Pilgrimage: Camino de Santiago in Spain, 2012

Sandy and I had a wonderful and challenging two weeks walking the Camino de Santiago in Spain. We had planned to walk 200 miles from Leon to the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostelo. We flew to Madrid on 12 September, found a hotel with Spanish assistance. We trained the next day to Leon, about 3 hours north and found a convent to stay in for the night. The next morning about 6:30 a.m. we joined other Peregrinos, pilgrims, in the dark to begin our first walk to La Virgin Del Camino. We found an albuergue, a private rather than municipal place to sleep in large rooms with bunk beds,, and bunked down for the night with 45 other pilgrims. Everyone was very thoughtful of others sleeping at night and napping during the day.

We began our walk early the next morning and walked on average 6-7 hours per day, often through cornfields and wheat fields for miles. We walked to the next town, Hospital De Orbigo and found a Hostal to stay in to rest up. At times sleeping was difficult in the albuergues with up to 60 and more all taking care of washing clothes, talking on cell phones and packing for the next morning.

Blisters began to slow me down too much so we sent our backpacks ahead to Astorga, a major city north of Hospital. We walked the 11 miles to it in very warm weather and a blazing sun. Spain was experiencing a drought, so we felt as at home as we do in Texas. In Astorga we rested for two days to give my blisters a chance to cool down. Most other pilgrims were attending to their feet, bandaging them and draining blisters with needle and thread. Sandy became very adept at draining my blisters nightly with a thread attached to the needle to promote their draining. I began to call her Madame Lance-alot.

Because there were two steep mountain climbs between Astorga and Ponferrada, we chose to bus across it to give my feet a chance to heal. We arrived in Ponferrada in about an hour and found an albuergue. The next morning we set out for the modest sized town of Cacabelos. On the way through the wonderful Spanish countryside full in this section with El Bierz vineyards, Sandy became ill at this juncture, so we halted our hiking to find some medical assistance. We made it slowly to an albuergue, got her hydrated and time to sleep, then set out later in the day to find a medico centro clinic where a doctor gave her an injection to help her gain her strength. She began to eat again. We knew, however, that we could not risk her being in a desolate area of the Camino and having a relapse, so we reluctantly made the decision not to try to do more this trip.

We bused back to Leon where we caught a train to Madrid. We stayed two nights in Madrid and flew home on 24 September. Our trip, though shorter than we wished, was full of wonderful Spanish people as well as others from all parts of the globe, who helped us so often we lost count.

Sandy will be seeing a specialist in the next week to learn more of her condition. The Camino, we learned, is a deeply interior pilgrimage even as the road itself is an organic and living being.To enter and traverse it in meditation is to enter an altered world, one which feels like a dream now that we are home. Each approaches the Camino with one’s own intentions. Attitude became everything on the trip. We hope to return at a later date to complete the part of the pilgrimage we had to abandon. No regrets.

  1. Ultreya brave peregrino y peregrina!!!! Spanish soil will welcome you back to re-join over-lapping steps…right where yours left off….

    Buen Camino!

    1. Bravo Peregrino y Peregrina! You both are wonderful inspirations!!

  2. What a wonderful voyage of the soul!!! May both of your ships be steered toward impeccable health that will allow for a revisit! Many blessings peregrino y viva la madre que te pario!

  3. Wonderful to read of your adventures with Sandy in Spain. Sorry that at that time you both could not finish the pilgrimage.