Here I go...

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

Monday, October 16, 2017

Fires on the Camino!

For those who are walking the Camino now, I'm sure you have heard there are quite a number of active fires burning, especially on the stretch around Triacastela and Samos.

This was posted on the forum today:

Here is a real time NASA fire map:

Pilgrim Mark McIlroy posted this you tube video today:

The news I've heard is that an out-of-work fireman 
started many of these.
We've also heard rumors of a pilgrim flicking a cigarette
and starting the one near Samos.

If you hare headed that way, 
please check with locals before walking today.
The smoke is not healthy for breathing,
and getting caught in a forest fire
isn't my idea of adventure.

Take care pilgrims,
and Buen Camino!

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Update on Hosteria Natura in Segovia

Yesterday, the management at Hosteria Natura in Segovia told me cancellation of my booking was not up to THEM, but was up to

Today I received a letter from saying:

Dear Annie Carvalho,

Thank you for contacting

My name is Anne, I’m contacting you from the Customer Relations department on behalf of Claire Ratty, who personally forwarded your email to us with regards to confirmation number 2085837422.

First of all, our sincerest apologies for the inconvenience caused by your recent experience while using our service, we completely understand your frustration. From now on, I will personally follow up with your case.

I have recently contacted the property, asking to exceptionally cancel the reservation free of charges. Please note that by finalizing the booking, you have entered a contract of service is exclusively between you and the hotel.

Therefore can't take any decision about the cancellation fees.


It seems, despite what they say, it is Hosteria Natura's decision whether to cancel or not.

Why would they lie?

But then, why wouldn't they cancel a booking that is made by mistake SEVEN MONTHS in advance???

We can only assume it is so they could book the room again and collect double the fees.

I am so sorry I have sent so many pilgrims to this hostal. 
People make mistakes and if this reservation had been made one or two months in advance, I can see charging me a fine or fee. But seven months?  The ONLY reason not to cancel it free is €€€€€.

What goes around comes around.
It's sad, but true.

Too bad.
It was a good option for pilgrims walking the Camino Madrid.
I can no longer recommend people stay there.

I can only say beware...

Monday, October 09, 2017

Car Bed is done!

Building the car bed this year was easier than in 2011.
First I took out the front passenger seat and the back of the passenger seat behind it.  It was pretty grubby down underneath those seats!  It's an old car.  But it didn't take much to clean it up.

Yucky carpet under the seat!
 We took plywood and cut it to fit.
I wanted to have a hinge on the bed
so I could store bins of my clothing underneath the bed.

Last time I did this, I made the opening on the outside edge.
This time, I wanted to be able to get into my bins 
from the INSIDE of the car. 

Here is the top of the car bed.

The bottom, where my feet will go, extends into the trunk area.
Last time I just laid down that rear seat back,
but this time I took it completely off so I'd have room to store items
under the bottom of the bed in the back seat.
Things like my art supplies will slide right under.

Here, you can see the bins underneath the seat.
This is where I'll keep my clothes.

Next, I went looking for a foam mattress.
Originally, I thought I'd cut up my tempurpedic mattress,
but decided against it for now. Maybe when I get a van!

So I checked out Joann's and Fred Meyer for foam.
Joann's had good high density foam but it would have cost well over $50 and that was with a 40% discount coupon.
Freddies had sheets of foam but they were not the quality I was looking for.
When I built my bed in 2011, I got the foam sheet from a reupholster business.
It was just scrap for him so it was cheap cheap cheap.

I learned that foam naturally changes color as time passes
but that doesn't affect the quality.

I came home, took an electric knife to my old foam bed.
When I shaved off a slice and looked inside, it was just like new!
It will do just fine!
I carved it to fit my new bed, 
which is a little narrower than the one from 2011,
and vacuumed it, 
and it fits like a glove.

Today I took an old set of flannel sheets, 
cut them up, and made new sheets for my car bed.

I cut the flat sheets in half and got 2 top sheets!

Using my handy dandy serger, they were quickly finished!

The bottom sheets were a bit more difficult, 
as the car bed is a bizarre shape at the bottom.
I got only one bottom sheet out of the flannel, 
and a flat "undersheet" to protect the foam.

Here is my car bed with new sheets.
Out of a set of full sized flannel sheets,
I got one flat undersheet,
one fitted bottom sheet,
two flat top sheets,
and 4 pillowcases.
I sleep with travel sized pillows
even at home, so this worked out great!
(That strap you see is the seat belt -
difficult to take photos of such a small space!)

I took a trip to Goodwill
and found a really nice down comforter with duvet
for only $12. So my bed is ready.

I stuck my new cooler in the bathtub to soak.
I picked up this small cooler at Goodwill yesterday.
It was "yellow sticker day" so I got it half price
for only $4.
It's exactly what I need since the only item I'll need to cool
will be my almond milk and maybe a container of leftovers.
Sweet deal!

I went through my food storage last night
to see what might work for me.
I pulled out a few items, like dehydrated refried beans
and potato pearls.
I also have packages of tofu which do not need refrigeration.
I need to think about how much food I want to carry.

Stay tuned. 

Next, I can begin packing the trunk!

Friday, September 15, 2017

Warriors On The Way

“I unburdened a heavy load from my soul… I’d just taken the first step of a… spiritual journey that would change my life.” ~Martin Sheen~

PTSD is a terrible burden carried by many Combat Veterans - Help unburden a soul - Help put a Warrior on the Way.

Warriors on the Way is a Veterans Pilgrimage on the Camino de Santiago (Spain) designed to put those with PTSD on the Path to Healing.

Please go to their Facebook page for more information and message us to express interest in providing support or becoming a participant.

If you would like to share the appeal letter with another person or possibly a company that would may wish to be a corporate sponsor please message us so we can send you a PDF copy.

Warriors on the Way Facebook Page

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Tomatoes, Tomatoes everywhere!

My tomatoe plants are producing like crazy this year!

Here is today's haul.

They came with friends; rutabagas, beets, onions. cucumbers, and strawberries.

With my roommate gone for a month, 
it's a LOT of food for one person.
So I'm dehydrating the tomatoes today.

Here's a good start. Sprinkled with salt and garlic powder,
these make a wonderful winter snack!

When they're finished, tomorrow,
I'll pack them into jars like these.

Good in soups, sauces, or just to eat like candy!
Maybe I'll carry some on the Camino!

I love my garden!

Taxis in Spain

Despite what some well-meaning people tell you, there's no law against grabbing a taxi on the Camino until you get to Sarria. From Sarria to Santiago, or from any other route, you must WALK every step of the last 100 kilometers.  However, before that, it's fine to hail a taxi if you need one.

Always hail a taxi that is already going your own direction. They will almost never do a U-turn for you.

If they have a client in the seat, they probably will not stop for you.

If they do not have a passenger, they may be on their way to pick one up.

If there is not a taxi in your area, your fare may include the drive to the pick up point. For instance, if you are in Foncebadon and need a taxi to Molinaseca, changes are you will pay the fare for both directions, unless the taxi is already AT Foncebadon.

Your taxi should have a meter. Be sure it is turned on.  There are general guidelines for taxi fares and most taxi drivers are very honest.  If your taxi does not have a meter, he may be freelancing (or even illegal.) At that point it's up to you if you want to negotiate your fare. If he has and is using a meter, please do not try to negotiate. This is Spain, not Mexico.

Though most fares are set, be sure to agree on the fare BEFORE you get into the taxi. Just ask, "Cuanto cuesta Molinaseca?"

If you are in a village and don't see a taxi, go to the nearest bar or lodging. They will almost always call for you.

As you are walking, keep your eyes peeled for local taxi numbers. You will often find them posted on signs along the route.

The taxi fare is per taxi, not per person.  So for instance, if the fare from Foncebadon to Molinaseca is €20 and there are four pilgrims, the price will be only €5 per person.  It's usually easiest for one person to do the paying and collect from the others once you're at your destination.

Talk to your taxi driver!  They are used to pilgrims, and are often quite friendly and full of information! Many do speak a bit of English.

My favorite taxi service is Caminofacil. They also do luggage transfer and you can book ahead. I often use them for Santiago to Sarria pilgrims:

Teletaxi San Fermin will carry you from Pamlona to SJPP or Roncesvalles:

I use Express Bourricott in SJPP.

Buen Camino!

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 on the Camino ... 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.