La Via Tolosana (France) & Camino Aragones (Spain): "The Arles Route" GR653

La Via Tolosana (France) & Camino Aragones (Spain): "The Arles Route" GR653
La Via Tolosana (France) & Camino Aragones (Spain): "The Arles Route" GR653


PLEASE READ: Our Camino For Alzheimer's Awareness will begin on World Azheimer's Day, September 21, 2018 in Lodève, France about 130 kms west of Arles (underlined on the map above and circled on the route profile at the bottom of the page). We plan to walk together just over 800 kms to Puente la Reina, Spain where Annemarie will determine her next steps. It is, however, Geoff's intention to continue onwards a further 700 kms towards Santiago de Compostela. To put this into perspective, the total distance is about the same as from Victoria to Santa Barbara, California. As usual, we will accept the journey as it unfolds and we are appreciative of any and all support. If you feel moved to contribute to the Alzheimer Society please click on either of the really obvious RED BUTTONS to the right or at the bottom of this page and you will be transferred to the Society's fund raising site. We are paying our own expenses and all money raised will go directly to the Alzheimer Society.

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Friday, October 26, 2018

Étape 35: Santo Domingo - Belorado, 23 kms, Cloudy, 17


Last night I didn’t quite pull off the much anticipated Michelin meal. I went downstairs to have a look around and in the bar I was staying above I found Bernie and Cronan enjoying a drink. I was invited to join them and in walked John as well. Three Irish and a Canuck! John eventually departed to find out if there was a service at the cathedral and the three of us completed our drinks and then found our way to an Italian restaurant where I feasted on cannelloni. The pilgrim meals in Spain quickly loose their lustre after a time and finding something different is always a nice treat. 

After a decent sleep I managed to find a place open for breakfast. Quite typical in the smaller towns.

Then out the door and into the dark.

The walking route today is on the short side and runs beside the N120 highway much of the time. In the dark I could see the highway was already busy with lots of truck traffic all lit up by their running lights. It was a cloudy start, but at some point I looked back to see if there was a view of Santo Domingo. In fact there was a fantastic light show!

This display went on and on. Every time I looked back it was there.

At one point it started to ebb and I thought it was done.

But then it flared again and kept me entertained for about a half hour. Quite extraordinarily.

It just kept coming! 

It cast quite a glow on the hillsides.

And then I reached the crest of a hill I’d been climbing and enjoyed one last view.

All that and I never did see the actual sun rise, but I caught it’s brief impact on Grañon before loosing the light.
Passing through town. I’d hoped to stay here, but my circumstances changed so I had to make an adjustment. There is an albergue where you stay with a donation. By all accounts it’s a pretty good experience with a communal dinner. Oh well, still plenty of time for those after Burgos. 

Today I left the province of Rioja and entered Castilla y Leon.

From here I’ll continue the steady climb up to San Juan de Ortega and then down to Burgos and the Meseta, a broad plateau situated at about 800 metres. 

A very changing landscape the past day or so. Crops all in and it’s pretty sparse. A lot like southern Alberta in late fall.

Still meeting folks with all sorts of injuries. This fellow from Brighton, England was really struggling with a shin injury. I showed him how to stretch it carefully and then we parted ways. Hopefully he made it to wherever he was going today.

The Spanish army seemed to be on the move all day along the N120. I wonder what’s going on? 

Hey Ken, here’s the answer to your question. Hay fork trucks! The highest pile was 12 super sized bales tall. 

Distances are literally all over the map. Albergues post numbers, but they are seldom correct. Within three kilometres I saw three different numbers, but my guide book at this point said there were 561 kms remaining to Santiago. 

I found my friend from dinner at Los Arcos. He was really well behaved on the trail and was owned by a French fellow. We hadn’t connected since then so it was nice to chat for a while. This was the group from Grañon that I’d caught up with. Several I’d met before. I walked into town with a fellow from Budapest who told me about his aunt who lives in a small village. She has lived with early onset Alzheimer’s since her early 50’s and is unable to communicate anymore. We spoke of the challenges for his uncle who cares for her at home and the lack of support services available. We are very fortunate to live in a country where there are good resources available through the provincial branches of the Canadian Alzheimer Society. Online programs and services are available in rural communities as well. 

And then we were in.

We all sat out for lunch in this bar last time. It was hotter then and Neil was icing Sarah’s ankle.

Forming new memories: As we retraced out steps from Puenta La Reina to Logrono, we began replacing old memories from our first trip with new memories from this trip. As we walked, and shared our memories from the first time, we both recognized how they were coloured by the illness I was suffering from at the time; I was struggling to get through each day, and Geoff was very worried about me, and what it meant for our Camino. This time I am well and strong, and we could focus more on our surroundings and experiences. Even so, there were times when we both exclaimed “I remember this”, or this has changed”, “this is new” etc. As Geoff carries on, he will continue to form new memories, which may or may not be influenced by previous memories. For people with Alzheimer’s revisiting places or experiences from the past may be familiar or they may not. Sometimes memories from the past become confused with the present. How memories are impacted seems unpredictable, but as the disease progresses, the line between past and present often becomes less distinct. 

Buen Camino!

1 comment:

  1. Hi Geoff,

    I thought I was two days behind. Actually, I probably am, because no doubt you’re writing today’s blog now! I loved the sunrise pictures, and recognizing places I remember from 2013. I had a very powerful experience in Belorado; it was one of the reasons I decided to go back to school. We were staying at a church-run albergue, and before the communal dinner—I think that’s where I first talked to Neil and Sarah—I went to the pilgrim’s mass next door, and that’s where it happened.

    Anyway, good on you for helping others with stretches etc. So many of us have no idea about how to keep ourselves from getting injured, or what to do when we do get injured. I’m one of those people, as you know.