Thursday, January 31, 2019

Salceda Door Knocker

El Camino
Arzúa to Santiago

"These door knockers in the shape of a hand holding a ball are probably the most interesting. The hand emerges from a lacy cuff, often with a bracelet around it, and bears one – sometimes two – rings, although not always on the same finger. They are occasionally made of brass but more often of iron.

The hand and the number five figure significantly in Arabic, and also in Jewish, tradition, and are particularly associated with warding off the evil eye. Fatima Zahra was the daughter of the Prophet Mohammed. Hence, the occupants of a house with a door knocker in that shape were protected against evil. Originally, they also showed that the occupants were of the Moslem faith.

I understand Hand of Fatima door knockers are found extensively in Spain, which was under Moorish occupation for centuries. Some of the Moorish cultural influences penetrated as far as southern France, which is probably why you find them here, too. However, those you see today are probably 19th-century reproductions. I would be interested to know how widespread they are further north in France." ~ Life on La Lune

Wednesday, January 30, 2019


El Camino
Arzúa to Santiago

There were some "casualties" along the way of St. James. :-)

Tuesday, January 29, 2019


El Camino
Arzúa to Santiago

As pilgrims tackle this last leg of the Camino from Arzúa to Santiago, you can't help but notice a new spring in their steps combined with a fierce determination to finish no matter what trials they might have experienced along the way. For reasons of my own, I also decided to quicken my pace, blowing through this Galician countryside like a leveche, but never so fast so as to ignore completely the beauty still surrounding me.

Monday, January 28, 2019


El Camino
Arzúa to Santiago

I don't know if this is a Bougainvillea or not, but I do know that it was growing profusely along this section of the Camino and did much to lift my spirits as I walked along.

Sunday, January 27, 2019

Palm Trees

El Camino
Arzúa to Santiago

"Galicia is in a temperate zone, known as “España Verde” (Green Spain) and is classified as having both coniferous and deciduous forest types. This is aptly demonstrated through the pine and eucalyptus forests which cover this Spanish region. It also gives Galicia the unusual luxury of being able to grow palm trees along side annual flowers and leaf shedding shrubs." ~ Galicia Guide

Saturday, January 26, 2019


El Camino
Arzúa to Santiago

Did you know that Spain is the largest producer of figs in Europe? I sure didn't. I've read where Spain is responsible for as much as 25% of Europe's production and 3% of the world production, followed by Albania, Germany, Portugal, Italy, Greece, Montenegro, France and Croatia.

Friday, January 25, 2019


El Camino
Arzúa to Santiago

If it is a sycamore seed pod, then it is similar but not exactly the same as the sycamore seed pods I so often see along the C&O Canal here in the DMV. Ours are spikier, less hair-like. 

Wednesday, January 23, 2019


El Camino
Arzúa to Santiago

This was fascinating to me--how Spaniards rebuild obviously historic structures with as much original material as possible and store the material on site. Just look at those hand-hewn beams! So cool! Despite my goal of being in Santiago by noon, I spent quite a bit of time here examining these beams and stones.

Tuesday, January 22, 2019


El Camino
Arzúa to Santiago

What can I say? I stood looking at this cow for maybe 5 to 10 minutes as I waited for a fellow pilgrim to make a "pit stop" at one of the Camino's myriad . . . well, let's just call them "trailside refreshment stands," and was TOTALLY grossed out when Her Majesty (the one standing) made a pit stop of her own right in front of the cow laying down to her right! What?! P-l-e-a-s-e! Someone put Bessie in time out.

Monday, January 21, 2019


El Camino
Arzúa to Santiago

So I got up well before dawn on this particular day and started hiking in order to make Santiago by noon. All morning long, I kept smelling what I thought was eucalyptus. Then I came across this grove.

Sunday, January 20, 2019

Almost There

El Camino
Palas de Rei to Arzúa

Ribadiso and the Río Iso meant a long day of hiking was almost over. Arzúa lay just ahead.

Couldn't have come too soon for some. :-)

Saturday, January 19, 2019


El Camino
Palas de Rei to Arzúa

This image (above) makes me think of the great paradox that is Spain, a land and people of astonishing beauty set against a history that nonetheless includes the Francoist dictatorship, the Inquisition and the Reconquista. At no time during my hike along the Camino did those subjects come up between myself and my fellow pilgrims, and yet, for those who were keen to observe, whiffs of those periods lingered over almost every scene. 

Before I went to Spain, I tried to read Giles Tremlett's Ghosts of Spain: Travels Through Spain and Its Silent Past. Maybe that's why I found myself pondering such things. I couldn't finish the book; it was too painful to read. Still, I couldn't help but wonder if this was where heretics were burned, or there was where a Nationalist was buried. Did you know that George Orwell and Simone Weil were both caught up in the Spanish Civil War? I'll have to read some of what they wrote about Spain. Or maybe not. Maybe like many Spaniards, I'm told, I ought to bury the past and move on. But, as I did when I snapped these pictures, I wonder.

Friday, January 18, 2019


With thousands upon thousands of persons hiking the Camino every year, you can imagine how sustainability would be an issue, and it is. Apparently, quite a few organizations in recent years have launched campaigns to raise awareness of the matter among pilgrims, one of them being Spain's postal system, Correos. Here's a list of their very sensible recommendations:
  • Don't forget to collect your waste and deposit it at the end of each stage in the corresponding container. In this way, you're contributing to cleaning the Camino and reducing your impact.
  • A bottle of liquid will relieve your thirst at the right time. Before throwing it away, remember that an empty bottle weighs less.
  • The use of aerosols contributes to the reduction of the ozone layer: before buying, choose an alternative.
  • The Camino that you follow is marked so that no one is lost: excessive indications (messages, stones) can confuse others and cause visual impact.
  • Surrounding vegetation and animals are part of your Camino: don't forget that cut flowers wither.
  • Always carry a small bag for waste: food or drink remains and also wipes or toilet paper. AT THE HOSTEL
  • Water is a scarce commodity: try turning off the tap while you soap up or brush your teeth. If you wash your day clothes by hand, don't forget to turn off the tap while soaping up.
  • The toilet must be sealed after discharge. Please, tell the hostel worker if you lose water.
  • Having appliances at the hostel facilitates your stay: good use entails taking into account:
  • If there is a washing machine, invite other pilgrims to share it, always use a short and cold cycle.
  • Even though the hostel has a dryer, it is not always necessary to use it: think about it, then decide.
  • If you use the refrigerator, make sure you tightly close the door.
  • If you cook, think beforehand if you need all the fire and keep the pan uncovered; otherwise, lower the heat and cover the pan well.
  • Before putting on the air conditioner or the heat, think if it is necessary. (no less than 26º for the AC and not more than 21º for the heating).
  • Use the light only if it is very necessary, think about saving energy, but also the rest of your fellow pilgrims: a small flashlight (without batteries) may be enough.

Thursday, January 17, 2019

Old Soul

El Camino
Palas de Rei to Arzúa

This is one jaded old soul. I couldn't even get her to look at me at first. "Ach! Just another one of those ol' pilgrims," she must have thought. Still, like Elizabeth Warren, I persisted, and this is what I got--a  pose, a kind of half-hearted recognition, at least, that I was there. Gracias, señorita. :-)

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Monday, January 14, 2019

San Roque

Along the Camino from Palas de Rei to Arzúa, one passes by the Capela de San Roque where locals quite remarkably have combined the old with the new, in this case reusing remnants of a more ancient church and incorporating them into a chapel built in 1949. Nearby stands the Cross of Melide, reputed to be the oldest in Galicia, dating to the 14th century.

I don't know why the residents of this small Spanish village dedicated the church to a French saint. According to legend, Saint Roch (aka San Roque) shed his aristocratic upbringing to become a mendicant pilgrim (hence his connection with the Camino?), supposedly healing numerous people from the plague along the way and himself being healed of the same, curiously enough, by a dog.

Sunday, January 13, 2019


Furelos, Spain
El Camino
Palas de Rei to Arzúa

"Sociedad Estatal de Correos y Telégrafos, S.A., trading as Correos, is the national postal service of Spain, as recognized by the Universal Postal Union. The company is 100% state owned, through the State Industrial Holding Company (SEPI). With 51,000 employees and 5.4 billion pieces of mail sent each year, Correos is one of the largest postal services in the world. Based in Madrid, it has over 10,000 postal centres all over Spain." ~ Wikipedia

Saturday, January 12, 2019

Santa Lucía

Igrexa de San Xoán de Furelos
El Camino
Palas de Rei to Arzúa

"The emblem of eyes on a cup or plate apparently reflects popular devotion to [Santa Lucía] as protector of sight, because of her name, Lucia (from the Latin word "lux" which means "light"). In paintings St. Lucy is frequently shown holding her eyes on a golden plate. Lucy was represented in Gothic art holding a dish with two eyes on it. She also holds the palm branch, symbol of martyrdom and victory over evil." ~ Wikipedia

Friday, January 11, 2019

Thursday, January 10, 2019

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Monday, January 7, 2019


El Camino
Palas de Rei to Arzúa

"The bridge over the river Furelos, dating from the twelfth century, is considered one of the jewels of civil architecture on the Camino de Santiago , and is mentioned in a document of the 'Tumbos of the monasterio de Sobrado de los monjes" and in the Codex calixtinus. Subject of a partial renovation in the eighteenth century, it is 50 meters long and 3.7 meters wide and consists of four unequal semicircular arches, with three pillars that have triangular ribs and spurs along the river. The segments of the arches, the bases of the vaults and the cladding on the pillars are made of masonry, with materials characteristic of the Melide area: the cladding, the plaster filling of the vaults are in black stone that is found in the surroundings of Melide, especially amphibolite and ultrabasic." ~ Wikipedia

Sunday, January 6, 2019

Tuesday, January 1, 2019