Sunday, April 18, 2010

Coming home


This morning we took a taxi to the airport. We all agreed that it was the best way to get there. We got something to eat and found out why eating in an airport can break your budget. Since you're captive once you check in, they can charge anything they like for a bagel and cream cheese. I think they even charged for each tomator and leaf of lettuce. My advice, don't find yourself hungry in an airport.

Our flight across the Atlantic was great with TAP (Portugal), long but bearable. However when we changed planes at Newark, NJ, the Air Alaska plane was cramped and soooo commercial. They had the stewardesses selling everything that we had just had included on the previous plane. Welcome to America, land of profit. I never understood the concept of "first class" before, but after pressing my knees against the seat in front of me for 7 hrs., having the guy behind me pull my hair, not being fed and no movies, I was drained by the time we arrived at Sea-Tac. However, there was one beautiful view of the Great Lakes down below me for about 45 mins. It was my first time to see them.

A big thank you to Cesily and Nic who picked us up and brought us home. The airline lost our back packs, so we had to leave without our luggage. We were so jet lagged and overwhelmed by the time we got home, I don't remember the time between getting off the plane and about two days later, emerging from my stooper with a blinding headache and blasting ringing in my ears.

And so it ends and begins. Our pilgrimage continues. We have already had some events happen here at home that would have blown us away before we went on the Camino. I just don't feel upset. I know that good things are in the works and it's just a matter of intending that things work out and they will.

My friend Michele said that we would come back in a "Zen space" and so we have. Now the real challenge is to let go of concern and know that the camouflage is just that; camouflage, not reality. The reality is that we are OK and we will make it and even if the way is steep or the going is rough, step by step we can do it. I love you, dear family and friends. I do.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Return to Lisbon

Return to Lisbon

Today we gave Tina her stepping stone and she gave me two going away presents too. We hugged and she helped us call a taxi to get our heavy packs to the hotel. There we caught the 11:30 bus to Albuferia. Then we changed buses for the long ride to Lisbon. When we got to Lisbon we took Rafael's advice and got a pensiona in the Praca Alegria neighborhood. Then we went for Internet and food.

We missed Rafael's call because we were in a dead zone for phone reception. They came ready with a present of a bottle of wine and everything. That was sad. We really wanted to see them before we left. Well, we'll just have to keep in touch online.

We lunched on the steps of a theater dedicated to Reina Maria II. On the corner of the plaza was the police station. Tucked into a small corner of the plaza was an apparent restaurant with very exclusive clientèle. It was called Gambrinus. Taxis came and went dropping off the well dressed and not famous. The doorman, whom we named Anton because it suited him, stood in his crisp uniform and hat guarding the entrance. He dutifully and with flare conducted the business of arrival and departure, taxi fetching, food delivery of take out to the police, parking cars in a plaza so small and already filled with parked cars that only the truly creative could find a sliver of space to insert another.

We made up a story that we continued throughout our vigil while waiting for phone calls. We told it to each other as the scene unfolded. Gambrinus became the place where high level deals are cut by behind-the-scenes officials of the government. Anton knew it all but wasn't telling. He was the essence of discretion. The police pulled up and he handed them bribes through the car window in brown paper bags. Every passer-by was an agent of one kind or another, their seemingly innocent cell phone conversation reporting on us, the spies on the steps. On and on our fictional narrative went to entertain ourselves as we waited.

There were plenty of characters to enliven our tale. Some others joined us on the steps, at a polite distance. They were holding the microphones behind their newspapers, adjusting for maximum pick up. There were boys with dreads on skateboards passing by and young people with instruments in cases. We commented on how the secret service was recruiting them younger and younger these days. This is how we pleasantly passed the afternoon.


Wow, you should see the bathroom to this little room we have. It's all in sky blue tile. Only in Portugal! Hot water, huge tub. I'm in heaven. We'll just live in it, forget the bed room.

We had moved to the central plaza because we were aware that our room must be a dead zone for phones. We couldn't afford to miss any more calls. We watched the world go by. Lisbon is a busy place with lots of things going on, little dramas all around. Emergency vehicles with loud sirens, homeless people begging, tourist buses with open upper decks going by and lots of style. Everybody wares the latest fashions. I guess Europe is where they come from, so if you want to know what will show up in the US next season, see it here first.

Fatima called about 7:30 and picked us up in front of the train station. Her husband, Manual was with her. They took us on an unexpected tour of Old Lisbon by night. We ended up at a little restaurant Called Va E Volte. They treated us to a dinner of Pulpo, (Polvo in Portuguese) and blackened pork. Then we walked to a point over the city and admired the lighted monuments and cathedrals. It was a different Lisbon than we'd seen all day. We got to see it through the eyes of people who love Lisbon.

They took us to their house, a cozy place with mementos of their trips to 5 continents. They are very interesting people! We slept in their children's rooms, since their children are both grow up. Good sleep.


Today Fatima dropped us off at the train station and we went to Sintra, a village that had come highly recommended. On the train we chatted with a woman who spoke good English. When she got to her stop she said, "Never change, you're perfect the way you are". Wow, such an unexpected compliment. I have changed though. I know it will be a challenge to keep what I've learned with me when I get home and back to a familiar space. However, I am determined to keep what I have learned. I have learned that I am safe and rocked in the cradle of the universe. All I have to do is put an intention out into the universe, and I get what I need. It's so cool! Hopefully it will work when I get back.

Today we are ordinary tourists doing the tourist thing. We buy a ticket for a bus that stops at four popular points of interest. We got to a Moorish Castle from 800 AD. It was a long way to the top of a mountain and the bus dropped us off at the bottom, so today is a walking day. We climbed ancient stairs up and up.

Four years ago when we were in Paris I didn't climb all the way to the top of the Eiffel Tower. I stopped half way. I've always regretted that. So today I am determined not to give up until I can see from here to the sea at the very top of the highest turret of the castle. The steps are worn with the footfalls of many people through the ages. They are steep and clearly made for solders who have an ample stride. Not exactly standard modern rise. The wall was very tall, the steps are not regular and it is not railed.

I must admit that I stumbled and if I hadn't been holding Eric's hand I would be a stain on the mountain side for sure. These Moorish guys really build CASTLES! I kept climbing. The developing view was unbelievable! From every successive vantage point I could see more of the area below. It would be hard to sneak up on this castle without being seen. We wandered in and out of the rock ruins of rooms and towers, granaries and water storage. This castle was totally prepared for a siege of substantial length. Huge boulders were scattered along the mountain side. They just built them into the wall if they were in the path of the build.

On this sight there were signs of bronze age habitation. I guess being up high on the hill was a good place to be for any group who wanted to be safe over the millennia. The Moorish Castle was conquered by Dom(king)Afonso Henriques in 1147. That must have been something to see. I don't know how anyone could do it, it's such a formidable fortress. It was eerie to put my hand on the groves where the bowmen shot arrows at their enemies, foes exchanging places over time.

When I got to the very highest tower I could see all the way to the sea, waves crashing in white spray. I could see the town and all the surrounding towns clear to some mountains. It was a panoramic view that truly took my breath away. It felt very heady and powerful somehow. I could imagine how an arrogant leader full of himself could look out over what he controlled from this place and feel the power. It's enough to make a person feel invulnerable. But of course, they weren"t.

Oh, I forgot to tell you the best part. Across the street from the train station in Sintra was the first thrift store I had seen in Portugal. It was in business to raise money to care for street dogs. I was in my element. I got the last of the charms for my bracelet there and some great presents too. 7.50 Euro.

Then it was time to catch the train back to Lisbon. Fatima picked us up and made dinner for us. We got to meet her daughter who is an architect like her father. She had done the Camino by bike with her scout troupe when she was a teen. She was fun and the food was good. We had a great time our last night in Europe.

Saturday, April 10, 2010



In the evening at Portimão, Eric said that it was my turn to manifest a miracle. So, I got the old 2006 list of the SERVAS Portugal book and started calling anyone East or West of Faro. I had strikeouts four times before I called Tina. After explaining the difficulty getting hostels over the Easter weekend, and a little bit about ourselves, she said “You come and stay at my place!” Just like that. Cool!

Tina lives in Porches, a town West of Faro and East of Portimao. We caught a bus to Lagoa the nearest town to Porches with a bus running. There were no buses running to Porches on the holiday. Tina kindly came in her little yellow car to the bus station to pick us up. She took us to her beautiful house with, guess what?; an attached quest suite complete with bathroom, kitchen, hot water, cats, wind chimes and church bells that mark the hour and half hour. We collapsed in a heap and poured out our gratitude to her.

Not only has Tina fixed us some sumptuous food, she has invited us to stay as long as we like and come back and stay three months sometime. She has introduced us to her friends Luis and Julio, with whom we have eaten, gone to see the unbelievably amazing cliffs and caves on the beach were the teal water has eroded a labyrinth of holes and arches washing up on tiny private beaches and conspired to surprise Tina with a stepping stone Eric and I are making way down in the back of her garden in the sand.

She has taken us to see antique towns such as Sra. Da Rocha, Albufeira and Silvas, the capital of Algarve, which is the province or county that Porches is in. Her cats are cautious and don’t associate with us no mater how much we try to entice them. I think they don’t understand English. I said “kitty, kitty, kitty”. But they respond nicely to Tina’s loving voice in Portuguese. She has been loving and giving and we are amazed at our good fortune to find her.

Eric has counted the ways we could have missed meeting her. She is not a member of SERVAS anymore. She was only a member for one year in 2004. We had our old list from 2006 when we were in Europe before, and the list that was given us at that time was expired. So here in 2010 we call her and she is here for us. Double cool!

My confidence in life seems to be there under all the layers that have peeled away. I want to get home and enjoy my family, my farm and my dog. It’s been a journey for my soul. I want to burst into song. I know I’ll have to work to keep this feeling once I’m back in my own habitat. However, it just fell over me like a clean white sheet. I did it! I set my goal to walk farther than I’ve ever walked and I did it! I’ve meet the most wonderful friends and they seem to actually like me. I’m better than I thought I was in so many ways. I am strong and able and between Eric and I we did something really hard together. We had a lot of fun! We made lemonade out of lemons!


Today Tina took us to another beach where the Atlantic runs the gambit from deep teal to delicate light green. The waves lap gently without any big waves. The sun sparkled on the water and children played safely in the shallows. We walked in the sand and got our feet wet. It’s a pleasure I haven’t had for a while. So nice, so childish. Actually it does remind me of my small self who delighted in running in the waves at Zuma Beach, CA with my mother.

This is a special day for me. Two of my fantastic children came to me into this world on this day; Nic and Poe. I take a good part of this day to remember their births and there childhoods. I remember Poe’s chubby cheeks and Nic’s wispy, almost white hair. Poe always crawled over to eat the mud off our boots and Nic always wanted to be picked up. Oh what I would give to be back there again, snuggling with them, watching them at play. Each of them is so precious to me. Thank you Nic and Poe for choosing me to be your mother and giving me the most beautiful memories of two little boys.


Today is Easter Sunday. Tina made a grand lunch of grilled Salmon. It was crispy and so good. We ate at a mosaic table overlooking her sculpted garden that Julio designed for her. It was lovely and better than going to the procession that Tina says is beautiful but crowded. We talked of spiritual things. We walked in the extensive garden admiring the clever landscaping. It was a quiet day.


Today we must resolve a pressing problem, we have run out of Epsom salts (magnesium sulphate) about a week ago. It keeps my digestive system working uphill against the side effects of my blood pressure medications which tend to bring everything to a halt. We have looked for anything like Epsom salts in pharmacies and stores but with no success. So now I must take action. Tina took us to the local pharmacy. I told the Dr. there that I need “the atomic bomb of laxatives”. He prescribes and sells us the necessary formulations and explains the program. Eric and I dutifully go home and carry out the dastardly deed. I discover it’s really not so bad, and Voila! I am cured. I am ready for a wonderful afternoon with Tina in the Town of Silves.

Silves is the capital of Algrave. It is a charming place of ancient structures and winding narrow roads, my favourite. I love to get lost walking the twisting roads of an ancient town. We see white and black Storks on their huge nest atop a chimney. They put on a dance, clacking their beaks and stretching their wing spans for us. There is an ancient bridge with fish of all sizes swimming in the clear water. There is a statue of the King of Portugal who took Silves back from the Moores in the 1100’s. The architecture has a Moorish influence with turrets and domes. It is enchanting.

I found a shop of old things and bought medals for my bracelet. I’m in heaven.

We saw a long low wall done by an artist all in mosaic. I sat on it, it was delightful to look at and a huge project.

We visit the cemetery where Tina’s parents are buried. There is a beautiful mosaic pot on one of the graves and I take a closer look. I got the idea to make a mosaic stepping stone for Tina and start to look for the elements I will need.
Coming back the air is full of the sweet scent of the orange groves in bloom as well as the smell of orange peels roasting in the sun. So intoxicating! We have chosen the best time to visit the Algrave, Spring with all the flowers just beginning to bloom. Later Tina says it will all be brown. I’m glad I won’t see it.

Eric and I spend the evening texting all the friends we have made, telling them where we are and not to worry. It’s fun, some of them text back. It’s like a virtual party.


Today we dug the sand and got the cement from the garage where Julio said it would be. We are going to make Tina’s surprise when she goes to pick her sister up at the airport. I went looking for some pieces of tile and found some but mostly terracotta.

Tina invited us to lunch with Luis and Julio. It was fun. Eric had Mackerel and I had short ribs. We helped Tina by Eric sanding and later will varnish her hot tub and I weeded between the stones of her patio. Then she asked us over to her porch for tea.

When Luis was here he brought some pictures he had taken. We got to choose more than one if we liked. We took three of bright flowers of course. It was a calm day, yet I’m feeling antsy. I know that our time here is running out. Eric and I are beginning to make plans to return to Lisbon where our flight will take us home to our loved ones. We have definitely had a deep culture experience.

Fermin texted us and wants to come down and bring his girlfriend Allison. We would love to meet the girl we have heard so much about. He writes back that he doesn’t know when she will be ready, she is trying to take her driving test.

Conny replied to our text message that she feels that meeting us was the reason she came on the Camino. Wow!

Anna got back to us and said that Anton if proud to have an American Grandma. So sweet!


Today was sunny as have been all the days we have been in Porches. Eric finished varnishing the hot tub and I will never be able to finish the weeding. I just got pretty far on the edge that curves around. Tina took us to town and Eric bought another memory chip for his camera. I got a three charm set that I had seen before and thought about it a long time. No impulse buying for me.
Then when Tina went to pick up her sister, we flew into action. We hauled all the stuff down the garden way to the back where hopefully Tina rarely goes. We cut a simi-oval shape in the earth and flattened it to be our mold. I arranged the pieces of tile in a swirl with a rock shaped like a heart in the middle and then following the spiral the little tile path leads to a green chunk of glass. The theme is “From our house to yours”. The sun is hot and we cast it in a sunny place. I hope it will dry by the time we have to leave. We will have to dig it out of the hardened earth to fetch it up. Then, depending on the services, I may have to smooth it out with grout. I hope I have time. If not, Julio may have to finish our surprise.

Then we put everything away and acted like we’d been lounging around our room when she got back. Hope she didn’t notice how sweaty and out of breath we were. She did notice, however that the garage door had been closed. She says that she never quite closes it. But she thought that Julio had been in the garage. Neat!

We passed the evening looking at Eric’s pictures recalling every step of the way of our pilgrimage. We even know exactly how far we were from Santiago because it is written on the markers.

Then we watched English TV. Every night at 9:30 there is a National Geographic special with Portuguese subtitles. We have gotten in the habit of tuning in. The church bells tell us when by ringing on the house and the half hour. It’s a little bit of home.


Today is another special day, the day Sloan was born. I love you so much, sweet daughter of mine. You are a joy to me and I remember how when you came into this world you were the most beautiful baby that I could imagine. I just held you and looked at your glowing face for hours. What a special person you have been in my life. You have taught me so much. How can I ever thank you enough for coming to me.

I went out and tested the stepping stone. It’s hardening, but I can still press down on the cement. So I will check at the end of the day.

Also today Luis and Julio invited us to a big lunch at a house that Julio restored from ruin into a fantastic, gorgeous house and garden. It is the last day here for a couple from Germany who have been renting it. They made Chiopino, two different kinds. Both with clams, shrimp and potatoes, then one had pork pieces and the other had salmon. Tina is a vegetarian and eats fish, but not meat. The sweet potatoes were a special taste surprise for me and they were quite good. There were a couple of other friends at lunch, a Portuguese man named Ludgero and another man, Marcel from Switzerland. So there was lively conversation in three languages around the table. It was all a delight in sounds, tastes, and new people. The frogs in the pond near the patio croaked in loud objection to the disturbance of their usually quiet surroundings.

Julio and Luis had a surprise for me. Yesterday they collected tile pieces while on an expedition to find whole tiles for his garden projects. They gave me a bag of broken tiles to die for. I’m so excited. Now I have to buy a suit case and carry my treasures on the plane. But what the heck. I’m going to make the most beautiful garden in my yard this summer!

We contacted our new friend in Lisbon, Fatima and she said that we can come Sunday afternoon. She also said that she got together with Delphina and got our bag we left there, so we don’t have to spend time doing that. That’s good.

So Eric and I are thinking of visiting some fellow pilgrims we met at Santiago on our way back to Lisbon. We have to email them and give them our phone number. So, tomorrow we will buy tickets and we’ll say good bye to our new friends. But we’ll keep in touch!


Today we are preparing to leave. We are unpacking and repacking our back packs to get rid of anything ounces we don’t need. Eric suggested a new way to pack so we could to take home the tile Julio and Luis gave me without having to buy a small carry-on bag with wheels. That’s OK with me, it is a treasure I can’t leave. Eric and I are both dizzy and light headed today. We don’t know why. My blood pressure is great, maybe even a little on the low side, maybe that’s it. We both took an Echinacea just in case. We have had little illness on the trip to worry about. It’s been a “healthy experience”.

Luis and Julio stopped buy and gave me a goodbye present. It’s a cute little pot made in ’89 with traditional painting on it. It will be a challenge to get it home in one piece, but I will do my best.

When Eric got back from walking to the hotel to get the bus schedule, we unearthed the stepping stone. We wish we hadn’t put so much sand and wish we’d put more cement, but it turned out OK. We brushed it off and left on the porch to surprise Tina in the morning. We feel done here.

Eric talked to Rafael, our fellow pilgrim he met in Santiago and we are going to try to get together with him and his girlfriend tomorrow. They live on the other side of the water from Lisbon. So maybe we will see some place we didn’t get to see last time we were there.

Off to Lisbon, finally!



Today we hopped a train from Lisbon to Faro, a town on the southern coast of Portugal. We only saw the train station in Faro because we had to catch another train to Portimao. The only reason we chose Portimao was because there was a room available there in a hostel. In other words, it was chosen for us.

We passed villages and cities. The landscape changed from tall pines and Eucalyptus to shorter, more squat long needle evergreens of some kind with distinctly rounded profiles and olive trees. We passed fragrant orange orchards cotton clouds shining in the sunlight. full of blossoms. There were multicoloured bee hives stacked in the distance. The dirt turned from tan to bright orange, deep rust and finally to pale sand.

The land flattened out and burst into patches of white and yellow daisies. Here and there, under the orange trees were splashes of azure, magenta and cayenne where spring had painted with her brush. The sky was blue with a few

We stepped off the train into a small station with blue and white tile pictures of it’s history. After inquiry, we discovered that our goal was far up the hill towards a water tower that cold be seen in the distance.

I unzipped the lower leg of my pants for the first time in the balmy air and shouldered my pack for the long walk up hill. I felt light and uplifted, agile and able.

We arrived in a town of white shapely building bleached in the sun. Across the water I know that there is the whole continent of Africa. I want to hop a boat and go to see Cathy in Kenya, but Eric reminds me that it is more than 4000 km away. Africa is a big place.

Our room was very nice, room for both of us, private bathroom and a little porch all our own. I took the opportunity to lie on a lawn chair in the evening light and listen to the sweet birds sing in the palm trees. My mind turned to home and I miss everyone so much. It is a strange feeling to try and enjoy the here and now, yet being aware that half way around the world there are people I love living their lives and I can’t touch them or hug them or see their glowing faces.

I look forward to seeing your faces. I think I will never look at you in the same way again. Now I have so much more appreciation of each of you, the color of your eyes, each nose, each chin, each hand, the way each one of you speak, your gestures and your concerns. You are precious to me and I miss you so much. How wonderful it will be when I see you again. I want to hold you in my arms and kiss your cheek. I want to be silent and listen to the song of your voice. I want to touch your wrist and feel your heart beat and let the gratefulness that you are alive and in my life wash over me and saturate my senses.

This a nice room but the shower leaked. I mean really leaked! It has it’s own enclosure, but the seal was hanging limply over the glass. When we got out, there was water all over the bathroom floor, running under the door into the front room and under the door to the hall outside the room. Wow, we have never seen such a thing. We need to run out and put down a towel to stop the flow of water, but we are both in our birthday suits. The manager needs to be fetched, things need to be mopped up, but we are both standing in this misplaced pool in our birthday suits. Eric hopped around, managed to half dress and run to the office. She brings a mop that is woefully inadequate for the job and the damage control begins. Now we try to figure our what to do next, we can’t stay here another night.

Off to?

Lisbon, again

Lisbon, again

Fermin came again and picked us up in Vigo. He took us to get our stuff we had left in Romarigaes. I left a hacky sack on the table for Francisco. He and I had watched a video of the world Champion Hacky Sacker when we had stayed with them before.

Even though it seemed a long way when we were walking, all these places we had been were actually fairly close together by car. Fermin insisted on making sure that we got where we needed to go. We hoped to catch a train from Ponte de Lima to Lisbon, however there was no train there. So Fermin drove us to Viana do Castelo. We tried to give him money for gas, but he wouldn’t take it. He said we would do the same for him if he was in our country.

We checked in with Duarte and Teressa who happened to be home for lunch at the time we arrived. They said that if it was a long wait for the train to come back and wait with them. However, when we got to the train, we had only a few minutes until it left. So we hugged and kissed Fermin on both cheeks and were gone.

The hostel in Lisbon was busy, full and not such a nice place to be. Eric and I had to sleep in separate rooms. It was just before the Easter weekend and someone told us that all the Spanish come to Portugal for their week long holiday. The Portuguese only get three days for the holiday. It was party time in the hostel. We began to worry that there wouldn’t be many accommodations available when we got to the south of Portugal where it’s sunny and warm and surly everybody would be going there.

Eric checked with the clerk and reserved a room in the only town on the southern coast where one was available; Portimao.

So after a nights sleep, we’re off to Portimao!



Today our fellow pilgrim, Fermin from Vigo, came to pick us up at Santiago and took us for a tour along the coast and to some of his favourite beachs. He took us to an island with expansive houses and other places he had enjoyed. It was raining really hard so it wasn’t as nice as it could have been if we had been able to walk. However, it was beautiful even in the rain and we had a good time driving to Vigo with Fermin. He taught himself English and he said we should speak English as much as possible to give him practice. However, in the end mostly Spanish was spoken so I was silent. Good for me. I should have taken advantage of the fact that Eric speaks Spanish to learn the language many years ago. Now I listen a lot and I’m getting the gist of things.

Fermin helped us find a pensionas in the old town and said goodbye. Ana from Cuntis, who was at her mother’s in Vigo with Anton, texted us and we met her in the big central mall. We walked the streets and since she was raised in
Vigo, she told us the history of buildings and their years of origin and stories about the people who had lived there. It became evening and had stopped raining so we were content to walk the streets by lamp light. We walked around plazas where Romans had walked. We saw the big port and the huge cargo ships. We went by a children’s book store and she said that they had the best books and her friend worked there.

Anton worked up an appetite by climbing up and jumping down each and every bench or low wall in our path. Finally we strolled into a favourite cafe of Ana’s and Anton’s. The waiter knew them and kept up antics for Anton. I folded Anton a paper hat out of napkins. He sang a song about the yummy moon made of sugar and honey and fruit. Many animals (thus many verses) tried to lick the moon. The only one to succeed was the mouse. So that’s why the moon looks like mouse cheese. It was so cute. He just kept singing and singing all the verses in perfect Galatian which is distinct from Spanish. He knows both languages at age 3. He raised his chin and sang to the ceiling. It was so endearing. Tears came to my eyes. What a little man, so mature, yet so sweet. I wanted to give him a hug, but of course I would have needed his permission.

Anton’s favourite dish is Pulpo. He couldn’t wait for it to be served. He was so happy to take his toothpick and stab the pieces and put them on his plate. Then Ana would cut them up and he gobbled them down. Ana also eats fast and good quantities for being such a small, thin person. I gave him a little compass on a wristband as a present. Eric gave him an American penny. He was very happy with his gifts. Ana said that Alberto, Anton’s father, had a coin collection. So now Anton had his first coin for his own collection.

We all got along so well. I asked if I could be Anton’s American Grandma.


Still in Vigo, we went out and wandered around the streets that Ana had shown us the night before. We could see the ocean and again the huge boats carrying cargo containers coming and going, passing each other. Funny, I will never again be able to look at cargo containers and not start figuring out the layout of a possible house in my head.

We stood in the plaza and watched the Spanish people interact. Everyone was talking at once. They stood in little groups in animated conversation while their children ran around and played. They were all so very stylish and the children were all well equipped with scooters, butterfly wings and tiny doll strollers. The children had the cutest little clothes. Ancient buildings and a cathedral were their casual backdrop. The stones under their feet had been trodden by Roman feet and laid by Roman hands. They relaxed in the outdoor cafes under awnings, sipping espresso from tiny cups. I was enchanted by the scene. The sky was blue with voluminous clouds all shades of white and grey. The rain seemed inevitable but they didn’t let that dampen their spirits. They walked their dogs and chattered like birds.

We bought some bread, orange juice and chocolate, just the essentials. We walked past the book store where Ana had told us her friend worked. We went in. It was nearly lunch time, about 2:00 PM. We met Ana’s friend whose name was Sandra. I bought one of the most creative pop-out books I’ve ever seen. She locked the shop door and asked us to walk with her to her bus. At the very last opportunity to exchange one more bit of information, she said that the people who owned the book shop published children’s books. I was so excited! I want to publish some children’s books. She showed us the web address and hopped on the bus. We waved and she was gone.

We spent the night in the same place as the night before. It had a loose board in the floor and every time I stepped on it it let out a noise that sounded like the shot of a gun. It never failed to startle me.

More Santiago

Well, remember the man who stopped Eric because he thought he knew him? It turned out that we saw that man again when we came down from the rock in little café. He was sitting with his wife and another couple. We had already found Conny after we came down, and the group including the man, were from Germany and they all started talking German right away. I thought that they knew Conny before. However, later Conny told me that she had never met them until that moment. Well, the man who had thought he recognized Eric looked a lot like Shawn Conery, of 007 fame as well as many other movies. He was younger and thinner, but definitely looked like Mr. Conery. He had a black coat with a hood and when he put up the hood, he definitely looked like the actor. We joked about how he must get people saying that he looks like Shawn Conery all the time. And that was true, he did. His wife insisted that he was Shawn Conery and stuck to the story throughout. Eric took my picture with this Conery look-alike. And we sat for a while talking in broken sentences and body language until the bus came. Then we all got on and we never saw him again.


We are still at Santiago. We went into town on the bus and did some Internet and got some groceries. Conny was doing the pilgrim’s last part, hugging the stature of St. James, getting her certificate and enjoying the church. We bought three kinds of empanadas; fish, chicken and pulpo. We all got back at about the same time and we asked Conny if she had eaten pulpo yet. She said she had gone to McDonalds and had a New York Crispy Burger. We said that she had to try octopus, and we shared our empanadas with her. Once she got over the idea of eating suction cups, had to admit that it was tender and tasty. Even better than the NY Crispy Burger? She never said.

She did say that she thought that part of the reason she came on the Camino was to meet us. It was really nice. We have made a another friend. She encouraged us to come to Austria and ski. We now have an invitation to Austria. We’ll keep in touch. First we have to get income to pay for this trip. We all stayed one more night at San Lozero albergue. We have decided to go south to the very coast of Portugal. Tomorrow Ferman is coming to pick up us and take us to Vigo, the largest city in Glacia.

Off to Vigo!