Thursday, August 20, 2009

El Camino de Santiago

For 3 days during our training, we walked on the Camino -- 52 miles total! The last day was the hardest and longest as we walked 22 miles! Whew! I was so happy to reach our final destination!!

The path is marked with yellow arrows. ALWAYS FOLLOW THE YELLOW ARROWS!!!!

walking buddy Erin!

Mare and Helari (from Estonia!!)

Taking a short break at a cafe. The second day it rained a LOT, hence the garbage bags on our backpacks! My backpack is on the far right on the ground! :)
Corn Fields! :)

Mareike (Germany) taking a little snack break

Arrival at destination on Day 2!

Day 3: Arrival at Portomarin, halfway point to Ligonde (only 11 miles left to walk!) This was right before an ice cream treat!

We've walked 16 miles at this point, only 6 left but it's getting really tiring and hard!

WE MADE IT!!!!!!! I've never been so happy in my life!!

After everyone arrived in Ligonde, the blister-popping, back massages, foot massages, and showers began!!

We were also given the GREAT news that the refuge / hostel that was normally for pilgrims, had been reserved for US that night so we all got to sleep in a bed!!! It was AMAZING as the last 2 nights had been on a gym floor and a concrete slab. :)

Oh man, the camino is incredible! It's hard, but SO WORTH it!

(Shorty, soon London pictures) :)

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Ligonde, Spain

I just spent an INCREDIBLE 3 weeks in Spain (in Ligonde and Madrid) and then London, England! I will do seperate blog posts to show pictures since there are SO MANY! So first... Ligonde, Spain.

Ligonde is a LITTLE LITTLE village in northern Spain situated right on the Camino de Santiago (the Way of St. James) which is a "pilgrimage" that people walk on all year long (pictures of that later). I was there with 30 other staff and students from all over Europe for 2 weeks of training. It wasn't just theoretical training, but we also had a chance to put into practice what we were learning.

Campus Crusade in Spain owns a hostel in Ligonde and welcomes pilgrims who are walking on the camino to stay there a night for free -- free bed, free food, free coffee, great environment! Different volunteer groups come throughout the summer to take care of and run the hostel; and that's what we did for 2 weeks along with our training.

We did everything from cooking food, washing dishes, changing sheets on the beds, cleaning toilets, making gallons and gallons of coffee, etc. etc.

IT WAS AMAZING!!! We got to meet people from all over the world!

cooking in the kitchen

We had a table out front where we would welcome pilgrims as they walked by, offering them free coffee, tea, or some literature.

This is the little hostel / refuge! A maximum of 20 people could stay each night; 10 beds upstairs, and then we set up 10 cots in the garage (room with door open in picture)

pilgrims walking by, some pilgrims did the camino on bike also

Erin (from the US, living in Spain) and Andreas (from Latvia) eating yummy watermelon!
Behind them was my home for the 2 weeks -- I stayed in the far left tent with 4 other girls!

On the Camino you follow yellow arrows painted on sides of buildings, signs, walls, etc. to know which way to go. This yellow arrow pointed to some place of great importance... :)

Training time in the mornings

Valdis (Latvia, at the back of the picture) and Titus (Germany) cleaning the bathrooms!

Every night we would prepare a nice meal and set the table for the pilgrims -- we wanted them to feel special, loved and a little spoiled! It was so fun serving them and seeing them so honored. Romans (Latvia) is setting the table

We played COUNTLESS games of UNO, Phase-10, and Jungle Speed! Josef (the Netherlands), me, Titus (Germany)

pilgrims enjoying rest after a long days walk -- they usually walked between 20-30km / day, so were tired when they arrived to the refuge.

This was our lunch every day! Incredible salads with bread, cheese and meat!

Bekah (left) who I joined staff with in the States and now works in Madrid, Spain. It was SO great to see her again! These were 2 wonderful pilgrims we met!

"Fuente del Peregrino" means "Fountain of the Pilgrim" and the water that comes from there is VERY fresh and amazing, which was a blessing to pilgrims would often refill their water bottles.

It was such a unique opportunity to serve people! During our 2 weeks there we also had the opportunity to walk on the Camino for 3 days -- about 50 miles. I'll put pictures up later.