Little Things on the Camino

| 7 Comments

As you saw in the previous blog post, you would be hard pressed to find landscape more inviting than the Camino de Santiago. But landscape was not the only thing that made the Camino special for me. There were also the wonderful little things all along the way that animated my Camino experience from beginning to end.

Animals were a huge part of my Camino experience. A day did not go by without seeing lots and lots of animals. They ranged from seeing farm animals to getting a needed dog or cat fix several times a day.

A1 (800x600)

The German Shepard in the picture had been sleeping on the Camino until there was work to be done.

The German Shepard in the picture had been sleeping on the Camino until there was work to be done.

This little guy and his donkey friend were waiting for their human partner to finish his business. They had already walked to Santiago and were now walking home.

This little guy and his donkey friend were waiting for their human partner to finish his business. They had already walked to Santiago and were now walking home.

If you love cats you'll love the Camino!

If you love cats you’ll love the Camino!

One day I saw a lamb just a few hours after it was born and then later that same day saw a cow in desperate need of milking.

The newborn lamb was still wobbling when I passed by.

This newborn lamb was still wobbling when I passed by.

Would somebody please hurry up and milk me.

Would somebody please hurry up and milk me.

While walking through stork country, I saw storks feasting in newly plowed farm fields several days in a row.

Yummy!

Yummy!

Perhaps the biggest surprise was having a quick brown fox run right in front of me. It happened so fast, I couldn’t get a picture of the fox. I was, however, able to get a picture of the fox’s den.

The quick brown fox came out of this hole.

The quick brown fox came out of this hole.

There were also creatures right on the Camino and I had to make sure that I didn’t step on one. There were plenty of snails and large black slugs slithering along the Camino from beginning to end. But the most fascinating small creatures were the swarms of caterpillars unwinding from a cluster at the side of the trail and slowly forming a continuous chain across the width of the Camino.

Yikes!

Yikes!

Earlier in the walk, I could see tadpoles swimming around in drainage ditches. Later in the walk the drainage ditches were full of frogs and many days were punctuated by croaking and the splashing of frogs jumping into the water. On one day I was able to watch a salamander crawl around the bottom of a small stream running on the side of the Camino.

Future frogs swimming in a drainage ditch.

Future frogs swimming in a drainage ditch.

Flowers and plants were also a huge part of my Camino experience. They too were non-stop from first day to last. Towards the end of the walk, the Camino followed a sunken trench where there was the fresh scent from mint growing on the side of the trench wafting in the air. It was wonderful.

Flowers were everywhere!

Flowers were everywhere!

Does anyone know what this plant is?

Does anyone know what this plant is?

The scent from this mint was out of this world.

The scent from this mint was out of this world.

Along with the plants and animals there were many other little things catching my attention. A day or an hour, for that matter, did not go by without something that caught me by surprise or greatly exceeded my expectations.

There were amazing murals painted on buildings, retaining walls, and any other surface that could hold paint.

D1 (800x600)

D2 (800x600)

D3 (800x600)

There was also graffiti expressing one point of view or another; many of them written in English! Early in walk it was Basque separatists. A little bit later it was people in the province of Leon asking for it to be made its own region. And toward the end it was the letter “J” being crossed out and replaced with the letter “X” (the preferred usage in the Galician language).

D6 (800x600)

D7 (800x600)

Most of what caught my attention along Camino was very peaceful. Crosses and statues of pilgrims were non-stop. I’m sure that there were several thousand of them.

E2 (800x600)

E6 (800x600)

E8 (800x600)

F2 (800x600)

F4 (800x600)

F6 (800x600)

There was also no shortage of amazing textures, little details, and wonderful scenery.

Amazing trees were everywhere!

Amazing trees were everywhere!

The scallop shell is the symbol of the Camino. Every pilgrim wore a shell and shells (along with yellow arrows) were on buildings to mark the route.

The scallop shell is the symbol of the Camino. Every pilgrim wore a shell and shells (along with yellow arrows) were on buildings to mark the route.

Many towns had Frontons and if you're lucky you may see a game in action. I sat down here to watch them play.

Many towns had Frontons and if you’re lucky you may see a game in action. I sat down here to watch them play.

And when walking through a town many homes had great decorations.

And when walking through a town many homes had great decorations.

And in many places there would be and old ruin of a castle or church nowhere near a town.

And in many places there would be an old ruin of a castle or church nowhere near a town.

In the few places where towns were far apart, an enterprising soul would set up stand where you could get something eat or drink.

In the few places where towns were far apart, an enterprising soul would set up stand where you could get something eat or drink.

W9 (600x800)

And there was no shortage of churches along the Camino. This particular church in Viana is where Cesare Borgia is buried!

And there was no shortage of churches along the Camino. This particular church in Viana is where Cesare Borgia is buried!

And there was no shortage of wonderful scenery.

And there was no shortage of wonderful scenery.

And on a couple of occasions there were rainbows in the spray of an irrigation nozzle watering a farm field.

W15 (800x600)

And perhaps the most amusing was on the outskirts of Astorga where I saw what must have been a thousand tiny chameleons popping up and down from the cracks of a one-block stretch of sidewalk. I was laughing so hard that I forgot to take a picture of them.

And when I reached the city center of Astorga, I was halted by blaring horns and the Queen of Hearts making a proclamation banishing Alice from Wonderland.

W18 (800x571)

To recall every special little event could fill up pages. But these “little things” illustrate how a long walk, or a short walk for that matter, can give you the opportunity to live life in the present, moment by moment. And when you allow yourself to see what is already here, you will find that the opportunities for amazement become unlimited. In the next post I’ll talk about the amazing connections you can make as you walk the Camino!

7 Comments

  1. Did you see many walking with donkeys? I have heard that you can
    rent a donkey for your camino. Did you see opportunities to do that?
    Would one be able to hike with a dog? Do albergues allow dogs?

    • I saw a few people walking with donkeys. Probably less than ten. I saw a couple of places where someone could rent a horse, but it was only for a short duration. Some people did hike with dogs. It would be very difficult for someone in the U.S. to take their dog to Europe. Some albergues allowed dogs. Most people walking with dogs tented it or stayed in pensions (a step above an albergue).

  2. What a wonderful post David. It’s sad what we sometimes take for granted and walk on by without really “seeing”it. What better way to see than to look, as you do for us with your camera.
    Thank You

  3. What breathtaking landscape. Looks like you walked right into a van Gogh painting.

  4. Dave: The ‘small things’ are huge – what I loved seeing the most…the murals and graffiti, the image of the walker, in metal cut outs, passing a cemetery, the worn hiking boot showing the way, the caterpillars walking the Camino as well. Every photo had a special meaning and I am grateful you brought the experience to me.

  5. I’m thinking you need to do an animals of the Camino calendar for 2016! So many of these are frame worthy :).
    Plant in question looks to be milk thistle.

  6. Marianne forwarded your blog to me. Really beautiful pictures of the simple and sublime! I am glad for the post and that I could see your pictorial journey. What an amazing world we live in. Makes me think about all the wonderful visual images in our sweet city and what we see each day that is amusing, touching and incredibly beautiful.

Leave a Reply

Required fields are marked *.