Category Archives: pilgrim

Dancing Oaks

As I walk along the quiet lanes bordered by stone walls I hear the gentle sounds of morning. Cow bells chime lightly, birds stir in the trees, and small streams find their way along the contours of the earth under my boots. The air is crisp and cool on my skin, and my breath forms small clouds. I walk contentedly through the dawn with my recent cafe con leche still warming me, its scent mingling with the dew filled grass in the meadows. I think that the world can not get any more beautiful. A moment later the sun peeks over the horizon, filling the sky with warm pink, apricot and golden colors. The oak trees appear to dance with joy at the dawning of another serene Spanish day along the Camino.

If you would like to see more of my art work or purchase my book, “The Artist’s Journey”, please visit my website at http://www.theartistsjourney.com

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El Real de la Jara to Monesterio

The albergue in Monestario is closed, so we left a note in hideous Spanglish for the Senora asking to reserve a room for us at the Bar/Hostal Extremadura. There are many pilgrims competing for a few rooms, so off we went with a hope and a prayer under the pre-dawn violet skies. A crescent moon hung over the Castle as the quiet, stone lined lanes meandered across the hills. The hills were again filled with sheep tended by fierce dogs. We have left the province of Andalucia and entered Badjoz. The landscape is again changing to a more open and bare environment. The mountains are to the west now, and there is little shade.

Just as my feet were beginning to really hurt, a man roared up in a car motioning to us  and began speaking excitedly in German / Spanish. The senora did, indeed, make our reservations and we were meeting the owner of the hostel, Eduardo. He offered to take our mochillas, or backpacks, ahead for us. I was out of my pack before you could say, “It’s another Camino Miracle!” Ask and the Camino provides. The temperature was in the upper 90*’s F, so it was a relief to feel the breeze on our backs without the extra weight of our packs. I felt as light as the lambs cavorting in the nearby pastures.

It was a day of contrasts in walking. We had to navigate some ugly areas and busy freeway interchanges. Walking along the side some busy secondary roads and next to freeways was hair raising. The pavement is hard on the feet as well as intensifying the heat. It is not all pretty on the Camino, but such is life. In general, the friends of the Camino have done a fantastic job keeping us in the countryside and along quiet lanes.

At Monestario we took a rest day, or “Lay day”, as Judy would say. This is definitely the center of pig  country. The main industry  is raising pigs and turning them into the famous Iberian Hams, or Jamon Iberico. One of the merchants had a good sense of humor, combining the name of the town (Monesterio) with  ham (Jamon) on the front doors of his export business.

Judy is such a kick and I am so glad we have teamed up. We were sitting outside of the hostel, having just discovered that the bar and restaurant by the same name were all seperate, yet shave a building and a sign. Judy looked up with a puzzled look on her face and said, “Ayah, how’re ya supposed ta know? That sign up there has a different name yet. It says C L I M A T I C A CI O N ….” I said, “Um, that means air conditioned, or climate controlled.” We all laughed until our sides ached. I had to admit that the only reason I know the word Climatication is because when my son, Justin, and I were here when it was 120 degrees. W e would look for those signs and not stay anyplace with out it. The irony is that the air conditioners are fiendishly effiecient. It is so arctic inside that you have to sleep with all the blankets, towels, your coat, and anything else you can find in order to not freeze to death!

Distance from El Real De la Jara to Monesterio = 12.6 Miles

Actual Distance Walked=16.22 Miles

Accommodations= Bar / Hostel Extremadura, 12 Euro per person, double room over the bar with a private bathroom, and clotheslines on the roof.

There is a small Albergue in town, but it was closed in April 2011.

www.theartistsjourney.com


The Virgin of Granada

A lovely church dedicated to the Virgin of Granada dominates the town square of Guillena. It was built at the beginning of the 1400’s  in the Mudejar style, which blends Islamic and Christian design elements. I was attracted to the tile imagery set into the white wall of the church.  The virgin portrayed is known as “Our lady of Sorrows“. The late afternoon sun warmed my back as I sat drawing her, wondering of her significance to the town. She holds the crown of thorns and a piece of cloth in her hands, as a halo of thorns circles her head. Tears appear on her face as she walks away from the scene of the crucifixion in her royal purple robes. Although this is a sad scene, the portrait somehow touched me deeply.

Why did the people of this small Spanish town choose her to be their patron saint? What are their deeply held beliefs? She seemed to be saying to me that no matter how terrible things seem, you must still walk on with dignity. We are capable of bearing the unimaginable. Things have to get better from here on out.  She reminded me of the deeper and more significant meaning of things that happen to us,     setting us on our personal Pilgrimages through life.   She seemed to be looking to the  light on the wall to her left, and traveling toward it. Symbolically, it cast a lovely multi-colored shadow. Do we walk to the light or to the darkness, or do we always encounter both on our journey?

This drawing was rendered in Faber Castel colored pencil and highlighted with a Micron ink pen. I used a Bee Paper Company Professional Series, 93 Lb.  Heavyweight drawing paper, 9 X 9 inches. It stood up well to the pressure applied by the color pencils, and had a nice tooth (texture) for layering the color.   This is the first drawing that I have done in colored pencil. I liked the waxy textures achieved by the layering of colors, and the variety that can be achieved with only a few basic colors.

www.theartistsjourney.com


Seville

We had a beautiful day in Seville, blue skies and temperatures in the upper 80´s. We strolled to the tourist office and found that nobody knows anything about getting a Pilgrim´s Credential. We were directed to a Backpackers Hostel in the old Triana district on the other side of the river. We found cute, soft white puppies playing fetch with abandon, cafe con leche in quaint side walk cafes, flower filled balconies and beautiful tiles gracing white, yellow ocher and cinnamon colored buildings. Palm trees and trellises of deep purple Wisteria in full bloom, their scent perfuming the air.

In this quarter bordering the Guadalquivir River there stands a 12 sided tower, originally a part of the Moorish town fortified walls, called the Torre del Oro, or Golden Tower. It is said to have been covered in golden tiles, and it also held the riches from all of the Americas in the Age of Discoveries. This is the city that Columbus and other explorers set out from and returned to, via the Rio Guadalquivir, discovering new worlds and changing the course of history forever.

We found the little hostel amid all of this visual candy and got our Pilgrims Passports, or credential del Peregrino.We bought 2 each because it will take us so long to walk the entire way. At the end of the day we stumbled upon a door in the Cathedral which we were allowed to enter. No tourists allowed, but as Peregrinas we were able to enter a beautiful and serene chapel decked out in Silver with Mary in primary attendance. We found the priest to stamp our credentials for the beginning of our journey, and there was a man who was very distraught because he wanted to begin walking tomorrow and had been frustrated in not finding a credential. Even the Cathedral does not supply them, and the priest could not tell him where to get one. I opened my purse and gave him my second credential. It felt like the right thing to do, he was most grateful and surprised, and the priest immediately declared it a miracle. So there will be a man named Peter in Australia, who will say “I don´t know who she was, but this Pilgrim gave me her credential, and I was able to be on my way.” I felt honored to be able to help a fellow Pilgrim and that it was really the right thing to do. I know I will be able to get another one somewhere, and I feel good about giving back a little bit of goodness to the Camino. When we finished our reflections in the Chapel, Peter was waiting outside with a most anxious look on his face. He rushed up to me, saying, ” You did not have to pay for this, did you, Love?” I told him one Euro only, kissed him on both cheeks and wished him a Buen Camino. Sigh. If only real life could work this way! I think I saw Santiago smiling.

www.theartistsjourney.com


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