The ABCs of the Camino de Santiago

Cathedral Square Plaque and Boots Santiago
Arrived! Our boots on the ground in Cathedral Square at the end of a 500K walk from Burgos to Santiago de Compostela, October 2019.

I can’t believe it has taken me more than two years to write/post this. But it did. Rather than berate myself for taking so long, I choose to think of it as answering two questions I hear frequently: 1) Tell me about that Camino thing you did, and 2) What did you do during COVID restrictions?

Please enjoy.

Abecedarian.  Straightforward, simplified; in literature, a poem or essay arranged in order according to the alphabet, often written about a single topic. This blog post, for example, re: my lessons learned from walking 300 miles of the Camino de Santiago, Burgos to Santiago de Compostela, September 10-October 3, 2019.

Backpacks.  We carried daypacks with our rain gear, first aid kits, snacks, water and a few clothing layers that we figured we might need to don during the day. Each pack weighed maybe eight pounds with the the built-in bladder full of water. The tour operator,, did the heavy lifting when they moved our luggage each day. They allowed 40 pounds each, and we happily complied. However, the transporter leaves the suitcases in the “lobby,” which means we had to heave and hoist our belongs to our room, 90% of which were up a staircase or two, in lodging sans elevators. Note to self:  If there’s a next time, fewer shoes.   

Chant.  A repeated, rhythmic phrase; to recite something in a monotonous, repetitive tone. On the Camino, chanting is to a steep ascent what LaMaze breathing is to childbirth.

Donna started chanting on Day 3. We stopped at what we thought was the top of a steep stretch, only to discover the “optical delusion” that it was a curve. I was panting, and Donna shared that she found it helpful to set a tolerable pace with a silent or whispered God-bless-so-and-so chant.  After I’d covered immediate and extended family at least thrice—and I still wasn’t to the top—I changed my chant. “I can do this, if You help me, I can do this, if You help me. . . .” Can you hear the rhythm of my hiking poles tapping out the pace?

Elevation gain.  We soon learned that how far we were to walk each day was only one piece of information. The critical piece was elevation gain/loss. Uphill is slow and exhausting. Downhill may be faster, but it really boils down to being out of breath, or having sore knees 

FAQ. Let’s do it Jeopardy style. The answer to the most frequently asked question we get is:  Usually, in a roadside bar or behind a bush. Ladies, when you gotta go, you get over pee fright fast. 

Go with someone you love. (Donna wrote that. Ahhhhhh.)

Hello. Used as a greeting or to begin a phone conversation in English-speaking countries. It is rarely, if ever, said or heard on the Camino.  “Buen Camino” is the universal hello, farewell, have-a-nice-day, take care, nice-to-meet-you greeting used on the Camino. I watched the Martin Sheen movie, “The Way” maybe three months after completing the Camino in 2019. When I heard the characters say, “Buen Camino,” I gasped, choked up and almost cried. I remembered it can also be used as a blessing.

In Case of Emergency. Thankfully, we never had to call the 24/7 phone number provided by Camino Ways.

Jesus Calling. One or the other of us read the day’s message aloud before we walked. (It’s a daily devotion book that is written as if Jesus called and left you a voicemail.) I remember getting goosebumps many a morning because the message was perfect for that day’s anticipated adventure. For instance, on the day we walked into Santiago, He left us this message: When the path before you looks easy and straightforward, you may be tempted to go it alone instead of relying on Me. This is when you are in the greatest danger of stumbling. Ask My Spirit to help you as you go each step of the way. Never neglect this glorious Source of strength within you. 

Kilometer.  A metric unit of measurement equal to 1,000 meters. Everything is measured in Ks in Spain, not to mention the rest of the world. So stop thinking in miles. Long before we left, Donna and I switched our FitBits to Ks. We walked at least 10K a day, every day, to train for the Camino and averaged 20 to 25K a day on the Camino. That’s about 12-15 miles a day, for those of you ignored the third sentence.

Lodging. The Camino Ways people booked our reservations ahead of time, so we never had to wonder where we would lay our heads at night. We always had a room with a bathroom to ourselves, and twin beds. Our favorites were the small “gatehouses” which were family-owned and often in old stone buildings or farm houses.

Manana en la manana.    In Spanish, it means “tomorrow morning.” On the Camino, it came to mean, “stay present in this moment, right here, right now.” Someone asked  Donna how far we’d be walking the next day, and she replied, “Don’t know. However far it is, we’ll walk it tomorrow. ” Now that we’re home, when we find ourselves getting a little agitated about something—typically something outside our control—one or the other of us will say, “Manana en la manana.” Stay present.

Now and then we questioned our sanity. Who’s idea was this, anyway? Why in the world would anyone do this more than once? Specifically, these whines were muttered the day after O’Cebreiro. 

O’Cebreiro. From the Latin meaning “oh, so steep, you think you are going to die.” It was a long day to begin with (31K), with the last 6K essentially being straight up a rocky, craggy forest “trail.” Elevation gain, 3000 feet in just 6K. From my blog post that day: 

When we got to the very last hamlet before the top, a hamlet called Laguna, my brain was boiling and I was stumbling and dizzy and doing all I could not to burst into tears. Donna steered me into a cafe/bar and I sat down in a chair and began taking off my clothes. I was that hot and sweaty. I stopped at the base layer of a tank top and my pants. I fanned myself with the menu. I blew cool air into my tank top. I don’t know where I threw my hat, but my hair was dripping sweat and I distributed it with my fingers through my chemo curls thinking it will just perk them up. Donna bought a Kas Limon (like sparkling lemonade) and I downed it, along with a banana. I think I scared the hostess/bartender. She brought bread (which I couldn’t eat because of the whole gluten thing) topped with salami. I told her no thank you, I can’t in Spanish, and Donna commanded in English, “Eat the salami!”

I did. Eventually I calmed. Donna stopped staring at me with worried eyes. We walked into town shortly before dark. Exhausted.

Pilgrim’s meal. Three course meal offered as “el menu del dia” in restaurants, bars and lodging. You get a starter, main and dessert. Sometimes you get a choice in each category, sometimes not. Good thing I like chicken. We ate almost every dinner at our lodging, and our Pilgrim’s Meal included either a bottle of water or bottle of wine. We chose the latter. Duh.

Quiet. Did we ever run out of things to talk about? No. Although we did choose to be silent more often toward the end of our journey.  

Rain in Spain fell mainly on whatever plain we happened to be hiking on. We always carried our rain jackets and pants with us in our day packs, and our hiking shoes were waterproof, so we were never caught by surprise. Well, except that time we decided to put on our jackets. Only our jackets. Not our rain pants. After all, it was kinda warm, and our Lululemon leggings were quick drying. Biggest mistake of the trip. The rain fell hard, soaked our pants, then trickled down our legs and into our boots. Waterproof on the outside, not on the inside. New rule:  when you don the jacket, you drag on the rain pants. No matter what.

Stress. A state of mental or emotional strain or tension resulting from adverse or very demanding circumstances. Yes, there were days with adverse conditions. Almost every day required we walk a demanding distance. We handled the physical stress with “legs up the wall” yoga pose the minute we got to our room, Salon pas and perhaps ibuprofen on occasion. Otherwise, for me, the biggest surprise on the Camino was how little emotional stress there was. We had one thing and one thing only to do every day: Walk. OK, we also had to make sure we got our Compostela stamped at least twice. Easy peasy.

Teddy Roosevelt said, “Comparison is the thief of joy.” [See “W” below.]

United. Joinedtogether for a common purpose, or by common feelings. It didn’t matter why you were walking the Camino, your age, gender, pronouns, political party, race or religion. It didn’t matter whether you had reservations or carried your life on your back. You sense the unity in your soul, your heart, your head and your gut. When we arrived in Santiago, there was an energy I’d never experienced, let alone shared with so many strangers before. It was elation and exhaustion and a bit of unexplained somberness all rolled into laughing, crying, hugging and happy dancing. Donna and I both voiced the opinion that perhaps world leaders should all walk the Camino. 

Vaseline saved our feet from blisters. We slathered it on every morning and then put on our dual layer Wright socks. (That’s the brand, aptly named!) The theory is that the two layers of the sock rub against each other, instead of rubbing your skin raw. Worked perfectly, except for that soggy day of slogging into Sahagun. [See “R” above.]

Walk your own Camino. That’s not a recommendation to book your own trip. It’s my revelation from the trip I took. “Walk your own Camino” means stop comparing yourself, Terri. 

So what if Donna is older than you, doesn’t play tennis or do High Intensity Interval Training and seems to be casually strolling up the Oh-So-Steep cascade of rocks, pointing out flora, fauna and a stupid white horse in a pasture while you can barely breathe, let alone speak, turn your head or do anything other put one foot in front of the other? Walk your own Camino!

So what if throngs of people start their Camino in Sarria and walk “only” the last 100K? Of course they’re energized, perky and can pass you in no time wearing 40-pound backpacks. You’re having your luggage shuttled each day, remember? Walk your own Camino!

Her hiking boots are, indeed, very cute. Size 7, maybe? You’re the only one who thinks yours look like clown shoes. Walk your own camino!

Why? Because “Comparison is the thief of joy.” Thank you, Teddy Roosevelt. 

is the symbol for the unknown in algebra. Donna and I learned to look for and leave room for some of it every day. The unknown. Not algebra. 

Yes, I want to do it again.

In fact I leave August 12, 2022. This time, the whole 500 miles (800K) from St. Jean Pie de Port, France, to Santiago de Compostela. With Donna, of course.

Zenith.  The time at which something is most powerful or successful. For me, our arrival in Cathedral square. Which is where Ken and Rose from Canada—a couple we met night No. 1 and encountered off and on along the way—stayed an extra day in Santiago just to greet us when Donna and I walked in. We burst into tears because we thought we’d never see any of the friends we’d made along the way again. Joy, praise, laughs and love made the journey a powerful success.

The Rain in Spain–My “Silver Medal” Camino Story Recorded at Story Slam

“Remember that time on the Camino when . . .?”

Donna and I start many conversations this way now.

When I learned that “Rain” was the theme for’s Los Angeles open mike StorySLAM event, Donna and I bought tickets. Once there, I put my name in the hat and was one of 10 lucky storytellers selected to go on stage and tell a 5 minute story (plus a 1 minute grace period) based on that theme.

The Moth stories must be true, told live, without notes. Three teams of three audience members judge the storyteller’s telling of the tale, based on the teller’s sticking to the five-minute time frame, sticking to the theme and having a story that has a conflict and a resolution. Winners of StorySLAMs advance to a GrandSLAM event, with a different theme and more time to tell their stories. I came in second by a fraction of a percentage point.

No big deal. Not why I was there.

You know from reading my blahg how much I like to write about the Camino de Santiago. The Moth gave me a chance to talk about it. From behind a microphone! (Deja vous all over again from my years of professional speaking.)

I’d forgotten how rewarding it is to make people laugh. Not to mention make Donna choke up just a tad at the memory.

Click the image of The Moth logo to watch the 6 minute video.

Buen Camino!

P.S. If you love listening to or telling stories, I recommend The Moth Radio Hour Podcast, available wherever you listen to podcasts.

10 Replies to “The Rain in Spain–My “Silver Medal” Camino Story Recorded at Story Slam”

  1. Great story telling Terri, you have a natural talent of communicating a somewhat forgotten area, great story telling time.

  2. You are amazing!! And talented!! Your Camino adventures just continue. Took courage to get up there. And to pull it all together so quickly. But then you have always been adventurous for the 55 years I’ve known you ❤️

  3. Holy cow!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    That was brilliant. I love the math you were amazing. You really should’ve been an actress you could’ve been the next Meryl Streep. The story was wonderful humorous filled with. Hope you just go around, followed by God winks that’s all.
    Thank you for letting me know about your performance at the moth I’m gonna brag about you to the end of Time. My brilliant, brilliant, talented friend.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Be Still My Book Reading Heart

Marcia is sitting across the card table from me as we play canasta last Fall. She mentions ever so off-handedly that she read a great “feel good” book over the summer.

“It’s called The Guncle. It’s funny and takes place here in Palm Springs.”

“The WHAT?” I ask, as I organize my cards.

The Guncle. Stands for Gay Uncle. Or GUP—Gay Uncle Patrick. He ends up taking care of his young niece and nephew while their dad is in rehab in Rancho Mirage. Really funny and sweet,” she says as she discards a four of spades into the plastic tray.

Always looking for a good book to listen to, especially one both husband John and I can listen to together on road trips, I buy the Audible version of The Guncle. We listen to it on our drive to and from Colorado for Christmas.

Fast forward to February.

I suggest The Guncle to the two PGA West book clubs I belong to and volunteer to host at my house. So long as we do a first-ever combined meeting of the book reading minds, I add. Which gets me thinking. . .the author, Steven Rowley, lives in Palm Springs. Wouldn’t it be great if I could get him to come speak to us?

Squeals of “Oh yes!” from the Popcorn Book Club ladies make me realize I had said it aloud. I have one month to make it happen.

Or maybe not.

I visit his website, and see that all the contact information is via publicists. Three different publicists, one for each of his three novels. I learn movie rights are sold for each of them.

“Dang. This guy is big time,” I mutter to my husband and then tell him all I’ve learned.

“Good luck. You’ll never get him to come a little book club meeting,” John says.

I raise my eyes above my laptop screen, give him The Glare, and then do my best Barney Stinson imitation and shout, “Challenge accepted!” (Google it, if you didn’t watch Neil Patrick Harris in How I Met Your Mother.)

Patrick, aka GUP in the book, doesn’t do his own “sosh,” aka social media. Maybe Steven Rowley does?

LinkedIn lists 10 Steven Rowleys. None are authors. On Facebook I find the author Rowley (and a bus driver Rowley). I scroll and scroll the author’s page and agree with the eleventy-million fans who are commenting on his books. But I don’t want to approach him through a fan page.

Instagram for the win.

I scroll and scroll Insta (that’s what the cool kids call it, ya’ know). I discover a photo of Steven with ladies from the Carlsbad Book Club. Hope springs eternal.

Instagram? Hmmm. I think I have an account. Egad. Ancient history.

I better post a few pictures from this decade. Two cute pictures of Rusty, my labradoodle, because Steven is a dog lover, too. And one of the view from brunch at Ernie’s Bar and Grill, because “Brunch is awesome.” (Guncle Rule #1.)

I’m ready. I post a comment to his post about The Best Bookstore in Palm Springs. (That’s its real name.) I tell him that The Guncle is a fan favorite in PGA West and that it’s the March selection for two, count ‘em, TWO, book clubs here.

“I’m honored,” he replies a few days later.

“He replied! He replied!” I holler as I happy-dance around our island kitchen counter, taunting my husband. “He replied!”

“Is he coming to book club?” John asks skeptically.

“I haven’t asked yet. I only posted a comment. And he REPLIED!”

I not-so-calmly wait until the next morning to craft the official “ask” and share my email address via Insta. (Instagram, remember?) He replies again!

Holy cow, this might just happen. I’m trying not to hyperventilate.

I provide details of date, time, location, and format. Format being the Popcorn Book Club model in which the hostess (me) provides wine, water and popcorn. Period. After all, I add to my message, some of us consider popcorn a meal.

“I have you on my calendar,” he confirms, signing it “Team Popcorn Is a Meal.”

The RSVPs start pouring in.

On the day of the event, I haul every piece of moveable furniture I own into the living/dining room area, saving the best upholstered “throne-like” chair for Steven. Yes, I tell a couple of ladies, bring a few folding chairs, just in case more than 22 people show up.

And show up they do. Good thing I created a make-shift reserved parking sign so that Steven wouldn’t have to walk too far.

Despite being a Doubting John as to whether I could persuade Steven to come, I allow my husband to attend book club–as bartender. Which means asking what color of wine a woman wants and then pouring it. (Meetings sans authors are pretty much DIY when it comes to beverage pouring.)

As the ladies are scooping popcorn into their red and white striped boxes and claiming their seats, I am focused on the front door. I peek past the crowd, through the courtyard gate. Every 17 seconds or so. Why am I so nervous?

I confide to a few gals that my hands are shaking. Me, the Blah Blah Blah lady who hasn’t met a microphone she doesn’t love to use. This feels more like I’m an excited teenager waiting for my prom date to arrive.

Arrive Steven does. To fanfare, applause and caftans.

Now for the best part.

To get the dialogue started, I ask the “audience” to share a memorable moment from the book. Something that sticks with them, perhaps long after having read the book. A laugh, a tear, a gasp. One by one we share snippets of scenes or dialogue. (Don’t worry, no spoilers here.)

And Steven punctuates the conversation first with thanks, and then with some “behind the curtain” comments as to how and why he crafted something a certain way.  His thank you is not about accepting the adulation of his readers. Well, a little bit, maybe. He also shared that it means a lot to a writer to hear what sticks.

“Being a writer is actually quite solitary work. With stand-up comedy, you know immediately when a joke lands. With a book, I can crack myself up writing a scene, but how do I know if anyone else thinks it’s funny? he says.

I ask about Grant, Patrick’s 5-year-old nephew.

“Why did you give him a lisp?” I think I know the answer—because it’s endearing, adds to the little guy’s vulnerability and sets up some humor, too. I’m right on all accounts.

But wait, there’s more “behind the curtain” to it than that.

“I knew there’d be a lot of dialogue, and I wanted a way to distinguish the kids without having to keep writing ‘he said, she said,’ over and over,” Steven explained.

Brilliant! I had not thought of that.

The bartender asks how much of the story is based on Steven’s own life experiences and family.

Steven volunteers that yes, he has nieces and nephews. Yes, he has a sister, but she’s not as mean as Clara, the sister in the book. Yes, he lost a very dear college friend to breast cancer. (Again, not a spoiler.)

“What about Patrick, the Guncle himself?” a caftaned fan asks. “How much of you, Steven, is there in Patrick?”

“Certainly some, but Patrick is richer, more famous and more handsome than me,” he teased.

Wrong on the latter, many ladies voice. And once the movie is made, wrong on the former as well.

“Someday, we’ll watch you on the red carpet and sigh, ‘We knew him when. . . .’” I predict.

The late afternoon flies by.

We hear more about the recording of the Audible version of The Guncle. Steven doesn’t just read the book, I say. He performs it, creating theater of the mind like no other, I gush, as Audible alumni ladies nod their agreement.

We know we can’t keep him much longer, so we assemble for a group photo with caftan-clad club members in the front row. Individual book signing and photos and farewells follow.

As Steven leaves, I hand him a box of popcorn for the road, hoping it truly isn’t his evening meal. When I see him drive away from the curb, and I know he can’t see me standing in the entry way, I close the door and turn my back to lean on it.

Challenge complete! And oh, so much better than going to prom.

7 Replies to “Be Still My Book Reading Heart”

  1. That’s my girl!! Never will turn down a challenge , He looks like a very out going individual. I will have to check out his book. I still get updates from J, A. Jance at least twice a year. She lets her fans know when she has a new book coming out and all ways sends a “Christmas News Letter”.

    You did a great job as usual.


  2. You are amazing!! I can’t believe John doubted that you could make this happen-he’s known you 45+ years!! What an awesome experience! You go girl!!! 😊👍

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

A Favor to Ask and A Story to Tell

The Favor First.

If you’ve been keeping up with my blog posts as Donna and I walked the 500 miles of the Camino de Santiago, you may have noticed that my Mom, Patricia (Pat) Stoner, commented every time. She was often the first to do so!

Many of you have shared with me how much you enjoyed reading her comments.

Well, TODAY, Thursday, Sept. 29 is her 90th (yes, ninetieth) birthday.

She doesn’t do Facebook, and I would just love it if you could enter a comment here,  wishing her, “Happy Birthday, Pat” today. I’ll make sure she sees them!

The Story I’ve Been Meaning to Tell

Here’s my mom a year ago at my daughter’s wedding.

Continue reading “A Favor to Ask and A Story to Tell”

The Story of My Camino Shells

The symbol of the Camino is the scallop shell. It is rare to see someone walking without a big one hanging outside the backpack. Donna and I bought ours Day 2 of our first Camino, the Portuguese Coastal Route in Spring of 2017. We carried them again on the 300 miles of the French Way from Burgos in 2019.

Donna framed hers and hung it on her living room wall, because, well, who’d have thought we’d be walking the Camino a third time? Let alone the whole 500 miles. She said she’s “unframing,” bringing it out of retirement one more time.

Last week we did a 12K walk (RT) from my house in Long Beach to Seal Beach to buy 40 shells each from the California Shell Shop on Main Street.

Here are my 40 shells.


And here’s the plan for them:
• The “theme” of our Camino is gratitude.
• On the inside of each shell, I will write the name of something or someone I am grateful for. So will Donna, independently, on her shells.
• Every morning we each pull a shell from our respective collections and carry that shell until we find a place to leave it. Sometimes there’s a connection. Like last time, when I left Laurie Guest’s shell in a corn field. (Read her bio, and you’ll get it.) Sometimes there’s no connection; it just looks like a nice place for a shell.

I also plan on leaving a few shells blank…for the Camino angel(s) I’m sure to meet along The Way.

And the yellow one in the middle? That one’s for me. I don’t know where I’ll leave it, but I’ll know it when I get there.

Stay tuned!
(Which is another way of saying, subscribe up there on the Home page. Whenever I post, you’ll get an email telling you I did.)

Getting To the Starting Point: LAX-Biarritz-St. Jean Pied de Port

Donna and I say adios to LAX, Camino here we come! Yes, it was a Spanish sparkling wine.

We left LAX at 1:15 p.m. Friday, Aug. 12, arrived Paris at 9:30 a.m. and then connected to a flight to Biarritz. We got to Biarritz hotel around 4 p.m. Saturday and pinkie swore that we would not go to bed until dark.

Donna wants to get a picture of each “hotel” we stay in. The beds and the view from the window. These are at the Hotel Windsor in Biarritz. Our first night’s stay.


Donna’s “view from our window” in Biarritz.


Terri’s “view from the window” picture, taken from inside the hotel room instead of hanging precariously out the 6th floor window like Donna did.


Selfie looking back on the beach. Our hotel was one of the beige buildings on the left end of what is pictured in the middle.

We found a restaurant around the corner from our hotel that served an  “early” dinner at 7:30 p.m. We were tucked in by 10 p.m. and slept until 8:30 a.m. Sunday.

We had time to kill until our 2 p.m. transfer by car to St. Jean Pied de Port, so we took off walking in the other direction from the day before, headed for the lighthouse.

The beach at Biarritz Sunday morning.


After staying up as late as we could Saturday night, we slept in Sunday and took about a 5K walk to the lighthouse at the north end of the beach. This is looking back from whence we walked.


The lighthouse in Biarritz, built in 1834. It’s 44 meters (~144 ft) high. The math is important. Read the post!

We could have walked to the top of the lighthouse, but a) it was an hour’s wait, and b) the next day we would be climbing 3,000 feet into (and over?) the Pyrenees. Or, for perspective, like climbing that lighthouse 20 times.

We had a cappuccino in a cafe and then waited for our ride to St. Jean. At 1:59 p.m. a driver hops out and yells, “Taxi!”

Right on time! Awesome. He hoists our two suitcases into the trunk, jumps back in and says cheerfully, “To the beach! Yes?”

Two big suitcases and we’re going to the beach, he’s making a joke. “Ha ha. St. Jean Pied de Port,” I corrected.

”The Port?” He clarified as he pulled away.

“NO, no, CaminoWays, St. John Pied de Port!”


“No, we are going to St. Jean Pied de Port. To walk the Camino.”

”OK, St. Jean Pied de Port.” He enters something into his phone and Donna and I realize we have the wrong cab.

I said, “We already paid. CaminoWays paid. Wrong cab. Wrong cab. Go back.”

I don’t speak French, but I could tell that the words he spoke were probably not in the Duolingo curriculum.

As he made an illegal u-turn and double parked outside our hotel lobby, we saw a very confused looking couple talking to man with van. They were obviously packed for a day on the beach.

“Wrong cab, wrong cab!”

Our driver was sweet and friendly. Thankfully, he spoke Spanish, which seemed so familiar to me. It was a one-hour drive to St. Jean, and the scenery was stunning. Winding roads through tall mountains spotted with farms.

St. Jean Pied de Port

We’ll cross this river in the morning and the adventure begins! We walked around all afternoon hunting for the beginning of the Camino.

Found it! And then we reorganized every thing into what goes in our day packs (rain gear, first aid kit, Pilgrim’s Passport and 2 liters of water).

And we had two full-sized beds in this room on which to spread it all out.

We are ready. Buen Camino!



We Made It. ‘Nuf Said.

Before and After

We left St. Jean Pied de Port at 8:15 am. The red, white and green flags were strewn across the old town’s cobblestone streets to celebrate a Basque festival. We enjoyed marching bands during the day before and tried not to listen to the bands that played two-hour sets at 9 pm, midnight, and 2 a.m.


25K, nine hours and change later, we arrived at Roncevalles. The only place to stop for food or rest or beverage was at the 7K mark. We weren’t really hungry at that point but we split a “tortilla” to load some carbs.

(Tortilla in Spain is essentially potato and egg “quiche,” gluten free for yours truly.)

Our legs were wobbly and at the very end I said, “I feel like my legs are boiled spaghetti and I’m trying to control them with my brain alone. No tongs.”

In Between Time

The Camino through the Pyrenees is an uphill effort we’d never experienced before. Thankfully, the weather was perfect. We never had to put on rain gear, for one. And even when climbing above the tree line we enjoyed a light breeze. Sometimes we gave out-loud thanks for both shade and a breeze in the same stretch.

From whence we came is pictured above. Zoom in and you’ll see a road far below where I was standing to take this picture. Way down yonder is St. Jean terrain.

Bucolic is the word Donna and I used to describe the trek through and over the Pyrenees. At first we thought those beige things were rocks. Nope. Sheep.

Cattle roamed free and did not mind us at all. They wore huge cow bells, but we quickly learned that the free range herd of horses (not pictured on either of our cell phones) also wore bells. And so did the sheep.

This is the perfect setting. Shade. Flat-ish. Canopy of trees. Unfortunately, the same setting turned ugly when we took an “alternate route” that went straight downhill for almost 4K. No pictures to share because it was all we could do to not tumble down the trail.

At Last.

We had to wait in line to check in to our hotel room, and I was able to chat with the other travelers in Spanish. I asked questions of the receptionist in Spanish and translated the answers to English for Donna. Strangely comforting is the best I can describe the feeling or relief to be in Spain, where I have more words than in France.


We have a third floor room loft room at Hotel Roncevalles. Two full sized beds pushed together is luxurious to us.

View from one of the windows actually doubles as air conditioning. Thankfully it will be a cool, crisp night.

Before the projected rain pours down manana en la manana.

Buenas noches.

We Expected Yesterday to Be the Hardest. Surprise!

Having survived Day 1, we looked forward to Day 2 being shorter by 4K. The weather report said 88% chance of rain throughout the route, so we thought we were so smart to anticipate that it might still be a long day due rain.

Knowing we’d be donning rain gear a good portion of the day, we packed it at the top of our day packs, ready for prompt retrieval. We got an early start (for us, anyway) around 8 a.m.  Before we got out of the hotel parking lot, quarter-sized rain drops splatted at our feet.

“What’s the rule?” We asked simultaneously. (See previous post called ABC’s of Camino under R for Rain.)

The Rule (learned the hard way): If it starts to rain, you put on rain pants AND your rain coat. And we did.

Yes, matching raincoats. (Pants not pictured, but trust me, they’re on.)

The walk out of town was through a beautiful forest, so we convinced ourselves that it must be a light rain, because the trees were blocking it from hitting us.

Donna in full rain gear, including backpack cover.

Fast forward about 5K and we realize that we must be taking one for the entire Camino team in the area because it still had not rained. Figures, we put on the rain gear and it doesn’t rain. We were too superstitious to take it off until after lunch, but by then the sun was shining.

Another forest with blessed shade. And a yellow arrow on the tree assuring us we were on the right pat.

We knew we had two mountain passes to climb that day, but we still had time to enjoy the scenery. And this time, get pictures of the horses.



What goes up must come down.

The uphill effort had our hearts beating hard, our lungs at full speed and capacity, as well as our leg muscles saying “hello again.”

It was the last 4K that killed us. Already tired and sore from the day before, we had to navigate a steep, rocky, craggy and often slippery trek down hill 1000 feet.

How anyone could complete that segment without poles is beyond me. We stopped talking. We stopped smiling. We were miserable, and it was all either of us could do except walk more like a four-legged creature than the humans we are.

Plant a pole, lean into it with your weight and then raise a foot and put it down oh, so carefully. Plant the opposite pole on your left side, put your weight into it, raise your other foot and carefully put it down.

Rinse and repeat umpteen times.

Going uphill is hard because you can hardly breathe and plod along slowly. Downhill is worse. Especially at the end of 7 hour day. Donna said it perfectly, “Everything below my butt hurts.”

We dragged our lower limbs into the town of Zubiri and had to spend a great deal of time in attitude adjustment. The shower helped. “Legs up the wall” was first. Then stretching as best we could.

Again, too tired and sore and exhausted to take a lot of pictures. But here’s the  room for the night, and the view:


Manana is Pamplona!

Pamplona. A Great Day. Slow WiFi.

So much to tell, so little bandwidth to do so.

Day 3 was walking into Pamplona. Yes! THAT Pamplona ala the running of the bulls. We just missed them a month ago. Walking into a metropolis is not the most fun, so by the time we arrived at our lodging, we were a bit snarly ourselves.

A Pilgrim’s meal was not included that night, so we had to hunt and gather at nearby tapas bars. Poor us, right? More on that later, maybe.

Day 4 Out of Pamplona

We were excited for this day because it includes a climb up Alto del Perdon, the Hill of Forgiveness.  At the top is a sculpture depicting a number of Pilgrims either on foot or on horseback as they make their way along the Camino to Santiago.

Look closely and you might see two people photo bombing everyone else’s picture.

Problem is, we took all sorts of amazing photos before and after the one above, but the WiFi at our lodging “down the mountain” in Puente de Reina has the

s l o w e s t

bandwidth EVER. The above is the only photo I could upload all night.

So, trust that we are safe, sound and strong at Day 4. We’ll get to the next post when we can.

Manana en la manana,

Terri and Donna

Locked In, Lost and Lagging

The day started beautifully, from a little rural cottage in which we were the only Pilgrims. (Others were couples and families on vacation.)

Thankfully, the hostess said she would see that our luggage was taken down the stairs for the transport company to retrieve in the lobby.

In the charming city of Viana, we were treated to a walk down Calle Mayor (think Main Street in any Spanish town) right as 12:00 mass was letting out of the massive stone church.

Like salmon swimming upstream, we went into the church for a look around. The place emptied out pretty quickly, and I saw the priest exit through what looked like a private door to the left, let’s call it 9:00 on an old school clock. We were behind the altar (at 12:00 if you’re still with me), went past where he exited, and poof, the lights went out.

”I think we better head for the exit or we’re going to get locked in here!”

As we strolled to the exit, out comes the priest in his casual attire and says in Spanish, “I am happy you are here, but you are lucky that I am here, too.”

He had already locked the exits and escorted us to one he unlocked for us and wished us a Buen Camino.

The Calle Mayor was filled with people having lunch, beer, wine, bocadillos (snacks). Here’s what it looked like as a selfie from the end of the street.

Then, all we did was turn around and here’s a 900-year-old building behind us.

We then headed out of town. 

And missed a turn.

We had walked at least 2K on a paved road through a vineyard (in the heat, sans shade) and were starting to be concerned. We hadn’t seen a single other Camino walker or biker in an hour. Finally a car approached us and I flagged him down. 

I told him in Spanish that I thought we might be lost, and he said in Spanish, “Yes you are. This is not the official Camino.” 

He (and his son in the backseat who spoke broken English) redirected us from whence we came. 

As he pulled away, wishing us Buen Camino, I muttered to Donna, “I would have jumped in the backseat if offered.”

Donna said, “I would have stood on the back bumper and hung on for dear life.”

All in all, we added about 5K to the day and an extra 90 minutes in the heat. I ran out of water in my “camelback” with 4K left to walk through the city of Logrono, and there, like a little Camino miracle, appeared a water fountain in a park.

We arrived after 5 p.m., but we arrived. Here is the happy photo we took long before being almost locked in at the church and then a little bit lost after that.


Captions Only to Catch Up (A Little)

We are doing about 22K a day and just finished the first one in full sun. Scenery is spectacular, with the vineyards starting to border our trail.

Friday night is in Estella, a picturesque, bustling town with OLD and new butting up against each other. Again, however, the WiFi is weak.

I don’t know how many pictures I can upload, so the caption will have to tell the story. And they are not in chronological order. 

A natural arch of shade is something to celebrate!


See that town in the distance? Kind of like walking to the Emerald City. Except it’s not green. And the road is not yellow or brick. But other than that, the same.


Donna gets photo credit for the bridge crossing this morning out of Puente de Reina.
Last night’s room at the inn.


Donna looking out the window with a view.


Legs Up the Wall pose from Pamplona. It’s the first thing we do when we get to the room after removing our hiking shoes. (Today, Friday, however, we were so sweaty and hot that the photo would have been sans pants. Or shirts.)


View from our window today, Friday, in Estella.


And this is the ultra modern room from which we look at the old church tower.


Hasta la vista amigos! Tomorrow will be another HOT day. Never underestimate the power of even a breath of a breeze. We are grateful, indeed.

A Wonderful Walk in So Many Ways

Today, Saturday, Aug. 20 was Day 6 of walking, and we’ve covered more than 100K to date. Today’s “mileage” was 22K to our lodging. We knew it would be a tough one because of anticipated heat (93 degrees at the end of the trail), and the last “services” were at 9.5K.

That means no water fountains, no towns, no nada for four hours (or more?). And, did I mention the heat?  In preparation, we decided to take the risk of leaving our rain coats, rain pants and backpack covers in the suitcase to make our backpacks lighter.

We filled our “camelback” water pouches to the brim, 2 liters.

Water or Wine?

Look what we found at the Monastery at 3K mark—la Fuente de Vino. The fountain of wine. One tap is water, one is wine.  We didn’t bring cups, so we had to improvise.

Until two Italian bicyclists showed up and offered a tin cup.

Yes, it was bueno. Donna and I each took a sip and called it Camino communion.

(It has taken me more than two hours to create the above post. It’s getting close to bedtime, so I’m going to try and post the picture (I have a great video that I may put on Facebook) that captures the dramatic, albeit somewhat desolate scenery.

And we realized how precious our Camelback water reservoirs were when we stepped to the side of trail for a passing car.

“It’s the police!” I said. “What in the world are they doing out here?”

The car with two uniformed officers stopped beside us, rolled down the window and asked, “Esta bein? You OK?”

I answered yes in Spanish and the officer driving knew enough English to communicate that they were patrolling the Camino with the sole purpose of helping peregrinos (Pilgrims walking the Camino). He asked if we had enough water, we said we did by wiggling the spigot of our water bladders.

Then he told us that there are no water fountains in Los Arcos, which was our destination. And nothing between us and Los Arcos.

OK, we’re OK.

“If you need help, you call 062,” he said as he pointed to the outside of the driver’s side of the vehicle. “We here for peregrinos.”

When we truly looked at the vehicle and read what was on the side, we got so excited and touched by the focus of these men and their mission.

”Can we take a picture?” I asked in Spanish.

“Si, si,” he said, and took my phone from me.

And then Donna said, “We want YOU in the picture!”

Kojak of the Camino!

We ended the day in good spirits. That’s a win, trust me. The last 2 or 3K is when the mental game comes into play. Horse-to-Barn mode is not the best, but Grumpy Town is worse. Today was “Hot and Bothered, but Proud and Powerful.”






The People We Meet

Here’s our little code.

You chat with someone along the way, and you don’t learn their name, so you give them a label. So there’s Miami Man. Or Red Shirt Guy. New Zealand Gals. If we could keep up with the Boys in the Band, we would have. But they are three student-age looking guys carrying fully loaded backpacks and each one has what looks like a violin case strapped on, too.

Once you encounter someone again, maybe then you chat enough to ask the person’s name. Three years ago we forgot so many names that we promised each other that we would take pictures and capture names, too, this time around.

We said goodby to Bernard and Mrs. Bernard from France in Los Arcos. They were “only” walking as far as Logrono because the had to bet home in time for their daughter’s wedding.

Monday Night Made Merrier.

Monday night our lodging did not have a kitchen for serving dinner, so we had a voucher to a nearby place. Donna and I sat down early, which in Spain means 7:45 p.m.

A few more tables started to fill and we heard English being spoken at each one. New Zealand Gals were at one table (Sue and Michelle) and Aussie Couple were at another (Mark and Brooke). By the end of the evening we asked Man Bun the waiter to take our picture.

(L to R): Brooke and Mark (Melbourne), Sue (NZ), Donna, Me, Michelle (NZ).

Our room Monday night also got a nickname the moment we opened the door. Red Room. Not R E D R U M, I clarified to Donna (and for the benefit of any Stephen King fans.)

How hot was it Monday?

Very. Heat rash is an issue we hadn’t anticipated, but one trip to the Farmacia and we had relief cream.

Tuesday Morning Delight. 

Turns out Sue and Michelle were staying our hotel. We saw them at breakfast and the introduced us to Mark and Margaret (M & M) from New South Wales. 

We know that Sue and Michelle are staying in the same town we are Tuesday night, so we are hoping we see them again and perhaps can eat together. 

As for Tuesday’s walk, I took a couple of videos to show the contrast. I’ll do a separate post and see if I can get them to upload. If not, I may have to resort to Facebook. (Sorry, Mom. I’ll email them directly to you if that happens.)


L O N G E S T Day, No Time to Post

Your Lodging is 6K Past Where You Thought Your Day Ended.

We knew it would be a 24K day, which is long enough. When we checked the map profile against our lodging reservation. YIKES. We are in for a 30K day. (18 miles)

This is when the mental game kicks in. We instantly readjusted our mindset and took off. We voiced our gratefulness for clouds, wind, even a light drizzle, dense forest trails that took heat out of the equation. We arrived to our lodging at 6 pm, which is late for us. But we did it!

Now comes shower, dinner, crash.

Tomorrow, Friday, is the last day of new territory for us. We arrive in Burgos, and from there on, we’ve walked the path before.

That also means we will have walked a total of approximately 300K by end of day manana.




Let’s Try Video

The terrain and scenery can vary dramatically in one day.

Early morning shadows as we are bordered by vines. Click the video link below.

Buenos Dias in the Vineyards

The last 5K of the same day. Click video links below.

Buenas Tardes (Part 1)

Buenas Tardes (Part 2)

And, for fans of the “Room with a View” Series, here’s that night’s lodging.

Our room in the Parador of Santo Domingo. We learned there are two in this city. How? Donna’s suitcase was delivered to the other one in town.

We reminded ourselves that patience is a virtue and waited for her suitcase to be retrieved and delivered. We sat in the shade, in a cafe on the Calle Mayor (Main Street), comforted by cold sangria.

The view from the room’s window? Good reason to search elsewhere for the sangria.

Later, waiting for the “early” dinner seating at 8:30 p.m. at the other Parador in town, we were treated to people watching on the square.

We didn’t get to bed until 11 p.m., so not as much sleep as we would normally like, but when in Spain . . . You’re going to eat late.

Here’s our selfie the next morning, in front of the hotel’s tribute to Peregrinos. (That’s us. Pilgrims walking the Camino.)

And then, the highlight of the morning was seeing two new favorite young people. Meet Ponytail and Provence. (She’s Ponytail. He’s Provence. More on them later.)

The Day Before the Dreaded Meseta

Hornillos de Camino to Castrojeriz: Stage 14

The calm before the storm. Actually, there’s only 47% chance of rain tomorrow, Monday. The “storm” I refer to is the Meseta. Google “Meseta Spain.”

Today was only 20K and we were treated to hills and dales and sunflower crops that went on forever.

Terri Langhans in Spanish sunflowers

People often ask if we are sisters. So, that’s me, Terri, above, and Donna below.

On the way, Donna snuck in a video. Click the link below. (Mom, you wanted to hear her voice, too!)

Donna Does a Video

14th Century Ruins of a Pilgrim’s Hospital

Just when we were ready to huddle around the trunk of a tree by the side of road to get some shade, the road turned and we both said, “OH! I remember this place.”

You can get a bunk bed in the “albergue” room, but there is no electricity. We sat in the shade a while, cooled off and tried to imagine what the full hospital must have looked like in the 1300’s.

A caretaker was inside what looks like double doors in the photo above. I went in and looked at some of the photos on the wall, made a donation. He thanked me and wished me “Buen Camino.”

I joined Donna again on a bench in the shade and noticed that a man we’d seen off and on all day had taken a seat in another shady spot. Donna and I smiled, asked him how he was doing (Que tal? Esta bien?)

He was gingerly taking off his hiking shoes, which we had seem him do before, when we encountered him earlier in the morning.

Next thing I see, the caretaker is walking across the courtyard area with a small plastic tub of water and a towel. He knelt down and helped the man wash and soak his feet.


Camino angel in action.


The Meseta is a Mind Game

Castrojeriz to Fromista to Carrion de Los Condes
Monday/Tuesday 8/29 and 30

We knew what the morning would bring first thing—a steep climb that felt like it went on f o r e v e r three years ago. We had to stop three or four times back then. In fact, it was on that part of the trail that Donna “invented” chanting something in a rhythmic cadence to get ourselves to the top. More like a prayer, though. Not ala the Marine Corp.

Below is the sign that tells us peregrinos what we’re in for.

Zoom in on the triangles and you’ll read that it’s 1050 meter elevation gain. That’s 3,444 feet.

Because setting and keeping your own pace is critical on segments like this, Donna and I agreed, “See you at the top,” and set off.

Surprisingly (to me, anyway), we stayed within a car length of each other and only stopped once to catch our collective breaths.

We left several of the “grateful for” shells at the very top.It’s probably one of those “you had to be there” moments, because it’s difficult to capture the dramatic elevation gain with an iPhone.

Donna said, “It’s as close to heaven as we’ve been so far.”

The “Aha!” Revelation

As we walked around at the top, we high fived each other, and agreed that “it wasn’t as bad as I/we remembered it.”

And then we did some more math and realized that three years ago, this climb occurred on Day 3 of our Camino because we started that one in Burgos. This time, it was Day 15.

We. Are. Stronger.

Downhill From There

What goes up must come down, and that applies to the Meseta. Click the link below to hear and see what lay ahead of us down that hill.

The Other View from the Top (The Meseta)

The Rain in Spain Fell on Our Plain

Remember the 47% chance of rain I mentioned in the last post? Dead on. We made it up the hill and quite far in cool cloud cover, for which were most grateful.

But we didn’t out run the rain.

Another friend of mine told me once that “there’s no such thing as bad weather. Not if you have the right clothing.”

We did. Rain coats, rain pants and backpack covers got us through. And then, poof. The rain stopped and we were in sunny skies.

The last 3K of our path was delightful with shade trees on the left and a canal on the right.

Short Day Tuesday, With the Last 5K Not So Enjoyable

We had 20K to walk Tuesday, and most of it was along side a highway. No shade. Crops on all sides. And no shade.

We were so happy when Yonicka (yawn-i-kah) caught up with us. We met her Day 1 and saw her again in the rain on Monday. She walked with us a short way and told us about a fork in the Camino that would take us a little longer, but it followed a stream and had plenty of shade trees.



The last 5K were back on the highway. Did I mention that there was no shade?

The mental game (for me, anyway) was, “OK, this is like walking to the gym in Long Beach, and doing a workout. I can do that. Except I don’t sweat this much walking to the gym. OK, so it’s more like a HIIT class. (HIgh Intensity Interval Training). Except that it’s only a 50-minute class and air conditioned. OK. I used to do 90 minute Bikram yoga in 105-degree room for 90 minutes. Yep. That what this is. Except I have long sleeves, long pants, a hat and 10-pound pack on my back. Other than that, pretty much the same.”

And here’s how we celebrated after getting to our lodging. (A monastery converted into a hotel.) We crossed a river on the way to the monastery and saw families enjoying a swim in the river.

We checked in to our room, donned bathing suits and waded in the cold, fast running current.

And pay no attention to my silly water tossing antics in the video below. Watch the dog in the background. (I miss my Rusty!)

Terri Splashing, Dog Fetching

I’m having trouble uploading the room photo, and it’s 11 pm. Time to say buenas noche, and I’ll try again on Wednesday.


Half Way There @ Sahagun

About 400K Down and About 400 More to Trample

We showed our Camino Credential that has a stamp for every day, and in return, we got fancy schmancy certificates in Spanish.

23K in Great Weather this Time

It was this segment of the Camino three years ago that taught us the hardest lesson we were to learn.  When you put on your raincoat, put on your rain pants, too.


Because without rain pants, the water runs down your leg and into your shoes. Outsides of the shoes are Gortex, which is waterproof. Not true for the insides.

From 2019:

The Rain in Spain 2019

From today, Sept. 1, 2022:

Sunny and Dry in 2022

Australian Friends from Adelaide

We’ve been enjoying Paul and Jenny from Australia, and tonight we encountered them again, here at the half way point. We may not be in the same towns again, so we were excited to ask a local to capture a pic.

Buen Camino to all!


The Magic of the Meseta

Pretty Close to Perfect Walking Today

Donna kept remembering and talking about the “tree-lined trail” in the Meseta. Over the past few days, there were plenty of snippets of that, but she kept saying, “No, there were crops on the left, the trees, our trail and a road, but not a highway.”

Today was the day. Of the 18K we walked, at least 16K was lined by trees. Like this.

If you look closely, you can see even older, shadier trees in the distance.

The sun was on our left, so we had dappled shade the whole way. We have established a trifecta of walking conditions, by the way.

  1. Flat.
  2. Shade.
  3. Breeze.

Today we had them all, almost all the time. Cloud cover counts for bonus points if it’s hot. Today was cool in the morning, warmer in the sun, but with the shade trees, it was absolutely delightful.

The Morning Selfie

Every morning we take a morning selfie. I don’t post them all, but when looking through them last night, I thought we need to get a little more creative.

Here’s this morning’s, as we left Sahagun.

How Fast Do We Walk?

Not very, if we compare ourselves to most of the other people we encounter. But we don’t compare ourselves. We walk our own Caminos.

My Apple Watch will announce each kilometer and the pace. We started out being happy with 3K an hour, which is around 20 minutes for 1K. (Stop snorting and laughing!)

Turns out that we were tracking around a 20-minute kilometer when we were, I don’t know—climbing the Pyrenees or carefully crawling downhill.

Now, for the most part, we average 13-15 minutes per K, which means 4K per hour. A 20K day = 5 hours. Every now and then we hear my watch say 13:05, or 12:40. Our “record” was 12:15.

This morning we decided to see if we could beat our 12:15 time and get it down to 12 and a single digit. (12:09, for instance.) When my watch announced 2k, we quickened our pace.

We didn’t talk.

We didn’t change lanes to smoother terrain.

We kept to one path, and right before the path started to go uphill a bit, my watch announced, “Kilometer 3. 11 minutes, 15 seconds.”

We stopped and cheered and were dumbfounded that we cut an entire minute off our previous record.

And that was that. We wanted to focus on the path, the trees, the Meseta.

Beauty is in the iPhone of the Photographer

We came to a vast hay field that was freshly cut, not yet baled. For as far as we could see, there was nothing man made. Donna took a picture of me taking pictures.

And here is the picture we voted the best.

We decided we love the Meseta.



We Love Leon

Sunday, Sept. 4

We managed to arrive early in Leon because we remembered how much we loved our day off here in 2019. No days off, this time, however.

CaminoWays booked us at a different hotel, a Parador. We couldn’t believe it.

A former convent, pilgrim hospital and prison, it is stunning inside and out.


Crazy luxurious room. We feel like Royalty. Albeit dusty, road-weary Royalty.

Our most favorite shop from last year was open, but Antonio the calligrapher was not there to customize our purchases. Still, a highlight of the day.

Best Sangria so far. Cafe right on the Camino.

“May the rest of our lives be the best of our lives,” Donna toasts.

Normally, I’m not a fan of begonias. These are the exception, in front of the Cathedral of Leon and across from where we’ll be having dinner with Paul and Jenny from Australia. Italian food!

More later, when I get a chance and good WiFi.