

Yes folks, its break time on the Camino. One day off in scenic Astorga before we take it all the way into Santigo. After a spell of long days we have of late (the past 3 days) adopted a more relaxed pace, and today´s rest has been the culmination of a trend which has re-energized us for the final push.
In other news, the group is progessing nicely...we´ve all become mosty accustomed to the Spainish lifestyle (meaning we are all terribly dependent on midday naps along with diabetes-grade sugar overloads for breakfast, among other things), and have begun to talk pretty regularly and in-depth with new pilgrims.
I myself have become quite fascinated with the idea of keeping a journal...definitely a first for me, but one which has helped me to take a more focused and precise stance on my thoughts. As ususal, I´d love to share more, but little time remains in my paid foray into the digital world, and laundry beckons. Love.

Chapter 9: The Poem Project and the Rest Day

As the rest day in Astorga comes to an end and the final ten days of the hike begin, I realize that there are a number of things that I can talk about that I haven´t yet touched upon in my few blogs. Whether I draw from my experiences and thoughts on the many cathedrals that we´ve visited or any of the significant conversations that I´ve had with my teammates on the trail. However, the one thing that I haven´t talked about much and that I´d like to share regards a personal project that I´ve tried to accomplish that requires me to sum up each day´s experience in an 8-16 line poem so that when I look back through my journal I won´t have to sift through pages and pages of incoherant stream of consciousness and can instead read what I thought on any given day in one minute. I´ve missed at least ten days of this project and haven´t shared much of what I´ve written, until now.

The day that we walked 37 km from Sahagún to Mancilla de las Mulas was a significant mental and physical milestone for the team and proved that we could take whatever the Camino could throw at us. This is the poem I wrote that day:

Long Day

One point noted away from the mind,
Consigned to exile shackeld unbound,
Without centrality focus unwinds
In crooked straight lines, when freedom sounds.

The ground whispers with each step
Eloquent insight, repititous wisdom
As dust drifts downward the breeze drips red
From sun tinted sweat when the long day is done.

Blue skies fall from nonexistent clouds
Below feet plow beneath stretching trails.
Left of center the pale path bends
Looking for the end, I´m looking for the end.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

I´m Too S*xy For My Shirt

So everyone is pretty jealous of my Brazilian shirt. Today was the first time I whipped it out for display. I´ve already been offered some serious cash, but I could never let it go. We have finally reached Astorga (which I have just spelled correctly for the first time)and it has been a very relaxing day. Fo anyone who is keeping up on the Tour de France, you will understand my state of depression do to today´s unforseeable, terrible events.......... our mighty Landis has fallen........Fatigue makes cowards of us all.

Tomorrow we will be visiting a chocolate museum, the museum of the caminos, and we will be visiting some Roman ruins........aren´t we the cultured bunch.

Today I met a girl from Australia whos father is an Ambassador to Hungary and has pretty much traveled all over the world and is only 22 years old...........I´m jealous, but at least i have a Brazil shirt. Love you Mom and Dad.
Casey

Lazy days

My wife asked why I don´t blog more and all I could say is I´m busy. This, of course, is not a very good excuse. The truth is I do not enjoy blogging because it takes too much time and I´d much rather quickly write something down in my own diary than publish it online. So, dear reader, please be patient.

It seems like life has slowed down a lot the past few days. In order to keep with our schedule, we have been walking shorter days and staying in unexpected towns. This has meant walking only 15-20 km and having longer afternoons in each stop. To be perfectly honest, it couldn´t have happened at a better time. This mini-break has allowed many to rest tired feet, cure blisters and catch up on much needed sleep. While the stories might not be as exciting, these lazy days will be much appreciated when we enter the mountains and encounter longer and more challenging hikes.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Ti Picaso....

so...wondering about the name huh? well...i discovered i am quite the artist today. i painted a lovely picture today after having a great talk with indalo who works at this beautiful albergue we are staying at. i would have to say this is probably the best thus far! to continue...we took a long hike to a river today...that is...me, casey, paul, kate, and indalo....where we assisted in creating beautiful art work! it was truly amazing to walk in the river and add beauty to an already masterpiece! well done indalo! the artwork yesterday at jesus was just as gorgeous! i cant wait to see what future masterpieces i shall see next on the camino! in the meantime...i will continue to eat this horrible stuff made by the ïron chef¨ otherwise known as casey. i mean to tell you...he says it was good...but you had to be there to know otherwise! lol...no, but i would have to say well done today cas. the soup was great!

Broken Window

I know this happened a while ago, but I have just decided to blog about it since it still pains my heart. It was a nice sunny afternoon one day in a small town and I was having my usual afternoon naps. But I woke up to my horror to find my camera screen broken and showing me streaks of black lines instead of my pictures. It took me a long time to come to terms with my new situation. It has no doubt dampened my spirits and made taking photos that much harder, but I have made up my mind to try. Thus folks, be prepared to see some new photos of mine posted online soon!

life is good.

not too much to say really. after my near week long reprieve in leon, my blisters have been a little more gentle on me since my time back with the group, amazing what a good scrub down at the ER, some amoxicillin, and time off the feet can do. it´s good to be back. on the road again, sleeping under the stars on occasion, and just sitting by the river sharing a coke, all with the best of people, couldn´t really ask for more.

Fotos

Old folks in Leon.
Leon.
Perry and Chun. Painting in Hospital de Orbigo.
Last night with our Danish friends, Peter and Markus.

Painting on the Rocks and Landis Takes the Yellow

Hello everyone. We´re in Puente de Orbigo (which is also called Hospital de Orbigo for those looking us up on a map or website). The albergue here is the best so far. One of the most interesting features is the huge collection of paintings done by various peregrinos. Some are excellent. We also really like one of the volunteers here. He´s a native of Canada but has been all over the world, going where the spirit takes him. He goes by Indalo. This afternoon he took Kate, Ti, Casey, and I to a special spot along the river where he goes to paint on the rocks. We all took turns puting on our own special touch. After painting, we sat by the river and drank a special tea that comes from Uruguay and Argentina. Called ¨mate¨(ma-teh), the tea is drank by putting the leaves in a small cup or guard and then adding water. A special metal straw is used to sip up the tea. I´m not much of a tea fan, but the process itself was worthwhile.

In other news, Floyd Landis took the yellow jersey again and has a significant lead. Watching the tour in the Spanish bars is one of my favorite ways to emerse myslef in the language and culture of Spain. Of course the race is always accompanied by a cafe con leche.

Iron Chef

We said goodbye to Jesus today, but he will always be in our hearts. Caryn, Andy, Chun, and I just made a delicious meal which I am about to go eat in about 5 minutes. So I am hoping some of the others will write about the amazing meal they are about to eat. Today and tomorrow are shorter days because we are actually a day ahead of schedule so we had to slow our arrival into estorga. time to eat. Love you mom and Dad.

Monday, July 17, 2006

The Shirt off of his own Back

I am the proud new owner of a 2006 FIFA World Cup Brazil shirt. It´s probably my favorite shirt, even though I´ve never actually tried it on. The truth of the matter is that my friend Sergio and I began talking about what a nice place Brazil is (Sergio is from Brazil and is very proud of his heritage...he invited our entire group to come and stay with him in Brazil next summer) Before I knew it, Sergio had ripped the shirt he was wearing right off of his back and handed it over. I protested, but in the end I have to admit that I am 100% excited to have such a meaningful article of memorabelia to remember our friendship and the trip in general. Tomorrow, Sergio and our Luts want to have a fairwell party in Estorga because they are on the accelerated (Camino on steroids) for the next two weeks.

Quick note about today...we are staying in the ¨Albergue of Jesus¨, and this place is like Heaven. Swimming pool, big lawn, lifeguard chair atop Noah´s Ark (there´s seriously a big wooden boat you can crawl into so I´ve been herding up animals just in case), and we even get to sleep outside.

Loving Spain. Love you mom and dad.

Casey

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Larga y Fea (Long and Ugly)

We just finished our longest hike of the entire camino: 37 long, hot kilometers (23 miles). We started at 5:45 and didn´t finish until 2:00, 2:45 for the latest group. The Camino guide book we have described today´s hike as "larga y fea," which was not very beneficial for team moral. But we also had a good laugh about the book´s comments. The other day, the title was ¨muchas opciones, ninguna buena¨ (¨many options, none of them good¨). So we finished today´s hike successfully, although slightly dehydrated and very tired.

keep the comments coming

It seems like I can´t stop blogging these days. I just wanted to let those of you reading that we love to read the comments. They are a fun way to hear from our fans back home. So keep them coming. On a similar note, please understand that we can´t always get to a computer everyday, so if we are absent a day or two (or more), don´t worry, we haven´t forgotten about you all. Sometimes the lines for a computer are long, the computers are broken, or the albergues don´t have Internet.

A Look at the Bikers

Though we have opted to walk the Camino, many pilgrims chose to complete the journey on bicycle. I can honestly say that this is an honorable feat. Though you move at a faster pace, biking the Camino is much more intense physically than walking it. Personally, I know that my legs could not pedal up the rocky slopes without rolling back down again.

So, as these admirable, athletic souls pass me by on the Camino, and call out the friendly greeting ,¨Buen Camino!¨ why do I have a sudden urge to reply with the finger?

Now don´t get me wrong. I wouldn´t actually flip a fellow perigrino the bird. I politely reciprocate, ¨Hola, buen camino!¨ But nevertheless, the feeling is there, and the time has come to look at why. Sometimes you don´t hear a biker coming up from behind you. You realize they´re there when they either ring their little bell, or someone yells out, ¨Guys, bikers!¨. Once you know of their presence, you´re not sure which side they´re coming up on, so there´s a moment where you look back to try and figure out which way to scoot. By that time they´ve zipped passed you, missing you by an inch. They basically disturb the peace. And often they genuinely scare you. Then again, maybe we just have a twinge of jealousy that they are going to have their next cafe con leche much, much sooner than we are. Either way, it is interesting that the most prominent divide among pilgrims is not one of race, class, gender, or age, but one of bicycle or foot.

Hasta pronto.
Caryn

37 down, 380 to go

We made it, 37k, 380 to go. Today was one of our toughest days, but everybody made it in pretty good shape. I think we all added to our blister collection a bit and we will sleep a bit harder tonight, yet we can all go to bed feeling great about what we just accomplished today. I am amazed with everybody in the group and their ability to walk so far every day in such good spirits. Sometimes I worry that the idea to walk so far in such a short amount of time is crazy; then, I see 60 year-old French people who are able to keep up perfectly with us and sometimes arrive before us. Tomorrow we reach Leon, the city where we started with the first group we took. I find that reassuring somehow. I feel like it is downhill from there.

Friday, July 14, 2006

The Products of Spain

I´m telling you this in confidence. I´m going to make it big one day, you know. I´ll tell you how, but don´t go stealing my ideas.

Alright. So there are some products here in España that we need in the States. I know there must be a way that I can make that happen and cash in. Our Danish friends, Peter and Markus told me that in Denmark they have a little store that sells American products, and it´s the only place they can get root beer. I told them how to make a float. In any case, I plan to do a little importing myself, and I´m going to start with these products:

Principes. Perhaps someone has already blogged about these little edibles from heaven, and if so, I apologize for being repetative. Principes are circular sandwich cookies composed of two light, crispy, buttery slabs of goodness filled with chocolate creamy creaminess. No American elven could make these puppies in some silly tree! They come in a roll wrapped in blue plastic, with a picture of a little cartoon prince on it. They cost a Euro or less and are a simply fabulous snack after 20 K or so. But then again, just about anything is simply fabulous after 20 K, so that is a bad example. But trust me, they´re the best!

KAS. The slogan is, ¨Bebe KAS y nada mas¨. That is, ¨Drink KAS and nothing else¨. Oh KAS, why would I bebe any beverage that is not your fizzy fizziness of refreshment? KAS is a fruity soda in Naranja (orange) or Limon (figure it out). I prefer limon, personally. It´s like lemonade with the perfect proportion of carbonation. Delicious!

Maxibon. A product of Nestle. Half ice cream bar, half ice cream sandwich. You hold on to the sandwich part and eat the bar part first. Hello, America! Where is Maxibon?

Hasta Luego.

Caryn (future business woman)


Chapter 8: Mental Preparation

Tomorrow marks what can arguably be called the most intimidating day of the camino. 37 kms. When called upon earlier this evening by Andy to sum up the thoughts of the team I decided to bypass the trepidation and uncertainty that accompanies thoughts of tomorrow in our minds, instead claiming that the team was ready and willing to take tomorrow head on. Of course I quickly received reactions from my fellow teammates denying this summary but it helps for me to think that we will show all 37 kilometers of the camino no mercy tomorrow. This way when we finish it can be said that we knew all along that we´d get through it in tact and unscathed. Putting blisters, body aches, persistent sun exposure, and the extra weight of the backpacks out of our heads for eight hours tomorrow and narrowing in on our will to finish the day is key. In the (paraphrased) words of Coach Casey the camino experience thus far has only been preparation for tomorrow, thus we have no reason to dread it. Mind over matter...

time to blog

Recently I was asked by one of our readers why I don´t post. The answer is pretty simple: time. A typical day for us starts at 5.30am. Most of you reading probably can´t remember the last time your kid got up that early. Here on the Camino we do it most every day. Today we were lucky and got to sleep until 6.30. This is to keep us from walking in the heat. Right now we are in the middle of one of the hottest parts of Spain, so finishing before 1.00 is our goal. When we arrive, some of us take a small nap and wash clothes before lunch at 2.00. Sometimes lunch can be a two-hour affair. We need to organize a couple of people to go to the grocery store and prepare food for 13 people. After lunch another nap is usually an order. Right now our bodies are not worn out from any one day of walking, but rather an accumulation of days--something that we have been warning the students from the beginning. After a nap, we check out the towns we are in, which often involves a visit to the local medieval monastery or church.
If Andy and I didn´t work on some of the logistics earlier in the day, it gets done in the afternoon usually when students are still asleep. In general, we have to work through two types of planning: expected and unexpected. We review the route we are going to walk, what we are going to eat and where we are going to stay for the next day. Sometimes that includes a few phone calls to reserve albergues if possible. Then there are the unexpected logistics, which might include any of the following: getting a sick student to a clinic, finding alternative lodging if an albergue is no longer open or likely to be full,and making sure all the students are doing ok in terms of cultural adaptation. Some days the planning takes thirty minutes, most days it takes an hour or two, on bad days it has taken up to four hours. Sometimes we do tag-team work: one person works on one thing, while the other works on something else. We´ve become a very efficient team.
By the time that gets done, it is usually dinner time. We tend to eat at around 8.00, but have eaten as late as 9.00, due to the limited space in the albergues--there isn´t room for everybody to eat at the same time. After dinner most of us head to bed. Some of us spend some time on our feet making sure that our blisters are properly cared for. By 10.00pm most of us are asleep.
Today, being such a short day has been a luxury. Today I found a bit of time to blog and shoot off some emails. Yet it is already 7.00 in the evening and I still need to get to the pharmacy before dinner time, get my clothes off the line,try to call my mom (it´s her birthday today) and do some journaling. In what seems to be such a bucholic life out here in in the Spanish countryside, days seem to fly by.

Four Requests from a Catholic Priest

Back in Los Arcos (this was over a week ago but it´s been a long time since we´ve had regular Internet) five of us went to one of the many peregrino blessings at the local church. These blessings are just a short 30 minute service and are available at almost every town along the Camino. The priest spoke very clearly, and I was surprised how much I understood. At the end, the priest invited all the peregrinos forward. He had four requests:

1. Pray for peace in the world.
2. Pray for the priests in the Catholic church.
3. Pray for the sick.
4. When you get to Santiago de Compastela, give the statue of Santiago a hug on behalf of the priest of Los Arcos.

I´ve already done the first three, and I´m not going to forget the last.

perplexed in oh so many ways

although today is not listed on the itinerary as a rest day, it sure feels like one. after sleeping in until 7am, we hiked a mere 15km, arriving in our destination around 10:30, and waiting for tomorrow to begin. one of the many reasons i feel so perplexed is i do not fully understand our logic behind our choice in towns tonight. i understand we are in a large town, with internet and a grocery store--all of which are huge benefits--but now tomorrow we face the daunting task of hiking 37km.

we all feel intimidated by this task, and are handling it in our own individual ways. personally, i plan to spend a solid amount of time alone today, meditating and reflecting in preparation for what is sure to be our most challenging day yet. we have had a stroke of good luck the past few days with the weather, and can only pray that it holds out for us tomorrow. if not, well, either way we will pull through.

as far as being perplexed in the other ways, ive found myself hiking solo lately, grooving to the meditative trance of the trail, asking questions of myself i´ve feared to ask for so long, and finding few answers except that the answers do not exist. in the end, there is nothing left to do but keep on keepin´on...

... ain´t no time to hate, barely time to wait...

perry

Camino Concert

So I feel kind of wierd when my blogs occur twice in a row without interuption, but I am going to go ahead and post anyway. Last night was an amazing experience as a whole. After speaking with my two older Spanish friends for some time about their itinerary as well as my own, it began to hit me that these kind men might be the next fallen pilgrims on my list. This probably hit me harder than any other loss so far because these men have really shared a lot with me and are so patient and understanding with my broken spanish mumbo-jumbo. In any event, I asked them if I could have a picture with them, and then some of our film students asked if I would interview these men about their Camino experience in case we were unable to catch them in the future. The interview errupted into another hour long conversation, and soon after all of the pilgrims gathered around a Brazilian who had brought out a guitar. Music.... a language known in all nations. So the guitar was passed all night, even myself and some fellow group members contributed a little to the evening. When I was going to bed, I gave one of my Spanish friends a hug goodbye and he gave me the double cheek kiss. It was a great night, and I´m sure there will be many more to come. Love you Mom and Dad.

Casey

Thursday, July 13, 2006

El Camino

The Camino is a cruel mistress who leaves you cold and shivering in the night. When the painful chil is at its worst, you pull the covers to find comfort, even an ounce of warmth. But pull and pull as you may, nothing dulls the bite. Cloth can never cover the scars.....

Haha so I am completely kidding about that whole dark Camino thing. Don´t worry parents we are really having a great time. But now that you´ve seen my dark side, I might even show a little sensitivety. My real blog is about losing fellow peregrinos along the trail. It may seem a little bit rediculous, but I honestly find myself missing some of the pilgrims who have fallen a day or two behind or have raced a day or two ahead. I often find myself thinking about these individuals along the trail and wondering if we might somehow meet again along the trail. Only time will tell. But in the meantime, we are all trying to play nice and make new friends. Love you Mom and Dad.

Casey

"The Long Un-winding Road" (ba ba...)

So we just finished an extrodinarily straight, flat, and dry hike today, and I think we´re all getting pretty accustomed to the 27 km day as a (metaphorically speaking) comfortable average. Long gone are the two-group, different starting time days, and I´m definitely glad to be able to move in and out of the larger group as I choose. Also, being in less than spectacular terrain has pushed me into some really worthwhile conversations with my fellow pilgrims. Thus far my experience has been very profound, and I´m continually amazed by the things I have always pondered but finally have time to think and discuss thoroughly. It definitely strikes me as ironic that my most powerful experiences have revolved around thinking and talking about my life from home given that I came all the way toSpain to do it, but I think there is something to be said about distanced reflection. Anyway, Spain is amazing and I definitely feel like I´m ´soaking it in,´something I don´t think I´ve ever truly done in a foreign country. I send my love to you all.

P.S. - the title is a pun (think Beatles) that Paul has just informed me is not self-evident.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Futbol de naranja

A few days ago we were in Belorado, a fairly large town compared to our recent stops, and were hanging around the Plaza during our daily playtime -- between lunch and dinner. After having cafe con leche and beer in a small bar and catching a bit of the Tour de France, we found ourselves in a small toy store. Admittedly, we overwhelmed the two-aisle place stocked with every kind of toy you could ever want, or not want, and let our loud English flow as we found all sorts of things we used to play with or were considering buying. Then we saw it: Our futbol de naranja. It was bright orange, thin rubber and cost only 1,85 Euro. He was the perfect buy. We threw together 50 cent, 20 cent, 2 cent coins and a peregrino from Ohio, who was also in the store, even offered to pitch in some money. We took our new futbol out into the Plaza and immediately began a small pickup game with a few other peregrinos. Later, a two-year-old Spanish girl named Victoria came over to our group as we sat in the Plaza and she and I had a fun, wordless (except for frequent shouts of ¨Yay!!¨) game of catch... rather, kick and I fetch. It was great. The next day, our futbol de naranja was nearly forgotten under a bunk bed but Ryan the Tried and True remembered him and managed to find room in his pack for the ball. That day we arrived in San Juan de Ortega, a tiny community with only the albergue, a church, a bar and a couple houses to speak of. The futbol came out right after our post-lunch nap and a large game of pickup was quickly underway. Aside from many from our group, other players were Peter and Markus from Denmark, Phil from Zimbabwe, David and Tomas perhaps from Spain? (someone correct me if I´m wrong), and Will who was probably our best player. A few othere peregrinos were transient players, as they walked by on their way to or from the bar. Both Spanish and English were used as we strugged to score on the other team. Water bottles formed the sides of our goals and we took breaks to drink from them as the sun beat down on us. We made a number of great friends that day, and I feel really fortunate that we had our futbol de naranja to get us yelling in Spanish, learning names, making mistakes together (I fell in the gravel and am generally a bad soccer player all around!), but also celebrating when we scored. Not knowing any Spanish, it is these kind of situations that make me feel really accepted when I can´t verbally make connections with people. All through a little futbol de naranja.

Chapter 7: Just Over that Ridge

A couple of days ago I experienced what was arguably the most testing day thus far on the camino that furthur challenges the first day as the hardest. It was around 93 degrees and the trail provided no shade, the sky no shield from an unrelenting sun. The landscape was less than inspiring for 29 km with wheat fields as far as the eye could see. Each step seemed to progressively sap more and more energy as the day got hotter and hotter. The hardly picturesque landscape was accentuated by taunting ridges that accompanied the better part of the last half of our walk. Approaching the horizon exhausted and in real danger of dehydration we were sure that the town was over the next ridge. To our disappointment it wasn´t. This happened on no fewer than four separate occasions causing inevitable frustration with the camino and with ourselves. When we finally reached town the crew breathed a collective sigh of relief as the frustration eventually turned into a universal sense of accomplishment upon realization that the day was finally over. Witnessing this day transpire is something that I will most certainly never forget as it demonstrated the amazing strength of the human will. Another revelation of the camino...

A Wrestler´s Focus

So these last couple of day´s have been somewhat painful (but luckily I feel as if everyday is getting better ad better). When we arrived in Burgos the other day, my left shin was feeling destroyed. Something told me that, having been caused by walking in the first place, this wasn´t the kind of thing in which I could ¨just walk it off.¨ The next morning, I was in serious, serious pain. Funny enough, I found myself rehearsing my routine before a tough wrestling match. I just tried to calm myself and focus completely upon the task ahead. Many of the thought´s my dad had shared with me in the past during wrestling practices sprang to the surface.....¨Any one can work hard when they are feeling good. But the true measure of a man is the amount of adversity it takes to discourage him when he isn´t feeling at his best.¨ So I walked slow, put one foot in front of the other, and eventually I made it to the next town. Along the way, Annie, Alec, and Kate stuck with me as I hobbled like an old man.....I am so very grateful. But shin splints won´t slow me down and I am still having the time of my life.
On a lighter note, I won the FIFA World Cup Challenge against kate, and she will therefore be my back/foot massage slave for the next couple of days. As you can imagine, I´m pretty excited but I feel really bad for Kate because my feet have a terrible and inescapable stench. Bueno Suerte Chica!
Mom I sent you a postcard today, and I might even call soon. I love and miss you.

adios madrid

yes, i know we left madrid about two weeks ago, but madrid never did much for me. this adios is directed to my wonderful madrid friends who left us two days ago in burgos. if any of you are reading this, it was poliorgasmico to chill with all of you!!

on another note, we have finished what is considered the most physically challenging part of the camino. in its wake, are group is battered, but not nearly close to beaten. now we have begun the mental challenge of hiking about 30km a day through landscape similar to kansas. everyday is nothing but a barren wasteland of corn and wheatfields, with nothing in sight but boredom for miles and miles.

although the first day we faced harsh conditions with the temperature reaching close to 95 degrees and hiking around 33km, since then, it has not been nearly as bad. in fact, i´ve finally been able to find the solitude i´ve been seeking this entire trip. although it can be mildly depressing to see nothing but wheat fields for miles, if you pause and listen to the wind rustling through the stalks, it sounds like a mother whispering to her troubled baby.

enjoying spanish kansas,

perry

Friday, July 07, 2006

Pictures






These are some pictures that I have taken along the way, hope they add some visual to your imaginations. And the first picture is taken on Kate´s birthday, proving that we did not forget to hold a celebrations for her!

the hungry hungry kate (a meaty story)

on the first day the hungry hungry Kate only ate veggies. on the second day she ate through one whole slice of turkey. on the third day she at through two slices of chopped up animal sausage. on the forth day she ate through three hunks of chicken skin. on the fifth day she ate through a slab of fried baby cow. on the sixth day she ate through the check of a cow. on the seventh day she crawled up inside her bunk and in the morning she blossomed into a beautiful carniverous butterfly. the end.

GIEU Camino de Santiago 2006

So this morning I really wanted a bocodillo or sandwhich along the trail. I asked if they had them at this little bar and was dissapointed to realize that I would go hungry. But then the kind lady informed me that there were indeed bocodillos at a different location as she pointed me in the right direction. I walked into this little dining area with only two women, and kindly asked for a bocodillo. After kind of a strange look, the two women ran to the store for bread, made me a delicous tortilla, churiso, and queso bocodillo and offered me a pitcher of water. It was about this time that I realized there was no cash register at the place. A little wierd. Near the completion of my meal, the generous women brought over a plate labeled donations. It was about this time I realized that I had entered the dining hall orf a local albergue, not a bar or restaraunt at all. I left a nice donation and thanked the women for their generosity. I later learned that the kind woman from the first bar had actually told me to walk around the highway to a different place. I felt a little dumb, but I was also overwhelmed to realize the generosity the two women had offered me when I stumbled in and interupted their coffee break. The people here have hearts of gold. Love you Mom and Dad.
Casey

what goes around, comes around

i should have known better than to constantly jest at my fellow peregrinos regarding their blisters and my lack of. today while walking, i realized that although my feet may be indestructible, my shins are not. and so, i have come down with the first case of shin splints in the group.

they are not terrible, a frusteration more than aynthing else. i am slow and in pain in the initial hour, but then a sprinter in good spirits for the rest of the hike. hopefully they will not continue to worsen as we are only 11 days in.

if anyone out there has any interest, i have posted many of my pictures online. you can check them out here under the eurotrip part 1 album.

Perry

Thursday, July 06, 2006

So I hate to disappoint, but my goal of adding pictures with every post has been precluded by the technology readily available... Lo Siento. With that out of the way, on to a brief recap of the past days. By far my most memorable moment was my encounter with a local motorist who decided the best way to get around was to hit full throttle on a small dirt road for pilgrims. I, `perhaps unsurprisingly, was lost in my own head when I heard what sounded to be a weedwacker on wheels quickly approaching. One step left, one step right, and our motorist friend made contact (with mostly my backpack..she was coming from behind), flew off the road, into the shrubbery, and made herself comfortable in the fetal position. Upon reflection, I think she must have hit me with her handlebars, deflecting driver, scooter, and a whole bunch of momentum into the bushes.
Needless to say she was not in the best spirits upon coming to, but I was definitely surprised by how displeased she was. After refusing my help in every way, she embarked upòn a expletive-rife tirade explaining to my that it was my fault for failing to choose a side. Given the more than generous time she alloted me with her speed (about 2 seconds) I was eager to calmly explain to her that she had just hit me from behind at a high speed with her scooter on a dirt path for pilgrims. Needless to say my spainish did not allow such an explanation. Luckily my companion Andy supplied her with an adequately passionate substitute.
Anyway, we were both fine in the end. There is much more to say about the days past, but I must go.
Peace

My Rant

So here is a quick rant on some of the events of the past 2 days. 4th of July was rather uneventful. I missed watching the fireworks with my family out on the Lake but I did manage to sing every single American Patriotic song I know to keep the American spirit alive alond the Camino. Yesterday we also got to swim for free, too bad it was the only rainy day we have had the entire time here and after swimming in the freezing pool the showers were just as cold. Oh well, I´m not going to complain about free swimming. Anyway, I was praying for a little bit of cold last night as I lay in bed sweating and desperately trying to fall asleep.
Today was a shorter day- We got into town around 11:30 , and Chun, Andy, and I cooked lunch. Chun is quite the chef. I would work for that man any day. We also toured a church here in Santa Domingo, and I was fascinated. Having taken a couple of art history clñasses, I foulnd a lot of the material absolutely stunning. The symbolism behind the work is what really gets me fired up.
It was Kates birthday today ánd we just finished our celebration. It was a blast. I´m having such a great time here, and I´m so grateful for this opportunity. Without the Camino I may never have met any of these amazing people, and I already feel like I´m creating some friendships that will last. Sorry for the rant. We are having a blast in Spain. Love you Mom and Dad.
Casey

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Chapter 5: The Great Band-Aid Debate and the 28K Day

Today saw the group walking 28 kms in the persistent sun to the city of Logrono. Each day we find newer and better ways to pass the time and I can honestly say that we are becoming more and more efficient at it. As it would happen in any conversation initiated by me, today Allie, Holly, Perry, Ti, and Annie, challenged me in an intense debate about brand names used as product names. I got myself into this mess by correcting Caryn last night when she said she needed band-aids. I implored that she call them bandages because band-aid is a brand name not the product name. Long story short the group grilled me on this conviction and at the end of it all I found that arguing issues that challenge common human practices (like calling facial tissue kleenex) is something that one can come under fire for if not careful. The lessons of the Camino...

Songs and MORE songs

It is a long walk from Estella to Longrono. But I did not fear the long and arduous journey because I knew there was a group of highly talented singers with me to lighten the trip. The main singers, Casey and Kate, Oh their wonderful duets on Les Mes. While the rest of the ¨singers¨ ( Alec, Allie and myself ) tries our best to contribute. Before we knew it, we were already at the gates of Longrono.

Sad 4th of July...

So as if not having my delicious barbeque isn't enough....THERE'S NO EL CORTES INGLES HERE! I'm soooo sad! :-( I was really looking forward to this. I just don't understand. I saw the signs miles away from here saying El Cortes Ingles this way...and I even SAW it while I was walking! It's like it disappeared into thin air! But it's okay...I guess. I did enjoy my time in Pamplona when I got to see a wonderful African group perform. I wanted to dance but my knees told me NO! I do talk to my body often to make sure it still loves me after all I have put it through...and it does! I loved the food we ate yesterday in Los Arcos...some pork loin, patatas fritas, and some sandia (watermelon). I had a pretty nasty fall today on another note. My shoelace came off the hook of my boot and I slowly saw myself fall in sloooowww motion. My hand doesn't like me very much right now...(it told me so)...but it will get over it. I told it I will make it up to it. I do miss my family and friends and hope to see you all soon. Continue to pray for my strength and endurance because this hot sun is not very nice during 20 miles of walking! Love y'all. Muah!

happy 4th

Last July 4th I was setting off (and dodging) fireworks in northwest Montana. This July 4th I will probably be asleep before it even gets dark. My body aches, my mind barren of any intelligible thoughts, and I can barely muster teh energy to write. As luck would have it, the sun has disappeared behind the clouds for the tiem being... of course, this was not the case today as it whipped our skin (and my spirits) in the open plains between wherever we were last night and Logrono. Ahh, how I wish the world would pause just for a moment so I may catch my breath...

As my Madrid friends would say whom I seem to meet up with at the end of every day of walking (but their grandmothers would never dare say): Cojon!!

Naps Are Amazing

So today was only my second nap of the entire Camino. This said, today ranked in the top two of my favorite days on the Camino. I´m glad to see that Allie has already to cleaverly posted about the question game. The funny thing is that after you have played the game for an hour or so, your mind only thinks in questions, and it takes some time before you can function as a competent human being once again.
All in all, today was a great hike. At one point we stopped tomake ¨bocodillos¨with cheese and tomatoes, and we washed them down with mini ice cream bars we found at the supermarket. I had been waiting in line for like 20 minutes to get some cheese from the deli and all of these old spanish woman were jumping in front of me and getting helped. I was so confused because I was sure the woman behind the counter saw me( I was atleast a foot taller than most of these women). Finally, one of these women asked me if I had taken a number.............I had not. I was a little frusterated until all of these sweet grandmothers conferred and decided that I could order next. So my thanks to las abuelas de espana.
Also along the trail I saw a man I had met a day before who had been involved in a car accident and was in a coma for six months. We talked the other day about how his doctor told him he should no longer smaoke, but he does not listen. If you heard him breathe, you would know this is good medical advise. To make a long story short, yesterday he told me he was done smoking and today I saw him smoking undr a tree. So I stopped to scold him in Spanish. What a day. Now I´m off on a tour of logrono and I´m going to Corte Ingles to purchase more bandades. Love you Mom and Dad.
Casey

What is The Question Game?

How do you stay entertained during a seven hour hike across the Spanish countryside? Is it possible to be distracted from thoughts of aching feet and greasy sunscreened arms? What if we played a game in which everyone has to ask only questions? Don´t they play something like that on Whose Line Is It Anyway? Which order should everyone go in? What are the criteria for a question to be valid? Shouldn´t the questions have to be related to the question asked by the previous person? What if someone goes out of turn accidentally? What if we play it like ¨HORSE¨, where you get a letter for every mistake you make? Could this be fun? How long could we play for? Would we start asking silly questions like ¨Don´t you hate it when old ladies call hot dogs weiners?¨ and ¨What is the meaning of life?¨ Doesn´t this sound like fun?

The Fountain of Wine

Something new is always happening on the Camino, and Estella was no exception. On the route out of town is the famous Fountain of Wine. If you don´t believe me, go to www.irache.com and watch the live webcam. A group of us started out early from the Albergue, but Andy was on a torrid pace. How could he possibly maintain this speed for 22 kilometers? None of us could keep up, and he was out of site in no time. But about 15 minutes later, there he was enjoying himself at La Fuente de Vino. The moral of the story: anyone can walk fast; you just need a little motivation.

Monday, July 03, 2006

Pablo el matamoscos

Once upon a time there was a terrible fly infestation within the walls of the quaint little pueblo known to the locals only as Los Arcos. It is in this pueblo in which our story begins. After years of struggles to overcome the tenacious beasts roaming the streets, the people of los arcos finally realized that if they were going to have any peace during thier albergue naps they were going to have to call in a professional. But where could they turn? What mighty worrior could overcome this ancient foe? Just when all hope seemed lost, a night in shining hiking clothes and a kickin backpack gallantly strode into town along with his loyal worshipers. Of what mighty worrior do I speak? Pablo el matamoscos, aka Paul the killer of the flies. Upon hearing the plight of the towns folk, Pablo took a little break from the events of the world cup which often dominate his attention and bagan his ferocious assault. The flies fled in fear, but none were quick enough to escape the deadly hands of the fly killer. I shall spare you the details, but you must no that none were spared, and death was intantanious. In the end, the people of Los Arcos prased Pablo el matamoscos, and his fellow pelegrinos slept in peace. And they all lived happily ever after.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Pleasure to the Ears

The time was five fifty in the morning, when everybody was still sleeping from the previous night of partying. And in the albergue in a small town of Puente La Rena, pilgrims are already readying themselves for another day of walking. I am just one of them. But this morning was a little different. Just as Kate, Perry, Paul and myself approach the outskirts of the town planning to start our little journey, we came across a group of choir preparing to sing. It was of pure coincidence that we met them, but it was a blessing anyways. Their voices were beautiful and the song clear. I was awakened and freshened. It was a good walk.

The Minister´s Cat

The other day we played a word game while walking called ¨The Minister´s Cat¨. What this game entails is using a letter such as ¨a¨ and going around the group thinking up adjectives beginning with the letter to describe this cat. They do not, however, actually have to describe a cat. So. Let´s say it´s my turn. I go, ¨Acrobatic¨. Then Ryan´s like, ¨Ample¨. Casey goes, ¨Agile¨. Kate: Ailing. Ti: Acidic. Chun Yi: Afluent. Etc, etc. This entertained us for about an hour (not bad, right?), though we exhausted the game before reaching ¨b¨.

Chapter 4: Toughest Day (D)one (revisited)?

The last two days saw us walking from Pamplona to Puenta de Reina and from Puenta de Reina to Estella. According to Andy´s handy Camino book these days had difficulty ratings of two boots and one boot respectively. The first day warranted a three boot rating. However, as I was walking today and felt the hot sun burning in a cloudless sky and my legs beginning to feel the wear of a daily 20+ kilometers I was totally covinced that these days were harder. But aside from tired legs and a persistenly sore shoulder I´m still in pretty good shape and find myself thinking thoughts more and more interesting each day. There is no better meditation than walking...

Socks and Soccer

Old news, but a pair of my socks was stolen back in Roncesvalles. They disappeared after a load of laundry.

We´ve been watching some of the World Cup matches in the local bars, and each one has gone to a shootout. Casey and Kate have a series of bets going; each picks a team and the winner gets a back massage. Casey is up 4 to 2.

The weather here has been extremely hot. I haven´t seen anything official, but it´s probably somewhere between 90 and 100 during the afternoon. Yesterday knocked everyone out, and we were all napping after lunch. The only way to beat the heat is to start really early at 5:45 or 6:00.

We´ve met all kinds of great people here. Everyone is doing basically the same thing and moving at about the same speed. There are two brother from Ireland here that bring a lot of great energy and excitement to the albergues. Other peregrinos come from Hungary, Australia, Canada, Italy, and many more. The diversity is extraordinary.

Today We Entered The Mountains

Just kidding with the title there. That was a shout out to my man Mike who had to leave the Camino early to research for his dissertation. We miss you here Mike. In reality, today was only a one boot day based upon the three boot scale with which we have become familiar. I don´t really have anything exciting to report today. Kind of a dull day on the trail, but I do suspect that tonight should be an interesting snore fest based on the large room packed full of peregrinos in which we will be sleeping. One interesting thought that passed through my mind today was the little things that somehow remind you of home. Here´s the story: Any loses the ¨foot-like¨end to her walking stick in a mud puddle as she pòle vaults across. We start digging through the mud on hands and knees. We are unsuccessful. We all smell like muck. So my family lived on a canal for a long time and that muck smell was with me all day long, dragging back old memories from that house and the countless times I left the water marred by the stench. So to the family, I´ll have you know that I was thinking about you all day long and I miss all of you. Love you.
Casey

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Dr. Allie

So I´m pretty sure Allie is the next up-and-coming surgeon. I´m basing this assumption on 3 important observations: 1. Her absolute fascination with the blister situation which seemed to dominate our evenings last night 2. Her stringent attempts to maintain a sterile environment at all times (something which is never a top priority in my book) 3 Her willingness to dive into a new and smelly situation like grabbing the foot of a smelly 200 pound peligrino and not letting go until the proper medical care had been provided. In short, we should all be investing in this young woman´s future. I have set up an account in which donations can be collected. Simply make checks payable to Casey Emerson Joseph White...... no but seriously she the next up-and-coming thing so chech her out. In any event, the blister situation is under control, my thanks go out to Andy for the needle and thread suggestion........it is so amazing becasue it keeps you from having to drain the blister over and over throughout the day. Sounds wierd but really works.
Tried to take a nap today but the flies were all over me. I felt like a horse (I must smell that delicious). So instead i´m up meeting some people from all over the world and getting ready to leave to watch the soccer game. I feel like this is an interesting part of the camino because we are starting to form some genuine friendships with certain groups and individuals whom we seem to meet up with every other day or so. It´s been a great ride so far, so let´s keep the good times rolling. Love you Mom and Dad.
Casey