Camino de Santiago

Month: October, 2014

Take A Walk In The Park

One of the best medicines I can recommend to you for whatever might be ailing you is to “take a walk in the park”. We have enjoyed a month now of taking a “walk in the park”. Each day is something different. Each day there is a surprise. Wherever you may live, take a walk in a park. Visit it regularly, it will do you wonders.

Walking day after day, all day long, over and over in the quiet and beauty of nature has a way of stirring the best of who we are. We find the best of ourselves. We find how we are connected to each other.

Nature has a way to stir in us something special and fill us up. It is so amazing! You find you can not get enough. Some days have been harder than others when you walk this far. It is not all pleasant. Sometimes it is a slog and we have walked through some pretty ugly areas. Then after a while you come to some special landscape or scene that takes your breath away. You are swept up. The air is pure, the birds sing more beautiful than ever and your heart soars.

Don't forget the beauty of a walk through a park!

Buen Camino!

John and Terri



Time To Think

One of the blessings of walking the Camino de Santiago is you get lots of time to think. In talking with other folks walking the Camino that is one of the re-occurring themes we hear over and over. I have time to think. What a precious thing it is!

I know I have quoted a lot in these blogs about the book called “Sabbath” but it seems this book was the one I was meant to read during this walk. I was told about the book from a visiting priest almost two years ago and for some reason it popped into my head that I wanted to read it just before I left. I am sure glad I did. It is a very important book I think for us all to read.

The book had this quote I read last night and it really spoke to me about the essence of what the Camino has done for both Terri and I.

Walking the Camino has given us “time in which we can taste what we have been given, take delight in what we already have, and see that it is good. We focus less on our lack, and more on our abundance. As we do, our thirst and hunger for more than we need begins to fall away.”

It has been a very important walk for Terri and I. We have come to know that our most favorite prayer is “Gracias”! We are so blessed!

Buen Camino!

John and Terri



Today we entered the region of Spain called Galacia. It is a unique area of Spain that has a Celtic hertiage. It has weather and terrain similar to the Pacific Northwest.

We walked up several thousand feet of elevation to get to the famous city of O’Cebreiro. The city has a long history of supporting the Camino pilgrims. The first pilgrim hostel opened here in 836! One of the more interesting historical facts is that the revival of The Camino to the heights of popularity it now enjoys comes from this little village as well. In the 1970’s the parish priest, Elias Valina Sampedro, published a guide for pilgrims in 1971 and he “way marked” the entire Camino Frances in 1982 with the now familiar yellow arrows, with paint he scrounged off the local authority’s road maintenance department (or so the legend goes).

It was a long and very rainy walk up to this little village but we both enjoyed it so much because it did remind us of hiking in the Northwest. Beautiful forest walk (Chesnut and Oak trees) in a gorgeous valley leading up to the top of a ridge where the village is located. We both were anticipating the hot bowl of Galacian soup we knew was awaiting us. It is a soup made with a local cabbage (it looks similar to Kale) and potatoes. It was just what we needed as we were both very wet and tired!

We are now roughly one week from finishing the Camino after having walked now for nearly one month! Terri is nursing along a very sore ankle right now and we are managing and monitoring her health closely. She is going to taxi to the next town tomorrow to give herself a day of rest and avoid walking down off this mountain ridge.

We have so many wonderful memories to share with you all when we return!

Buen Camino!

John and Terri


The Perfection Is In The Repetition

One thing about walking the Camino that you find is the power of “the ritual”. Ritual is important in our lives. We need ritual. Being a parent you find out quickly how important establishing “ritual” is to a healthy family life. We need ritual to keep on us on an even keel. I also saw this as a manager at Boeing. It was important to have some things you could always count on being there and providing a foundation.

As I have mentioned previously there is a real rhythm you find yourself immersed in walking the Camino. The “Camino Ritual” is about doing the very basics you need in life (washing yourself and your clothes, eating, walking and sleeping). The power of ritual is in the repetition.

“Ritual is meant to be repeated. We are not suppose to do it right the first time, and then be done with it. We are not suppose to do it better each year until we get it perfect. This year's Easter does not have to be new and improved, more dramatic and moving than last year's. The perfection is in the repetition, the sheer ordinariness, the intimate familiarity of a place known because we have visited it again and again, in so many different moments.” (Sabbath by Wayne Muller)

We have been lifted up and helped each day through our long journey through the “power of ritual”. We are thankful for it each day.

Buen Camino!

John and Terri



Camino Country Quiet

One of the things that has surprised Terri and I has how we have come to love the beauty and quiet of “the Camino country”. We have spent a large part of this past 3 or 4 weeks walking in the rural countryside away from any cities. Although we have walked through and spent time in some of the big cities, the large majority of our time has been in the rural or mountain countryside.

Both Terri and I were raised in big cities although we both love spending time in the country or mountain settings. We love the city and we love our time we get in the country too. This “Camino Walk” has us thinking though on the proper balance between these two loves. What we have both noticed is how “noisy and fast” the city is over the country. Today we walked from the foothills of a beautiful mountain range into a big city (Ponferrada). The contrasts were so real and we found we really love the quiet and beauty of the country. We find we are not as excited to get into the big city now and we want to return back quickly into the rural countryside.

I'm don't see Terri and I changing and moving to the country but I can see us finding our way out into the rural settings more than we do today. The Camino has affected both of us in this way.

Buen Camino!

John and Terri


It Is the “little things”

One thing that the Camino does for you is to help you appreciate the “little things” each day that come your way. You quickly recognize and give thanks for each one. It might be the little “Las Brisas” (wind) that blows across your face and neck on that very hot afternoon that just seems to never end. It might be having a place to stay one night where they have hot showers (water has not run out) and space for putting your pack next to your bed. It might be the nice little cafe at the first stop of the day that has actual soap and a paper towel too boot to wash your face. The list goes on and on.

We become so used to our “creature comforts” and the “little graces” that come to us so easily it is easy to take them for granted. What the Camino does is reduce things down to the very basics of life. You begin to realize how much we have and take for granted.

We hope when we return that we don’t forget these lessons of the “little things” we have so appreciated!

Buen Camino!

John and Terri

P.S. Just a quick report on our progress. We now have only about 11 or 12 days left of walking! It is going to go fast now. Terri’s ankle is still very sore and we are managing this carefully each day by trying to cut back on the miles we do each day. She is walking now only with a small fanny pack and that has helped. We have one more big mountain range yet to cross though. The terrain now is getting very scenic and the temperatures are getting cooler! Continue to pray for us as we are now entering our last stages and we are hoping to stay as healthy as we can now!



At some point, anyone that writes a Camino Blog has to write something about the places that we spend the night in each night; the Albergues. They are like youth hostels if you have ever stayed in one. Before this trip, Terri and I had never stayed in a hostel. We are now veterans after having spent many a night sleeping, eating, showering and generally living together with our fellow Camino walkers.

The best way to describe it is Like anyone that has grown up in a large family in a home with one bathroom. Our Son-In-Law's Dad, Jack, grew up in the Boston area and he was one of 9 siblings. They lived in a single home with one bathroom! I was also raised in a single home with one bathroom and 5 other siblings. Being raised like this, you quickly learn the importance and value of a considerate sibling that takes a quick shower. You have to share “your space”; there is no other choice. You really learn to share and to give to others in this situation and most of all you learn about being patient. It is not an instant on demand situation.

This is what it is all about when you stay at an Albergue. There are folks you are sharing the limited bathrooms/showers, living space and washing and drying clothes space. It is really about sharing, giving and being patient. Forget about any real personal space. You get used to it because we are all in this together.

It is what you do when you do the Camino. It is what doing the Camino is all about!

Buen Camino!

John and Terri


The Rhythm of the Camino

One of the interesting things about the Camino is the strong rhythm that one finds themselves immersed in when you do the Camino. This is do to the nature of how it is put together. Each day is simply a repeat from the day before.

You arise before dawn each day usually at 5:30am. You have showered the day before so you do a basic wash of the face and brush teeth and pack up your things and you are off. We typically are out the door of the Albergue by 6:30 or 7:00am. Then you begin walking with your headlamps. Before too long you are trying to locate that cafe con leche and something to eat (usually some sort of pastry or fruit).

We have enjoyed a dawn breaking and the sun rising each morning when there were no clouds which has been almost every morning so far. Then it is walk, walk, walk all day with stops at different villages for more cafe con leche or a bocadillo. Typically we have tried to be complete with our day’s walk by early afternoon. Once we check into our Albergue we begin our evening routine.

Get a shower (now there is a whole blog; just our different shower experiences), wash your clothes and hang to dry, then head out for dinner and hopefully you have some time left to blog or write in your journal. Then off to sleep (lights go out at 10pm) and hope you can sleep on the bed you have that night. Then, … repeat it all over again the next day.

It really is quite simple in its make up, this “Camino Rhythm”, but it does settle you over time into the very basics of life. Eat, walk, sleep and enjoy the company of a lot of wonderful people from all over the world!

Buen Camino!

John and Terri