By Jordan Shanahan
Hi!!! Today we are hitting where most people start The Camino: the 100k mark. Today, in my opinion, was one of the easier and flatter hiking days we have had thus far. It’s fascinating to see people every day that we have sorta made friendships with over the past 11 days. I never thought I’d be making friends with middle-aged Spanish sisters hiking the Camino together, an older Indian man who graduated from Virginia Tech, a sweet French woman mourning the loss of her partner, and the occasional American with whom we always have something to connect over. Because today was one of the less eventful days for me, I am able to reflect on how much of a blessing these unexpected friendships have been to me. I can’t wait to see all the people I’ve met feel the victory of reaching Santiago (or, if I don’t see them, have the satisfaction of knowing they have completed their journey). But until then, Buen Camino J.
By Jackson Smith
One thing that bugs me about Spanish people is that people don’t smile back at you when you pass them on the street. I don’t know if its just me but I always smile at people, or at least make eye contact with them when I walk past them and that’s just not a thing here and it makes me so uncomfortable walking by someone and they just stare back at me with a deadpan face. I guess it’s just a cultural thing. Annie told me that you have to say hola or buenos días, to get them to react at all and that has been working for me today, which is nice.
This trip is really so cool because I feel like the Camino has a totally unique culture that we get to experience, which we wouldn’t have in a regular Spanish study abroad. We have met people from all over the world and its crazy to see so many different people on this awesome hiking trip.
By Victoria Grimm
Today’s walk was pretttttty difficult. There was a lot of uphill and downhill walking which seemed to never end. On previous days, I preferred going downhill because I could just lightly jog down as opposed to trudging uphill. Lately, however, I’ve found that going downhill puts a lot of pressure on my knees so I’ve been taking it much slower. Thankfully, though, the weather today wasn’t nearly as hot as the last few days, which made the walk a bit more bearable.
Being pretty blister prone, I could feel new ones forming on my feet as the walk went on. By the time we got to Tricastela I was straight up limping to get to lunch and later discovered a huge new blister on my heel. I’ve taken up the philosophy of not obsessively tending to my blisters as I’m finding most of them tend to refill anyway. I’m planning to just let them be and hope they heal on their own.
At lunch today, we talked a lot about which food we miss from the States and I finally admitted to myself how much I miss Asian food, especially Vietnamese food.
By Meghan Finley
So today we immediately started to go uphill, and that was how the entire day was. We originally were going to go by horse, but they were all taken when we called LHowever, I think it was for the best because now we can say we did the whole Camino by foot.
Once we approached second breakfast, I was pleasantly surprised to see a little bohemian hole in the wall. A guy with dreads ran it and there were cool decorations hung all around. It didn’t take long for Alicia and Nick to begin playing Riptide by Vance Joy with a guitar and ukulele.
The last two hours were extremely hot and the morale was low, but thankfully I had Veronica and Victoria to sing songs from the Hannah Montana movie to get us through the rest.
In O Cebreiro, I decided to go with Annie to church. At first I was unsure how it would be since it was in Spanish, but I am SO happy that I did. Alicia did a reading in English, and the priest talked about how God is always walking with us on the Camino. At the end of mass, all of the peregrinos were asked to come to the front and we each got to pick out a pebble with an arrow on it. We all said what country we were from and then he blessed all of us. Overall, even though the day was long, mass really made the day so much better!
By Veronica Vogler
boof. today was a long one.
For starters, yesterday was the bane of my existence. Not only was I sleep deprived from the oh so sweet melody of snores, it turns out downhills are not my friend. The weight of my backpack in addition to my blisters with a string hanging out of them just bad for a rough day that no number of galletas de limón could fix.
So, today I opted for a solo walk, hoping to find the peace of mind I seemed to have lost from the misery that was yesterday. We were only walking 9 kilometers today, so I thought if this whole “walking alone” situation went terribly, at least it wouldn’t last long. In the middle of my trek, I was greeted by a Scottish group. They were complaining in unison about the previous day, understandably, but they were all still in a good mood and were laughing it off. I think if the Camino has taught me anything so far, its that pain truly brings people together. There’s something about sharing the numbness of your legs with another person that evolves into a beautiful friendship. A Scottish man proceeded to talk about how he was excited to get a sandwich and ask for mayo on it, because one of the biggest let-downs of Spain is that they do not seem too keen on the idea of butter.
Walking solo today required me to go the extra mile (actually, two miles. Half of the group got lost). While I cannot say that I “found myself” or that I will consider doing it again (at least in the near future), I appreciated the few hours I had with my own thoughts and the chirps of a thousand crickets. I am still anticipating my “P.S I Love You” moment, and I am still preparing myself for the Camino Cry. I’m not sure if it hasn’t hit me yet because of the lack of emotions due to the pain and exhaustion, or because I am so dehydrated that my body cannot spare any water for tears. To be determined…
By Victoria Grimm
Victoria Molinaseca to Ponferrada.
Today was a nice change of pace with a 9km walk. However, the real challenge of today’s walk was navigating the city of Ponferrada. After walking for a while, I had to admit to myself that I didn’t know where I was going and stopped in a café to pull up some directions to the hotel. After multiple nights in the albeurges, it was nice to not roll out a sleeping bag and shower without wearing shoes. The nap I took in the hotel bed was some of the best sleep I have gotten since starting the camino.
Ponferrado is one of my favorite cities we have been to so far. It’s extremely beautiful with views of the surrounding mountains almost everywhere you go. However, it is still metropolitan and has lots of things to do and see. Since we got in relatively early, we got to experience the city more than on other days. For example, after exploring the Castillo, we went to get helado and agua before getting pizza in the Plaza Virgen de la Encina. I would definitely like to visit Ponferrada if/when I come back to Spain.
By Nicholas Hudson
Nick to Molinaseca
Starting today, we walked for what seemed like a never ending 25km, I think it was probably a little more than that, but the views from the mountains where definitely worth it. At first, it was freezing, but by the end, the sun had left a beautiful sock tan line on my leg, yes just one leg, that probably won’t go away until well into the fall semester. Overall though, the highlight of the day was probably stopping in a small town and having a snack/drink with some fellow pilgrims from Lithuania, that had been on the trail for nearly 30 some days. I think right now, everyone is just looking forward to staying in a real hotel without constant snoring and other random noises that we’ve experienced at the albergues, followed by a wine tasting all afternoon.
By Meghan Finley
Meghan to Molinaseca
I am extremely proud to announce that after 5 long and painful days, I finally pooped! It has been quite a journey, but I couldn’t have done it without my fans.
Anyways, today was a loooong 25 km. Today was probably the hardest day so far, and the day that I realized that I have knee problems. It’s pretty sad when you see 70-year-olds passing you on the trail while you limp along with walking sticks, holding in tears of pain..
After today, I decided that I can do anything, and that I need to stop complaining about 4 hour dance practices. Those are a BREEZE now.
While today was a hard one, the views made it worthwhile. I am especially thankful for my sense of smell today because in the mountains of Spain, it was a breath of fresh air that I can’t quite explain, but it was so refreshing. At one point, I was actually somewhat alone for the first time, because I realized I needed to be alone to motivate myself to keep pushing past the last three hours, and I actually felt better.
When we finally reached Molinaseca, Annie let me get a Coca-Cola and I have to say, Coke in Spain is waaay better than Coke in the U.S.
As my final words on today, I advise whoever goes on this trip in the future to bring moisturizer. I went to the farmacia today and spoke with the pharmacist (in Spanish, ofc) and she tried to sell me a 20 euro moisturizer that was basically the size of my pinky. While you may have sold me on the 24 euro spray sunscreen, you didn’t quite get me here, Spain..
By Alexander Rae
Today we set off from a small town in the autonomous community of Castilla y León called Villar de Mazarife from a family owned albergue called el refugio de Jesús. What struck me about that town, and what I’m beginning to notice in general is how friendly the people are along the Camino. These albergue owners in particular went above and beyond to make us feel comfortable and welcome without knowing us at all (except for Annie who we’ve begun saying is Camino famous). Furthermore, I’ve found myself greeting other peregrinos along the way with a typical “buen camino,” but that’s turned into “buen camino, oh hello again!” As we’ve begun seeing familiar faces along the way. Another highlight of the day has been the scenery. The valley we walked through was surrounded by mountains, with some showing patches of snow. Then when coming into Hospital de Órbigo we got to walk across an awesome Romanesque bridge and be stopped halfway through by a friendly local telling us that even though we’ve missed the town’s jousting competition there’s a nice park and tennis courts if we feel like playing sports. Later, we got lost on our way to the supermercado, and a very kind older señora halfway ran to give us directions. Walking out of the supermarket back to the albergue, another older señor Made sure we know there are two routes along the Camino to the next town and letting us know which one is better. Looking forward to what the next week’s bring!