Calling All Camino Pilgrims!

As mentioned in my previous blog, my sister Heather and I are collaborating on an art project about our Camino experience: NuestroCamino. I am happy to report that there has been lots of progress! Heather has completed the first 16 pieces and I have been busy with fundraising research, creating postcards with information about the project and pulling together details on how our fellow pilgrims can include their stories as part of NuestroCamino. If you’re reading this and you’re a pilgrim, you’re probably wondering, “What are those details?” Thank you for asking!

We are looking for short videos (maximum of 3 minutes) from our fellow pilgrims with any Camino stories that you’d like to share. Please include your name, where you are from, when you walked the Camino and which route you walked in the video. You can tell us anything about your Camino experience. Here are some ideas:

  • What inspired you to walk the Camino?
  • What did you learn while walking the Camino?
  • Did you learn anything once you returned home from the Camino?
  • What’s your favorite memory of the Camino?
  • What was the most challenging part about the Caminoe?
  • Would you walk the Camino again?
  • Would you recommend the Camino to others?

Once you’re done with the video, e-mail it to nuestrocamino@HeatherHarrisArt.com with a PDF Document completed and signed video release form (PDF). (The completed and signed form can be a scan or a photo.) We will be compiling all of the videos to tell the story of NuestroCamino.

You can also find all of these details on NuestroCamino: How Can I Be Involved?

We look forward to seeing those videos!

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NuestroCamino

It’s been almost 3 years since my sister Heather and I walked the Camino. In 2017 we’ve decided to work together on an art project. We are calling it NuestroCamino.  In the fall, we want to bring NuestroCamino to ArtPrize in Grand Rapids, Michigan. ArtPrize is an international art competition held annually and unlike traditional competitions, ArtPrize artists are judged by the public and by a jury of professional artists.

Heather is the older sister by three and a half years and is an award-winning artist . Her most recent creations combine digital photography and images with welded frames that extend the image. She is multi-talented, able to capture and manipulate her own world through the camera, computers, and metal sculpture. Even though I am the younger sister, we often joke that birth order descriptions have us reversed. I’m best described as organized, detail oriented and practical. Between the two of us, we offer a very complementary set of skills and that’s why we are excited to work on NuestroCamino together.

NuestroCamino involves creating 70 pieces of art, a pair for each day that we walked. The pieces will flow from right to left representing our travel from East to West. Heather will continue her signature style in this installation where the first piece in each pair will be from a photograph that one of us took that day and the second piece will be an interpretation of the photograph. One piece within the pair will be hung over the other and the width of the pair is the scaled distance we walked each day. The height of both pieces together is the scaled highest elevation achieved that day. In the end, visitors will see a giant graph. Between each day’s pieces, there will be a digital frame rotating through our photos of the day and that day’s story. After all of the pieces, we will include stories and interviews with our fellow pilgrims. (To our fellow pilgrims…stay tuned for more information on this!)

We’ve set up a GoFundMe campaign to help with the cost. All donations are appreciated and will ensure that we can bring NuestroCamino to completion. We are very excited to be able to share our journey with everyone!

You can follow the creation of NuestroCamino in the NuestroCamino Facebook album and find out more about the project on NuestroCamino on Heather’s web site.

nuestrocamino

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A Look Back At Our Camino

Here’s an 11 minute look at our 36 day 500 mile walk across Spain this past summer.

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Fellow Pilgrims’ Blogs

For anyone contemplating walking the Camino and are looking for more personal stories from other pilgrims, here are some links to some of my fellow pilgrims that I met on my Camino:

Buen Camino!

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Day 38 – Finisterre/Fisterra (July 3)

No sleeping in today because we were off to Finisterre, the end of the earth. There are many pilgrims that walk the approximately 90 km from Santiago to Finisterre. It takes about 3 days and since we didn’t have the time or desire, we opted for the 2 hour bus ride. We got lost walking to the bus station and I feared we would miss the 9 am bus and have to wait an hour for the next one but we ended up getting there just in time.

Something about being in a moving vehicle puts to me sleep but what I saw when I was awake was quite beautiful as we drove along the coast. It was quite hilly which made me feel for the pilgrims that did walk it.

We arrived around 11 am and were lured by one of the many albergue owners when we got off the bus to check out his albergue. We really wanted a room with its own bathroom and when we saw that it did not, despite what he told us, we decided we needed to contemplate over drinks and food. We sat near the water and had sangria, a bowl of melted mozzarella cheese and pizza. We then decided we’re rather stay in a hotel so we booked one online while we enjoyed the sun, sangria and food. The hotel ended up being a little further out than we realized but it was a nice walk along the beach.

After getting settled in to our room and a quick nap, we ventured off on the 4 km walk to the lighthouse. It was mostly on the road and was a relatively easy walk. After checking out the area, we stopped in the bar for a drink. It was about 8:00 and we momentarily contemplated staying for sunset but the sun sets so late (10:30ish) and we were tired so we headed back towards town. As we walked back, we saw lots of people heading up to the lighthouse with bags of food and wine. We assume everyone was picnicking for sunset. The next day we found out from Robert from California that we could’ve taken a boat tour at sunset. Life is too short for regrets but if I was to have any regrets for this trip, that would be one of them, either not staying for sunset or not taking the boat cruise. Based on a few pictures that I saw from Robert, it was a beautiful sunset.

On the way back through town, we stopped for dinner. I finally had some paella. I’m not sure if it was authentic but it was quite tasty. (My second regret would be not having the paella in one of the albergues we stayed at because it looked authentic.)

We headed back to Santiago the next day on the noon bus and were back by 2ish. We checked back into the same hotel, only this time we ended up with rooms in the albergue part of the the hotel instead of the hotel rooms. We each got our own room and it was a bit cheaper than the hotel rooms but definitely not as nice. We had to be out the door by 4:30 am so we weren’t spending too much time in the room and it seemed appropriate to spend the last night in albergure style.

We wandered around Santiago a bit more and then had some very excellent tapas for dinner with Robert from California and Katja from Germany. As we wandered around, we realized we didn’t recognize anyone anymore. A new batch of pilgrims arrived and most of our pilgrim friends were either home or on their way home.

Katja had to catch a bus so we said good-bye and then got ice cream and wandered around a bit more with Robert. Since we had to be up early, we headed back to the hotel, but not without first running into Philip and Herman from Holland. With those good-byes and a good-bye to Robert, we called it a night.

I’m writing this somewhere over the Atlantic, between Madrid and New York. And the video system is down….bummer! Perhaps I’ll spend some time contemplating and reflecting on the past 6 weeks. Or maybe I’ll just sleep.

Cross in Finisterre

Cross in Finisterre

The beach

The beach in Finisterre

The beach in Finisterre

The beach in Finisterre

Heather and the pilgrim statue

Heather and the pilgrim statue

View on the way up to the lighthouse

View on the way up to the lighthouse

Pilgrim statue on the way to the lighthouse

Pilgrim statue on the way to the lighthouse

Cross at the lighthouse

Cross at the lighthouse

A couple of pilgrims at the cross

A couple of pilgrims at the cross

View from the end of the earth

View from the end of the earth

Kristy contemplating at the end of the earth

Kristy contemplating at the end of the earth

Heather feeling powerful at the end of the earth

Heather feeling powerful at the end of the earth

Another cross at the lighthouse

Another cross at the lighthouse

Zero marker near the lighthouse

Zero marker near the lighthouse

Paella

Paella

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Day 37 – Santiago (July 2)

Our first day to sleep in. We didn’t get up until almost 10 and that was so we could eat breakfast before they stopped serving at 10:30. And it was a day of leisure. We window shopped, went back to the cathedral to see a few things we missed yesterday and we picked up our second compostela from the Francistern order to celebrate St. Francis of Assisi’s pilgrimmage 800 years ago. (They only give out their compostelas every 100 years, according to what I read.)  And we continued to run into people:

  • Jim and Laura from Buffalo and who stayed with us the first night in Orisson. It had only been a few days since we saw them.
  • Philip, Ann and Grainne from Ireland. Philip and Grainne also stayed in Orisson with us on the first night
  • Samantha from Alabama. Also an Orisson pilgrim. We hadn’t seen her since Pamplona
  • The Austin boys
  • Nev who walked from Prague to Santiago and then an additional 90 km to Finisterre and was back in Santiago today
  • Joey and Wendy from Canada
  • Robert from California
  • Natasha and Desiree from Canada
  • Ned from Austin. We haven’t caught up with his wife and daughter yet but we’re convinced we’ll see them in the airport since we met them in the Austin airport before we even left.

It really is like a reunion. You just wander around the city and keep running into people. It just makes you smile. We had originally planned to go to Finisterre today but decided to wait until tomorrow because the weather looks nicer tomorrow. I’m very glad we waited because then we would’ve missed out on seeing everyone. It’s also a bit sad becauase everyone is starting to head home.

Tomorrow we head west to Finisterre (on the coast) by bus. There are many pilgrims that walk the 90 km but one, we don’t have the time and two, we don’t have the desire. We’ll happily enjoy being able to look out the window of the bus.

I’m looking forward to seeing the beach…it’s been too long!

Casket containing the relics of St. James

Casket containing the relics of St. James

Altar in the cathedral

Altar in the cathedral

Grainne and Ann (from Ireland), Laura, Jim and Walker (from Buffalo, NY and who were with us in Orisson), Samantha (from Alabama and was also with us in Orisson) and Harper (from Colorado, who we just met today but had been hanging out with Philip)

Grainne and Ann (from Ireland. Grainne and her dad Philip were with us the first night in Orisson), Laura, Jim and Walker (from Buffalo, NY and who were with us in Orisson), Samantha (from Alabama and was also with us in Orisson) and Harper (from Colorado, who we just met today but had been hanging out with Philip)

Joey and Wendy from Vancouver

Joey and Wendy from Vancouver

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Day 36 – O Pedrouzo to Santiago (July 1)

Map: Day 36

Complete Map: All Days

All I have to say is WOW! We freakin’ walked 500 miles. There were days when I was so tired I didn’t want to walk anymore. There were days when it felt like it was a job. However looking back, I’m glad we kept at it and finished. It’s a huge sense of accomplishment. I do wonder when I will be able to get up without being stiff or when I can completely feel the bottoms of my feet again. I also wonder if we’ll keep in touch with everyone. (Thanks to social media, it’s much easier.) It’ll be interesting to see if I have any “a-ha’s” as everything sinks in and we head home. Only time will tell.

Because the pilgrim mass is at noon in Santiago and we were still 20 km away, we were out the door before 6 am. Lots of other pilgrims had the same idea. It rained a bit on the walk but cleared up for the walk into Santiago.I’ve seen pictures where it shows lots of pilgrims descending into Santiago and it ended up being nothing like that.  It was actually quite anti-climatic. We walked into Santiago and then had to walk through the entire town to get to the cathedral. I kept thinking at any moment, there would be cheering in the streets for us. After walking 500 miles, it seemed like it would’ve been appropriate. We didn’t even really get very many “Buen Caminos” from the locals. They’re just going about their daily lives which involves seeing lots of pilgrims every day.

While making our way through town, we ran into Doris. We hadn’t seen her in a few weeks so it was great to see her. She had been in Santiago for a few days already.

It seemed like forever to get to the cathedral. And I’m not sure whose idea it was to make cobblestone streets but they are so hard on your feet when you’ve been walking and walking and walking. Clearly the roadmakers haven’t walked the Camino.

As we neared the cathedral, Liz and Alex and their crew of about 10 were standing there cheering everyone on. It was exactly what we needed and very much appreciated!  Then it was on to the pilgrim office to get our compostelas and check our bags before heading in for the noon pilgrim mass. We barely made it and by the time we got into the cathedral, all of the pews were taken so we had to make do with sitting on the pillars. I went to Catholic school for eight years but it’s been a while since I’ve been to any sort of mass and it was in Spanish so it was a bit hard to follow. The one part I did recogize by the rhythm of the dialogue was the “Peace be with you” part. (I’m sure there’s an official name that I should know after going to Catholic school but I don’t remember.)

The best part of the mass was the botafumeiro (giant incense burner). It’s only guaranteed to be used at the Friday evening masses but for whatever reason, our mass had it too. We’ve heard that if someone (or a group of people) pays 350 Euros, they’ll bring it out. According to the guidebook, it was originally used to “fumigate the sweaty (and possibly disease-ridden) pilgrims”. It was amazing to see how high it swung. It was almost to the ceiling and in a cathedral, that’s incredibly high.

After mass, we shopped for souvenirs and just wandered around. It was fun to see everyone and shared lots of congratulatory hugs. It was like a reunion because we saw people we hadn’t seen in days, or even a couple of weeks.

And we had the best lunch. We found an Italian restaurant and ordered some pizza and pasta. It was delicious. Towards the end of our meal, a couple from California sat down next to us. They finished a day or two before but had started in Le Puy France and had been walking since the end of April. It was fun to exchange stories with them. That’s one of, if not THE, greatest things about the Camino….the instant friendship and camaraderie amongst the pilgrims.

As we continued to wander around and run into friends, we asked everyone where they were staying since we still didn’t have a place to stay. We knew we didn’t want to stay in an albergue. We were ready for a hotel room with our very own bathroom. We finally settled on San Martin Pinario which is an old monastery.

After getting settled into our room, we headed back out for more wandering around and ran into Philip, Herman and Ruth (from Holland and Germany) so we went and had dinner with them. Okay, we had wine and snacks. I’m not sure it really qualified as dinner. But it was lots of laughs. It was midnight by the time we went to bed which is incredibly late compared to the past five weeks.

Buen Camino!

Encouragement along the way

Encouragement along the way

Crosses in the fence

Crosses in the fence

A pretty flower

A pretty flower

Monument commemorating the visit of Pope John Paul II in Monte del Gozo

Monument commemorating the visit of Pope John Paul II in Monte del Gozo

Santiago is finally in view!

Santiago is finally in view!

Sign as we entered Santiago

Sign as we entered Santiago

Heather and Hamza

Heather and Hamza

The Botafumeiro in mid flight

The Botafumeiro in mid flight

Cathedral of Santiago. Lots of restoration work is happening right now.

Cathedral of Santiago. Lots of restoration work is happening right now.

Look who we ran into. The Oregon ladies - Marinela, Alyssa and Melinda. We stayed with them in Orisson and hadn't seen them in forever.

Look who we ran into. The Oregon ladies – Marinela, Alyssa and Melinda. We stayed with them in Orisson and hadn’t seen them in forever.

Dinner with Philip, Herman and Ruth

Dinner with Philip, Herman and Ruth

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