Children, Signs, and Stamps – Villatuerta to Los Arcos

Last night we had dinner in a small bar/cafe in the small town of Villatuerta. We were seated outside where a large table of families and children had gathered for a 5 year old boy’s birthday party. What was interesting about the party is that it had a Michael Jackson theme – Jackson’s greatest hits were being played over the sound system, the little boy got a shiny sequined hat for his birthday, and he (with his mother’s prodding) performed an excellent moonwalk among other signature Jackson moves. It as great to have a bit of entertainment and childlike innocence to go with our hamburguesa.

One of the great learnings of the Camino is finding one’s way. Sometimes it takes trust (as in trusting my partner’s wisdom and sense of direction), often it takes looking for way markers. While the Way is marked fairly well through most of Spain, one needs to know what to look for. Sometimes you will see a simple yellow arrow painted on a wall. Often you will see a yellow stylized scallop shell on a blue background placed on a concrete pillar. Sometimes a similar scallop shell will be found as a metal disc embedded in the road. On a good day – the shell seems to even be oriented as if to point the way, the design mimicking an arrow. But there are times where no markers appear. There are days when it might be easy to get lost. I am so grateful for those who mark the way here in Spain. Maybe that’s a metaphor for those who mark the way for us in life…

One thing every peregrino (pilgrim) carries is a credencial. It is essentially a pilgrim passport. We are required to show it at every pilgrim albergue we stay at. You can’t stay there without it. Each time you show your credencial you get a sello, a stamp on the document, to confirm that you have stayed or visited that particular place. We get them at albergues, but also at churches, bars, or other places of interest. Having these stamps is not simply a bit of fun, but confirm that you are actually making this pilgrimage. When one arrives at Santiago the stamps are reviewed to show that one has truly made the journey before one gets a compostela, essentially a certificate of completion. It is an interesting part of the journey, a bit like getting a postcard from every world city you have visited.

Today was a very hard day. It was our longest – about 18 miles. It was one of the hottest. Our last 3 miles, though flat, were completely in the sun. (Neither Lena nor I can understand how anyone could do this walk in the summer.) The last half of the day, there were no quaint towns to travel though, only farmland and hills. There was, thankfully, a bit of a snack bar – right in the middle of nowhere – were we were able to purchase some fresh squeezed orange juice. Thankfully too, at the end of the day, we had booked a private room in one of the albergues in Los Arcos, Casa de la Abuela. Tomorrow may be an even longer walk. Send us a few good thoughts and prayers.

Author: Jim Zazzera

I find myself thinking about the past, wondering about the future, and doing my best to live in the present.

11 thoughts on “Children, Signs, and Stamps – Villatuerta to Los Arcos”

  1. May your journey tomorrow be easy though it sounds long, may you find many places for nourishing snacks along the way. We will all be with you with prayers for a safe and secure walk.💞

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  2. Well done, my friends. Finally got to listen to your final sermon last night, Jim. What a great way to end the evening. Wish I could have been there.

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  3. I love the passport idea. There’s something fulfilling about marking every “way station” with those varied stamps. Makes me feel a bit childlike – getting stamps at a museum or national park. A small but visible reminder, “I’ve been there!”

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  4. Prayers headed your way. Fall is arriving here is Sacramento, with the chance of rain on Tuesday. Kings opener is October 17th. So glad you are having such a great experience. Sound wonderful.

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  5. I’m praying for you both daily, and it sounds like my prayers are being answered from your posts and photos. Wow, you’ve gone all this way without music, impressive! Love the stamps! And the road signs, better than a breadcrumb trail, huh? I’ll add to my prayers that you don’t get lost! I must disagree with Paul about fall coming to Sacramento, I think it was a 100゚ yesterday! Love you both, walk on!

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  6. My prayers are that you both feel God’s spirit within you providing strength, fortitude and courage as you travel your day tomorrow. You two are an amazing inspiration to me. Thank you for the awe-inspiring pictures and for your beautiful smiles! It is such an honor to be able to follow your journey.

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  7. Thank you dearest ones…as you sleep tonight you are in my thoughts and prayers…I am so thankful for your sharing this journey with us…lena and jim, you are gifts to me and to all of us…thank you for sharing your journey…and may God keep blessing you on your ways…. In Jesus’ love, barbara

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  8. Continued prayers everyday. We are so inspired by both of you. Here’s to cool and shady days and beautiful evenings to relax.

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