Stop and smell the roses.

In many places along the Camino are some spectacular roses. The red ones have the strongest scent. I haven’t got a photo of them because I’m too busy smelling them. Enjoy these though, naturally poking their heads up above the grass.

Not roses, but still nature at its best.

Not roses, but still nature at its best.

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Rural Galicia has many older style homes and buildings.

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John walking and talking. I bet I know what the topic was.

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Three pilgrims.

The cloud just blew in from nowhere. It was thicker than this photo shows. At one stage, we saw a yellow arrow painted on the road 'doing a U-turn'. We had been confident that we were on the right track, but couldn't see anything ahead, or behind, or hear anyone. And with the cloud so thick, we decided to turn back until we could see another marker. The best thing ever, 3 other pilgrims soon appeared from nowhere out of the cloud. We turned, again. Back on track!

The cloud just blew in from nowhere. It was thicker than this photo shows. At one stage, we saw a yellow arrow painted on the road ‘doing a U-turn’. We had been confident that we were on the right track, but couldn’t see anything ahead, or behind, or hear anyone. And with the cloud so thick, we decided to turn back until we could see another marker. The best thing ever….3 other pilgrims soon appeared from nowhere out of the cloud. We turned again. Back on track!

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Even a herd of cows appeared from nothingness.

Quiet time: probably a boring story, but quiet was needed

Today was a planned rest day in Sarria. And that’s exactly what John did.

He was asleep by 10 am, and while he slept I used a washing machine for the first time on the Camino….. I’ve been hand washing okay!

After the washing was finished, John helped me hang it up and then had another rest, then lunch, then back to my Pension (I couldn’t get into the same hotel in Sarria, but I was less than 50 metres away). He rested once more and then we had a gentle walk to the nearby river bank and rested at the tables and chairs under the sun umbrellas.

Thanks SO much

Yesterday when we walked from Triacastela to Sarria I made a last minute change in the planned route. There are two options and we were planning to go through Samos to see the monastery because in 2011 a major storm was coming, so we rushed through (and in fact had to shelter in a cow shed with cows, pigs and goats, for 30 minutes before realising that it wasn’t going to ease. Trust me you’ll always have a great story or two on the Camino)

Anyway, we didn’t go that way (maybe we’ll have to come back for another Camino to see the monastery).

We stopped for a break at the cafe/bar in a very old Pension, Casa Cines. Just as we were starting to leave, a group of pilgrims and obvious new friends that day, arrived and John started talking to the Irish guy. His accent got John’s attention. Then we had a conversation about Younger Onset Dementia, with the whole group.

On our 2nd attempt to leave, 2 more pilgrims arrived and one immediately asked if we would take a donation. She hadn’t heard the conversation but noticed the T-shirts.

Thankyou Kerry for your VERY generous donation. I gave her a big hug.

Also, thanks to Tracey the Irish guy, for your generous donation, too. He didn’t get a hug, but John shook his hand.

John told me that he’d forgotten to post thanks to some other pilgrims back when he was cycling, he forgot to post a thanks because he was struggling at the end of each day.

So a VERY big thanks to the earlier pilgrims. I don’t know your names, but you are very special people too.

The Universe works in mysterious ways sometimes. Initially we wouldn’t have even been on that route.

O’Cebreiro: another significant Camino gateway.

Here are a few photos of food again, LOL. But also of another section of walking. It was another shorter distance of about 17kms. We are nearly in Galicia.

This is a soup, common to the Galician region. It's called Caldo Callego. As we've been walking today we went past many community gardens and individual people's well-tendered gardens with many veggies, with a large area set aside to grow the veggie used in this soup. I don't know it's name, but I've read where it has even better properties for our health than Kale.

This is a soup, common to the Galician region. It’s called Caldo Callego. As we’ve been walking today we went past many community gardens and individual people’s well-tendered gardens (and orchards) with many veggies, with a large area set aside to grow the veggie used in this soup. I don’t remember it’s name, but I’ve read where it has even better properties for our health than Kale.

Another dish that's Not only regional but also an important dish for the pilgrims to know that Santiago is

Another dish that’s not only regional but also an important dish for the pilgrims to know that Santiago is “just around the corner” albeit still more than 100kms. It’s called Tarta Santiago.

Sunset.

Sunset.

O’Cebreiro is an old village, with stone buildings right on a mountaintop. That of course means that there are the most incredible views in ever direction. It’s the 3rd  highest point on the Camino.

At ANY time of the year, when walking through Galicia, you need to be prepared for all types of weather, mainly rain. The mountains create their own unpredictable weather patterns because of the Atlantic Ocean. When you start your walk from O’Cebreiro, the early morning mists create ‘floating islands’ where just the tops of hills appear above the clouds.

The church in O’Cebreiro is dated back to 9th Century and it’s the oldest church associated directly with the Camino.

Here is the resting place of Don Elias Valiña Sam pedro, the local parish priest who spent his life restoring the integrity of the Camino. He introduced the familiar yellow arrow that will guide you across the top of Spain.

The next day of walking was about 21kms. When John saw the scenery through this area again, he remembered how much he enjoyed in 2011..

Sunrise is still about 30 minutes away.

Sunrise is still about 30 minutes away.

'Floating islands' of hilltops above the clouds.

‘Floating islands’ of hilltops above the clouds.

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This is the leaf veggie grown for the soup.

Upwards and onwards.

John has a number of photos and some information that he wants me to post, and I’ll come back to them when I can. Wifi has been either nonexistent, not actually connecting or just plain slow. So I’ll jump on ahead to recent photos and information, and come back to the others when I can.

We spent the night at Villafranca del Bierzo, and decided to walk the more remote and rural Pradela  route, just to avoid walking alongside the noisy and busy road. That meant a rougher and higher track, and but really picturesque. It’s at least an hour longer than along the roadway. We started immediately with a steep climb of 400 metres, and although we continued to climb, it was a good walk.

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There are many standalone representations along the Camino of St James, the Virgin Mary, or a pilgrim. Many too are incorporated into the facades of buildings also.

Plenty of photo opportunities along the Camino.

Near the top of the high route to Great views.

Near the top of the high Pradela route to Ambasmestas.
Great views.

We walked for kilometres amongst hectares of chestnut orchards. They were huge trees laden with nuts. Many of the locals drove up narrow dirt tracks and parked their cars then either walked around with cane baskets collecting the fruit, or raking up the chestnuts or perhaps the unbelievably spikey casings. We think they’d be really horrible to stand on, when they’ve dried out or lain on the ground for a while.

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Raking up the sharp chestnut shells.

There are MANY veggie gardens in this area and as a general rule, they are tendered and cared for by elderly women and occasionally men.

There are MANY veggie gardens in this area and as a general rule, they are tendered and cared for by elderly women and occasionally men.

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I had a private rooftop terrace off my Hotel room in Ambasmestas. Maybe I should have stayed in Hotels from the beginning, no just joking. Anyway, the view included a veggie garden and a private orchard.

Some photos from a few days ago.

John has already posted about the huge day of walking on the day we went from Rabanal to Molinaseca. We finished off watching the sunset, relaxing in a restaurant beside the river, eating  and for some of the group, having a few red wines (which come with the pilgrim’s meals)

The full section holds fond memories for John and myself from 2011, when we walked with 2 new (and still) friends Rose and Inge, who we’d met in Terradillos de los Templarios and walked the rest of the Camino with.

Having been established in the 12th Century, Foncebadón had become an abandoned village in this isolated region. However from about 2008 onwards, some of the falling-down, abandoned houses were being slowly renovated so that by 2011 there were 3 Albergues and nothing else in town. Now, building and rejuvenation is happening and many more liveable houses and more Albergues are there.

John and I just had to visit the barn again. It was the best night’s sleep with mattresses on the floor, water for the showers heated by the fireplace and then you needed to feel the change in temperature of the pipes along the wall to see if you could have a warm shower yet. But most importantly everyone had to keep the door closed so that the horses, cows, cats, dogs and goats didn’t enter! But the cheeky goats climbed up onto one of the piles of firewood to peak through the windows.

The staff made wholesome organic food including yoghurt and the paella was the best.

On the way to Foncebadón.

On the way to Foncebadón.

This Alburgue makes their own yoghurt and a beautiful organic muesli slice, but their paellas are worth the walk. Yum.

The Monte Irago Alburgue makes their own yoghurt and a beautiful organic muesli slice, but their paellas are worth the walk. Yum.

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Reliving memories from 2011. In front of the barn.

Some stats.

For those who may be interested, here are some screenshots of weekly statistics of where in the world our readers are:

24th August 2015

Week of 24th August 2015. This is the week prior to us leaving Australia (28th August) for John’s Charity Camino Challenge

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Week of 31st August 2015.

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Week of 7th September 2015

Week of 21st September 2015

Week of 14th September 2015

Week of 21st September 2015

So far, in the week of 21st September 2015

John’s effort to raise awareness about Younger Onset Dementia (YOD) has been fantastic. We may not raise a great deal of money, but each day, he talks with more and more people about something that he’s passionate about. Awareness is big in Spain at the moment.

Often, John also has the opportunity to discuss many of the general issues for the person with Dementia (PWD) and in particular for those with YOD, and for their families who are still often young, and with young children or teenagers.

These screenshots only reflect the people who have read John’s blog and where they live.

But each day there are many others here on the Camino in Spain (and when we were in Paris also) who show an interest and sometimes also share stories about friends with YOD.

In total, there have been 230 visitors to iamlivingwellwithdementia.wordpress.com since the 24th August. And those visitors viewed 614 posts.

Good on you John.

How do I explain if they don’t see and I can’t explain?

Glenys is writing this for me. I’ve asked her to. I’m telling her what to write. Also, she’s been doing the recent posts with the photos because I can’t. I think that she’ll have to do all of the posts by herself from today, at least until we get home and I can hopefully recover.

I’ve been really struggling since we arrived in  León. That was 7 days ago. Glenys ‘knew’ it beforehand, particularly before the group started cycling in Pamplona, but others don’t ‘see’ it and I can’t explain it and I usually don’t know how ‘bad’ I am.

Then the cycling took it out of me too, not only physically but the mental exhaustion trying to think and the processing of being on a different bike, riding on the other side of the road, roundabouts and sometimes narrow roads with intersections, pedestrians, cars, trucks and buses. That’s a lot going on. I was also always worrying about the others in the group because I can’t process things in the same way if they are having difficulties, punctures, or as what happened, illness too.

It’s all too confusing for me and that becomes stressful and makes me less able to process. And Glenys had to speak up back after the first day, in Estella, to say that I could not lead the group out, not even for a short time, and they had to support me to understand that. She tried to explain how to do that.

Not only would that whole process of riding on the road be difficult for me mentally, but possibly dangerous for other road users as well. What if I’d caused an accident but not injured myself? Would our travel insurance cover it? Luckily she made me realise at least, to stay within the group all day, but now I’m not even sure if I did.

We had a rest day in León and Glenys started walking on because what takes her more than two days of walking, we cover in one day on the bikes. But that day, I didn’t want her to go, but I didn’t say that either.

But she sensed something because she said that she’d try to arrange that she stay in the same Hotels instead of backpacking. That was a relief to me.

But see, I didn’t even see how that puts pressure on her to phone ahead trying to coordinate that, in a rural region of small villages, and only a few Hotels. Basically most were booked out. But she’s sorted out a lot, and addressing the other places as she can.

It’s also meant though that she’s had to walk distances each day that are too much for her because of the neuropathy of her feet. And it worries me to see her struggle with the nerve pain. Yesterday it hurt so much when we were still only half way to Ambasmestas where we are staying. But she can’t stand still to rest, that hurts more, and even if there were places to sit, it would take many more hours to get anywhere. But I could see that she was hurting.

But she wants to walk with me. She often sees the signs that I’m not managing. Things like answering the phone but not speaking; walking but not at all involved mentally; difficulty with minor things. The list goes on!

In the end, last night after a good rest (which she’s been ensuring that I now get each afternoon at the end of each day’s walking), someone in the group asked me to organise a booking for dinner for the group. I couldn’t even do it. It was too stressful and confusing. Glenys ‘knew’ and inconspicuously followed me in to the dining area and saw what was happening so did it because I was getting agitated with the confusion. Also, I’m not managing the noise levels in the public places.

Glenys is going to talk to the whole group. Other times she’s talked to those relevant to the situation because rarely is everyone in exactly the same place at the same time except for dinner, and that’s not conducive to that type of discussion.

People don’t see how hard it is. People see someone who is fit, and young. Today, everything is so difficult for me.

Catch up of León:

León was once a Roman military garrison and later became the capital of the old Kingdoms of Asturias and León.

It’s been conquered by Visigoths, Moors, and Christian armies. So, like many other cities in Spain and I imagine Europe, there is still much evidence of the different periods.

Glenys stayed in a Pension that she described to be the size of a matchbox compared to where we stayed at the Parador. Her accomodation cost €26 for the night. Ours was included in our overall costings so I don’t know the price. We stayed here for 2 nights.  It was initially a 12 Century Monastery. It has a Museum attached, but it’s still huge.

The Parador: daytime.

The Parador: daytime.

Truly grand. The staircase up from the reception area.

Truly grand. The staircase up from the reception area.

The Parador: at night

The Parador: at night

León was one of our rest days and we only had one more day of cycling.

I’m so tired though, mentally and physically after the two days of cycling in that wind and rain that I decided to do nothing, and sleep and rest. Buen Camino.