Once upon a time in Spain, there was a man names Domingo. He wanted to be a priest but the church refused him. Domingo went off on his own to live as a hermit, off the beaten path.
It happened to be along the Camino de Santiago, where pilgrims had walked for years. He watched pilgrims come and pilgrims go. A large river was dangerous to cross and Domingo watched as pilgrim after pilgrim struggled to cross it.
Domingo felt sorrow for these pilgrims and went to work. He built a bridge for the pilgrims. He did not stop there. In order to treat injured pilgrims, Domingo then opened a hospital. This became known as the town of Santo Domingo.
Domingo dedicated his life to pilgrims. Among the many locations of the Camino de Santiago, the small town of Santo Domingo will continue to be among my favorites.
The church is the single place where live fowl are kept within the Cathedral. They have kept this tradition since a miracle took place in the city. Chickens on the Mayor’s dinner plate came to life after a wrongfully hung thief returned to life at the end of his noose.
If that isn’t a Miracle of Saint James – those miracles that take place along the Camino – I don’t know what it.by Jessi Lohman
“What will we do for Halloween this year?” Max asked. He drummed his fingers on Cliff’s desk and looked back and forth between his two friends.
“We could trick or treat,” Trudy suggested. A mischievous smile crept into the corners of her mouth.
“Nope – not happening,” Cliff said. “We are far too old. I mean, we are twenty for heaven sakes. Most people our age either go to parties, throw a party or hand out candy.”
“Let’s pick one,” Max said. “I like all those ideas.”
Trudy, Cliff and Max had been childhood friends. They had been a trio of misfits who grew up in the same neighborhood, attended the same schools and had shared similar interests.
Truth be told, they were so close as friends, they hadn’t reached out to anyone else. There were no parties to attend, as none had been invited. There were no friends to invite if they to host a Halloween Party either.
This left them one option.
“I am not going to sit here and pass out candy like I’m retired already,” Trudy said.
“There are other options,” Cliff said.
“Like what?” Max asked.
“We could watch scary movies and hand out candy,” Cliff said. He smiled, proud of his idea.
Trudy took one look at that smile and grunted before making an agonizing sound as though she were in pain.
Cliff’s smile faded as did Max’s enthusiasm.
Silence came over the group. They sat, staring at one another. Minutes ticked by.
“Okay, I’ve got it,” Trudy said, sitting up with a start.
Max sat up too with wide eyes.
“Let’s dress up – in character – and act as if those characters are our real lives for the night.”
“Okay,” Cliff said. “But who will we be?”
“We should be ghost,” Max said.
“You want to be the ghosts of our past relatives?” Cliff said. “We know those stories. I don’t know about you, but that seems kind of disrespectful to me.”
“I still like the ghost idea,” Max said.
“We could be ghosts and find other stories, Cliff,” Trudy said. It was a rare moment of sensitivity on her part.
“Really?” Cliff asked.
“Sure,” Trudy said. “Let’s go to the graveyard and find people to be. On Halloween night, we can gather as though those characters and interact as though we are ghosts in the graveyard.”
“This is going to be awesome,” Max said, rubbing his hands together.
Later that evening, the trio stood in their neighborhood historic graveyard combing grave sites, looking for interesting ghosts to represent.
“John Star,” Max said, being the first to find who he would be. “He was a doctor and died at age forty-six.”
“Sounds like a good fit,” Cliff said, rubbing his hand through his hair with nervousness. He looked and looked and none of the gravestones seemed to be people he would want to be.
“Here’s mine,” Trudy shouted. Both came over to see. “Mary Hudson. Beloved wife, mother and school teacher.”
“That seems rather boring for you,” Max said.
“Well of course it’s boring,” Trudy said. “It has to be the opposite of me.”
Max laughed and looked at Cliff, who hadn’t responded to the joke.
“Did you hear her?” Max said. “That was funny.”
“Yeah, I heard,” Cliff said. “I just don’t know why I can’t figure out who I want to be.”
Max looked over to the larger, more established grave monuments. They had small fences around them and appeared very prominent in comparison to most of the sites.
“Let’s go look over there,” Max said.
The three went over and by the fourth monument, Cliff had decided.
“Here we go,” he said. “William Brown, trusted banker and friend.” Trudy high-fived Cliff and they ran off, excited about Halloween night.
Halloween night came and the three friends revealed their handiwork and evaluated the costumes.
Trudy, the shortest by far, had long stringy hair.
“You look more like a witch than a school teacher,” Cliff said. Max clapped him on the back, letting out a long laugh.
“This was the side of Mary Hudson she never let out,” Trudy said, unmoved by the commentary. “That is what I am representing tonight.”
Cliff was tall and wore an elegant set of clothing, his face painted gray and sullen.
Max was on the husky side, and carried with him a large medical bag and a hat, both of which looked like a historical doctor.
Everyone was impressed and before long, they were ready to head out.
“Oh, I have one more thing,” Trudy said. “I have glow in the dark spray.”
The spray showered down onto the three of them.
Pulling up to the graveyard, all was still. The moon was out and full, allowing bits of light to shine through the trees surrounding the graveyard.
First they walked by Mary’s grave. Trudy laid on the ground beside the grave and pretended to be sleeping. She rolled over and stretched her arms, as though waking up. She sat up, looking around and stood up, as though checking things out after a long nap.
“I’m going next,” Cliff said.
They went to the banker’s grave and Cliff hopped the fence.
“I’m not going to step on anything,” he told them out of caution.
Trudy shrugged her shoulders.
“I’m not going to judge you,” she said.
“I might,” Max said, laughing under his breath.
Cliff hid behind the large monument and then jumped around the corner.
Trudy and Max jumped with comic relief and they all giggled quietly.
“It’s funny we are being so quiet,” Max said. “It’s not like anyone is here.”
“That’s true but it’s more fun this way,” Trudy said.
“You mean more creepy and eerie,” Cliff said, shaking his head and looking around.
“One more friend to rise,” Trudy said, leading the way to get Dr. Star.
Coming over a small hill, the three stopped up short. In the distance, there was a small lantern of light near Dr. Star’s grave. They hid behind a large headstone that represented many family members.
There was a hole and a head popped out, followed by a shovel and a masked man.
“Hey, that guy is robbing my grave,” Max whispered.
“Maybe we should get out of here,” Cliff said.
Max and Trudy looked at him.
“”I’ve got a better idea,” Trudy said.
The man was in the hole. Sweat poured down his brow. Although it was cool outside, this ground was hard and had been undisturbed for so long. As a doctor, this grave would probably have many valuables in it.
He couldn’t want to get his hands on those goodies.
The crunching of twigs was heard off to the man’s right. His head jerked up. He saw nothing but lamp light.
“Hello?” He called.
There was no answer.
He went back to digging. Must be the wind, he thought.
Crunching of twigs to his left.
Again, head jerking up.
“Hello?” He called, this time crawling out of the hole he was digging.
A rush of wind ran up from behind him and he turned just in time to see the Doctor, John Star, rushing at him. His glowing ghostly shape was headed toward him, medical bag in hand.
“What are you doing in my grave?” Dr. Star snapped and the man screamed, leaving his lamp and his shovel. He ran and ran as he heard, “Come friends, let’s get him!”
Daring a look over his shoulder, he saw a female ghost and a tall one come from the brush and give chase as well. He ran and ran. Jumping into his car, the man fumbled for his keys. The ghosts surrounded the car as he started it. They banged on the sides and the car squealed off.
The trio dodged off, back into the grave yard. If he looked behind them, the ghosts would be gone.
Returning to the grave site of Dr. John Star, they put out the lamp and used the moonlight to guide them.
They began filling the hole back in.
“Since it’s so close to the actual coffin,” Trudy began. “We should open it and see what’s inside.”
Max looked at her with a start.
“You are crazy,” Cliff said with disgust.
“Just kidding,” she cackled and they continued filling the hole.
It would be a calm night after that.by Jessi Lohman
Zaragoza would prove to be new as well. As the fifth largest city in Spain, Mike and I rented a car and drove what looked like Eastern Washington State – from Barcelona to Zaragoza.
The churches, basilicas and city walls lining the river were stunning. The courtyards were filled with accordion players and puppies on leashes. We were happy to explore historic streets and indulge on a variety of pastas. Incredibly, Spain has wonderful pasta. As a gluten-free captive of many years, it is one place I can gorge myself guilt-free without the repercussions I experience back home.
by Jessi Lohman
A true highlight for my husband and me was experiencing the Sagrada Familia, an amazing Roman Catholic Cathedral created by Antoni Gaudi (1852-1926).
Gaudi suffered from rheumatism as a child. Due to his condition, Antoni Gaudi was unable to attend school with other children his age. Determined fresh air and being in nature would be helpful, Gaudi’s mother took him for daily walks in the woods.
From this young age, Gaudi was intrigued by the strength of nature. He was fascinated by the many patterns and how tree trunks could sustain many branches; Flower stems could hold many petals. As a result, he pursued a passion for architecture and pushed existing boundaries by using the inspiration of nature.
Among many prized projects, Sagrada Familia was his flagship work in life. The outside of the Cathedral is a marvel like no other with sculpture and symbolism etched in stone. When you enter the doors of the Cathedral, large pillars raise like trees, opening up to various colored glass and archesinto leaf-like canopies.
True to the creation of many impressive cathedrals, the building of Sagrada Familia will continue through the year 2025. Several pillars will arise over the next ten years. We imagine the likes of this Catheral to be unlike anything we’ve ever seen.
Perhaps we will return on our tenth wedding anniversary.
Where would you go or have you gone for your tenth wedding anniversary?by Jessi Lohman
Walking through Parque del Buen Retiro, Madrid, one evening, we came upon an impressive building. This park is known for being a pleasant retreat, filled with prestigious historical monuments complete with small boats to row in a large pond. The majority of the landscaping, however – is park. We would not have imagined we might stumble upon a Palacio del Cristal (Translation: The Crystal Palace).
We were stunned.
Why would anyone create a building of iron-framed windows? It reminded me of the book, The Glass Castle. We sought the answer to this mystery as we danced along the empty end of what would have made a beautiful wedding reception location.
Soon, we learned the answer. The Palacio del Cristal was created to house exotic plants from the Phillipines in 1887. At some point, the necessity of the plants were no longer needed. There have not been plants within this greenhouse in many years. Today, it is used for the purpose of show-casing art.
As you can see, at the time of our visit, the art we observed appeared to be thin air.
What is your favorite art piece or art exhibit?by Jessi Lohman
You hope to find a friend who will accept you exactly as you are. A friend who will encourage you when the going gets tough and stand by your side, no matter what happens. I did not find one of these friends, I encountered a group of them while on pilgrimage last year.
In addition to the remarkable culture, Madrid is also the home of friends such as these.
I adore these men, their passionate hearts and their friendship. Vast sense of humor, jubilant laughter. Sweet faces, genuine smiles and open hearts.
These are the Wild Cards, immortalized and made famous in, Riding the Camino Dragon.
What better way to spend my 35th birthday than with my friends? Furthermore, how awesome to have an opportunity to introduce my new husband to these friends who touched my heart and taught me the true meaning of friendship. I gained so much from their teaching, when I realized that life is not a solo journey – it is meant to be shared. Everything is more sweet when it is shared.
by Jessi Lohman
Weeks before our honeymoon in Spain, all I had heard was how unique and genuine the Spanish culture was represented in Madrid. I had a number of reasons for wanting to visit Madrid. Culture was among them. My initial experience with Madrid had been exciting to say the least.
During a connecting flight to Pamplona, Spain, before beginning the Camino de Santiago last year, there was a lay-over in Madrid. Within ten minutes of boarding, a thundering noise echoed throughout the terminal. Sheets of water poured from the sky. The water was so think, it blocked the windows. Curving architecture within the airport had difficulty in such conditions. Water began pouring from the ceiling and gathered in large pools throughout the center of the airport.
With that – all screens with flight information went blank. All flights had been cancelled until further notice.
Coming in to Madrid this time was not as tricky. The duration was another story. We had driven from our Wedding Spot at Donner Lake, Truckee, California, to the Reno, Nevada Airport. We flew from Reno, Nevada, to Las Vegas, Nevada. We flew from Las Vegas, Nevada, to London. From London to Madrid.
From Madrid Airport – we caught a cab and taxied to our initial honeymoon stop – Hotel Orfila. Upon arrival, we were welcomed with wide smiles. Our bags were taken to our room and they invited us to the outdoor patio with a mural, fountain and garden for a beverage, cava – a sweet, bubbly wine resembling champagne.
When we arrived in our room, there was a bottle of cava waiting on ice along with two champagne flutes.
Along with the helpful staff, if anyone knows how to welcome guests after a long day of traveling – it is Hotel Orfila of Madrid, Spain.
What was the most grand welcome you ever received at a hotel?
Jessiby Jessi Lohman
“Where do you want to go on our honeymoon?” My future husband asked, pushing a grocery cart around our local supermarket a few months before we tied the knot.
Vacation hot spots flooded my vision. Ireland. Scotland. Germany. Iceland. New Zealand. Australia. Africa. South America. Caribbean. Alaska. Pacific Crest Trail. Appalachian Trail. There were so man options – all I saw were stars.
“Would you like to go back to Paris?” He asked, trying to help me decide.
“Hmm…” I said, I’d forgotten about Paris. ”I would go back to Paris.”
“What about Portugal?” He asked.
I shook my head. ”Might not need to go back to Portugal just yet.”
I stopped in my tracks and peered up at him. Tears came. They gathered and spilled out of the corners of my eyes.
“Spain it is,” he nodded.
The emotional response indicated Spain was the right place to go. It was – for so many reasons. Over the next few weeks, Travelogue Tuesday returns as I share new experiences in Spain and revisit a few I mentioned in Riding the Camino Dragon.
With much to share, and as I don’t intend to write another Camino Dragon book, Travelogue Tuesday will also become Travelogue Thursday for the next several weeks.
Where did you go or would you like to go on your honeymoon?
Jessiby Jessi Lohman
Beverages, breakfast and merriment were our theme as Dr. Michael Payne married me while the sun rose behind us at Donner Lake, Truckee, California, on Wednesday, September 2, 2015.
Sunrise and the middle of the week?! Why, Jess, why?!
I got that question. A. Lot.
By now you must know, there is nothing conventional about me. As a result, Mike and I woke up before the angels were awake and exchanged vows in private. The friendship Mike and I developed over the past several years working near one another came to fruition as we continued our day. I was escorted to a private dock by my step-father, Kim, where we joined 30 of our immediate family.
The ceremony was beautiful. It was short, sweet and simple. The one thing that was evident was the immense love Mike and I have for one another.
No one walked away unmoved by our wedding and shared companionship during a morning meal. Two remarkable families became one and the brightest future shone down on us.
My new husband and I took off with excitement for a Spainish Honeymoon where we explored Madrid, Barcelona and various portions of the Camino I’d discovered while writing Riding the Camino Dragon.
If you haven’t grabbed your copy and read it, now is a good time to ramp up for the next few posts, which will serve as somewhat of an afterward. Oh yes, the adventure continues with my dragon.
Married life is interesting. I excel at independence as a rock star at the single life. Marriage has presented new challenges and pushed me outside my comfort zone in many ways.
Has it been worth it? Absolutely.
The truth is: We are not here to be comfortable. We are here to grow and to reach our full potential. How awesome to have a co-conspirator, an accomplice through it all.
In my personalized vows, I promised to devote my love to Mike. To do my best each day to express that love for him. To care for him, stand beside him, encourage and strengthen him, protect him and cherish him with everything I am.
It is an unpopular idea, I understand – but I have found the greatest gift I can give is to put him first. So that’s what I’ve been doing.
I know a lot, but I don’t know everything. I’ve been asking a lot of people this question, and I’ll ask you too. Any advice for this newlywed? You have my undivided attention.
Thank you for your love and support,
by Jessi Lohman
Good Old Fashioned Hand Written Code by Eric J. Schwarz