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Everyone Walks Their Own Camino She Said, He Said: Walk alone? Blisters, Bedbugs, and Snorers! Follow the Yellow Arrows Walk Far; Carry Paint! Camino Calendar Albergue Life and more…




amino Quarterly

Volume 1 Issue 0

El Camino Francés: From Saint Jean Pied-de-Port to Santiago de Compostela

Coming in our July 2014 issue: An Interview with Lydia B. Smith, Director of the award-winning documentary Walking the Camino


The Camino de Santiago is a 1200-year-old pilgrimage to the cathedral at Santiago de Compostela, Spain, which houses the purported remains of the Apostle James. Traditionally a Catholic pilgrimage, it is now walked by people of all spiritual beliefs. The Way of St. James provides an unparalleled infrastructure for long-distance walkers, and is acclaimed as the best balance of the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual aspects of hiking.

THE CATHEDRAL IN SANTIAGO DE COMPOSTELA, The Final Destination of All the Caminos.

from the Editor CHRIS YAVELOW WELCOME TO THE CAMINO QUARTERLY elcome to the preview issue of the Camino Quarterly. Fellow pilgrims and future pilgrims alike, I speak on behalf of our entire team when I say this magazine is dedicated to you. But what you have in your hand is merely a 28-page preview of our official first issue, which we will publish on July 1, 2014. Future issues will contain many more pages than this sample issue. We're aiming to reach 64 pages sometime during our first year. I’m writing to you from Asheville, where, even in the mountains of western North Carolina, the winds of change blow here as irresistibly as everywhere else. Associations of pilgrims exist in all countries that claim English as their native tongue. Websites galore are devoted to the Camino de Santiago, and sometimes it seems as if a new book on the subject is published every week. New Camino videos appear online every few days, and a new movie, every year or two. The one ingredient common to all these recipes for Camino information is that they are created and maintained by pilgrims who have, themselves, walked the Camino de Santiago. Likewise, the Camino Quarterly is staffed by pilgrims, too, and we are committed to bringing a new resource into this simmering stew. Backstory: Please allow me to introduce myself to you. My wife, Laura, and I are an example of the sort of pilgrims who saw the movie The Way in 2011, turned to each other before the lights came up, and proclaimed in one voice, “We have to do that as soon as possible!” By the beginning of summer 2012, we had ramped up to full research mode—purchasing and reading every book we could find concerning the Camino and reading post after post on all the forums—practically our sole activity up to September 30, the day we left for the Camino. During those months of preparation, we could not find any print periodicals written for English-speaking pilgrims. Our response is to offer our quarterly magazine devoted to providing both new and seasoned pilgrims with “accurate, up-to-date, usable information


of present and future value about the various routes of the Camino de Santiago and aspects of the pilgrimage to Santiago” (quoted from our mission statement on page 6). The Journey: Just as walking the Camino de Santiago is a journey with a before, during, and after; reading the Camino Quarterly is a journey through the three stages of preparation, pilgrimage, and reflection. While each issue is focused on a central topic (the topic for this preview issue and our first “official” issue is the Camino Francés), the magazine progresses through those three sections. You can tell what section you are in by looking at the color bars on each spread. If the bars are orange, you are in the preparation section; blue and you’re in the pilgrimage section; and green indicates the reflection section. About those Colors: Some people have expressed interest in the way we chose those colors, and, no, they do not represent any affiliation with APOC (American Pilgrims on the Camino), although the Western North Carolina chapter of APOC is where we met and befriended all the people who have helped to make the Camino Quarterly a reality. Rather, we examined arrows and scallop markers, whether painted or glazed, in the 3,600 photographs I had taken along the Camino. We used a digital color meter to sample the blues, yellows, and oranges; and, with the help of some math, I made a palette of what I consider to be the color-archetypes for those three colors. If you haven’t walked the Camino before, you may be asking yourself why these colors are important; if you have, you may be smiling. You will see those colors everywhere on the Camino. Contributing Editor Rebecca Gallo explains the reason for this in her main feature beginning on page 18, and the title of her column on page 25, “Follow the Yellow Brick Road…Or the Yellow Arrows” gives away the rest of the story. As you may now surmise, you will see yellow and orange arrows and scallop shells, usually on blue backgrounds, both along the Camino de Santiago and within the Camino Quarterly.

Inside the Magazine: Having now revealed one of the stories in this issue, here are some of the others, most of which will be regular columns or departments in upcoming issues: “Q&A: Extremes and Options along the Camino Francés”; “James: Dual Personality” (our History department); “Blisters, and Bedbugs, and Snorers, Oh My!”; “Spanish Lesson”; “Words of Wisdom”; (in our Preparation section); “Camino Calendar”; “Albergue Life”; “The Camino Francés—Still the most Popular Route” (in our Pilgrimage section); our “Houses of Worship” and “Don’t Miss This” departments; and from our Reflections section: our “Everyone Walks Their Own Camino” department; and “Walk Far, Carry Paint!” by our cover artist Jane Snyder, who has additional art throughout the issue. But remember, this is simply the preview issue, our first official issue will add gear reviews and buyers guide: more statistics and infographics; foods, recipes, and wines department; our “repeat pilgrims” department; an entire spread of “News from the Associations” (APOC, CCoP, and CSJ, for example); “Wish I had, Wish I hadn’t” department; book reviews; and more. I hope you’ll permit us to serve you this 3-course “pilgrims’ menu” four times a year, and that in doing so, we can nourish your hunger for knowledge about the Camino de Santiago, before, during, and after you’ve taken your journey.

Buen Camino! Chris Yavelow Publisher & Editor-in-Chief, Camino Quarterly On the web: PS: The production values to which we aspire are so high that our vision can neither be created nor distributed for free, nor can it be fully supported by our modest subscription fees. We are seeking sponsors, as well as advertisers whose products and services are appropriate in the context of the Camino Quarterly. Please see back cover for more information.

Columns and Departments  

6 Navigating the

Camino Quarterly

7 Recent Statistics 8 Q&A: Extremes and


9 James: Dual Personality

Houses of Worship on the 22 Camino Francés A collection from our staff of “Just the facts” about the three main cathedrals you will encounter before Santiago.

12 Spanish Lesson

Don’t Miss This along the 23 Camino Francés

13 Words of Wisdom

There are many things "not to miss" on the Camino Francés, but our staff feels that these are some of the most important ones.

Follow the Yellow Brick 24 Road… Or the Yellow Arrows

14 Camino Calendar

Contributing Editor Rebecca Gallo shares her post-Camino reflections about the Camino’s guiding Yellow Arrows.

15 She Said, He Said 17 Accommodations Guide

Everyone Walks Their Own 26 Camino

Rebecca kicks off this department featuring stories from you, our readers, about how this maxim applied to your Camino.


Blisters, and Bedbugs, and Snorers; Oh my! 10

Executive Editor Laura Yavelow teaches you how to protect yourself from these common Camino nuisances. (in the Preparation section).

Albergue Life 16

Wondering what it’s like to stay in an albergue? Laura tells you what you need to know (in Pilgrimage). Includes “Accommodations” sidebar, too.

Walk Far, Carry Paint! 27

Our Cover Artist, Jane Snyder, explains why you, too, may want to consider bringing a sketchbook and paints (in Reflections).

Main Feature  


amino Quarterly

Volume 1 § Preview Issue (1.0.4) April, May, June 2014



Publisher & Editor-in-Chief

Chris Yavelow

Executive Editor Circulation & Advertising Director

Laura Yavelow Contributing Editor

Rebecca Gallo

The Camino Francés

Still the most Popular Route

Rebecca Gallo provides an overview of the most popular Camino route, which is also the main theme for this issue. She shares highlights, personal anecdotes, occasional historical information, and other details of this 500-mile route across Spain—from St. Jean Pied-de-Port to Santiago. The two pages following this feature add details about cathedrals along the Camino Francés, and not-to-miss sights.


     Coming Soon  

Cover painting and this excerpt © Jane Snyder 2009-2013

Coming in our First Issue This is our “preview issue.” Our first “official” issue, scheduled for publication on July 1, will contain many more pages than this issue. Page 28 is really our back cover, but we want to call your attention to the information you will find there: thumbnails of 12 of the upcoming pages, and a list of many of the articles. Moreover, you should visit the back cover if you are interested in submitting to, or advertising in, or helping to sponsor the Camino Quarterly. We look forward to hearing from you.


Cover Artist Contributing Writer & Artist

Jane Snyder

Graphic Designer

Leo Wavy

Adviser & Hospitalero Consultant Associations Liaison

Chris Slater

Spanish Adviser & Translator

Esther Slater

Contributing Photographers

Jane Snyder, Darcy Wolfe Chris Yavelow (All photos without attribution) Visit us on the web at

Postal: Camino Quarterly 1950 Hendersonville Rd. #243 Skyland, NC 28776 Email Addresses: Regular Subscription: $24.95 per year (4 issues) Canada $30.95 USD, Foreign: $44.95 USD Charter Subscribers: 20% savings for first 4 issues. Charter price is available until June 30, 2014.

Single Issue Price: $7.90 per issue.

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Content in this publication © 2014 by YAV Publications (except where indicated otherwise). All rights reserved. Reproduction of any material from this issue in whole or part without written permission is strictly prohibited.

CC Photo Licenses (indicated in photo attribution):

(CC BY-SA 3.0) = (CC BY-SA 2.1 ES) = (CC BY-ND 2.0) = (CC BY-SA 2.0) =



Navigating the Camino Quarterly

  © Jane Snyder 2014

YOU ARE GUIDED ALONG THE CAMINO DE SANTIAGO BY YELLOW ARROWS and sometimes orange arrows. And you will always know where you are on your journey through the Camino Quarterly by color bars on most pages. Each issue will be devoted to one central topic or theme, about which the magazine leads you through the three stages indicated below.

Preparation (BEFORE)

Pilgrimage (DURING)

Reflections (AFTER)

Camino History & Legends , Gear reviews & guides, Packing, Statistics (including weather, rain, and Compostelas), Other preparation, Spanish culture & language, Technology, and Words of Wisdom.

Quarterly Calendar, Features about our central theme, “She said; He said,” Sellos Gallery, Cathedrals, Interview, “Don’t Miss This,” Featured restaurants, Spiritual matters, Camino humor, and more.

“Everyone walks their own Camino,” Artistic responses (art, poetry, etc.), Pilgrims’ Associations’ News, “Wish I had; Wish I hadn’t,” “We were told but we learned this…” Camino book reviews.

Our Mission

Nuestra misión

The Camino Quarterly will provide accurate, up-to-date, usable information of present and future value about the various routes of the Camino de Santiago and aspects of the pilgrimage to Santiago. We will publish four issues per year, with each issue focusing on a central theme, organized into three sections—preparation, pilgrimage, and reflection—and intended to be keepsakes that contain substantial timeless information, enough to make each issue worthy of a space on the reader’s bookshelf as a treasured reference. The Camino Quarterly will be a unique resource for those who are planning to walk the Camino de Santiago, while also offering updated guidance for those who have already done so, as well as a forum for reflections and artistic expressions about the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage. There are no English-language Camino magazines, and the Camino Quarterly fills this void, simultaneously supplementing existing online resources and books with current and timely facts, photos, maps, and reviews, combined with personal responses to the Camino ranging from journal entries to works of art in any printable medium. We aim for a high standard of editorial excellence framed within impeccable graphic design, and presented through logically organized, easy to understand, friendly, inclusive content in a manner that is attainable only by way of a print periodical; and this, we will deliver.

El Camino Trimestral proporcionará información precisa, actualizada y de utilidad en el presente y el futuro acerca de las rutas del Camino de Santiago y de aspectos de dicho peregrinaje . Vamos a publicar cuatro revistas anualmente. Cada edición se va a enfocar en un tema central, organizado en tres secciones - la preparación, el peregrinaje y las reflexiones. Es la intención que estas revistas sirvan de referencia y sean conservadas en el librero del lector como objectos imprescindibles. El Camino Trimestral será un recurso único para esos que planean hacer el camino de Santiago, y también ofrecerá información vigente para los que ya lo hayan hecho. Además servirá como un foro para reflexiones y expresiones artísticas acerca del Camino. No existe en inglés ninguna revista sobre el Camino y esta publicación actuará como un suplemento a todos los medios ya existentes - el internet, libros de actualidad, fotos, mapas, obras de arte y relatos y diarios de experiencias personales. Aspiramos a un alto nivel de excelencia. El diseño será impecable , único y presentado de una manera lógica, fácil de entender.El contenido será de tal manera que lo consideramos sólo lograble por medios impresos. Este es nuestro objetivo.



Average High & Low Temperatures on the Camino FrancĂŠs


As you can see from the charts above, the months of April, May, and June on the Camino FrancĂŠs are mild


for the most part, with both a predictable dip in Burgos and a predictable peak in Carrion. These are yearly


averages so you can plan your wardobe accordingly. It will become cooler in Burgos before it warms in Carrion.

Average Rainfall inches (blue) & days (green) at Key Locations


This set of charts indicates the average number of days of rain you can expect in selected cities along the route, combined with the average monthly


rainfall in inches. The green line corresponds to the average number of days of rain in each month. Because you will likely only be passing through each


town for a day, knowing the monthly number of rainy days can be used to gauge the probability of precipitation while you pass through in any of these cities.



Q & A Extremes & Options

along the Camino Francés REBECCA GALLO

Where will I stay? See pages 16–17: “Albergue Life” and “Types of Accommodations along the Camino Francés.”

How physically fit do I have to be? Some pilgrims are experienced hikers; others arrive without any practice at all. Most of us, however, fall somewhere in the middle: we are not athletes, nor do we trust our bodies to take us five hundred miles without any practice, so we do some training prior to our departure. As a woman who faced boredom after just three minutes on a treadmill, I needed another plan. Four months before my Camino, I bought a pedometer and started tracking my steps, increasing my goal by 2000 or more steps each week. By the time I left for the Camino, I was walking between eight and ten miles per day, and had managed more than a few fifteen-mile days. No need to drive anywhere. Just put on your shoes and get out the door. I did most of my training on roads, hardly any on mountains, and only donned a pack the last week of my training (though I’d recommend practicing with your pack a bit more than that!). How heavy was your pack? At JFK Airport, my 42-liter pack tipped the scales at 10.4 kilos—a whopping 23 pounds. I read Camino packs should be ten percent of

  © Darcy Wolfe 2013

Can I afford to do it? My six weeks on the Camino (from St. Jean Pied-de-Port to Santiago) cost me $1,700, not including airfare. (I used frequent flyer miles.) Most Americans spend more than that on a one-week vacation. I could have spent even less had I cooked more often, not “splurged” on a couple private albergues, and not had to see a doctor for a mysterious skin rash. On the other end, I made the acquaintance of a South African woman whose entire Camino (meals and accommodations) was pre-booked for her. Many tour companies offer such packages and these range between $30004000, not including airfare.

one’s body weight, which meant I should find someone twice my size to carry mine. Like many pilgrims, I discarded items at albergues along The Way, and by the time I reached Santiago my pack was down to sixteen pounds, still exceeding the ten percent rule. However, there is nothing preventing you from bringing whatever you want, because there are services along the way that will transport your pack from one albergue to the next for 7 Euros. This is also a great option for those not physically able to walk with a pack. And then there’s Cherise: an experienced hiker I met from South Africa whose pack was just four kilos (nine pounds). I aspired to be like her when I grew up. What about the food? Five star restaurants are not standard along the Camino to Santiago, nor are they the standard fare of pilgrims. Of course, you can enjoy fine dining in the large cities along The Way (Pamplona, Burgos, León, and Santiago).

Additionally, some, but not all, towns have restaurants where you can select from a menu of options. At the other extreme, the South Koreans I met only stayed in albergues with kitchens and cooked together every night. Their first meal not made by their own hands was in Santiago. Most pilgrims, however, will experience a variety of dining options. Many restaurants along The Way serve a Menú del Peregrino (Pilgrim Menu). For nine to twelve Euros, a pilgrim is given a first course (usually salad or soup), second course (meat), and dessert (yogurt, fruit, occasionally something sweet), plus your choice of a half-liter of wine or water. Many pilgrims tire quickly of the Pilgrim Menu (and as a vegetarian, I found my options limited, although there are occasional vegetarian restaurants along the Camino). I enjoyed restaurants on occasion, but cooked for myself as much as I could. Sometimes others contributed what they had and the meal was shared. Some of my best Camino memories were made this way.

CAMINO QUARTERLY 9 ALONG THE CAMINO DE SANTIAGO, Saint James is depicted both as a pilgrim (Santiago Peregrino) and as a warrior (Santiago Matamoros). aint James the SANTIAGO PEREGRINO Pilgrim is dressed accordingly, as a pilgrim holding a walking staff upon which a water gourd dangles, and this depiction usually includes his personal symbol, the scallopshell, a metaphor representing the many routes that converge upon Santiago de Compostela, and for which several stories of origin exist. Saint James Matamoros is depicted wielding a sword while riding a horse. Whether in paintings or statues, Santiago Matamoros is typically seen leading the battle to recover Spain from the Moors. The origin of this story, too, has many variants. El Camino de Santiago is Spanish for “The Way of Saint James.” “James,” in this case, refers to James of Zebedee, also known as James‚ “The Greater,” one of the 12 Apostles. James and his brother John are sometimes called the “Sons of Thunder.” Santiago means “Saint James.” The “Sant” part of “Santiago” means “Saint” and “Iago” comes from the Hebrew name of the Apostle. “Tiago” is also spelled “Diego‚” thus, San Diego also means “Saint James.” The English name “James” comes from the Italian “Giacomo.” Other variants include Giacobo, Iacobus, Jacques, Jacob, Jacobus, Jacome, and Jaime. Along with the other Apostles, James had been instructed to take the good news to “the ends of the earth,” and in those days, Spain was the farthest western country known to the general population, and the area around what is now called Finisterre (which literally translates to “End of the Earth”) was the western-most point in the world, or so they thought. Centuries later the western-most point was determined to be in Portugal. James preached to the inhabitants of the Iberian Peninsula, as well as to Sephardic Jews who had resettled in Spain. Reportedly, James had little success in this mission, although the seeds that he planted grew into the predominantly Catholic nations of Spain and Portugal. He returned to Jerusalem where he was beheaded on the order of Herod Agrippa on March 25 in the year 44, thus becoming the first Apostle to be martyred. James’ body, accompanied by the bodies of two of his disciples, Anastasius and Theodore, was brought by boat back to Spain, specifically to the Iria Flavia region (near present day Padrón) on the coast of Galicia. There are several claims regarding the year in which this took place, although most accounts claim the body was dispatched immediately (by way of Joppa) and arrived in Spain about a week later. The three were buried on the west coast of Spain, the location of which was lost for 760 years during the occupation of Spain by various foreign groups culminating in the Moors.



Other accounts say the body may have been transferred to Spain as late as the year 600 or even 710. The sepulcher containing the remains of James was rediscovered by Theodosius, bishop of Tira, most likely in the year 810. Others maintain that an un-named friar found the sepulcher in the year 800 and moved it to the place where Theodosius found it a decade later. Reportedly, this discovery began with a strange illumination of starlight or falling stars and a vision experienced by a hermit named Pelayo , and this led to the name: Campus Stellae (“Field of Stars‚“) which soon became the word Compostela. There are several other theories about the origin of the name Compostela. Whatever the precise year, the rediscovery of the body took place during the reign of King Alphonso II who built a chapel over the sepulcher, and informed both Pope Leo III and Charlemagne of the miraculous discovery, most likely in the year 813 (Charlemagne died a year later). Spanish pilgrims started trekking to the site of the chapel almost immediately. In 899, King Alphonso III renovated the chapel into a 3-aisled pre-Romanesque church, much of which survived the burning of the city (Santiago de Compostela) by the Moors in 997. Then, in 1075, during the reign of King Alphonso IV, the building of the Cathedral de Santiago began. It was consecrated in 1211, in other words, 803 years ago. To this day, the cathedral houses the alleged remains of the Apostle James and his two disciples, and it is the destination of the various Caminos de Santiago, commencing in every country on the continent as well as the United Kingdom. And James is now the Patron Saint of Spain and also the Patron Saint of Pilgrims and Laborers.



Blisters, and Bedbugs, and Snorers, Oh My! LAURA YAVELOW


© Meaduva 2007-CC BY-ND 2.0

es, you can expect to encounter all three of these, whether personally or with others on the Camino. PREVENTION is the key—much easier than treatment afterwards. BLISTERS (ampollas)  The most common ailment among pilgrims is blisters. Even regular long-distance hikers in our local Camino chapter have ended up with blisters on the Camino. It is extremely important that your footwear fits properly, is comfortable, and is broken-in. To prevent blisters, you must minimize friction. Thin sock liners that you put on before your hiking socks will reduce the friction between your feet and your primary hiking socks. And, unless you have tough calloused feet, here’s what I strongly recommend: Use a lubricant on your feet before putting your sock liners on. Some pilgrims use Vaseline or petroleum jelly, but I prefer a liquid dimethicone lubricant because it doesn’t stain your socks, and it comes in a handy roll-on so you don’t have to get your hands messy. When you apply any lubricant, be sure to cover your feet completely, including between your toes and the back of your heels. You can purchase this at a running gear store or online. The brand I used is called Sport Shield made by 2Toms (

Often overlooked: Wet feet are more prone to develop blisters. So, if you stop along the way to soak your feet in a stream, be sure to allow them to dry completely before putting your socks and footwear back on. If your feet are the slightest bit damp or moist, you increase your chances of blistering by an order of magnitude. As soon as you feel a hot spot, an early sign that a blister is developing, STOP—do not walk any further, do not wait until you reach the albergue—sit down and apply moleskin, Compeed, or a blister bandage. The latter two are waterproof and will protect the area for several days. If you detect blisters developing between your toes, use silicone toe gel caps to cap individual toes, and reduce friction. Because we adhered to these prevention techniques, my husband Chris and I managed to avoid getting any blisters, and if you follow this advice, you probably will not get them either, which will save you a lot of hassle. Remember, it is easier to prevent than to treat. If you do end up with a large blister, this is recommended: Do NOT remove the skin on top of the blister. You should leave the skin intact to prevent infection. After washing, and wiping with an alcohol pad, you need to drain the blister. Disinfect a sewing needle with an alcohol pad and poke a couple of holes in one side of the blister. Gently rub on the opposite side of the blister to force the fluid out. Wipe the blister with a clean alcohol pad, then apply an antibiotic cream. In the morning apply Compeed or a blister bandage, both of which will stay on even in the shower. Leave this treatment in place for several days to protect the area.

BEDBUGS (chinches)  We met a girl from Denmark whose arms were covered with large red blotches. She had used a pen to trace the perimeter of the spots before going to sleep the night before, and now the redness extended beyond those outlines. Hers was an extreme allergic reaction to bedbug bites. Unless you’re walking in winter, you are likely to encounter these critters somewhere along the way. We were once turned away from an albergue because it had bedbugs; the hospitaleros needed to fumigate the rooms before taking in any more pilgrims. I highly recommend permethrin-treated travel sheets; these repel bedbugs and other insects. Both Cocoon and Sea to Summit offer these in different fabrics, with silk being the lightest weight. We used the sheets as a barrier between the mattress and our sleeping bags, laying them over the mattress rather than getting inside them. To repel bedbugs in our backpacks we used small, lightweight sachets of all-natural herbs, spices, and essential oils: two in each backpack. The product name was Scram Bedbug. The most important part of bedbug prevention is not staying anywhere at which there are bedbugs. Learn how to check for the little suckers. Inspect the wall that the bed is against for tiny dark dots, sometimes reddish, which are bedbug feces (Yuck!). Also, look for egg casings, especially where the wall meets the floor, because sometimes sweeping will deposit them there. If the mattress is fabric you can pull back the rolled seam on the mattress and check for these darkish dots or blood smears, or even the bedbugs, themselves; for the latter your should use a magnifying glass. Wear disposable medical gloves while doing this, because if you do find bedbugs, they may be full of blood and may transfer that blood to you if you inadvertently smash them with your finger. Also check around any holes or tears in the mattress, particularly underneath. Bedbugs also live in wooden crevices, cracks, and holes, and venture out in the middle of the night to feed on warm bodies. If the bed frame or any other furniture in the room is wooden, check these potential hiding places.

© Dr James Heilman, MD 2013-(License=CC BY-SA 3.0)

CAMINO QUARTERLY 11 If you see any signs of bedbugs, don’t stay there! And please inform the hospitalero (the attendant). Some may refund your money; others may not (because they may suspect you of bringing the bugs there, particularly if you are the first reporter). Occasionally at an albergue, you may observe that the bedposts are standing in small glass dishes. This is evidence that the albergue is taking steps to avoid bedbugs, and that’s a good sign. Never put your backpack on a bed until you have checked the bed and surroundings for bedbugs. Instead, hang your pack from a carabiner, a hook of some kind, or a small bungie cord; the loop in your backpack is often too small to be used for this purpose. Some mattress sprays claim to repel bedbugs. One is called Rest Easy and it is all-natural, containing essential oils of cinnamon and lemongrass. This spray both repels and kills bedbugs, and is available in a handy 2 oz. travel size. ( Bed, Bath, and Beyond sells a twin pack with 2 bottles. I recommend spraying this only on a fabric mattress and only on the mattress seam, around the edge, and on any holes you may notice, but don’t spray the whole mattress. Moreover, if the mattress has a plastic cover, there is no need to spray; the spray won’t penetrate the plastic and bedbugs don’t like plastic, either. Also spray any crevices you may notice in a wooden bed frame (bedbugs don’t like metal or plastic frames so don’t waste your spray on those). After spraying, let it dry for 2 hours before getting into bed. The spray can irritate skin so avoid skin contact. And it’s a good idea to ask your dorm-mates before spraying anything. The possibility of bedbugs may strike fear into your heart, but we took these preventive measures and were not bitten, and we encountered only a couple of people who had been. More importantly, we know and keep in touch with dozens of Camino walkers, many of whom have done the pilgrimage repeatedly, and we have not heard of bedbug problems from anyone who took even minimal precautions. Often, it comes down to common sense: do you really want to place your body on a mattress or sheet that may not have been washed and may have had a bedbuginfested pilgrim sleeping upon it t he night before? Or would you rather be safe than sorry? Some pilgrims haven’t done their research, are careless, and they end up getting bitten by bedbugs. To make matters worse, they are often in denial about it. The girl from Denmark had to have all of her clothes and her backpack washed in hot water to kill the bedbugs, which the very nice hospitalero did for her, even loaning her some of his girlfriend’s clothes to wear during the process. An alternative is to have your clothes and backpack dry-cleaned. No matter what, you MUST take action to get rid of them, or you will end up spreading them from place to place. And you don’t want to acquire a reputation along the Camino as being “Bedbug Betty”! SNORERS (roncadores)  In a roomful of sleepers, there’s bound to be at least one roncador. Snoring volume ranges from 45 to 70 decibels (the same volume as an average vacuum cleaner), so I recommend bringing earplugs for sleeping unless you’re deaf or an extremely sound sleeper. My husband, Chris, found that wrapping his travel-pillow around his already ear-plugged ears greatly increased the effectiveness of his earplugs. Incidentally, Chris also brought an eye mask and felt that the total darkness provided by the mask helped him tune-out the snoring, although some people might find the exact opposite effect. Some albergues have a room for self-declared snorers, so if you can rally some support from fellow dorm-mates, you may be able to convince the snorers to request such a room. Additionally, some albergues have one or more private rooms that cost a bit more (usually 5 additional Euros per person), so if you need additional space between you and the snorers or simply are craving some privacy from others, this may be an option.

Mature bedbug (not to scale).

Close-up of mattress showing evidence of bedbugs.

© Louento.pix 2007-(License=CC BY-ND 2.0)

Bites frequently appear in groups of three, commonly referred to as "breakfast, lunch, and dinner."

© Louento.pix 2007-(License=CC BY-ND 2.0)

A typical allergic reaction to a bedbug bite. The circle will expand as the reaction increases. Some pilgrims trace the peri­ meter with a pen before going to sleep, in order to determine whether the reaction is growing or subsiding.




Spanish Lesson


Days Sunday domingo Monday lunes Tuesday martes Wednesday miércoles Thursday jueves Friday viernes Saturday sábado today hoy yesterday ayer tomorrow mañana this week esta semana last week la semana pasada next week la próxima semana

Useful Words

room habitacíon key llave bed cama pillow almohada mattress colchón bathroom baño shower ducha to wash lavar clothes ropa cost cuesta near cerca far lejos city ciudad village/town pueblo church iglesia bridge puente yellow arrow flecha amarilla right derecha left izquierda behind detrás in en open abierto closed cerrado fountain fuente pool piscina Where is…? ¿Dónde está…? How many…? ¿Cuántos…? How much ¿Cuánto cuesta?    does it cost?

1 uno 2 dos 3 tres 4 cuatro 5 cinco 6 seis 7 siete 8 ocho 9 nueve 10 diez 11 once 12 doce 13 trece 14 catorze 15 quince 16 dieciséis 17 diecisiete 18 dieciocho 19 diecinueve 20 veinte 30 treinta 40 cuarenta 50 cincuenta 60 sesenta 70 setenta 80 ochenta 90 noventa 100 cien 500 quinientos 1000 mil 1,000,000 un millón number numero half mitad less menos more más many mucho/a


In northern and central Spain, Castilian (Castellano) Spanish is spoken. The pronunciation is a bit different than Mexican Spanish. The soft “c” and “z” are pronounced with a soft “th” sound, as if you were lisping (e.g. gracias is pronounced “grathias”). Other regional languages are English

okay eyeglasses potato bean juice computer

spoken in Spain—Basque (Euskara), Catalan (Catalán), and Galician (Gallego)—which are all different than Castilian. For those of you familiar with Mexican or Latin American Spanish, you will find that some vocabulary is different in Castilian Spanish. See these examples:

Latin American

bien anteojos/lentes papa frijol jugo computadora


vale gafas patata judía, alubia zumo ordenador

Essential Camino Terms ¡Buen Camino! Good (pilgrim) Way! ¡Ultreya! Onward! Credencial Pilgrim Passport Sello Stamp for your Credencial (or for a letter) Oficina de Correos Post Office Lista de correos General Delivery (Poste Restante in French) Hospitalero/a Attendant at the albergue Agua No potable Water non-drinkable (do not drink the water) Menu del Peregrino Pilgrim menu

Important Phrases Si, No Yes, No Hola Hello Adiós Goodbye Bienvenida Welcome Buenos días Good morning Buenas tardes Good afternoon Buenas noches Good evening Hasta luego See you later ¿Cómo está usted? How are you? Muy bien Very well Por favor Please Muchas gracias Thank you very much De nada It's nothing Perdón Excuse me Lo siento I'm sorry Chinches Bedbugs WC exclusivo clientes Toilets for customers only Sellado de Credencial Passport stamping


Words of Wisdom CHRIS YAVELOW

Sir Walter Raleigh Give me my scallop shell of quiet; My staff of faith to walk upon; My scrip of joy, immortal diet; My bottle of salvation; My gown of glory (hope’s true gage) And then I’ll take my pilgrimage.

Wisdom on and off the Camino Walking the Camino provides many pilgrims time for deep contemplation and also moves them to inscribe the thoughts that arise thereby on walls, stones, and, when they return, in books. Some bring a stone from their home country, upon which they have written (in marker), painted, or etched (see below) a burden,

a prayer, a lifelong motto, or other such words of wisdom they wish to share with others who pass that spot. Others walk with pre-prepared ribbons or pieces of cloth to leave in strategic places along The Way (see lower right). I photographed a fraction of these: nearly 300 of the messages on stone, and dozens of the ribbons.

“There was never a pilgrim that did not come back to his own village with one less prejudice and one more idea.” —Chateaubriand

Seen on a Polish Camino forum and re-posted in the English forum by Kubapigora: “Camino is in your heart, not on the piece of paper. Some people are walking their Camino for that piece of paper, but hopefully, when they arrive in Santiago, they will know that it is only a piece of paper.”

Navajo Walking Meditation

Carefully etched on a stone at the foot of the Cruz de Ferro (Iron Cross): Nur wer seinen eigener weg geht kann von niemand uberhalt werden. Rough English translation: Only he who goes his own way can no one hold back.

Painted on a piece of slate, seen on the mantle of the warm, welcoming fireplace at Albergue Irago in Foncebadón (it's cold up there near the highest point on the Camino), a short walk from the Cruz de Ferro (Iron Cross).

Quotes of Note

The Compostela

Wisdom of Stones in all Languages

Rumi (Sufi Poet)

With beauty before me, may I walk. With beauty behind me, may I walk. With beauty above me, may I walk. With beauty below me, may I walk. With beauty all around me, may I walk. Wandering on the tra il of beaut y, may I walk.

“Everyday, I walk myself into a state of well-being & walk away from every illness. I have walked myself into my best thoughts, and I know of no thought so burdensome that one cannot walk away from it.” —Søren Kierkegaard “Don't walk in front of me; I may not follow. Don't walk behind me; I may not lead. Just walk beside me and be my friend.” —Albert Camus

Ribbons & Scarves

Some inscribe their messages on stones, others on ribbons…


Camino Calendar April May June

LAURA YAVELOW Medieval Fair of Passo Honroso (Hospital del Órbigo)

Domingo de Pascua (Holy Week & Easter) Observed in all towns. APR León has one of the largobservances, with 11– est numerous daily solemn 20 processions; one on Good Friday lasts nine hours and includes 4,000 penitents carrying 13 pasos (Passion floats).

Jueves Santo (Maundy Thursday)

Observed in all towns, some priests perAPR with forming "washing of the 17 feet" on the traditional day of the “Last Supper,” Pamplona’s “Vow of the Five Wounds” commemorates the elimination of the plague in 1599. © Bruno Unna 2008-CC BY-SA 2.0 

Viernes Santo (Good Friday)

This is a national holiday observed in all towns, with all businesses closed. On this holiest day, Via Crucis (stations of the Cross) processions take place.   © Luis Fernández García   2005–CCBY-SA 2.1 ES 

APR 18

Labour Day MAY 1

National holiday. All businesses will be closed for the day.

Medieval market, games and competitions, costumed minstrels, jugglers and acrobats, and procession of torches. Hospital del Órbigo is between León and Astorga.

Corpus Christi (Body of Christ)

Observed in all towns. the 14th century, JUN Since in Carrión de los Con22 des two km of carpets made of colorful flower petals are created on the streets. A procession led by first communion children takes place on this day. In other towns, the first communion children carry baskets of rose petals and scatter them along the streets as they go.

Festival of San Juan (Festival of St. John)

JUN 23– 24

Observed in all towns. Bonfires made from old furniture, fireworks, music, and dancing are among the festivities heralding the beginning of summer. Traditional foods: sardines and bread. Jump over a bonfire three times, you are cleansed and purified, and your problems are burned away.

  © Yiorsito 2009-CC BY 3.0 

  © Enrique López-Tamayo Biosca 2007-CC BY 2.0 

Semana Santa


© José Antonio Gil Martínez 2007-CC BY-SA 3.0


Roman Festival of Andelos (Mendigorría) JUN 29– 30

This is not directly on the Camino Francés, but is 4 miles south of Puente la Reina. The festival recreates life in Andelos 2,000 years ago. Stroll along a Roman market, including a Roman bar, mill, pharmacy, and tavern. Processions, exhibitions, theater, concerts of ancient music, and a Roman banquet. Features tours of the archeological site and museum.



THIS MONTH’S QUESTION: Should I Walk Alone or With Someone Else?


olo travel is not for everyone, but I highly recommend it. I realize you may want to share this experience with someone close to you. However, if you are thinking of going with a companion of any type, be sure that person is a good travel partner. (If you’ve never traveled with them before, do not make the Camino your first experience together!) I befriended many couples along The Way, some of whom got along very well, others of whom confided in me that they wished they came alone. Why? Because their spouse/significant other/ friend walked faster/slower than they did, was more/less interested in walking the Camino than they were, liked to start walking earlier/later than they did, etc. Walking the Camino “alone” does not necessarily mean that you will be “lonely”— especially if you are walking the Camino Francés between May and October. This ancient pilgrimage trail attracts solo travelers and couples alike, most of whom enjoy meeting other people. If you’ve never traveled on your own before, this is one of the best places to try it out. You will have plenty of opportunity to be with others, while also having the freedom to stop whenever you’d like, wherever you’d like. As a woman who has traveled extensively on her own, I can say the Camino is very safe as long as you follow the typical “safe travel” rules (e.g. don’t leave your money belt under your pillow while taking a shower; follow your intuition and leave if a situation doesn’t feel right). There is no “wrong way” to walk the Camino. So if you’re ready to go, don’t let lack of a travel partner stop you from doing it.

y wife, Laura, and I walked the Camino together in October of 2012. We enjoyed sharing the experience together, and will always have those memories that we can talk about for the rest of our lives. Early in the first week, we came out of a forest and both blurted out almost the same words: “This is the most fun I’ve ever had!” If you choose to walk the Camino with someone, choose wisely. Remember, you will be with that person 24/7 during your pilgrimage, whatever its length. If your walking partner is your significant-other or son or daughter, it can be a bonding experience with plenty of quality one-on-one conversation time. On the other hand, it may test your relationship with unforeseen challenges and circumstances that you must overcome together, whether due to injury, fatigue, stress, differences of opinion, bad weather, or no room to stay at the albergue; the latter may force you to walk farther, when you feel that you cannot take another step. It is essential that you both maintain flexibility and a positive attitude, and be open-minded. Another thing to consider is walking pace—best if your paces are similar. Laura is slower-paced than me, and I needed to wait at the tops of the hills for her to catch up. So if you’re the faster one, you’ll need to have patience to wait for your slower partner, or else slow down your pace. The cutoff point at which you will wait for the other to catch up may vary from person to person; for example, I never let Laura get out of sight and usually stopped much earlier than that. Some who walk in small groups make arrangements to meet up at a certain albergue for the night, and then each walks individually at their own pace. We know of couples that have done this, too. Most importantly, if you do end up walking at different paces, I’d advise the faster person to regularly walk the pace of the slower; it will give you a break and strengthen the mutual experience.




Pilgrims are just arriving at this albergue near Pamplona, and only half the beds have been claimed. There is another row of beds out of the frame to the right, plus several additional similar rooms.




lbergues are hostels with many bunk beds in one room, or a number of mattresses lined up along the floor—sometimes, several rooms or floors of either of these options. They are only for pilgrims, and are not part of the International Hostel System. Most albergues do not open until 2:00 or 3:00 in the afternoon. To check in, you will present your credencial (pilgrim’s passport) as proof that you are a pilgrim, get it stamped, and pay the fee (usually 5–10 Euros pp). In some albergues, you may need to provide additional identification. The hospitalero (some are volunteers from around the world who have walked the Camino, others are salaried), will then show you the dormitory with the beds, and you can choose one that is available; you place your sleeping bag on it to reserve it. The bed is usually a simple mattress without any linens or pillowcases, although some albergues are now providing disposable sheets. Usually there will be an electrical outlet by each bed, including both the upper and lower bunks. Some albergues have lockers for your gear. At this albergue in Foncebadón, more beds are on the floor than on frames. Nonetheless, each bed has an electrical outlet. There are doors to separate shower and toilet rooms left of center. The dorm has several skylights with fantastic views of the Milky Way.


Note the 220 volt electrical outlet by each bed (see upper left); wet clothes hanging from bed rails to dry; 3-foot-high locking storage locker

The first thing you will want to do after walking all day is to take those shoes off ! Many albergues do not allow hiking shoes in the sleeping room and require you to remove your boots before entering the room. Therefore, you will switch to the waterproof sandals that you will wear for the rest of the day and night—to the showers, around the albergue, and around town. Then, grab clean clothes and your own towel, soap or bath gel, shampoo, toothpaste, and toothbrush (travel-sizes recommended). Albergues do not supply any of these—no towels, no soap, no shampoo, no toothpaste—you must bring your own! Also take a waterproof plastic Ziploc baggie to protect your valuables while you shower. Never take your eyes off your valuables, and always have them on your person or within your field of vision. After your shower, it’s time to tend to your sore feet and muscles by rubbing aspirin cream or ibuprofen gel on your feet and wherever else you ache. And if you’ve developed any blisters, treat them as well. Next, it’s time to wash the clothes you wore that day. Some albergues have washers, but they may not have dryers, and others don’t have either, which means hand washing in the sink. If there is no dryer, a clothesline will usually be provided, either inside or outside. You’ll need to bring safety pins or clothespins to hang your clothes on the line. If it’s rainy, or dark, and there is no dryer, you’re out of luck, and may wish to skip washing that day unless there is a laundromat in the village. Sometimes, your clothes will not be dry by the next day, and you may have to hang certain items off the back of your pack as you walk; typically, those will be dry well before lunchtime. Once these necessities have been taken care of, then you can relax, take a nap, socialize, write in your journal, or plan for the next day until about 7:30 when the restaurants begin serving dinner. Or if there is a kitchen where you are staying, go food shopping for your dinner, and then come back and cook it, an activity that you may end up sharing together with one or a dozen other pilgrims. Many albergues have Internet kiosks (for a fee) or WIFI (usually free) for checking your email or updating your blog. If you do go out “on the town,” be aware that albergues lock their front doors at 10:00 pm, and if you have not returned

by then, you may end up sleeping outside that night without your sleeping bag or facing the task of finding other accommodations. Everyone is expected to be in bed by 10:00 and it’s lights out. It’s a good idea to bring earplugs because most rooms with multiple sleepers will contain at least one roncador (snorer). Keep a small flashlight within reach in case you need to find your way to the bathroom in the middle of the night. Instead of a flashlight, you can use a flashlight app on your phone, or if you bring a reserve battery for charging, sometimes it will provide a built-in flashlight. Avoid using your headlamp inside because you risk waking up other sleeping pilgrims. Early risers start getting up while it’s still dark outside—5:00 or 6:00 in the morning. If you’re one of those, please be courteous to the late-risers, and be as quiet as possible—no rustling of plastic bags in the room! When you’ve left the building, be sure to wear a headlamp to find the trail markers in the dark. Some albergues provide a small self-serve breakfast. Everyone must be out of the albergue by 8:00 am. You are not allowed to stay for 2 nights; it’s not a hotel. The albergue then will be cleaned in the morning and prepared for the next group to arrive that afternoon. And the process starts over. Every day of the week.

TYPES OF ACCOMMODATIONS Along the Camino Francés ALBERGUES Parochial and Monastery albergues are owned by the local diocese and run by a priest, monastery, or convent. These operate on a donativo (donation) basis. Please note: This does not mean they are free! Some offer a communal dinner and/or church service. Municipal albergues are managed by the town or local government, and vary in cost from donativo to 7 Euros. Association albergues are run by organizations or confraternities, and vary in cost from donativo to 10 Euros. Some offer a communal meal. Note: Donativo monies collected by these first three types of accomo­ dations are used to feed the next night’s pilgrims and to keep the electricity on and the water running, so give what you can. Private albergues are owned and operated as businesses. Some of the private albergues have banded together to form a network that adheres to standard features and prices ranging from 8–12 Euros. Out-of-network albergues range from 10–15 Euros. Some private albergues have a few rooms for couples, or they may have a room for “self-admitted snorers.” A private room for couples is usually the price of 2 beds in the dorm plus up to 5 Euros so ranging from 25–30 Euros per couple.

OTHER ACCOMMODATIONS Pensiónes and Hostales (not hostels) are small hotels that run about 25–30 Euros per room. Casa Rurales are bed and breakfasts in country homes located off the Camino path that cost about 60–90 Euros per night per couple, usually including a very nice dinner as well. Hotels start at 50 Euros and end at luxury prices in the larger cities. Paradores are historical buildings or monasteries that have been converted into luxury accommodations. These are at the top of the scale and can cost between 75 and 300 dollars per night. Some will negotiate. Some offer free tours of historical parts of the building. All of these lodgings will provide a stamp for your credencial.



The Camino Francés

Still the most Popular Route REBECCA GALLO IN THE POPULARITY CONTEST AMONG ROUTES, THE CAMINO FRANCÉS IS THE WINNER. A whopping seventy percent of the pilgrims who arrived in Santiago last year chose that route. Second place went to the Camino Portugués, trailing far behind with a mere fourteen percent.

Roncesvalles is a popular starting point, being the first village on the Spanish side of the Pyrenees. The large monastery (right of center) is now a well-loved albergue. Be sure to see the statue of Roland directly behind the albergue.


he thought of walking the Camino to Santiago was something I had kept nestled in the back of my mind for ten years. In 2011, I decided it was time to start my research. I had no idea there were so many routes to Santiago. Where should I begin my Journey? Many millions of pilgrims before me had walked this ancient pilgrimage route to the cathedral housing the presumed remains of Saint James (one of Jesus’ apostles), and information abounds about the paths to get there. It didn’t take me long to choose to walk the Camino Francés beginning in Saint Jean Pied-de-Port, on the French side of the Pyrenees. A wellmarked path with an ever-increasing number of options for sleeping and eating, the Camino Francés is the best choice for first-time pilgrims. Moreover, the varied terrain, multitude of historical sites, and variety of people walking this route make it popular among those who return to the Camino year after year.

Why so popular? First, consider geography. Most of the population of Europe lives east of the Pyrenees (the mountain range delineating Spain’s eastern border with France). The Camino Francés is one of only two routes that cross those mountains. The other is the Camino Aragonés, which eventually merges into the Camino Francés. But what about the natives of Spain? Half of the pilgrims arriving in Santiago are Spaniards. Most complete only the last hundred kilometers, which usually means they begin walking in Sarria (on the Camino Francés). And nearly all the other routes traversing Spain eventually merge with the Camino Francés. Many modern-day pilgrims have read one, if not many, books written by those who have preceded them. German comedian Hans Peter Kerkeling’s I’m Off Then inspired many of his countrymen to undertake the Camino. Americans may have read Shirley MacLaine’s The Camino or watched Martin Sheen and Emilio Estevez in the 2010 movie The Way. Some of the South Koreans were introduced

to this ancient trail by Kim Hyo Sun’s Camino de Santiago de Compostela. All of these works chronicle, at least in part, the Camino Francés. Starting Point Pilgrims can (and do) start from any town along the Camino. Those looking to receive a compostela (a document written in Latin which confirms a pilgrim’s completion of the pilgrimage) upon their arrival in Santiago must complete the last 100 kilometers (62 miles) if walking, or the last 200 kilometers (124 miles) if bicycling the route. Our look at the Camino Francés will begin with the most popular starting point: St. Jean Pied-de-Port in France. Saint Jean Pied-de-Port: Why am I here? Saint Jean Pied-de-Port welcomed pilgrims from six continents encompassing 108 countries in 2013. From Canada to Costa Rica, from Iran to Italy, all walked the medieval cobbled Rue de la Citadelle through the heart of this


walled Basque town—some just starting their Camino, others simply passing through, having already walked hundreds of miles from routes they began in Le Puy, Vézelay, Paris, Geneva, or elsewhere. Rue de la Citadelle offers no fewer than 150 beds for pilgrims, with many more available on nearby streets. The official Pilgrims’ Office, also on this famed road, can help with any questions pilgrims may have. Those who have not yet obtained a credencial can do so here. The credencial serves as one’s Pilgrim Passport. Those walking “The Way of Saint James” collect ink stamps from churches, albergues (pilgrim hostels), and bars before presenting their passport in Santiago in order to receive the often-coveted Compostela. While in St. Jean, take time to stock up with water and snacks for the day ahead. Whether you decide to walk the 24 km over the Pyrenees to Roncesvalles in one day or two, provisions between St. Jean Pied-de-Port and Roncesvalles are few. You’ll start your journey by passing through the Porte d’Espagne (Door to Spain). As you do so, take some time to contemplate why you are walking this path. It will be the topic of many conversations over the coming weeks. Pyrenees: Will I ever get there? Although crossing the Pyrenees mountains is one of the most strenuous climbs along the Camino, you will be rewarded with both woodlands and stunning panoramic views. Be careful not to push yourself too much, as many pilgrims end up with tendonitis or strained muscles on the first day. Roncesvalles: Pilgrim Mass? But I’m not Catholic. Those pilgrims who prefer to start with the Pyrenees at their back can begin in the tiny town (population 24) of Roncesvalles. If there’s anything you forgot, the new (2011) albergue in Roncesvalles has two tables filled with the discarded items of pilgrims who arrived earlier and felt the need to lighten their packs. In addition to the albergue, those looking to spoil themselves will find other options for accommodation here. For many pilgrims, Roncesvalles is the first opportunity to attend a Pilgrim Mass. Whether The solid red line traces the Camino Francés, The larger red dot at its end is Santiago de Compostela. French Routes to the Pyrenees are solid blue.

religious, atheist, or anywhere in between, all are welcomed at the service in the 13th century Iglesia de Santa Maria. The priest reads the names of all the countries from which pilgrims have arrived in Roncesvalles that night and offers a blessing as you begin your journey. Pamplona: Hemingway’s Haven Pamplona is the first large city you will encounter along the Camino Francés. Famous for its “Running of the Bulls” ( July 6–14), Pamplona offers you paella, a rest day, and any supplies you might need, as well as a post office that is very experienced with pilgrims mailing home unneeded gear that might be weighing them down. Treat yourself to Hemingway’s favorite hangout, the Cafe Iruña on the Plaza del Castillo, and sample the Irache tinto (a brand of red wine) bearing the Camino de Santiago seal. Many pilgrims will take a rest day in the cities and soak up their history. Others prefer to move quickly through the hectic interruptions of city life and so continue on to Cizur Menor. Alto del Perdón: Haven’t I been here before? A familiar site to those who have seen the movie The Way, atop the Alto del Perdón (Mount of Forgiveness) is a metal sculpture depicting medieval pilgrims fighting the wind

as they walk and ride along the Camino. Erected by the energy company whose wind turbines dot the horizon as they tower above the Alto del Perdón, the giant sculpture bears the following inscription: “Where the path of the wind crosses that of the stars.” (See page 23 for additional information about Alto del Perdón, including the legend of the thirsty pilgrim.) Eunate: To detour or not to detour, that is the question Yellow arrows point the way along the Camino, guiding your every step. I met one pilgrim who was told by a bartender in The Netherlands, “You must walk the Camino. You don’t need much. Not even a map—the yellow arrows tell you where to go.” And so, off he went. But sometimes those yellow arrows point in two different directions: one, the main route, the other, a detour. The first of these options along the Camino Francés is the route to the octagonal walled church at Eunate, a site many recommend as a “mustsee”—especially if you can arrive when the church is open and the recorded Gregorian chants are reverberating under the influence of the unique acoustical properties of an octagonal space. (See page 23 for additional information about Eunate.)



Irache Wine Fountain: You mean free wine? On the way out of Estella, be sure to visit the famous Fuente del Vino behind the Bodegas Irache. This is the only fountain on the Camino that pours wine instead of water, a sure sign that you are in wine country. If you didn’t sample this wine in Pamplona, now you have a second chance. Grañón: Wait. You want me to sleep on the floor? Grañón is not the first town along the Camino Francés to offer an albergue parroquial (parish hostel); however, it is often rated by pilgrims as one of the best Camino albergues, not for its sleeping arrangements (a pad on the floor), but for its hospitality. Two long tables seat as many as sixty pilgrims who share a meal together that will long be remembered. After dinner, head into the choir loft of the church for a candlelight reflection—each pilgrim speaking in their native language, but somehow all are understood. Burgos to León: Two cathedrals and a question The Gothic city of Burgos is home to the second largest cathedral in Spain. The 13th century

Catedral de Santa María houses 21 art-filled side chapels along the interior perimeter. After taking some time in this city, pilgrims often face a question at this point: “Should I traverse the Meseta by foot or by bus?” The Meseta begins right after Burgos. A plateau that stretches 184 kilometers (114 miles) to Astorga, the Meseta is avoided by some pilgrims entirely because of its desolate landscape and blistering heat in the summer. This means it’s a bit quieter for those of us who decide to walk it, recognizing the beauty of its immense sky and endless horizon. The temperature is due to lack of shade, so be sure to have a sunhat and sunscreen. Also note that the Meseta features longer distances between towns—and thus water fountains—so bring extra water. The final major city before Santiago is León. Rest with a café con leche and then head into the 13th century Gothic Catedral Pulchra Leonina to view its famed 125 stained glass windows. Astorga: A must for chocoholics Say good-bye to the Meseta as you arrive in Astorga. A chocolate-lover’s dream, Astorga is home to a chocolate museum, chocolate factories, and stores selling every kind of chocolate imaginable. It’s also home to the Gaudí-designed Bishop’s Palace, which houses a Museo de los Caminos (Museum of the Ways), and a 15th century Gothic cathedral.

Cruz de Ferro: A solemn place of reverence and reflection The second steep climb along the Camino brings you to the 5000 ft. elevation Cruz de Ferro (Iron Cross). Pilgrims traditionally carry a stone from home, which represents their fears, burdens, and expectations, and all are symbolically left at the Cruz de Ferro— released to God (traditionally) or at the very least, from your having to carry it any further. Spend some time examining the sentiments and prayers engraved or written on the multitude of stones, add your own to the pile, and reflect on the burdens you release here. (See page 13 for photos of some of these stones.) Ponferrada: A real honest-togoodness medieval castle? Built in the 12th century, the Templar Knights castle is right out of a storybook fairytale. An entrance fee gets you inside to explore. (See page 23 for information about the Templar Castle in Ponferrada.) O’Cebreiro: A Celtic mountaintop village The third and final mountainous ascent brings you to O’Cebreiro: the first official town in the region of Galicia—a step back


in time. Thatched-roofed stone buildings reminiscent of the area’s Celtic heritage are sometimes shrouded in fog, a reminder of the temperamental weather of Galicia. O’Cebreiro is the resting place of Elias Valiña Sampedro, the priest who came up with the idea of the yellow arrows guiding your way along the Camino.

  An Irish pilgrim remarked that   Galicia reminded him of his    own country. Indeed, its rolling    hills are often covered in mist;    so don’t forget rain gear in    this region.  Galicia: The Rain in Spain Falls Mainly on Galicia You will see many hórreos (granaries for storing corn) in the tiny villages. No, these do not, as some people imagine upon first sight, contain ancestral remains. As you get closer to Santiago, chestnut trees and eucalyptus trees appear in the wooded areas.

Sarria: The Beginning of the End Those pilgrims who only have a week to complete their journey to Santiago often start in Sarria, giving them enough distance (100 km, i.e. 62 miles) to qualify for a compostela. The route will get more populated at this point as hundreds more pilgrims join the journey to Santiago. Take care not to turn up your nose at them as you observe their brand new hiking boots and backpacks, and you remember the 700 km you’ve already walked; for all you know, they walked those 700 km the year before. But, more importantly, as the first Camino “guidebook” (circa 1150) Codex Calixtinus, Book V states, “Pilgrims, whether poor or rich, who return from or proceed to Santiago, must be received charitably and respectfully by all.” Santiago Some reach Santiago after just one week, others after years (some Europeans will walk two weeks each year until they reach Santiago). Regardless of how long it takes, all eventually arrive at the Catedral de Santiago. At noon every day of the year a Pilgrim’s Mass is celebrated. Sometimes, the botafumeiro is swung. Traditionally the scent of incense pouring from the botafumeiro was meant to overpower the odor of recently arrived un-bathed pilgrims and was also

Coming down from the Cruz de Ferro, the highest point on the Camino, past Manjarin, looking toward Acebo.

thought to repel insects to a certain extent. Step below the altar to visit the alleged tomb of Saint James the apostle. Visit the Pilgrim office with your credencial in order to obtain your Compostela. For many, the physical Camino ends here, but for others it continues on to Finisterre: “The End of the World.” Finisterre and Muxía Three more days of walking or a bus ride brings you to Finisterre. Find lodging and then embark on the 6–km round-trip to the lighthouse to watch the sunset and perhaps join in the tradition of burning your shoes and clothes at this, the end of your journey. For those not yet ready for the experience to be over, another day’s walk or bus ride will bring you to Muxía, recognizable to those who have seen the movie The Way as the site where Martin Sheen scatters the last of his son’s ashes. Wherever you end your Camino, don’t be surprised if you find yourself thinking about returning one day to walk it again. There exist on our planet many long distance walks. But those who have walked the Camino find there is something about the experience that often calls them back.



Houses of Worship on the Camino Francés CAMINO QUARTERLY STAFF


➜➜ Official Name: Catedral de Pulchra Leonina. ➜➜ 13th century Gothic; completed in 16th century. ➜➜ Famous for 125 stained glass windows dating from 13th–15th centuries, most are original and among the finest in the world. There are almost 1,800 square meters of stained glass windows. ➜➜ Nave collapsed twice (17th and 19th centuries). ➜➜ North side Renaissance cloisters containing vaults decorated with Gothic frescoes. ➜➜ Museum contains almost 1500 sacred artworks, 50 Romanesque sculptures of the Virgin, and a Mozarabic bible.

Astorga Official Name: Catedral de Santa María de Astorga. Construction began 1471, completed 18th century. Built within the same walls as an earlier 11th–13th century Romanesque church. Gothic with Renaissance and Baroque elements. Spanish Renaissance octagonal altarpiece sculpted in 1558 by Gaspar Becerra. 18th century Neo-Classical cloister. Museum of sacred art including famous 15th century painting El Puente de la Vida y la Reina Lupa (The Bridge of Life and Queen Lupa) which shows bulls pulling the sarcophagus of St James, and a bridge caving in by divine intervention, thus preventing attack by Roman soldiers. ➜➜ Cathedral damaged during Lisbon earthquake of 1755, but has since been repaired. [Opposite is the Bishops Palace, which is not a “house of worship.”] ➜➜ ➜➜ ➜➜ ➜➜ ➜➜ ➜➜ ➜➜

Burgos Official Name: Catedral de Santa María de Burgos Second largest cathedral in Spain. 13th century (1221–1567); started by Ferdinand III. Gothic with some Renaissance & Baroque features. UNESCO World heritage Site. Gothic spires added in 15th century. Contains 21 chapels around inside perimeter. Renaissance Golden Staircase (Escalera Dorada) designed by Diego de Siloe. ➜➜ Transept crossing: above a huge star lantern; below are buried El Cid (1040–1099) and wife Jimena, remains were moved there in 1921. ➜➜ Flycatcher (Papamoscas) a colorful carved bearded figure above a clock at top of main nave; on the hour, opens mouth and moves arm to ring a bell. ➜➜ Gothic cloisters include sculptures and crypts of ecclesiastical figures.

➜➜ ➜➜ ➜➜ ➜➜ ➜➜ ➜➜ ➜➜ ➜➜

Bishop’s Palace

➜➜ Completed in 1915, Gaudí-designed, modern Spanish neo-Gothic. ➜➜ During the civil war, was used as barracks by nationalist Falange. ➜➜ Museo de los Caminos (Museum of the Ways).


Don’t Miss This along the Camino Francés

Alto del Perdón

On your way to this magnificent moutaintop sculpture, about 1/2 km from the summit, you may notice a spring at your left. Legend has it that a pilgrim nearly died of thirst searching for this spring. The devil offered to lead him to it in return for his soul. The pilgrim refused, upon which Saint James appeared and, depending upon the source, led the pilgrim to the spring and used his scallop for a cup, or struck the ground with his staff, bringing forth the gushing water.


El Castillo de Ponferrada On first sight, the well-preserved 12th century Templar Castle at Ponferrada only 6.8 km (4.2 miles) past Molinaseca on the way to Villafranca, appears to be the prototypal castle upon which all storybook and fairy-tale castles have taken their design. The difference is that this is the real thing. If you are fortunate to arrive on Templar Night (the first full moon in July; July 12 in 2014), you will be met by townspeople dressed in medieval costumes for the Noche Templaria festival.

© Contando Estrelas 2013-CC BY-SA 2.0

Fifteen kilometers out of Cizur Menor, you will be presented with the option to turn left toward Eunate. A worthy detour! This will add 2.8 km (1.7 miles) to the 19 km (11.8 miles) between Cizur Menor and Puente La Reina. Hours: Jul–Sep: 10.30am–1.30pm, 5pm–8pm; Mar–Jun and Oct: 10.30am–1.30pm, 4pm–7pm; Jan–Feb and Nov: 10.30am–2.30pm— closed Mondays and early Dec–mid Jan.

© JAne Snyder 2014


“Ten percent of my body weight?!?! Nobody told me that!!!”

Camino Quarterly Staff would Like You to Know Artist Jane Snydner's humorous depiction of an overburdened pilgrim is no laughing matter. We've seen young 20-somethings in outstanding physical shape be humbled to the point of having to give up their Camino on the second or third day, simply because they had crossed the Pyrenees carrying too much weight in their packs—one for a torn Achilles tendon, the other for a strained back. For others, the damage takes longer to appear, and when it does, it's in the feet but just as debilitating. As Chris Townsend said in The Backpacker’s Handbook, “More backpacking trips are ruined by sore feet than by all other causes combined. Pounded by the ground below and the weight of you and your pack above, your feet receive harsher treatment than any other part of your body.”



Follow the Yellow Brick Road‌ Or the Yellow Arrows REBECCA GALLO

ALONG THE CAMINO, YELLOW ARROWS POINT THE WAY. A pilgrim sees them painted on trees, on buildings, on boulders, and on sidewalks. No maps are necessary. Just follow the yellow arrows.



n college a friend posted on his office door: “This life is a test— it is only a test. If it had been an actual life, you would have received further instructions on where to go and what to do.” I might modify this and say, “You would have received yellow arrows to point the way.” The other night in Asheville, while contemplating whether to go to Taizé (a candle-lit meditative prayer service) or stay put, I wished for an arrow to appear—either pointing to the door or to my couch. On another occasion, as I wondered if I truly needed to buy the new pair of jeans I’d just tried on, I wished for an arrow—pointing to my wallet or directing me out the door. Along the Camino, I sometimes saw two arrows pointing in different directions. One way led to an albergue where, if I was finished walking that day, I could rest for the night. Following the other arrow would keep me on the path—if my energy was still plentiful and I wished to continue on toward Santiago. Double arrows could also signify two routes—one direct, the other, more scenic; one flatter, one more mountainous. Such is life as well. When I walk downtown, I can take the direct route along the busy road, or veer off to the side streets for a quieter stroll. As much as I appreciate having options, I continue to wish for a yellow arrow telling me which path to take.

The arrows along the Camino point one way: to Santiago. There’s a loop a pilgrim can walk post–Camino from Santiago to Finisterre and Muxía, then back to Santiago. One could walk circles repeatedly on this trail. And sometimes my life feels that way, too. Haven’t I been here before?  I think as I struggle with the same doubts and fears I’ve had for years. The yellow arrows were the idea of Don Elias Valiña Sampedro, a parish priest in the town of O’Cebreiro. He and his nephews started painting them in 1984 to help pilgrims find their way. Now volunteers across Spain re-paint the arrows as needed. I imagine what life would be like if I had someone ahead of me to mark the way. And then realize sometimes I have just that. When I first thought of moving to Asheville, I met a couple who offered to open their home to me should I wish to get acquainted with the area. I felt like it was God (or the universe or whatever you choose to call it) saying, “Go! You have no reason not to!” God was right, of course. I listened, and now, for the first time in my life, I live in a place where I can honestly say, “I could live here the rest of my life.” I’ve learned I don’t necessarily need something as bright and clear as a yellow arrow. I have friends and family that point the way. I also have a strong belief in that inner voice I often hear — if only I take the time to quiet myself, ask for guidance, and pause to listen. (Originally published at

The 11th century bridge at Puente La Reine (“bridge of the queen”). Even the nearly 900-year-old Codex Calixtinus mentions the four routes that merge at this town. Doña Mayor (wife of Sancho III) commanded this bridge to be built to serve the medieval pilgrims in need of a way to cross the river.

The arrows of Father Don Elias are now everywhere on the Camino; sometimes accompanied by the yellow scallop shell, sometimes not; sometimes on a blue background, sometimes not. All serve their purpose.



Everyone Walks their own Camino

Shadow photos of pilgrims are a popular Camino tradition, perhaps because the early morning sun allows for interesting compositions.

REBECCA GALLO fter my first day on the Camino, I was hungry. At 2:30 in the afternoon, I had walked only five miles, but every step was uphill into the Pyrenees on an unseasonably warm day in May 2012. I bought a bocadillo (sandwich) in the restaurant at my albergue (hostel), and crossed the road to the covered deck overlooking the mountains. I made a mental note to jot down the cost of my meal in the tiny notebook I carried to track my spending. “Beautiful, eh?” said a tall gray-haired man in accented English. Still stunned by the piles of mountains peeking into the sky, “yes” was all I could manage. “Come. Sit with us. I will buy you a drink,” he said. I glanced at the men sitting on either side of him—one as round as the spectacles he wore, the other, bald and darkly tanned—all three of them at least as old as my parents. As an experienced solo traveler, I agreed to one (and only one) drink, and welcomed the opportunity to meet some new pilgrims. Vincenzo, the conversation-starter, was on his


third Camino. He accompanied Franco, the man at his left, who was on his first. “Where are you from?” Vincenzo asked. “The U.S.” “Ah! Another American! Rick is also from America,” he said, turning to the tanned man at his right. After just a few minutes of conversation, I realized our homeland was about the only commonality Rick and I shared. Sixty-five, living in Florida, and already retired for twelve years, Rick confided in me at dinner that he was “out of his comfort zone” on this trip. “In what way?” I asked. “Well, let me put it this way: When I traveled for my job, I not only knew where I was staying each night, but I even knew what the room would look like.” I laughed out loud. “Yeah, you’re in a lot of trouble here. Can you even reserve rooms on the Camino?” “At the hotels you can. And the Paradors.” “Paradors?” I asked. “They’re historic buildings that the Spanish government has turned into hotels—old monasteries, castles.” Rick already had reservations for the four Paradors along the

Camino Frances. I figured what he was going to pay for one night in a Parador could cover my expenses for ten nights in albergues. Yup. We were about as different as two pilgrims could be. Or so I thought. Rick had been a vice president of some company, neither the name nor type of business can I now recall. He jetted around the world wooing clients from Switzerland to Singapore. I was thirty-five and had never held a full-time job for more than fifteen months. I was on a strict twenty-five-Euro-per-day budget. I got the feeling Rick didn’t need a budget. As different as I at first thought we were, little did I know that in a few short days, Rick would become my best friend along the Camino. He would walk more miles with me than any other pilgrim. He would see my tears (more than once), share my joys, and be the first one to buy me a celebratory drink upon my arrival in Santiago. We may have come on different ships, but now we would be traveling on the same boat. However, that first night, as I lay in bed marveling at the mix of people on this ancient pilgrimage route, I remembered the words of wisdom given to me by an experienced pilgrim before I began my Camino, words I would recall repeatedly in the coming weeks: “Remember, everyone walks their own Camino.”


Walk Far, Carry Paint! JANE SNYDER

All photos and paintings on this page © Jane Snyder 2009-2013

Clockwise from upper left


Jane Snyder


Los Arcos on Location




Templar Church Fromista


Alto del Perdón


On Location Castrojeriz

CAMINO DE SANTIAGO NOTE CARDS 5” x 7” folded, blank with envelopes From original watercolors painted on location By Jane Snyder Variety Pack of 7 cards $20.00 Domestic Postage included Order at Originals can be painted from your photos. Contact


f the ultra-light backpacker’s mantra is, “Make every ounce count!” then why would a Pilgrim pack a zip lock bag with over a pound of art stuff and head out on the trail? Perhaps because there are as many travel styles as there are seekers on this journey. Part of the experience is discerning priorities and then living into those aspirations. This is especially true when the constant flow of Pilgrims tempts one to travel the next kilometer. While preparing for the trip, I read many books that suggested one should leave art supplies behind as a Pilgrim would lack time, energy and inclination while on the Camino. That would likely be true if high mileage was imperative. Physical energy and mental stamina are inherently challenged from the daily effort of walking and tending to essential needs. However, with a slight shift in priorities, it is reasonable to find time to paint and draw. We typically arrived at our destination village by mid-afternoon. After check-in, I would head out to find a location where I could sit for an hour or so. This is enough time to capture the essence of the scene before greater needs prevailed.

Despite less than ideal weather conditions, I found time to paint. One rainy afternoon, I sat in the comfort of our room in the Hospedería Cisterciense in Santo Domingo de la Calzada. The rooftop view gave a unique perspective of this bustling city. While working on the painting, I stopped, completely mesmerized, when the nuns rang the old bell just outside our window bringing the whole scene alive. It was another unforgettable Camino moment. In stark contrast, and while painting the Templar church of San Martín in Frómista, the sun was unforgiving. While sweating into my Burnt Sienna washes, I was honored by two elder villagers who shuffled close enough to have a look, then offered smiling nods of approval. For a brief moment, the sidewalk heat didn’t feel quite so merciless. Taking time to paint along the Camino adds a unique level of experience that is deeply personal and creatively rewarding. The commitment to find time for art juiced my motivation and enriched my days providing some of the most deeply personal and enriching moments I had. There’s nothing like painting a scene to feel completely immersed in the here-and-now. So, to anyone contemplating the extra weight - bring your art supplies and make every ounce count!

WE WANT TO HEAR FROM YOU! If you feel inclined to contribute an article, photo, or artwork, please follow the submission guidelines on our website or by visiting, and semail to no later than forty-five (45) days in advance of our next publication date. For the summer issue (Volume 1, Number 1), that will be May 17, 2014.

The Gear section of our summer issue will commence with an overview of typical Camino gear. If you were extremely pleased with a certain item you brought with you on the Camino, or if you had problems, please let us know. Be specific about what you liked or didn’t like. Include the brand name and the model. We need snippets for our column “Wish I Had…, Wish I Hadn’t…,” short phrases or sentences only, please. Additional short

snippets for “Overheard (Pilgrim Gaffes).” Somewhat longer submissions for “We were told, but we learned this on the way” (correcting misinformation), “Help along the way" (stories of “Camino Angels”), and “Repeat Pilgrims Need to Know” (about changes, for example). Book reviews and material for our “New Resources” and “News from the Associations" sections are always welcome. We look forward to hearing from you.

Details, Details… You can deduce from the above and also from some of the mock-ups at the left, the sort of content you can expect from our official Issue #1. As stated in the "Letter from the Editor," our production values are too high to be fully supported by our modest subscription fees. We are seeking sponsors, as well as advertisers whose products and services are appropriate in the context of the Camino Quarterly. One important matter is our fund-raising (crowd-funding ) campaign that will run through June 30, 2014. You can find details at our website,, or go directly to To contact us by postal mail use this address: Camino Quarterly 1950 Hendersonville Rd. #243 Skyland, NC 28776 Feel free to contact us by email: Subscribe on our Website. It's Easy! Regular Subscription: $24.95 per year (4 issues) Canada $30.95 USD, Foreign: $44.95 USD Charter Subscribers: 20% savings first 4 issues. This price is available until June 30, 2014. Single Issue Price: $7.90 per issue.

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