Camino de Santiago – Day 9

From the end of May through mid June, Paul, Finn and I walked the Camino de Santiago in Spain. This is part of the recap of that trip. Find more here

Day 9. At this break neck pace, I may finish before Christmas. Maybe. The good news, is today’s post is pretty short.

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We were finally back to 21km days and it was welcome! The more and more we have a settled into our rhythm, the less and less I took pictures and wrote in my journal. The Camino was no longer novelty, but ordinary life. But it was in the ordinary that we found ourselves so tied to our Camino home and family. They packs on our backs were held all we needed and there was a simplicity in our daily routine that I had always craved but never before attained. We wore the same thing every day (cleaned!), ate what we were given, and spoke with those in our path. I still attempt to find this simplicity at home, but its never realistic to have the same level of simplicity in the real world surrounded by Super Targets and Amazon. Maybe I’m just weak or maybe I have unrealistic goals, but somehow small and simple stays out of my reach.

We spent our days singing the same songs to Finn, visiting with some of the same companions and some new, but mostly walking, praying, and being together.

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That is how we spent our walk from Najera to Santo Domingo de la Calzada. Finn still got treats every time we stopped. A bag of candy, lots of lollipops, milk, bananas, oranges. The kindness never ceased.

The countryside continued to look and feel more and more like the meseta, Arid and without shade. There were longer stretches of the day without a town to stop and refresh. We took more break on the side of the road under trees. We practiced signing to a nice family with whom we shared shade and who wanted to talk about Finn, but spoke no Spanish or English, so we didn’t have common ground.  And we arrived fairly early in Santo Domingo de la Calzada.

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We hadn’t been able to book a room ahead of time, but we quickly found ourselves at a convent with rooms to rent. The nuns had been serving pilgrims for hundreds of years and they were excited to talk and sing to Finn. We checked in, changed and went off to explore the town a bit.

There wasn’t much to see and the main attraction was the church, which we were planning on seeing at mass that evening, so we sat and had beer while Finn chased cats for a long time. We met a group of super fun Italian pilgrims and Finn had a little fan club pretty quickly. : )

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We ate with Father Smith again and then ran off to mass. Legend has it that a pilgrim couple and their son had stopped at an inn in Santo Domingo de la Calzada. The innkeeper had a beautiful daughter who had her eye on the pilgrims’ son, but he thwarted her advances. So, she placed a silver goblet in his backpack and reported him for stealing. The innocent boy was caught and condemned to hang. Some accounts state that the parents continued on their way, oblivious to the fate of their son, but when they returned through (ancient pilgrims obviously had to turn around and walk back!), they found him still alive thanks to the intervention of Santo Domingo They rushed off to the sheriff’s house and found the sheriff about to eat dinner. When the sheriff heard the parents’ questions, he replied that their son was no more alive than the chicken he was about to eat for dinner. Whereupon, the fowl stood up on the dish and crowed loudly. The sheriff, not oblivious to the miracle, rushed back to the gallows and cut down the boy who was given a full pardon.

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The church still houses a live chicken in memory of the legend! So we went to mass and to look at the chicken and then headed to bed. It was a small town, but a very sweet one.

Camino de Santiago – Day 8

From the end of May through mid June, Paul, Finn and I walked the Camino de Santiago in Spain. This is part of the recap of that trip. Find more here

After the long day to Logroño, we were not anxious to get moving again and, in truth, it took our bodies a little while to settle in to the rhythm of walking again. We’d planned to grab a coffee as we were walking our of Logroño, but, like I mentioned, the city didn’t really cater to pilgrims since, unlike the smaller villages, it wasn’t dependent on pilgrims for income. Therefore, if felt like it took forever to reach a stop for coffee.

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We ended up walking through a park where we visited a nice Japanese man who was completing his third was just so excited about everything. We were quite a bit shy of his enthusiasm, partially because we still hadn’t found any coffee!! Finally, we went through a nature area and found a cafe. Paul went to get us coffee and Finn found a few ducks to chase around. We visited with a couple of pilgrims from Germany who Finn loved and a nice couple for North Carolina.

This walk into Najera was relatively uneventful. A big hill, beautiful churches, great views but some walking along the road. It was a 29km day, like the one before, but the day when easier. We knew what our bodies could handle and took the time to stretch and break as we needed. Finn started trying to stand up and play in the backpack using the stirrups, but thankfully he couldn’t get out. He found it so fun that we got plenty of walking time out of his new games. We sang and he played with walking sticks until he either dropped them on purpose to make me pick them up a few too many times (there is only so much picking up one can do with a 30+ pound backpack on their back) or hit Paul with it too many times (one of Paul’s least favorite games of the Camino along with “choke daddy with his buff”).

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At some point toward the end of the day, we were so close to Najera and Paul and I were exhausted, just ready to push on and get there. But Finn would have none of it. He wasn’t fussy and wanting to play or angry about being in the backpack as much as he just wanted to be carried by me and no one else. Both of our backpacks were pretty well fitted for their purpose, so switching wasn’t an option. We stopped, took a break, and I cuddled and held Finn. For a moment, I was so frustrated; we were close and I wanted to be there and there was no good shade for a break. But finally, I stopped. I looked around. The view was beautiful and I was sitting in the middle of a Spanish vineyard holding my child and loving on him. How can I complain about that!?

Once he got ready to play we let him run awhile before trying to get him to walk with us (unsuccessfully….toddlers don’t walk with a purpose). He was still wanting to be carried so I tried using our blanket to tie him on my backpack and use home as a sling to sit on my hip. Again, that wasn’t so successful. We just couldn’t get the blanket tight enough for me to feel comfortable. So we played some more and then FINALLY got him into the backpack. The protesting lasted less than 2 minutes and then we went on to Najera anxiously.

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Najara wan’t too beautiful from the outskirts, to say the least, and I was worried that none of it would be pretty. But eventually we walked over the river bridge over the river and into the old city. We went straight to our albergue and settled into a private room…WITH A WASHER/DRYER!! Our clothes hadn’t had a really wasn’t in a long time and we were thrilled…right after the other people using it gave us a turn. : / We finally got our clothes washed right before we went to bed later, but we were getting worried!

There was plenty to see in Najera. We went to Santa Maria de la Real which was built into a cave the legend is that Don Garcia followed a falcon into a cave where he found a statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary and built a church around it. Finn ran and played in the cloisters and played hide and seek with Paul. The cloisters had been ruined over time, but the church was still beautiful. After, we went to the cafes by the river to have a drink while we visited Finn’s South Korean fan club, including “Cat” and Jasmine and Marcus from the West Coast. After, we went on the the grocery store to pick up jamon flavored potato chips to give the local flavors a try. Here’s a tip….don’t get them.

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We also stopped by to see the cloistered Sisters of St. Claire. Their church was beautiful and we got there in time to see them behind the glass of their special chapel. They waved at Finn and he waved back. Seriously, in one day, he visited cloistered nuns, played hide and seek in a cloister, and cuddled in a vineyard. I think it was a pretty epic day.

As we looked for food for dinner, we ran into Fr. Smith and the three of us split up to find a good pilgrim menu somewhere. There was really only one place open and unfortunately they wouldn’t serve us outside. The restaurant was super tiny and narrow meaning Finn was going to have to stay seated with us. Fat chance. In fact, at some point he got mad, threw a spoon which broke a plate, and I about died of embarrassment. Paul and I took turns sitting with him in time out and when that was over, trying to give him lots of breaks. Our sweet new friends from North Carolina took him outside for a little while to give us a break. Again, pilgrims are awesome. There were so many people helping take care of Finn!! It was a whole experience of raising a child with the help of a village and I loved it.

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As dinner ended, we changed diapers and hustled to mass, which was lovely. At the end, the pilgrims were invited to the front to ring a small bell three times. Apparently, pilgrims for hundreds of years have been ringing the bell as they come through. In these small moments, I felt so small. Just a little part of the long tradition of pilgrims marching through Spain to Santiago for any number of reasons. My steps were no where near the first along the trail and they wouldn’t be the last. This was the trail of saints, prisoners paying their debt, and of multitudes of ordinary people. I don’t know where my own steps belonged, but they seemed to belong in a larger historical puzzle, like I was meant to walk this path right at this time and with every step forward, every pilgrim met, and every prayer offered, I was fulfilling a duty.

Camino de Santiago – Day 7

From the end of May through mid June, Paul, Finn and I walked the Camino de Santiago in Spain. This is part of the recap of that trip. Find more here

Los Arcos to Logroño was going to be a LONG day. We were determined to get an early start. Our hostel had breakfast (and a tub to bathe Finn…lap of luxury, people) so we left clean and fed.

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Spanish breakfasts are pretty small for pilgrims who spend the day walking. Mostly it consisted of a couple of pieces of toast, coffee, and maybe some fruit. Not very satisfying, but we were grateful to have it. A kind pilgrim also ran up to her room just to get Finn a banana to eat while we walked. #spoiled.

Everything started out smoothly. The landscape was beginning to flatten out more and more and we got to walk through farm land and vineyards. There was one climb in the day that was difficult, but we were struggling with the climbs less. The hardest part of the day was the sheer distance. It was almost 30km. We decided the best approach was to take a smaller stop in morning and then a nice long stop and the last town before Logroño.

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Finn did great in the morning and we got our walking legs under us. I visited with a fellow pilgrim from Washington whom we had gotten to know a little the evening before. At some point while we visited, however, Finn had a meltdown. There wasn’t a good place to stop and he really needed a nap so we had to get through it. We sang songs and did all we could for some time. Our friend, Jasmine, sang to him as well and made up songs to the tune of “The Wheels on the Bus” but with the words of “The ____ on the Camino.” So sweet! Finn cheered up to that for awhile. At some point, he wasn’t having any more though. It was time for his nap and he was just refusing. Paul let Jasmine and I visit for awhile and he tolerated Finn being upset…loudly…in his ear. Finn wasn’t having water, milk, snacks, cookies, songs, games, or his pacifier and was certainly not napping even though its clearly what he needed, so there wasn’t much else we could do besides the usual bounce and rock until he got to sleep. We did stop to check his temperature and dose him with some tylenol in case his teeth were bothering him (classic mom problem-solving: Must be the teeth!). And he went to sleep not long after. WHEW! Thank goodness.

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A little later, we reached Viana, where we intended to take our long stop, and it was perfect. There was a nice square where we found a shaded bench and ate an inordinate amount of bread and trick fake nutella (the label just had almonds…not info about chocolate, then when we opened it, it was definitely almond nutella. Hence: fake nutella). The local school kids came out to the square and ran straight to the fountain to play. Finn was thrilled to see more kids and just stared at them until they ran off. And then he wanted in the fountain. So we let him stand on the grate and he played and splashed. I thought he may never leave.

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When we finally got Finn away from the water, we sat down for some sangria, which was a huge mistake. Its soooo hard to get going again after sharing a mini-pitcher of sangria!! But, we had reserved a room ahead in Logroño and there was no choice. Onward we had to go.

We had 10km from Viana to Logroño which seemed reasonable when we left. But then….it just kept going. We walked for seemingly forever, and we felt like every time we saw a sign, we just hadn’t covered that much ground. Finn slept most of the way which was great. We met up with some ladies from the United States and talked awhile. We walked on and AGAIN thought we were making progress, but, apparently not like we thought.

Eventually I started to have some real sciatic nerve pain and was just limping along. Paul thought my gait was kind of hysterical. Thanks for taking pleasure in my pain there! We met up with a young guy, Jack, from Ireland and got to visit. That did take my mind off of my pain a little….a very little for a very little while. At some point we noted a 4km to Logroño sign and got excited that we were close. But then, a little while later, we saw another 4km sign. And then, you guessed it, another one just a little while later. We should have covered a couple of kilometers since we saw the first 4km sign! What.the.heck?!?

At that point, it was in pain, hot, and beginning to get a little angry. I mean, where the heck was this town?!!? ugh.

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We kept on keeping on and FINALLY got into Logroño. We decided we wanted to get straight to our pension, which was about 1km past the main square. We passed fellow pilgrims in the main square having beer and relaxing, which was SO SO tempting, but then again, so was a shower. After some moaning and groaning (mostly from me), we made it to our pension and did our usual rest, shower, laundry, snack before going back to the square for dinner.

We walked the 1km back to the square to find drinks and dinner. I had broken out in some weird, awful rash on my leg so we stopped at a pharmacy for medicine and to look for diapers. The stash we brought was running low and it was time to stock up. Unfortunately, there was no one-stop shopping because the pharmacy didn’t have diapers. We’d just have to look later.

Drinks were easy to find, but dinner, like diapers, was a problem. For one, Logroño was just a bigger city. The smaller towns catered to pilgrims, but bigger cities weren’t dependent on pilgrims to keep going. So the restaurants were more on Spanish time rather than pilgrim time. There were no pilgrim menus and almost no kitchens open. By the time we found an open restaurant, it was getting a little late. We’d have to eat in about 30 minutes to make mass and that just never happens in Spain. Quick dinners are unheard of. So we sat down with a young couple from D.C., another pilgrim from Colorado, another from Brazil, and a seminarian from the U.S. (but I can’t remember where). It was a lovely dinner. The food was great and the conversation was better. Finn ran around the whole time (outdoor dinners for the win) and got pretty worn out.

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Fan club
Fan club

After saying our goodbyes, we walked around a little, but knew we didn’t have long since we needed to find diapers. We’d been keeping an eye out for a store while we looked for a dinner spot and a Spanish pilgrim friend had asked around for us, but she didn’t have luck either. Dinner had lasted a couple of hours (probably still short for a Spanish dinner) and we really needed to figure out where to get diapers before the stores closed.

We finally found a Spanish family with a small child and decided they’d be the ones to ask. Paul couldn’t remember the word for diaper, but with a little awkward sign language, they figured it out, took pity on us, gave us a couple of diapers and pointed us in the right direction. We walked to the supermarket a few blocks away, stocked up on snacks and diapers, and then headed back to our pension. We were sooooo tired on the way back, and still in a little pain, that we just did NOT want to walk any further. We were only a few blocks away when we called it. We saw a taxi and hopped in, laughing at ourselves, and with the cab driver laughing at us, but also feeling totally relieved that the other had agreed to the ridiculousness of taking a cab a few blocks! Not our finest moment, but worth it.

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All in all, Logrño went down as one of our least favorite days on the Camino. The difficult walk, the inability to find food, the diaper search, the fit, they lying kilometer markers. All of it was just exhausting. And to top it all off, we just weren’t liking the city of Logroño. That’s ok, we weren’t required to have all good days and some bad days gave us some things to offer up and work through.

Camino de Santiago – Day 6

From the end of May through mid June, Paul, Finn and I walked the Camino de Santiago in Spain. This is part of the recap of that trip. Find more here

Estella to Los Arcos would be a 21.4 km day with no major climbs so we were hoping for a relatively uneventful walk. BUT BUT BUT….there was a wine fountain on the way!!!

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We slept in just a little because we wanted to make sure Finn was well rested after having been sick and because he didn’t sleep so well the night before. We performed our morning routine of packing and loading up and then stopped for coffee before we left Estella. True to Estella form, Finn was given a sucker and milk from the kind staff of the coffee shop and Paul and I were even more convinced it was time to go before Finn got too spoiled.

Finn woke up without a fever and feeling pretty chipper so we figured the best thing we could do was just to get walking. There was no sense in waiting around all day just in case Finn’s teeth started to bother him and there were plenty of places to stop along the way if they did (or Finn and I could catch a cab to the next town ; )).

We met up with some pilgrim friends from Italy and Australia as we left town and made it to the Irache wine fountain by about 8:30 a.m. But, hey, its 5:00 somewhere and I am certainly not one to pass up free wine. FREE WINE! It was actually a little early for a stop, but our legs had just warmed up so it wasn’t too difficult to get going again. I debated staying all day, but I decided against being a lush : ) Traditionally, pilgrims would fill their conch shells with water so we opted to share in the tradition with our wine. Everyone had a few sips, took lots and lots of photos, and headed out together.

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Friends from Italy
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Sweet Australian friend

The rest of the day was really pretty uneventful. Uneventful in a good way. Finn wasn’t sick, no on was throwing up, and we got to walk and take it all in. Finn was tired so he slept plenty while Paul and I got to know fellow pilgrims a little better and had plenty of quiet time to pray alone. Part of the routine we’d settled into really involved some quiet time while Finn slept. After hours of talking to him or talking to other people or talking to each other, it was nice to spread out a little and think on our own. It was a beautiful walk and we often turned to look back at the wind turbines near the Hill of Forgiveness to mark the distance we had walked. We passed lovely countryside and ancient castles. But, to tell you the truth, I have very few photos of this day because I was just busy walking, talking, and taking it all in. And sometimes, that’s exactly how it should be.

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It was actually pretty early when we made it into Los Arcos. Paul and I looked at the guidebook and decided it would be nice to make the next town. Some of our friends were doing the same and it looked to be only a little over 3km away. The next day was scheduled to be over 29km so shaving a little off of that seemed like a great idea. But, about 1km out of town, we found a sign saying the next town was over 6km away and we weren’t about to tackle another 6km that day without a longer rest break. So we walked back to Los Arcos to debate staying over a beer. Well, as you can imagine, some sitting and beer drinking left us a bit tired so we scratched the plan to walk on and started looking for a room. Oops…?

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It took Paul a little while to find a place and he began getting more and more frustrated. He was tired and walking around the city while I sat in the square with friends and Finn was not exactly his favorite thing to do. When he finally found us a place, he promptly let me know that we would be reserving rooms ahead from now on. Fine by me!

We spent most of the evening in the small town square. The church was beautiful, but beyond that, there wasn’t much to see. Finn loved watching the big church bells ring and chasing birds around. We visited and ate dinner and while we ate, the waitress scooped up Finn and carried him around the square and the restaurant and even back in the kitchen to say hello : ) Seriously, the Spanish people love babies. She sent us home with 2 suckers for him and he got more from the store. Apparently, it wasn’t just Estella that was going to spoil Finn.

Adoring fans from France
Adoring fans from France

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We called it a night early and got ready for a really big walk the next day!

Camino de Santiago – Day 5

From the end of May through mid June, Paul, Finn and I walked the Camino de Santiago in Spain. This is part of the recap of that trip. Find more here

Leaving Puente
Leaving Puente

After breakfast in Puente, we headed out with a group of pilgrims toward Estella. After the long day before with a big climb, 21.9km seemed very reasonable. We’d begun to sort of figure out Finn’s disposition and when to stop to help him get through the days. The past couple of days had been immensely easier than the days before as far as Finn’s attitude. We felt like we were learning so much about the little man’s personality. He’d hit a stage where he like to be talked through things. Telling him that I was going to change his diaper and asking him not to scream about it, usually resulted in much less resistance. Why a child ever throws a fit about someone trying to help them out of their own filth will always be beyond me. : )

We also figured out that our previous “if Finn is happy, we’re walking” attitude wasn’t working. Since we’d been finishing our days with many of the other pilgrims and hitting our daily distance goals, we could afford to stop a little more often. So we’d begun stopping when Finn was happy and ready to play. He got some energy out and would happily get back in the backpack. Sometimes it took just a little coaxing and we’d play games like counting “1-2-3-WHEE!” when we swung the backpack up on Paul’s back. It became a huge production, but Finn loved it so we obliged.

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The Spanish were also incredibly kind and giving. We stopped buying cartons of milk because we’d never use them all and every coffee shop refilled his milk for free. We’d attempted to buy small milk cartons so the milk wouldn’t go bad, and Spanish milk is shelf-stable, so we didn’t need to keep it cold until it was opened. BUT, it was nice to just not have to worry about that. Every time we stopped, Finn was given a sucker or a banana or some other snack. It became a running joke that we’d need to get off the Camino before he got too spoiled!

Leaving Puente, it became really clear that we were in wine country: La Rioja. There were beautiful vineyards all along the walk and the terrain began to flatten out. As we approached Cirauqui, however, we realized that the medieval need to build a city on a hill was a bit of a nuisance and a cruel trick on tired pilgrim. Every time we thought we’d have a flat walk, we realized it would be a steep climb through the next town! Despite the climb, Cirauqui was a great ancient Spanish town. The Camino went right through the middle of it and through an old courtyard where we stamped our credencials.

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We went on to Lorca where we stopped for lunch with other pilgrims. Finn had a blast here. He had a couple of sweet German fans who entertained him for a while and then he went about high-fiving pilgrims. He practiced walking with his walking stick and tried to take off without us! Fortunately, he’s pretty slow.

We crossed into the Navarre region before entering Estella, where we would stop for the night. We asked around in the albergues and were directed to a pension. The lady running it was so sweet and put us in the “honeymoon suite” because we were traveling with Finn. Basically, that just meant we would have a full-sized bed, a luxury on the Camino since Finn and I had been sharing one twin bed while Paul got the other twin on most nights. Our room had a balcony overlooking the square where we snacked and rested while Finn took a nap. We heard some women speaking english in the room next to us and then out of the balcony. I can’t remember exactly how it happened, but we found out they were a mother daughter combo from Texas! The daughter was actually in college at my alma mater. Whoop!

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We showered and cleaned up and I started to notice Finn was pretty lethargic and slightly feverish. There is nothing worse than a sick kid while you’re in a foreign country!! He’d had a little cough for awhile so I thought his symptoms may be related to that, but when I peeked in his mouth, there were a couple of molars beginning to cut through. We went to a pharmacy and asked the pharmacist if we could just take his temperature. She was so kind and happily obliged. Unfortunately, I was in super-worried-mom mode and when she told me the temperature in celsius, I looked at Paul like “OMGSH! HOW BAD IS THAT?!?! WHAT DOES IT MEAN!?!” hahaha. She suggested we go to the hospital, which didn’t help calm me down. Paul did some quick math and assured me it wasn’t that bad, but he’d like to give him some tylenol. We gave Finn some medicine and he began acting better pretty quickly. So, we went to walk around the town a bit. We stopped in a second square and got him some ice cream since he hadn’t eaten much (pretty typical when he’s cutting a tooth). He happily high-fived some of our Camino friends and seemed a quite a bit better so we walked on.

There was lots to see in Estella because the Kings of Navarre had lived there. We stopped at the coolest pottery/wood-working shop where I *almost* bought some beautiful holy water founts before Paul convinced me that they were not the most practical thing to add to our backpacks and we’d probably see more in Santiago. We didn’t. : ( I’m still trying to find a way to get my hands on one of those holy water founts! The shopkeeper was the sweetest old man and he just loved Finn. He told us that he didn’t have toys, but he did have a hand carved wooden spoon that he gave to Finn. Its my very favorite keepsake for from the Camino. We saw the man on the street later and he stopped to tell his wife about Finn as well : ) All the more reason I want to by the holy water fount from him! (Can you tell I’m still not over this?!)

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We got dinner at a pizza restaurant across the street where everything was fine and dandy. Until….we were happily chatting when Finn, out of nowhere, threw up all over himself and in Paul’s hands. Oops. Maybe ice cream wasn’t the best idea. Parenting lesson #74623895.

However, after cleaning up, Finn pretty much face planted into some pizza. Sooo….he was ok? Kids are so confusing. He ran around the restaurant and visited some fellow pilgrims and was highly entertained by the pizza making.

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Killer picture there, Kels.
Killer picture there, Kels.

Since he was acting so much better, we decided to make mass. The church was up a huge flight of stairs (or alternatively an elevator). It was beautiful and Finn did great at mass. The Spanish people, especially in Estella, LOVED Finn. He had a little fan club after mass. We walked around the cloisters before heading back to our room and got Finn to bed.

We hadn’t had internet in a few days, but our pension had wifi in the main lobby so I went down to use it. When I signed on, I had about 50 text messages from people asking if our house was flooded. WHAT?!!?!? Why would our house be FLOODED!?!?!

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Feeling better and being goofy with dad
Feeling better and being goofy with dad

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Turns out, there was a huge storm in Houston and flooding all around the city, but especially in our neighborhood. I rushed upstairs to wake up Paul and we took turns getting on the internet to find someone to PLEASE go check on our house! Gosh…talk about a heart attack. A friend of mine’s husband finally got online to check flooding maps and assured us that our house was probably fine and a few neighbors said the same. So we finally calmed down enough to try to get some sleep and prepare for the next day.

And somehow, despite all the drama of flooding and sick kids, Estella was on of my favorite stops.

Camino de Santiago – Day 4

Day 4 was slated to be a big one. It was our longest distance so far (over 24km) and there was a big climb up the Hill of Forgiveness.

We got up and packed while Finn slept in a little and then had complimentary breakfast and plenty of coffee at our albergue. We said our goodbyes and headed out the door just in time to walk with a wave of pilgrims.

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We were waking up a bit tight and sore from the day before, so it took a few kms for our muscles to work themselves out. Once we hit our stride, we kicked it in gear. Finn was a happy camper and it felt like we made it to the Hill of Forgiveness pretty quickly to begin our climb. The legend is that if a pilgrim died while climbing, they were forgiven for their sins. Hence: Hill of Forgiveness. It wasn’t an easy climb at all and we got progressively colder as we went up. It was SUPER windy so that wasn’t helping. We bundled up Finn and put our coats on. The rain cover over the backpack helped block some wind on Finn, but he HATED it, so we kind of took it on and off to keep him warm/happy.

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He started to get a bit fussier as we went up, so superhero Paul ran a little and bounced Finn around. I was in the back huffing and puffing and just generally being a wuss. Some things never change.

We made it to the top and the view was incredible. We took some pictures and briefly talked about joining in on a mass that our friend Father Smith was celebrating, but decided that it was far too cold and windy to stay up top for long. The descent was a little steep and rocky, but altogether not too tough. Once we got a good ways down, we ate lunch as we walked (Finn was asleep…No stopping!!).

The rest of the day was just loooonnnggggg. We began really doubting the km markers along the way. Like, you’d see a marker that says the next town will be in 4km and it felt like we’d walk 2 hours before we got there….and there is no way we were going THAT slow. Towards the end of the day, we ran into our friend Father Mark and we took turns encouraging each other to finish. At some point, we saw the sweetest looking old man standing outside an albergue and we were SO relieved thinking we had made it. Unfortunately, as we talked to him, we found out we were still a few km from Puenta la Reina. UGHHHH. So onward we walked.

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We finally made it to town and got to work finding a place to stay. There were no private rooms at the albergue, but the hosts directed us to a hotel rural in town. I stayed on the street/sidewalk (they’re all the same there) with Finn where he again, posed for pictures, high-fived pilgrims, and showed tourists how not to use a walking stick before I took the stick away.

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Entertaining tourists
Entertaining tourists

Our room was a little pricey, but included breakfast and dinner so it ended up being, on average, one of the most affordable places we stayed. Paul went out for his post walk treat of beer, gassy water, and jamon. Unfortunately, we kept ending our days right at the beginning of pesky siesta so he had to walk a bit farther than normal to find a store that was open. The pilgrim schedule is a bit different from the typical Spanish schedule.

Hotel room views
Hotel room views
A fussy Finn with Father Smith
A fussy Finn with Father Smith

After showering, resting, snacking, and doing laundry in the sink, we went downstairs where we found some other pilgrims having a drink so we relaxed with them…as much as one can relax when the street and the sidewalk are the same things and you’re sitting in it, so, therefore, your kid is basically playing in traffic. Yikes.

Ok, it wasn’t that bad, because there weren’t that many cars and they drove about .5 miles an hour so there was plenty of time to scoop up Finn. And, before you think I’m a completely derelict parent, its what the locals were doing with their kids so its all good.

After we regained some energy, we walked around town slowlyyyyy because we refused to put Finn back in a backpack. We found a grocery store and stocked up on some more baby food for Finn and snack for us before doing some more touring. There were two old beautiful churches in Puente and we missed the memo on which one mass would be in. So, we went to the wrong one, missed mass and called it a day. Sometimes we lose.

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But dinner at our hotel was great. We ate with and got to know Father Smith while a sweet lady from Ireland who was walking with her college-aged son and husband took Finn to look at some pictures of horses in the windows outside. Which was AWESOME! Bless her heart, she started to worry that I would worry (not on the Camino…he was already spending most meals wandering around to all the pilgrims tables) so she kept him for a blessed 5 minutes.  He also started to uncontrollably freak out when he saw a picture of a horse because he was still scared to death of horses. But, really, its such a weird “camino” thing to just tell someone who you just fine that it is totally fine to wander around a foreign city with your kid. Oh well!

In the end, Puente was one of our very favorite stops. We felt like we’d begun to hit our stride on the Camino. We were settling into a little routine that we loved in its simplicity. Wake up and walk and sleep and do it again.

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Camino de Santiago – Day 3

From the end of May through mid June, Paul, Finn and I walked the Camino de Santiago in Spain. This is part of the recap of that trip. Find more here

We wanted an early start for the walk from Zubiri to Pamplona. This would be a 20.3km day, our longest so far, and we wanted to give ourselves plenty of time to deal with Finn’s breakdowns and our own.

The morning started early, but Finn had had a rough night’s sleep. Even though we were in a private room in a guesthouse, I was worried Finn was disturbing the other pilgrims. Again, wuss that I am, cried and told Paul I wanted to go home. I was tired, Finn was tired. Paul sleeps through everything so he was all sunshine and daisies.

Fountains along the way
Fountains along the way

We got up, packed, and grabbed some cortados at the cafe in Zubiri before heading out. During breakfast, Finn really cheered up and made friends with other pilgrims in the cafe. He has a super social personality, so to see him being welcomed by the other pilgrims (and of course pictures being taken of him), really smoothed over some of my concerns.

Once Finn got some energy out, he got back the backpack and rode happily before falling asleep for a couple of hours. Again, him sleeping meant we were walking. We took one minor detour to see The Abbey, which is an old, unused church, purchased and being restored by two pilgrims. Its a great story and was worth risking cranky-pants Finn waking up! Really, it just speaks to the spirit of the Camino. Pilgrims pop in and help and follow along with the progress of The Abbey. The owners are there to visit and tell pilgrims about their project. Paul and I even talked about how cool it would be just to be able to greet pilgrims along the way on day. Even now, knowing how hard those first days were, its encouraging reading the comments and the comments on the shares of the photo The Abbey posted of us.

The Abbey
The Abbey

We continued on our way and eventually came through a forest and over a bridge to a little cafe filled with pilgrims. We’d walked 10 km so far and Finn had just woken up so we stopped for food and a break. We met some really fun people during that break. A couple from Seattle who were so encouraging about us tackling the walk with Finn, a priest from the University of Southern Mississippi who was planning to visit my alma mater with his students. Finn had a blast chasing cats all around the cafe and giving everyone high fives. The whole break was so good for my spirit and overcoming some of the concerns from the day and night before.

From there, we walked on to Pamplona. Finn only had some short-lived protesting along the way and we sang songs to mellow him out. We came to really rely on “There’s a Wideness in God’s Mercy” and “It is Well with my Soul.” Both had like magical soothing powers. And we’d throw in plenty of “What do you do with a Drunken Sailor” (a Wilson family favorite) and “Wheels on the Bus” for good measure.DSC_0885

Being worried about Finn’s moods got me down just a little. I didn’t like that his mood was affecting mine so strongly and really changing my whole day. I was getting really tired of catering to him constantly (“here, you need a cookie? You want to sing a song? Want mom to play peekaboo while she walks right beside dad and tries not to step on him even though there is a blanket over her head?!?”) as well as dealing with Paul’s needs like getting him a snack or water every time he wanted something. I had all of our clothes/sleeping bags/toiletries/some water, but Paul had Finn/Finn’s clothes/snacks so I felt like I’d hit a stride after Finn calmed down and then Paul would ask for a snack. Ugh. So frustrating. I was being less than kind to say the least.

Cafe break
Cafe break
On a cat-finding mission
On a cat-finding mission

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I kind of started to realize that this was a good opportunity for me to stop thinking about myself and really serve my family. I mean, isn’t the Camino all about a little redemptive suffering? Working on my attitude changed everything. It always does and I became a lot gentler with Paul.

Walking into the city, I did promise Finn ice cream if he could stay calm for the last couple of kms. I may have had to remind him of that promise every 30 steps or so. #briberyworks

This older couple apparently just wanted to read the newspaper in a park, near the bathrooms. Kinda cute.
This older couple apparently just wanted to read the newspaper in a park, near the bathrooms. Kinda cute.

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Once we got into Pamplona we stopped at an albergue that advertised private rooms. They had one and we got it! Whew. The place was brand new and very nice. The hostess was immediately taken by Finn and he got some practice trying to understand Basque as she took him outside to watch cars and talk to him while we unpacked/showered/changed. Have I mentioned how much the Spanish loved babies!?

Shell decor to mark the way
Shell decor to mark the way
Gates of Pamplona
Gates of Pamplona

We went down to the square where Finn had had so much fun playing peek-a-boo only a couple of days before. It was a national holiday because it was voting day so all the bars and restaurants were busy and people were just sitting in the street having beers with friends. Finn got his ice cream and we had a couple of beers with a couple of Irish pilgrims.

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While we were there, a woman and her one year old son came up to Finn and I to introduce themselves. They both lived in Pamplona and just wanted to say hello and practice some English. Finn thought the baby was cute and wanted to hold his hand while he practiced walking. She was so sweet and not worried at all about my bull-in-a-china-cabinet toddler. It was so sweet and I realized that I wouldn’t have had such a nice moment had we not brought Finn.

Finn and his friend
Finn and his friend

A little later, Finn started picking up trash around the square and putting it in the trash can (one of his favorite activities for some reason…?? I’ll take it). There was a bench full of sweet little abuelas (the abuelos were sitting a couple of benches away) near the trash can. A pilgrim woman from Barcelona was sitting with them and resting. The abuelas began to ask about Finn and the pilgrim woman was translating for us. Eventually, Finn began to get sleepy and put his hand down my shirt, as he does when he’s tired (if you have tips on breaking that habit, pass them on asap!). One abuela asked where we were staying and I said “I’m not sure. Down there aways.” She did NOT think that was a satisfactory answer. She told me where she lived and asked it our place was near her house. She kind of scolded me saying “well if you don’t know where you’re staying, how will you get there.” I told her I generally knew and my husband knew but she just shook her head. She said the baby was tired and I needed to get him to bed. She also asked what the baby was eating and I told her he eats everything. She said she wanted to make sure he was getting good food on the Camino. She also asked where I laid him down for a nap along the way and didn’t seem quite happy with “he naps in the backpack.” Oops! The whole conversation was just hysterical. The pilgrim woman translating couldn’t help but laugh and told me that this was just the typical Spanish Abuela!

As hysterical/kind of crazy as the whole conversation was, it was a little fun to have a conversation that, again, I wouldn’t have had if Finn weren’t with us.

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Later we walked down to the river so Paul could soak his tired feet in the water. That evening, I went to the Cathedral where there was a group praying the rosary. They processed around the church to some really beautiful singing of the Litany of Mary. There were lots of pilgrims and even more locals. Honestly, I kind of had no idea what was going on or where we were going in the procession or anything since the whole thing was in Spanish, but I joined in and tried to participate.

Sleeping in the little pod bed
Sleeping in the little pod bed

We went to bed and actually slept great. We had a room adjoining the bathroom and I woke up in the middle of the night and needed to use it. When I went in, somehow, I guess the door locked. I still have no idea how, but I was stuck in the bathroom. There was a door the the common room and a door to our room but both were locked. I could hear Paul snoring but I had no idea how to get his attention without waking anyone else up or waking Finn up. I was about ready to just curl up on the bathroom floor and cry sleep when I decided to try knocking on the door just a bit and trying to call Paul. Somehow, miracle of miracles, the man who has slept through just about every middle of the night fit Finn has ever thrown, heard my whisper yells and opened the door for me.

I suppose the Camino really does provide!