La Cruz de ferra

Yesterday I reached the highest point on my Camino journey, la cruz de ferra,or the iron cross.

Legend says it has been placed there in the 12 century. The original iron cross is in the Gaudi museum in Astorga, which I visited. There are many stories surrounding the reason it has been placed there, but for pilgrims it is an important milestone other than it being the highest point.

People leave what they need to leave there. As for me, I forgot all of the things I deemed precious and spiritual and worthy of leaving there at home. Ok, no problem. I believe stones, or any earthly material holds very special powers. On my way from Rabanal to the cross I came across MY special stone. I’m not sure why no one saw it, as it was in plain sight right along the Camino. I’m thinking it was for me and my eyes only.

It was a beautiful heart shaped stone. I have found lots of heart shaped stones over the years and this one was just as beautiful and had great energy. On my ascend to the cross I began to pray on it, added my words, my wishes, my affirmations, my gratefulness, my burdens, and my own energy to my stone. Yet, as I was nearing the cross, I felt this urge to keep it. The stone was mine now, it held even more special energy than it did when I found it. This stone was supposed to release the burdens, to manifest, to let go and trust, yet I wanted to hold on to it. I even started looking for a replacement stone. Was I not ready to let go of whatever needed to be released, and am I not clear yet on why I embarked on this journey in the first place? I walked with that for a while, slowly relinquishing my desire to keep my stone and slowly understanding that this was part of my journey and my reason for being here.

I placed my stone right along the thousands of other stones that created a mountain around the base of the pole, and as I walked down that little mountain I physically felt lighter as if whatever I left behind was weighing me down.

Culture, super powers, and a lovely surprise

I’m spending two nights in León. It’s a bigger city, and I’m enjoying the sights and sounds. There is Gaudi, the cathedral, eeeeeendless cafés, restaurant and bars. I was walking around Old town today and was thinking what I want my superpower to be today. It really took me by surprise because I don’t generally go around thinking: Hm, let’s see, what do I want my superpower to be today. Ok, well I played along. As I hear all these beautiful languages, I would love to have the ability to speak and understand all of them. Wouldn’t it be great if we could speak each others languages. When people don’t speak a foreign language fluently like the natives a lot gets lost in translation. I know, because I felt like a 10 year old sometimes when I first moved to the US, not being able to make myself understood the way I would in my native tongue German. So yeah, that’s what I want my superpower to be today. Pow💥What superpower do wish you had today? Care to share it?

So I mentioned before, or maybe not, it’s not the easiest thing to pack up and sleep in a different bed every day. The place I’m calling home for 2 nights is actually a hotel. A very nice one. With room service❣️

No need to suffer endlessly, lol. Yup, don’t mind if I do order me some room service. It was actually kind of a surprise, I knew it was a nice hotel but didn’t think to look up the amenities, I was craving a fresh salad so much. Yes, they are hard to come by in the smaller towns. Let me tell you, salad never tasted so good.

It is beautiful to roam through the countryside all day, but I grew up having the best of both worlds. My grandma lived in a little village, about a two hour drive from Berlin, and I got to spend a lot of time there, playing in the fields, the barns, the streams. Berlin was the opposite. Mostly concrete jungle with so many new and exciting things all the time, and I’m so grateful I got to experience all of that. Today I still need that balance between country and city life. I always know when it’s time to leave one for the other.

I’m saying good night and leaving you with these 2 shots. The wheat fields are golden in some places and harvest in near. I’m standing in an alley of “Spanish brooms” so fragrant 🌸

Embracing the darker side of this adventure

Today marks my 15th day on the Camino, and for the past 2 days I had a not so fun and adventurous time. I was actually questioning my reasons for deciding to walk the whole Camino versus just a part of it. My left foot started hurting again, and I was trying hard to focus on something positive. My physical limitations didn’t exactly help with that. It’s easy to slip into a dark place and wonder if I will be able to continue or will this get worse, and would that mean I need to abort my mission. Today I can honestly say I would rather not move on, not only because of my foot, but I’m longing to stay in one place for a period of time. Moving from hostel to hostel sleeping in a different bed is starting to wear on me. Thank god I have Rumpl, my space age blanket friend to keep me warm. It’s seriously like my little security blanket that hangs out with me like a good friend.

So I sit here doing therapy on my foot. The pain is in such a weird place, on the medial side of my mid foot. I’m just glad I took my therapy balls, massage therapist, Reiki practitioner and a few homeopathic remedies with me. It gets better after I work on it, so let’s hope it’s just from overuse and will eventually get used to the long distance walks.

I see the impact long distance walking has on people every day, as young and old have to cut their journey short because of injury and, man have I seen some nasty blisters along the way. One younger guy had one giant blister going across his entire foot. Physical injury or exhaustion is one thing, but there is also the mental part of feeling overwhelmed or emotionally drained. You suddenly have so much time on your hands with nothing to do but walk and turn inward. Stuff comes up, and as I always say, it’s all perception. In my case I feel the pain, I questioned my motives, I wallowed in misery and self-pity for a time and then finally realized once again I always have choices.

I was looking for a fitting quote and found this:

It sure does help to write things down. I’m writing a lot in my journal, and I am so grateful that I get to share some of my personal experiences and adventures with you all. Whatever I’m doing and learning here will help me not only better understand and learn about myself, my triumphs, limitations, my ability to problem solve, but it will help me help my clients find their own path as well, in a compassionate, loving, and kind way

No matter how hard the past, you can always begin again

Buddha❤️

Off day

Spending 2 nights in Burgos proved to be the perfect amount of rest I needed. I wanted one complete off day where I didn’t need to pack or unpack. The luggage transfer is well worth the $5 euros per day. I met up with Grit again, one of the German girls from Rostock who walked with her heavy backpack every day. She said she finally had enough, wanted to enjoy her walk and sent it ahead. The beauty is that you can start or stop this service any time. There is no need to schedule it ahead like I did. Usually when I arrive at my destination my suitcase is already waiting for me, sometimes even in my room if it’s a private one. This time when I arrived in Burgos my suitcase wasn’t there yet. I called the number I have saved in case I needed it, and they apologized saying there are 2 pensione with that name in Burgos. The driver who delivered the luggage left for the day, but he called a taxi which then went to the other place, picked up the luggage and voilá 🎶with a knock on my room door it has arrived safe and sound. I mean, if it was lost I have insurance that would cover that. It just means a shopping trip to an outdoor adventure store. How horrible🙂

I went to the cathedral of Saint Mary at Burgos on Sunday. I’m telling you right now that none of the pictures I’m sharing here do it justice. It was just breathtakingly magnificent. Now, I don’t belong to any organized religion, but love visiting all churches. I find that the catholic ones are usually among the most ornate. The symbolism is incredible, and I wish that when you are handed the language interpretation thingy it would tell at least some of those stories.

Burgos as so many other cities in Europe has a very walkable Old town. It was founded in 884. The Arlanzón river is running right through it and makes for beautiful walks along its banks.

Just when…

…I was thinking how lucky I was to get into a super comfortable bed each night so far on the Camino, I came across a very uncomfortable one. Sometimes I end up in 3 or even 6 bed rooms and no one else is coming. Lucky me! I spread out. Yesterday however, the bed was more narrow than my yoga mat. I think the challenge for the day (and there is one every day) was to see if I can balance myself on this tiny bed and fall asleep at the same time. I failed miserably , and so it was another 13 miles on pretty much no sleep. Today’s challenge was the walk into Burgos. It started out so beautifully. Oh, I did take a wrong turn but a short walk through the wheat field got me back on track. I was passing olive groves and a sheep herder with at least 100 sheep, many with bells, it sounded so beautiful. I walked on soft ground for a while, which is so much nicer and easier on the joints than gravel or asphalt. Also makes me feel more connected to Mother Nature.

For about 11 miles I walked the pavement alongside industrial businesses, many of which were abandoned. Not even my music could cheer me. As I stopped to get a sip of water a man on a bicycle approached me, wanting to let me know that he has 3 hostels. 2 small ones and one big one, eying my backpack all the while. Yeah, I’m good ,thanks. WE have accommodations for the night already.

My big payoff for the day was the knowledge of having 2 days in Burgos. I needed a day where I didn’t have to getup at, 7 pack up and be on my way. So I booked myself in a little nice place, right in Old town. I also need a little fresh flavor for food so I went to this sushi place.

I meeeeeean, don’t get me wrong, the Spanish food is delicious, but these little hamlets I’m walking through have mostly 2 things. Bocadillos, which are sandwiches with ham, or cheese, or eggs, or something like that, or tortilla con patatas in various forms. I ended up buying a bottle of hot sauce to carry with me. Yeah yeah, first world problems, I know. But then look what I did find alongside the Camino a couple of days ago 🙂 Capresse

Burgos is a lively little town. It’s 10 at night and barely getting dark. The restaurants start serving dinner around 830 at night. The grocery stores open their doors at around 9 am, and closed on Sundays. I love how much time people have with their families. It was also 87 degrees today. Very unusual a local told me. Enjoy your weekend everyone❣️

The slow life

I must admit, I still feel guilty for spending the entire day either walking, eating, drinking, or otherwise taking in the sites and sounds of this beautiful country. It’s still new to me and I’m slooooowly adjusting to that kind of day. It’s day 9 on the Camino, and I find that I need different things at different times during the day. It’s not always the same, or at the same time, no rhyme or reason here. Sometimes I need the quietness or the sound of the wind to keep me company. Sometimes I chat with fellow peregrinos about where they are from, tell them where I am from, we chat about why we are doing this and for how long, and then wish each other Buen Camino, have a good walk. Sometimes I like to listen to a story. What better way to listen to “The Alchemist” than on the Camino. At times I turn inward and get angry, sad, happy, trying to find answers to my questions. Sometimes I sing, or listen to my “Camino playlist”. How about Adele’s “set fire to the rain” the techno version to keep me going, y’all?

You see, all sorts of stuff comes up, or creeps up, you’ll never know what you gonna get. I’m just letting thoughts arrive, saying hello, allowing and inviting in whatever comes up, without judgement or criticism. It’s beautiful but sometimes uncomfortable to have this time to just Be.

It’s so very interesting that, when you are allowing thoughts to unfold naturally, sometimes by the way a plant looks, or by a familiar smell, a song, or the way the sun shines through the trees, your perception of an entire story can change. A story you have been carrying around with you your entire life takes on a new meaning. It becomes softer, lighter and more forgiving. It’s as if I have been given permission to take time to relive or re-examine my life and my stories in slow motion. What a rollercoaster and what a blessing. Time to slow down.

Tonight I had a lovely dinner with a mother and daughter from South Africa. It is so interesting to hear stories from the people and their countries versus the media. They were talking about mass exodus happening of young white and black graduates not able to obtain good jobs, along with fear of increased crime and government corruption. They don’t really want to leave their country, but feel they have no choice. They have skills but no job prospects.

Tomorrow I’m heading into Burgos where I will stay for 2 days.

Night y’all. Leaving you with 2 more impressions from the Camino (check out the stork nests)❤️

The Camino

Started the Camino 5 days ago in Pamplona on a rainy Friday morning. It was perfect since I love the rain. I knew it would be all uphill half way, once outside the city, and downhill the rest of the day. Yeah, I’m not gonna lie, it was hard. I felt accomplished at the end of the day and utterly exhausted. Taking care of my gear first(scraping the mud off and washing the muddy pants and then hanging them to dry), I found out that the hostel had a bathtub. Scooooore!

I love European bathtubs as they are so much deeper than the ones we have at home. I was thinking of going to the store to get some bubble bath and a candle, but just couldn’t bring myself to walk one more step. What a luxury. I didn’t eat that night, although protein is so very important for muscle recovery as well, I didn’t care. I walked 17 miles or 42000 steps and burned 1300 calories. I also lived on my little homeopathic remedy that day. Arnica is working wonders.

The countryside is so familiar to me. It looked a lot like my grandmas countryside in my childhood. Green fields of wheat and oats, not ready for harvest just yet. At times it looks a lot like California. Brush and Spanish broom plants everywhere. They were just in bloom before I left California.

…..and wine and olive trees everywhere.

I have been walking through the Rioja wine region, and the wines are spectacular. I will be back one day to spend more time here and enjoy the wines and foods that go along with it.

I have been walking around 16 miles per day, with the exception of yesterday. My feet didn’t want to walk anymore, and so I walked 9 miles and then took the bus to the hostel. Maybe it was because I walked a lot on pavement exploring Logroño. My feet are holding up great. I had one blister on the ball of my right foot big toe that I sliced open, drained and applied coconut oil for antibiotic after the first day. It hasn’t bothered me since.

I’ll write again soon.

Buenas noches mis amigos💜