Randy Fritz 500 mile Camino de Santiago Pligrimage! Follow his journey here
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About Randy's Pilgrimage
The French Way or Camino Francés (#caminofrances) is the most famous of all the Camino de Santiago routes, featuring in many documentaries, books ad movies such as ‘The Way’.
While St Jean Pied de Port is the official starting point of the French Way, many also choose to start their Camino from other points along the route. The most popular starting point is the town of Sarria, in Galicia, 111km away from Santiago.
The last section of the French Way from Sarria to Santiago is also the most social part of the route, where you will meet many fellow pilgrims and find the real spirit and camaraderie of the Camino!
Along the French Way, you will discover beautiful cities, charming medieval towns and stunning landscapes: the Pyrenees, the vineyards of La Rioja, the vast open spaces of the Meseta, the rugged mountains of Léon and O Cebreiro and finally the peaceful hills of rural Galicia before reaching Santiago de Compostela. You can walk the full way of 790km in over a month or you can choose to walk one of the sections.
Randy begins his Pilgrimage
(May 23, 2016)
My first day was a challange. I completed 16.5 miles, in the rain, walking up a 4200 feet above sea level climb. It felt like the mountains here have no tops. I thought I was going to see St. Peter. Im not quite ready for judgement day so I move on. I arrived in Roncevalls where I will spend the night, rest up and get ready for day two. God Bless you all and dont forget to make your donation to The Augustinian Monks of the Primative Observance by using the donate button on the bottom of this page. I will also get strength from your prayers.
As if rain and high elevation on day 1 were not enough, Randy has sprained his ankle. He has wrapped his ankle op tightly to give it his best to keep going. This has slowed him a bit but he has reached Akerreta. I have asked for pictures and more info on his encounters. He has stated he is well aware of his commitment and has stated "I have miles to go and promises to keep before I sleep".
(May 25, 2016)
Today the rain continues and my ankle is hurting, so I will stay at a hotel here in Akerreta, Spain. With rest, Spanish food and wine, which makes one sleepy, I will see what the good lord has instore for me tomorrow.
(May 27, 2016)
I am not much for easy but I've found a way to take pressure off of my ankle. For 5 euros I can ship my backpack to the next station. I am walking much faster now. I am out of the mountains and into the grain farming areas. The land is rolling and much easier to walk. I am feeling much better and I am confident to finish this Pilgrimage. Please continue with yourthoughts and prayers.....don't forget to donate to the Monestary. God Bless.
(May 28, 2016)
Todays goal is Estelle, Spain. 16 miles. If I feel good I will speed my pace.
I stopped for lunch at Iliac Pizza. It is hot today. My ankle continues to hurt, but I am moving about 2.5 miles per hour. Red poppies grow all over in this area. There was soldier blood spilled here as well as in Flanders Fields.
Ive made it to Estelle and will stay the night at the Albergue. It has approximatly 40 bunks. The San Miguel Church had a special Mass for us. The Priest gave each of us a special prayer card.
Now it is raining. Tomorrow will be tough.
(May 29, 2016)
Randy's ankle is very painful and he has come to realize he won't be able to finish his pilgrimage in the time he has allotted. He has written he will try to walk a day and rest a day. He states, "I am going to finish the last 10 days. It should be 200 miles. I have to rest for a day. I have it bound tight and am hoping for the best".
(May 31, 2016)
I'm headed to the last stages of my walk using the train and autobus. If I am able, I will walk to the end and the St. James shrine. I hope to be able to walk 10 miles per day.
Today I am in Leon resting. Tomorrow I will travel to Sarria and over the next 10 days walk through A Pena Portomarin,Ligonde, Palast de Rei, Ribadso, Arzua, Salcedo, Pedrouzo Arca, Monte Gozo and finally Santiago de Composted where I shall visit the Plaza Obradoiro Cathedral. I hope to attend Mass there before I head to the train station in Madrid. the distance is about 150k and I will take 10 to 12 days to hobble it.
Today I made it to Portomarin. There was a washout on the trail from all the rain so I had to take a lot longer to walk my goal of 15 miles. I may layover tomorrow to rest my ankle.
I had a "running with the cattle" experience today. There also was a Scottsman playing the bag pipes on the trail as well as a Danish looking guy wearing a miniskirt! I think one of the Japanese walkers was an amateur botanist. He spent much of his time taking pictures of the flowers.
I saw the strangest farm implement. It was as sickle bar mower with a 5 foot bar mounted on a 3 wheeled vehicle. It looked like it was powered by a 10hp Briggs and Straton engine.
I also saw Lamborghini tractors bailing hay. they were grey instead of bright yellow. No Racing stripes.
(June 2, 2016)
I stopped in Porto today after walking 14 miles. Im having a lemon beer with my pain medication. Didn't Sister Maria sing "A little beer makes the medicine go down"? My injury may help me enjoy this pilgrimage. I am slower and I can smell the roses that grow along the way. I also remember smells from the farms like new mowed hay and manure. The forests have changed from the mountains. There were beautiful beech trees then some oak and pine. In addition there are plantings of pine poplar and eucalyptus which may be cut for firewood. Every house in the countryside has a chimney. The chimneys all have spikes on them to prevent the storks from nesting.
From Roncevalles to Estella there are only pastures and grain fields. They make hay from the oats.They wait until the grain is milky then they cut it. The only vegetables are in gardens. Potatoes and some sort of greens are frequently grown.
There are strange buildings about 1m wide, 4m long, and 2m high built on a concrete base. All are decorated with crosses. The sides are masonary with bricks and have 1/2 inch holes. A traveler said the holes were from mice. There one or two on ever farm. I found out the buildings are used to dry meat, maize and other foods. They are not used much any more.
The difference between running with the bulls is people try to avoid the bull. When the cows are are going to the barn for milking, travelers are fighting the cows to avoid walking a longer distance. Cows always win!
I will stop near Palas DE Roi today. I met a young woman from Switzerland who just decided to take this trip having done no planning. She is doing great. She and other young people give me faith in this generation.
Nora sent a nice message of encouragement. I will try to get to Mass in Santiago next Sunday at noon. I will also try to go to the ocean before I leave for Madrid.
(June 4, 2016)
Going slowly allows one to observe the masonry work of the buildings. All the buildings are masonry here. Most are constructed with cut stone corners. Impossible to know how many projects the cut stone have been a part of. The remainder of the stone is Field stone with little individual beauty. The beauty is the finished product. It could be these materials were part of a Roman villa destroyed by the Visagoths or salvaged from a Moor temple.
I am on my last days to the finish. The St. James Way is a bright path through a country with her people struggling with so much debt.We are lucky in the U.S.
(June 5, 2016)
I had a good day today.I made almost 16 miles.I wrap up my ankle and take pain meds and walk with my walking stick. The closer I get to the then the more people i see. I met the Spanish version of the MaGuire sisters. I have been traveling with them for several days. they sing in harmony as they walk. A lady from Scotland has been trekking with me for a while. She appreciates what the US is doing to combat terrorist. She knew people on the Lockabie flight that was blown up.
I see more and more flowers along the route. It looks like the Spanish people planted them for us. They range from all colord roses to most varieties we plant. The banks along the trail are covered with them. Then we go through the Eucalyptus forrest. It almost maskes the smell of the cow manure.
(June 6, 2016)
I am 18 miles from Santiago. This morning all of the young people were up at 5am to finish today. I have been traveling daily segments that are different. I wish them well.
As much as I relish finishing, my mind is not ready. I will spend the week before my flight on June 16th in Santiago trying to get my pherent than the guide books. this has enabled me to find lodging and food in small places that are not crowded. I will walk 12 miles today and arrive about noon on tuesday.
I loaned my spare ankle support to a man who hurt his anklesmyesterday.He was grateful. He has already left this morning.
I had a primary purpose for this journey and thought I had failed when I got injured. I do not thik that anymore.
I am on the outskirts of Santiago. It is raining very hard so I stopped for lunch. I traveled much faster than I thought today. My ankle hurts a lot today but I had a cadence in my head and I put the pain somewhere else.
Buses of tourists unload andwalk the last miles. Most are elderly. as I am. I was going to hold up this afternoon and finish tomorrow. Maybe after the rain I will push on. There is only one MaGuire sister left. The others took the bus. No singing today.
During the rain I ordered a chicken diner with Spanish fries. I got a whole chicken and ate most of it.
There are religious groups walking. One guide, Fr. Bill is reading scripture as he walked. I washaving trouble walking and thinking. He did slow down on the hills.
Ive stopped for the night so I can wear clean clothes tomorrow for completion of my pilgrimage and for Mass.
(June 7, 2016) FINISHED....
I finished this morning with mixed feelings. Im glad I finished but sad I was not able to walk the entire 500 miles. This experience is unforgetable. I've met so many different people. One lady said "this Camino is the new vacation. It used to be sun, sand and sex (I must have missed those) now it is serenity , solitude and service". It seems most of the people I can talk to are at odds with their government. The main issue is a lack of morality in implementation of laws.
I will be spending my remaining time here as a tourist. There are so many old buildings here.
It is amazing how much better I feel now that I am a tourist and don't have to worry about "miles to go before I sleep". I managed to get the last 5 miles in today.
I'm sitting in a cafe drinking a beer. Drinking a beer seems to release some stress.
I had been thinking I am too old to do this, but when one of the young Spanish girls walk by I feel much younger. Short shorts and skimpy tops seem to be in style here.
Friday was a slow day. I stopped at this hotel that has a wonderful garden. The birds of paradise are blooming. The english mass was small. Most pilgrims try to arrive in time for Sunday Mass. There are more younger people arriving now. I also see some of the same people daily. It looks like they are staying a while too.
I had a spanish pizza today for dinner. It is quite good. The spices here are different. they use little pepper but lots of salt and pepper sauce.
I continue to be amazed at the number of people who line up to place their hands on the statue of St. James. It seems like there are 7 to 10 people every minute.
I have been walking between various plazas and stopping to sit and watch people and the activity. There are people demonstrating against phone rate hikes, some political party and another cause I can not determine. The police monitor them from across the street showing little concern. I think I will explore the north side of town tomorrow.
I went to daily Mass today. It was in English. The priest was irish and still was difficult to understand. The service was held in an alcove off of the main cathedral while the Spanish Mass was occurring. There was a great baritone priest leading the musical responses. I left a petition for prayer for all of you.
The farmers market was open today. I purchased a kilo of raisin bread. Wow! thats a lot of bread! It is very good and will likely last a few dys.
The more I stay here, the more I become emotional. It appears the journey, the reason for the trip likely the religious and historical significance of Santiago as well as my distance from daily routine has increased my self awareness and allowed for some deep thoughts. If those who know me believe that I always have deep thoughts, these thoughts are very much deeper. I think my life will be much different when I return. I hope those arround me and who love me will understand.
June 12, 2016
Sunday Mass was conducted by Father Joe from Ireland. The readings were read by a scottish lady and a man from Wales. A canadian couple and I had a discussion after Mass concerning the fact the Mass was supposed to be an English Mass. We laughed because we were the only ones who spoke english.
There is a light rain this morning. On my way to the Cathedral I spotted two Japanese men with packs and walking sticks looking a bit bewildered. All of the way from St. Jean are yellow arrows showing the way. The arrows stop when you arrive at the Historic town of Santiago. I beckoned to them and they greatfully followed me to the Cathedral. When we rounded the last corner they released a loud sigh followed with a bow and thank you in Japanese.
The lesson today from Father Joe was the more one loves the more significant the pardon. I believe this concept will require me to think and study more in the near future.
My walking is improving on level paved surfaces. I am not risking walks on cobble stone streets. There appears to be a custom along the way. I noticed that many Pilgrims leave coins on the small shelves formed by the stone work in cafes. I noticed the coins are from all different countries. It may be a form of civilized graffiti.
Since today is Sunday, I am going to look for a special dinner. I wish everyone a peacefull Sunday.
June 13, 2016
This is my last day in Santiago. There were a wide variety of people at Mass this morning. Norway,Denmark, Holland,Ireland,Scotland,South Africa, Canada Germany and the US. One lady from Orlando was quite distraught over the terrorist attack there.
Along the way, yellow arrows guide us in the right direction no matter if there is rain, wind or sun. There are people with quite different reasons for being on the journey. Some are here for the exercise. Others have spiritual goals. Father John used the arrows analogy in his homoly to represent our path through life. To stay on our life path we must follow the right path no matter what life throws at us and to help others no matter their purpose. That hit home for me.
There are many people traveling the way that beat cancer, have cancer or are walking in the name of others with cancer.There was a time here after I fell that I wanted to hobble home. I rested a day so I could figure how to get out of the back country of Spain. Father Seamus suggested I rent a car and drive to Santiago for those who would not be able to experience any of this. That motivated me to move towards the last 20% of the trail and finish on foot.
I have taken many photos of Santiago and the inside of the Cathedral. The pipe organ is amazing. It took 5 photos to capture the essence of it. I will put the photos on CD's and send them to Father Seamus. I will leave and spend 2 days in Madrid and then fly home to my High School reunion.
June 14, 2016
Santiago must have been sad to see me leave. It was misting as I left for Madrid. I met a lady originally from San Luis Valley in Colorado, now from Santa Rosa, CA. Good thing! She spoke Spanish. The no change train changed. The 5 hour train ride allowed me to see a wide variety of terrain and climate. The western part is hilly with lots of rain. Many hardwood trees. It looked like the old farms of New England. You can see where marginal fields fenced with stone rows have grown over with trees and shrubs. There were low but steep mountains next to that was grazed. That was followed by, as we went easterly, with small fields of grain with some grapes. This looks like eastern Kansas well watered. Large fields of hay, small grains, corn and potatoes.
Madrid is a fairly large city from what I have seen so far. I hope to explore more tonight and tomorrow.
I met a retired couple from Tampa, FL. They were all tired out from their 200 miles. The common discussion was lack of confidence in our respective governments. We told a lady from Venezuela to take some toilet paper with her. She laughed and said they needed to dump socialism. She could not believe the popularity of Bernie!
June 15, 2016
I walked around Madrid center city this morning. The buildings are similar to those in parts of the U.S. I'm not sure what the architecture style is called but the are plesent to see.
The local people say there is a 30% unemployment rate in this area. The streets seemed to be busy with people going to work. It looks like the young girls here do not have much money for clothes like some of our young woman. They wear jeans with holes in them. My mouther would not have let me be in public with holes in our jeans.
Taxis here and traffic is similar to U.S. cities. Everyone is driving fast and changing lanes quickly. I've noticed many roads and bridges to nowhere. It looks like the government ran out of the peoples money.
I found an international dining area. Asian, Argentine, Indian and others. I tried a mango sweet chili chicken dish. It was great! Most of the Spanish cafes offer the same dishes. The change was good.
June 17, 2016
I met up with my brother and his flight crew yesterday. We went exploring more of Madrid in search of a special eating establishment. There is a very nice park that is reported to have over 15,000 trees on 125 hectares of land. Nice place to walk or run. There is also a nice lake.
We found the Bull Restaurant. the wall was covered with photos of bull fighting. Some pictures showed fights where the bull won for a while. Next was the James Joyce Irish Pub. As expected, it was full of irishman or want to be irishman who had too much to drink. There is a restaurant that serves stuffed mushrooms that are said to be famous. It must have been mentioned in a travel magazine because many people stopped just for the mushrooms. Just down the street is the oldest active restaurant in the world according to Guinness. We settled on a Spanish place that played a selection of music as we dined. When we finished with dinner we made the 3 mile trek back to the hotel. we left Spain for the USA friday at noon.
Randy has finished his Pilgrimage of the Camino de Santiago. As the webmaster I was privlaged to read, rewrite and share Randy's travel. I hope you enjoyed this account of the Pilgramage and if you havent already, show your appreciation by making a donation to the Augustinian Monks. This was part of Randy's reason for his journey. To the contributors listed at the bottom of this page a very Blessed THANK YOU.
Rany will be providing pictures of what he saw and he will be writing a more entailed verson of his trip. Stay Tuned and May God Bless you all.
About The Camino de Santiago
The Camino de Santiago (the way of St. James) is a large network of ancient pilgrim routes stretching across Europe and coming together at the tomb of St. James (Santiago in Spanish) in Santiago de Compostela in north-west Spain.
The most popular route (which gets very crowded in mid-summer) is the Camino Francés which stretches 780 km (nearly 500 miles) from St. Jean-Pied-du-Port near Biarritz in France to Santiago. This route is fed by three major French routes: the Voie de Tours, the Voie de Vezelay, and the Voie du Puy. It is also joined along its route by the Camino Aragones (which is fed by the Voie d’Arles which crosses the Pyrenees at the Somport Pass), by the Camí de Sant Jaume from Montserrat near Barcelona, the Ruta de Tunel from Irun, the Camino Primitivo from Bilbao and Oviedo, and by the Camino de Levante from Valencia and Toledo.
Other Spanish routes are the Camino Inglés from Ferrol & A Coruña, the Via de la Plata from Seville and Salamanca, and the Camino Portugues from Oporto.
The network is similar to a river system – small brooks join together to make streams, and the streams join together to make rivers, most of which join together to make the Camino Francés. During the middle ages, people walked out of their front doors and started off to Santiago, which was how the network grew up. Nowadays, cheap air travel has given many the opportunity to fly to their starting point, and often to do different sections in successive years. Some people set out on the Camino for spiritual reasons; many others find spiritual reasons along the Way as they meet other pilgrims, attend pilgrim masses in churches and monasteries and cathedrals, and see the large infrastructure of buildings provided for pilgrims over many centuries.
Walking the Camino
Walking the Camino is not difficult – most of the stages are fairly flat on good paths. The main difficulty is that few of us have walked continuously for 10, 20 or 30 days. You learn more about your feet than you would ever have thought possible!
The purpose of this website is to give you information about what it is actually like to walk one of the Caminos, and to choose which one would be the most congenial. Do not assume that you need to walk the Camino Francés just because everyone else does – the other routes are much emptier and have lots to offer.
Origins of the pilgrimage
The history of the Camino de Santiago goes back at the beginning of the 9th century (year 814) moment of the discovery of the tomb of the evangelical apostle of the Iberian Peninsula. Since this discovery, Santiago de Compostela becomes a peregrination point of the entire European continent.
The Way was defined then by the net of Roman routes that joined the neuralgic points of the Peninsula. The impressive human flow that from very soon went towards Galicia made quickly appear lots of hospitals, churches, monasteries, abbeys and towns around the route. During the 14th century the pilgrimage began to decay, fact brought by the wars, the epidemics and the natural catastrophes.
The recovery of the route begins at the end of the 19th century, but it is during the last quarter of the 20th century when the authentic contemporary resurge of the peregrination takes place. There is no doubt that the social, tourist, cultural or sport components have had a great importance in the “jacobea” revitalization but we cannot forget that the route has gained its prestige thanks to its spiritual value.
Donors to date
Randy and the Monks would like to recognize and thank the donors below. Please be assured you are in our prayers.
Andrew Lucas, Highland Park, Il. Eleanor Forgione, DeLand, Fl. Doug and Rita Boone, Eustis, Fl.
Lori Arent, Raleigh, N.C. Lois Harris, DeLand, Fl. Ruth Anne Johnson, DeLand, Fl.
Robert Hoette, Monument, CO. Peter Gori, Andover, MA. Glenndeen Leise, Larkspur, CO.
Carol and Shawn Bowman, DeLand, Fl.
The Monks will be keeping Randy in their daily prayers as he walks this 500 mile pilgrimage across Spain. We pray you also will support Randy with prayer and encourage him to keep going by making a donation to Our Mother of the Good Shepherd Monastery by clicking on the DONATE button at the bottom of this page.