Camino de Santiago

Month: November, 2014

Up In The Highlands – Pano of the Week

20141003-Raban-Acebo-18-cruz de ferro

This week’s Pano of the Week comes after coming down off the highest point of the Camino at about 5,000 ft.

At this high point of the Camino there a simple Iron Cross called the Cruz de Ferro. The base of the cross is filled with a huge pile of rocks deposited by the Camino Pilgrims. The Camino tradition is to bring a rock and leave it on the pile of rocks. The tradition is that as you deposit the rock as you ask for a blessing or as a symbol of leaving whatever burden or sin behind. (if you have seen the movie “The Way” you might remember this scene).

Up In The Highlands


Reservations and Expectations

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When Terri and I were preparing to walk the Camino, we discussed something that was very different about this trip; we realized that we had very few plans set in place and reservations made in advance. The majority of our 5 week plus trip was free of a lot of expectations. We had never taken a trip like that before. All of our vacations we had taken up to this point we had planned out all of the details of where we were going to be on what day and many of the things we wanted to do and see were discussed and planned out. We had a lot more expectations and reservations.

Walking the Camino was really not a vacation but more like an adventure or a journey with little expectations and reservations. That is what I think makes it special in some ways. Maybe it is the fact that you have so few expectations that makes it special. It is harder to be disappointed for sure if when you stay open to whatever comes your way. When we setup a lot of expectations about our upcoming vacation, it puts a bit more of a “burden” on everything working out as planned. If things don’t work out as planned, it can throw us off and we might end up in some cases being angry or very disappointed.

One of the times we were put off and disappointed on the Camino came when we made a reservation in advance for a private room the prior evening. When we showed up late the next day, we found that there was no private room available for us! We ended up in a large, very crowed Alberque on the top bunks.

The majority of our trip we really had few expectations and we were both very open to what came our way each day. We tried to stay open and aware each day to what might surprise us. We both really liked this new way of traveling.

A great example of this came about half way through the Camino, when we stopped in a small town for a cafe con leche and much to our surprise we found out that Terri was the 10,000th pilgrim served. Terri was showered with special gifts (a great necklace of candy and goodies that she wore the rest of the day and shared with all the pilgrims she met along the way) and a free lunch! What a fun time we had with the owners of the Cafe as they took our pictures with them and blew party horns! Now this was a pleasant surprise!

This definitely was a new way for us to travel, having very few expectations and reservations. ┬áHaving done it now, I think we both are convinced this is a better way to go! Try it if you haven’t, you might be pleasantly surprised!

Pano Of The Week – Meseta Sunrise

I promised I would publish at least one of my Camino Panoramic Images once a week. Here you go with the first installment. Look for a new one each week!

Meseta Sunrise

Sitting Death


One of my goals of retirement was to try and spend more time outside than I did inside when I was working. Walking the Camino sure moved me a long way in that direction as we spent almost the entire daylight hours outside walking.

I was always aware when I was working that sitting all day at my desk job at Boeing was not good for my health. I used to refer to it as “sitting death”. I recently read an article in “Scientific American” magazine entitled “Killer Chairs”. It supports the scientific evidence of what I had been saying; sitting kills us prematurely. We were made to be moving more than sitting.

The studies are very clear after years of research; sitting is not good for our health. One study followed 8800 adults for 7 years. Those who sat for more than four hours a day while watching television had a 46% increase in deaths from any cause when compared with people who sat in front of the tube for less than two hours a day. Overall, when you combine all causes of death and compare any group of sitters with those who are more active, sitters have a 50% greater likelihood of dying. Sitting for long periods is bad because the human body was not designed to be idle.

These studies have pushed more companies now to encourage employees to get up and move. When I was at Boeing they had a program called “Boeing On The Move”. It provided all employees with a pedometer and had contests to try and get us up and moving more. It makes sense.

One of the things I have tried doing since I have been back from the Camino is to try walking more to some of the places nearby rather than jumping in the car to go there. It does take more time and some advance planning and it doesn’t always work out everytime but it does help in changing my mindset a bit more. A change in our thinking is a good place to start as we become more aware of how healthy it is for us to avoid sitting for too long each day.

Let’s encourage each other to keep moving!

John and Terri

P.S. In the picture above notice the people in front of Terri. There is a young mother that is being helped by a friend or relative pushing her 8 month old child in a stroller! They found a way to stay moving for sure.

Judge and Sifter of Hearts

camino-frances-bike-3-1Walking the Camino, provides one a lot of time to think and sometimes in our thinking we can get judgmental of others. It seems we all do this quite naturally. I find it hard to avoid.

Early on in the Camino we found ourselves very irritated and a little judgmental of those that were riding bikes. Most of our irritation was due to the lack of notification as they approached and passed us by. It often caught us by surprise. It was a constant battle to remain peaceful and not judgmental of those “Italian Stallion” bike riders!

Another “judgmental” issue I had was my thinking that the only proper shoes to walk the Camino were hiking boots. I found I repeatedly had to pull myself back from my “high and mighty” attitude I was carrying along the way. I was so sure I was right and they were going to “pay” for wearing sandals or tennis shoes with a sprained ankle or bruised feet. Wow, it is amazing how easy it can be to fall into this judgmental state of mind!

The big problem with this judgmental state of thinking is how much it steals the joy and peace from the present moment. We are not as aware of all the beautiful things around us when we get into this state. We lose are perspective as well.

We witnessed this with a fellow pilgrim, Susan, that we got to know from Winnipeg. You see she was really “ruining her Camino” with how upset she had gotten at all those pilgrims that were only walking the last 100 kilometers to Santiago. This is all you need to walk to get the prized “Compostela” (a credential you receive when you arrive at the Cathedral in Santiago). Susan was very judgmental of these “100k pilgrims” and she paid the price. It literally was changing her into someone you did not want to be around or walk with at times. It was very sad to see.

Our judgments are a decision we make when the thoughts come up in our mind. We are in control of our decisions. We can decide not to place “that judgment” on the thought that comes to our mind. We can identify that thought and let it go without placing judgment.

I read a great quote from St Augustine saying,”You cannot be a judge and a sifter of hearts”.

This is wise advice to follow for sure!

God Bless!

John and Terri

Life Is An Unfinished Symphony

20140920-Najera-Santo-74-EditOne of my favorite quotes is “Life is an unfinished symphony”. It has been my mantra now since I have returned from the Camino. I find that I am constantly reminding myself of this truth throughout the day. It helps me relax and realize that the long list of “to do’s” is going to be there tomorrow. It helps me put things into perspective when I start trying to fill my entire day and week up with all the “unfinished work and activities” of life. It helps me slow down and take some time to just “be” not “do”. I notice how much more at peace I feel when I give myself time to rest.

When you stop to think about the wisdom of this little quote, you realize that we are often striving in our “to do” mode to just finish off this so it is done and then I can get to this other thing. Once I get that other thing done then I will be happy but that is not true because something else comes up which I feel we must get done now. The reality is we are never done this side of heaven. We will pass away and there is still more that is going to be unfinished. I simply must remember this. It is never all done.

I think that this new way of being is going to be hard for me as I tend to be someone that really loves the “do, do, do”. One of the Camino lessons I am still learning is to rest and just be present to the present moments of life! It is easier to do when I remember, that I will never get it all done and that is OK!

God Bless!

John and Terri