Saturday, July 31, 2010

El destino final

Camino de Santiago--continued

To wrap-up this segment of our Adventures in Europe, let me take you to the final destination of the popular pilgrimage.

These glimpses of what we experienced that day are meant to give you a feel of the massive structures and of the masses that throng the Catedral de Santiago.  I can't imagine what it must have been like last Sunday, the day of St. James, and on Holy Year at that!

There were so many entrances and crowds of people everywhere. Reviewing the photos, I have become very confused as to what was where. No matter, this will give you an onlooker's first impressions.

Is that supposed to be St. James up there, and which one--James the brother of Jesus or James the Greater?

Wikipedia says:
According to legend, the apostle Saint James the Greater brought Christianity to the Celts in the Iberian Peninsula. In 44 AD he was beheaded in Jerusalem. His remains were later brought back to Galicia, Spain
 I have enjoyed this travelogue-of-sorts because it has forced me to research and learn a lot of interesting things.
Did you know that Spain has the second largest number of UNESCO-declared World Heritage sites (41 in all) and Santiago de Compostela is one of the main ones?
For more fascinating facts go to history of el Camino.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Los peregrinos

I mentioned in yesterday's post that I would share about the pilgrims we encountered in our travels.

We saw many the day we visited Santiago de Compostela, all making their way to the final destination--the cathedral built as a shrine to James the Apostle, said to be buried there.

The pilgrims come from around the world for different reasons. The report says: 55% for religious reasons; 5% cultural, and 40% both. Some want time to think and reflect, others seek adventure. 

They carry their gear, a walking stick, and the symbolic scallop shell.

They come on foot, on horseback, on bicycles. If the walkers (Caminantes)100 kilometers (200 km for the bikers or horse riders) and can prove it by getting their passport-of-sorts stamped along the way, when they arrive at their final destination, the Cathedral of St. James, they are awarded the compostela, the document that certifies the completion of the Way for devotionis affectu, voti vel pietatis causa--for devotion, to fulfill a promise, or for piety.

This older man had been walking two months all the way from middle or northern France. He was asking  Alberto about lodging for the night, if there were pilgrim-hostels nearby or whether he could just camp out at a farm house. Our host assured him (in French) that people would be very helpful.

I first saw the old man kneeling in a small chapel on the marked route.

When we first met this lady in the circle of friends, she had just returned from walking the Camino with a friend for eleven days. The aspect they enjoyed the most was the community feel, sharing with the people they met along the way. She had funny stories to tell of enduring terrible snorers, osos (bears) they called them.

We saw a good many more pilgrims, some fellow passengers on the flights coming back. And since then I keep hearing of others who have experienced the Camino or want to in their life time.

My favorite story, written by a woman from Wisconsin, tells what she did and why. She ran and prayed.

Nearly one thousand years ago, Pope Alexander III declared that during a year of jubilee or holy year, i.e. when the day of St. James (July 25th) falls on a Sunday, the faithful could have all their sins forgiven.
I am grateful that long before that, Jesus Christ took the punishment for my sins on the cross so that I could have my sins forgiven and have eternal life!

P.S.:  Our girl Amaia arrived safely as of last night very late.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010


We said goodbye to our girl on Sunday and she is not home yet! This is the third day, that's THREE days.
Sunday night we heard that the plane out of Chicago had problems, was turned around, but not allowed to land until it had burned up more fuel. They finally flew out  Monday afternoon. Amaia's group, the last one, had a 14 hr. layover in Brussels and should finally be landing about now, Tuesday afternoon, four o'clock our time, ten theirs. We will not rest easy until we hear that they have arrived safely.

Looking back on our own overseas adventure, almost eight weeks ago, I realize how fortunate we were that in spite of a couple delays, our flight schedule was not interrupted and we arrived in Spain as planned.

I remember how new and different everything was. We had to find our way to the car rental place; they didn't have the GPS we'd ordered. We asked for directions to La Coruña, Galicia, on the far western corner of Spain and they gave us three main cities to look for. We stopped and bought a map and were busy following it and reading signs. Oh, and figuring out the car with all its bells and whistles!

We chose to follow the Northern coast. Midway across Northern Spain  we were too tired to continue and decided to spend the night in Gijón, Asturias, the capital of the Costa Verde. Interestingly, one website says,
Visiting the city of Gijón is a great way to begin an adventure into the rural countryside of northern Spain. Gijón is a mid-sized city of about 270,000 people with all the comforts of being modern while displaying a historical taste of the region of Asturias surrounding it.
So, we had done the right thing!
We asked around and found a reasonably priced nice place to stay--Hotel Arena .
I mentioned this briefly here, in the recap of our trip.

Now let me move on to the signs that caught our attention all along the way. They mark the way for the many pilgrims that come from around the world. Read about the famous pilgrimage here. I will write about the peregrinos I met next. Would you like to do this some day? Would the experience make your bucket list?

Sunday, July 25, 2010

2010 Week 30: A VERY FULL WEEK

Invited to dinner, music and many life stories. 


This last week with our Basque students, we were trying to do all the things on our wish list.

Amaia was gone with the youth to Cedar Point; Mike worked at the Red Barn, and I planned and shopped for her birthday party. Kayla had an expander put in her mouth. Ughhhhh!

The roof is finished! The guys, all volunteers, worked very hard even in such hot weather!
One of the ideas for this addition to the Red Barn, is to have a pottery studio. (For those who do not know, the Red Barn offers an after-school program for kids in grades 6th-12th.)

The outing of the day began with a picnic lunch at Taylor Lake, some shopping and a visit to the 4H Fair in Muncie, where we got to see our friendly robot on display.

Palindrome was beeping, lights flashing, ready to 'kick' the soccer ball.

 Wednesday--Amaia's 17th birthday! 
We had a big party at Wandering Wheels--lots of food, games, swimming pool, miniature golf, but mostly family, fun, and fellowship.

We sang the birthday song in Basque--Zorionak zuri.

Another big day that wrapped up with a rousing game of spoons.

Began with visits to two hospitals where Amaia was given tours of their NICUs and pediatric wards and ended with a farewell-thank you meal prepared by our Basque teens.

  Time to pack!

One last visit to Ivanhoe's.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

2010 Week 29

Monday Meal at Chef-son's

Can you notice anything different here? Zion is sitting up, eating solids, nothing new there. What about Kayla? Maybe by the end of this post you will figure it out.

Tuesday at the Red Barn
Mike started helping with the addition to the Red Barn, so I stopped by to get a photo.

This is where I found them, not working, eating! Do they look like they'd even been working? Look at those white trousers. You can't fool me!

Wednesday at Grace Village, Winona Lake, IN

I visited Dad in the Health Center and spent the night at Mother's.

Meanwhile Kayla passed the written test and now has permission to drive with an adult!

Thursday she drove with Grandpa all the way to Muncie and back! No wonder she had a headache the next day!

Friday at IRI
The Indiana Robotics Invitational is the largest FRC (FIRST Robotics Competition) anywhere. Our team is so fortunate to have this opportunity right here in Indiana, only an hour away. 

There were 78 teams representing 17 states, plus one from Canada.

The game this year is Breakaway, a type of soccer. Team 1720 or Phyxtgears chose to make theirs a tunnel bot, one small enough to go through the opening in the center of the section dividers. Its name is Palindrome because it was made to be able to shoot balls from both ends.
In this photo our little robot was performing as programmed, for the initial 15 seconds of autonomous mode, and made a goal. They were not so fortunate in the final scores of the two days, even so they are winners for all they learn through the experience.

Saturday,  July 17--the long awaited RAIN, and I don't mean precipitation that might cool down our very hot summer (90's, even 100!), but the popular bicycle event--the Ride Across IN. Mike completed 127 of the 160 miles. Even the toughest riders had trouble due to the heat. He's home recuperating now.

And Amaia arrived back from camp this afternoon. She went to bed before 8 p.m. I think they stayed up all night talking. So we have both 'our girls' home and they share something in common now!

Friday, July 16, 2010

Flashback Friday: Words

What sort of sayings, colloquialisms, or proverbs did your family say when you were growing up? When were they used? What do you find yourself saying that you vowed you would never say? What do you say that drives your kids nuts? Is there a regional aspect to your speech? Do you have an accent and were you ever teased about it?

I was at my Mother's when I read this week's prompt, so I asked her what she remembered. She said that when she knew thought us kids were lying not being truthful, she would quote "Hablad verdad cada cual con su projimo." ("Speak the truth to each other")

I then asked whether that worked brought out the true story. She thought so.

While visiting Dad at the Health Center during lunch, Mother commented that his nose drips often. Somehow that unwanted dribble reminded me of what we used to say to alert someone that they needed to wipe their face or chin. "Mr. Jones is at the door."

I'm sure my brothers will remember many more.

Girls in Argentina or Spain have certain sayings to communicate with one another about their monthly condition: "My aunt or unwanted friend is visiting."

The Spanish language is replete with proverbs, one for every imaginable situation. I love that about the Hispanic culture. Although I am considered bilingual, I have often felt deficient in that area, unable to respond with a saying for whatever circumstance.

I am asking my family members to comment and respond to some of the questions posed by Mocha With Linda.

A few words about words, or the lack thereof. I was thinking this week about the nourishing effect of conversation. When days go by where hubby and I are unable to conversate (is that a verb?), for a variety of reasons, I seem to wilt, grow quiet, even feel shunned. It could be that words are my love language.

When words fail, actions speak. How do you like this show of affection?

"Scratch my back, I'll scratch yours."

We saw these ponies at the top of the hill overlooking Donostia.

Now a question for all about hurtful words. Can words hurt more than actions or is the "Sticks and stones may break my bones / But words will never hurt me." saying always true?

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

El marco incomparable

San Sebastián is a beautiful and famous city, Donostia in Basque.

On our first sight-seeing tour Alberto took us up a mountain for the best view of the Bahía de la Concha, which the cursi (pretentious or affected locals) call el marco incomparable (the incomparable frame or view).

A part of abstract sculpture El peine del viento (The comb of the wind) by Eduardo Chillida seen here on the right tip.

The above are some of our best photos. Now go to local photographerYosigo's website for his artistic set entitled Donostia.

What do you think, are the locals being pretentious or is it indeed the most beautiful place on earth?

Three of the Basque teens in Upland for the month are from there.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Finding Waldo

We came across a most interesting page in Real Simple magazine's latest issue, which arrived this week.

Finding Amaia on her own hometown beach may be just as challenging as Finding Waldo!

The photographer quoted above mentions the breathtaking views from the nearby mountain. We can attest to that, although my photographs will never do justice to the scenery.

 This is my best effort, taken from the Jaizkibel mountain or ridge.

You probably cannot read the small upside down print. The first town on the west side of the river (see inlet on the left) is Hondarribia and the peak in the range to the left is Jaizkibel. The east side of the Bidasoa river is France. This may help you imagine the beautiful  hilly/mountainous country we fell in love with.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

2010 Week 28

The week began celebrating the USA's 234th birthday and ended celebrating Spain's victory in the World Cup final, and in between we went camping, experienced muchísimo calor y más mosquitos que nunca!

My way of bringing together the USA and Basque Country.

We enjoyed sparklers and fireworks at the hija's place.

Monday was a holiday, Mike joined his cyclist friends all morning and again today insisted on more torture in the heat!

Tuesday mid morning we left for three days of camping at Indiana Dunes State Park where we endured the heat, suffered the mosquitoes, enjoyed the Lake Michigan beach, ate good food, played games, told stories and hung out with great friends.

Once the tents were up we went the long way to the beach via the Devil's Slide; after that we always drove.

One smart thing we did was to assign meals. I made tacos for one lunch and Swedish pancakes for Thursday breakfast. I was quite pleased with how this system worked out: shape the crepe in the pan; cook the other side on the end of the grill cover over the other burner; keep one warm on the outside end; constantly rotate and serve.

On the last morning some of us, the more competitive, enjoyed a rousing game of Nerts.

And Tess found a little friend.

We drove to Mt. Baldy to enjoy the view, the sand, the beach and the waves.

The three adventurous teens went back up to the summit for the thrill of running down again.

This morning we sent our teens off to Miracle Camp for the week.

This afternoon we were glued to the TV watching Spain and Netherlands battle it out for 120+ minutes in the World Cup!