Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Camino del Norte/Camino Primitivo

It is time to put one foot in front of the other, one step, then another, and another. It is not a race nor are there points for speed or time to one's destination. There is not a finish line or a trophy waiting for you. You can go as short or long of a distance as your heart and soul desires or as far as your physical condition will allow. You can jump on a bicycle, a horse or walk; you can carry your gear or ship it ahead to your next destination without judgment on any choices you make along the way. The choice is yours and yours alone. There is a wide range of reasons why people embark on these pilgrimages form all walks of life, various religions, countries and so on. Whatever the reason -explainable or unexplainable to oneself or others- it is a journey far beyond many others imagination. For myself it is simply a matter of deep spiritual self satisfaction, mind cleansing- and if only for a period of time, during and afterwards, allowing me to live with my demands. It is to me what psychologists have been unable to accomplish with me for so many years.

 In 2016 I embarked on the Camino de Santiago (Camino Frances) not fully knowing why, at a time and point in my life where the world felt like it was caving in on me, I was doing this! To be frank, I expected to say this was just too hard for my vast injuries, state of mind and thought I was very quickly going to figure out that this was a very stupid idea, and go back home. Nonetheless, I started and decided I would at least try. I put one foot in front of the other very slowly but convinced myself that I needed to try, still not knowing why.

 The first days were extremely miserable and in my mind I knew I was doomed for failure at whatever it was I was seeking. Days passed, then a week, a couple of weeks and then, finally as I journeyed along one day on a very long stretch of road and realized that no one else was around, I began to have this overwhelming feeling of forlornness. Unable to comprehend why this feeling was happening, or where this feeling was coming from, I found myself looking for a spot to hide from any pilgrims that may be soon approaching, as I’d lost control of my emotions and knew I was about to break. Surely an old hardcore, tough Marine with 30 years of active duty was not going to loose control now! Well, I won’t go into those details, however, after a long pause under good cover and a poor tree taking the brunt of my anger as I unleashed emotions from deep within my soul, I emerged with a great sense of relief and a sensation that I had just untied myself from a weight so heavy I’d been carrying. Suddenly I had an urge to see what was between there and the next stop and further, I had a clear understanding of where I was headed and what I was doing. In the course of this pilgrimage I had at least two more melt downs, which were in so many ways the best therapy one could have. I stopped at every church, cathedral and chapel that was within eyesight or within a reasonable distance of my path. I spent time in them in prayer, and spent time taking in the beauty of them all. I spoke with priests, monks and many pilgrims. I was looking at the journey in a whole new light. Even through the very toughest of days, I was just happy to be alive and though in lots of physical pain, I was emerged in a whole new world.

I now have this unexplainable desire to do what I am told I cannot! My body was then and is now broken down and beaten, it was while in the Marines. However, times where I should not have been out a on a force march, like attacking a hillside, patrolling jungles and deserts, hitting the beaches, carrying a rucksack, weapons and ammunition, jumping out of perfectly good aircraft, or scuba diving when I was hurt, sick or broken, "bed rest or days off" were never an option. As we used to say and I am sure still say, you can have my weapon when you pry it from my cold dead hands. I cannot recall one time where someone said take a break from this or that in the Marines until you get better. I am guilty of not having done this with others while in leadership positions. I will endure the aches and pains at a snails pace if need be until that day comes.

I have been given a way to cope with my life and somewhat sleep at night, a way to recharge my batteries and continue to live and see the world for what it's worth. It is not easy by any means, lots of pain killers, meds and yes, slow, easy pace and MyWay, one day at a time one step after the other will get me to the other end. 

Buen Camino’s.

Friday, June 24, 2016


I read this article some time ago, carried it with me on the Camino, I read it when I needed a boost; great read, not only for the Camino but in our everyday life's.  ENJOY!!!

Buen Camino on you daily life's and goals.

Time seemed to pass slowly and what seemed impossible is now here. It all consists in starting the journey, you see a huge mountain far away and you ask yourself, how can I get there? Or how can I climb something so high? An inner voice said to me: "start the journey and you will see". After overcoming my doubts and initial fears, I realized the mountain was not as far away, it was my false perception that made it seem further away. Nor was it too high, but rather my soul was small. Really nothing is as we imagine it. All we need is to BELIEVE. And what does that mean? Well, just as it says, BELIEVE, and begin one step at at time, then another, then more, and before you know it you are there. That's the secret of the pilgrim- simply moving the legs. Of course here I am not talking about the deeper mystery, which is always spiritual, intrinsic, unexplainable even to oneself ~ I simply refer to how this or that person managed to get so far. How did they do it? How did they reach their goal?

I never imagined at my age that all these things could happen to me. Which? Well, deciding to take the first step. And what was the first step? Sensing the need to break loose from lots of things that tie you down and prevent you from moving. They say to you: what are you doing? You've got this, that and the other to do.... Obligations, plans, goals, in-satisfactions, sufferings, disillusions.... So many ties!

The advice in these circumstances is to go alone. Walk alone, alone, alone.... The most time you can alone. That way you make better use of your time, and you have time for everything and more; And prayer becomes a necessity, while life turns rich, simple and peaceful. In the end you realize time passes slowly, and what you thought impossible has been reached!

Buen Camino,

Nsa. Sar. Da Barca", Muxia, Fin del Camino

23 June 2016- A bitter sweet walk today. I milked it for all the time I possibly could knowing it was my last walk on the Camino de Santiago.

I started in Saint Jean Pied de Port (France) on to Roncesvalles, Santiago, Finisterre, Faro, Muxia, and Nsa. Sar. Da Barca", Muxia, (Spain), Fin del Camino. 896.6 K's or 560.31 miles...

An amazing journey that challenged my soul. It rained about 70% of my walk. Snow flurrys, hail, wind, thunderstorms and lightning, cold, hot, sunny. I was physically hurt days on in along the way, fought a flu, but through it all I walked, climbed mountains and hills through all trails and terrain imaginable. God blessed me, watched over me and I did it!

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Where does the Shell of the Camino come from?

The symbol of the pilgrims to Compostela is the scallop shell, mollusk scientifically named Pectem Maximus, which can be found in the Atlantic coast from Cabo Norte to the Canary Islands. In the ancient times these shells were a symbol of Venus, goddess of love and fertility. The first Christians used it as a symbol of death and rebirth, placing them in graves. When they arrived to Santiago, the pilgrims would get one of those shells either by buying it, or going to take it personally from the beaches at the end of the world, just like the German Dominican Felix Faber de Ulm did at the end of the 15th century.

According to the Codex Calixtinus (3rd century), the scallop represented the good works, and in one of its miracles it got the thaumaturgical value. One of the medieval legends says that the scallop became the symbol of Santiago after finding many of these mollusks stuck in a Knights saddle in Gaia (North of Portugal). The Knights got into the sea to get a better look of the boat that was carrying Apostle Santiago's body to Galicia.


22 June- Left Finisterre at 0730 this morning for a 13K walk. Took my sweet time getting to Lires, as I soon realized it's the last leg of my pilgrimage. Tomorrows walk will be as slow as I can possibly go because reaching Muxia and Na SeƱora de la Barca completes this long but nothing short of amazing journey I've embarked on.

Why go to Fisterra and Muxia?

It's a little bit of reading, if you've been following my blog during my pilgrimage, please take the time to read this!

"Why go to Fisterra and Muxia"

1. To experience a real end of route at edge of the Atlantic Ocean, in the wild littoral if Costa da Morte, full of symbolism for the Pilgrims.

2. Because we will receive the curiosity of the Antiquity and Medieval times, before America was discovered, to go to the legendary End of the World.

3. To recall the Medieval legend , with the Apostle Santiago preaching in Fisterra and Muxia, where the miraculous appearance of the Virgin Mary in a rowboat made of stone took place.

4. To follow the steps of the Apostle Santiago's disciples who, according to Translatio tale, went from Iria (Padron) to Duio (Fisterra), crossing the Ons Bridge (Negreira), to ask for the permission to the Roman legacy to bury the Apostle's body.

5. Because at least since de 12th century (Hospital de Logoso), there were hospitals for pilgrims in the route, forming a well-organized network during the medieval times.

6. Also since the 14th century, many pilgrims from many different nationalities left testimony in their diaries of their visit to Fisterra.

7. Because once you have visited the Cathedral in Santiago, the devotional triad is completed by visiting the Santi Cristo in Fisterra and The Nosa Senora da Barca in Muxia.

8. In the continuation to Fisterra-Muxia, we will forget about the masses and the rush that are so typical in the last stages of the Camino.

9. To keep the traditional rites of the pilgrimage, the ritual swim and the burning of the old clothes, both symbols of purification and renovation.

10. And because when we are finally enjoying the magnificent sunset in front of the ocean we will understand, better than in any other place, that the Camino is not over but that there is something new starting again for each pilgrim.

Boat Cruise to Faro

June 20th - It was nice to cover some distance and enjoy the scenery without walking it! Of course I still had to work for it and navigate the boat!