Lessons of footsteps

The editing is finally done! The video is an hour and 15 minutes of photos, music recorded on the way, and interviews with 20 pilgrims using the same 3 questions for each. I hope that you enjoy the film and find something useful in it. For me it was a pleasure to return to these moments and essentially walk it again through the production process. Many thanks to all who contributed to the effort. Feel free to share the link with anyone (or group) that might find the material interesting or useful.

Buen camino

Ultreia et suseia


Full Circle

Today was a long day of travel day back to Madrid.  However, we had a good layover in Santiago and were able to do a bit of shopping and final sightseeing.  I even repeated my “ritual” from my first pilgrimage of getting a shave and a haircut before returning home both out of necessity as my beard was itching like crazy and nostalgia. Of course it was twice as expensive and half as good as it was 20 years ago (no hot towels and rich lather from an old-hand barber…probably fewer people do shaves at the barbershop these days).  While waiting at the bus station in Santiago to go to the airport, I noticed that the Galician music conservatory was right across the street.  I wandered over there and played a bit of music against its walls.

IMG_5881.jpgIMG_5884.jpgIMG_5877.JPGA beautiful night in Madrid, I caught up with my friend Carmen from the camino.  She is such a great person to come out to see me off.  These are the kinds of amazing friendships that the Camino can forge in just a few short days.  Thank you, Santiago


The next days was all about getting home and not particularly eventful, which is a good thing for travel.  Perhaps the name on the plane: Juan Carlos I was a good omen (last king of Spain)  Curiously I was surrounded by folks with Worcester connections.  Two young women returning back to Assumption college were on my right while a guy in a WPI shirt was to my left.

A heatwave had been gripping the eastern US and I walked right into that, marinating in my own juices waiting for the train back from Boston then sweating like crazy as I walked the final 4km home, just as I had done almost three weeks prior.  Memphis was ecstatic to see me 🙂


My faithful followers you can expect to see at least one more post after I finish work on a multimedia project that will include my photos/music and will particularly feature the pilgrim interviews that I collected over the length of my trip.  It will be a way to tie it all together and reflect deeply on the experience.  If you want to be notified when it comes out, all you need to do is to hit the “Follow” button at the bottom of the page and you should automatically get an e-mail when it is ready.  Thanks for reading.

Ultreia et suseia!!!!

A Farewell to the Sea

Today is all about pausing, resting, and reflecting as the Camino comes to an end (at least this phase of it).  I began it basking in the gorgeous sunrise, sitting on a rock meditating for quite a while as the ubiquitous seagulls circled around.   We moved to another hotel with a  great view of the harbor.  The morning was bittersweet because it was also time to say goodbye to Carlos and Katy.  I hope to see them again soon as they are great company and fantastically nice people.  Carlos has a diabolical sense of humor that I love as well.  Perhaps the only other noteworthy event of the day was watching the exciting Spain-Russia world cup game, but the result was a bit of a let down as Spain went down in penalty kicks.



To the End of the Word and Beyond

Today has been a relaxing day despite the dire forecast, which called for total washout this weekend, the weather has been excellent!

We took a side trip to Muxía, which has a very interesting church and ancient hermitage right at the end of another of the cape. We also had time to go to the beach where we are in staying in Fisterra and played a little bit of music there.

We returned to the top of the cape to see if we could see the sunset better and play some more tunes. With Katy and Carlos as our main fans, we played for several hours right into the setting sun. The natural beauty of the place was outstanding with the views on all sides and lace work designs in the water as far as the eye can see. This is one of my favorite places in the world. Thank you Santiago, again!


Giant stacks of wood drying in this region that produces quite a lot of lumber for the country.  They say that Spain at one point was so wooded that a squirrel could have crossed the country without ever touching the ground.  Now much of the peninsula has few trees.

MuxíaWe jump for joy in this beautiful site.Our ears perked up as we heard the sounds of music from around the corner.  A group of young people was carrying on the musical traditions from the area with only tambourines and voices.  It was an open-air practice that I took some good audio and video of.  The songs were plaintive and beautiful.  They may have been sea chanteys.Langostiera beach in Fisterra.Sitting on this old abandoned boat we played for Carlos and Katy.  Someone had picked up the shells that are the symbol and guide of the pilgrimage and placed a collection of them on it.Paulo Coelho, a Brazilian writer was one of the first modern popularizers of the Camino.  He wrote a book about it in 1987.  I remember in my pilgrimage from 98 that probably the greatest number of pilgrims I encountered were from Brazil, partly due to it.  This quote was on a camper parked by the beach.  In English:  One of the greatest pleasures in life is to do what people said that you could never do.”

Back on top of the headland.  This is one of Carlos’ favorite tunes of the ones that Mike and I do.  Do we have another Almodovar in the making?  Thank for filming, Carlos.


Jaime’s tour of Galicia Continued

Jaime continued with his superb hospitality after giving us a place to stay overnight. He took us to A nice local restaurant where we ate well and then to a park near his house along the river Tambre. After that my old walking partner Carlos and his girlfriend Katie showed up and gave us a ride to Fisterra. I think Carlos and Jaime are nearly twins in their wit, intelligence, and wide-ranging knowledge.

The guitar continues to get more love.Mike brought this almost 300km across Spain. It was going to be his airplane snack.Although it was sunny earlier, fog rolled in to Fisterra where we ran into a number of pilgrim that we had walked with during the day.

Even the beer company is promoting the Camino. Great food but oh so much!

Galicia de proa a popa

Though the walking may have ended adventure is far from over. Today was a fantastic day filled with many emotions, including many heartfelt farewells. After a morning in the beautiful city of Santiago, which I couldn’t resist walking, the Camino has gotten into me.

We also used the morning to make our visit to the cathedral before the hordes arrive. We were there so early that we were able to go into the area where you hug St. James from behind and spent practically as much time as we wanted. Later, when I went in before the pilgrims mass, there was a line of probably 200 waiting to do the same thing. We also visited the reliquary with his remains.

Then Jaime One of Mike’s friends that I had met four years ago came to pick us up. He wanted to get us out on his sailboat so he could show us around the rias of Galicia a unique and beautiful series of inlets on the coast. The conditions for sailing are very changeable in this region. Partly due to that they decided to put the Royal Naval college in this area many years ago. The cadets still practice sailing as part of their training and many internationally known sailors have come from this part of Spain. It was a great experience to learn the ropes, pun intended. The heat and a half meter craft had a galley kitchen bed and everything. To add to the natural beauty and uniqueness of experience, Jaime is one of the most interesting people you’ll ever meet and reminds me a great deal of my friend Carlos who will be picking us up for weekend at the coast tomorrow. Two great people and fears intellectuals, with a great sense of humor. Jaime is a real philosopher and listening to him tell his tales is like an education in itself. He has seen all of Galicia in his work working for the regional television system. He is also traveled all over the world to report cultural stories and tell a tale as well as anyone. He’s humble and extremely friendly. We get along great!

If your nautical Spanish is not so hot de pros a popa y like stem to stern. I learned words for lots of things I wouldn’t know how to say in English.

A huge hug for an old friend, Santiago

Eating stingray and razor clams

Here is the stingray Jaime’s ancestral home

Ending and beginning : Day 13

There is much that can be said about the end of the Camino, both metaphorically and concretely. But like any grand project, and indeed like life itself, there is an end. Today is a day of deep reflection and bittersweet emotions. Journeys end brings relief from the suffering but also released from the magic that follows the Camino. However, the Camino begins everyday anew for those who seek it.

One of the coolest parts of the day was an interview that we had with Rosa Vásquez Who is doing some interesting work on collecting oral histories on the Camino. We spent several hours talking about our experiences on the Camino in a format that was remarkably similar to my three questions. Today I was able to get three questions from two pilgrims as I had forgotten to get one the day before. I’m looking forward to editing those into something that might be mixed with our music.

As today was more an interior journey and exterior one they are probably fewer pictures from today.

This is the place we have been walking for almost 300km. We will wait until tomorrow to go to the pilgrims mass. Notice the tourist trains behind us. Santiago has certainly become much more of a tourist destination.

View from the pension in plaza Fonseca.

Waiting for Compostelana. There are 20 times more pilgrim now than when I first did it 20 years ago.

An amazingly beautiful view. One of my favorites on the entire Camino. Gracias Santiago y a la vida.

With my man, Valle Inclán- he wrote some wild stuff that pushed the envelope.

Ultreia et suseia: day 12

It was a bit of a tough night for me as Mike’s sickness hit me (and several others…we think it was the water in Casanova the hell hostal.) The good thing was that the place had bathroom is way out in the back.

Mike almost got into a fisticuffs with a Hungarian man over his loud snoring. That also kept me up and the intense heat of the room pushed me out onto a bench outside where I did not get very much sleep either.

We continue to try and educate folks about the Ultreia, suseia tradition. I think I might have mentioned it earlier but this was the traditional call and response for pilgrims that meant something like ‘onward and upwards’. One person says the ultreia and the other responds with et suseia. We say it to almost everyone we meet and have gotten two responses and a lot of dirty looks from people wondering what we are are saying and most people just answer with the modern ‘Buen camino’. We almost have our friend Carmen trained to say it. We need to play the ultreia song more.

Few pictures today because I was mostly looking at my feet, willing them to go on. Santiago thanks for the challenges and the puke.

Santiago’s Tricks: Day 11

The road to Santiago should be one of suffering, if it is a true one. Today Mike and I have done a bit of suffering even though the route was not a particularly long one. Neither of us slept well in a hostal that was like an oven and then in the morning they turned on the heat full blast. We have never started as early as today. I thought it was to get the pilgrims out on time or a kind of steam cleaning for the pilgrims. Mike however, is suffering more than I has he has come down with a bit of a stomach bug and has had a bit of a tough time today.We are already at the hostal and enjoying its unique form. As we were walking by, a couple of Spanish were talking about how they think it’s the most beautiful hostile along the way because it was made up of a bunch of old houses that were put together. The swimming place right next to it can’t be beat and I have already been in despite the cold temperature. Walks with John from Indiana and recounters with MaritaThese pics in wrong order

Casa García to Casanova on the feast of San Juan: Day 10

Today we managed to get out early and had a good walk. Last night where the big festivities for the feast of San Juan (one of the major midsummer fiestas that dates to pagan times). Clicklink to find out more. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bonfires_of_Saint_John

One of the highlights was an early morning visit to one of Spain’s most important archaeological sites, Castro Mayor was a fortified settlement from the fifth century BC. It was great to watch the sunrise there and this land of celts. I did a picnic for food today and we met up with many friends from the Camino Maritta the German woman appeared just because Mike and I were talking about her. Funny things happen on the Camino. Today’s walk was through more picturesque countryside as you will see in the photos below. This afternoon we had some drinks and they brought us a tapa which ended up being garbanzo and pig intestine soup. Life is good on the old Camino of Santiago

Mamouth sandwhich that the waitress handed to me with a a straight face.San Juan day photo shoot. Family parties all around.

some of the inscriptions are wearing out so I am taking some pictures. The guitar spends all day