Reflections – Growing Old Together

It was my intention to add reflections, spiritual, cultural and observational to the blog all along, but I quite got into the pictures, scenery and events, and it became more of a travelogue. So now I’d like to go back and add some reflections.
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It seems that over the past couple years Brian and I became quite busy with our individual very active lives and, in doing so, grew somewhat apart. We didn’t do as much together; the affection was more like the occasional peck as one or the other was heading out the door to some activity or another. I’m sure that part of the problem was my growing impatience with things, with myself and with him, as we aged and things changed and grew more challenging. On this trip a wonderful and unexpected thing happened. We grew very close together.

For one, we were a little independent unit on the Camino, each dependent on the other. Brian was physically stronger and would always help me heft my pack up onto my back. I’d always help him straighten out his twisted shoulder straps and pull the waist belt out from under the pack. Brian’s eyes are not so good, so I’d do things like open packages of snacks, etc., find the keyhole to put the key in the door at the pensions. My hearing isn’t very good so he would tell me that my camera phone had clicked when I couldn’t hear it, and that there was a bike come up behind me on the trail that I couldn’t hear.
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He was very patient with me, standing watch during my frequent potty stops and waiting patiently for me to catch up while I chugged along slowly behind him, sometimes just a dot in the distance!
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And I found myself becoming more relaxed and more patient with myself and with Brian. We began to be more affectionate with each other (well not in the alberques!) But when we lucked out in a pension and got a ‘matrimonial’ (double bed) we could cuddle and snuggle (or whatever!), something that hadn’t happened much before the trip.

We talked a lot more, sharing thoughts we’d had about our lives, about our families, emotional experiences we had along the way. And we really rebonded. Another wonderful and unexpected benefit of the Camino!
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Adiós for Now

We have a wake up call for 6 am tomorrow and a 7 am taxi to the airport. Just about all packed. I still have lots of stories and pictures, if I haven’t bored you too much, but they will have to wait for me to get home and transfer them to my computer. I think it will be a lot easier than tapping away on this little keyboard that thinks it knows better than you what you want to write, so it changes what you type. But all in all it’s worked out well, with many thanks to my nephew Keith who spent a lot of time helping me get the right phone. And your right, Keith, it does take great pictures!

A quick recap on Madrid. Yesterday went to a special exhibition on El Greco at the Prado which was overwhelming. Tonight we went to a flamenco adaptation of Carmen by the Ballet Flamenco de Madrid. It was also fantastic!

Thanks to all of you for your support and great comments! Talk to you again soon from San Diego.

Santiago Street Scenes

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especially the old quarter around the Cathedral where we were staying. We were walking strolling the narrow streets doing gift shopping. Two young women in a confection shop were handing out free cookie samples. While I was in a shop they talked Brian into buying a box of cookies. We found a lovely flowered plaza with two street musicians playing jazz (background of picture) and sat down to have a few cookies.

Another day we came across a trio from Russia in the corner of a plaza playing some great music, one of them on a strange triagular shaped bass – like instrument. We asked how he got it to Spain on the plane and he said they drove from Russia!
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Still have a few more Santiago pictures to do later.

A Visit to the Parador

Many of the old buildings have been taken over and converted to upscale hotels, called paradors, out of our range, but worth a visit. This parador called Hostal de los Reyes Catholico was build, if I’m remembering correctly, in the 1400s for pilgrims and the sick by Ferdinand and Isabela after their visit or pilgrimage to Santiago. It is right on the main plaza in front of the cathedral.
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There was a large sitting area artfully decorated with pictures and sculptures. On one table sat a cardinals hat. There had bee some teasing of Fr. Jim getting a cardinals hat. So here it is.
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We had lunch on the hotel terrace. My club sandwich had a circle cut in the top with a fried egg peeking through.
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The terrace had some nice views back over the city as well as of the plaza and the cathedral.
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A Happening in Santiago

The night before we left for Finesterre we took our big backpacks to the hotel we were going to be staying at when we got back. (Previous one was a 3rd floor walk up.) We heard some commotion down the street toward the cathedral and walked down to see what the buzz was . A crowd was gathering the plaza in front of a huge old building. I think it was in the plaza do Immaculata on one side of the cathedral.
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There was a huge awning, clear plastic roof, over chairs and music stands set up for an orchestra. We saw the Ohio couple and sat beside them.
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The crowd was beginning to grow. Some young women came by asking us to sign permission to be in a video they were filming for a bank that was going to be on the internet. Shortly the orchestra appeared all in black tie and long black dresses.

They played one piece and we realized there was no conductor! There was a sign on the music stay on the podium. I stood up on a wall and read it to Mrs. Ohio who is a Spanish teacher. She translated that if you wanted to conduct, come up and take a baton! And that’s just what people did! The orchestra basically played the same 4 or 5 familiar classical pieces over and over. Some of the people were really good and some were just flailing. The orchestra would follow the conductor, faster or slower. One kid got tired and put his arm do en and they stopped. It was great fun. Then a woman got up there with her year old baby holding the baton in his hand and doing a good job keepig the beat. At one pint the baby turned around to look at the crowd and I realized it was baby Matthew whose picture I posted earlier when we met them with Miriam & Ronan. Unfortunately he turned back around so I didn’t get a good picture and you’ll have to blow it up to see him.
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I went and chatted with them afterwards and was rewarded with a big smile of recognition from Matthew.

Fisterre Town

20140627_181141Brian commented several times along the Way how he hadn’t been away from the sea for so long a time ever in his life.

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He also noted that we hadn’t seen any sea gulls that we are so used to at home. Well we had a sea gull greeter outside our window in Fisterre. And a noisy one he was, but he was funny.
Fisterre is a small fishing town on the way to Finesterre peninsula. We had a room near the water that looked out at the harbor.
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We had lunch looking out over the harbor.20140627_140356

After a nap walked we walked aouund the town with its narrow alleys, then out along the sea wall.
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We headed back to the hotel as clouds came in and the beautiful sunny day changed to rain. We just made it back to a seafood restaurant in time to get out of the rain and shared an order of langostinos.

The next morning we took the 9 am bus back to Santiago. It was a beautiful 2 hour ride mostly south along the coast weaving in and out of fishing towns and beautiful coast line.
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Sorry I think some of the pictures ended up on the wrong place.

Finesterre

We are in Madrid now and I’ve still not finished Santiago or Finesterre. I’m sure I’ll still be blogging when I get back to SD trying to catch up!
From Muxia Alberto drove the four of us to Finesterre, a long peninsula extending into the Atlantic. Before people knew the world was round it was thought this was the end of the earth.
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There is a big lighthouse and a little Train (for Seeger) that will take you From the Parking Lot To The lighthouse.
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Pilgrims currently and in the past continue their Camino on to Finesterre another 3 days walk. Here is the final way marker for that trip. If you blow it up you’ll see it says 0.00.

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Beyond the lighthouse the land slopes down to the water. Some people climb down there but we left that to the younger more agile folks. One custom is that peregrinos burn their boots or an article of clothing. There were a couple of places with smoldering piles. Wasn’t about to burn my good boots or anything else!
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There is a bronze boot on a rock also with a pile of burning castoffs beside it.
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Alberto drove us back to the town of Fisterre (spelled differently) and dropped us off at our hotel. We said farewells to Joe and Fr. Jim, who promises to come visit us in SD.
Will post pictures of the town next.