Getting the hang of this

Hola amigos y familia! Day three of El Camino was very similar to the others yet also very different. Similar in that we are finally getting on a schedule, however, the views, emotions, and people we meet along the way are all different everyday. I swear the views of the Spanish countryside will never get old. I am an international studies and geography double major so the landscape and physical geography are beyond amazing to me. The sharp tops of the distant mountains are very different from the rolling blue ridge mountains I grew up in. The scarlet poppies I find a rarity in Botetourt are found filling fields as far as I can see. Sometimes you find that those you are walking with fade into the background among the breathtaking views of España.
Another important part of the camino is the people you meet. Just today I spent time walking with a Londoner named Ian and two Italian men named Fabio and Salvatore. It is amazing to hear the stories of why they walk el camino and what they have experienced. For many, this path is highly spiritual and key to finding out more about themselves. For ourselves it is also important to key into ourselves and our emotions. While walking today I feel like I overcame the first wall and was able to walk all 17 kilometers with relative ease. (As much ease as that could possibly entail). However, as soon as Kat and I came into the city I experienced an extreme low that was aided by a stomach ache, hunger, and exhaustion. The only cure for these is food and sleep (and possibly a “café con leche”). Overall my experience on el camino has already been one I will remember the rest of my life and I have made friends I have grown to know and love. Someday I encourage you to embark on your own Camino, in Spain or elsewhere. ¡Buen Camino, peregrinos!
Olivia White

Visiting Roman baths (and sewers)

The Museo Romano was an amazing learning experience.
My favorite part of the museum was looking at all the artifacts and searching for answers on the worksheet that was provided for us. After we walked though the museum we went on a tour of Roman bath ruins.
We learned about how the Romans picked a easily defendable place on top of a hil and how they built double trenches around the wall to make attacking their fortress even more difficult. The fact that so much of the baths were still intact and that it was possible to visualize where people were bathing hundreds of years ago was pretty cool. Their structural and building prowess is quite impressive that so many of their walls and parts of buildings at still standing today.Overall the museum and tour were a fantastic way to learn about how such a beautiful city was created.
Jacob Byrd

Walk, eat, paint

Today was the first day we actually left from an albergue in the morning. We woke around 7:30 to eat breakfast and make sure our packs were ready for the day. The morning was much colder than I expected, so it was hard to climb out of my warm sleeping bag. Breakfast was simple but yummy…yogurt and fruit. Then we were all ready to hit the road! Today we walked about 15 kilometers for an easy 3 hours. For second breakfast, we stopped at a café/albergue. I had a croissant with ham and cheese…the most delicious thing I have had so far!

Today we stayed in Albergue San Miguel. It is in Hospital de Órbigo. There is a old roman bridge with 13 arches that marks the entrance to the town. I have really enjoyed this albergue. I had the chance to play in a river and paint a rock with a Hokie bird. A family dinner where we collectively cooked and ate was the perfect night cap to the day. Buen Camino!
Ashley Strong


No way to explain The Way

I knew before I began the Camino that there was a culture all its own. But I never could’ve understood it before I started on this journey. And even now, on day two, there’s no way I can begin to explain this way of life, the life of a pilgrim. Each pilgrim is traveling the same road, but each pilgrim has their very own journey; they’re all different. Yet the Way connects us all, for we are all on this road, seeking something to satisfy whatever longing we have in our souls.

And the pilgrims life isn’t a bad one after all.

This is Kat Kolton, signing off.

Choosing the right path

Today we completed day two of walking and it’s amazing how close everyone has gotten since we arrived in Spain just 5 short days ago. Walking the Camino is especially nice because it gives everyone a chance to talk in smaller groups of maybe two or three, really getting to know each person individually and more personally.
Walking and being surrounded by beautiful flowers, I especially love the Poppy flowers, and mountains in the distance is exactly how I imagined this trip. Somehow it’s even more beautiful than I imagined though, I have noticed that cameras can’t capture the raw beauty of the Spanish countryside that we walk along each day.
One of the most interesting times on the trail today was when the trail split into three paths, each marked with supposed yellow arrows, but some looking a little more fake or makeshift than others. We managed to find the right direction and forged forward, quickly to stumble upon the beautiful Roman bridge.
The atmosphere of today was much different than yesterday, at least for me. Walking I took my time, and stopped to take pictures and really enjoy the outdoors. At the Albergue it is much more relaxing, and I was so pleasantly surprised to find an easel with unlimited paint supplies and canvases. The Albergue is decorated with these paintings that fellow pilgrims have made, which I find to be very special.
Tomorrows going to be another long day, but definitely a fun one at that. I continuously look forward to getting to know the fellow Hokies and other Pilgrims as well as the Spanish culture.
Lea Trageser

Dime con quien andas, y te dire quien eres

Although we have been in Spain for five days now, today marked the beginning of our journey on El Camino. As the Camino runs straight through towns and cities, we began immediately upon stepping out of our hotel in Leon. As with most things, the best part of the Camino is the people. It takes a certain type of person to be a peregrino, just as it takes a certain type of person to be a Hokie. There is an old Spanish proverb that reads: “Dime con quien andas, y te dire quien eres.” Those who are both peregrinos and Hokies are people with whom I am very proud to walk.
But, of course, it is not just us walking the Camino this summer. It took me exactly one hour on the trail to make friends with a kind Londoner on a soul-searching trip across 3 continents by himself. He stuck with us for a few hours. After all, even the peregrinos who begin alone certainly do not remain so for long.
After checking into our first albergue, I was pleasantly surprised by the accommodations (think sleep away camp bunks). The coolest part, though, is the walls. Countless peregrinos have left quotes, messages, and more in almost just as many languages. I left my favorite Mark Twain quote. We even found a few messages from Hokies past. It is so humbling to see how many peregrinos have come before us and so inspiring to look at the remaining blank spaces and imagine the peregrinos to come.

Annalee Lane