The gulch

June 2010. The trail of pilgrims grew thicker and then stopped. Heavy rains during the past few days had transfomed a branch of the usually dry Arroyo Ferrerios into a fast-moving stream. Each one took his turn to cross using a tree trunk that served as a foot bridge to the other side. The muddy …

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Four-letter words

May 2010. “S_ _ _!” I screamed under my breath. The pain from my Achilles tendon shot up my right leg with each step I took up the ladder to my upper berth at the local albergue (pilgrim inn). I rubbed my ankle to soothe it with little effect. It had been that kind of …

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The journey inward

May 2010. It was the only refreshment stand between Carrion de los Condes and Calzadilla de la Cueza in the province of Palencia in northern Spain. I savored the last drop of orange juice knowing that I had barely covered the 17 kilometers distance between the two towns. The sun was barley above the horizon, …

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All the world’s a stage

June 2010.  …and all the men and women merely players.” This line from Shakespeare’s As You Like It perfectly described the Spanish town of Hospital de Orbigo in late spring. Townsfolk, garbed in medieval regalia, staged a festival replete with the necessary accoutrements of the era – market stalls offering trinkets, food and booze, buskers …

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A closet pilgrim on the Camino

May 2010. Scores of wheelchairs descended on the sanctuary as if the Paralympics were about to start. But these weren’t muscle-bound athletes who were about to show their physical prowess. On them were folks afflicted with illnesses, praying for mercy and miracles. This was Lourdes, on the foothills of the French Pyrenees. I was headed …

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