Saturday, October 23, 2010

Final Post

Hey Everyone!

I finally got around to loading all my pictures from the Camino to a Picasa folder online.  You can feel free to check them out HERE.

Thanks again for following me on this journey.  Please continue to pray for me.  You all will be in mine.

God Bless,


Saturday, October 16, 2010

Home Sweet Home

Good morning folks!

I made it home Wednesday evening at about 8 after a layover in Newark.   Both the flight to Newark from Madrid and the one from Newark to Charlotte were uneventful and pretty smooth. 

It's hard to believe that the Camino is over; it was wonderful, but it is nice to be home.  God worked big time in my life and even since I have been home I have started seeing the fruits of the Camino.  There is a renewed trust that I have in Him and His will for my life, not just in regards to what my vocation is going to be, but in regards to life in general.

I want to thank all of you for following me on my journey, but most importantly I want to say thanks for your prayers.  Everyday required a trust in God and a perseverance that would have been hard to come by if not for your prayers.  Jason and I were amazed to see God working not only in our lives, but also in the lives others on the Camino.  Although we didn't witness any Saint Paul kind of conversions, we saw God working in the lives of many of the people that we met from Amy the Brit to the little trail angels that He sent to guide and encourage us.

The pains from the walking are for the most part gone.  There are some lingering ones if I sit in one position for a while and then get up too quickly, but they are to be expected after the legs were used to walking all day for a month.  My shoes held up better than expected, although they don't really have much if any life left in them after 500 miles.  The guy at the shoe store said they usually advertise them as 400-500 mile shoes, so into the yard-work bin they go.  Also, one of the cool benefits of walking 500 miles is that your body thanks you by shedding some of the unwanted baggage collected over the years--in total, I lost about 15 pounds over the course of the trip, so now comes the task of keeping it all off.

Again, I really can not thank you all enough for your support.  Know that you will all continue to be in my prayers as I move forward from the Camino.  Please continue to pray for me. Much love.


p.s. Also, I am trying to compile all the pics from the trip, so if anyone would like to see some of ones not posted on the blog, please let me know.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Fatima to Madrid

Hey everyone.

We are now in Madrid after taking a night train--10.5 aweful hours of cramps and little sleep--and are at the Best Western near the airport.

Fatima was wonderful.  I was priveleged to be able to go twice before, but this was undoubtedly my best visit.  We arrived on Saturday evening and settled into the Domus Pacis, which I recommend to anyone going to Fatima in the future.  The rain, unfortunately, followed us to Fatima so we had to dodge the scattered downpours as we made it around the town.

On Sunday morning I went over to the Irish Dominican Sister´s convent and caught the tail end of their Sunday mass.  Afterwards, I went next door to their convent in order to visit two sisters with whom I had become friends during my previous visits.  I wasn´t sure if they would remember me, but they did, and had been keeping me in prayer since my last visit!  Their names are Sister Lucia and Sister Jacinta--good Fatima names :-)--and they are two very holy and prayerful ladies. 

We talked for about an hour and a half about life, the shape of their order, families, and the rosary.  Their example of prayer and faith was awesome.   They have given their lives totally to our Lord and to praying for the world and are just so incredibly joyful.  You leave the convent kind of on a spiritual high after talking with them.  They gave me a couple bags of rosaries and prayer cards and books and stuff when I left, and only asked for prayers, no donations!

I went the next day with Jason because it turns out that Sister Lucia is from the Alexandria, VA area where Jason is going to be stationed this year on his pastoral year.  What was even cooler was that Sister Lucia´s sisters were in to visit this week and got there on Monday, the day we were visiting, and I think they go to the same parish where Jason is going to be stationed--crazy! No coincidence there.  We spent a couple hours talking again with them and hanging out.  We also met an awesome old Irish priest, probably 85 or older, and talked to him for a little bit as well.  He has as much life in him now as He did at his ordination.  Just a great example of a priest.

We had been planning on heading out kind of early in order to get to Lisbon at a good time so we could get to the shrine of Saint Anthony of Padua--not Italian if you can believe it, but actually born in Lisbon--but we ended up staying in Fatima until about 4pm.  Our Lord and Lady had other plans.

On the way back from seeing the Sisters, we ran into a lady from England who had just finished the Camino with her husband and were going to be in Fatima for the 13th.  She has been all around the world doing mission work with her husband, and visiting almost all the major Marian shrines. The kicker: she isn´t Catholic.  She is Anglican, but very much on the edge of conversion.  She believes all the messages of Our Lady, but has a hard time with not being able to find the rosary in scripture.  We explained how the Bible says that in regards to traditions, not everything that our Fathers in faith wanted us to do is written in the Bible.  She also explained that part of her problem with the Rosary was that saying the Hail Mary´s over and over was like--to use her terms--verbal diarrhea, saying the same thing over and over in a mindless trance.  We then explained what the point of the Mysteries was--a meditation on the life of Christ, not a prayer solely exalting the name of Mary.  I then gave her the Scriptural Rosary book that I had brought with me on the Camino, and had almost thrown away because of getting soaked and seemingly ruined during a day of rain--Jason said "no, man, lets dry it out"--part of Our Lady´s plan.  She was incredibly thankful and basically said that she needed something like that book and had never heard of it before.  Needless to say, we were pretty blown away after talking to her.  Her name is Pam.  Please keep her in your prayers.

Alright, well we are resting now in the Best Western and are ready for our flights home tomorrow.  I can´t believe it is time to go, but at the same time I am very much ready to be back.  Unfortunately, we won´t get to check out Madrid because of the National Holiday today.  Everything is either closed or crazy, so we are just going to be recluses today.  I get into Charlotte in the late evening after a layover in Newark.  I look forward to seeing you all very soon.  Much love.


Saturday, October 9, 2010

Bon Dia!

Hey everyone!

Greetings from Fatima, Portugal!

We made it to Fatima earlier this evening after a 7 hour bus ride from Santiago, and are now at the Blue Army's Domus Pacis Hotel. 

The bus ride was long, but not too uncomfortable.  The legs have been used to moving a little bit more, so there was a little soreness, but nothing major.  It was crazy leaving Santiago--not so much in the sense of business and bustle, but just that even since our arrival on Thursday, time has flown.

It was great this morning though before heading to the bus station.  We woke up early and tried to hit up a cafe for some caffeine and a croissant, but everything was closed.  The Cathedral however was not, so we made it up there for one last time at the tomb of St. James and also for Mass.  We saw a Korean girl at Mass who came up to us afterwards and asked if we remembered her.  We met her on our first day of walking in the rain and wind a month ago.  She told us today that she had remembered our request for prayers that day and she said she had been remembering us in prayer since then.  Still kind of blows my mind!  We didn't even get her name before she walked off with friends, but she will definitely be in my prayers.

We also had a mini reunion this morning with about 10 or so people we had started walking with or had met up with along the Camino.  They were all in line or going to get in line to get their Pilgrim Compostela and then head into the Cathedral for Mass.  Kind of bitter sweet looking back on it.  For the most part, I will not see any of those folks until, hopefully, we are in Heaven together.  Well, there was one last "Buen Camino", the callsign and greeting of all pilgrims, and then we were off to the bus station.

I don't have enough time right now to write about what I learned in the parting ways of all the camino friends and acquaintances, but it along with all the other lessons I learned was very special.  

So, Fatima.  We are going to the international Mass in the morning at 11am, so maybe a little bit of sleeping in is in store, but maybe not.  Some of the more beautiful and intimate Masses usually happen in the Basilica early in the morning in the side chapels at the tombs of the shepherd children, so I may head down to one of those.  Pray for good weather.  It has been raining gatos and perros since we got here and it kind of slows you down a little.  Anywho, I have brought all your prayers and intentions with me to Fatima, so be assured of my prayers while at this holy place.  I look forward to seeing you all soon. Much Love.


Friday, October 8, 2010

Hugging the Saint

Hello everyone,

We received our Compostela (certificate of completion) today from the pilgrims office in Santiago.  We also received our final two stamps of our trip on our pilgrim credentials.  Throughout the journey to Santiago we stopped in many towns, large and small, and at each one we received a stamp that was unique to either the town, bar, church, or albergue where we stopped.  I had just enough room for one final space on my credential, which I will try to upload in a future post, and then a spot next to my name certifying completion of the Camino.  It was pretty cool to get the final stamp and the Compostela, but I think I am still trying to process the fact that we are actually done with the journey.

It is hard to believe that exactly a month ago, today, we began our journey, not quite sure of what it was going to bring us.  I think it will be the type of thing that will hit me once I arrive back home and I can process it there.

As for now, we still have 5 days or so left in Europe and we aren´t going to let them go to waste.  We just got back from a trip to the bus and train stations in Santiago where we purchased our tickets to and from Fatima, Portugal.  We are leaving Santiago tomorrow morning by bus and arriving in the early evening in Fatima.  We booked a room at the Domus Pacis, the hotel of choice for the Fatima Peace Pilgrimage coordinated by The Te Deum Foundation every summer.  We leave Fatima on Monday evening for Madrid via Lisbon.  We bought night train tickets to Madrid but unfortunately didn´t get a bed, so I am going to have to pop an ambien :-)

We are off to grab a little bit to eat before meeting up with a Slovenian couple who we met on the Camino.  They are a great couple and a lot of fun to hang out with, so we are going to go get some dinner with them.  The wife is particularly funny with her frequent use of "I keel you" when speaking to her husband.  Pray for them.  They, like many people we met, are fallen away Catholics who because of ridiculous stuff have been pushed away.  Their priests have preached some pretty terrible things from the pulpit in regards to charity towards one´s neighbors.  It has to do with the wars and strife that have been a problem in the region for the past 20 years and the hatred between the countries.  Anywho, because of this being preached, and some other things, they haven´t been to Church on a regular basis in a long time.  Pray for them.

Alrighty, thanks for continuing to check out the blog.  One more week or so before I sign off.  Looking forward to being back home.  Much love.


Thursday, October 7, 2010


Hey Everyone!!

I am writing from an internet cafe a couple of blocks from the end of our journey, the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela.  We arrived at about 11am after a good 4.5 hours or so of walking from Arco doPino, and made it just in time for the 12pm Pilgrim Mass.

The walk in was pretty pleasant.  We started at about 6:45 with our flashlights leading the way.  We weren´t missing much in regards to scenery since the nearby hills and mountains were covered in a morning mist which turned out to be an all day mist/rain.  We made it to the Alto de Gozo which sits about 5km just outside of the city and overlooks the town of Santiago.  Unfortunately, because of the incoming clouds there was not a lot to see at the time.

We then started the hike down the mountain and into Santiago proper and were met with our first real rain since the Hurrican on Sunday.  This did not keep us from walking.  We pushed forward and began to see bigger groups of pilgrims crosswalks and knew that we were getting close.  Less than around 45 minutes after starting down the mountain, navigating our way through crowds of locals and pilgrims, we finally arrived at the Cathedral. 

We have not, however, completed the pilgrim portion of the journey.  What we have to do--once the lines and craziness die down--is the go to the pilgrims office, show them our credentials that are now full of stamps, state our purpose for going on the Camino, and receive our Compostela--our certificate of completion.  Hopefully we don´t run into trouble there.  Apparently, people have been driving the Camino by car, getting stamps in their credentials, and then getting their Compostela in Santiago.  What´s the point?! Anywho, because of those people we had to make sure to get enough stamps so that we don´t get extra questions from the "port authority of Santiago" :-)

Alrighty,  I am at a computer that allows me to upload pics, so I will post some at the end of the entry.

Much love,


Getting into Galicia



Wednesday, October 6, 2010

To Santiago!

Hey everyone!

Tomorrow is the big day!  We are right now in Arco do Pino, about 20km outside of Santiago and are anxiously awaiting the trip into the city. 

The trip should take a couple of hours tomorrow morning and get us into the city in time for the pilgrims Mass.  We are not quite sure what the proper protocol is for pilgrims in regards to what we need to do once in the city.  Some have said to go straight to the Cathedral, but if we do that then we can´t bring in our bags.  Some have said go and secure lodging because of how packed the city is going to be. So, we are going to kind of play it by ear and see what tomorrow brings.

I will find a good computer in Santiago in order to upload pics and stuff, especially the ones from tomorrow.  We are expecting good weather and are very pleased with that after the dead hurricane or whatever the heck came through a couple days ago.  Really, it has been a big story on the news and did some pretty significant damage.  We decided to go ahead and do a 30+km day today in order to put us in good position for tomorrow.  We didn´t want to have to walk on Friday because the weather is supposed to be pretty nasty, so hopefully we will have some sunny skies.

Alrighty, well I am off for now.  Tomorrow to Santiago!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

50km update

That´s right everyone, only 50km left to Santiago!!!

We are getting excited and are now trying to plan our post arrival intinerary.  It is good that we are getting into Santiago early because we have some more time to possibly get to Fatima or Avila, but that also means we are probably going to spend more money. . .

Anywho, as to my whereabouts for the last couple days, we have been in a couple of remote towns so no access to internet.  

I tell you, though, I learned one of the greatest lessons of this trip on our walk yesterday.  Two days ago on Sunday, we started walking in what I described as a Tropical Storm.  The rain was coming from all directions and the wind almost stopped you in your tracks at times.  Shoes and socks were soaked, and spirits were really dampened.  It was very difficult to pray during the walk and I found myself getting mad at God, kind of like "come on, man, we have had amazing weather for the past 20 days, and not even an easing us into this, but 20-30mph winds and rain?"  

Yesterday, however, was almost the complete opposite.  We had heard that there was supposed to be rain, and so we were prepared for the worst.  We got a little bit, just sprinkles and nothing really worth wearing a poncho for.  I found my spirits lifted up and actually enjoying the walk and its occasional glimpses of sunshine.  It was then that God opened my eyes.  I was able to lift up prayers and praise on the beautiful day, but when it came to a day when the sky was falling, I could barely pray and thank Him for another day of life.  Another parallel to the spiritual life, huh?  I saw myself as a "fair weather Catholic" at that point, only able to praise and thank God when things were going well.  But, God also put a little something on my mind basically the whole time after I realized what I was doing, and it is a song from the Christian music group "Casting Crowns" titled I Will Praise You In This Storm.  The chorus is as follows:

And I'll praise you in this storm
and I will lift my hands
for You are who You are
no matter where I am
and every tear I've cried
You hold in your hand
You never left my side
and though my heart is torn
I will praise You in this storm

This really helped me see what I needed to do for the rest of the trip, especially since there is another swath of rain coming in tomorrow, but it also showed me what I need to do in my life whenever troubles and spiritual "storms" come my way--thank Him for them, and see that they are bringing me closer to Him. 

Alrighty, well if I can´t post tomorrow, then the next post may be from Santiago.  I can´t believe the journey is almost over. Thank you all for your prayers during this time.  You all continue to be in mine.  Much love.


Sunday, October 3, 2010

Tropical Storm Santiago

Hey folks.

We are now in Sarria and are officially at the 100km mark to Santiago.  Sarria is where many people join the Camino in order to do the last 100km, so from here on, unfortunately, we expect the numbers to go up on the trail.

As for the title of this post, there is not an actual tropical storm, as far as I can tell, but it seems very much like one outside.  This morning was the most miserable I have been on the trip so far.  We looked out the window and saw rain and wind coming down and we weren´t sure what we were in for.  After a few steps outside of the albergue door, I turned to Jason and said "you know, it isn´t too late to turn back"--in jest at first, but later in the walk, not so much.

To add insult to injury, there was a wardrobe malfunction a couple minutes into the trip.  I had my poncho on over me and my bag, with my windbreaker on underneath.  I got excited for a second because I remembered that my poncho had a short zipper in the front just below the neck to allow one to limit the amount of water getting past the poncho.  Well, apparently, my poncho is made out of recycled Glad-Bags, because when I grabbed the assistance tab underneath the zipper to stabilize the zipping process, a 12-16inch tear formed exposing my shoulder straps and windbreaker to the elements.  This quickly changed the mood.  Coupled with SOAKED feet, the morning soon became miserable.  

The rain was coming from all directions at times with 20+mph winds and 30+gusts.  Twas aweful.  We made it to Samos by accident since we had not originally planned on taking that route, and we made it to 12pm Mass at the Benedictine monastery there.  I feel kind of bad about the next part--a Taxi.  Both Jason and I did not come prepared with adequate rain gear and felt that continuing in the weather would have only made things worse--getting sick so close to Santiago or other problems.  We passed other pilgrims while in the Taxi, but most, if not all of them had adequate rain gear.  

We are dried out now and staying at a kind of shady pension place.  Nicer than some hostals, but . . .shady.

If the weather cooperates we should be in Santiago by this Friday.  I can´t believe it.  We have gone about 700km so far and only have about 100 left.  Please pray that this last stretch goes without incident and that we keep our spirits up.  Much love.


Saturday, October 2, 2010

The Road Less Travelled 2.0--Slaying the Dragon. . .

Hey everyone.

Sorry for the delay, but we were in a pretty remote town last night, so no internet.

The past two days have been pretty interesting.  We started yesterday in Cacabelos, just outside of Villafranca, at the foot of the mountains that lead into Galicia.  We had decided that the route we were going to take was the Dragonte route--the most strenuous, but also most rewarding of the possible routes.  Dragonte is the name of the first town that we came to on the route, which in Spanish is translated something having to do with a dragon. . .That should have been our first clue.

The first 5km into Dragonte followed a mountain road that was almost exclusively switchbacks--one direction and then the opposite as it climbed the mountain.  We passed some people harvesting the local vineyard on the mountain, which was pretty cool to see, but even they stopped and were like "what the heck are those guys doing?"--Heck, even before we made it out of Villafranca, two people on separate occasions stopped us and pointed us in the other direction.  When we told them what we were doing, they chuckled, said ok, and left us to our demise.

We made it up and down the first of the three mountains and then things started getting tricky.  Not only is this the most strenuous route, but it is also the most ill-waymarked of the three options.  The towns we were going through were awesome.  We were travelling on legit cattle trails where we even saw a man coming back from getting hay, being pulled by two oxen and guarded by two of his dogs--very cool stuff.

Anywho, at the bottom of the first mountain was a stream that needing fording.  Little did we know that the stream was actually part of our path.  we made it across the stream relatively dry and then continued on our way. Again, I can´t stress the awesome character of these little towns that we passed through.  We started heading up the second of the two mountains and only to get stuck at a four way crossing of mountain roads, none of which looked highly travelled.  After some trial and error we finally found the right one leading up to the next town where we decided to stop for lunch.  But, before we could stop for lunch we had to deal with a white lion and a barking squirrel that was next to him--really just a huge dog that was similar to a lion in size and growl, and his little sidekick who was there for moral support.  The lion thing followed us for another 100m or so and then lost sight of us.

We continued in this little town for a little bit longer and came upon a man outside of his barn/house with his very old mother.  We chatted briefly with them and when we asked how many other pilgrims were on this route they answered "solo vosotros"--"only you (y'all)"---Nice. . .are we the only ones crazy enough to try this route? So after his kind directions, he pointed us over a nearby mountain.  We started up the path, ate our packed lunch, and pondered whether we had made a mistake.  We continued up the path and when we looked back at the town, now a couple of hundred meters away, we could see the man watching us to see if we were going the right way.  We found out quickly that we weren't when, in a very "RIIIIIIIICOLAAAA" manner, corrected us.  We went over the mountain, all this time without waymarks, and continued down the path with the least amount of bulls. . .yes, large cows with horns.  The path I chose lead us through a thicket down to a small radio beacon and then ended.  We then decided to go back up to the bulls, pondering how painful the "outtakes" of the running of the bulls really were. 

We breathed a great sigh of relief when we saw that they were securely confined to their grazing by a small piece of rope, acting, I guess, as some type of method of retention.  We passed the cows, being eyed warily by all of them, and continued down the mountain on what we were hoping was the right road.

Well, out guidebook had mentioned something about a rock-quarry at the bottom of the mountain and something about a blasting zone as well. . .both of these we soon entered after continuing to zig-zag down the mountain.  We found that pulverized rock is very interesting to walk through, but can make it through shoes and two layers of socks--to which my beige feet could attest later that evening.

So, we then made it through the active quarry and up the next mountain to a small town called San Fiz--patron Saint of champagne making and soda. . .not really, but I liked to think so.  We then came across an old man sitting by himself in a make-shift soccer field and, very much like Antonio in the last post, invited us for a descanso.  Another little trail angel.

His name was Nicanor, and he had lived in the area his whole life.  We asked him how much farther to the town we were hoping to walk to on the Dragonte route and he said about another 15km.  At this point we had already climbed two mountains, gone at least 20km in the process, and were basically spent.  He recommended taking the road to the A-6, one of Spain's big highways, and picking up the middle route there.  After some debate and rational thinking, we felt it best to forego the rest of the Dragonte route and make it alive and in daylight to Herrerias.

We stayed at an Albergue in Herrerias last night and had a nice pilgrim dinner consisting of some hearty lentel soup, two fried eggs with french fries--heart attack anyone?--and some postre or dessert.  We slept pretty well after having our tails handed to us on a silver plato by the Dragonte route.

I slept in a little bit this morning, which the body was craving after a couple days of being beaten up, and then we started the hike up to O'Cebreiro.  This was probably the roughest start to the day since the first day in St. Jean, with a 1000m climb to O'Cebreiro.  It was pretty cool getting up there though, because it was during the climb that we entered into Galicia.  Most importantly, however, was a Church in the town that had a Eucharistic miracle happen in the middle ages.  We spent some time in prayer there and then started our hike to Trescastillas.  This was a pretty long hike down the mountain, but it was made easier with some conversation with a very nice Slovenian couple that we have been travelling at the same pace as, and a young couple from Washington state.

Alrighty, well I am off to bed.  We are in a nice albergue in Trescastilla, and the bunks look pretty comfy, so I'm out.  Much love to all.


Thursday, September 30, 2010

Acebo to Cacabelos

Hey everyone,

We played it smart today and decided not to have another 40km day.  We did end up walking about 30km, though, which really should be our limit in order not to overdo it.

Leaving Acebo was pretty cool.  We awoke to a mountain mist blanketing the town--like maybe 1/10 mile visibility.  We started with Matt from the States and began the trip through the cloud.  We were in it for a good hour or two before it really cleared up and we could see the cars coming up the road and vice versa.  

Although we had to take the road for the first 9km into Ponferrada, it was very pretty.  Very much kind of a Spanish Blue Ridge Parkway.  It was very quiet and conducive to prayer, which was a nice way to start the morning.  Then we got into Ponferrada. . .

Not my favorite city.  It took a long time to get in and out of, and our enthusiasm levels were not as high as yesterday.  Anywho, we made it out of there with a little bit of lunch and then walked through the suburbs to a little town called Cacabelos.

The walk into Cacabelos was probably my favorite part of the whole day.  The views back over the mountains that we came down were b-e-a-utiful.  That, and I met a little trail angel today named Antonio.

I was a couple km outside of the town and beginning to hit some natural trails when I came across a little old man sitting on a bench in the shade of a tree.  He called to me in Spanish "Ven aqui para un descanso"--come over here for a little rest.  I said sure, and was very glad I did.  I sat and talked to him for a good 10 minutes or so and found out a little bit about him.  He was born and raised in Cacabelos and had a grandson who was in seminary, studying for the Archdiocese of Miami.  He left, to his grandfather´s chagrin, after meeting a girl in the States and still lives over there.  We continued to talk and he kept the conversation pretty basic, so I was able to converse pretty well with him.  He was very much a grandfatherly old man who, when we parted, thanked me and gave me a kiss on the cheek.  I told him I have a grandfather named Tony in the States and asked him to pray for him.  He said he would, so, grandpa, if you are reading this, know there is a Spanish Tony praying for you.

We are at a pretty cool hostal right now that is in a horseshoe shape around an old church--outside of course--and has two bed room layouts, so a little change from the barracks set up.  

We need some prayers for tomorrow.  The way we are taking is the Dragonte way over the mountains into Ocebeiro and it is not going to be easy.  We will be praying for you all while we do it, please pray for us!  Until next post, much love.


Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Astorga to Acebo

Hey folks,

Today was another beautiful day--blue skies, cool temps--couldn´t ask for better.  But, we had a streak of crazy and we turned a 27km day into a 41km day.

Astorga was nice, a little bit bigger than most of the towns where we have been staying, but still small enough to be under the definition of quaint.  We are continuing to entertain the idea of going to Fatima, so that was one of the reasons behind our decision to push past our originally intended place of rest.  The town we made it to is Acebo, not too far from Ponferrada, our next "big" city.  This is where we are hoping to pick up Jason's guidebook that he left a couple weeks ago in an albergue in Grañon.  

I am not sure where the energy and strength came from that allowed us to walk 41km, but we are very thankful that it came.  We hooked back up with Matt, the guy I mentioned a couple posts ago from the States, and he is actually staying at the same albergue as we are.  We also saw Ben from Australia last night at our albergue in Astorga.  He got an email from me yesterday saying that we were staying in Astorga and so he ran over to the place we were staying and talked to us for a while.  Great guy and a lot of fun.  He is playing in an ultimate frisbee tournament this weekend in Barcelona, so watch for him on ESPN 4 or something.

The walk today was probably one of the most beautiful and I will put some pics of it below.  Hopefully we didn't overdo it.  I would hate to have another knee flare up. . .but we won't talk about that.  Today is our 20th day of walking and we have covered almost 550km.  We have seen a lot and are excited about what is to come.  Prayers are continuing to be lifted up for you guys.  Thanks for the ones you lift up for us.  Much love.


this pc won´t let me upload pics. . .sorry :(

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

All roads lead to or from Rome. . .

Hey everyone,

I want to start off by giving a little shout-out to the 5th grade class at Sacred Heart Catholic School and thank them for the very nice email and prayers that I have received from them!

We finally made it to Astorga today, after many Km's on the Old Roman Road.  It is a beautiful city that I will post some pictures of as soon as I get to a computer with an SD port.

It was a long but good walk, with a total of about 30km(18.5miles) in some of the most beautiful weather I have seen in a long time.  We really can't ask for much better.   We started the day from Mazariffe at about 7:15am with the German girl and her mother, Catarina and Elizabeth, who I mentioned in some previous posts.  They have been some great company and actually some of few people we have met who are actually on the Camino for spiritual purposes.  We also met a couple from St. Louis, MO this morning and were very happy to get to speak to some Americans since there are so few on the pilgrimage.  

We got a nice cafe and had a couple of nature´s valley granola bars about mid-morning and trekked onward towards Astorga.  The walk was very pleasant, even though it was pretty chilly.  Fortunately, my newly purchased reversible fleece/windbreaker kept me warm. We stopped in a small city to pick up some lunch in a supermercado--which is the best way to go for poor pilgrims like ourselves--and stopped out of the city for a much--and then made it the last 16km or so  through the country and into Astorga.

We are bunking in an old, and if I am not mistaken, renovated palace that is now an albergue, not far from the Cathedral in Astorga.  It is relatively cheap and has some nice amenities.  The most awesome of which is the centrifuge for drying one's clothes.  Hand-washing clothes really can take it out of you, especially wringing out the water, but that is where the centrifuge comes in.  You wash the clothes, throw them in this little cylinder shaped device that looks like one of those diaper-genie things back in the States, press a button, watch it shake and come to life, and water starts pouring out of the side of it.  It comes in handy because sometimes the clothes don't always dry after a night's worth of hanging on the laundry line. Then you have to march around the countryside drying your underwear by hooking them to a caribiner on your backpack.

Anywho, I hope all is well back home.  I saw that the Panthers lost. . .but there is still plenty of season left.  God bless you all.  Much love.


Monday, September 27, 2010

Leaving Léon

Hey everyone,

We are now in a small town a little bit outside of Léon called Villar de Mazarife.

We started today a little differently than normal.  We slept in.  The hostal, which was very much like a hotel, was very accommodating for the weary, and so we took advantage of it.  Having almost the whole day off turned out to be a great blessing for our legs and I think will bear great fruit over the next few days.

However, I will say that sleeping in was not just because of laziness or weariness, but, rather, we also had to wait until the post-office opened to check to see if a package had come in for Jason.  But, unfortunately, the package, after a week in the Spanish Correo system, did not arrive.  So, for the next week or so, we are going to be checking the post-offices in the towns that we are travelling through to see if the package has made it there.  

So, we left Léon, but also in another modern-pilgrim kind of way--autobus.  Three reasons: continued knee concerns for Jason, not wanting to get behind because of the late start, and the guidebook--yes I know it isn't Scripture and we don't have to follow everything it says--suggested that we avoid this section of Léon because of it's industrial nature, which would have been worse on the knee as well.

It took us a while to find out what bus we needed to take to get us to the outskirts, but, after some broken attempts at conversing in Spanish, we finally found that the Linéa Azul(blue line) would get us to our desired destination.  

Everything really has been working out for the best, even with the hiccup at the post-office.  Yesterday, as I mentioned in the previous post, was a great blessing.  We got into town early, made it to Mass, got a great place to stay, picked up some warm jackets, and were able to spend a good amount of time in the prettiest city we have been to so far.  Today we needed to find some gloves because of the cold temps we are starting to encounter in the morning, especially when we are utilizing our walking poles.  We got a great sleep, found some relatively cheap but good gloves, got some breakfast, and then began the search for the bus.  The bus got us exactly where we needed to go and, after a relatively short walk, we are at today's desired destination ready for tomorrow's walk.

We are making good time while having an even better one.  It is not about how fast you get to Santiago, but we are noticing that since we are going to finish a couple days earlier than planned, we may have the opportunity to make it to Fatima, Portugal for a quick side trip.  Please say a prayer that we can make it there if God wills it.  

Alrighty, again, thanks for the prayers. Much love.


Sunday, September 26, 2010

Leon pics

Hey guys, here are a couple pics from the past few days, including today´s visit in Leon.

Little blessings

Hey folks.

This is probably the earliest post that I have made since we began our journey here in Spain, but there is a cool explanation for it.

We are now in the beautiful city of Léon and have been since about 8am.  We left Mansanilla at about 7am to embark on the 20km journey.  Sound quick? Yes, but not for a "taxi".  I put taxi in quotations because it wasn´t really a taxi per se, but a friendly couple that we met in the bus station in Mansanilla.  Jason's knee had started bothering him yesterday and he felt it wouldn't have been able to make the trek into Léon, especially since the majority of it was going to be on the side of the road on a mostly paved path.  So, we went to the bus station this morning, anticipating the 7:50 bus to Léon, only to find that there was only one bus to Léon on Sundays and it leaves at 4pm--that wasn´t going to work.  We left and then went back inside to inquire about a taxi, and this is when it got interesting. 

The man whom we questioned, whom we also woke up from his 24hr watch at the bus station, then asked a man named Javí, who was standing next to a lady who looked to be his mother, who was watching him throw away money at one of the ever-present slot machines of Spain, how much a taxi would run to Léon.  He then said something about heading to work in that direction and that he and his mom could take us.  My normal instincts were saying "paul...Really? If this were the US, you would be saying 'I need an adult, I need an adult!' and running out of the bus station looking for a place to hide"  Instincts aside, we soon found ourselves clutching our bags on our laps inside a very tiny eurocar that smelled like a mix of b.o. and other various and sundrie odors.  But, God be praised.  They took us to Léon, saving Jason's knee, putting us very close to a 24hr farmacia where we purchased an ace-bandage, not too far from a value priced hostal, right down the street from the Cathedral, where we made it just in time for the 9am Sunday Mass. . . .Pretty sweet, huh?

After Mass we then made it across the street to a gift shop that just so happened to sell fleece/windbreakers, a warm item that we didn´t plan on bringing even though Spain is the same latitude as NY and our trip takes us a few weeks into an already close-to-freezing Autumn.  We purchased one and then got a great coffee and sweet-bread thing--no, not the sweet-bread-nasty-cow-meat-dish--and checked into the hostal and started walking around town. 

The Cathedral is amazing and the city of Léon is very nice as well.  We don´t feel too bad for taking a cab because it is saving Jason´s knee, but one of the suggested ways to get into the city due to the rough road conditions is to take a bus.  I know it is a Camino, but one can´t caminar if their rodilla is busted, so, there you have it.

I wish that the computer I am typing on had a port for memory cards so I could show you some pics of the Cathedral, but those will have to wait.  Thanks for your prayers. You all will continue to be in mine.  Next entry should be from just outside of Léon.  Much love.


Saturday, September 25, 2010

Approaching Leon

Howdy folks.

We are currently just a little bit outside of León in a little town called Mansilla de las Mulas.  We are already feeling the big city-ness as we quickly approach León--kind of Huntersville to Charlotte relationship--not quite in the big city, but close enough.

The road today was nice, but pretty desolate.  We walked about 25km, not too long compared to other days, but it was 25km in the country.  There were no water spots, farms, or small towns along the whole 25km.  This made for good meditation and conversation as well.  We met a British girl last night at our albergue named Ruth, who told us that over the past few years she has become "obsessed" with the Catholic Church.  Growing up Catholic, she and her family were pretty involved, but sounds as if they pulled away when they got older.  Having the Catholic roots, she has recently begun to explore and research about the Church and had a lot of good questions for us.  We talked for a good part of the walk and shared stories about our Camino experience.  Another person for all y'all to to pray for :-)

We are staying at the municipal albergue here in town, and it seems to be pretty nice.  So far, since the experience in Belorado, we have not seen any more blue-ridge quilt ticklers (bedbugs), but we have been extra vigilant, especially at the places that look a little shady.  Last night´s sleep and albergue will be hard to beat.  The hospitalero, or volunteer who works the albergue, was awesome and the rest of the house was great.  We cooked our own dinner for 9 euro--this fed 3 people and included pasta, sauce, peppers, onion, wine, and bread.  9euros at a restaurant would have fed one, so we are going to try to do this more often.

Matt walked with us for a little bit today.  He is walking a slower pace, but he caught up with us for lunch in Mansilla.  He is moving ahead to the next town, but we will probably see him again.  Great guy who is really trying to get back into his faith.  Had been away from it since first communion, but felt, after a series of events, that he needed to come back--another one to pray for :-)

Well, tomorrow we will be in León and we will probably take one of our rest days there in order to take in the city.  I have heard that the Cathedral is amazing and worth spending some time in.

Alrighty, next entry should be from León.  Thanks again for the prayers.  Much love.


Friday, September 24, 2010

The road less travelled

Good day everyone.

Today's travels have us now in Calzadilla de los Hermanillos, a small town outside of Sahagún, just on the other side of the half-way point to Santiago.

The reason I titled this entry "the road less travelled" is because we chose the option, at a part where the Camino briefly splits into two separate routes, to take what seems to be the less popular of the two. We chose the northern branch of the Camino which, at this point, follows the old Roman road that used to connect Rome to Astorga, Spain--pretty cool, ¿huh?  Being the old Roman road, it is still pretty rocky and therefor a little more taxing on the feet.  But, it's all part of the Camino :-)

The past few days we hung out with the two girls from the USA because we were at the same albergues.  We left their company this morning when making the decision not to stay in Sahagún and push ahead in order to keep on schedule.  Their company will be missed mostly because they were some of the funniest people I have met in a long time! Great senses of humor.

We got into Calzadilla de los Hermanillos around 2:30 or so this afternoon after about a 28km walk and settled into the municipal albergue that can house about 22 pilgrims.  We met another American at the Albergue named Matt, who is from upstate NY.  I don't know much about him, but something tells me conversation is going to be interesting.  When talking about how he heard about the Camino, he said that he a priest on the radio a couple years ago who was writing a book on his experience on the Camino--Jason and I bought this same book before beginning the Camino.  Jason talked to him a little while I was getting settled in, and he said that when he mentioned our times in seminary his eyes lit up.  That, coupled with a feeling I got when passing him on the road, told me something good was going to come from our meeting him.  We'll have to wait and see :-)

I keep meeting other cool people as well.  I met some people from the mother-land last night--The Emerald Isle, that is--who are from Dublin, and I had a very pleasant conversation with them.  We also met some more people from Holland, Germany, and a guy our age from France who has been on the Camino for two months already.

It is continuing to be a great experience.  Thank you all for your prayers.  Be assured of mine.  peace.


Thursday, September 23, 2010

The halfway point

Believe it or not folks, we have made it to the halfway point of our journey. 

We arrived in Terradillos de los Templarios just a few minutes ago after a pretty long day.  Today´s stretch was the one about which we were warned not to forget to fill up our water bottles and have lunch prepared since the first 17 of the total 27km was pretty desolate.  We are very glad that we followed the warning, because there were no signs of civilization aside from a highway that was miles away. 

We were a little slow out of the gates this morning--I only use racing terms here since you basically have to be the first ones out in order to be sure you will get a bed in your final destination.  That is one of the problems that come with walking such a popular route...during a holy year :-)
We made it to Terradillos a little while ago and went first to the albergue about which we had heard some pretty nice things.  After sitting down at reception and seeing our Spanish friends from yesterday, the lady told us there was only one more bed left and, unlike some of the other albergues we stayed in, didn´t offer a mat on the ground or spot in the hallway.  It´s all good, though.  We went back up the road to the Albergue del Templarios which is carrying out the tradition started by the Knights Templar to house pilgrims on their journey.  It is a nice place and has a working computer, so I can contact you all without losing an entire blog entry. . .not that that has happened. . .

The desolation part of today´s walk was actually kind of nice.  I mentioned in an earlier entry that there are a lot of parallels between the Camino and the spiritual life and today provided another great insight.  The plainness of the scenery struck me, especially in the comparison to the other beautiful areas where the mountains rise high and the crops of sunflowers stop one in one´s tracks, insisting that passers-by stop and take in the beauty.  Such beauty can almost give pilgrims a high which drives them onward, ignoring the pains and aches brought to life by the hike.  These beautiful sights are very much like the consolations that one receives in the spiritual life, driving one onward, towards the goal of union with God.  The desolate areas along the camino, especially like the ones from yesterday and today, are very much like the times where one must depend solely on God to get them through the day.  The times of desolation in the spiritual life, which although may seem to be the times when God is farthest from us, and we can´t look to the beauties around us to keep us going, are the times when God is calling us closer to Him while being right there to hold us up.

I have been going through a little bit of spiritual desolation out here, but found myself experiencing a weird kind of joy today during the 17km stretch of nothing, knowing that God is allowing me to go through the dry times in order to grow closer to Him and trust Him even more in my life--especially when the road seems long and unending :-)

Alrighty, well y´all are still in my prayers and will continue to be.  Please pray for me.

much love.


Here are some pics from the past few days.

The Poor-Clare´s Monastery 

Their chapel.

Getting dry :-)

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Through desolation. . .

Howdy folks.

We are now in Carrion and are speedily approaching our next big city, Leon.  But, in order to get there, we have to go through some pretty desolate areas.  We were actually advised that for tomorrow´s trip we should bring enough food and water for 40km!  We have Nature´s Valley bars still and enough water bottles to help us get there, but still makes one a little anxious. . .

Anywho, the stay in Boadilla last night was nice.  We met two American girls from the west coast and hung out with them and Ben the Australian for most of the afternoon and night.  We had some good laughs last night, which really helped us get over the semi-miserable stretch of road into town.

We made some new friends as well from Spain who were a lot of fun to try to talk to in Spanish--very outgoing jokesters.  We caught up with them on the end of our walk today and I talked to one of the guys for the last 8km or so.  Another fallen away Catholic who had some "beef" with the Church.  We had a good convo, and I hope I was able to bring to clarify some of the things about which he was concerned.  Pray for him.

Getting to Carrion was rough.  The road into Carrion has been called the "soul-less" pilgrim autopista--basically a long, straight road that doesn´t have a lot to offer.  I´ll upload a pic tomorrow to demonstrate.  The walk was worth the wait, though, because we are staying now at a convent where, as tradition has it, Saint Francis stayed on his journey to Santiago.  The convent belongs to a group of Poor Clares who we had the privelege of praying with this afternoon and evening.

We went to the pilgrim Mass tonight after a 4.80euro dinner picked up at the local supermercado.  Supermarkets are the way to go!  A loaf of awesome bread, 12 slices of meat, two tomatoes, and a jug of peach nectar--can´t beat it.

Alrighty, well I am off to bed.  Gotta rest up for tomorrow´s journey.  God Bless you all.  Again, be assured of my prayers.



Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Burgos to Hontanas to Boadilla

Hey everyone,

I hope all is well back home.  Things are going well here.  We made it to a small town outside of Fromistia named Boadilla del Camino a little after 2pm today after a pretty tough walk.

Since I last posted we have walked about 55km and have gone through busy cities and some desolation--not spiritual though.  We stayed in Burgos a couple nights ago at a nice parish albergue and then headed towards Hontanas, a small valley town about 35km away.  The journey towards Hontanas was pretty interesting even though it was long.  Getting out of Burgos was a pain because of the size of the city and the difficulty locating the waymarks for the Camino--usually a spraypainted yellow arrow or yellow shell, the sign for the Camino.  

After a couple hours we were finally outside of the Burgos metro and into the country.  When I say country, I mean out there.  There was really nothing at some points aside from a far away moo, bleat, or donkey hee-haw scream/yell/noise.  The gnats along the way were particularly annoying.  Even the concentrated deet stuff from the camping store didn´t work.  The way was pretty long and straight and at times seemed unending.  But, we finally made it to Hontanas and settled down in a nice albergue, where I got the best night of sleep since starting the Camino.  We ate a ton of food, especially bread--I think we were one of the only tables to get refilled, and it was just the two of us at the table :-) --and then headed to bed. 

The hike today was, again, very desolate at times.  There was one big climb that I enjoyed, but aside from that it was pretty flat and plain.  It seemed at times it was not going to end, especially the last 8km.  We did about 28km today and walked the first 20 with a guy named Ben from Adelaide, Australia, who is in Europe for an ultimate-frisbee tournament.  He is good company and is a pretty laid back bloke.  

He is staying at the same albergue as we are in Boadilla.  There are a number of people from our last albergue that are here, including a German girl and her mom, a couple from New Zealand, and some other folks we have seen along the way.

Every day brings blessings and struggles, but they have all been worth it.  There is plenty of time for prayer on the walks and all of you have been in the prayers as I go along.  Please continue to pray for us.  much love.


Here are some pics from the past few days:

Me, Amy the Brit, Jason, and Magdelun.

                                   Heading towards Burgos.

                                           Burgos lies, teasing us from afar.

                                    The Burgos Cathedral

When one has size 14 feet in Europe--bright white sandals with the Brazilian flag!! HAHA

                                                     Another waymarker post Burgos.

                                          Still a good ways from Hontanas.

                       Hontanas welcoming us after a long day.

                        Jason and Ben on the way to Baodilla.

The memorial for where a pilgrim passed away on the Camino a couple years ago.

                                     Making it up the hill.

Until later, peace.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

El Camino es la vida

Good afternoon, evening, and night everyone,

No internet yesterday as well, but we are now in Burgos and since it is a pretty big city there is no problem finding a cafe. 

The walks yesterday and today went pretty well.  Yesterday´s didn´t start off as desired, with rain and wind for most of the walk, but it ended beautifully.  After a wet and windy hike up a mountain and then a long walk through a pretty dense forest, we emerged on the other side of the mountain, greeted by the sun and beautiful views of the countryside.  We stayed last night in a tiny town named Atapuerca, in a small but nice albergue.  The church in Atapuerca was beautiful, but unfortunately there were no masses offered there during the day and, if I understood the little old lady´s Spanish who was outside the church, not even on Sunday.  The Crucifix in there was probably the most beautiful I have ever seen, and the Church was very conducive to prayer. 

Amy from the UK has continued to walk with us and has been a lot of fun.  I still think she is a British spy or something, but she swears she isn´t--just like a spy would do. . . Her friend is joining her on the Camino in a few days, so she will soon be leaving our company.  But, we are seeing that the situation with Amy is pretty much par for the Camino--you meet people, befriend them, walk and talk with them, and then you part ways.  It´s kind of been sad leaving the people we have walked with, but at the same time necessary so as not to build up any expectations of needing to catch up with someone or go at a pace that is undesirable.

Staying in Atapuerca last night left us with about 20km to Burgos today.  Burgos is the biggest city we have hit since Pamplona and the hustle and bustle has been kind of shocking since we arrived this afternoon.  Shocking only in the sense that we have been in the country for the past 5 days or so.  Our total km´s since we started 10 days ago is 289.4 with 507.1 left between us and Santiago.  Today´s walk, although relatively short compared to a couple recent 30km days, felt longer than it was.  We saw Burgos at about 20km out and had to watch it for basically the whole trip, feeling as if we were never going to get there.  We had to navigate some city streets and avoid cars, but finally made it to our hostel and dropped off our stuff.

We ate some lunch and went to visit the Cathedral, which is probably one of the more stunning churches I have had the privelege to visit.  It is an 11th century cathedral that has been very well maintained and preserved.  You have to pay 2.50 to get in, but after seeing all that they do to make it look so nice inside, it was worth it.  We then went on a hunt for the bus station to check some times for Amy and then went to look for some new flip-flops for me since my old ones broke in a brief soccer match between me and some little Spanish kids. It was worth the break though since I scored a goal at the same time :-) 

I am now in an internet cafe and I just finished a nice cold "jugo de coco, con pulpa"--basically a can of coconut juice with pulp--blegh.  Burgos is nice but I am already ready for the countryside that awaits us.  From what I have heard it is pretty much just you and some fields from here to Leon, about 100km from here.  The quiet has been one of the best parts about the Camino so far.

Now I know this one has gone on long enough, but I want to share the meaning behind the title of this post.

There is something that I have been noticing and that I have talked to other pilgrims about since someone brought it up in conversation, and that is the feeling that I and other pilgrims get before leaving the albergue.  It is almost a feeling of dread but excitement at the same time.  This feeling is one that, when I meditated on it a little bit, I realized was one comparable to those experienced in the spiritual life.  The dread comes from knowing that another long slog awaits with possible blisters, stubbed toes, twisted ankles, etc., but the excitement comes from knowing that we are one day closer to our final goal and that great blessings will come during the day.  When one makes the decision to change the way one lives one´s life and to follow Christ, there is an excitement knowing that this life that they are living is one that will find them united to God in heaven. But, the dread comes from knowing that it is not going to be easy, knowing that the life of complacency and spiritual laziness that they are leaving behind is "easier" than taking that step and moving towards our Lord.  The blisters and other ailments are things that, while they may seem to slow us down, are what actually help unite us to our Lord in the journey.
      I need to do some more meditation on the Camino-Real life parallels--There are much more than I realize right now.

Well, until next time, know that you are all still in my prayers.  God Bless you.


Friday, September 17, 2010

Sleeping in a Church--Najera to Santo Domingo de la Calzada to Belorado.

Hello all,

Sorry I didn´t post yesterday for all those who might have thought I was dead or lying in a ditch or something (mom, mara. . . :-)).  The place we stayed yesterday didn´t have internet access nearby, so I had to wait until today for an update.  

The past two days were pretty uneventful on the Camino.  Yesterday we had the good company of two girls, one from England and one from France, who were a lot of fun.  Amy is from England and is a foreign diplomat with a pretty neat background.  Magdelun, no misspell there, is from France and is a midwife.  She was all about singing and I found that very helpful in passing time.  We sang everything from Sound of Music to old Disney songs which when sung in France were very entertaining.

We made it yesterday to Groñon and stayed at a Parroquial Albergue, another one run by the community church.  This was the most interesting place that we have stayed so far--we actually stayed in the Church.  No, not like in the parish hall, offices, etc., but actually inside the church.  Like almost every other church we have visited, this one was very beautiful.  We slept at the foot of one of the side altars and I actually slept at the foot of a 12th century baptismal font.  I know it sounds weird, but it was kind of nice.  Everyone else was very respectful and always kept their voices down and did very little conversing inside the church.

We had a community dinner with about 50 other pilgrims in the parish kitchen and met some pilgrims from Poland, Switzerland, and Canada.  Most of the pilgrims then gathered in the Church after dinner for night prayer and headed to bed.  

We woke up this morning about 6:30 and were on the road by 7:30--it has been taking me much longer than I expected to get ready in the morning, needing to make sure that all my stuff is there and ready to be re-packed.  It was a relatively short day, only 16km, but it was nice to spend a little more time at the hostel off of our feet.  It rained today as well, so our energy was pretty much sapped by the time we reached Belorado.  We grabbed some lunch off of the pilgrim menu and checked into the hostel.  

For the most part, the hostel is pretty nice.  Washers and dryers for clothes are nice, but we saw the first evidence of bed bugs--blegh!  We brought them to the attention of the hospitalero and he changed the sheets and allowed us to change rooms.  A refund sounds better, but we haven´t seen any after doing a rather thourough inspection.

We have a little bit of a longer day tomorrow so the extra rest today is going to help.  Again, know that you all are in my prayers.   Please pray for us.


Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Logroño to Najera--blisters, party of three?

Hey folks,

We had another good weather day, thanking God for the dry and mostly clear skies.  Today was probably the toughest hike in the past week aside from the first day. 

We left a little after 7am this morning and made great time to Najera, about 30km or so from Logroño where we stayed last night at the parish albergue.  Staying there was a very neat experience and we met alot of nice people from probably 15+ countries.  In particular at dinner there were people from Belgium, North Korea, England, and Mexico.  The folks from Mexico actually live not far from where I studied Spanish in 2006, so that was a nice ice-breaker and conversation sustainer.  The meal was simple: hearty vegetable soup, salad, bread, and some watermelon--again, all through donations, so one shouldn´t expect prime rib or anything :)

We slept on mats on the floor and all shared one bathroom--segregated of course.  Mass was before dinner and then they had a pilgrims blessing, dinner, and multilingual evening prayer, which was very nice and a good way to end the day. 

Today, Will, from the Inguun and Will mentioned in the previous posts, joined Jason and I for the hike to Najera.  He is a pretty cool guy who has been all over the world and lead and interesting life.  I got to talk to him one-on-one for a couple hours this morning while we were hiking and he shared a lot about his past, his relationships with family members, and his experience of faith.   God has brought a lot of people into our lives over the past week, and I believe that we have met Will in order to ask for prayer and to pray for him.  He´s been through a lot and needs a great deal of prayer.  Please keep him in yours especially over the next month.

Well, as promised, here are some of the latest pictures from the past couple days.

This is me taking a sip of wine from my pilgrim shell poured from an actual wine fountain.

The road to Los Arcos.

Attending a Low-Mass with some Benedictine monks from New Mexico who stayed at the same hostel as we did in Los Arcos.

Brace yourselves. . .

Los idiotas y los toros. . .

And, thinking I made a wrong turn. . .(the NY airport. . .)

Alright guys, until next time, God Bless you.  Pray for us.