Posted by: knitknigel | July 18, 2009

The Path Leads Ever On

My camino is now memory. It was a wonderful experience and looking back from here, even though I still have evidence one month later of my blisters, I think how much I enjoyed the walk. Taking the opportunity to knit my socks on the way makes the trip that much more memorable. Not least is the fact that these socks have a knitted scallop shell, an important symbol of the Camino. Now I have a pair of socks that, when I wear them, will remind me of all the wonderful people I met and all the photograph albums I’m going to be in.

(Click on a photo to enlarge your view. All photos by my husband Geordie Facey.)

Camino Socks

Camino Socks

relaxed

relaxed

Comfortable pose

Comfortable pose

But others are losing their memories. Alzheimers disease is robbing them of the memories they had stored over the years, leaving them shells of their former selves. I’ve experienced it first hand with my husband’s mother Ruby who over the last 10 years of her life slowly but surely lost all memory of her life. It was a sad experience, and one that many many people experience as loved family members sink into that difficult netherworld.

Alzheimers societies around the world are an important part of the support network that exists to help those afflicted with this disease and their families as they learn to deal with the complex changes which their loved ones experience. They also support research that works to discover treatments that alleviate some of the symptoms, and one day they hope to discover enough to eradicate the disease. It’s a long difficult road but it is being walked by dedicated scientists, doctors, practitioners and caregivers.

It is for this reason that I write this latest entry in my blog. Over the course of my walk on the Camino de Santiago I was thrilled to have family, old friends and new friends make donations to AlzheimersBC to support their efforts to make inroads into support and treatment of Alzheimers.

I’m asking those of you who have not made a donation to consider making one now. Just look at the right sidebar of this blog and you will see the link to Sponsor Me on my Journey. Yes, my journey is over, but the work to eradicate Alzheimers is ongoing. It’s a path that people walk every day.

Recently a friend recommended a wonderful book which recounts the experiences of one woman on her journey into Alzheimers. Still Alice by Lisa Genova. It is unusual in that it is a first person experience. Alice herself narrates this story; not her family, not her doctors, but Alice’s own voice is the star here. We get to experience with Alice her losses, but also her great strength as a human being, a woman who has given much to the world and now finds herself losing the things that made her who she is. For those of you who have not had direct experience of the devastating effects of Alzheimers disease, this will give you great insight.

If you donate through my site you are donating to AlzheimersBC in Canada. Some of you may wish to donate to an Alzheimers society in your own province or country. I encourage you to do so. If you can, please make a note that your donation was inspired by my blog – http://www.knittingthecamino.wordpress.com. I would also appreciate it if you made a comment on my blog letting me know that you have made a donation.

Although it is difficult to include the donation sites for every Alzheimers group around the world, I have linked here to some of the sites for English speaking countries. A simple search on your favourite search engine will find the society in your own country. Please consider making a donation wherever you wish.

AlzheimersAustralia
AlzheimersCanada
AlzheimersUK
AlzheimersNewZealand
AlzheimersUSA

To get back to my journey and my knitting, I will leave you with this. Research has shown that both regular exercise and working with tasks such as knitting, allow our brains and bodies to stave off the potential for Alzheimers. So get out your knitting needles, knit yourself some socks and go on a long walk.

A little detail of the sock gusset

A little detail of the sock gusset

Tree Pose. Namaste.

Tree Pose. Namaste.

Ultreia!

Posted by: knitknigel | June 12, 2009

¡Buen Camino!

The Camino called and I answered. Since the last time I walked the Camino de Santiago I have wanted to walk it again. Alone. Geordie and I walked it together in 2004 and we loved it even though I had major blisters, which I kept walking on thanks to the miracles of modern science and Ibuprofen! But the call to walk it alone was there. Geordie has walked parts of the Camino by himself at least three times, and I wanted that experience too, just me and the path.

And now I´ve done it – or at least part of it. What an amazing experience. The opportunity to spend time with oneself is a special experience. Hours walking with only passing Buen Caminos from the other people on the way. That translates as “Good Way” but in fact the idea is untranslatable. It only works in Spanish, I think. It expresses the camaraderie, the challenge, the dream of the camino – to walk a route that has been walked for centuries by millions of people, all walking toward the life ahead.

I felt the emotion as I began my first steps from St. Jean Pied de Port,

The beginning

The beginning

soon overwhelmed by the challenge of “Breakneck Hill” – the steep climb up to Refuge d’Orisson. There I met the first of the people with whom I would be walking over the next several weeks. People I would see again, five weeks later in Santiago de Compostela.

Along the way, I had the opportunity to meet people from all over the world – Korea, New Zealand, Australia, Denmark, France – the list goes on, but all of them were wonderful companions of an evening at the albergues as we ate, talked, and slept together in huge dorm rooms with snorers like me filling the air with night sounds. (I had great ear plugs so always slept well.)

Dinner with friends

Dinner with friends

I also was an attraction of my own accord. My socks and my knitting drew lots of interested people. I have a feeling I am in more photo pages than any other person on this particular camino. And everyone was so complimentary of my scallop shell socks – “un artista”, they said.

My sock on the Alto del Perdon

My sock on the Alto del Perdon

The finished sock - with scallop shell

The finished sock - with scallop shell


And I had conversations too about my fundraising plans. Everyone had a story to tell, about a mother, or an aunt or a friend of the family who had suffered with Alzheimers. These stories only confirmed for me the importance of supporting the research that health professionals are doing to discover ways of preventing the disease and the sufffering it causes. As well, the money supports people who provide help to caregivers, those loving people who give of themselves to give their loved family members the dignity they deserve as they live with the disease. And for me, it honours the members of my own family who have lived with the disease.

In the end, the Camino is a journey of self-support. I came to enjoy life on the road. I felt great joy when I arrived at a village where there was a café to speed one on of an early morning. I loved walking through the fields, the vineyards, the villages, the open road. I found myself singing and making up songs of my own. Not brilliant songs, but songs that lifted me up. As silly as it sounds, singing a song as I walked along kept me going, even when my feet were sore and my blisters aching.

I´m sure this song will go down in eternity – recording artists please request music.

“Happy as a lark, happy as a lark,
Happy as a lark in the morning,
Walking down the road, carryin´my load,
Happy as a lark in the morning!”

So the camino brought me joy. It brought me companions, it brought me love. To celebrate my arrival in Santiago, in the rain, with my compañeros was to celebrate life.

The arrival in Santiago

The arrival in Santiago

The Botafumeiro swings to celebrate the pilgrims

The Botafumeiro swings to celebrate the pilgrims


Thank you to everyone who shared the journey with me. Your cheer and support urged me on, your support of AlzheimersBC adds to the lives of others. Thanks especially to Geordie, my loving husband, who followed his own camino, who kept me going with our daily telephone calls, and who took care of me when my blisters insisted on overpowering my force of will.

Is there another camino? One of the first things Geordie said when we finally arrived in Santiago was that maybe this was our last walk. Two days later I mentioned that it might be interesting to walk the camino from Portugal and in an instant he was off on the idea, thinking about the route, considering a timeframe. He´s incorrigble, isn´t he? But, as he said very plainly – the next time we walk it together!

Everyone walks the camino everyday, I have come to realize. We build our memories as we walk in our daily lives, and we treasure them. We are the experiences we have had, and we are the fruit of the lives of those before us, and the seeds of hope of those ahead. My friends, you have been my journey, too. Thank you.

Gracias, y Buen Camino!

¡Ultreia, mis amigos, onward, my friends!
¡Ultreia!

Posted by: knitknigel | June 9, 2009

A Few Recent Pictures

Some future socks
Some future socks
And one who has recently donated fleece to the cause

And one who has recently donated fleece to the cause

And where the product ends up.

And where the product ends up.

 

A grateful message scrawled on a wall

A grateful message scrawled on a wall

Bread and Wine

Bread and Wine

With my walking poles, (for Jim)

With my walking poles, (for Jim)

The Butafumeiro (blurred because it´s moving)

The Butafumeiro (blurred because it´s moving)

Posted by: knitknigel | June 8, 2009

The Journey Completed

Oh, it´s such fun to wake up at 4:40AM to get ready for a little walk in the dark. But the seven of us peregrinos and peregrinas were ready for this, the last walk of our caminos. We didn´t quite get on the way at 5:00 AM as planned but we did get away at 5:45, after a lot of packing of bags in the dark. We even got to have a little coffee at that early hour because the albergue had a coffee machine that produced a little cup complete with stir spoon.

The first hour of our walk was both in the dark and on the highway. Our albergue was off the trail, so rather than go backwards and through the dark woods, we opted for the highway shortcut back to the camino. If I had been alone I might have missed the way, because it was at a place where the camino went under the road. But right at that point several other pilgrims walked out from under the overpass – perfect timing. But we did finally find a place for coffee after two long hours of walking, too.

Five of my compañeros

Five of my compañeros

The best part of today was that there was almost no rain. The walk did go through some sweet smelling eucalyptus forest, and there were singing birds to cheer us along, but for the last part of the walk, we arrived at the soulless Monte de Gozo (Mount of Joy) albergue area (it sleeps 1000 people) although it used to be the place where one could first see the spires of the Cathedral. We walked around the end of one of the airport runways (no planes roaring overhead though), and then through the modern outskirts of Santiago.

But nothing could dampen the joy of the first sign announcing that we were in Santiago. Five of us had stopped at Monte de Gozo and began to walk together into Santiago. And that´s also where the rain started, so along with the rain, there were tears of joy for the people who had walked the entire distance from Roncesvalles.

So in our big rain gear, we all walked the streets, till we reached the historic centre of Santiago, through an arch where a bagpiper was skirling his music to celebrate our arrival, and into the grand square of the Praza de Obradoiro, with the Cathedral, our final destination, rising majestically before us.

The goal of the Camino.

The goal of the Camino.

The group of five in front of the Cathedral

The group of five in front of the Cathedral

Again there were tears of joy for my friends, some of whom had walked this camino for special reasons. One, Rita, was celebrating the completion of her promise to walk the Camino after the successful treatment of her breast cancer. Hugging her, and all the others, kissing each other, and looking in awe at the spires brought the tears to my eyes too. What an amazing accomplishment!

And there were others in the plaza whom I´d been with over the weeks they and I were walking. Four French men who had begun their trip in Bordeaux, the young woman from New York, the two women from Germany who remembered that I usually flew by them with a cheery, Hello, girls as I went.

Some of my fellow Pilgrims. The three men walked 1300 km from Bordeaux.

Some of my fellow Pilgrims. The three men walked 1300 km from Bordeaux.

Geordie did not make it to the city in time for the Mass, but I called him from the square and celebrated my arrival with him. Then I went in when the doors opened at 11:00 AM and secured a seat for the mass. I took out my knitting, and got six rows knit during the hour that I waited for mass. The place was packed, as usual and the same nun I have seen at every pilgrim mass lead the congregation in practicing the songs that would be sung during the ceremony. Meanwhile others were down in the crypt to see the bones of the saint while others were up above the altar hugging the saint.

Santiago getting a good hug from a pilgrim.

Santiago getting a good hug from a pilgrim.

The priest started the ceremonies by announcing the arrival of pilgrims from all over the world.
We had been standing, but the priest stopped after reading a few names, and said, in Spanish, “You might want to sit down – it´s a long list!” Although I had not visited the pilgrim office yet, it was still exciting to hear that there were a number of Canadians who had arrived from St. Jean Pied de Port which was where I had started. All the while I held my knitting in my hands so that it could absorb the air of good feelings that I knew were permeating the Cathdedral.

Once the mass was over, I went out the doors of the cathedral and called Geordie on the cell. He was at the hotel, but had not even taken off his wet clothes, so he left immediately and within 5 minutes was in the square. I could see him coming in his big red poncho and went out to greet him with a hug and a kiss. But it was pouring rain, so we immediatly went back to the hotel where, I swear, after five minutes of undressing, I was in bed and asleep. It had been a tiring morning, and I needed the rest.

Geordie´s walking companions were not with him at the Cathdral when he arrived, but I met them in the evening and got a picture of the three of them at the Cathedral this morning.

Geordie, Andreas and Marlene

Geordie, Andreas and Marlene

In the evening, we went out for a well-deserved glass of wine, and then at 8:00 pm, the others I had walked with arrived so we could have our promised fiesta. It was great to see them, knowing that today they would all be heading off back to their homes. Rosa was going to drive with friends to Madrid, Rita was taking the train to Barcelona, Edouard and Maria fly off to Barcelona too, and Jacinto takes the bus there. And Hortensia will make her way back to Brazil.

What an amazing journey. There´s more to say, so I´ll write another blog soon. To be continued…

¿Ultreia, mis amigos! Onward my friends!

Posted by: knitknigel | June 6, 2009

The Mysteries of the Universe – Solved?

It´s amazing that on this, the penultimate day of the Camino for me, I walked almost entirely alone. I have a feeling that it was mainly because we stopped last night about 5 kilometers from the place where most people spend the night. That meant that all the people there already had a good head start on me.

But being alone gave me lots of opportunity to ponder the mysteries of the universe. I was actually stumped by the first thing I pondered though. How do those little rocks find their way into my shoes and then how do they know to settle where they will provide the most pain and irritation? Nope, couldn´t figure it out at all.

So I moved to why it needed to rain on the last three days of my Camino, when the weather has been so nice up until Portomarín? It rained much of yesterday while I walked my 25 kilometers, and today it rained for most of my 28 kilometers. And tomorrow they promise more rain. Oh such joy. But really, imponderable. As the song says, “Can´t Stop the Rain”.

And the last imponderable of the day – why haven´t the people of Galicia fixed the marker stones, so that they read the right distances? It´s about 9 kilometers off at the 100 kilometer mark, and now it´s about 3 kilometers off – frustrating when you think you are almost there and then walk 2 more hours to the town you hope to stay in. No wait, that´s not the last imponderable, why am I listening to Silent Night right this minute in the Albergue where I´m staying?

But notwithstanding the weather and the imponderables, it was a lovely day and there is only ONE more day left of this Camino of mine – and Geordie´s too. We talked on the phone twice today and we are both 21 kilometers from Santiago. And I walked for the second day in a row without my pack. How nice to have that weight off my shoulders. Tomorrow I don´t know. We are going to a hotel and the pack delivery service is from Albergue to Albergue, so I just might be carrying my pack.

I also had to go out and buy myself a new rain poncho. Yesterday, when I needed to use my first one, a very cheap plastic one, it took about 10 minutes to peel the layers apart while the rain got harder and harder. Then I tore the side out and had to tuck the thing into my belt to stop it from flapping. So I got one in Melide, right after having my Pulpo Gallego. I was so glad to have it yesterday and today, although today I managed to rip the front of it, because the neck hole was too small and I was too eager to get it off at the Albergue. Oh well, it was only 5.50 Euros and Geordie reminds me that I have some bulldog clips I can hold it together with for the last day.

Because tomorrow is the big day. At the moment, plans are to get up very early and start the Camino by 5 am, so that people can make the noon mass at the Cathedral. It´s an important part of the Camino ritual, along with putting one´s fingers in the same holes in one of the columns of the entrance worn there by the millions who have gone before. Then one needs to bump heads with Maestro Mateo, the builder of the very imposing entrance to the Cathedral, in part to gain his wisdom. Then the final ritual for the Pilgrim is to go up behind the high altar and hug the statue of Santiago who looks out over the Pilgrim masses who have arrived to honour him.

So I had better get to bed early tonight and sleep well. Today was a long long day, and I was so happy to arrive. I am with my other six friends, all of whom are Spanish who speak very little English, so I am really challenged. Today at some point on the way, I realized I was thinking of things in Spanish – bad Spanish yes, but still, Spanish. I´ll be speaking the language like a native at this rate.

¿Ultreia, mis amigos! Onward, my friends!

Posted by: knitknigel | June 5, 2009

Talking the Camino

It´s amazing how many times Geordie and I talk as we walk the camino. Usually I don´t like to stop, so I huff and puff as I walk, and today that was all uphill. Well, it seemed that way. The walk out of Portomarín went down to the lake and then back up, and up, and up. And just when you thought there was a level spot, yep, up!

The last time we did the camino we found all those talkers on their cell phones really annoying. Not everyone had a phone, but those who did seemed to like to talk and walk. Now of course it´s us! And everyone else. But it´s not as bad as I thought. Most people have become much more considerate and don´t shout on their phones, don´t have long conversations in the Albergues while others are trying to sleep.

It´s been great for Geordie and me. When I lost my guide books I had his virtual shoulder to cry on. When I lost my wallet, I called him right away to tell him my disaster, although I could also have done a little of my own problem solving. But he was there. And two days ago, I called the hotel we have booked in Santiago, to change the dates of our stay.

We were planning to walk for six days, but that has now been revised to only five. There are only two days to go. We had planned to arrive in Santiago on Monday, but now we arrive on Sunday, so I called the hotel and asked if we could change the reservation – luckily, we could, so we made our new plans.

I walked 25 kilometers yesterday and had planned to walk 14 today, but instead, I walked another 25. Tomorrow I´m walking 20, and on the last day, 21. The best part of today´s walk? I walked without my pack. No, I didn´t throw it away. I sent it on ahead to the private Albergue my group had chosen. That cost me a whole 3 euros. Worth every céntimo. It was so nice to walk without the weight on my back, and my feet were very happy too. They survived the very long walk with no new pains.

I had hoped to post a few more pictures for you, since the last were so popular, but I don´t actually have access to this computer – I think it´s hidden behind a wall or something. But next time I have the opportunity I´ll post more. Yes, Brother Jim, I now have a picture of me with my walking sticks – just for you.

A little advertisement here. I have upped my goal for AlzheimersBC to $1500.00 and I´m hoping to reach that goal, or even surpass it. So if you have donated thank you so very much. But if you haven´t, please consider donating something to the cause. If you are Canadian, you will of course, get a tax receipt. I´m sorry that I couldn´t make arrangements for an international fund, but if you donate from another country do remember that our dollar is lower than your currency, at least in US dollars, British pounds, and the Euro, so you can make your money work harder. And the money that is donated goes not only to support people living with Alzheimers, but also to research and the search for a cure.

¡Ultreia, mis amigos! Onward, my friends!

Posted by: knitknigel | June 3, 2009

Day 1 of a New Camino

What a wonderful day it has been. I got up without an alarm clock to annoy me, took awhile to dress my feet for success, (what useless bandages I´ve bought!) and was out the door by 7:15. But then I saw the café on the corner was open so I stopped for my first café con leche of the day. I had a huge coffee, the biggest I´ve ever seen in Spain. And it cost about 20 centimós more than the normal size.

I made a big mistake at the beginning – although it was not a bad mistake. I took the path up the hill, into the old town and the Camino route, instead of obeying the sign that said cars should go to the right, while walkers went uphill. No, I´m not a car, but if I´d taken the car route I wouldn´t have had to climb the hill and then climb back down again to the very road I´d avoided. Oh well, a little extra hill-walking didn´t kill me.

This is Galicia, and the landscape is gorgeous. Yes, there are hills – today there was lots of up and down, but none of it was over mountains, so it was ok to walk. And unlike other days, I took lots of photos. I figure with only 6 days to walk, I had better show the scenery to make the reading and viewing more interesting for you. Here´s the first bridge I walked over.

Lovely bridge over a little stream

Lovely bridge over a little stream

And this beautiful path through the country side.

And a country road

And a country road

In Galicia the Camino is waymarked at every 1/2 kilometer, so one is reminded how slow one is going. And not only that the markers are about 9 kilometers out, so in fact when you have reached the famous 100 km marker, you are really 109 km away from Santiago. But here I am at the marker anyway, with my knitting.

Me and my sock at km 100

Me and my sock at km 100

Along the way one sees lots of plant life, wildflowers of every description and even some animals although they are not wild ones. Herewith a few more photos to entertain you.

Sedums on a stone wall, my walking stick for comparison

Sedums on a stone wall, my walking stick for comparison

An horreo for storing fodder for animals

An horreo for storing fodder for animals

Slate roofs and sedums

Slate roofs and sedums

Socks on the hoof

Socks on the hoof

Galician milk on the hoof too

Galician milk on the hoof too

I think that these photos will give you some of the flavour of the Camino today. I enjoyed myself as usual, even though there were many more pilgrims than there were two weeks ago. Some of them were without backpacks, or very small ones, so I think they are letting some vehicle carry them. I considered doing it too, but 7 euros a day is too much!

I did have a lovely surprise today though. I met some of my old friends on the Camino. First was a Swiss woman that I said goodbye to when I left Castrojeriz to head back to Burgos. Madrid and Torremolinos. Then at the Albergue here in Portomarin, I ran into the French people whom I´d said goodbye to in Burgos. And finally, as I was walking down the street to this internet shop, I met Rita, one of the two Spanish women I walked with. I am going to have a glass of wine with them tonight under the portales next to the huge church that was moved from the village which now lies under the waters of the dammed lake below.

So I´m back, the Camino is just as wonderful as it was, my feet are a little tender, but tomorrow a nice short walk and maybe a stay at a private albergue instead of the not too charming public one I´m in today – top bunk, cheek to cheek with a guy from Hungary!

¡Ultreia, my friends! Onward!

Posted by: knitknigel | June 2, 2009

El Camino del Tren

I did it. I managed to get up at 4:30 am without Geordie to wake me. I have an alarm clock which I´ve been carrying for just this purpose and it has a really good and very annoying alarm, so I really work to turn it off fast, which gets me awake too.

I was out and down at the train station by 4:50, and yes, I did shave and brush my teeth first. But of course this being the non-AVE train, it was running late, scheduled to arrive at 5:34 instead of 5:14. But it pulled in at 5:28 and boy did I have to scramble. The coach numbers are not very big and they change, so I missed Coche 19 and walked to 21. When I got on, I realized it was closed up ahead, because that train was actually going to Vigo and not A Coruña, the direction I needed, so I had to jump off and run back up the platform and jump on the next car which was indeed the right one.

I was supposed to be in seat 4C, but that was taken up by someone else who had seen an opportunity wherever she got on, so I took seat 5A which was empty. Nobody came to claim it throughout the journey of which I was glad since I managed to have two sleeps while I sat in it.

Nice and plush this train. It had amazing reclining seats that slid out a long way, so one could really stretch out – of course this is the TrenHotel, because it is long distance and overnight, so there are even plusher accomodations. There was a cafeteria and a dining car, which I took advantage of twice too.

The train followed the camino for part of the way, starting with Astorga, a town I was looking forward to staying in, since it was the place from where I walked my single day of the Camino when I went to Spain to join Geordie after his first Camino. But today, it was still dark so I didn´t see anything at all. And when I reached Ponferrada, (Iron Bridge) I didn´t see any bridge although by how it was daylight. But no matter, I got to Sarria, only a half hour or so late, and even though it was foggy I was glad to be here to begin my Camino anew.

I found a great Pension, very clean, very bright, very comfortable, with my own bathroom for the same price as last night´s rabbit hutch. I paid the rate happily, and then went exploring, looking for signs of the Camino. When I saw the church spire high in the sky, I realized that of course I needed to go up hill – that´s where they put all those medieval villages. I climbed up and found the yellow arrows, and the albergues I suppose I could have stayed in, instead of hanging out in the new town.

In the Praza del Constitution I found a statue memorializing Alfonso IX who founded this town a few hundred years ago. He died while on Pilgrimage to Santiago himself – let´s hope it wasn´t from blisters. That´s where I also found lunch – the menu del dia. And after my conversation with Geordie on the phone I was glad to see that they were serving Caldo Gallego – the wonderful bean, kale and potato soup that is one of Galicia´s contributions to world cuisine. It´s delicious, never mind that it is listed as a vegetarian option even though it has meat in it.

I´m off to rest now. I´ve been up much too long and I have a lovely room to go back to, and an elevator so I don´t have to climb the steps. Yay! I´m looking forward to a nice nap and then an exploration of the lower town this evening. I don´t think I need to climb the hill again.

I´m off early tomorrow to continue my camino on foot. I´ve got lots of Vaseline, slick gels, foot spray and bandages, and I even have a walking stick now. Geordie and I found cheap ones in Torremolinos of all places, with shock absorbing springs, tungsten tips and rubber covering those so we don´t make those horrible tapping noises on the stones and pavements of the towns.

I´ll keep you up to date. I know you all want to know how my feet are doing. I´m going to take really good care of them – I´ve had lots of suggestions from folks reading this blog as well as from other Peregrinos. I didn´t buy the boots, but I did get the stick, and I will change socks on the hour, letting the other pair dry as I walk. And I´ll walk less distance per day on several of my days on the path.

Ultreia, my friends, Ultreia!

Posted by: knitknigel | June 1, 2009

On to the Camino Again

It´s hard getting up at 5:15 to catch a train. But Geordie heard the clock and my phone alarm and woke me, so I didn´t miss it. He kicked me out pronto and sent me off to the Metro before it opened.

I arrived at the Metro entrance at 5:40 pm and the gates down below swung open at 5:45 so I was the first person in the station, bought my ticket and went to the platform.  A few trains went in and out, organizing themselves, but mine appeared at exactly 6:05 as the schedule said. But I made it to the Chamartín train station in only 20 minutes, not the 26 advertised, so I didn´t feel too pressured. Found my train platform, bought a café con leche to go and went directly to my train.

Not that that meant I got to Leon on time. We arrived in Valladolid, sat in the station for about 45 minutes, then went backwards for 20 minutes and then back to Valladolid forwards and on to Leon. There were announcements on the PA in Spanish but I only understood that there was a delay and to forgive the molestations (that´s how they say it in Spain). If I had been travelling on an AVE train I would have had my money back because they promise to return the fare if the train is delayed more than 5 minutes! (Which means that I really should get much more money back than I paid because of the ridiculous molestations.

At least I got a little knitting done on my sock. It´s a slow knit because there are lots of crossed stitches to work on, as I think I mentioned. I´m doing the work without a cable needle too, so it´s a challenge. If I drop a stitch on this one, I may be doomed! And I don´t plan to frog it.

And here at the internet I finally found an answer from the Pension I tried to book twice on the internet. Now that I´m in a squatty little room at the Hostal Ovideo (about as big as a rabbit hutch I think), I get a message that they do have a room available. I even walked there first, but they said they had no room available. That´ll teach me not to use the phone I´m paying the big bucks for. Geordie got his requested room because I telephoned for him – he had to confirm the reservation today by himself, but as you already know if you got his message, he has done that. Lucky guy. Just talked to G. on the phone and he is at the train station in Madrid – a little early for his train, but no problem. He tells me that I´m probably in the same room he was in the last time he was by himself on the Camino in Leon.

 Oh,  I should tell you about my latest brush with the law! We were on the Metro yesterday in Madrid coming from the train station when a Chinese group got on. Before the train left the station one of the men discovered his wallet was missing, and panicked, accusing me! I was on the train facing him when he got on, so it would have been hard to pick his pocket, but I understand his panic. I had thought the woman who got on after him had been acting suspiciously so I pointed her out.

We got off because it was our stop, but the train didn´t go – two security officers were rushing to the train as we were leaving pulling on their gloves. I pointed out the young woman and another young man agreed with me that she and her probable accomplice were sitting innocently on the train. We didn´t wait for the finale, but I do hope the Chinese guy got his wallet back.

And with that, adios for awhile, I think I need to do a little caminoing before I write another message. I need to get on the road and out of these big city environs where the law is always looking for me. I´m innocent I tell you. Now, where´s the Menu del Dia?

Ah, I found it, and I know you all want to know what I had to eat. Well, even if you weren´t wondering I´m going to tell you, because…

I found the Menu just up the street from here and the place looked nice so I went in. The Comedor (dining room) was upstairs, so I climbed the stairs to a lovely room with wood floors, and nice big windows onto the street. The waitress brought me a lovely piece of pan de campagne (country bread) with a great crust, and left the menu with me.

After asking, I chose the most intriguing starter on the menu. Now, all vegetarians look away. I had Garbanzos con Oreja y Rabo de Cerdo. And if you read Spanish you now know I had Chickpeas with Pigs Ears and Tails. Ewwww, I hear you saying. And yes, it takes a little getting used to, but I enjoyed the flavor if not exactly the texture of the ears, and the tail had a little meat. I think I had the tippy-tip of the tail as well as a larger piece if you were wondering.

For seconds I had the Chuletillas de Cordero, Lamb Chops, served with boiled potatoes and a piece of Roasted Red Pepper. I took a picture of that – rueing the fact that I didn´t think of photgraphing the starter. Here it is. Note that´s my new sock in the background.

Chiletillas de Cordero

Chiletillas de Cordero


Done for now. On to Sarria by very early train tomorrow, and then the Camino on foot for six more days. I think I can do that without blistering.

Posted by: knitknigel | May 29, 2009

Lazing Around

We´ve been having a quiet time in Torremolinos, drinking coffee, eating, having a glass of wine or two, and visiting with friends. This is a small town, with lots of visitors, but if you want to hang out with someone, you can just drop in to Vanilla Cafe where Jamie is always ready to talk, to sing a little, and let you know if someone you know has been by lately. It´s an easy life, even if we live at the bottom of the hill and all the places we hang out are up top. There´s an elevator that runs from 9 til 9, so as long as we are not up too late, we can always get elevated for 50 centimos each.

Here´s a picture of one of the folks we hang out with at Vanilla of an afternoon. Note the jaunty neck scarf.

Such a natty dog.

Such a natty dog.

 

 

 

 

 

 

On Sunday there was a huge lace making display on the plaza in Torremolinos. It was an amazing event . hundreds of people making fine lace with bobbins wound with cotton. If you think knitting is complicated you should see these people working their bobbins and pins. And I was thrilled to see a young boy among the hundreds of women.

Women with bobbins

Women with bobbins

A young boy with his bobbins

A young boy with his bobbins

 

 

 

 

 

 

I´ve been working on getting my feet healthy – lots of vaseline and not too much walking. I bought a new pair of croc-like shoes that I´ve been using to walk around. They are lighter than my other walking-around-town shoes, so I´ll carry them with me when I set out on the Camino again.

Now an image or two of my feet for you. Warning. Graphic images ahead.

The nurse´s work

The nurse´s work

Healing happening

Healing happening

Not quite so ugly?

Not quite so ugly?

 

  

 

 

Yes, our plans are in place, the train tickets have been bought and we leave on Sunday morning. We are both taking the fast train to Madrid for one night´s stay and then we are separating again. Geordie is off to Ourense, where he will stay two night before setting out on the Via de la Plata again. And I am off to Leon on an early train, spending the night there and then taking an even earlier train to Sarria (5:14 am) where I will stay the night, then set out on the last leg of the camino.

The rules are simple – if you walk at least the last 100 kilometers of the Camino, you will earn your Compostela. It doesn´t matter how much you´ve walked before. You can´t arrive in Santiago, tell the Compostela office that you walked 400 kilometers from St. Jean and expect your document. That last 100 is the most important.

From Ourense and from Sarria, it is just over 100 km of walking, which will take 6 days for both of us. We are taking it easy.  I´m even doing a couple of 14.5 km days in there, and Geordie has some short days as well. This way, my feet might just survive. I´ll be taking the vaseline, using the double layer socks, hey, maybe I´ll even put on the new socks to add a third layer, to protect my tender tootsies from the road.

I´ve also started a new sock, which I plan to finish as I walk. Good think I´ve started it now, because it´s more complicated than the first pair I did, with lots of crossed stitches which I´m knitting without a cable needle. I have to pay lots more attention, because I´m crossing stitches for 4 rows in 12 and there are lots to cross in each row. I spent a lot of time working out the pattern with graph paper I bought at a big papeleria (stationers) in Torremolinos. I found a little Moleskine book with squared paper in the shope which probably cost 8 euros, then asked the staff if they had the same thing in a cheaper version. The clerk took me to the back where they had pads of paper, found the squared stuff and charged me 70 centimos – a lot cheaper.

So two more nights in Torremolinos. We are having a visit with Giorgio and Bertrand tonight, and spending tomorrow relaxing as usual, to get ready for a busy three days of train travel. I might also be lying low – avoiding security. Yesterday I went off by myself to look for the Decathlon Sports store I have heard good reports of. I took the local train three stops down the line, couldn´t find it there so asked a young woman where it might be. She suggested I go across the train track over the bridge, and next to Ikea.

So off I went in my clogs, crossed the access road, found Ikea – the biggest I´ve ever seen – walked half way around it, then across their gigantic parking lot to another huge building that wasn´t Decathlon, asked a security guard if he could direct me, but he couldn´t see how I might get to this place from there. So I headed back and decided that I would conintue my trip around Ikea on the way back to save a little distance. I ended up in their delivery area with a forbidding wall ahead, but saw some steps up to the road I wanted, with a gate. As I headed to it, two Ikea guys saw me and started heading towards me, saying no, no, you can´t go there.

But, said I, I want to go to the Plaza Mayor across that road. No, no, you can´t go there. Being a defiant guy and determined not to walk all the way around Ikea again, I went up the stairs and pressed the door bar with the big sign saying Emergency Exit Only, the doors opened and I went out, closing the doors behind me and walking quickly to escape the two guys. Every moment I expected to hear the whoop whoop of a police car, but there didn´t seem to be a chase scene happening so I went as fast as I could over the train tracks, down the road to the Plaza Mayor and hid out in an ice-cream shop where I had a huge scoop of the cool stuff, keeping my head down and my presence as small as possible. No sports goods purchased, but at least I´m not in a Spanish jail right now.

Ultreia my friends. Off to do a little walking.

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