Men are definitely from Mars and Women are definitely from Venus.

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“Men need to remember that women talk about problems to get close and not necessarily to get solutions.”John Gray, Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus.

Recently I have noticed that every time my world is slightly rocked (That’s a nice way of saying I’ve gone into an emotional meltdown) it specifically happens when my hubby says or reacts completely differently of what I expect. One would think that with 7 yrs of marriage under the belt nothing should surprise me by now right?

That’s the thing about marriage that sometimes life itself presents you with events that makes you “go there” even when you don’t want too or are not ready. Not only you find yourself being emotionally vulnerable or exposed to situation never encountered but it also makes you have to deal and face not only a myriad of feelings, but thoughts, insecurities and actions.

I know where my reaction comes from or what triggers it. I have mentioned it before,It’s the moment I feel I don’t connect with him at an emotional level, more so when he is confronted with a situation that has to do with me. He literally goes into an emotional “shutdown mode” and what I recognize as his coping strategy at that moment (reaction) sucks big time.

That while sustaining the conversation he will interrupt and say something irrelevant, unrelated, and inappropriately stupid that has nothing to do with the moment and the seriousness of the situation in question that makes me feel he is disregarding my needs, my feelings and my wants.

I understand that it’s not easy for any of us to say the right thing on the get go and it isn´t that he isn´t capable of being emotionally available, it´s just that I think it is different for him to be or do so. Not only is he being exposed to feelings and situations never felt or encountered before. But that he is expected to be willing to be in touch with the discomfort, the anxiety, the apprehension and all other emotions it might bring forth, disregard it for a bit and focus on what I am feeling, wanting and needing from him. (I know it sounds selfish on my behalf for expecting that.)

Recently, health wise something happened (not going into detail as I’m still waiting on some test to be done) and while I was describing the situation to him, out of the blue he interrupts me to let me know my alarm clock was ringing. When he saw the many expressions that went through my face (Surprised, confused, perplexed at loss, mad, downright pissed) he tried fixing the situation by letting me know he would set the medical appointment immediately. I will state I did lose a little bit of control of my emotions; I let him know how displeased I was and left to my cross fit class. I did talked it over with my friend and with my sister, I came home , slept over it and then wrote him a text letting him know how displeased I had been and why and got upset all over again and let him have it and know it…again.

Later on, I asked him what would be the best approach if ever a similar situation would arise, if he would prefer that I text him what was happening so he would have enough time to ponder over it and then have a face to face conversation over it (he immediately disapproved of the text idea, preferred we talk about it but to give him time to assimilate it and patience on my part) and one of the things I realized from that conversation was that:

  • He has/had a preconceived idea that he is/was expected to solve the situation I was in. (not so).
  • That it is hard for him to understand that being “available” for me without doing anything at all means to be emotionally available and that it translates (to me) that he cares and that I can count on him just the way he knows he can count on me.
  • And to continue to have these open conversations but most of all be surrounded by your go to people, when situation such as these arises, it helps a lot.

And in the meantime I’m going to go back to reading John Gray´s, Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus and give him a copy. Let´s see how it goes. Will keep you posted!!

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Celebrating Christmas Eve at home

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I recently had mentioned in one of my previous post that this year I decided to host a Christmas dinner at my apartment since for the past 5 years (without counting that one Christmas dinner we went elsewhere)… I have been celebrating Christmas with the in-laws. One of the main reasons that I decided to celebrate it at home was specifically after mentioning to my friend Andrea, who is from Costa Rica how much I miss the traditions, the food and the dancing after dinner. You see, here in Madrid or as in my hubby´s family it is more like ok we have eaten to our heart content let’s digest while sitting down in front of the TV and see some holiday specials. That was and is not my type of fun (although I should and would like to state that I have extended the invitation to my in-laws, but since my father in law is a real picky eater they´ve decided to decline the invitation. )

This Christmas Dinner from the get-go was going to be “special” in the sense that amongst my guests I was having a vegetarian, which meant preparing and modifying some of the dishes. this really was not going to be an issue since usually in the range of foods on the menu for a Dominican Republic family Christmas dinner usually includes: Pastelitos and Kipes as appetizers, Russian salad ( a combination of potatoes and carrots, with peas and boiled eggs bound with mayonnaise) or green salad, Roasted pork (Puerco o Pernil asado) or Oven cooked chicken or fish, Moros de guandules o any type of rice and beans combination (red, black beans), Pasteles en Hojas (tamale type of food), Pan Telera (a very long, soft white bread with a crusty top), a myriad of deserts homemade or bought. of course, every household makes their own traditions and there is always a variation depending on what region from the D.R. you are from although my mom who was from the southern part of the country (Barahona) would do Moro de guandules with coconut milk which supposing comes from the eastern region of the country (Samana) which gives the rice a wonderful smell and distinctive taste.

My final menu consisted of (*which was done from scratch, homemade):

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MENU

Ensaladas- Salad

  • Tayota (Chayote) con Patata y Cebolla roja en vinagreta (mirliton squash with potato and red onions)
  • Remolacha con Zanahoria y Manzana verde (Beets, carrots and green Apple)

Sopa- Soup

  • Sancocho Vegetariano (Hongos, Frijoles, Yuca, Yautía, Maíz y Plátano) hearty soup, almost like a stew but done without the meat, of course but as good as tasty as well.

P lato Principal- Main Dish

  • Pernil (Pierna de Puerco)    (Roasted Pork)                 
  • Berenjena Rellena Navideña (Berenjena, Garbanzo, Miga, Tomate) (Filled oven roasted Eggplant)

Acompañamientos- Seconds

  • Moro de Guandules (Gandules) con Coco
  • Arroz Navideño (Pasa y Almendra) (Christmas Rice…Raisins and toasted almonds slivers)

Postres- Desserts

  • Dulce de Toronja en Almibar
  • Tembleque de Coco (coconut dessert pudding from Puerto Rico)
  • Carrot cake (with ice cream or not)
  • Pumpkin-ginger bread (with ice cream or not)                                                                       

 Bebidas- Drinks

  • Ponche Vegano de Auyama (Calabaza) (a vegan punch made of Pumpkin)
  • Coquito ( a Puerto Rican traditional punch)

 

Casabe al ajillo    (crispy flat bread made from cassava (yuca) flour) cornbread                                                                                              

 

The majority of the appetizers were ordered or bought (Pastelitos, Quipes, Matcha chocolates balls, veggie snacks, hummus, olives) except for the avocado mayonnaise, which was home-made from scratch.

The day before Christmas Eve, I spent the evening in the kitchen preparing the soup, the salads and the desserts,

The pork was already in the fridge absorbing the seasonings and I would leave it for the next day the same as the rice, the eggplants and the pork.

Since our apartment isn’t as big enough, I rearranged the order of the furniture, (should have waited for the hubby as I was recuperating from a Chiropractic visit and was somewhat sore) nevertheless he did help me with setting the dining table from a table of 4 to 6. I checked my music list and made sure the house was how it was supposed to be. One of the Christmas traditions in the Dominican Republic is to scrub the whole house from top to bottom  (A sort of before the New Year spring clean).

Let’s just say I can whole heartily say that the Christmas Eve dinner event was a complete success, although the eggplant dish at the last-minute decided to burst a little and gave itself the appearance of a fish with its innards outside. Nonetheless the dinner was not good but great!

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The music was fine (until the hubby decided to change the merengue for some 70´s rhythm) the atmosphere sublime, we dance, we laughed (we played a mime game with the girls) and then exchanged the gifts until it was time for them to go home. Next day on the 25th, we headed over to the in laws for lunch and the exchange of gifts. Overall it had been a successful Christmas Eve and a good Christmas day!!

 

 

Camino De Santiago: Padron- Santiago De Compostela.Final Day

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And this was it; this was the last day of our walk, this was going to be the day of our final destination and the end of our goal. Of course, the day started with my friend getting offended (not by me) and just marching out on us and leaving Francisco and I behind.  I just thought to myself really??  We were able to catch up with her eventually when Francisco suggested to make a stop to grab a cup of coffee and tea and see if she was in there, which she was and I just walked over to her and called her out on it (in a respectful manner) and excused myself to use the rest room, while I was waiting on-line, she decided to continue ahead without us. I decided not to care and would not let her actions affect my mood and just make the most of this experience as positive as I could. I do have to say that this part of the route consisted of passing through many small villages that for me just looked all the same. Francisco kept in constant communication with my friend just to know where she was and to wait for us in the next restaurant. Once we got there I did agree it would be best if we did the route together, which we did although her humor was not much to desire. But since it had nothing to do with me; I simply ignored it and took the opportunity to walk at my pace without worrying if I was leaving Francisco behind since he was with her.

On a side note, I do have to mention that during this period of doing El Camino I had found out through one of my cousins that one of our aunt was recently diagnosed with cancer and that the prognosis wasn’t good, I was told she would probably be here until winter, not that I’m a pessimist but in this case hearing the extent of where the cancer was located, I gave her days but nevertheless I immediately contacted my cousin and asked her why had she not mentioned it to me when we had spoken (we had spoken during my 2nd day of El Camino) and I let her know I was going to dedicate this walk to her (It is one of her dreams to do El Camino).  Hopefully next year, as in 2019, Four of the Fernandez cousins (Matos-Fernandez, Felix-Fernandez, Fernandez-Kramer and I Erickson-Fernandez) will be doing the Camino.(The reason of the side note is because the moment I was entering Santiago, I received a text from my cousin letting me know her mom had just passed away).

I tried making a life face book video but Francisco kept interrupting me to head directly over to obtaining the certification of completion of the Camino since if we waited longer we would encounter a much bigger line. I just breathed deep and made way, he was right of course, we actually waited about an hour before our turn came up. My friend while waiting in line apologized and asked me not to leave, I was surprised because I had actually thought about heading over to the hotel, getting my luggage and just heading back to Madrid without letting her know, But I accepted her apologies and stayed and headed back to the cathedral to take picture and just be able to taste and feel this accomplishment.

 

Would I do it again? Yes I actually would and hopefully next year I might do it again.

What has the Camino given you? As I had stated before jokingly, I was looking for whatever it was that I didn’t know was lost. I didn´t have any expectations, I just wanted to do it, It was an experience I wanted to live but I never thought I would acquire anything out of it because I had prepared myself physically, I had read as much as I could about it and in my case I didn’t feel there was going to be changes (may it be spiritually, emotionally, mentally) because I feel, that in this stage of my life, I am 100% authentic and comfortable of myself. But on the other hand with the many situations I encountered along the way I saw myself with a growth or maturity that I didn’t believe to be capable of (standing back and being able to discern and not respond in an emotional way). I surprised myself in a very good way. Yeah I was and am proud of the way I handled things.

My friend and I, We stayed an extra day, to take a guide bus to “the end of the world” Finesterra, we got back home, were happy to see the hubby and Mr. Butters (my cat) since then, I have spoken to her one or two times, celebrated her birthday but for the moment I am taking a break as she is too, We are smart enough to know that something did change along the way of El Camino.

Camino De Santiago: Caldas de Reis-Padron. Day 8

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Day 7th of our walk, Very excited as we were one step away of reaching our final destination, woke up and once again covered myself from head to toe just in case (taking all the necessary precaution to not get anymore fever) and although this was not one of the longest walk, it was one of the places we made less pit stop as establishments were rarely seen a long the way. Around lunchtime thankfully we found a place where we stock up in water and sport drink and grab something to eat and continued on.

 

 

Padron, besides being known for producing the peppers of padron (About 15,000 kg of peppers are grown each year), small green peppers originally brought from Mexico during the 16th century that are commonly served fried with olive oil and coarse salt, known for being mostly sweet and mild, though some are particularly hot and spicy, which gives its character to the dish and is perfectly captured in the popular saying “Padrón peppers, some are hot and some are not”  is also the last stop/town on the Portuguese Way path of the Camino de Santiago.

When we entered Padron, we: Francisco, Vicky and I decided to stop first at the hotel, which by the way was temptation personified as right in front of it (the hotel) was the train station that would/ could have taken us to Santiago de Compostela in 20 minutes for 1.90 euros instead of the 22 km we would be doing the next day.

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Oh what a temptation!!

We freshened up and headed back to the center of Padron where we headed over to get our credential stamped at the church of Santiago, (Built by Bishop Gudesindo around 920, then reformed in the 16th and 17th centuries. As it is known today),Here we were able to see the stone that Saint James disciples used to fasten their boat at the Port of Padron in AD 42 when carrying his remains back to Galicia. Right there we also found out that by heading over to the town hall we would be able to obtain the Pedronia, which is a certificate that proves that we have walked or made the route to the place where the boat arrived from Pedro. “La Pedronía”, as it is called.

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While heading over to the town hall, we came across a fountain called Fonte do Carme, built-in the 16th century by Pedro de la Barcena in 1577 and which it consists of three sections. The first one features the “Virgen de los Dolores,” the protector of women in labor. In the central section there is a depiction of the Apostle James’ body being brought to this region by his disciples. And in the upper section we can see Queen Lupa being baptised by the Apostle James. Inside the fountain there is a plaque indicating that the honourable Manuel de Sanlocar, bishop of Sidonia, granted 40 days of indulgence to all those devoutly praying a Hail Mary before the virgin’s image.

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After that, we headed over to el Convento do Carme, a neoclassical building that was constructed at the beginning of the 18th century on top of Mount San Gregorio. It was originally inhabited by the Carmelites and then, after the secularization process, by Dominicans, who are still present today.

 

From there we headed over to Café Don Pepe. Owned by Don Pepe, well known amongst the pilgrims as he is one of the first establishments to be open in the early hours for those (pilgrims) that wishes to begin their walk first thing in the morning, he has been here for more than 40 years and his café is filled with mementos and notebooks that are filled with quotes, citations, passages, and poems left by previous pilgrims that have stopped by.

 

 

Interesting Facts of Padron:

According to tradition, it was in Iria Flavia now Padron (Ancient port city settlement that the Romans rebuilt and refounded as Iria Flavia (“Flavian Iria”) to compliment Roman emperor Vespasian) that Apostle Saint James first preached during his stay in Hispania. Soon after his death, his disciples Theodore and Athanasius brought his head and his body to Iria from Jerusalem in a stone boat. They moored the boat to a pedrón , Galician for big stone (which can be seen today at the parish church of Santiago de Padrón.). The two disciples remained in Iria Flavia to preach after burying the Apostle in Compostela.

Padrón soon became a popular passing place in the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage route and suffered several attacks in the 10th and 11th centuries by both Vikings and Normans. The invasion attempts decreased after the Torres del Oeste (West Towers) were built as protection in Catoira (Pontevedra) by Bishop Cresconio. This led to a great period of prosperity during the 12th and 13th centuries.

During this period and under Archbishop Diego Gelmírez (born in the West Towers) a dock was built by the Sar river bank. From its shipyard came the first galleys of the Galician Navy.

In the 15th century, Archbishop Rodrigo de Luna moved Santiago de Compostela’s Town Council to Padrón for two years, to fend off the influence of the Counts of Altamira. His sepulcher with a reclining sculpture can be found at the Iria Flavia parish church. The focus of attention gradually moved to nearby Compostela, capital of Galicia.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Padr%C3%B3n

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Buen Camino!!! 20 km to arrive at Santiago.

Camino de Santiago: Pontevedra- Caldas de Reis. Day 7

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Probably you’ve noticed that last week I was missing in action, The intention was there but life was not lol between preparing christmas eve dinner menu that I will be hosting, buying last-minute christmas gifts, and spending time with the in-laws , too much to do too little time. nevertheless, As promised here is the continuation of El Camino series …. today I will be posting two instead of one.

6th day of the walk and I do have to say that I woke up feeling a bit under the weather, it seemed that the rain from the day before did a number on me but nevertheless I woke up early covered myself from head to toe (to keep warm) and gave myself an extra boost of vitamin C.

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A little bit under the weather but I was ready.

Today’s hike would be a 21 km walk that would be accomplished in approximately 5-6 hours. I do have to say I didn’t take as much picture as I normally would but there was a reason for this, while doing the Camino I met another fellow pilgrim named Francisco, who would end up doing the rest of El Camino with us. Francisco besides being a retired Spanish Marine, he is also a painter, a photographer and an experienced “pilgrim”. He has done various routes of the walk of St. James throughout the years and in 2012 he decided to start translating his experiences of el Camino by painting landmarks, landscape and surroundings he found along the way, these paintings ended up being exhibited in various venues throughout the route he had taken that year of el Camino. This year he decided to do the Coast, but instead of painting along the way he decided to take pictures instead and convert them into paintings once he would return back to his house. Below some of the scenery I took while doing the route.

I have to say that through him I was able to meet other pilgrims since he would just talk to any pilgrim that would pass our way and start a conversation. Let’s just say he didn’t give me a chance to be introvert even when my body started to feel achy. We (Vicky, Francisco and I) made a pit stop in a bar located in the middle of nowhere that was playing some merengue (later on I found out that the owner of the bar had recently traveled to the Dominican Republic). I ordered some hot green tea and some tripe which was to die for (Tripe or Callos is a stew very common across Spain, and is considered traditional to Madrid. In Madrid, it is referred to as callos a la madrileña. It contains beef tripe, chickpeas, blood sausage, Chorizo sausage and bell peppers. Yes, it is an acquired taste for those who haven’t been brought up with such dishes).

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From there we walked some more until we reached Caldas De Reis, or Caldas de Reyes which is a municipality in Galicia, Spain in the north of the province of Pontevedra. The name of Caldas de Reis is due to the fact that in this town in 1105 was born Alfonso Raimundez (House of Burgundy), grandchild of Alfonso VI of León and Castilla and son of Urraca I of León and Castilla and Raimundo de Borgoña, who would  later be crowned and known as Emperor Alfonso VII de León.

Human presence exists in this area since prehistory times proof of that is evidenced by the so-called Treasure of Caldas de Reis, a group of more than 30 gold pieces that is dated to be around 1550 BC. C. (In the Age of bronze peninsular denominated as the Atlantic Bronze).

Got to the hotel,where I took a shower and a quick shut-eye (sleep) to burn off the fever that I had started presenting, later on while looking for a place to eat we checked out the Santa María church that´s from roman times and the Saint Tomas church that was built-in 1890 with parts of the ruins of the fortress that belonged to Alphonse VII, we also checked out the fountain that many pilgrims use to bathe their feet and which it is said its water has many beneficial  medicinal  properties . As you can imagine I didn’t soak my feet in the fountain and actually ate at the hotels restaurant, where they were gracious enough to provide me with soup, even if it wasn´t in the menu.

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Buen Camino!!!

 

 

“A Reason, A Season, A Lifetime”.

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I was supposed to continue with the camino series but I don’t know if it has to do with me being close to Christmas that lately I have been in a reflective, insightful mood so once again I.O.U. and instead will talk about

“A reason, A season, A lifetime”.

Whenever I see this phrase, it brings forth memories of past and present people, experiences, situations as well as (positive) emotions of certainty, of conviction, of assurance.

It´s not a phrase that I use as a mantra but that has a very important meaning to me because I have applied it many times as an explanation to those experiences encountered in my lifespan.

For example:

If it has to do with a situation I have come across, I look at it as being a reason to that situation, which needed to happen at that precise moment in order to encounter or bring forth a lifetime changing experience.

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Photo by Bas Masseus on Pexels.com

When it comes to people, definitely each person I´ve met has a reason to be in my life and I am open to that experience but when it comes to friends, I have learned to accept that some were meant to be a reason, others a season and others a lifetime.

Those that were in for a reason, I look back and remember them with fondness because they played an important part at that specific moment, contributing with who I am today, they brought forth the best of me, they gave me the capacity to recognize the strength, the character in me.

The same way I have accepted and learned to let go of those that were meant to be here (in my life) for a season. The difference here, is that in this case I feel that I am the one who was there for a season, not that I was there to be the one to teach but whatever they had to offer, was provided and probably it was emotionally charged for which I (see myself) needing to take a break, disappear, remove myself and heal. In spite of how (I feel) the relationship has changed, I appreciate it and am filled with gratitude for what it was.

and then come those that are friends of a lifetime, that have been in my life for as far as I can remember. They are few but are precious and treasured, these are my “ride or die” and which throughout the years has only strengthen and flourished.

So I thank the experiences, the people, the friends that have been in my life for a reason, a season and a lifetime.

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Photo by Řaj Vaishnaw on Pexels.com

 

Decorating my Christmas Tree

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I decided to write about my latest project instead of continuing with The Camino Series (only 3 more to go) since one of my traditions that I have kept up to now is to put the Christmas tree after Thanksgiving.

Anyone who knows me, knows how much I like Christmas specifically when it comes to decorating the trees. In Florida,instead of participating in black friday the day after Thanksgiving I would go and buy myself a real 6 or 7 foot tree.

When I moved to Spain one of the things I brought with me was boxes and boxes of Christmas balls, I kid you not ,there were about 3 boxes full of Christmas ball of different shapes and colors. I just couldn´t get rid of them, looking back I’m glad I didn’t since here in Spain they tend to be a bit on the traditional side when it comes to color although just recently I have seen more colors besides the gold, the red or the silver. Usually by mid June I start thinking on what the theme will be, sometimes it just pops up in my mind, other times I just know beforehand. I start working on the DIY by October so it gives me enough time to switch or come up with new decorating ideas but always keeping the theme.

Last year I went with a venetian theme in gold,blue and purple and made the masks out of hot glue and bought two white masks around Halloween and painted them in a myriad of colors (gold,purple and black) after putting imprint with hot glue.

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2017 Venetian Christmas tree theme

In 2016 I went with the Alice in Wonderland theme where I crochet the main characters and made mini mad hatters paper hat in different colors and made mini mushrooms out of styrofoam and wine cork and painted them in red and white polka dots.

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In 2015 I decided to go with a Candy-land theme, up to now it has been one of the longest activities I´ve done since I had to make all the cookies and candy design out of salt dough and then paint theme one by one, I used different colored balls and real candy cane. The only thing I can say is that by the time Christmas was here I didn’t want to know about it. it had been too much work but the final result was exactly how i wanted it.

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In 2014 I had crochet 12 dolls representing each month dressed up in the month most popular festivity example: February would be dressed up in red for st. valentines day, April as easter bunny,July as USA Independence, November as a turkey for Thanksgiving and so on.

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This year I decided to go with Tim Burton´s  “A nightmare before Christmas” theme, where the main Character was going to be Jack Skellington of course. I bought some white plain christmas balls and just drew Jack Skellington´s face and as the Christmas star I crochet Zero , the ghostly dog, I did crochet some jack Skellington balls but at the end I used it as a simple table decor. I also made a Jack Skellington wreath with multiple sizes of styrofoam balls. I decided to use as color frame, black,white,purple and silver and purple spider web I had bought during Halloween season.

The final result of 2018 Christmas tree:

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2018 Christmas tree

Camino de Santiago: Cesante-Pontevedra – Day 6

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Sorry, sorry, sorry for not posting this on Sunday. For those of you who knows me, knows how much I love Christmas, specifically when it comes to decorating my Christmas tree. Every mid year, I start to think and plan how I’m going to be decorating it, so I have been quite busy crocheting, drawing and building this years theme. Maybe I should do a post of my Christmas trees decoration throughout the years? Let me know what you think! Anyways lets continue with Part 6 of the Camino series, just three more posts and we will be done, so bear with me for just a bit.

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Woke up as always, ready for the day to begin, my luggage, my knapsack and the cloth I would wear already set. The only difference was that I woke up thinking how, although the day was chilly and grey, it seemed much brighter specially after last night talk. Let’s just say it felt like a start over, a new beginning, all in the past to be forgotten. Had breakfast and immediately headed out by walking through the beach, did a bit of clowning around with some gym equipments in one particular plaza, videotaped it and had some laugh, ended up walking until the end of the beach searching for some “blue” stairs that would lead us to the start of our walk (turns out the stairs were not blue just the railings).

Today was going to be a rather short stage of the camino, only 16 km, approximately about a 3 ½ hour walk if there was no stops in between (easily said than done). Found myself walking into some green and wooded area but I noticed that this time around we were heading farther from the coastline however that let us have a panoramic view of the mouth of the Vigo river and it was breathtaking, have to say that the pictures I took did not capture it truly.

From there we walked until we reached Arcade, (known for its oysters, which during the first weekend in April,celebrates its Oyster festival) but since it was still too early, did not have the chance to try them.

From there we crossed over the Romanesque bridge with 10 arches that crosses the Verdugo River that would lead us to Pontesampaio or Puente Sampayo (know for the battle of the Peninsular war that took place for Spain’s independence against Napoleon’s troops in 1809 which ended the five month French occupation.)

As I had stated before even if it was going to be one of the most shortest stages, on this particular walk there were many frequent moments when we had to walk directly on the narrow sideways of the freeway for which, when doing so, we had to make sure we were walking on the opposite side to the direction of the car (left side of the road). Regardless there was this one instance, where it started to rain and this local guy suggested we take the alternate road that would take us out of the freeway which we did and it was a good decision, since we walked into what seem to be a cross between a greenway and a green space and it was quiet and just occasionally we would meet up with other pilgrims doing the Camino by bike.

In between our walk, in a tiny road side, we found ourselves with a little quaint chapel built around the 1600’s known as la capilla Santa Marta or Saint Martha’s Chapel, very well-known to all the previous pilgrims before me as a pit stop to rest or worship.

Anyways, few miles into the walk it occurred to me that this alternate route would be similar as the one we had done before that shortened our walk and as I proceeded to comment it to my friend, it seemed that once again she wasn’t in the mood or frame of mind and  proceeded to snap at me, I finished the conversation as if nothing had happened and then decided to walk as fast as I could and leave her behind, this time around I did not get angry but I just was not going to put up with her attitude and with her period. Needless to say, just when I was about a couple of minutes from Pontevedra I decided to wait for her and together we arrived to the hotel. We grab something to eat at the hotel’s restaurant and then went to buy some insoles given that the ones I had bought for this trip were very worn, flat and to no use, since it was raining I decided to stay in the hotel (I already had been previously here with my hubby and we had walk every inch of it, so I know it pretty well)  until it was dinner time, where we decided to eat some Mexican and head back to the hotel for the next day.

 

Facts about Pontevedra

Ponte-Vedra means “the old bridge”, in reference to the old Roman Bridge across the Lérez River, built specifically during the *Suebic period (circa 5th – 6th century AD). Local legend states that the foundation of Pontevedra was due to Teucer, hero of the Trojan War, however, historians and archaeologists tend to agree that the initial settlement was probably formed during the integration of Gallaecia (old Galicia) into the Roman Empire (circa 1st century BC).

One of Christopher Columbus’ ships, the Santa Maria, originally named La Gallega (“The Galician”), was built in Pontevedra.

During the 12th century Pontevedra rose as an important commercial centre.

At the end of the 16th century, the City started the beginning of its decline. The situation would worsen during the 17th and 18th centuries due to the port’s drastically reduced activity and as well as to political decisions and dynastic conflicts. Then, the Spanish Civil War (1936–1939) and Franco’s dictatorship (1939–1975) (Political repression and economic hardships) forced many to emigrate causing Pontevedra’s progression to cease, then came the 20th century with great prospects with the introduction of some industrial activity, positively influencing the local economy providing partial recovery. Nowadays the city of Pontevedra, besides undergoing an economic growth, has undergone a cultural and urban transformation making it into one of the most accessible cities for disabled people.

 

*The Kingdom of the Suebi, also called the Kingdom of Gallæcia, was a Germanic post-Roman kingdom that was one of the first to separate from the Roman Empire.

 

Camino De Santiago: Vigo-Cesante. Day 5

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Today as every day, we woke up early, had breakfast and headed out of Vigo towards Cesante. The only difference was that besides the weather being a bit chilly than usual, I had gone to bed late, woke up early, had not done my warm up workout, decided to use my hiking boots instead of my comfortable sneakers and second guessed myself in what I was going to wear, etc. So the moment I started walking I felt slightly stiff, each step felt as if I had a cast on each of my legs and having that one hour deep leg massage the day before although it felt good at that moment, I was having the residual effect of it, but nevertheless we continue to walk with our occasional 1 to 2 pit stops.

Today’s walk was going to be totally different from the previous ones as this part of the walk was going to be through the interior part of the city instead of the coast but as we continued forward crossing bridges and freeways leaving behind the city, we ended passing through what was for me, that one magical place that has the capacity to amaze you and take your breath away. Lush green forest, wooded areas, farmlands and cluster of population was what accompanied me in each step of the way as a constant comfort that helped me to continue, to see, to feel, to absorb, to be immortalized and remembered later on or at least in this occasion that was what I felt when I walked through from Vigo to Redondela through the Route of the Water (Senda del Agua) of Redondela (It is a 23 km channel that transported water from the Eiras Reservoir, from Fornelos de Montes to Soutomaior, to Pazos de Borbén up to Redondela until it would reach the city of Vigo.)

Around lunchtime we had arrived at Cedeira but with not much to see or eat we decided to walk about 1.9 miles (23 minutes) until we reached Redondela. I can’t recall or  remember stopping at a restaurant or grabbing something to eat but I know since from here it was just an hour away (about 5.4 miles) from our final destination Cesantes (which is known for its approximately 1500 meters of beach), we decided to just continue to walk but it wasn’t what it seemed since the hotel where we were staying was located about 6.1 miles away after Cesantes, I was just like the movie “ Are we there yet?”

Two hours later we had finally reached the Hotel which was actually situated right in front of the Beach with view to:

  1.  The sea Ria de Vigo (part of the Rias Baixas*)
  2. The Rande Bridge (with a length of 1,604 m., which links Redondela and Moaña through the Strait of Rande)
  3. San Simon Island which throughout its history it has been used as:
  • A monastery (12th and 13th Century) inhabited by the Templars and later by the Franciscans, and then by the Order of the Pascualinos of San Simón, until 1370 when they were ordered and forced to leave the island.
  • A lazaretto o quarantine station (Leprosy facility 1838-1927).
  • A jail and concentration camp (For communist, republican, socialist or anarchist political party constituents. It remained in operation until 1943.)
  • A home for orphaned children. (From 1955-1963).
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Rande Bridge, Ria de Vigo and Simon´s Island.

Before heading to our room and take a shower, we decided to grab a beer and something to munch on, it was very windy and chilly which meant that neither of us was going to be heading outside for a walk on the beach.

A couple of hours later, all showered and sitting down for dinner, the opportunity had risen for me to be able to bring up the subject of what had occurred 3 days earlier or previously. As I spoke, I will not deny that in that moment I relived it and was deeply upset and emotional but I did not lose my composure although I did calmly and coolly threatened advised her not to ever do this to me again, that regardless of being used to living alone, getting used to having another person in its vicinity nothing excuse her lack of respect on the way she had spoken to me, she apologized and it was water under the bridge. (I scratched threatened but decided to leave it here, because I want to explain that even though I didn’t state I was going to be physically hostile towards her, I just wanted her to understand that I was capable of losing my composure and reacting totally different from how I had in this occasion behaved, that as any human being I was with flaws,that I wasn’t perfect and I would probably and easily go all “New yorker” on her or maybe not but as the proverb 15:1 states ” A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.”

Anyhow we are half way there, 4 more to go and the Santiago de Compostela will be done.

In the meantime, Buen Camino!!

 

* The four rías that make up the Rías Baixas are distinct from the more northern Rías Altas (“Upper Rías”) in location and other characteristics. As compared to the Rías Altas, the waters of the Rías Baixas are calmer and smoother. The coast that contains the Rías Altas is sometimes known as the Costa da Morte (in Galician: Coast of Death), due to a high number of shipwrecks, a fact that only underlines the turbulent nature of the waters. Most of the Rías Baixas have islands in the ocean near the mouth, which help to create the calm waters. Due to the proximity to the ocean; the climate of the area is mild and moist. This causes the green landscape for which the area is known. Each of the Rías Baixas shares its name with a major inland city. Excerpt taken from: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/R%C3%ADas_Baixas#R%C3%ADa_de_Vigo

Camino de Santiago: Baiona-Vigo. Day 4

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Once again, woke up early, had breakfast and my friend made sure to have all her bandages and blisters covered and in place to head over to where our 3rd day of walk would begin.

Our Walk started at the Roman bridge of Ramallosa, which establishes the boundary between Baiona and Nigrán, it has 10 semicircular arches (eight of these arches belong to Baiona) and right in the middle of the bridge there is cross with an image of St. Telmo at the base, which is known to be the saint and patron of sailors.

Under the bridge there is an “All Saints Chest” portraying souls in torment. It is said that a couple of decades ago fertility rites were held in this bridge. The tradition states that pregnant women who had a history of repeatedly suffering from miscarriages would go to the bridge to eliminate their unfavorable fate by performing at midnight, a ritual that consisted of having their belly washed with the water from the river and the first person to cross the river after the rite was chosen as godparents, an honor which could not be refused.

Today was going to be one of the longest stages of the Portuguese Way along the Coast ending in Vigo, the city that is known as one of the most industrialized and most populated in Galicia. As I had stated before it was going to be approximately 23 km.

I do have to say that overall this was one of the most beautiful sections of the Camino de Santiago, besides its beautiful coastal landscapes we walked through large forests, traditional farmlands, small villages, rural towns and historic cities and one of the most inclined hills ever!! (so much that I ended questioning myself why was I doing this. lol) as always , around lunchtime we made a pit-stop to grab something to eat ending up in a restaurant that is known for their combined platters, my friend requested the steak ,fries and egg platter and I went with the hamburger special (about 6 to 7 euros) and oh my word the servings were humongous, needless to say I wasn’t able to eat it all.

after lunch we continue to walk for a couple of hours until we reached Vigo; after walking a few miles within the city, we decided to take a taxi to the hotel when we saw that it was at the other end of the city, near the port. (The Port has a length of more than 20 km and offers more than 9 km of docks. It is considered one of the ports with the largest traffic.) which would take us approximately about one more hour.

Vigo is known to be one of the rainiest areas of Spain, but such was our luck that we had not encountered one ounce of rain nor bad weather, unheard of but as I stated before such was our luck. It is said that Vigo during the middle ages used to be a very small village that suffered multiple attacks from Vikings, Pirate (Francis Drake) and Turks for which in 1656 during the reign of Philip IV a city wall was built and until this day it is partially preserved. Vigo has participated or been a part of the history of Spain such as the battle of Vigo Bay and la Reconquista (Freed from the Napoleonic Empire).

Once at the hotel,we treated ourselves to (my friend requested) a full body massage and (I requested) a full hour of lower extremity massage (needed to pamper my legs and feet) after that I was renewed and re-energized to meet up with a friend of mine whi I had contacted the day before in order to see if we would be able to meet and walk around the city.

It turned out to a great night!! Vigo is very similar to Madrid in the sense that they have a busy nocturnal night life; we ended up bar hoping, having drinks and having the most delicious Suquet de Peix & mariscos (a stew made of seafood and fish). What better way to end our night amongst friends (new and old) and great food!

We ended going to bed way past our bedtime preparing for next day (around 2am) which was going to be similar to this day, (as in 22 km). Don´t miss next week post, continuation of the Camino de santiago Series Day 5: Vigo- Cessante. Buen camino!!!

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Camino De Santiago:Oia- Baiona. Day 3

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Second day of the walk, woke up early, took a shower got dressed and headed downstairs for breakfast and tasted the best croissant I’ve had in a while and while having my breakfast I waited until the sun was out to start our walk. Today, as I had mentioned before, was going to be an 18 km walk which meant that it would probably take us between 4 to 5 hours to get there without including the pit-stops we regularly take.

This walk was very close to the coastline, which for me was great since in Madrid there is no ocean nor beaches, so just the fact that I was able to smell the ocean and hear the waves, I was beyond thankful.  From there we walked for a couple of miles next to the freeway until we had to cross over to a mountainous area. That area had some steep hills that left me breathless a couple of times and wishing for no more encounter of these hills.

The weather was beautiful, not to cold not too hot; there even was a moment that I shut off my Mp3 player just to appreciate the sound of my footsteps as they stepped the leaves that were in the ground, as it was early, few people were seen or encountered.

As we were approaching Baiona, we met a native who proceeded to walk with us and tell us a bit of the history of his hometown. He let us know that Baiona is known as a tourist town, that it has a medieval historical location, that although it has a population of about 11,000 when the summer comes it can easily rise to about 45,000.

That it is said to be founded in 140 B.C. by Diomedes of Aetolia (known for his participation in the Trojan War) and how today there is many roman constructions still seen and how they were built to last. That in 1201 King Alfonso IX of Leon granted the town a royal charter (a letter granting a right or power to an individual) and in 1370 King Ferdinand I of Portugal, who was proclaimed King of Castile, took up residence in it and established his seat there until being forced to return to Portugal.

He also explained to us that Baiona is mostly known for being the first town to receive news of the discovery of America due to the Pinta (one of the ships from Columbus’s voyage to the New World) returning to Europe by arriving to the town´s port on March 1, 1493 (nowadays at the port there is a replica of the ship and every year there is a celebration and a reenactment of the event) and how in 1585 the residents of Baiona warded off the attempt of the pirate Francis Drake to take the town, then five years later Philip II of Spain beat the pirates that were laying in the Galician coast with a fleet of 98 vessels and 17,000 soldiers.

As one approaches Baiona from a distance one can see the virgin of the rock (Virxe da Rocha), one of the best known monuments in town. Built in 1912 the figure of a giant virgin was built-in a vantage point on the rise of Monte Groba with granite by the Galician modernist architect Antonio Palacios, in order to protect the navigators and guide them as a beacon. It is 15 meters tall and it portrays the Blessed Virgin Mary with a boat in her right hand which is also a lookout or balcony, where you can get a view of south of Galicia, the beach of Ladeira and the sandbanks of the municipality of Nigrán and the Cíes Islands.

 

Once we arrived at Baiona, he bid us “Buen camino” and we proceeded to look for a place to eat. Since I had been here before I went searching for the restaurant I had gone during that time but unfortunately the place had closed down so we decided to head over to the hotel that was located 4.4 km away but this time we took a bus since my friend was complaining of having pain on her feet, it turns out that she had acquired about 4 blisters, two in each foot between her 4th and 5th toe.

We got to the hotel and from there we headed over to this restaurant called Café Bar O Parque where besides the fantastic food (we ordered scallops to share, she asked for Octopus, and I ordered Pork Chops) and we tried for the very first time the most incredible and outstanding dessert ever: Avocado Mousse (Recipe below ).

 

Avocado Mousse

1 ripe Avocado     

1/2 or 1tbs of powdered sugar         

1/2 tbs lemon juice

2 tbs natural yogurt or vanilla flavored

Put avocado in a blender or food processor until pureed add lemon juice and sugar process until of a yogurt consistency add yogurt one spoon at a time (if adding vanilla flavor yogurt add less sugar, unless you like sweet), make sure too mix well, can be served immediately although I like to eat it chilled (for that refrigerate for 30 minutes)  Can be served in a bowl or in individual dessert bowls . and there you have it soething so simple taste absolutely delicious!!

From there we spent the whole evening walking back and fro to the drugstore searching for a solution to my friend´s feet, after that we decided to stay in the proximities as she really wasn’t in any conditions to walk and since I had been here before I knew I wasn’t going to be missing anything I had not seen before.

Later that evening we headed over to the market and bought some fruits, then made a stop at a bar and grabbed a beer then we checked out Saint Christine Church (Igrexa de Santa Cristina) said to be built around the 13th century that was just next door to the hotel and from there we crossed over to have dinner before heading back to get ready for next day which was going to be the first of the longest walks we were going to be encountering. 23 km from Baiona – Vigo but that my friends will be until next time.

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Camino De Santiago: La Guardia – Oia. Day 2.

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Day 2 : From La Guardia to OIA

I came to this trip with no expectations, rare in me but it was what I had decided beforehand since I didn’t know what I was going to gain or lose with this experience but little did I know I was going to be confronted early on in a situation that in hindsight makes me proud of how I eventually handle it.

You see anyone who knows me, knows that besides being a very cheerful, jolly person, I am very active, energetic, organized and structured person. I do not think I am “the last coca cola of the desert” (meaning that I’m not all that) but I love myself in all my glory and in all of my flaws and I understand that not everybody will like me or like that or some of those characteristics that I have but regardless of that whether you do or don´t has nothing to do with me but a lot to do with you or whatever baggage you might be carrying at the moment and that is something that you have to take the time to figure out but what you can never ever do is lash out by being mean or just plain rude.

I won´t recount the whole story but what I can still remember was feeling all this negative energy towards me and feeling this overwhelming sensation of just wanting to correspond with the same token. I remember closing my eyes and taking a deep breath and thinking to myself that this had nothing to do with me, that I was not going to give my self-power to it. The effort brought tears to my eyes but I held on.

I won´t deny that for the first 30 minutes to an hour I was not my “normal” self.  I was somewhat morose due to the internal struggle I was having with my “evil” vs. “good” side. Repelling the idea of smacking and beating the sh*t  out of her or just really letting it go and turning the page. The good side won.

As soon as the sun was out, after having breakfast and leaving our luggage at the reception for pick up, we began our walk by following the yellow arrows of the camino, these yellow arrows painted on fences, trees, pavement, houses, buildings, etc, mark the route for thousands of pilgrims walking to get to Santiago de Compostela every year and this is thanks to Don Elías Valiña Sampedro (1929-1989) who was the parish priest in O Cebreiro in Lugo who studied the history of the St James Way pilgrimage to Santiago in depth, writing many documents, articles and even a thesis on the Camino de Santiago for the University of Salamanca.

In 1984, he put in motion his mission to rescue, clean and mark the trails along Camino, starting in Roncesvalles, in the Pyrenees. He also started painting the iconic yellow arrows to indicate the right way at the various tricky crossroads along the trail. Legend has it that Don Elías drove across the whole north of Spain on his Citroën GS packed with yellow paint, painting arrows leading to Santiago.( https://caminoways.com/the-story-of-the-yellow-arrows-along-the-camino )

We walked approximately 13 km (from La Guardia to Oia) which is not bad since the terrain was not difficult, we were able to accomplish this in 4 to 5 hours as we stopped in various occasions to take the scenery, take pictures or have something to drink.

OIA:  Oia is a municipality in the region of Pontevedra, Galicia, with a population of about 3,038 habitants. It is one of the sunniest villages in the north of the peninsula. It is said that the history of Oia began to revolve around the Monastery of Santa María de Oya, founded by Alfonso VII in 1132 as an abbey, being its first abbot Pedro de Incio. In 1185 he adopted the Cistercian reform, submitting to the abbey of Clairvaux which was incorporated in 1547 to the Cistercian congregation of Castile. This monastery was disentailed and sold to private individuals in 1835, when the monastery church became a parish church. In 1931 It was declared a Bien de Interés Cultural (a good of cultural interest), a landmark.

Besides the monastery (which is rarely open), we decided to walk around, soak up some sun and relax before grabbing some lunch and boy was the food to die for!! I mean not only the food was mouthwatering delicious but it was worth the price (and by that I mean it was inexpensive), I took some pictures, send some to my love ones, posted some on Facebook, spoke to a cousin of mine and later on proceeded to head over to the hotel that is located in Villadesuso, a family hotel 5 km away for the center of Oia (it serves, the hotel as a links to Baiona and La Guardia).

In the hotel, our room had ocean front view but we decided to go straight to the ocean and see the sunset which Oia is famous for. After that we decided to have dinner (once again the quality, quantity and price was Phenomenal!!) went to our room, prepared our knapsack, luggage and cloth and filled the bathtub with hot water and salt and soaked our feet before going to sleep as tomorrow would be a longer road as we would be heading over to Baiona, approximately 18 km away.

 

And So The Adventure Begins, My Experience In El Camino De Santiago.

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And I’m Back!!!! For the following weeks I will be posting my day by day personal experience during el Camino de Santiago and some pictures.

As I had stated before The Camino of Santiago or Saint James way is one of the most important Christian pilgrimages that exists since 812 AD (from the time of the discovery of St. James’s remains that legend says were carried by boat from Jerusalem to northern Spain, where he was buried in what is now the city of Santiago de Compostela. (The name Santiago is the local Galician evolution of Vulgar Latin Sancti Iacobi, “Saint James”.)

The symbol of the Camino de Santiago is the shell, specifically the scallop shell, the pilgrim’s staff and a water bottle made from a squash.

The Wearing of the shell (either attached to them by sewing it onto their clothes or wearing it around their neck or by simply keeping it in their backpack) indicates that one is a traveler on the Camino de Santiago. Most pilgrims receive a shell at the beginning of their journey but during the medieval period, the shell was proof of completion rather than a symbol worn during the pilgrimage.

The shell is also seen on posts and signs along the Camino as an indicator, in order to guide the pilgrims along the way.

The pilgrim’s staff is used a walking stick and it has a hook on it so that something may be hung from it, and may have a crosspiece on it.

Nowadays normal water bottles thermos is used.

In Spain and Portugal There are many route one can choose from:

  1. The most popular is The French Way
  2. The oldest is the Northern Way
  3. The 2nd most popular is The Portuguese Way, which has two traditional routes (the Central Way) and the Coastal Way (The one I did).
  4. The Aragonese Way
  5. The Tunnel Way
  6. The English Way
  7. The Camino Mozárabe and the Via de La Plata
  8. The Camino de Madrid
  9. The Camino del Ebro
  10. The Camino de Santiago de Soria
  11. The Camino de la Lana
  12. The Camino de Levante
  13. The Camino del Sureste
  14. The Camino de Torres

And these are without including those (routes)in France, Belgium and the Netherlands, Germany, Switzerland, Ireland and In Poland.

For comfort purposes we (my friend Vicky and I) decided on using the services of a travel agency who specializes on organizing trips such as the Camino of Santiago. We let them know we were interested in the option they had on the Portuguese Coastal route and they provided us with a 10 night accommodation with breakfasts included, Transfer of luggage from hotel to hotel during each stages (1 luggage – max 20 Kg.), Full documentation such as step by step route descriptions, hotel information, maps, and locations descriptions, Journey notebook, 24-hour emergencies Telephone assistance, Travel insurance and  Pilgrim credential or passport ( Passport gives access to overnight accommodation along the route, it is stamped with the official St. James stamp of each town or hostel at which the pilgrim has stayed. It provides pilgrims with a record of where they ate or slept, and serves as proof to the Pilgrim’s Office in Santiago that the journey was accomplished according to an official route, and thus the pilgrim qualifies to receive a Compostela (certificate of completion of the pilgrimage) to earn the Compostela one needs to walk a minimum of 100 km or cycle at least 200 km). In our case we completed 163 km.

The only thing we needed to do was get there. Mind you that although we had spent about more or less 6 month training (walking everyday 12km for 2 hours later on I included cross fit to the mix) we actually contacted the agency on the last-minute (26th of Sept . to let them know we wanted to start the 1st of Oct.) and they made it happen.

Day 1: Woke about 5a.m. and headed to the airport to catch a flight from Madrid to Vigo (since it had been last-minute all train fares were sold out), from Vigo airport we took a taxi to the bus station that was taking us to La Guardia (bus cost us a total of  12.10 Euros) and from there we walked over to the Hotel, where all our documentation from the travel agency was waiting for us, and even when we had arrived before the check-in the manager was gracious enough to provide us with free breakfast while the room was being conditioned for us and since the next day was when we were going to start with the Camino, we had this day to discover La Guardia.

After bringing up our luggage to the room, the manager called us a taxi and we headed over to one of the main attraction: the Monte de Santa Tecla, where there is a Celtic town that was excavated in 1914 and declared a Historic-Artistic Monument in 1931. From there we climbed to the top of the mount through the Via Crucis until we reached the XII century hermitage ( a settlement where a person or a group of people lived religiously, in seclusion) of Romanesque style, and the view from here are spectacular where you can see the Miño River, the Port and even Portugal.

From Monte Tecla we decided to go to La Guardia Ferry, that takes you across to Caminha,Portugal  (just a 4. 7 mile/ 1-1/4 hour walk) but such was our luck that the tide was low and they are closed on Mondays but we took the opportunity to grab a beer or two from the nearby kiosk and talk to the vendor , after that we decided to go to the port (a 3.1 miles/ 40-50 min. walk) by that time it was about 5p.m. , we had missed lunchtime and we were starving, but once again such was our luck that every restaurant, cafe , eatery etc. was closed so we just went into the first mini market we saw and bought us a baguette, Spanish ham(prosciutto like ham) and goat cheese and made ourselves a sandwich for the meantime and waited until 8:30p.m. to go into the first restaurant to have a hefty meal  and OMG did I stuff my face, I had Barnacles and Razor clam to my heart content and fresh as it can be and at a ridiculous price if compared to when I buy them in Madrid.

After that we headed over to the Hotel to prepare our backpack and hit the bed early to be well rested for next day when we were about to embark into our 13 km adventure from La Guardia to Oia.

El Camino De Santiago,The Way of St. James

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For the past few months my friend Vicky and I have been walking an estimate of 12 kilometers or 7.4 miles in 2 hours every day until a month ago that we changed it to 3 times a week (on the days off she goes swimming, I do cross fit) all this, to get ready to do the last 98-100 miles of “the way of Saint James” known in Spanish as “El Camino De Santiago de Compostela”.

The Route of Santiago de Compostela has about more than a dozen main routes each with a variety of degrees of difficulty that will lead you to its final destination, which is the Tomb of James in Santiago de Compostela, in Galicia (located at the northwest part of Spain, about 488 km from Madrid). This route is known as a Christian pilgrimage path or as a religious spiritual retreat that has been done since the time of the discovery of St. James’s remains in 812 AD.

For me, the reason for me to do it is part curiosity “see what metaphorical journey I will gain”, part self discovery …see how resilient I can be. As this is my first time (my friend already has one under the belt) I am filled with expectations and excitement, open to the experience, to the people I will encounter and curious to what I will learn from it all. I am curious as what the “camino” will bring to me (Renew awareness?) or relinquish me off (control?).

We, Vicky and I will be doing the Portuguese Coast Route that will take us exactly 9 days to arrive at Santiago de Compostela, we will be walking from 13 to 26 km per day and we are planning on recording, taking photograph and eventually writing about the experience during and after. We will be carrying our backpacks with just the necessary things (first aid, water, protein bar, phone etc.) but our luggage will be waiting for us at the hotel.

I will definitely be carrying with me the “credentials or pilgrim´s passport” since I will have to record (stamp) the places I have been, eaten, slept etc. as proof (to the pilgrim´s office in Santiago) that I have done the journey.

By doing this I can obtain the certificate of completion known as the compostela which, will let me (depending at what time I arrive) participate in the mass that is held for the “pilgrims” at the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela.

Will keep you posted.

 

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Weekend Getaway

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For the past 6 years every time our apartment building complex does a pool party to celebrate the closing of the swimming pool (and the end of summer). We, husband and I take the opportunity (not to be antisocial) to disappear during the weekend, on occasions Mr. Butters drags along, not this time, this time he stayed at the in-laws.

We decided to go to Arenas de San Pedro (literally the translation would be sands of Saint Peter) it is a town located in Ávila, in the community of Castile and León, approximately 2 hours away from Madrid. The origins of the town is said to go back to the middle Ages (between 13 to 14th century) although there are data that confirms the presence of inhabitants in the area from Prehistoric Era.

So as always, I did a list of the places I wanted to see which were:

Cuevas del Águila (Eagle cave)

Castillo de Don Álvaro de Luna (Don Alvaro de Luna Castle)

Piscinas Naturales Arenas de San Pedro (Arena de San Pedro Natural Pool)

Castillo de Mombeltrán (Mombeltran Castle)

Calzada Romana Puerto del Pico (Roman Road)

But unfortunately we were not able to see them all (those that are strikethrough) as the weather turn for the worse. The only one we were able to see were the following:

1-The castle of Mombeltrán or castle of the dukes of Alburquerque: erected by Beltrán de la Cueva, first Duke of Alburquerque between 1462 and 1474, attributing it to the architect Juan Guas by similarity to the castles of Belmonte and the Manzanares el Real. In 1949 it was declared an Asset of Cultural Interest.

2-Calzada Romana Puerto del Pico is one of the best preserved Roman roads in Spain. It is said to have been built by the Romans around 2B.C. mainly as a way to improve communications between the capital of Ávila and Mérida. It was used for the passage of the Roman armies and the transport of metals in the Sierra de Gredos as well as a way to cross the Sierra de Gredos through Puerto del Pico.

From there we grabbed a bite and then headed over to the rural hostel boutique, very nice, cozy and quaint and I have to say that even if we were not able to see it all I do have to admit that I did have the best 4 hours nap!! Then I just did nothing but watch TV, read, eat and sleep some more until the next day, when it was time to head home.

and although it just was for a day and a sleepover it was worth it, I truly enjoyed it.

Below some more pictures of the weekend Getaway.

The One and Only …Mr. Butters

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“What greater gift than the love of a cat?”  —Charles Dickens

Today I am going to talk to you about a very important member of our family his name is Mr. Butterscotch but I call him Mr. Butters for short. He’s my 9-year-old American short hair tabby who I love and adore. He came into my life when he was just a week old with his eyes completely shut and umbilical cord still attached. He was as yellow as a butterscotch (for those who don’t know what a Butterscotch is, it’s a type of candy sold in the States that is made of brown sugar, butter, vanilla and salt).1931468_249041210510_4965127_nHe had been found in the back yard of who was at that time my boyfriend; he (Mr. Butters) along with 4 other female kittens had spent the night crying (it seem his mother had been killed since it is unheard of a female cat abandoning her kittens).

I have to say I had not planned on having another cat yet since I was at the time, still mourning the passing of my previous cat name Gordy, whom I had adopted 2 month after I had arrived to Florida and was with me for the pass nine years.

I don’t know if it had to do with me getting up every 2 then every 4 hours to feed the whole bunch or whether it was the moment he opened his eyes and would not leave by my side. The thing was without realizing it I fell in love with that yellow ball of fur and in that moment, I knew that there would be no way I was going to give him away.

Today, I cannot imagine life without him, he has a wonderful personality, he is extremely friendly and I think he doesn’t realize that he is actually a cat. He understands what you say both in English and Spanish (yeah, he’s bilingual) but most of all he has a lot of patience and puts up with me.the many faces of Mr. buttersHe’s an indoor cat but he does travel with us when we do road trips around Spain and although he does has his very own passport,( if he needed to travel on an airplane ), I still haven’t taken him abroad since I really don’t  want to stress him out unnecessarily .oh hell noIMG_20180909_235955IMG_20180909_235934DSC02503IMG_20150904_090528

He is adored and he is the king of the household and he knows it!!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Emotional Triggers

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Between Saturday and Sunday, I have to say I totally misbehaved, I was like a spawn from hell trapped in a 4 years old kid with a temper tantrum and I consciously knew I was being wicked but I still continued to act out by being sarcastic, obnoxious, condescending while giving the evil eye to who else but my better half. It was like I had a cloud hanging over my head, and I know what triggered it and instead of talking about it for the 1000th time I just decided to react.

I am not going to deny it; I am “old school” and there are things I am not going to change because it is what I was taught to believe as civility, good manners and politeness. It’s a pet peeve of mine and anyone who knows me personally knows that these two factors are very important to me.

Let me start by saying eye contact although it might be seen as a simple little gesture or a common courtesy, for me it is a sign of respect, a non verbal communication that has a significant meaning, which translates to: that you are 1- focused, 2- aware, 3- paying attention and last but not least 4-interested in what I am saying.

If by any chance we cannot sustain eye contact, that´s not a problem, there are other signs which I can determine whether you are or are not paying attention to what I am saying, and I understand that some people might find it very difficult or even uncomfortable to sustain eye contact. I get that as well but as I stated before there is more to just eye contact for me to know whether you are interested or not in what I have to say and if you are not why not say so?

And 2- I like to be answered when I am calling out for you. You call out my name I will respond to you by saying “dime” (tell me), “si?” (Yes?), “que?” (What?), “ya voy” (Coming!) But I will ALWAYS respond because (for me), it lets the other person know that I have heard their call and that they have or will get my attention.

See the key word here is attention. Webster dictionary defines it as: notice taken of someone or something; the regarding of someone or something as interesting or important.

For me attention translates and means that: “I will pay attention to you because you are important (to me) and I will hear what you need to say that is important to you”. So if you don´t pay attention (to me), I will translate it to “what I am saying is not important, so you are disregarding and disrespecting me” and that triggers an emotional response and I get defensive, mad and it really upsets me (because as you read previously attention I associate it with importance).

Since this is a topic I have identified as an issue. I have tried to come up with a list of probable solutions that would not provoke an emotional response, I have addressed the underlying issue to my better half, and I know it is not fair for me to assume that he will take responsibility or be responsible to solve my issue but I would love if he would be more considerate in trying to make it easier on me while I try to cope on working on why that triggers me at an emotional level.

so these are two of the solution I will implement in order for me not to loose my cool.I have decided that instead of calling out for him, I will walk to where he is.( I do have to mention that although he doesn´t answer, he does goes to where I am)

and when I am right in front of him, I will wait until i have his complete attention and I will make him repeat the conversation or tell me what he has understood from our conversation (yes like one does with kids) so I dont find myself wrining his neck because he ask me something I stated 2 minutes ago.

and I will continue to breath in 1-2-3 and breath out 1-2-3 lol

Until next time and in the meantime :

What are some of your coping skills in order for you not to respond at an emotional level?

What words have emotional meaning to you?

What non verbal communication (gestures, facial expressions, and body language) triggers you at emotional level?

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One Hectic Week

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Love the life you live, live the life you love. Bob Marley

This past week felt very hectic, I was constantly on the go, non-stop and by Thursday my body was rebelling, I actually overslept and barely made it to my cross fit session. For the past month I have been trying to complete 10 km or more in less than 2 hours (On wed. I actually walked 10.56 km in 1:54min.) In order to be ready for my Camino de Santiago adventure (or also known as The Way of St. James, which is one of the most important Christian pilgrimages since the middles ages). Mind you I’m not doing it for religious purposes but I’m looking forward and open to the experience and hey, who knows what spiritual significance or metaphorical journey I will be rewarded with.

I also started this same week an online course on International Women’s Health and Human Rights that keeps me glued to the screen, a very interesting subject that focus directly on the challenges Women’s are having on their basic human rights; the subordination and the constant disparity (Health, Human rights, Political decisions, work, education, etc.) amongst the gender regardless of they (women) being a contributing factor in society, history. Let’s just say, I am shock not only of the worldwide statistic of the lack of equality of their Human rights (example: about 77 million of females do not have the possibility of an education).but what they are face with on an everyday basis.

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Throughout my reading material there is one constant question that continues to pop into my mind and it´s when, how and at what time did we rendered, submitted our power to this male dominated society?  Anyways I will leave it up to here… For now.

I also submitted myself to see if I would be the lucky winner to travel around the world in 80 days, contest winner will be chosen this Monday, if it’s for me great , if not, doesn’t matter because for me, everyday it’s an adventure.

 

Changing the topic, I finally finished reading the books I had acquired on my last trip to the States and I also completed my list of books for this year reading. Of course I got to say that my list is ever growing with the constant recommendation from friends and family and my constant trip to the bookstores and literary review pages so let’s say that for the moment that list is somewhat flexible and can grow even more. I will just share with you the ones I haven’t read yet. (At the moment I’m reading “The Revenger” by Debra Anastasia and will start re-reading Vernes’s Around the World in 80 Days…) But when I do I might give you a heads up of which are worth reading.

Jussi Adler -A Conspiracy of Faith-Redemption-
Amelie Nothomb – Fear and Trembling.
Amelie Nothomb – Hygiene and the Assassin
Zoje Stage- Baby Teeth
 J P Delaney- Believe Me
Fine, Anne – Flour Babies.
Kristan Higgins- Good Luck with That
Herta Muller – El hombre es un gran faisan en el mundo.
Herta Muller – The Appointment
Herta Muller – Todo lo que tengo lo llevo conmigo.
Irene Nemirovsky – All Our Worldly Goods.
Irene Nemirovsky – David Golder
Irene Nemirovsky – Suite Francaise
Irene Nemirovsky – The Dogs and the Wolves.
 J M Coetzee – Disgrace
 J M Coetzee – The master of Petersburg
 James Baldwin – Another Country
 James Baldwin – The FBI File
K.F.Breene – Finding Paradise -Fate of Perfection.
 Laura Restrepo – Delirio.
Martha Beck-Finding Your Own North Star Claiming the Life You Were Meant to Live
Matthew Mather – CyberStorm.
Ottessa Moshfegh- My Year of Rest and Relaxation.
Olivier Philipponnat Patrick Lienhardt – The Life of Irene Nemirovsky 1903-1942.
Richard K. Morgan – Altered Carbon- A Takeshi Kovacs Novel
Streatfeild, Noel – Ballet Shoes
Jacqueline Kelly-The Curious World of Calpurnia Tate.
Jussi Adler- The Purity of Vengeance.
Chris Carter- The Crucifix Killer.
Jacqueline Kelly.The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate
Brené Brown- The Gifts of Imperfection
Rubin Gretchen-The Happiness Project
Lars Kepler- The Hypnotist.
Stewart Gary and Mustafa Susan- The Most Dangerous Animal of All .
Amy Reed- The Nowhere Girls
Hanya Yanagihara-The People in the Trees.
Usher Donna Joy- The Seven Steps to Closure
Heather Morris-The Tattooist of Auschwitz
Walter Isaacson – Leonardo da Vinci
Lucy Tan-What We Were Promised
Susan Mallery-When We Found Home

until next week my friend, live, love and laugh!!!

What I have realized living abroad.

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” Maybe the journey isn´t so much about becoming anything. Maybe it´s about un-becoming everything that isn´t really you so you can be who you were meant to be in the first place” Paul Coelho

Living abroad has made me distinguish the difference between national identity and my personal identity, don’t get me wrong I am proud to be a New Yorker although my cultural identity is Dominican, since both my parents are and was Dominican. I have a strong sense of the cultural history and traditions of the Dominican Republic more so than of the United States, even though when I lived in the D.R. my “Americanism” was much stronger, maybe it had to do with my english accent while I spoke Spanish which back then was very strong, but then when I moved to Miami that’s when I identified and felt more Dominican, don’t know why but I can say it was where I felt a strong sense of pride and belonging even when I was surrounded amongst Cubans, Nicaraguans, Peruvians and North-Americans.

Then I moved to Spain and once again I felt very American (well because I did come from the western Hemisphere or American continent) but not just an American, but a  New Yorker who had lived in Florida.

For the past 7 yrs., all my reference that I used was my life experiences from Florida, which I felt was home but sadly, on this last road trip, the time spent there, I felt disconnected,and I was shocked of how unfamiliar everything seemed, that these past years, living abroad, a lot had changed, or maybe I should say I had changed, that life continued to move on as I did and that it didn´t feel like home, that home wasn’t “there” anymore.

 

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Living abroad has made me know parts of me that didn’t know existed, you get the opportunity to learn, learn that there are other ways of doing things; you learn to appreciate the moments, to broaden your horizons, to improvise, to unlearn, and to evolve. To embrace little by little those habits that are very particular to the country (even the way I swear has changed).

You learn also to embrace all those emotions that come with moving abroad such as: feeling homesick, nostalgia, the missing of places and those little things you never thought you´d miss (Wise Onion & Garlic potato Chips), miss the closeness of your friends and family. These emotions can and will shake up your foundation, your certainties and your fears but at the same time it will provide you with a sense of knowing that you are capable of doing anything.

The truth is that living abroad did not and does not affect how I continue to see, feel about myself but it has changed the way I view things, let´s just say it has given me a “new ” pair of eyes.

And last but not least Home for me is the person who is by my side, in my life (near or far), the everyday encounter, the life experiences, the bunch of pictures, the memories, the random stuff I have acquired through the years. Home for me is where the heart is and my heart at the moment,is here in Madrid, Spain.

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Home…Where my heart is..

BECOMING AWARE OF MY MORTALITY

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“An awareness of one’s mortality can lead you to wake up and live an authentic, meaningful life”. Bernie Siegel

There is another quote by Bret Harte that states  “We begin to die as soon as we are born” but the thing is that while one is young the thought of death is the farthest thing we have in our mind, it is like it doesn’t exist. We think ourselves invincible, indestructible… We are Young, we are strong, it can’t and won’t happen to us, to me.

Then, the year passes by and death on occasions will show its face; when it happens to someone young, you try to look for explanations. When it happens to someone very old, you expect it. When it’s someone close, you experience it, it touches you but still you don’t realize that death is around us at every moment and it will eventually come knocking at your door at any time and at any day.

The thing is that as I get closer to my 50´s, there is this consciousness, this awareness and sense of vulnerability that I hadn’t had before, the conceivable feeling that I am more susceptible, or more prone to my death that when I was in my teens, my 20’s or 30’s.That I am no longer invincible, indestructible and my expiration date is more plausible than ever.

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It is not really my intention to sound all doom and gloomy and dark, I can honestly say I am more in an introspective, reflective and insightful mood, trying to make sense and understand what I am actually feeling and trying to express myself the best way I know how. Just recently a high school friend of mine all of a sudden passed away. He is the second Classmate that suddenly passes away, the first was in 2015, he was only 48, then a couple of days (he had recently turned 50) makes 2 and it just makes me wonder if that’s how it’ll be? That the passing of my high school friends will be what will make me fully comprehend that I am in that stage where the sense of mortality has really kicked in.

Again, “the day one is born is the day one starts to die”. Death is certain, you just don’t know when or how. So, while I am still amongst the living, I will continue to love, to laugh, to live, I will continue to create memories, to experience more but most of all to live in the present, the here, the now.

 

Until next week my friends, love you all

 

 

Why MaHdrid

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I bet you noticed that Madrid was written with an H in between and no, it wasn’t a typo. Have you figured it out? Exactly, H stands for me (Hanniuska) or H in Madrid.

So what can I say of this city that I have been a part of for the last 6 yrs.

First of all I must say it is a beautiful city that embraces diversity; it is rich in architecture as in history that can transport you from medieval to baroque to art Deco in a blink of an eye as in people.

It’s a culinary capital that embraces the new but thrives in keeping alive with the long-standing traditions within the Spanish cuisine, proof of that is that throughout the years I have included a diverse and abundant repertoire in my everyday meal, from the white bean soup (fabadas) to the vegetable macaroni (fideua) to razor clams bathed in olive oil, onion and garlic (Navajas) to fried eggplant dipped in Maple syrup and let’s not forget the prawns (I even got my cholesterol to prove it).

Their one of a kind festivities, from the numerous processions that take place on the different streets of Madrid all year round to the five-day carnival celebration to the Feast of Saint Isidro, where thousands of Madrileans dress up as Chulos and Chulapas.

Or Madrid´s nightlife, known as the city that has more bars than any other on earth, no wonder all who are from Madrid are known as cats. (Night lifers and layback) there isn’t a night where the city is not busting out of people no matter the weather, I don’t think I have ever seen a quiet night.

Ooh, and one last thing they do love to curse do not be shocked to hear young kids say such colorful phrases I even got one I use frequently but only in the presence of the hubby “A tomar por culo” (something like up yours) .

Anyways before I bid you until next week here´s a song that would probably describe best Madrid, song written by Agustin Lara original version.. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4ZuPwt-rGpE) and song with a twist https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BMxMXWCz8UMahdrid.png

P.S- if you want to know more of me you can simply head over to the “about me” section. Any questions? You may feel free to comment or contact me.