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Month: August 2016

Win a DVD copy of The Way

Win a DVD copy of The Way

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You can win my personal Free DVD copy of the movie: THE WAY

All you have to do is enter your Name and E-Mail address below!

1 winner will be chosen this Monday, August  29,2016 at 5pm CST

Learn more about the Movie: THE WAY by Clicking Here

 
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The Way – A Movie Review

The Way – A Movie Review

The Way (2010)The Way by Emilio Estevez

Cast: Martin Sheen, Emilio Estevez, Deborah Kara Unger, Yorick van Wageningen and James Nesbitt

Director: Emilio Estevez

Synopsis: Martin Sheen plays an American doctor, Tom, who travels to France after his son (Emilio Estevez) dies while attempting to walk the Camino de Santiago. After he puts his son’s affairs in order, Tom decides to finish the journey in his stead. The Camino, also known as The Way of St. James proves to offer adventure and companionship around every turn – whether he wants it or not. His many experiences along “The Way,” help Tom realize what his son meant by “the life we live and the life we choose.”

Review:

Emilio Estevez brings Jack Hitt’s book to life in this stunning movie that showcases one man’s journey along the Camino de Santiago, a 490-mile pilgrimage (also known as The Way of St. James) across Spain.

When Tom’s (Martin Sheen) son unexpectedly passes away, he must travel to France to bring him home. When he arrives, he learns that his son died in his effort to walk the Camino de Santiago. Rather than return home, Tom decides to finish the pilgrimage in his honor.

Though Tom plans to walk The Way of St. James on his own, he soon meets and travels with three other pilgrims from around the world: a Dutchman (Yorick van Wageningen) wanting to lose weight, a Canadian (Deborah Kara Unger), who is trying to quit smoking and an Irish writer (James Nesbitt), who is struggling with writer’s block.

The film serves as a great reminder that there is much in this life that we forget to experience and rarely appreciate – our family, friends, this vast and amazing world, and often, our own spirituality. The cast is a perfect gang of misfits and certainly represent the characters one would meet along such an incredible journey. They are relatable; while driving the viewer crazy, they are also endearing and loveable.

As the pilgrims journey along The Way, they experience adventure, sadness, drama and humor; the viewer often feels as though they are walking the Camino with them. The film touches on a plethora of emotions and creates an unexpected impact on all who watch it.

Though the film is 123 minutes long, it moves quickly and the gorgeous landscape of Spain and France give the viewer a case of wanderlust and a desire to learn the difference between “the life we live and the life we choose.”

The Way is exciting, dramatic and funny – well worth two hours of your time. It is currently available on Netflix or you can purchase it on DVD by our friends at Books-A-Million.  Just CLICK HERE and search “The Way” in the DVD category!

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Have you seen the movie, The Way? If so, tell us if/how it impacted you in the comments below.

Darcee SniderAbout Our Guest Poster:

Darcee Snider is a Wyoming native, who appreciates the work ethic and strong values that growing up in the Cowboy State afforded her.  New Orleans has been a part of Darcee for a long time and she is excited to now be a part of New Orleans. She believes there is truly nowhere else like the Big Easy and the experiences it affords its citizens; she can’t wait to share them with the family and friends that are sure to visit.  Passion for literature, food, history, adventure and music are reasons why living in New Orleans is such an important part of Darcee’s story. She writes each chapter by enjoying the wonders of the Carousel Bar, exploring the WWII Museum, walking the streets of Uptown, navigating the hidden gems of the French Quarter and eating a Po-Boy at Mahony’s.

EXCERPTS FROM MY CAMINO DIARY – WEEK 5

EXCERPTS FROM MY CAMINO DIARY – WEEK 5

** let me start off by saying that I am writing these diary posts from my cell . So please excuse the format, look, possible grammatical errors, and feel of this presentation for normally I would have a laptop but wanted to disconnect is much as possible while walking the Camino de Santiago

July 29, 2016: Sarria – Gonzar

Today started out stressful. I woke up at 4:30 a.m. to get back into my albergue but to no avail.  That is until one of the girls heard me yelling from the street and let me in finally!

From there we walked in the dark. It was the first time I actually needed my headlamp. Because we couldn’t see anything, the walk started out kind of boring.

Later, James and I met up with an Italian woman named Angy who talked with us a bit.  She was doing the Camino for religious reasons which was kind of refreshing to hear. She told me how at the age of 4 she received a personal blessing from Pope John Paul II and it changed her life.

Then we finally made it to the 100 kilometer marker. I didn’t know how to take this milestone. Most of the markers have been counting down and it’s kind of made me sad. There are two types of people that walk the Camino I guess, those that run to the finish line and those who love the race itself. I guess I’m the latter.

From here, we finally made it to Gonzar which is a rundown village but our albergue was a fun community set up. Everyone was hanging out at the little bar relieving the stress of their walk with friendship, laughter, and wine.

July 30, 2016: Gonzar – Melide

We started out at the butt crack of dawn and left in a cold heavy fog and darkness again. Although we walked through the darkness trying not to get lost, it was kind of fun.

There wasn’t much to see in my opinion accept other newer pilgrims entering the Camino. I keep thinking that if I had done just the minimum Sarria to Santiago which often Americans do, I would never want to come back because it’s kind of boring.

Finally we made it to Melide where we ate Pulpo and hung out with even more Irish people.  Melide is a cool small town what was hopping on the Saturday night as we came across several groups of Bachelor parties running around the streets.

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July 31, 2016: Melide – Salcedo

Today was another long rough day. I can tell it’s hard for everyone due to the fact that our bodies have been worked for 31 days straight, this last section is boring compared to the previous weeks, or perhaps we’re all just realizing that the end is near and it’s tiring us down.

We walked through many little Villages that offered some minor views. One of the nerdy highlights for me where these many shelters called Hórreos.   Essentially they are like little sheds raised up about 4 feet off the ground in people’s yards.  Historically they are used for storing corn in order to keep it dry and away from rodents. However I was told that sometimes pilgrims would sneak into them to sleep at night when they couldn’t find a place to stay. To me they’re very cool looking as they look like Cemetery tombs. Though they don’t seem to be of use anymore, they offer a unique look into the traditions of the farmers of Galicia.

Finally we made it into the small town of Salcedo.  Tonight will be our last family dinner before heading into San Diego tomorrow. The thought of this ending kind of saddens me.

August 1, 2016: Salcedo – Santiago

It was a cold slow-moving morning. I have never liked when a vacation, adventure, or anything fun comes to an end and this was no exception.

So we trudged from town to town in the cold stopping from time to time to eat, rest, or just because.  

One of the highlights is near the end called Monte De Gozo. It’s a monument to St. John Paul II and St. Francis of Assisi that overlooks the city of Santiago.

From there we made our descent into the city. We walked through the suburbs following James which is good since the markings were few and he had been there twice before.

Finally we entered Old Town Santiago. The old town is classic which I love. We would wander through the small streets amid the big crowds making our way to the cathedral. Finally we walked through the city arches into the main plaza before the cathedral. It was weird as I looked around at the random pockets of people and the million emotions that were flooding the streets. Some hugged their loved ones, others cheered, a few cried, and all while I sat in silence just observing.

From here we found our pensione and cleaned up before returning to the square to make our way to the pilgrims office to receive a certificate of completion.

From that point, James and I ran into previous characters from The Walk including Athena, Emily, Marie, Denis, Brian, and many others. It was great to see them all again and in such a happy moods.

That evening, James, Brian, Denis, and I celebrated with lots of beer and laughter as we all relaxed… Damn Irish!!

August 2, 2016: Santiago de Compostela

This morning was kind of a dream. I woke up around 8 a.m. and just kind of laid in bed. It’s kind of weird not getting up and walking. Around 10:30, I packed and went to the cathedral. It’s kind of an old-looking Cathedral inside compared to the others we had visited but it was nice nonetheless. After walking around, I got in line to see the Sepulchre of St. James. You enter from behind the Altar and climb first up to the big statue where I touched it while others hugged it. Then you go down beneath the altar to see the tomb of St. James.  You enter into a small room where you look through iron bars at his tomb.  To be honest, it was kind of anti-climactic for me. I guess I will always remember the walk far more than the destination.

Then I went to the pilgrim mass at noon. We were all there. The mass was nice but the highlight was at the end when they swung the giant incense burner.  As everyone watched it all, I finally felt something…a second of soft happiness.

After mass, I ran back to my pensione to grab my gear. It was time for me to leave. I said goodbye to Susanne and Ayeisha first and then James and Saoirse.  They all meant a lot to me on this walk and it was hard to say goodbye as I hug them. Perhaps I will be lucky enough to meet them again in life but for now, they will all be great characters in my life story.

Now it is time to walk the Camino Finisterre & Muxia.

Excerpts from my Camino Diary – Week 4

Excerpts from my Camino Diary – Week 4

** let me start off by saying that I am writing these diary posts from my cell . So please excuse the format, look, possible grammatical errors, and feel of this presentation for normally I would have a laptop but wanted to disconnect is much as possible while walking the Camino de Santiago

July 22, 2016: St. Martin del Camino – Astorga

Today we we returned to the beautiful walk as we walked with Maya, Amelia, and their SoCal family from town to town and through the farms between them.

Our first highlight was Puente de Orbigo. This is one of the longest and rather beautiful bridges along walk. The story goes that this preachers often used for knights to joust to gain honor or settle disputes and as you walked across you could easily imagine the scene.

The second highlight was La Casa de Los Dioses Cantina.  Basically this guy David was living the hippie life in the middle of the wheat fields offering places to sit and relax while he gave away free fruit juices, fruits and vegetables, and time to enjoy his little playful kittens as they reminded you of what is important in life.  His Cantina was perfect and across was the most beautifully tall wheat.  I walked across into the field and looked up as the blue sky hovered so close I could touch it.

As I walked into Astorga, I realized that this may have been the first day where all of us were joyful and silly together all the once.  It was amazing as silly photos, singing, word games, and lots of laughter filled the days walk.

After arriving, I went to explore.  Astorga is a classic and clean city with a plaza that is full of life. It even has the building designed by Gaudi next to their cathedral. Later we were treated to a great family dinner cooked by the Irish family and then returned to the plaza for ice cream while watching the locals celebrate their Friday night.

July 23, 2016: Astorga – Foncebadon

Last night I froze again!

We left really early again. I think the heat is too much for some people and others seem to be done walking. Everyone always seems shocked when I tell them I would love to do this longer, or I don’t mind the heat, or I’m not home sick at all.

The walk out of Astorga was relatively easy as we drifted in the cool morning. Even the moon refused to leave us as it guided us until noon.

Apparently we passed the area where a few years back a female pilgrim was misled by fake markers, kidnapped, and then murdered.  We walked through this supposed zone quietly.

Now Rabanal was our main stop for lunch.  It’s a beautiful town that made me feel like we entered a small alpine village. Apparently there’s up Benedictine monastery there that accepts pilgrims for a silent 2 night  retreat.  Perhaps next time.

From here we left toward Foncebadon. The climb was hard and reminded me of our first weekend the Pyrenees.  Personally, I loved it.  Sure it was hot and the path was extremely slippery and rocky, but I loved the challenge.

Finally we made it to this small hamlet.  It was basically a small area of several albergues amid ruins of other buildings on the side of the mountain…it was perfect.  This is perhaps the town where Paolo Coelho battles the devil dog in his book The Pilgrimage. We just sat outside enjoying the view of the valley below and the cool breeze.

July 24, 2016: Foncebadon – Ponferrada

The beautiful morning walk!

I awoke in a great mood.  We left and proceeded up the mountain under an amazing sky.  As the sun rose slowly, we witnessed unbelievable colors crossing through the sky.  We were all in awe.

As we continued, we arrived at the famous Cruz de Ferro.  People often leave a stone or a token at the foot of the cross.  I personally just left my thoughts.

It was a hard walk down Alto Altar, but the beautiful scenery, cool weather, and small villages kept us in good spirits along the way.

By around lunchtime we made it to Molinaseca.  The town has a classic old town but what I really thought was cool was how they created a public swimming area in the Rio Meruelo.  We ate lunch and watched pilgrims and locals alike jumping into the crystal clear cold river to cool off or relieve their aches.

Now the walk to Ponferrada was boring, long, and hot along the highway.  We finally made it to St. Nicholas de Flue, an albergue run by Franciscans.  

Ponferrada was also a boring town.  The only highlight was a giant castle built by the Knights Templar but it was closed.

Later I joined up with Fr Jeff and his friend Jared to celebrate his birthday. While celebrating, we met a girl from Dublin named Sinead.  She was eating all alone in nice clothes reading a Camino guidebook while the three of us looked sun beaten, dusty, and run down.  Fr Jeff asked her to join us and she revealed that tomorrow would be her first day walking the Camino and she was so nervous.  It was fun to see her like this as I tried to think about how I was 24 days prior in St. Jean when I started.

July 25, 2016: Ponferrada – Trabadelo

Herman the German Snored!!!

Last night was a horrible night’s sleep!  For the first time in a while, I got a bottom bunk which was great.  However, Herman the German, as we called him, had the top bunk.  He would toss and turn or jump in and out of bed several times for the first two hours.  It felt like an earthquake as he would shake the wobbly metal bunk bed.  Then after he finally settled, the snoring commenced!  He was so loud that everyone in the dorm room heard him.  I think in total I slept for one hour!

Then we left.  The day was hot and long.  Couple that with my lack of sleep led to a cranky morning.

Finally we reached Trabadelo.  There isn’t much to this village but our albergue hosts were great.  They allowed us to use their private pool to cool off and then cooked us a great dinner.  

Later I crashed into my soft bed.

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July 26, 2016: Trabadelo – O’Cebreiro

I woke up refreshed and happy.

The walk was beautiful as we followed the Rio Pereje through many little villages.  They all had unique personality as we moved closer to the Galicia border.

Then the climb came as we went up 700 meters away from the Castille y Leon region and into Galicia.

Finally we made it to O’Cebreiro atop the mountain.  This area has a unique Celtic feel to it.  After checking into the pension, I found a beautiful spot overlooking the valley to sit and smoke a cigar as the cool breeze relaxed me.

For dinner, I joined a group from Denmark and Holland as we discussed the world, travel, and life.  I’m always impressed that so many foreigners can speak English so well and how I struggle to speak minimalistic Spanish.

July 27, 2016: O’Cebreiro – Triacastela

A walk in the Fog!

Today started out with a snafu.  After hiking up the mountain for about 1 kilometer, I realized I had forgotten my cell phone and had to go back.  Luckily, I was feeling great and was able to run back down and then back up fast enough to catch up with everyone.

It was great though as I was able to witness a beautiful sunrise over the massive fog.  We were so high up that some of the other mountain peaks looked like islands floating in the sea of fog.

Soon though, the fog would overtake us.  But it was actually a blessing as it cooled us off during the hard uphills and downhills.

Finally we arrived at Triacastela.  This town is beautiful as it follows along a small river.  Everywhere you hear Galician music and see celtic symbols.  

I did a little exploring and later went to mass at their “Cathedral” de Santiago.  Then, we enjoyed a home cooked dinner as sat in the beautiful yard of our albergue.

July 28, 2016: Triacastela – Sarria

Today we had decided to finally take one of the scenic routes to see an ancient Benedictine monastery.  It would add an extra 6km to our walk but it seemed worth it.  Sadly, it was kind of a let down.  We walked in cool temperatures passed farms but there were no towns to stop in, so it felt like a very long walk. Finally we got to the Monastery.  Walking down towards it was amazing as it looked like a fortress.  It is reported as one of the oldest in all Europe so I was excited to see its history.  But to no avail.  The monastery is pretty much closed off except for the gift shop.  You can take a tour but it was at specific times and only in spanish, so we passed.

From there we took the long “scenic” path back to the main Camino and on to Sarria.  Sarria was a nice town and soon we met up with Fr Jeff, Jared, and Sinead.

Then my disastrous night began. Fr Jeff, Jared, Sinead, and I hadn’t eaten so we left to find food.  The guys wanted burgers buy Sinead and I wanted Pulpo (octopus).  So we went down to restaurant row by the river, ate, and returned.  Sinead went to her pension and I went up to my albergue only to find it locked!!  I hadn’t realized that we had a curfew especially since it was just the Irish family, James, and I in the place.  So I started knocking on the front door and yelling to the second floor where my roommates were.  After an hour, I desperately needed a bathroom, so I went in search of that and a place to stay.  I first checked the pension that Sinead was staying at.  When I walked in looking for the hospitelero, Sinead was there.  I told her that I was locked out and was desperate for a bathroom and she offered to help.  She was a life saver.  

Throughout the Camino, it would amaze me how pilgrims would often help each other out.  No one seemed a stranger on the walk, always looking out for one another.  Though I didn’t sleep due to the stress of the situation, I felt lucky.