Here I go...

Walking and Talking Across Spain - long distance walking chelates the chemicals that trigger my Multiple Chemical Sensitivities

Friday, August 11, 2017

Enjoying My Garden and Catching Up

I'm really enjoying this summer at home. My garden is producing lots of veggies and fruit. My chooks are laying regularly. Despite the heat wave, life is pretty good here on the homestead.

This is the haul from the garden today. I get this much every couple of days.
Today I made garlic dill pickles with my cukes.

My Pilgrims Helping Pilgrims group on Facebook now has over 260 members.
If you're planning a Camino and need some help,
there's a lot of great information there.

My May 2018 Camino group is nearly full. 
If you know anyone who would like to walk with us,
we have 3 spots left.
Right now it is an all-woman group,
though I'm willing to take men if they would like to join us.

Tomorrow I'm having a yard sale.
I keep trying to downsize.
I don't know WHERE all this stuff comes from!?
Seems like I shovel out 2 carts full
and 3 carts full sneak back in.

My youngest son is taking me to Disneyworld
for my 65th birthday,
which was August 2.
I'm really looking forward to that trip.
We'll spend 4 days there.

I'm still looking for one more ALTUS poncho
for one of my Anniewalkers ladies to use
on this next walk. 
If you have one for sale or to donate,
we would appreciate hearing about it.
I loan them out to my pilgrims
so they don't have to buy new ones.
It's just another way of upcycling.

I guess that's all as far as updates go.
Life is good!
Gotta go check the tomatoes
that are in the dehydrator.

Buen Camino!

Tuesday, August 01, 2017

Following the Pack ... or Not - A Few Shortcuts

When walking the Camino Santiago, you don't always have to follow the pack.

The original "Camino" was the road and some walking trails. Over time, it has been re-routed to either bypass or go through specific villages. So by going "off" the Camino, you're really not committing any big sin. There are places where sometimes I wonder if the folks making the trail weren't laughing while rubbing their hands together and gleefully thinking of ways to make the pilgrim suffer! lol! In addition, many (most?) villages in Spain were built up on fortified hills, so it seems you are always climbing a hill at the end of the day when you're exhausted.

Here are a few of my favorite shortcuts. Please be sure to ALWAYS WALK FACING TRAFFIC when walking the road. :

Ciraqui: If you've never seen Ciraqui, then by all means, follow the Camino route. However, if this is a repeat Camino, or if you aren't up to climbing that hill, you can go around. Right before Ciraqui, you will begin seeing signs pointing off to the right for a restaurant. Take that trail. When you hit the main road, turn left and walk along the road. Soon you will see pilgrims coming down the other side of the big hill and crossing over a bridge above you. Keep to the road. You will eventually approach Lorca and join up with the others. But caution, here is another shortcut...

Lorca: As you approach Lorca, you will be walking on the N0111. The trail will turn off and begin down a very steep path DOWN DOWN DOWN. Ignore it. Stay on the road to Lorca. It's not busy. Not much traffic at all. Because when the Camino goes DOWN, it must then go UP, and those pilgrims are going to then be climbing UP a steep hill to Lorca, while you are taking the gentler path along the road.

Skipping Monjardin. There is an alternative route that takes you to the left of the main Camino. You can grab it after Irache. You will go under a concrete wash and on to Luquin, where shortly after, you will again join the Camino. Both routes are nice. I've done both. The only benefit I see to taking the alternative is missing the climb.

Leon to Virgen del Camino: This is an ugly stretch through the city and you can avoid it and get a head start by grabbing a bus to Virgen del Camino.I f you have a Brierley or other guide with a map of Leon in it, find the long straight street that leads to the Cathedral called Avenida Oroño. After it crosses the river, it becomes Avenida Palencia. When you are in Leon, you will know exactly what long straight street this is. Anyway, walk straight up that street and over the river. You will come to a dead end. The Renfe (train station) will be to your right and the bus depot to your left. Turn RIGHT at the dead end and go to the nearest bus stop. People will be standing there most likely, for their morning commute. When the bus stops, ask if it goes to Virgen del Camino (it does) and jump on. It's very inexpensive, less than a Euro last time I rode. Ride this bus through the ugly parts of the city and get off in Virgen del Camino, where you can have breakfast, then begin walking. SUGGESTION: Watch for San Froilan Church on the right. You can't miss it. It has these weird statues on the outside. See photo. When you reach that church, the Camino splits. Cross the street and take the LEFT way that goes to Vilar do Mazarife. The other way walks along the highway and isn't as nice.

Acebo to Molinaseca. This trail can be washed out and rough. If your feet or muscles are in bad shape, consider just walking the road.

Molinaseca to Ponferrada. This is another stretch that people think is not so great, and you can simply grab a morning bus on the other side of the village that will deposit you in Ponferrada 5 minutes later. Start walking again there.

There are others. As I think of them, I'll add them.  It's worth making notes in your map book so if you are hurt or unable to make the hills, you can take the shortcuts.  

Buen Camino!

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Taking Out Old Stains

I have 3 nice merino walking shirts from Hedrena in Australia.
One was a gift and 2 I purchased myself.
They are not inexpensive. - around $70 per shirt.

So you can imagine my shock when I found oil stains on my favorite one.
Old oil stains.
From food, apparently.

The shirt had already been washed and dried, and as you know, that is pretty much a death sentence when it comes to getting out a stain.

No longer.

I found this on the internet and will be forever grateful because I've used it many times.  Most recently, while unpacking after my winter in the desert, I found a piece of white Portuguese linen that I love, covered with oil stains from a bottle of essential oil that leaked.  It had turned yellow.  I thought I'd have to toss it, but instead tried this method and by golly, it worked!

It's easy.

Just mix equal parts of plain old hydrogen peroxide with dishwashing liquid.
I use DAWN.

Mix them up in a cup or bowl then apply liberally to the stain.

Let it sit overnight.

Then wash in COLD water.

If the stain is still there, do it again and let it soak longer.

Try it!
It works!

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Mercado Santo Domingo en Pamplona

If you're staying in Pamplona in an albergue where you are allowed to cook, you don't want to miss the Mercado Santo Domingo!  There, you can find all sorts of wonderful things to eat, at very good prices! It's also a great photo opportunity!

That last photo is of Bacalao, salted cod fish.
It's PERFECT for carrying on the Camino because it does not have to be refrigerated.  However, you must know how to cook it.

Here is how I do it.
And EVERY time I do it,
it never fails to bring lots of pilgrims out of the woodwork
wondering what that great aroma is!
So you want to plan on feeding others!  

First, the cod is SALTED, so if at home,
I would soak it in water several hours.
However, on the Camino,
I don't have that kind of time.
So I cover it in cold water when I arrive at the albergue,
and let it sit while I get my shower.
Then I cover it in water in a pan,
bring it to a boil, 
and then change the water.
I do this 2 or 3 times,
shredding it as I go.
(Get boneless pieces if possible)
I do this a few times until when I taste the fish
it isn't too salty.

Now, put some olive oil or butter in a skillet.
Add a chopped onion and about 2 cloves of garlic, minced,
and gently fry them until they're clear.
Now add a chopped tomato (or 2) and a chopped bell pepper,
red preferably but it really doesn't matter.
Cook this down into a sauce - maybe 15 - 20 minutes.
Then add your fish and cover it with the sauce.
Let it simmer a while.

Do not season - there will be enough salt in the bacalau.

Serve over rice with some crusty bread.
Add a nice bottle of wine.

It is sooooo good!

And well worth the trouble.

Museu de Navarra in Pamplona

If you fly into Madrid, then bus to Pamplona and take a day or two to rest, adjust to the time change, and see the city, then when you are on the Camino, you can either stop before Pamplona in Trinidad de Arre, or after Pamplona, and get in "between the wave" of pilgrims.  Walking this way, between the stages, there is less struggle to find a bed.

Today I'd like to give you a little teaser about the Museu de Navarra in Pamplona.  Since most of our Anniewalkers groups meet here, pilgrims have a perfect opportunity to visit this wonderful museum.

The building, with its 1556 Plateresque facade, was originally an ancient hospital, the Antiguo Hospital de Nuestra Señora de la Misericordia.

Once inside you can see sculptures, paintings, carved stone and plaster, jewelry, glass work, and many other wonderful objects.

Here are a few:

18th Century San Miguel Archangel
Cycle of Genesis - Jacob Bouttats (end of 17th c.)
Interesting human faces
A wonderful Jesus
with feet blackened by human touch.
15th century Virgin and Child.
The Franciscans apparently had nothing against breast feeding.

Some 11th century capitals
1055 Cordoban Islamic ivory chest made for the relics of Sts. Nunila and Alodia.
Some wonderfully carved 3d, 4th, 5th century Roman tombstones
A reminder that glass containers aren't as modern as we think.
Wonderful retablos from 1509-1546. A good reason to bring binoculars with you.

Another beautiful Virgin and Child

This museum really is a jewel and not to be missed. 

Tuesday to Saturday 9:30 am to 2pm and 5pm to 7pm.
Sundays and festival days 11 am to 2 pm
Price is €2 though I believe Pilgrims may still get in free or discounted.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Homemade Sauerkraut

My roommate, Eric, and I made homemade sauerkraut today.

He bought the whitest, crispest cabbage he could find and chopped it into quarters.

Next, he shred the cabbage into a bowl.

We added salt and caraway seed to the bowl, 
and I used a heavy cleaver to chop up the cabbage even more.

When it was cut up small enough,
I poured the cabbage into my fermenting crock.
Then I used a pounding stick to pound the cabbage.
I pounded, and pounded, and pounded,
until I could see lots of juice up over the cabbage.

The edge of your pounding stick should not be rounded.
If it has sharp edges, it will crunch the cabbage much quicker.
If I ever lost this pounder, made especially for kraut making,
I think I'd just cut off an old wooden baseball bat!

Then I put weights on top.
You can't see them but they look like these:

I put the lid on and put water in the well around the top.
And now it will go to "work" and in about one month,
we'll have the most EXCELLENT sauerkraut!

Here is a diagram of what goes on
inside that crock:

This is the brand crock I use.

Here are our three crocks of kraut,
sitting on the floor, farting kraut bubbles.

Toileting On the Camino

Ok.. we have to talk about this.

One question I get asked more than any other is "where do we use the toilet while on the Camino?" The answer is, "It depends." 

I suggest you start training your body now to do your morning BM early, so you can get that done in the albergue before ever leaving. If you can't manage, then you've got a couple of choices. You can go off the trail - far but not far enough to get lost - find a bush, DIG A HOLE, and leave your offering there. 

If you absolutely can't wait and you MUST do this, PLEASE CARRY OUT YOUR TOILET PAPER IN A DOGGIE BAG. Most TP takes years to degrade and animals will dig it up. So just be a good citizen and carry out your own poop, just like you would your dog's.

Please do not do this!

If you can wait, most bars will allow you to use their toilet. Some may ask you for a 50 cent fee or even €1 fee. Pay it.  Those bars have very old plumbing. They are not on public sewer systems and you can imagine the strain it puts on their systems when 500 pilgrims each day want to use their toilet!  There is also the cost of toilet paper to consider.  So if you must use a bar toilet, please buy something.  A beer. A packet of gum. A bocadillo.  This is only good manners.

For urinating on the WAY, just go off the trail a way and find a tree to use or squat by. Wearing a hiking skirt makes this easier for woman. At first, it feels awkward or embarrassing to some, but you get used to it, and believe me, nobody cares ... they're all in the same boat.

Again, WOMEN, listen up!  DO NOT LEAVE YOUR TOILET PAPER ALONG THE CAMINO ROUTE. Carry it out with you and dispose of it at the next trash can you find.  Carry some doggie bags with you. They're cheap. Or carry a ziplock just for that purpose.  

Or better yet, buy yourself a bandana that you only use for toileting and just wash it out each night with the rest of your laundry.

Sadly, it IS women who leave the biggest mess along the route. I've seen it all, from piles of nasty paper to tampons to panty liners.

One year, we stopped in this lovely shaded tree stump to take a rest and surprise!

Speaking of panty liners, some women wear them, do not wipe after urinating, then dispose of the liners in the next bathroom.  That personally doesn't appeal to me, but it's an option.

Be sure and ALWAYS carry toilet paper with you. Often, you can find a toilet in a bar, but paper will not be supplied. I don't carry an entire roll, but buy small travel packets of kleenex along the way and always carry one of those.

There have been years I have tried various feminine urination devices like the She-Wee, Go Girl, and others. But in the end, they were more trouble than they were worth and at best, I ended up peeing down my leg.  

Now I just do what thousands of years of ancestral women have done before.
I squat in the bushes.

Why fix what isn't broken?

Just please, PLEASE pick up after yourself. 
Leave NO trace.
And if you see others breaking this rule, I think it's just fine to remind them!

Buen Camino!