Archive for February 2012

January 27, 2011 Walking in the snow once again….brrrrrrrr   Leave a comment

We left Ferreiros with snow and sleet.

Leaving the Albergue in Ferreiros

The slippery path a challenge for us. Our walking sticks did their jobs and our boots theirs to keep us upright! It was a Thursday. The woman at the restaurant in Ferreiros showed us a magazine article–she and her daughter Natalia are famous because they rescued a pilgrim who almost died. They have served the pilgrims for generations. The daughter is now in Santiago studying at the university. The father has died.

At a cross-roads, the yellow arrow clearly marks the Camino

We arrived in Portomarin in the early afternoon. The albergue also is without menaje but here there is no restaurant so we all pool our meager holdings. The couple from Uruguay has a pot and so we cook our dinner–a watery soup! We contribute our day old bread and some clementines.

A pilgrim shrine...

Along the Camino, on the way to Portomarin

Someone tells us about the local drink, orujo, a liqueur made with herbs; carajillo is coffee with the liqueur.

the church in Portomarín

At dinner, Jose and Ricardo–looks like the couple we met a few days back–they’re Spaniards; there’s also a Korean, and the Japanese scientist. Leticia and Estuvao from Brazil (they have a rock band), knew to bring a pot along; they offer to cook. We laugh and enjoy the meal and the company.

Our makeshift dinner from all of our meager contributions...but we were happy!


Posted February 14, 2012 by normacantu in Uncategorized

January 26, 2012 Sarria to Ferreiros   Leave a comment

Almost there!

We begin our walk along a beautiful path, not too steep, not too wet, not too anything!  But end it with water everywhere along a slippery, wet path that climbs and dips. Well-marked by the yellow arrows, it leads us past the 99.9 Kilometer  marker! We are almost there!

A bird joins us for a while…

wet, slippery path

As I ponder the end of the trip, I wonder how many lessons I have not leaned, how many messages I have not heard. I worry about the ones at home, my family, my students. Daily I dedicate my walk to them, sending them loving kindness and all the good energy from the Camino.

As we ate dessert at the restaurant in Samos,  Cleber our Brazilian friend gave us rosaries and an ribbon bracelet from la Virgen de Nazaret. I remember Maria Gambiel giving me one of these ribbons and tying it around my wrist. I was to wear it til it fell off so that my three wishes would be granted. It stayed on my wrist for almost a year; the three wishes were all granted! I choose not to wear this one, though. He tells us that they are blessed. I keep them in my pack. I get teary thinking of all the people we met and of the bonds of pilgrimming (just made that one up). Joy, is the Korean mother who is walking with her sons. She is hurting and tells us she wants to go with us. Slowly, not rushing like her young sons. but her oldest son decides for her; they will stick together and get to Santiago together.

We begin thinking of what we will do after we end our walk in Santiago. I want to continue to Finisterre, but Becky doesn’t. We will take a bus and spend one day there instead of walking for three days. I agree it makes sense. I want to spend three days in Santiago. We talk of how we will get our stuff at Correos, but before that we must buy a suitcase to fit our purchases, not many, but still it will require a carry-on. I want to look for cheap flights to Madrid from Santiago.

Becky walks past a well marked fork in the road.

We arrive in Ferreiros and stay at the albergue de la Xunta–5 Euros–but the impeccable kitchen has not menaje! That’s right, no pots or pans whatsoever. Primitiva, the hospitalera, nice and accommodating, tells us can leave later than the official posted time of 8 a.m.  She says it is different for winter because it is still dark at 8 a.m. She directed us to a cafe/bar where we had dinner. I ate meat and decide I will stay off beef from now on. I have only had meat 3 times the whole Camino–counting the Caldo Castellano and the meat for New Year’s eve! I wrote in my book that I wish to go vegan but it is not realistic; decide to eat chicken and fish, but no red meats for a year. Then cut off the chicken too. Becky tells me, “you are a spiritual being,” as an explanation for why I should stop eating meat. For dessert I ate a tarta de piña. I don’t think I am losing weight given the meals I have been eating. We walk and I feel light.

I have ideas for poems, plays, stories. One for Champú will be called “First Kiss.”

We share the albergue with a couple from Uruguay. They didn’t end up at the restaurant but went to another place that looked closed down the road. He is young, dark long curly hair; she is short blonde hair and athletic.I seep my last herbal tea bag from the ones Cinthia and Maria gave me for the trip–I have been very frugal.


From my journal:

“This day has been a blessing–Gracias! I see the birds, the tress can now recognize them. The weather is bitter cold, but it is spring and the wild flowers bloom. Streams run with rustling waters from the montains, El Roble. El Castaño. Y el Acebo. Glorious trees, majestic and beautiful, watch over us. We walk on paths carpeted with chestnut and oak leaves. The bare trees are about to burst into bloom; new shoots are about to burst into leaf. The roosters, hens, cows, horses, burros and all other animals surround us placidly going aobut their business as we walk by. The path will be muddy for summer pilgrims!

…I have massaged my feet, made my bed. This trip has meant nothing more than walking to exhaustion and then resting, with time for eating in between. What  a luxury to focus on such basic needs. The spirit of the Camino is in me. I want to serve humanity, find the purpose of my life–or am I already living it? I sense, YES. The prayer of St. Francis is on my mind as I walk. Each step I sing a song of gratitude and see the angels surround us. Three times the nature creatures have healed me and all is well. Even the knee no longer hurts as it did one day. My heart sings with joy. What an incredible gift this trip has been. All whom we have met mirrored and taught me so much. Quintin who is 24 as is Noki and the the older Joy and her sons and the Japanese scientist in Samos  too. Jesus Jato who was born in 1940 teach me. I remain open to it all. Gracias!”


Posted February 14, 2012 by normacantu in Uncategorized

January 25, 2011–From Samos to Sarria   Leave a comment

Chapel on the road to Sarria

We left Samos around 10 a.m. although we got up much earlier. The night before we dined at a real restaurant, A Veiga–the food was excellent. I had merluza a la gallega and menestre de verduras. El camarero, the waiter–Moises–took us back to the albergue because we were running late and they close the door at 10 p.m. His car wouldn’t start and he was mortified fearing that we would be too late. But we got there with 10minutes to spare. The lights were out already and we sneaked into our cots with double blankets–it was so cold! the hand-loomed wool blankets–mine were beige and blue and red. I made a pillow with yet another blanket. Cleber–from Brazil–joined us for dinner. The others were nowhere to be found when we left the monastery tour we made time before mass by finding the restaurant–the kitchen opened at 8:30, just after mass.

Albergue municipal de Sarria

Walking on a somewhat sunny day–what a respite from the fog and drizzle! The path clearly marked. The albergue in Sarria a welcome sight, although it was tricky to find it and climbing that last set of stairs a challenge.

So we walked into Sarria this afternoon and headed for a grocery store. As we were headed back several pilgrims stopped us to ask where the grocery store was located. The Koreans, mostly young men travel alone or in groups. Here it is a group with an older woman we found out later is the mother.

Sarria is the spot many pilgrims choose to start at for if you arrive in Santiago with a credencial stamped from here on in, you get your Compostela just the same as if you’d walked from France.

We went to a papelería and I bought a notebook since my old faithful is about filled up. Wonder if I will ever read my notes; and here I am, now over a year later reading and reminiscing and so wishing I were back on the Camino. Jose wrote an email last week. He too is thinking of us, but he is walking it again.


MEDITATION FOCUS: The Camino starts wherever one chooses. It is the walking that makes it real. Cada quien lo hace a su manera.

The storks reign over everything.

Posted February 14, 2012 by normacantu in Uncategorized