Via de la Plata


Birth of my grandson Rio Amadeo

The Albergue Santa Maria de Fuenterroble de Salvatierra looked simple and humble from the outside, but when I stepped through the doorway, I entered a huge room full of books, large wooden statues of Saints, several long tables with chairs for community meals, and many other artistic artefacts. I was stunned!







Statue of St. James as a pilgrim in the big, high ceiling room right off the entrance


I was assigned a building with many bunkbeds which was behind the main house. Since I was the only pilgrim this day, I could choose any bed. I decided to sleep close to the wooden stove where warm fire was shining through some openings.



One of many spaces in this Albergue to stay overnight



This tiny iron stove was heating the  entire room. It was so cosy and inviting that I sat a long time beside the fire and enjoyed the warmth.


Tino, the hospitalero, showed me around and I could not believe my eyes. There was the American house, the Norwegian and Hungarian houses, workplaces, little gardens, wooden carts, each place more unique than the other. The Albergue can accommodate 70 people or even more. Very often, Tino spoke of Father Blas with a voice full of respect and admiration. Who is Father Blas? We could only communicate by using the Google translator and with a few words of English and Spanish. But this place was beyond words.



A powerful, old tree trunk is growing out of this tiny stone house patched with a grass roof. It is a romantic sleeping place for two people.




Hungarian house on wheels. It was filled with little stuffed animals somebody had donated. Each pilgrim gets a little stuffed animal as a souvenir, Tino gave me a little squirrel.




I could not figure out why there were so many wooden carts. What are they doing with them? There was a big mystery about this place!




Old well


Although I was the only pilgrim, I was not the only visitor! I met the others at dinner, older men working and living there for free. They invited me to join at their table. One of them was a German called Toni, who moved to Spain years ago.



Tino sits beside me at the left and opposite of me you can see Toni, the German. The person to the right, whose name I unfortunately forgot, massaged my still injured foot and gave me his healing cream for the night. There was such a warmheartedness in the group that I thought – this is the manifestation of the true spirit of Mary!



Wall painting in the dining room




Delicious vegetable soup cooked by the men


Tino also gave me a tour of the Church Virgin Santa Maria la Blanca (15th century). A stretch of the original Roman road was excavated to the right of the church.



Santa Maria la Blanca




Beside the impressive cross of the risen Christ, there were several huge carved wooden statues of saints in the church. Tino again mentioned Father Blas and a pilgrimage to Rome with these statues, but I thought I misunderstood and was very confused.




I am turning an unusual wheel of bells


The next day at 7 am, we all ate breakfast together. Father Blas joined us. Finally, the mystery of this place was lifted a bit. With Toni translating, Father Blas spoke about pilgrimages he organises to places like Rome and Jerusalem, where he walks, together with many other pilgrims, into town on ancient mule trails with his carts carrying the statues pulled by donkeys. Later, on the internet, I learned that the sculptures were made by a local farmer in a nearby town. Each year, Father Blas also organises a pilgrimage called Via Lucis from this nearby town to Fuenterroble (the Way of the light), with the carts, donkeys and statues.



Photo taken from the Internet


Just before I left, he disappeared after telling me to wait. He brought a big scallop shell with a leather band and hang it around my neck. I felt very blessed. “I will contact you when we do the next big pilgrimage to Brussels”, he told me. He is planning to walk into Brussels with 27 carts pulled by donkeys –  each cart representing a member of the European Union.  I would love to represent Austria and be part of it.



Tino to the left and Father Blas to the right


Deep mist was lying over the countryside when I left and everything was covered by pure, white frost. It was magical! When the first sun-rays were hitting the ground, the tiny, icy particles were glittering in the dim sunlight like innumerable diamonds.









Many Roman milestones are along the way. Again, I was walking on an ancient road.










Slowly, the mist lifted and revealed a beautiful landscape. The way led me up to a mountain with many windmills. At 11:28 am I received the message that the birth of my grandson had started. With that, I focused on the well wishes of a good and fast birth. When I continued and passed the many windmills (Sierra de la  Dueña), the sound and the constant turning shadows of the turning wheels made me sick in my stomach.  However, the many vultures on the top of the mountain, resting on a far away roof of a house, did not seem to be bothered by the rotation.



The beautiful, peaceful landscape disturbed by the constant rotation of the windmills. It made me aware of some negative effects of green energy.



Cruz de Santiago







A beautiful hornet crawling around a tree cut on the top of the mountain. I took a rest under this tree and ate the last part of my delicious cheese.




Arriving at the destination of the day, the village San Pedro de Rozados.


When I checked into the pilgrim hotel that evening, I received a short message – Rio Amadeo was born during my hike and everything is fine! I ordered a glass of wine and celebrated this wonderful event!

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Born and raised in a village along the Danube in Austria, Traude Wild soon ventured out into the world. After a two-year program for tourism in Klesheim/Salzburg, she spent nearly a year in South Africa and Namibia. By returning back to Austria, she acquired a Master of Economics at the University of Vienna. After moving to the United States with her four children, she studied Art History at Arizona State University and stayed in the United States for fourteen years. Here, she was teaching Art History in several Universities like Webster University and University of Missouri-St. Louis. Now, she lives partially in Arizona and Vienna and works together with her husband for the University of South-Carolina, Moore School of business as Adjunct Professor organising and leading Study tours in Central Europe. She also teaches at the Sigmund Freud University in Vienna. Since 1999, she is practicing Zen meditation in the lineage of Katagiri Roshi. She loves to hike and to write and is a student of Natalie Goldberg. During her often many weeks long hikes she brings her awareness into the Here and Now, describing her experiences in an authentic way. She loves to walk pilgrimages. The longest hike so far was the 1,400 km long 88 Temple pilgrimage in Shikoku, Japan in 2016.

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