Discalced Carmelite Friars

Province of St. Therese

Camino de Santiago - page 11

A Pilgrim's Progress: Fr. Stephen Sanchez, OCD, on the Camino de Santiago – 2018 - page 11

Aug 5th

Melide to Arzúa

Sunday!

It was going to be a short day, 14kms which would leave us with a little over 53 kms to Santaigo from Arzúa.

We arose at 6, got ourselves put together and were out the door by 7am. Went on search of the Camino markers to show us the way.

Again - early morning walk with no coffee!

We found a cute little chapel of Santiago in Boente. A group of Italian pilgrims were praying the rosary. We knelt for a while before the Blessed Sacrament and quietly left.

We next came across the ancestral Ducal Estates of our previous provincial Fr. Luis Castañeda. An entire county of serfs!

We next crossed the river Iso and settled down for coffee in Ribadiso do Baixo. An older dog kept us company - I'm guessing she needed a break from her pups.

We made it to Arzúa.

Our hostel was off of the main Camino. A newer hostel. 3 beds in a private room. Yay!!! We got there at 11:30 am - we had to wait till noon to register - so we waited. Went back at noon. We registered and asked about mass. The hostess said that there would be mass at 12:30. We were still sweating from the morning walk - we had no time for a shower, so off we march looking for the church. We had almost 30 minutes to find it. Got the plaza about 12:15 found the church and it was closed. We went back the plaza and looked at the map looking for some other church or chapel. Found a Chapel of La Maddalena - just behind the church we just examined....it was closed also.

Standing there bewildered I said to the Lord "We are trying Lord! Help us!" At that moment in saw an elderly woman pacing near her door in an alleyway. I begged forgiveness for interrupting her thoughts and asked for help in finding the chapel where there was a 12:30 mass.

This angel just about took me by the hand to the front door of the church we first examined. But this time the door was opened and people were going in. I called the deacons from the plaza and in we went. Hot and sweaty from the road. It was the parish church dedicated to Santiago.

We walked in looked around a little bit as people were coming to prepare for mass. I was thinking - "Fr. Ralph would not be happy!" Since the Second Vatican Council - we are not to have multiple images of the same saint -- ask Fr. Ralph about multiple baby Jesus' for veneration on Christmas Eve - he goes into a tizzy!!!! -- any way, there were several images of Our Lady and Our Lord - liturgically incorrect. As I smiled to myself I crossed over to the other side of the church and found a retablo of OLMC! I took the first pew and knelt for prayer. People were still coming in for mass. I found myself one again in the midst of the church ladies - the choir this time. I asked if it was okay for me to be where I was. An older lady said 'Don't worry, we are few'. So I continued my prayer. Then I noticed the shield of the Order on the retablo! Both above and below.

A religious sister came in with her guitar in a cloth case. She would lead the music.

I was sitting there very uncomfortable because of the heat and the fact that I was still soaked in perspiration from the walk.

Mass started. It was a very special mass for me. The Lord reminded me of a previous Word He had given me. That, plus sitting under the gaze of OLMC put me in a very special place.

The homily was about the busqueda y el encuentro (the search for and the encounter). Very nice reflection.

The communion song 'we' sang (since I was sitting with the choir I did my best) was Pescador - at the stanza "Tu necesitas mis manos, mis cansancios que a otros descansen, amor que quiere seguir amando" (You need my hands, my weariness so that others may rest, a love that wants to keep loving) - my voice cracked and I quietly cried.

Song over. Quiet. Closing prayer.

I asked the religious sister about the side altar of OLMC - were there any Discalced in the city? No, she said. Later I saw on the map that there was a street Rue Carmen. There probably was a Discalced presence long ago and the side altar was probably saved during the desamortización - when lands were taken from the church after the persecution of the Church during the civil wars.

I left the church feeling affirmed and accompanied.

We went to our lodgings, did laundry, rested, had a great dinner at a place just down the street from us and turned-in grateful for the day.

50.331km marker to Santiago
50.331km marker to Santiago
Path towards Boente
Towards Boente
Igrexia de Santiago de Boente
Igrexia de Santiago de Boente
Boente - Retablo
Boente - Retablo
Castañeda - ancestral ducal home of Fr. Luis
Ancestral ducal home of Fr. Luis
Castañeda lands
Castañeda lands
Riso Iso
Rio Iso
Ribadiso - mom taking a break
Ribadiso - mom taking a break
Promise of Arzúa
Promise of Arzúa
Church of Santiago - Arzúa
Church of Santiago - Arzúa
Side altar to Our Lady - Arzúa
Side altar to Our Lady - Arzúa
St. James - Arzúa
St. James - Arzúa
Side-altar to OLMC - Arzúa
Side altar to Our Lady of Mount Carmel - Arzúa
Our Lady of Mount Carmel - Arzúa
Our Lady of Mount Carmel - Arzúa
Carmelite shield - Arzúa
Carmelite shield - Arzúa
Local café in Arzúa
Local café in Arzúa
Café Arzúa
Café Arzúa
Grape arbor - Arzúa
Grape arbor - Arzúa

Aug 6th

Arzúa to Armenal.

A few days ago we considered having some 'small' days (10km days) which me and my aching body parts were all for (my right hip flexor is aching now), but last night that disappeared and all of a sudden today was going to be a 24-26km day depending in which map you were reading.

SO

Up at 5am and out the door by six. We walked to the town square and had coffee before the long day. The Camino was right by the café so we strapped on our packs and headed out - uphill.

It was still dark so I hiked close to Deacon Ron who was wearing his headlamp - didn't know where mine was and didn't have time to search.

There was a light mist. Interesting sight - to see bobbing lights in the dark, the lights showing the mist and reflecting back the lights trying to pierce the dark.

Most people were hiking in silence.

Dawn breaks and on we hike - stopping at every crest to catch my breath.

We have had hikes through lots of forests since entering Galicia, stands of chestnuts, pines, oaks, and eucalyptus. It's not the eucalyptus I'm familiar with but a different species. And usually because of how wet these forests are you also find beds of ferns - all very beautiful and worth the time to enjoy...but we are trying to get to Amenal.

Interestingly we start to descend into a fog bank so that its thicker than when we started in the dark this morning. You never know how your journey will unfold.

We go through A Peroxa which was little more than a sign on the way. Through Boavista, A Brea - didn't we pass through an A Brea before? - and my right shin begins to hurt, I guess to distract me from my tender feet and heels - we keep going and before we know it we find ourselves at Los Altos Do Santa Irene. Like an oasis we see a café on the left side of the road. Time for coffee. We sip on our coffee, praise God for the occasional breeze, do some pilgrim watching, and are amazed that we have travelled a little over 16kms. We find some consolation in that the largest part of today's journey is behind us. We have a short hard climb before we begin to descend to Amenal.

Time to take up the cross and continue forward. Adelante con la Cruz!

We hike onwards and find Santa Irene - different from Los Altos do Santa Irene - and come upon A Rua - here the guidebook tells us that if we are not going into O Pedrouzo that we need to keep right where the Camino bifurcates, and that's what we do. But guess what? We wind up at O Pedrouzo anyway. Here is where the Camino bifurcates again. Again we keep to the right so as not to go through O Pedrouzo.

Before we know it - and to the relief of my right shin - I see Amenal on the street about 15 feet above our head. We go under the street and find our lodging immediately to the left of the Camino. That means that tomorrow we only have 17kms to get to Santiago!

We register and go through all the usual rigamarol and then have a celebratory beer and thank the Lord, Our Lady, and St. James for watching over us. Our Guardian Angels will probably get some sort of special award from Our Lady and St. James.

We decide to eat and pick up some things from the self serve. I picked a mixed salad and throwing all caution to the wind, also got us a bag of potato chips - with ridges even - I'm such a bad example!

Then before we knew it there was a cat (a beautiful smoky light brown) underneath our table - he probably smelled the tuna in the mixed salad I had.

Deacon Peter befriended him and treated him to a little tuna from his salad. Then I gave him a little tuna, a bit of boiled egg, and to Peter's surprise, some potato chips.

While we soaked in the glorious truth that we were done hiking for the day we noticed another cat, same color, come up and start to play with the other - brothers.

We went up and settled into our routine of shower, laundry, nap.

We gathered for dinner at the restaurant - I had a luscious plate of grilled vegetables and some stewed beef!

We are beyond tired from the long day - my right shin and flexor are very distracting - and decide to turn-in. Deacon Ron and I share a room. We start to get ready for bed - he asked about my shin, I told him it still hurt but it wasn't a deep hurt and he gave me some analgesic ointment for it so that I would be able to sleep. Then I saw something on the wall and give the alarm: Mosquitoes!!!

We spray the drapes with insect repellent and start the battle, me standing on my twin bed with my shirt in hand swatting at the ones on the ceiling and upper walls, Ron with a towel swatting at the ones he sees. We close the window! - there goes the cross-breeze! - and continue the fight. We killed at least 20 'skeeters' and were beginning to feel that we had crossed the threshold when all of a sudden we discovered there were more in the bathroom. We heard people in the next room swatting at walls as well - at least we were not the only ones. Finally we conquered the foe - 'Saul has killed his thousands, and David his ten thousands'!

With the bodies of our victims all over the floor as a warning to others - we settled-in for another warm night. I closed my eyes.

Then...... there was the fly!

Thank you Lord for smashing my pride in the defeat of the tribe of Skeeter.

I thanked the Lord and blessed the fly and slept a warm sleep.

Stand of eucalyptus
Stand of eucalyptus
Son of Treebeard
Son of Treebeard
On the way to Armenal
On the way to Armenal
Down into the fog
Down into the fog
Café cats in Armenal
Café cats in Armenal
View from lodge - Armenal
View from lodge - Armenal
Stirring up skeeters
Stirring up skeeters