Day 8: Lorca to Villamayor de Monjardin – Irache insights

And then, something in me cracked.

Maybe I was hungry. Maybe I was tired. Maybe I was just ready to have some space from the 3 musketeers we’d been since the beginning in St Jean.

I just know I felt angry.

The scenery and weather couldn’t have been more glorious. It was a breezy day, with the sun playing between the clouds. We’d stopped at the wine fountain at the Irache monastery to modestly fill our bottles with free red wine. We grinned with the sheer generosity and silliness of it.

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Day 7: Uterga to Lorca – Grace, serendipity, and angels unaware

When I woke up this morning, I didn’t know I was going to meet my next important friend on the Camino. Someone who would inspire and uplift me. But this is the gift of the Camino. You walk, and angels appear — if you are looking for them.

As we left early, the sun shone brightly and sparkled on everything. We passed the beautiful church in Muruzabal, noting a small tent set up on its lawn and a loyal pup keep watch outside. That was one intrepid pilgrim!

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Day 6: Pamplona to Uterga – How to get rescued on the Camino

The windmills of Spain were getting larger. We first glimpsed those ubiquitous, white monoliths of sustainable energy four days earlier when we’d crested the top of the Valcarlos pass. At the time, I never imagined I’d ever walk to them.

Today’s walk would be all uphill and I awoke fretting about the ascent, the heat, and the lack of available water. There would be no shade today. I filled up my backup bottle just in case we couldn’t find agua potable along the way. I donned my white silk shirt and wide-brimmed sunhat for protection from the sun.

As ready as I could be, I walked with my friends out into the day to see what awaited.

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Reflections on the first stage of my Camino (St Jean to Pamplona)

5 insights from the first week on the Camino

Unless you go back to the 12th century Codex Calixtinus, there are no official stages of the Camino, but to me it felt like there were chapters.

My own first chapter involved the big climb over the Pyrenées which gradually ends up in the city of Pamplona, a total of 6 days at the pace I walked. This chapter featured high spirits from the newness and novelty of being a peregrina, yet I was already starting to have insights.

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Taking my first step toward Santiago

CYMERA_20140416_084858Exactly one year ago today, I put on my bright blue sneakers and began the journey of a lifetime.

Last year on April 16th I wrote, “My bag is packed. My heart is light. I am eager and excited to begin this journey.” I remember these feelings… and being profoundly aware of the unexpected coincidences and generosity that made my pilgrimage possible.

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Day 5: Villava to Pamplona – Postitively pampered in Pamplona

Some days you wake up feeling crabby, completely unaware of what delights await around the bend. That would describe me on the morning of the 5th day of my walk.

Even when I’m not aware of it, “goodness and kindness pursue me all the days of my life.” Sometimes you just have to look for it.

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Day 4: Zubiri to Villava – Momentum, Martin Sheen, and hairy spiders

Starting out

I was getting the hang of this walking thing.

Four days in, the pilgrim’s morning ritual was starting to feel normal: get up, dress, eat, pack up, and follow the arrows. Even for an over-thinker like me, I started to really relax into and enjoy this simplicity of purpose.

Before we got going in the morning, I tested how my ankle and shoulder felt from yesterday’s fall. The painkillers that Katrin recommended helped a lot and although my shoulder felt stiff when I lifted my pack, I walked without limping.

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Day 3: Roncesvalles to Zubiri — Finding enlightenment by going @ss over teakettle

Getting started

In the morning, we picked up our shoes from their assigned room and departed, walking beneath the stone arches of this bastion of medieval hospitality. Before leaving Roncesvalles, we (Marisela, Katrin, and I) stopped at the infamous road sign that reads: SANTIAGO DE COMPOSTELLA 790.

A daunting prospect, despite knowing the distance is in kilometers.

But walking a mere 22km (13.8mi) this day would teach me about limits. I would recognize when it’s time to stop — and discover the consequences of ignoring this knowing.

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What’s happening now almost a year after my Camino

I’m writing like a maniac, for one. Maybe you’ve noticed? 🙂


For two, the arrival of spring is making me itchy to walk. I just want to walk and walk and walk and walk not come home for 7 weeks. And this is just not like me! I’m a homebody, a couch potato, a weekend hiker (but nothing more strenuous than 4 miles on flat terrain). Seriously!

If you are thinking about doing the Camino, beware. You might not be able to stuff back in the urge to just be out there walking, ever again.

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A surprising insight from a Spanish priest (Day 2) Roncesvalles

Before dinner, we went to the special Pilgrims’ Mass. It was held in the church attached to the albergue, an ancient edifice for pilgrims that has existed since the 1100s.

Many of the churches in Spain are cavernous and echo-y, constructed with stone and masonry of an almost identical color throughout the North. To enter one is to feel like you’re traveling through time, back to the Middle Ages. I was moved again and again by the realization that millions of souls had been here before me and the awareness of years of incense accumulated on these walls.

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