mardi 9 juin 2009

Finisterre - End of the Voyage

We have been so incredibly lucky on this trip. As an example, we have had a total of less than one day's rain during the 31 days we walked, but it has been raining most of the time snce Saturday. We could have been walking soaked for several days.

Yesterday, we went to Finisterre (literally end of the earth) with Pierre and Lawrence. The 100km trip took 3 hours by bus each way along the coast, and as Nadine and I both tend to get motion sickness, it was not always pleasant. It rained most of the way there, and I did wonder why we were going. However, again, being incredibly lucky, the rain stopped while we were there, and we were able to walk the 2.5 km to the lighthouse and back. The wind was something else; it could almost knock you off your feet so no one was burning anything. We tied our items to the pole along with everyone else. It truly felt like the end of the camino, more than did the arrival in Santiago, and in the end we were vey glad we came, even though 6 hours by bus was more tiring than 6 hours of walkng with our backpacks. In the town of Finisterre, we stopped in a small museum, where a very enthusiastic guide spent one hour explaining to us about fishing and the 'Coast of Death'. He later told us he was the poet referred to on one of the exhibits.

Today, we are doing last minute errands before leaving for Paris. We are both looking forward to going home. Apart from the loss of a couple of toe nails on my pasrt, we have not suffered any injuries. Again, we have been very lucky. The modern Camino is safer than in medieval times, but it is no walk in the park. Three people died crossing the Pyrenees at the end of April when they got lost in the fog, and suffered hypothermia. We saw a few markers along the way of people who died in the past few years while making the trip. We heard of at least 2 attempted rapes in the past few weeks. People we met suffered sunstroke, as well as various injuries. Bedbugs have been a problem the past few years, but we did not encounter any.

The Camino is an interesting experience. In some ways, it is a microcosm of everyday life, but in some ways it is very different. Some people become 'Camino junkies' - we heard of one person who did it 11 times - they enjoy the camaraderie and the wonderful feeling of being with people from all over the world, in a setting where who you are and what you do is irrelevant. Others feel that the Camino is something you do once in your lifetime. I incline more towards the latter, although I do hope to take long walking trips again.

For me, the highlights of the trip, or those that come to mind at the moment, there were so many, include:

- the pleasure of walking beside Nadine in companiable silence
- communal meals
- the nuns in Carrion de los Condes who, with guitar and recorder accompaniment, led us in a Camino version of Beethoven's 'Ode to Joy' before bedtime
- storks and stork nests; poppies; the sound of cuckoos; snails on teh road; roosters crowing; the smell of eucalyptus;
- the mists of Galicia
- the Cathedral at Burgos; the small church in Fromista; the monastery at Samos
- Cafe con leche and Rioja wine
- celebrating Queen Victoria's birthday in Mansilla de los Mulas
- The Japanese man at the Melide albergue who made us paper cranes
- locals, particularly old people, smiling and wishing us 'buen camino' or 'buen viaje'
- albergues (the good ones)
- meeting people from all over the world; seeing people again after being separated for several days
- sunset in O Cebreiro
- walking in the early morning as the sun is rising

and I could go on and on. I have just read Nadine's last post. I have learned a lot about my youngest daughter on this journey, so I suppose it shouldn't surprise my that she wrote in it things she didn't tell me. I realized that Nadine and I are more alike than I had thought; we may have different interests, but our personalities are not that different. It has been a pleasure and a privilege to share this journey with her. J't'aime, Dine-Bine.

This is my last post. Looking forward to seeing you all,


dimanche 7 juin 2009

31 jours plus tard....SANTIAGO!

Après 31 jours de (d').....

*menu de pelegrino
*douches froides
*booze de vache
*cafe con leche
*chocolatines, croissant, bocadillos (sandwiches), cochonneries
*bottes de marches
*les mêmes 5 articles de vêtements
*africains du sud
*hommes tout nus
*femmes tout nues
*bruits et odeurs intéressants...(yeurk!)
*avec Maman!
DE MARCHE!!!.....

...nous sommes finalement arrivées à Santiago hier midi (6 juin!)!!!!
1...2...3...CRIER DE JOIE!!!!!!!!!! hihihi

Et tabarouette que ça fait du bien! Je suis aussi très fière d'annoncer que j'ai réellement marcher ces 800 km! Je n'ai pas pris d'autobus, taxi, auto, tracteur, cheval...j'ai transporté (maman aussi...) mon sac de 7.5kg tout le long du ne me suis pas PERDUE! Je ne crois pas qu'il y a beaucoup de gens qui peuvent dire la même chose....YESSSSSSSSS!

Et je suis aussi très fière de dire que j'ai fait le chemin avec Maman! Elle m'a surpris de plusieurs différentes faç c'est la seule personne avec qui j'aurais aimé partager cette aventure! Merci Maman! Ça n'a pas toujours été facile...mais je crois que nous avons eu la chance de mieux ce connaî avant tout, de partager cette aventure inoubliable ensemble! Plusieurs m'ont dit que je ne sentirais seulement les effets du camino plus tard dans ma vie...mais je pense que ça déjà commencer à prendre effet.

Merci à tous qui ont fait cette aventure j'ai hâte de partager tous les souvenirs, histoires avec vous! Seulement 4 dodos et je suis de retour!
On se voit bientôt!
Je vous aime fort!



We left yesterday morning in the pouring rain. About 45 minutes later, the sun came out, along with a double rainbow, which we all took as an auspicious sign. A few minutes later, we saw and heard low-flying planes, a reminder that we weren't far from Santiago airport. That was a sound we hadn't heard in over a month. However, this being Galicia, the sun didn't last, and it has been raining most of the time since yesterday.

We arrived at the Santiago cathedral just before noon. Since then, we have been running into people we hadn't seen for a while, including the Slovenian mother and daughter. We went to the compostella office, and received our certificate, with our names in Latin, attesting that we had completed the pilgrmage. At the pilgrim mass this morning, the priest announced the countries and numbers of pilrgirms from each, as well as where they started from. There were about a dozen from Canada.

Last night, we had a celebration dinner with a dozen other people, including the Yellowknife family. The Quebecois father and fdaughter arrived this am, and we are having dinner with them tonight. Tomorrow, we go to FInisterre. The tradition is that you burn something at Finnisterre, something that you brought along with you and want to get rid of, something symbolic. (one French woman told me that the old tradition was to buy new clothes in Santiago, burn your old clothes in Finnisterre, wash in the ocean as a symbol of purification, then put on your new clothes.) My problem is that I don't really want to burn any of the very small number of new clothes I brought for this trip. The only old and ratty items, that have gotten discolored when we put all our colthes in washing machines, are my bras. I could always burn one of those. Nadine says that would be a very feminist thing to do. I'll have to think about it. It could also symbolilze that I am hopelessly out of date...

Our friends are wiating, so more later.


vendredi 5 juin 2009


The last few days we have been in Galicia. The weather has been cooler and misty - a nice change. We have been walking along paths bordered by stone fences, lined with ferns, and flowers, or along wooded paths. There is a different tree with a strange, but familiar smell, that according to the guidebook is eucalyptus. I didn't know they had those in Spain. We have encountered many herd of cattle, farmers cutting their grass with scythes, woodland streams, horreias (I'm not sure of the spelling; they are raised rectangular stone structures that store corn away from rodents). There apparently is a celtic connection here, that I would like to read more about - the scenery does sometimes make you think that fairies and druids could live here. The smell of cow manure is also very strong here; the other night we stayed in a small town called Gonzar, and the smell permeated even the restaurant.

Tonight we are in Arco 0 Pino, just 20 km from Santiago. We are staying in a very nice pensione. Galicia's public albergues are all run by the province, not the municipalities and they are awful. I can handle dormitories, I can handle sleeping on an upper bunk in the middle of a room, I can handle cold showers, or even, like last night, having to walk past naked men in the open showers to get to the one private shower, but today was too much. There were no private showers. I don't get this - the Catholic church is so rigid about sexual matters, yet there are co-ed showers with no doors in the public albergue. Go figure! Anyhow, we have a beautiful room with twin beds and our own bathroom. Albergues can be fun (more than one person has commented that they can feel like summer camp for adults) but I can live without them for a while.

It's hard to believe that our trip is almost over. In some ways, it feels like we started yesterday,in other ways it feels as if we have been on several different trips with different scenery and different travel companions. If all goes well, when we enter Santiago tomorrow, we will be able to say that we walked every step of the way and carried our packs always. We have been very lucky.

The last few days, everyone is tired. I overheard a young man say that 20 km this week feels like 30 did 10 days ago, so I don't feel so bad. We have done 30, 30, and 34 the past few days and are feeling it. My knees are sore for the first time. I had hoped to be faster up the hills by now, but I am still the slowest one (I suppose I could be faster, and everyone else has jsut correspondingly gotten faster too). My thigh muscles are awesome - I feel like the Audi billboard I saw in Montreal before I left: underneath the beautiful car was the caption '50 ans et cuisses de fer et fesses d'acier'. My pants are falling- the Spanish government could market the camino as the one sure way to eat all the chocolate and pastries you want while losing weight!

Tomorrow we reach Santiago, where we will stay for 3 nights. There is a whole ritual associated with arriving in Santiago, which I will write about later. For now, as I only has 4 hours of sleep last night, I am off to bed. I am looking forward to seeing people in Santiago that I met earlier on the trip.



Il ne reste que 18km avant l'arrivée à Santiago! Yaaaaaaaaaappiiii!!
Mercredi nous avons passer la borne de 100km et deux jours plus tard...nous sommes seulement presque là! On dirait que malgré les petites douleurs...j'aurais aimé continuer à Santiago aujourd'hui....pourquoi pas? C'est seulement un autre 18km....hihi c'est rien! Mais un total de 50km dans une journée...un peu douloureux! Donc...ça ira à demain.
Nous allons passer 3 nuits à faire un aller-retour à Finisterra (Fin de la Terre...) au bord de la mer! Mardi, retour à Paris et jeudi...à Montréal!
J'ai bien aimé notre ouii, une aventure et non des vacances...mais j'ai bien hâte d'être de retour chez moi. Ça commence à être un peu je suis un peu tanné d'être dans un camp de vacances de vieux...hihihi avec des vaches domestiquées et l'odeur de booze de vache! BEURK! hihi Une autre journée...une autre journée!

Gigi...bonnes nouvelles!! Nous allons avoir une machine pour faire des cafés con leche! Et vous êtes tous invités pour les déguster!
À bientôt!! J'ai hâte de vous montrer les photos!!!


mardi 2 juin 2009


Today was a great day. First of all, we had a good night's sleep in the albergue. Albergues vary a lot. Some are municipal, and some are private, but that does not seem to affect the price or the quality. Since next year is a holy year, and the last holy year there were 50% more pilgrims than usual, a lot of new albergues are springing up, and old ones being renovated. We have stayed in some pretty depressing places, but last night was not one of them. The bunk beds were new and comfortable, there was a washer and dryer, as well as a kitchen, and a roof-top patio, and best of all, all the bathrooms were private i.e. each had a shower, toilet and sink. The toilet paper didn't run out, and neither did the hot water. And all for only 7 Euros! [I'm getting pretty pathetic, aren't I? :)]

This morning, we had the choice of taking the short route to Sarria (18 km) or the scenic route through Samos (25km). We chose the latter. The first part of the route was along the road, and reminded me of the Canadian shield. Then we walked through shady woods, with ferns and moss, and fox-glove, and small streams, and a path that was mostly soft underfoot instead of rocky. We ran into a few herd of cattle along the path - an interesting experience. We arrived in Samos around 9:30. After breakfast of cafe con leche and toast (tostados have been available the last few days), we took the guided tour of the very large, very beautiful, and very old Benedictine monastery. There are currently 15 monks and 3 novices, but the place looks like it could accommodate several times that. The tour was in Spanish, but the guide spoke slowly and clearly, and I understood 95% of it. My spoken Spanish is atrocious, but I understand a fair bit.

After the visit to the monastery, everyone seemed to walk a bit more slowly and thoughtfully. The walk to Sarria was somewhat eventful in that Pierre, the Quebecois father, and one of the Brazilian boys, got lost. They eventually found their way, but were scratched with thorns.

Nadine and I are both looking forward to going home. The heat is tiring, and our energy is down. The one advantage to the heat is that our clothes dry quickly on the clothesline!

LAst night's dinner was unforgettable. I think Nadine described the menu on her blog. Afterwards, a young Austrian woman said that Felix (the 25 yo computer programmer/amateur chef) might make a great husband, but there were 3 things a husband should be able to do well: cook, dance, and make love. At that, the boys moved the tables, everyone started humming Strauss' Blue Danube Waltz' and Felix showed the young woman, and us all, that he could dance.(He declined to demonstrate his prowess on the 3rd requirement). It was an unforgettable moment.

There have been times on this trip that I have been near tears (generally in albergues taking yet another cold shower, or, since often there is only one small hook to put your stuff, a couple of times when my clean clothes fell on the wet floor), but there have been many more times when I have been very happy to be here. That said, I am looking forward to coming home!


lundi 1 juin 2009

Bienvenido en Galicia

Il nous reste moins que 150km!!!! YAAAAAAPPIII!! Je pense qu'on est environ à 130km de nous planifions d'arriver dimanche avant-midi! C'est bientôt la j'ai hâte d'y arriver! Ça été une excellente expérience...une superbe aventure...rempli de rires, sourires, larmes, et que de beaux souvenirs! Nous avons maintenant rencontrer une nouvelle gang d'amis....toujours avec mes frères brésiliens...mais maintenant avec Pierre et Laurence (père et fille de Lévi), Leroy (jeune portugais qui vient de l'Afrique du Sud) et Félix (jeune allemand qui nous a fait un excellent souper de poulet..pour moi non...avec coucous, salade, carottes et salade de fruit! C'était excellent et un autre souvenir du camino) avec quelques Autrichiens aussi!

Hier, nous avons subi la dernière montagne avant Santiago et c'était....CHAUD! Ça fait une semaine qu'il fait en moyenne 30 degrés à tout les jours...sans vent et nuages! Je suis maintenant bronzé plus que jamais...jalous?...mais marcher et monter des montagnes quand il fait 35 degrés le matin...ce n'est pas toujours agréable! ne me plein pas! C'est mieux que de la pluie...neige...ou froid! Nous avons été très très chanceuses de ne pas avoir eu des journées de tout le dirais qu'il a plu seulement 3-4 heures de pluie en 3 semaines!! MERCI DIEU! hihi

Bon, la connection d'internet est vraiment mauvaise...alors je ne veux pas risquer un trop long message. Pour l'instant...c'est trop lent pour ajouter des photos...mais dès mon arrivée je vais mettre nos 800 photos sur le web.

C'est bientôt la fin...mais la fin d'un excellent camino et le début de merveilles!
(Est-ce que ça fait du sens...? hihihi)
Je vous embrasse fort! Et on se revoit bientôt!! 10 jours!
Happy June!