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(no subject) [Jun. 24th, 2006|10:40 pm]

This is now the full update, as no one seemed to be needing the computer - there are only two people here right now, anyway. Currently I am in Lisbon, having completed the camino!

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Another update [Jun. 19th, 2006|09:23 pm]

Much has happened in the last few days, and all is still going very, very well.

Friday seemed to be my day of guilt. In the morning,a British woman wanted to take the taxi with me because she was afraid of the downhill due to a prior knee injury. I told her I was pretty sure that would be fine, because there should be one extra seat. I went to the taxi pick-up spot at 8:00 because I had to be out of the albergue and figured I would just wait for the taxi to come at 9:00. The British woman found me there a few minutes later and left her pack with me. I told her the taxi was to come at 9:00, so she went off somewhere. Unfortunately,k the taxi came early, at 8:30, and the woman had not returned. The two German women I was to take the taxi with had been waiting as well, so we had to go - without the British woman. I wonder what she thought when she finally returned. I was feeling incredibly guilty for that, though I really had no choice. But soon, I was to feel even more guilty.

The two German women wanted to stop at the cross at the very highest point of the camino so they could, as the tradition goes, place at its base a rock from home that represents all their troubles and worries. So there we were, at the very otp, surrounded by tired pilgrims, getting out of a taxi. I don´t think I´ve ever been so embarrassed, especially because I saw Renzo, Fernando, and Luis at the top. I wanted nothing more than to hide. I feel so guilty. Even if I WAS injured, they are the real pilgrims, not me. I feel guilty facing them, sleeping next to them at night. I feel like a fraud. That is the primary reason I think of quitting at times - because i feel that I lessen what they do, that I rob them of the camino in some way, that I´m a cheater. I worry that I´m not being fair to them.

When I arrived at Ponferrada (by taxi) I decided to visit the Castillo de Ponferrada, a 12th century Templar Castle that was recently reopened after extensive renovations. Unofrunately it was not yet open, so I whad a cafe con leche and waited - it would be five hours until the albergue opened. Rebeca found me there, and she was alone. Apparently Diego had decided to leave in the morning, and he would be going 17 more kilometers to the next albergue. Rebecca wanted me to go with her to the bus station to meet Wolfgang, as she was also thinking of walking the next 17 km in the afternoon and wanted me to meet Wolfgang. When Wolfgang arrived, he looked exactly as i had expected from the pictures I had seen. I was extremely impressed with his English, and he seems like a very nice man. When he arrived, he and Rebecca decided not to walk to the next albergue.

When we arrived at the albergue we sat down to wait for it to open. May, the Almas, and the others all showed up. We eventually formed a line, and while we were waiting, Santiago appeared! Santiago is a 38-year-old Iberia pilot from Madrid who had been walking with the Almas. The boys idolize him. Santiago is a wonderful man, so when he lost all the skin on his to and was told he could not walk, the Almas were very disappointed (and so was I, because Santiago is amazing). Santiago had apparently decided that although he could not walk, he could still ride a bicycle, so he rented a bike and rode from Fromista to Leon the day before and from Leon to Ponferrada that day. When he arrrived, there was a celebration - people cheering, clapping. Santiago have the bugs and Rosa, Annie, and me two kisses. He will now walk the rest of the way.

I have never seen a more inefficient check-in process than at the albergue that day. There were about twenty people in front o fus in line, and we waited well over an hour! It was aboslutely rediculous. The hospitalers were incredibly anal and rule-oriented.

Once we finally got in and had washed our clothes, I went back to the castle with the Almas, May, JD, and Laura. We really didn´t want Laura to join us (she is so awful), but we didn´t have a choice - she tagged along. The castle was very cool, though. Unofrutnately it was still largely under construction. When I went up to the very top of the tower, there were Rebecca and Wolfgang!

After visiting the castle, I went to the grocery store with May. AS she was waiting to pay, the woman next to her kicked her foot by accident. May had already injured her big toenail - it was dead from when she had been wallking down steep downhills. So May said she felt a tiny bit of pain, so she looked down and saw her toenail lying on the floor! It was hysterical, watching May try to figure out how to discreetly deal with picking her toenail up off the floor. :o)

The next day, Saturday, was my 22nd birthday. I decided to take the bus to Villafranca del Bierzo that morning because my knee still hurt a lot. I knew it would be possible to take a bus, and it was raining. Oh, and I also didn´t feel like being in a whole lot of pain on my birthday! Unfortunately, the bus station was about half an hour (by foot) away from the albergue. I arrived at the station at 8:15 and found that the bus left at 8:30 - perfect timing! Soon after I got on the bus, it started pouring rain. I was so glad that I had given my poncho to May - all she´d had was a rain jacket and nothing to protect her pack. I had both a pack cover and a poncho, so I gave her the poncho.

When I arrived at Villafrance it was only drizzling. To stay dry, however, I sat underneath the doorway of the Iglesia de Santiago, a beautiful 12th century church. I learned later that it was the famous Puerta del Perdon, or Door of Forgiveness. It is said that sick pilgrims, unable to reach Santiago de Compostela, are forgiven when crossing it.

Villafranca is an incredibly beautiful town. It only has 5000 people, but that seems quite large by camino standards. The views here are amazing - that morning I sat at the church for a long time, simply emjoying the mountains, the mist and clouds, the beautiful Iglesia de San Francisco across from me. Once again, despite my pain, I felt like the luckiest person in the world.

When Rebecca and Wolfgang arrived, I went with them to the albergue, Ave Fenix, run by Jesus Jato and his family. They have dedicated their lives to the welfare of pilgrims, and I heard taht this was a wonderful place to stay. When we arrived, we were met warmly. There was an enclosed patio area, and Gregorian chants were softly played on the speakers all afternoon. The view from the patio was incredible - we had the mountains aand the Castillo del Marques de Villafranca to look at. The castle, which is not open to the public, is the only inhabited castle in the Bierzo region. It was built in the 15th century but was rebuilt after it was partially destroyed in the Napoleonic wars.

Jato is known for bringing by car pilgrim´s packs up the mountain to O´Cebreiro, where they can retrieve them when they arrive. I had hoped to climb the mountain, but it is extremely difficult and it is said that it takes three hours to climb to the mountain alone, and it would take about five hours to get from here to the mountain´s base. I know it is not possible for me to do this, so I was hoping to take a bus to the base and then attempt the mountain. However, I realized that I could not even do just the mountain - my knee was simply too bad, and the mountain is difficult even for those in good health. I had heard that it was very beautiful, however, and I really didn´t want to miss that. When I went to ask Jato about taking a bus, he told me he could take me up to the top in his car! By taking the car I knew I´d miss some of the incredible views (and the experience!) but at least my knee wouldn´t die. I told Jato I would take the car, and explained that it was because my knee was bad. Jato told me to sit down. I had heard that Jato is a ¨healer,¨ but I didn´t take it seriously. He put his hand on my forehead and did lots of other hand motion things that I can´t imagine do anything to heal a bone problem like mine - he basically didn´t touch me. Sure enough, my knee was not improved afterwards, but Jato did impress me. He told Rebecca that my energy was off, that my muscles were all wrong, but that there was something underthe muscles causing the problem. He somehow recognized that it was a bone problem (much rarer than a muscle problem, especially on the camino!) basically without even touching my knee. He also said that my energy was still off, so my knee wasn´t going to be healed by what he did.

We all at dinner at the albergue that night, but it was very late (9:00 pm) when we wre finally served. Jato had made paella, and it was worth the wait! After dinner, Jato came out with a cake and candles, and everyone sang Happy Birthday/Cumpleaños Feliz. I was embarrassed, but it was wonderful. Jato have me a kiss on the forehead and attempted more ¨healing,¨ and everyone was happy. Much wine was drunk during dinner, though not by me.

After dinner, Renzo made me a beautiful bouquet of flowers he had found. There was a red rose, pretty yellow orchids, many tiny white flowers, purple flowers, and mint. I thought it was the most beautiful bouquet I had ever seen, and it was very sweet of him to make it.

Wolfgang even brought me presents. He gave me a small, lightweight pocket notebook he had gotten in Italy, and he also gave me three small stones. Earlier in the afternoon I had been unable to decide what to do about walking/not walking to O´Cebreiro, and he had joked that I needed a black stone and a white stone to make decisions. So he brought me a small black stone, a small white stone, and a half black/half white stone (for maybe) to help me make decisions. :o) Apparently he had spent an hour trying to find the perfect stones.

In the evening, after dinner, we had a mystical Queimada. I wish I knew something about it, but I don´t, so I will have to do research on it when I get home. Jato had me stand next to him during the ceremony, so unfortunately I was unable to take pictures or a video. There was a large bowl of alcohol which Jato lit on fire. He then added sugar to it, along with various other flavorings and spices. He ladled it, dropping the flaming contents of the ladle back into the bowl, over and over as he talked. I wish I knew more ofwhat he said and the meaning of the ceremony. Then Jato had me blow out the flames, and we passed the drink around until each person had a glass. Then, after smelling it, tasting it, etc., we were to drink it. It was very strong alcohol, but i guess somewhat tasty. It was certainly a wonderful experience, and was the perfect ending to my 22nd birthday. I will never forget that day.

Yesterday morning, Jato drove JD, me, and six other injured or old pilgrims to the top of O´Cebreiro. The entire time, all I could think of was how glad I was to be in the vehicle and not walking! That, and how Jato was going to kill us with his driving - he kept looking at us and not at the winding mountain road, and he would swerve back into his lane when he noticed. HOwever, we made it to the top succesfully, and the view from O´Cebreiro was absolutely incredible. From one side of the town you can see Galicia, and from the other side you can look back to Castilla.

Today I walked down the mountain from O´Cebreiro to Triacastela with May. It was a long and sometimes steep decline, but it was not as bad as I had feared. My knee was feeling much better due to its three days of rest, and I felt confident that it would be possible to walk downhill for almost an entire day. The knee felt very good at the beginning of the day - I could walk up and down steps, and flat ground was not painful to walk on.

There were two high points today before we began the true descent. The first one, the Alto de San Roque, had an impressive pilgrim monument. By the time we reached this point, after only about 4 km, it was starting to get very misty - we were often walking in the clouds. At times I felt that I was walking into nothing, truly into the unknown. I´m sure the views would have been incredible had I been able to see more than fifty feet in any direction!

While we were walking, we were stopped by an old woman who gave us crepes. May asked how much they cost before we took one, but the woman didn´t answer. So we each took one and gave her forty cents. She looked angry but didn´t say anything we could understand. later we found out that she´d wanted a euro apiece, but Santiago had also paid only twenty cents. :o)

Most of th way down the mountain, there was an old woman selling raspberries she had just picked for one euro per box. Of course May and I each bought a box, and they were amazing. I have never had such wonderful raspberries, and they were just what I needed to get down the rest of the mountain. My knee hurt, but getting down was certainly manageable.

I decided to stop at Triacastela, at the base of the mountain, even though it was only a 21 km day. I would have had to walk another 12 km to the next albergue, in Samos, and I figured getting down a mountain was enough for my knee for one day. May et al. continued on, so I am by myself - Rebecca and Wolfgang were talking about doing a 45 km day or something, adn I haven´t seen them since last night. I decided to splurge and stay at a private hostel (for 7 euros) tonight so that I could have internet. It´s also nice having a slightly more private, clean bathroom!

I decided to eat out for dinner, as I´m getting tired of bocadillos (sandwiches) or plain bread. I decided to ahve a cerveza con limon and pulpo (octopus), which is famous in this area. The pulpo was amazing, and it was a wonderful meal.

I have decided to go to Lisbon, Portugal for a few days after I reach Santiago. I have time, so I figure I might as well! I don´t really know anything about Lisbon, but I think it will be really fun to spend a few days there.

Tomorrow, I will walk 25 km to Sarria.
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All is well, as always [Jun. 16th, 2006|09:45 pm]

Yesterday I walked another whole day, 21.4 km from Astorga to Rabanal del Camino. I left early, before 6:00, because I wake when the first person wakes and it doesn´t take me much time to get ready. I left on my own, leaving JD and Laura behind, figuring they´d catch up at some point. I like starting when it´s still dark, though it can at times be difficult finding the yellow arrows that point the way. It was also good to walk alone for awhile, because on the camino I´m practically never alone. I stoped after the first 10 km to get a cafe con leche, figuring May, Laura, and JD would soon catch up. They did, so when they were done with their breakfast we headed off again.

It was good walking with May again - it´d been a few days (because I hadn´t been walking). The camino was also very nice eysterday - we have not entered a whole new landscape. We are now in the mountains, and it´s also a much wetter (and thus greener) area. The ground was often muddy from the rain, so it was fairly soft. The weather was also perfect for walking, - it was actually quite cool today. I kept hearing cuckoo birds, which were easy to recognize tbecause they soudned exactly like our cuckoo clock at home. We also walked on a section of petrified wood, and there was much quartz on the path. Strangely, we kept seeing the military at random points, patrolling for no apparent reason. They looked awfully bored. But I am always amused by an old pilgrim I keep seeing who carries an old, large, heavy video camera and seems to record everything. Some people are awfully odd. I was also amused by the fact that when I walk with May, all the male cyclists stare at us when they pass. I make sure to always say hello. :o)

Last night I spent in Rabanal del Camino. The others all went on, but I stayed there - 21 km, with a large part uphill, was enough for me, and I was certain I could bus from there to Ponferrada this morning. There was no way I´d be able to make the rest of the uphill climb plus the incredibly steep downhill to Ponferrada. My knee was hurting quite a bit, but at least it was functioning.

When I arrived in Rabanal at 11:00 a.m., the albergue I was planning to stay at was closed and wouldn´t open until 2:00. Despite the fact that it was really cold outside and all I have are shorts, I decided to wait and not go to one of the other albergues in town. My guidebook had said that this one was very nice, so I figured it might be worth waiting for. I spent about an hour inside a bar simply because it was warm, and then I decided to wait awhile by the albergue. The 12th century Romanesque Iglesia de la Santa Maria was across from the albergue, and I could hear some sort of service occurring. Floewrs, primarily roses, were strewn across the streets of the entire town. Apparently yesterday was Corpus Christi, and the town was having a special celbration. I could not enter the church during the service, but when the service ended there was a procession through the town, complete with a fife and drum.

When the albergue opened, I was one fo the first inside. I was more than pleased by the welcome! Four British people run the albergue, and they are truly splendid people. I had a very hot shower, the albergue itself is very nice, and there´s even a library! I was incredibly excited to see National Geographics. And the hospitaleros even served tea at 4:00!

I decided to ask one of the hospitaleros about when the bus to Ponferrada was to come in the morning., and I found out that the bus only comes once a week - on Tuesday - and it only goes east, back to Astorga. I had four options: I could attempt the incredibly steep downhill climb today risking permanent knee damage and certain excrutiating pain, I could walk the 20 km BACK to Astorga and take the bus from there to POnferrada, I could pay for a taxi, or I could hitch-hike. I didn´t want permanent damage, I did NOT want to walk all the way back to Astorga, taxis are notoriously expensive, and hitch-hiking scares me a lot. So basically, none of the options appeared good. However, I found out that taxi to Ponferrada is cheap - only 32 euros from Rabanal (33 km). And, even better, there were two other injured pilgrims who were hoping to take a taxi.

Rabanal del Camino was a very interesting town, despite its small size. The Knights Templar are thought to have had a presence there as early as the 12th century, ensuring th esafe passage of pilgrims over this remote area. The Iglesia de la Santa Maria was possibly built by them. Now, an Order of monks originating in Germany has taken over (as Germans like to do!). These Benedictine monks hold a 7:00 pm Vespers each night, and I actually attended (but only because the entire Vespers was in Gregorian chant).

After the Vespers I met three American girls. Ironically, we all have birthdays in the next two and a half weeks, and we´re turning 19, 20, 21, and 22. I was amazed by how young the girl turning 19 seemed. It´çs funny how much people mature in college. We sat near the church for an hour and ahalf, sharing amusing camino stories. I hadn´t realized how many amusing-scary things happened to me, like when a local man came up to May and me at 6:30 am waving a sickle at us and screaming about death. Apparently he believed he was condemned and wanted to save us from the same plight, but it was absolutely terrifying. Thank goodness I wasn´t alone! Anyway,I had quite an enjoyable time with the American girls.

The strangest thing happened two days ago. I had hung my clothes to dry with my nice plastic clothespins. When I went to get them at the end of the day, someone had taken two of my clothespins and put other plastic ones in their place! Apparently they liked my clothespins better than their own, but unfortunately so did I - mine were lighter and more springy. I just thought it was an odd thing for someone to steal!

Anyway, I am now in Ponferrada. I will write about that more at another time - now people are waiting for the computer. All is well, and Rebecca now has Wolfgang here! Turns out we are all in the same place again tonight.
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Another update [Jun. 14th, 2006|07:04 pm]

Yesterday morning I took the bus from Leon to San Martin del Camino, where May at al. were to be staying. Rebecca and Diego were taking a different route. More than anything, I want a book. I get so bored waiting - either waiting for buses or for my friends to arrive after I¨ve taken a bus. So much of my time is wasted waiting. Unfortunately, books are heavy - even lightweight paperbacks are unnecessary weight.

Anyway, May, JD, Laura and I all stayed at the same albergue. Renzo, a bald Italian who speaks English but never speaks (only winks) was there too. The albergue was pretty nice - it had 21 beds in the room but only 11 people stayed there, so no one had to sleep on a top bunk. The showers were awful, though - the doors were completely clear. Luckily there were separate bathrooms for men and women! There was a tiny kitchen there, so May and I made pasta for dinner. It was quick, cheap, and easy. The electricity went off for about an hour last night because the connect box on the next building caught on fire! Luckily repairmen came and fixed it after the hospitalero put out the fire.

This morning I decided to take the bus to Astorga because tomorrow will be a difficult uphill day. The hospitalero allowed me to wait at the albergue until the bus arrived at about 9:00, which was really nice - otherwise I would have had to sit outside in the rain.

When I arrived in Astorga, I had a great deal of time to explore. Astorga is fairly small - 12,000 people according to one guidebook - but it has much. I first crossed a well-preserved Roman wall that encircled the old town. I then visited the cathedral, which was very beautiful both inside and out. It even had a old Gregorian chant book. Next I sat outside the Gaudi Palacio Episcopal, which was certainly ¨gaudy¨.¨I also went to the Ayuntamiento in the Plaza Mayor and admired its 17th century Baroque facade and watched its clock whe the clock struck the hour and two mechanical figures (a man and a woman) struck the bell. Finally, I went to see Roman foundations that still remained, complete with floor mosaics. It seemed like everyone I know was in Astorga today - I walked briefly with Antonio (an old Brazilian), was given sweets (of course) by Manolo (an old Spaniard), and even ran into Rebecca and Diego. They actually had decided not to stay here tonight - they were going on to the next town.

When Rebecca and Diego were thinking of leaving, and we were sitting in front of the Gaudi, a man started playing flamenco guitar. I was very excited and wanted to go listen, and Diego came with me. The man was very good, so we listened for a few minutes before Diego decided to return to Rebecca and get going. Because the flamenco player wsa excellent, I sat in the grass near him and listened fo awhile. He kept playing the same two songs, but that´s because they were both about pilgrims. I didn´t mind the lack of variation because of his skill and because he added variation to the songs. He also used a lot of tricks, like playing the guitar behind his head. I have never heard flamenco live before, and it´s been so long since I´ve really heard music, so I was thrilled. I took an audio recording using my camera, took a picture, and gave him a couple euros. Then I decided it was worth it to buy his CD, which unfortunately I now have to carry with me! I always want to help talented musicians, though - I´m a sucker for it. In the afternoon I was walking down a street and there was another guitar player. I gave him a euro as I passed, and he stopped me and insisted I take a plastic shell he had. I also petted his tiny kitten that he had with him to attract people. :o) So overall, today was a VERY good music day.

After listening to the flamenco player, I ran into the Almas and led them to the albergue. I decided to check in at that time so that I wouldn´t have to carry my pack any longer. The albergue is very nice - it is a network hostel and only opened three years ago, but it is in a renovated 360-year-old building near the cathedral. The hospitalero is a young German man who speaks nearly fluent English. He has been here five months and plans to stay here forever. After checking in, I went ot the cathedral to wait for JD, Laura, and May. Eventually JD and Laura turned up, but not May. Apparently she had gone to a different albergue by , so she´s not staying with us tonight. The four of us decided to have lunch together at a pizzaria in the Plaza Mayor, and the pizza was fine. It was good to have something other than the same menu of the day! JD, May, and I each ordered a beer, and they came in enormous steins. It was too much - I was definitely feeling the alcohol just from the one beer.

I checked my email in the afternoon, and I had heard back from Tiffany. She had tried to walk the last 100 km, doing about 10 km a day, but it was too hard on her knees. She ended up quitting altogether and is now going to visit Cordoba, Sevilla, and Barcelona. In a way I must admit that I´d almost rather be doing that - my knee is simply too painful, and I don´t know how it will behave in the next week in a half.

My time is up now, so I will post again probably in a few days!
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(no subject) [Jun. 12th, 2006|02:07 pm]

[Current Mood |contentcontent]

Right now we´re in Leon - Rebecca and I ended up at the same albergue again. We just visited the cathedral, and it´s absolutely incredible. It must be one of the most impressive cathedrals in the world.

It was good to see Rebecca again. I haven´t been able to really see her in a few days, so we actually have catching up to do!

Not very much of interest has happened in the last days, except that I got really frustrated with a hypochondriac German woman who followed me around all morning. Hopefully we won´t be walking the same schedule all the way to Santiago, or I think I´m going to shoot her.

And now, I really need a nap and a shower!
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quickly... [Jun. 11th, 2006|05:24 pm]

I just want to write a quick post to update everyone about what is going on. I am currently about 19 km east of Leon, and when I arrived here it turned out Rebecca and Diego were in the same albergue. They had chosen to do a different route, and I wasn´t sure I´d see Rebecca again until Santiago - I hadn´t seen her in almost two days. The last few days I´ve been walking with May et al., which has been a lot of fun. They are all great people, and they even will wait a few minutes for me to rest when my knee decides to give out. :o) I can´t tell you how much that means to me. My knee is much better now - still hurts quite a bit, but I can walk on it, and I walked over 52 km in the last two days (not including what I´ve walked around town, etc). I´m actually really proud of myself right now, because I wasn´t sure if I´d be able to walk much at all. I need to get off the computer now, but I just wanted everyone to know that all is well. I am very happy right now, and Rebecca seems to be as well.
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Another nice albergue with internet [Jun. 9th, 2006|02:11 pm]

Two days ago, my knee was feeling considerably better after its few days of rest, and I was feeling confident that I could walk the 20 km to Boadilla. When I first began walking, my knee didn´t even hurt - it was the first ime in over a week! Unfortunately at the very beginning of the day I had to climb up and down a very steep plateau, which my knee was not prepared to do. I had left the albergue early - at about 5:40 - so I was able to watch an incredible sunrise over the meseta that made the climb entirely worth it. However, my knee was not to continue working. The plan was to meet Rebecca, Diego, May, et al. in Boadilla, but about 3 or 4 km from Boadilla my knee completely died. I was suddenly unable to walk, so I took a break and gathered the mental strength needed to walk the remaining kilometers. The knee had never been so bad. I wonder if I partially dislocated it, because it was extremely painful and unstable to the point that it regularly buckled and threw my forward - I only stayed upright because of my poles. I am very worried about that knee... I have no idea what to do about it. It´ll be ok, and then it´ll be unusable. I´m worried about permanent damage. Just when I thought my knee was ok, after three days of rest, it completely died and was worse than before. Should I remain on the camino? I want to more than anything, but I am frustrated and often am in a great deal of pain.

Luckily, after resting my knee for a while and feeling (and hearing) some nice abnormal pops, I was able to walk. The knee still hurts a lot, but I can at least walk on it and it no longer feels out of place. The albergue in Boadilla was so nice I almost wonder if it was a figment of our imagination - it even had a small pool!!! I spent over an hour in the pool, partly because it was very hot out and partly to cool my knee off and try to reduce inflammation.

That day I seemed to have caught the fancy of an old Spanish man in the town. He kept following me around asking to take pictures of me, and then he blew me a kiss. This man was about 5 feet tall and 80 years old - hardly my type. :o) It was really rather creepy. Luckily he went away after I kept ignoring him.

The next day, yesterday, I walked only 6 km to Fromista because my knee was still hurting and I was no going to be able to walk 19 more kilometers. I thus sat outside a bar with a cup of coffee for a few hours, waiting for the bus that would take me to Carrion de los Condes, where my friends would be stopping for the night. I got to Carrion before almost anyone else, so I waited at the entrance to the town for my friends to arrive. Monolo, a very nice old Spanish pilgrim, insisted on giving me sweet pastry/bread things when he walked by, and eventually May and Zoli (two of my new friends) arrived. Oddly, they had not seen Rebecca or Diego. Rebecca had left before I did because she didn´t want to be slowed down by my knee. We assumed they had gone very quickly and already gotten beds at one of the albergues, so we went to the albergue at the monastery to get our beds. Almost imemdiately after we had gotten our beds, Rebecca and Diego arrived. They said they had gotten lost and also sat in a field for awhile, and Rebecca was the happiest I can remember seeing her. Unofrunately May, Zoli, and I got some of the last beds, and the albergue was full. Rebecca and Diego had to go to a different albergue.

I did spend time with Rebecca and Diego in the afternoon, because they came to my albergue to visit. We then bought postcards and went to a grocery store to buy (at least, I bought) bread and cheese for breakfast/lunch tomorrow. We then ate dinner together, and I had a lovely time.

Today I am in Terradillos de los Templarios (or something like that). The albergue is very, very nice. I ended up having to take the bus today because it was a 26 km day and the first part was 17.5 km of NOTHING. No towns, no water, no shade, nothing. If my knee had given out during those 17.5 km, I would have been completely out of luck. So I took the bus, which left at noon from Carrion.

Rebecca and Diego just walked in - I guess they´re staying here tonight! Yay!
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An update [Jun. 6th, 2006|11:27 am]

Now that I am in an albergue with internet that isn´t by the minute, only 1 euro donation, I figured I would actually post. I am also here before most others have arrived, so I do not feel guilty about taking up the computer.

Yesterday was an interesting day, so I suppose I will write about that. My knee was still hurting in the morning, despite a rest of a day, so I decided I should not be walking. The albergue at which I was staying would not let me stay a second night without a doctor´s slip, so I knew I could not stay there. The morning was full of anguish, as I had no idea what to do regarding my knee. It has now been bad for a week. No matter what, I wanted to wait for Rebecca and others to catch up and reach the albergue so I could let them I would not be staying in the albergue an additional night as originally planned. I bought a small loaf of freshly-baked bread for breakfast and waited, thinking. For a couple hours I sat with a girl my age from Germany who was also in a lot of pain. She had severe tendonitis in her ankle and could hardly walk. The hospitaleros (those in charge of the albergue) had let her stay two nights only because she had a doctor´s slip, and they would not let her stay a third night. So she and I talked for a long time, each of us trying to decide what to do. She finally decided to fly home to Germany, take a week off to let her ankle heal, and then possible continue the camino when her ankle heals. Unfortunately, I do not have that option. I do not want to quit for numerous reasons: I hate quitting, I would feel like a failure, so many people at home know I am going and I do not want to admit that I failed, I love walking the camino and do not want to stop. But at the same time, my knee is incredibly painful an dI am worried about causing permanent damage. Proving I can do the camino is not worth permanent damage and surgery. My body tells me to stop, but I do not want to listen. My brain tellsme to stop, but my heart says no. There seems to be no right answer, no easy answer. Random people on the camino tell me to stop, my frineds tell me to go on. What is the correct choice? I do not want to leave my friends, but I know that I will make new ones.

I still had not made a decision when Rebecca et al. arrived at the albergue. Soon after, I realized something: this is my camino. It is what I make of it. I cannot base my camino on others. So I decided to take the bus to Castrojeriz (two days ahead) with Betsy and Carrie, two American sisters. I have become very fond of them during the past week - we have bonded through or pain and bus rides. Carrie works with special needs children and is 39 - she wantedto do the camino before her 40th birthday. Betsy, her older sister (who is probably in her late 50s) is a psychologist and teaches ethics at the naval academy. These two women are wonderful, and they have practically adopted me as a surrogate daughter.

Anyway, the current plan is to give my knees three days rest - this is the third day. If it is not better by tomorrow morning, then I have serious problems and will have to re-evaluate what I am doing. I do not want to quit, but I may have to - my knee is only slightly better today. If my knee is not appearing to heal, maybe I will stay on the camino awhile, walking very slowly, and then visit different cities in Spain, like Barcelona, Sevilla, or Cordoba. I know Tiffany, another American girl I have been walking with, is thinking about doing the same, but she already left and I cannot talk with her about it. I may send her an email if my knee does not heal - I want to travel to those cities, but preferably not alone.

The bus to Catrojeriz did not leave until 2:45, so I had lots of time to kill. I decided to give myself a couple hours to get to the bus station (about a half-hour walk away), buy a ticket, and possibly get some lunch. It was a good thing I gave myself so much time, because I kept getting stopped. Soon after leaving the albergue, I made the mistake of saying "hola" to an old ma. Now, it has already come to my attention that apparently my pronunciation of "hola" is very good and leads people to think I know much more Spanish than I really do. This man apparently seemed to think the same, so he stopped me and wanted to talk. We discussed the US, Spain, what North Dakota is like, US presidents, politics, religion (all the things you are supposedto avoid in a conversation with a stranger), and his children. One of his sons is 33, single, attractive, tall, speaks English, German, and French, and lives in Madrid. This old man seemed to want his son and me to meet. :o) I finally extracted myself from that conversaition, amused, proud of myself for functioning in Spanish, and a bit confused. I continued toward the bus station and was stopped by another old man, but I am not sure what he wanted. I did not really want to talk to him anyway, so I said, "Lo siento, no entiendo" ("I am sorry, I do not understand") and left.

I easily bought my bus ticket and still had time to spare, so I decided to stop in a bar and have a tortilla de patata (a potato omelette) for lunch. I felt very self-conscious in the bar - it was all old men who stared at me - so I ate very quickly and left. I met Betsy and Carrie at the bus station and we succesfully got on the correct bus (always a fear of mine). The bus was hot - stiflingly hot - and I kept falling asleep. It was soon obvious that we were now on the meseta, the dry, plains-plateau region. Except for getting up and down the plateaus, this part of the camino is very flat and easy. Possibly it will be easier for my knee to handle.

I was hoping to stay at a private albergue last night, but was already full by the time we arrived. We thus went to another, traditional albergue. The hospitalero, named Resti, was very nice, and the place was better than the one the night before. There were only 12 beds, and much more privacy between them. The shower had hot water and worked, and for that I was very grateful. When we arrived there were only two people in the albergue, a couple nearing sixty. The woman, Ellen, was fromthe US, and her husband, Girard, was from Holland. They were currently living in Holland and planned to do the camino in stages, when they had vacation time. This was their first time staying in a tradictional albergue - they normally stayed in hostals because Girard insisted on a nice, hot, private shower every day - and they thought they should stay in a real albergue once for the experience. They are truly a wonderful couple, and I greatly enjoyed talking with them. They have lived seemingly everywhere - Scotland, England, Holland, Spain, Malaysia, Indonesia, etc. Girard works for Shell as a civil engineer (hence all the moving) and Ellen works for Democrats Abroad. They were a fascinating couple. We ahred some nuts and a bottle of wine while waiting for the recommended restaurant to open, and we then ate dinner together. I had been worried about what yesterday would be like, but it turned out to be wonderful. There are kind and interesting people everywhere - you just have to talk to them and make an effort. Everyone has a story to tell.

This morning I went to the private albergue where I tried to stay last night and was the first person here - I came five minutes after it opened. Private albergues cost a bit more - 6 euros for this one - but the facilities are much nicer. This should be a very nice place to stay.

Tomorrow I plan to begin walking again, even though I am certain my knee will still be hurting, but I need to be walking. I will update you guys.
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(no subject) [Jun. 1st, 2006|10:17 pm]

Again I only have a few minutes to write before my 15-minute time limit is up. I just wanted to let everyone know that things are going well. My knee has decided to die on me (not surprising - rather, what I expected), so I´m walking half-days and then taking a bus when I can´t walk any longer. Today I only walked 13 of the 30 km and felt very lazy, but I literally couldn´t walk. The pain is worth it, though, as Spain is amazing. The scenery, the smells, the people of Spain, and especially the other pilgrims, are all incredible. We have met many amazing people, and Í´m sure we will meet more. Sorry I haven´t been able to post any pictures yet, but I haven´t had an available USB port on a computer. Rebecca and I are quite tan, slightly burned, and very happy. All is well.
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(no subject) [May. 29th, 2006|06:30 pm]

I only have a minute but I just wanted to let everyone know that we´re doing very well. Did about 48 kilometers in the past two days and we feel great - a bit sore, but great. We´ll be doing nearly 30 km tomorrow, probably. Weather is wonderful - sunny, and not too hot when we leave by 6 a.m., and the scenery and smells are amazing. We have also met lots of amazing people. We´ll write more later when we have time!
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