Monday, June 25, 2012



This morning I was surprised with these beautiful photos from Emilene!

This message came with the photo; "This beautiful little purple flower flourishing atop of what seems to be a bed of thorns reminded me of my incredible friend today. Sonja, you are being sent buckets of love from those walking with me every day! — at Camino de Santiago."  

I've passed the halfway mark now, more than 400km's behind me! Did 30km today, in Moratinos - population: 20 + me... :)

Well done LITTLE SNAIL!  Your getting to fast for this name now and I'll have to think of a new one.

NEWS FROM EDDIE; He was at Foncebadon at midday, walked 26.5 km
uphill in 5.25 hours and is looking forward to enjoying paella tonight.  Well done RUNNING BULL!

Ermanno Aeiello

In May 2007 at the age of 69, my dear friend, Ermanno Aeiello, walked the Camino.  On his return he was persuaded by many of his friends to write a book of his experiences.  This self-published book is an honest and gripping narrative of his Camino experiences, both physical and spiritual.  His story has inspired many people, including Emilene and Susan, to attempt this pilgrimage.  I am indebted to him for introducing me to Emilene, and thank him for his continual spiritual guidance, prayers and support.

His Camino, although riddled with difficulties, also tells of friendships formed across the barriers of different nationalities and languages and many joyous moments as described herewith by him; “The steady climb opened up more and more beautiful vistas step by step.  I found myself singing, laughing, shouting with joy and occasionally doing a little jig – a bit difficult and clumsy with my backpack on, but did I care?  There was no-one around to see me except God and my guardian angel and I was convinced that they must have been amused by this sight.”

On an overnight stay at the nun’s albergue, Santa Maria de Carbajalas in Leon, he found the following advice on how to walk the Camino successfully written on a placard on the wall of the dormitory:

1)     Walk slowly
2)     Walk with determination
3)     Eat sparingly
4)     Walk in silence
5)     Walk in solitude
6)     Walk in gratitude

Every pilgrim on the Camino needs to apply for a credential or Pilgrim Passport before they commence on their journey.  Our hikers obtained theirs from the Confraternity of St James of South Africa.  I quote from their website; “the credential, a distant successor to the safe-conducts issued to medieval pilgrims, is a document printed and issued by the cathedral authorities in Santiago, and made available to bona fide pilgrims.  It presupposes that the bearer is making the pilgrimage for spiritual reasons.  This does not necessarily mean Roman Catholic and pilgrims will not be asked about their denomination, or even whether they are Christian, although of course historically the pilgrimage itself meant Christian pilgrimage.  Today and in practice, however, the credential covers anyone making the pilgrimage in a frame of mind that is open and searching.”

Virtually every church, albergue, hostel, bar and restaurant on the Camino has its own unique stamp entered in this passport to act as prove of the various places the pilgrim passed through.  At completion of at least the last 100 km to Santiago, a certificate, the ‘Compostela’, is issued every pilgrim by the Pilgrims’ Office in Santiago.

Photo posted by Emilene's new friends, showing her 4th from the left

Photos posted by Emilene;

One of the most beautiful little churches I have ever seen! Even though it was locked, I was able to take this through the keyhole...

Lunch!! Very hot here, going to have a little siesta under a tree now before walking the last bit for the day. 


Emilene walked 25 km yesterday and reported the following from Fromista last night; 
"Very hot here today but the route was really beautiful. I am blessed with spectacular people who've become such amazing companions, cried with 'strangers' twice today - once when saying goodbye to the lovely Annie from France who has to go home and again with a special young girl who just shared her life with me. This Camino thing is something else..." 

LITTLE SNAIL is leaving a trail of new friendships behind her!

Eddie, our RUNNING BULL, donned his party paint in Leon last night...Cheers Eddie!

I received a text message from the THREE MUSKETEERS at 10.45am today.  They have walked 15 km today and were taking a break at Astorga before tackling the next 10 km.  The weather is wonderful and they are in high spirits.

THE THREE MUSKETEERS; An email from Susan reports that they are all doing great and spent the night in Villar de Mazarife.  Thursday they 'bus-hopped' four stages to save time to be used later to go to Finnisterre.  They will be back in Santiago to wait for Emilene's arrival on the 12th of July.  They are averaging 20 km a day and fortunately have had no foot problems.  Sharing a room with 20 strangers is however another matter, and they are not getting much sleep!  They start walking at 7.30 am and darkness only comes at 11.00 - a long day.  Preferring the quietness of the countryside, they are going to avoid the busy Leon today. The three musketeers are proving their worth as MSA warriors by distributing the promotion material wherever to go.  Eddie, according to Susan,  has build up quite a reputation.  He has had many hiking partners  that are talking about him!

RUNNING BULL; Eddie will definitely reach Leon today, where he hopes to attend a festival that he reckons includes 'running with the bulls'.  I have googled this and, besides the running bulls in Pamplona in July, Eddie is the only RUNNING BULL I see!  His 'running' has resulted in some weight loss and I strongly recommend that he takes some tips from Emilene's diet below!

LITTLE SNAIL; Emilene treated herself to a little private room in Castrojeriz, after sleeping in an over filled albergue the previous night.  After reading about Eddie's wish to run with the bulls, she claims to be socializing with the snails!  Her feet are healing and she managed over 20 km yesterday.  Pointing at the menu can sometimes be a hit and miss affair, but this sure looks like a hit Emilene!


Eddie walked 35 km yesterday and spent the night in El Burgo Raneros.  He has 47 km to go to Leon, where he hopes to attend a festival over the weekend.
The 'three musketeers', Susan, Gerda and Esther, 'bus-hopped' to the outskirts of Leon yesterday.
No news (is hopefully good news!) from Emilene.

Emilene spent the night in Burgos.  Here is her story in her own words! "Last night two love birds tried making nest on the bed above me. I pointed out the snapping bedsprings above my head and suggested they take the mattress off the bed and find a quiet spot at the FAR end of the room, which they did. I had visions of Oscar collecting my pancaked remains in Santiago, courtesy of Romeo & Juliet! In Burgos tonight, walked about 26km today so I've rewarded myself with a room in a hotel – bliss. 

18h00 - I receive a text message from Deirdre, a South African lady sharing her journey with my friends; "Hi Sonja, your 3 musketeers (Susan, Gerda and Esther) saved my life today! My feet are badly blistered and they walked with me and encouraged me - much appreciated.  Good luck with your fight!  Lots of love from the Camino.  Deirdre."  Thank you Deirdre - I appreciate your message!

16h00 - Eddie is in Terradillos de Templarios and hopes to be in Leon by the weekend.

Last night Susan made contact by email.  She, Gerda and Esther  are all well and loving the whole experience!  The country side is beautiful and they are making new friends. Last night they spent some time with a guy who bumped into Eddie sometime earlier – I just love it when these contacts happen!  They hope to reach Fromista by tonight.

Emilene's feet are still slowing her down and she is hoping to somehow get hold of the Friar's balsam that Susan has brought with.  But Susan's group is ahead of her and have not yet obtained Spanish sim cards for their mobile phones, so organising this is difficult until contact between them is established.  Emilene spent last night in San Juan de Ortega.  She has found her first 'heart stone' on the Camino.  These stones have become the symbol of our Camino.  I will tell you more this symbol of love later...

Eddie was having a siesta in the sun and claims that he was woken by 5 police officers, 3 of them hot chicks!  Eddie please stay in the shade today - too much sun is making you delirious friend!  LOL!!

Eddie had breakfast in Fromista, and already 390 km into the Camino, he is hiking at an amazing pace.  He reported to me that; “Lots of pilgrims are asking about your photo.  The word is spreading”.  This is heart warming news for MSA, thank you Eddie! 

Emilene spent the night in Villafranca Montes De Oca, and has completed 250 km of her journey.

I received a message with a photo from a fellow pilgrim, Leo van Eechoud.  Leo took this photograph of the tag on Emilene’s backpack (the flip side has the red poppy logo);

Thank you Leo!  Leo also posted the following on Emilene’s status;

May the road rise up to meet you,
May the wind always be at your back,
May the sun shine warm upon your face,
And the rains fall soft upon your fields.
And until we meet again,
May God hold you in the palm of His hand”

Emilene reported from Belorado on Father’s day; “Looking for Skype to talk to my family!! All’s well, feet are being challenged but treating them as I go along. Slept in the church attic in Granon last night on a little mat...FANTASTIC!!”

Eddie bumped into Susan, Gerda and Esther in a restaurant in Burgos on Saturday evening and reported that they arrived safely and are well.  Can you believe this coincidence!
Emilene walked into a carnival at Santo Domingo de Calzada, where she spent some time waiting for the heat to subside, before hiking the last 6 km to overnight in Granon.  Here she spent the evening cooking with here new Camino friends.

Susan, Gerda and Esther excitedly boarded the plane to Madrid, from where they took the bus to Burgos.

Emilene's cell phone indicates that she is at Navarrete.

Emilene reports; "In a little town called Viana - tonight I've opted for a private room in a hostal. The albergues are great but I need one night's proper sleep!! I feel as if I am conducting an orchestra of human sounds every night, I have now heard people talk in their sleep in Spanish, French, German and who knows what else!! I hope they don't understand Afrikaans!:) have been walking on my own with all the new people I have met day after day - WHAT an experience!"

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