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Camino de Santiago de Compostela,  The Way of Saint James,  Spain,  September 2018

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In September 2018, we walked from Sarria in Galicia, to Santiago de Compostela.
This is one of the thousands of signs directing you along the path. Click for an even larger image.
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Here we are almost the end of the long walk, the Santiago de Compostela Cathedral.  We walked with Jana Cernikovsky from Vermont (and her husband Josef drove all suitcases forward every morning to our next destination) and with Asun Carcedo, the extra mother of my son David.  She hosted him three summers in Vitoria in the Basque country when he was a teenage "exchange student".  We first visited her and her son Txus (my David's "brother" in Vitoria before the walk.  See photos from that trip here.  Click on any of the photos to see a larger one.
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Here we are starting from our Airbnb in Sarria, early in the morning.  The first day was the longest distance, 22 kilometers from Sarria to Portomarin.
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This is on the Camino.  We met people from all over the world.  Most passed us, faster than we went. But we had a great time. Click to see a larger image.
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Here we are starting from our Airbnb in Sarria, early in the morning.  The first day was the longest distance, 22 kilometers from Sarria to Portimarin.
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This is on the Camino.  We met people from all over the world.  Most passed us, faster than we went. But we had a great time. Click to see a larger image.
 Click to see a larger image
 The Camino sometimes goes through forests, small towns, sometimes along small country roads, like this one.  See the marker behind the sheep?  Click for an even larger image.
Josef posted a series of fabulous photos from the trip, please click here ... it is a 6-minute show
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Making progress ... Kilometer 99.1
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On the Camino, sometimes you follow the crowds, and if there is nobody around, you follow the markers.
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You walk through small Galician villages. These structures are grain storages, raised so that rats can't get in. Click for an even larger image.
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Galician villages are old.  You feel like you are a long way from civilization. Click on the photo for an even larger image.
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We had a car and a chauffeur, Josef.  At one point, we stopped on the Camino and he drove us a few kilometers off to an ancient monastery. Every day, after he drove our suitcases to our next destination in the morning, he drove back to meet us at lunchtime and we always had a pic-nic with manchego cheese, jamon serrano and beer or wine.  Camino de Santiago in luxury. Then we resumed the daily walk.  Click on the photo to see a larger image.
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Starting from Portomarin, at Kilometer 91.5. Click on the photo to see a larger image.
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Kilometer 91.5.  Making progress.
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All kinds of markers to follow, this one made out of seashells.
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Kilometer 81.2.  Click to see a larger image.
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Kilometer 57.5 ... halfway there ...
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The Camino goes through some very beautiful places.  Click on the photo to see a larger image.
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Kilometer 52,089.  Getting closer.  Jana and Asun always walked faster than Lorraine and I and reached our next destination earlier.  We got there, took a siesta and, late afternoon, walked another 3-4 kilometers ahead.  We stopped for a glass of wine and Josef kindly picked us up and drove us back to the hotel.  The next morning, Jana and Asun had to start from there, but Josef took us to where we finished the night before ... so every early morning we had an hour's head start on the Camino to ourselves, before the crowd came and passed us.  Click on the photo to see a larger image.
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Always something different on the Camino.  Click on the photo to see a larger image.
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Kilometer 19.4 after a few days' walking.  Getting closer! Click to see a larger image.  
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Lots of cafes along the way.  Click on the photo to see a larger image.
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Centuries old water fountain. Click to see a larger image.  
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As we always went ahead in the afternoons and gained a few kilometers extra, we earned ourselves a free day on our plan.  We stopped walking for one day and drove to Finisterre.  Here with our chauffeur, Josef.  Click on the photo to see a larger image.
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Finisterre means "the end of the world".  And, before they discovered America, this indeed was THE END of the world.  Click on the photo to see a larger image.
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At the Finisterre lighthouse, the Camino marker "Kilometer 0.0.  We drove here, but some pilgrims, after walking to Santiago, walk yet another 80 kilometers to "0.0". 
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The "end of the world, as they knew it at the time.
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Guatemala is about where the arrow is pointing.  After 1492, it turned out that Finisterre was not the end of the world, after al. Click on the photo to see a larger image.
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The Czech embassy installed a plaque in memory of the Czech king, here at Finisterre. Click to see a larger image.  
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A beautiful harbour in Fisterra, the town on Finisterre. We also had a good lunch. Click on the photo to see a larger image.
   
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Shopping in Finisterre. Click on the photo to see a larger image.
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We were so lucky, Josef drove our suitcases ahead.  Many people carried their backpacks.  But there were also services offering "tranporte de mochilas", to their next destinations.
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After the side trip to Finisterre, we resumed our walk for the last day.  Here we are, finally entering the city.  Pilgrims from around the world plastered the city sign with various stickers.  Click for an even larger image.
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Finally, Santiago de Compostela, our target. 
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In the mediaeval streets of Santiago de Compostela.  only "1,000 meters to the Cathedral".  Wow!  Almost there!  Click to see a larger photo.  
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Just a few steps more.  The cathedral of Santiago de Compostela behind us. Click for an even larger image.
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In an enormous line, we spent more than an hour waiting t
o deliver our "passports", stamped every day on the Camino in restarants, bars, churches and monasteries along the way.  We each got two certificates, one in Spanish, the other in Latin. 
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Having received our certificates, we went to celebrate with a good lunch right next to the office where we got them.  Happy!
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We explored the center of Santiago the following day and went inside the cathedral for the daily "Pilgrim's Mass". 
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The next day, we visited the cathedral.  Lorraine and I always light up a candle. We are not religious, but we light it up every time we get an opportunity to "thank Mr.God" for getting us together, keeping us together and we light them for our family and friends to be well.  This was one of the most prestigious places to do it.  "Thank you, Mr.God!"
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Each day, there is a "Pilgrims' Mass".  They read the countries from which people arrived the day before.  Several times a year, a group of a dozen men pull the ropes to swing the "Butafumeiro", one of the largest censers in the world.  It weighs 80 kilograms and flies across the cathedral with amazing speed, while a choir of nuns sings along.  Usually, they swing it if someone pays for the show.  They announced that the Duke of Braganza (northern Portugal, right next to Galicia) had paid that day, so we were treated to this spectacular performance.  CLICK ON THE PHOTO TO SEE A VIDEO that I took.
The video is a large file, may take a few moments to open.
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One more splendid Spanish meal.  On the Camino, we ate really well.  After this, Asun took a train back to Vitoria and the rest of us drive to Madrid, yet another Airbnb apartment next to Puerta del Sol.
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In Madrid, we went to the Prado, to the "Museum of Ham" (a chain of restaurants serving Jamon Serrano with everything), and to Lorraine's favourite haberdashery shop a block from la Puerta del Sol.  Click on the photo to see a larger image.
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And now, my diplomas hang in my sitting room in Antigua and Lorraine's in her office in Guatemala City.  What a set of trophies! Click to see a larger photo.  
 

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