2014 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A New York City subway train holds 1,200 people. This blog was viewed about 6,600 times in 2014. If it were a NYC subway train, it would take about 6 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

22nd April — friends on the Camino and too many pieces need to be picked up NOW

tmp_photo0116-386229869 tmp_Photo0122363285426 tmp_Photo0884-2043551514 tmp_Photo0931995616113 Photo0048 Photo0137 Photo0138 Photo0139 Photo0911 Photo0944 photo0967 photo0984 photo1068 photo1125 photo1156 tmp_Photo0039264649139 tmp_Photo0880-1618339722 tmp_20140306_191640-1410297404

Oh my! Oh my!

Walking the Camino is right up at the top of the list of “Wonderful Times in My Life.” Coming off the Camino during Holy Week with preparations for the Triduum to be done and picking up all the pieces that were left sitting during the past five weeks have got to be near the bottom of that same list. I’ve had trouble getting started but now that I have, I keep saying to myself, “Just one step at a time.”

Meeting friends who “accompanied us” along the Camino through this blog and reliving some of those special moments have extended this special time (and always take precedence over the pieces I want picked up NOW — which only messes up my head more.)  Not to worry about me — just one step at a time.

To all who have accompanied us, I hope that in some way it was all a good for you and that together we are better for having the experience.  May God bless you and Mary continue to watch over all of us.

Madeleine: I only got back to Killarney yesterday evening. I was in St. Columba’s with the Marianist Community for all the Easter ceremonies – beginning with the Seder meal on Holy Thursday evening and proceeding on to the Stations outdoors in Glendalough on Good Friday — we were again walking a couple of km in the woods!  Then the full Easter ceremonies. All really felt  like an extension of the Camino.

My niece Niamh met me here off the train from Dublin.  She had followed the blog – and indeed hugely helped in my preparation “training.”  In meeting she encouraged me to tell more “stories.”  So it is only this morning I have hit reality. With a thud! I read Jim’s words and can endorse all – except that he is further ahead than I am. Truly it is weird – I’m re-learning the simplest operations in my own house!

I shall remain forever grateful for the privilege of walking the Camino de Santiago and absolutely agree that the feeling of having you travelling along with us was constantly invigorating and refreshing. Thank you – most sincerely.

14th April — Finisterre, the end of the earth


Notice 0.0km

Notice 0.0km

tmp_Photo0119-861444813 A two-and-a-half hour bus ride has brought us to the end of the earth — so named by exploring Spanish sailors whose mates sailed from here , never to return.

Thertmp_Photo0122363285426e we were, at the lighthouse, talking to Jane (Scottish) and Francisco. Madeleine is telling them how much she enjoyed walking the Camino fromtmp_Photo0126579079947 France. I piped in as usual “and she is 80 yrs. old.”  With that Jane lights up, “Are you the woman?   My friends told me that there was an 80 yr. old woman walking the Camino — and now I’ve met you. You’re amazing!”  And so it goes.tmp_Photo0123-1712147434

It was a bit of a kick just being in such a place — and it required a 3km walk up a gentle slope.  And of course, lighting up Jane’s face.

Flowers (unknown) along the way continue.tmp_Photo0129-2122974572

Madeleine: pictures tell the story today. I hate bus travel but Finisterre was worth it. It has put “AMEN” to an amazing pilgrimage.

Jim again: and some tnought Finisterre was in Scottsdale, Az.

13th April — Palm Sunday

tmp_Photo0094-46482771Today’s outside prtmp_photo0108_001-1956266676ocession began in the cathedral as the Bishop and his entourage left for one of the courtyards. We had good seats so I sent Madeleine off to take part while I minded the seats. It was 11.30. Mass was to start at noon. After about 5 min. I figured I would also follow.

Into the courtyard brimming with people, I could not see Madeleine but joined the assembly. The reading took place, there was some singing by the choir and we moved off. Behind the bishop was a float with a statue of Jesus on a donkey atop. After a short distance the Bishop went left and the procession, with Jesus on the donkey, went right. I followed Jesus — and the procession.  The drummers laid down their marching beat as we moved. As I scanned the assembly there was still no sign of Madeleine, and we continued to move.

Thtmp_Photo00992052335459e procession went down the laneway at the side of the cathedral and passed into the vast plaza at its front. By this time it was 12.00, and the procession processed. We continued past the cathedral on a road that led down to the Monasterio/Hotel San Francisco. I happily continued. The



drummers followed by the float with Jesus on the donkey arrived at the entrance and STOPPED! That was the end of the procession.

I hustled back to a packed cathedral where the Bishop was still giving his homily and from my peripheral position was delighted to see Madeleine in our original seats.

Madeleine: As you have read, I was back in the cathedral while Jim was processing, and very relieved to catch sight of his return. “Awesome” is a mild word to describe the ceremony. The bishop, 10 priests and numerous acolytes were on the altar. The cathedral was crowded with pilgrims of all ages

Notice the censor in the upper left hand corner

Notice the censor in the upper left hand corner

and nationalities. Every seat was filled and all aisles packed. The choir and organ music resounded. I truly think there was a palpable feeling of prayers rising through that immensely high vaulted roof.

We ended with the censor once again swinging.


Jim again: what has been most enjoyable in Santiago is meeting again peregrinos with whom we have spent some time during the past five weeks.tmp_photo0116-386229869

12th April — again we are blessed

Today, after a good night’s sleep, despite the street happenings until 2am+, we begin a day of relaxation.

We attmp_photo1174789814768tended Mass in the cathedral at 7.30 last night.. The concelebrated Mass was something special for both of us. We arrived in time to have excellent seating. Though we understood little of the homily (in Spanish, of course) the priest’s words spoke to the people.

We are booked on the next Aer Lingus flight direct to Dublin — TUESDAY!  We are definitely being blessed.

Madeleine: Essentially, I can only endorse what Jim has written.  First Mass in the cathedral was wonderful. I think some bit of me was up there swinging with the censor.

Now to more mundane things.  I am off to get a wash and blow-dry. WOW!  And then I will buy a non-trekking pants.

Seriously, your support has lightened our steps.




10th April — another new experience on a wonderful day

tmp_photo11571022556582tmp_photo1163-309297143Ah sure, it had to happen. For the first time we guessed wrong on the rain and had to get into gear on the way. And yes, it stopped when we were done. Fortunately, it continued off and on for the morning, stopping when base layer again became the style.  Much of today’s walk was through woodland, with towering eucalyptus trees prominent.

My extmp_photo1158-1173299459perience of walking the Camino has been very different over the past week and a bit. At the beginning the farm land went on forever without a sign of a barn or farmhouse. The villages were numerous and compact: the church, a few shops and houses.  Now the farmhouse, barns, animals, fields are more like Ireland, but there are no villages. Wtmp_photo1164_002-1749367484hen we are going to a place name from the map, we usually find a cluster of a few farmhouses and we haven’t seen a village church in days.  The towns must be larger, I guess.

I got used to those villages and looked forward to going through them. With the change, I’ve needed to adjust.

Madeleine: today’s 21km walk was really easy — relatively constant uphills and downhills. It was through woodland and farmyards: we walk just outside the front or back farmhouse door. Still legs were tired after yesterday’s marathon so it was very pleasant to arrive at our albergue just on 3pm.

The morning chorus continues to delight us. This morning the woodpecker joined the orchestra. Notice the lilies. There were several larger clusters than one. These are not wild, of course, but I think they have become naturalised.

Back in Leon-Castile we neglected to mention the engineering feats. We saw several instances of roads spanning vastly wide valleys. One way specially memorable: a motorway with 2 completely separate carriageways — one about 100ft below the other.

In the picture of the two of us, I am pointing to the 20km way marker. We are stunned!


9th April — 30km on another sunny up and down day.

Ttmp_photo1151_001-1059155201he guide books stated today’s walk along the Camino was 25.5km, another said 28km, and a third said 30km. Whatever it was to be, we decided we would do it so as to leave two days of 20km each to arrive on Friday. We passed the 50 and 40km to Santiago markers. My anticipation is heightening as the plan nears completion.

Temtmp_photo1148_001-1753770761peratures rose to the high 70’s this afternoon. A gentle breeze kept us from overheating. Tomorrow is threatening rain. We will see.

We made another discovery today. Do you know that when you get money from an ATM, if you take too long putting your credit card into its proper place, taking your receipt and putting it away that the machine snatches your money back? A very nice lady in the bank “fixed it.”

A special recognition to anyone who can identify the item below and how it is used:


Madeleine: Today’s guide indicated that we would descend 176 metres. Probably true — except that we ascended and descended very many times. Actually it was very enjoyable until the final 6km. Much of the walk was through woodland, sometimes downhill, with a gentle breeze to our back and a leafy carpet underfoot. I’m really good at walking under those conditions!

Then came the final 6km. A steep descent for about 3km, then a long ascent for a further 3 or maybe 4km.

A slight disagreement about today’s miles: Jim admits 30km, I say a minimum of 31km.

I almost forgot to mention that we were walking in 25C. I was stripped down to my baselayer. This has been a great day to go to bed on.

8th April — a lot of ups and downs on a beautiful sunny day

The first Romanesque style church we've seen -- in Portomarin

The first Romanesque style church we’ve seen — in Portomarin

I couldn't pass the jigsaw puzzle picture

I couldn’t pass the jigsaw puzzle picture

The Son once again leads us on.

The Son once again leads us on.

5 ft. high heather!

5 ft. high heather!

Some downhill paths are very rocky and stony.

Some downhill paths are very rocky and stony.

Minutes before we arrived the calf was born. Mother is still licking her clean. The calf has struggled several times to stand on four legs but had not succeeded as we moved on.

Minutes before we arrived the calf was born. Mother is still licking her clean. The calf has struggled several times to stand on four legs but had not succeeded as we moved on.

Madeleine: out early again to another sunny day. The walk was up and down hills all day — just a few of them were challenging.

Purple heather and golden furze were in full bloom –I never before knew that heather bushes could grow so tall.

It was memorable to see a just-newly born calf.

I must tell you about eating on Camino. I thought I knew a lot about eating: routine eating, eating because it is that time of day, eating because I feel hungry, comfort eating. But this is quite a new experience. This is strictly eating-for-energy. I’m astonished to feel the food giving me energy. Amazing!

Today was relatively easy. I think tomorrow promises to be tougher; however it will see us into the final 50 km. I can scarcely believe it.

7th April — Portomarin

100km to go

100km to go

Special thanks are due to all of you who have been following us through the blog and encouraging us with your comments. Last Friday, over dinner we noted that we had been walking FOUR weeks. I was in denial! And now with a plan that says we arrive in Santiago de Compostella on Friday, I am dumbstruck. I’m not sure how this has been done. I do know — one day at a time. Enough of that.

Thtmp_Photo111288304875ough clouds and weather forecasts threatened, today was another dry day, though the way was very muddy in places making the going messy. The big news is we heard the harbinger of summer — the cuckoo. No longer in Ireland (killed off by pesticides,  etc.) they seem to be flourishing here.

We have been joined by many young people walking the Camino — neither good nor bad, just different. I look forward to a new day.

Madeleine: today we succeeded for the first time in getting on the road before 7.30. Hence we saw a lovely sunrise listened to a cuckoo calling for about 7 minutes. Amazing! That reminds me that yesterday we saw a red squirrel in the woodland.
Today’s walk wound through farmland and about 20 farmyards — literally, through them. We were able to confirm that the farming here is genuinely organic — occasionally our noses slammed shut.

The walk was again delightful, though at times, challenging.  Finally the day has ended in an excellent albergue –dinner awaits and I’m hungry — again.