Return To The Road

Hello there, readers. It’s been awhile – sorry to keep you waiting so long for an update. In late March, I decided to take a little break from blogging here while I sorted out my life and considered whether walking The Camino was still in my cards. It actually didn’t take me too long to figure out that it was still what I wanted, but somewhere in the midst of my breakup, move, and life reshaping I ended up forgetting my WP password. Once I got that figured out, I started having technical difficulties with my Google Authenticator. From there, I just bumbled around, forgetting other passwords left and right and leaving a swath of abandoned social media accounts in my wake. Luckily, WP has these amazing Happiness Engineers that spend their days helping forgetful folks like yours truly, and the amazing David W. not only came to my rescue, but managed to not make me feel like an idiot while he went about getting me back into my WP account. Thanks again, David!!!

So now that I’m back in, what do I do? There’s so much to say to you all. Since my other blog, Compass & Quill, isn’t on the WP.com platform, I just kept writing over there. You can catch up with a selection of topics regarding my private life over there, if you’d like. I’ve been saving all talk of Santiago de Compostela for this page, though. Especially one specific thought that came to me at some point over the past couple of months, then was (strangely) reiterated by a friend the other day:

The Camino comes to you.

It makes sense, obviously, given that all pilgrimage routes are meant to be physical representations of journeys of the heart and mind towards some kind of spiritual Truth. When we walk, we’re looking to become part of something. We’re not just looking for the thing that will make us whole, that will complete us and give our lives meaning. We’re also looking to become part of the whole, to have our lives be meaningful to others.

When I first set upon the idea of walking to Santiago de Compostela, I looked at it from an academic standpoint. I was a wayward soul back then (and still today, but the film of time somehow makes me feel a little more tethered than I did at 22). I wasn’t looking at walking across the Pyrenees as a spiritual undertaking, but rather more as an adventure where I’d have the chance to visit and catalog a host of medieval religious sites over the course of a long period of exercising. After awhile, once it sunk in that I’d never be a medieval historian, I gave up on the idea of using the trip for research…which meant that I basically gave up on the idea.

The Camino had other intentions for me; it stuck around in my psyche, popping up every few years to remind me that it was waiting, to see if I was ready to take the plunge. Over the years, it also somehow boiled itself down into something more pure. The Camino would be a chance to walk, meet new friends, see things I’d never seen before, and most importantly, to start listening more closely to what the Universe was trying to tell me. It was going to be my time to find myself and become what I’d always been meant to be…whatever that was.

Over the last year or so, The Camino started meaning something else to me, something that I never realized clearly enough to be able to put it into words: escape. The act of becoming truer to myself and the Universe meant leaving behind what I knew and didn’t like about myself. Mostly, that was my relationship, and who I was within its confines. But I couldn’t say this out loud. I didn’t have the vocabulary for it. Instead, I’d think of going on the road, and how happy I’d be out there, alone. How maybe I’d meet people who’d get me, people with whom I’d be able to talk about religion, drink some wine, share some stories about traveling in Europe. It wasn’t until fairly recently that I realized all of these things were things I wasn’t getting in my relationship. My spirit was burdened by the now, and I was attempting to hide that from myself by daydreaming about a journey far in the future.

So the breakup came, after years of dawdling about on my part, but still not without a serious push from the Universe. Against my better judgment, I started to find feelings for someone else. Over the sound of a beloved band, conversation on the essence of St. Francis and how he will forever be part of my heart, musings on the meaning of The Camino…and a thousand other ideas and dreams that have passed their way between us in the last few months, my heart began to open back up in a way that had only been happening when I talked about my future plans to walk through Spain. I started to understand what it meant to feel genuine romantic love and concern for another human being, in a way I had only imagined I’d known anything about. And with that came this renewed sense of self-reliance, and a trust that I am actually walking in the right direction, after all.

All this time, I didn’t have faith. I lost it somewhere, years ago. But it’s back now. Yes, there’s so much farther to go. I’m just a child, blind to the wonders that are stretched out before me. But in the end, The Camino came to me…and now I know that I’m strong enough to go to it.

The only question now is where to find the funding.

A Prayer for Exhaustion

It’s funny how the Daily Post keeps giving us perfect prompts for a chat about The Camino. Today, for instance, we’re asked to discuss our sleep habits – something that has been particularly troubling me regarding this pilgrimage. You see, I have a great deal of trouble nodding off, and even more staying asleep. I sleep best alone, in a dark, quiet room, which is going to be an issue on the road.

Along the Camino de Santiago de Compostela, peregrinos have a few different choices for accommodation. There are alburgues, which are basically hostels for pilgrims; guest houses or rented rooms; hotels;  or, for those rugged, outdoorsy types, tents. Most towns offer some variation on one or all of these (except for tents – that’s something you need to bring along), but when it comes down to money, most people agree that alburgues give you the best bang for your buck.

The typical alburgue gives you a bed to sleep in, a place to shower, a communal kitchen, a clothes line to hang up your washing, and if you’re lucky, you might even get a washing machine to do the washing for you. Talk about height of luxury, right? All of these things sound great for the price – between 8 and 15 euros a night –  but there’s a downside for light sleepers. Sure, you get a bed, but you also get roommates – lots of them. And anyone who’s shared a room with one snorer/sleep-talker should be able to imagine the hell that is MULTIPLE snorers/sleep-talkers in the same tiny space, night after night.

There are solutions, though. Kinda. One thing that I already do is wear a sleep mask. I can’t stand any amount of light when I’m trying to nest, and for years I didn’t know this – I just thought that waking up four or five times a night was something I’d have to live with. One day, on a whim, I bought a silk sleep mask, and from that point forward I’ve only woken up once a night. One problem solved.

Everything I’ve read thus far about loud sleepers on The Camino has mentioned that ear plugs are a great way to get some peace and quiet. Unfortunately, I have weirdly-shaped ears or something. I can only wear one kind of headphones – the flat, disc-like earbuds that are getting phased out by those stupid, long, rubbery ones that everyone seems to love. The latter pop out of my ears in no time flat, so I guess one day I’ll have to move on to huge, retro headphones that make my ears hot – blech. Anyway, this same issue translates to ear plugs, and I’ve never been able to make the plugs stay in my ears for any length of time, despite squeezing them into tiny little logs and shoving them all the way in. They just keep growing like Play Doh noodles and eventually pop out. So uncool.

But there’s another solution. An expensive one, but probably the one I’ll have to go with. I’ve heard that for people who have trouble with ear plugs, the silicone ones made for swimmers are a safe and comfortable bet. They’re much more pricey, but it seems worth a try. The other option is to have ear plugs specially made to fit your ears, which will be my last resort.

Do I need them, though? Will I be so exhausted after 15 to 20 miles’ walk each day that my traveling companions’ sleep habits won’t even phase me? Or will I be the culprit, annoying the shit out of would-be sleepers? As much as I’d love to pretend that I’m a petite flower, I’m SO not. If I’m having even a touch of sinus trouble – which happens every time I go to Europe, without fail – I’ll definitely be snoring. Even worse, the last time I was sick in Europe, I ended up moaning through the night every night. My two best friends were with me, and still laugh (woefully) about not getting to sleep since I was bitching in my dreams all night long.

There’s this really funny part in the The Way, My Way, where author Bill Bennett recounts his first night in an alburgue, and getting accustomed to all of the night sounds. After what he considers a sleepless night, he thinks it’s only fair to inform one of his roommates that she snores, so that she can warn others along the way. He tells her as politely as he can, only to have everyone in the room give him a dirty look – first, for being so forward about calling a fellow traveler out on a common issue, but more importantly, because HE was the one snoring loudest all night and keeping the rest awake! I have a not-so-secret fear that this will be me, so I guess the last thing to bring along (just in case) are some snore strips. I’d hate to alienate potential friends – or get smothered to death in my sleep by the roommate who loses it, lol.

A Fountain Full Of Wine

“Pilgrim, if you wish to arrive at Santiago full of strength and vitality, have a drink of this great wine and make a toast to happiness.” (For more great photos of the fountain and the winery, head over to Caitlin’s blog.)

Today’s Daily Post prompt asks us if we’ve ever thrown a coin in a fountain and had our wish come true. When I was small, there was a water feature at the local mall into which people used to toss their coins. My mom always had to restrain me from climbing in to fish out pennies; I just thought it was a waste of perfectly good change. But hey, maybe the custodian got something out of it on fountain clean up day! I haven’t read much about fountains full of change along The Camino, but one thing I’ve been obsessing over is the (free!) wine fountain.

The Fountain of Wine, or Fuente del Vino, is located just outside of Estella, around Day 7 or 8 of a pilgrim’s journey on the Camino Frances. The fountain is run by the Spanish winery Bodegas Irache, a 19th century institution whose vineyards have served the royal houses of Navarre since the 12th century. According to the Bodegas Irache website, an adjoining monastery was the first hospital for pilgrims on The Camino, so although the wine fountain itself is a fairly new development (1991), a sip of its wine is a link to the very roots of The Way of St. James. Along with enjoying a little refreshment, pilgrims are also invited to have their credencials stamped at the winery’s business office on week days, so keep that in mind if you’d like to have a record of your visit!

Here’s another fun shot of the fountain, by Roam Far And Wide. Click through to see a ton of other great images from The Camino.

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. THE WOMAN WHO CANNOT COOK | She Writes
  2. This I Wish: | Musings | WANGSGARD
  3. Bitten by the Love Bug!! [Wish Come True] | She Writes
  4. Last wish | Perspectives on life, universe and everything
  5. “Take a breath, count to three, throw it in” | The Bohemian Rock Star’s “Untitled Project”
  6. Pensive | Perspectives on life, universe and everything
  7. Daily Prompt & For The Love And Sea Shells | The Jittery Goat
  8. Spring is late as we | y
  9. tossing a coin | Love your dog
  10. Daily Prompt: Three Coins in the Fountain | Sabethville
  11. Three Coins in the Fountain: Daily Prompt | ALIEN AURA’S BlOG: IT’LL BLOW YOUR MIND!
  12. Wishing | Kate Murray
  13. Shooting Star | the intrinsickness
  14. ever so often i | y
  15. Rejected by the Trevi Fountain | wisskko’s blog
  16. Wishes of a Dreamer | jsleflore
  17. Daily Prompt: Three Coins in the Fountain #postaday | Of Glass & Paper
  18. Fountains | Writing and Works
  19. Daily Prompt: Three Coins in the Fountain | genieve celada photography
  20. Daily Prompt: Three Coins in the Fountain | seikaiha’s blah-blah-blah
  21. Wishing on a Fallen Penny | snapshotsofawanderingheart
  22. Coins In A Fountain | Awake & Dreaming
  23. Fontana di Trevi | Life is great
  24. My 27 Cents Worth ::E.N.Howie’s Motivational Moments
  25. Daily Prompt: Three Coins in the Fountain | Basically Beyond Basic
  26. Me, aged about ten, “I wish I could fly”… | thoughtsofrkh
  27. Tossing pennies over the left shoulder into the Trevi Fountain and staving off nosebleeds « psychologistmimi
  28. I’m a Writer, Yes I Am
  29. Among the Whispers
  30. Daily Prompt: Three Coins in the Fountain | Burning Imagination
  31. ‘Wishful Thinking’ – A Short Story | jigokucho
  32. Daily Prompt: Three Coins in the Fountain « Mama Bear Musings
  33. Coins in the Fountain | Lisa’s Kansa Muse
  34. Throw Away Your Money | Knowledge Addiction
  35. Try it and See | Flowers and Breezes
  36. Daily Prompt: Three Coins in the Fountain- Psychological Reason of Why We Do It | Journeyman
  37. Wish Upon a Fountain Coin | Short Story Sally
  38. Superstitions exists, all across the Globe! | Sathya’s Sprinkles
  39. luck of the Irish | eastelmhurst.a.go.go
  40. I Wish I Were a Bad Girl: A Dirty Bird Learns to Fly | Kosher Adobo
  41. Darling, | shame
  42. Wishing Well | The Silver Leaf Journal
  43. Lost Dreams | INKLINGS
  44. Wishes (Daily Prompt Challenge) | Ana Linden
  45. When I Wish Upon a Well
  46. Daily Prompt: Three Coins in the Fountain | Amanda’s Blog™
  47. Wish Fountain | The Land Slide Photography
  48. Daily Prompt: Three Coins in the Fountain | My name is Ellie and this is who I am.
  49. When You Wish Upon a Coin | djgarcia94
  50. Wishing Anew | The Giardino Journey
  51. Daily Prompt: Three Coins In The Fountain | Chronicles of an Anglo Swiss
  52. Wish what you may | Emovere
  53. That Stupid Smile | Views Splash!
  54. Answers to Calls | The Word Trance
  55. The pond. | real talk and reverie
  56. Cinderella | U Be Cute – Follow the child inside of you…
  57. So where did the daily prompt go? | As I See It
  58. Daily Prompt: Three Coins in a Fountain | That Montreal Girl
  59. A Wish Upon A Fountain | B.Kaotic
  60. From the Horseshoe to the Singing Fountain | Never Finished
  61. Daily prompt: Forget the fountain, just gimme the wish | helen meikle’s scribblefest
  62. DP: THREE COINS | DANDELION’S DEN
  63. Daily Prompt: Three Coins in the Fountain | lessialiral
  64. Throwin’ good money after bad… | Willow’s Corner
  65. The Molar | field of thorns

Digging In…And Letting Go

Friends, I’ve hit a road bump. I’m not sure yet just how much it’s going to impact me, but it’s probably going to be pretty large. It might even mean that I have to sideline my plans to go to Santiago de Compostela this year. I’d rather not speculate and stress until all the facts are in, though.

Last weekend, my boyfriend and I called it quits after almost 8 years. It wasn’t unexpected; my crumbling relationship was one of the major problems in my life. The Camino was always something of an escape route, anyway. It was the place that I retreated when I couldn’t handle another second of my life. I still desperately want to go on pilgrimage, but now it will be less about running away from my future, and more about embracing it.

Unfortunately, a side effect of leaving a long-term relationship is divvying up your belongings and finding a new apartment. Apartment prices are pretty inflated in New Orleans. They say that about other cities, but here most people I know make under $35k a year, but pay around $1k in rent each month (if they live alone – it’s cheaper with a roommate, but that’s such a pain).  That means that the typical apartment takes up an unrealistic portion of a person’s paycheck, and that’s before utilities get tallied in. I’m currently hunting for something in my price range (a much lower budget than $1k, that’s for sure), and it’s hard. If I can’t find something at or under what I currently pay, there’s a good chance I won’t be able to save anything over the coming months to go on my trip.

Somehow, though, even though I’m writing all of this, I’m not that worried. I feel strangely certain that everything’s going to be just fine. I’m not giving up yet. Things have a way of working themselves out, and something tells me that this will, too.

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. 1930 – Rolls Royce Phantom II | The Bliss of Reality
  2. Sunlight on the plant | Crazy Art
  3. Daily Prompt: Never Surrender | Basically Beyond Basic
  4. Telenovela Style | Mila’s Misadventures
  5. Setting | Perspectives on life, universe and everything
  6. Spiked AA 🙂 | Perspectives on life, universe and everything
  7. lone deer (steadfast) | photo potpourri
  8. Reel On You ! | Life Confusions
  9. Eric’s Aria (Part 2) | The Jittery Goat
  10. DP Daily Prompt: Never Surrender | Sabethville
  11. ‘What doesn’t kill you…’ | Rima Hassan
  12. Care to Dare | Rima Hassan
  13. Never surrender | Sue’s Trifles
  14. 400 Pound Burden | Rima Hassan
  15. Stubborn is as Stubborn Does | Musings | WANGSGARD
  16. Headstrong | Active Army Wife
  17. Night at the Pier | Greg Urbano
  18. On Homophobia | AS I PLEASE
  19. of scary monsters and nice spites | Anawnimiss
  20. Daily Prompt: Never Surrender- Differentiating Between Resilience and Stubbroness | Journeyman
  21. The Trial, Not For the Weak of Faint of Heart: Part 1 | jlaneb
  22. No surrender on Mental Illness awareness/tolerance | ALIEN AURA’S BlOG: IT’LL BLOW YOUR MIND!
  23. There are just some things I like done or doing a certain way. The right way. | thoughtsofrkh
  24. Stubborn as a Mule! | meanderedwanderings
  25. Pardon me for everything I’m about to say | Attempted Human Relations and Self
  26. Welcome to the jungle | The verbal hedge
  27. Daily Prompt: Never Surrender | My Extraordinary Everyday Life
  28. How Are You Toward Health Goals, Easy Going Or Stubborn? | Because It Calms My Nerves:
  29. The Conundrum | Each Feather, A Freedom
  30. Java, Joe, Carbon Remover, Plasma | Exploratorius
  31. Tweet, Tweet, Twitterfiction | My Little Avalon
  32. Steadfast in my integrity: I am my mother’s daughter « psychologistmimi
  33. How Do I Get My Son To Go To School | A mom’s blog
  34. I am not bossy, I AM the boss | IvyMosquito
  35. Daily Prompt: Never Surrender | Finding Life
  36. Stubborn Love | peacefulblessedstar
  37. Daily Prompt: Never Surrender | Life is great
  38. Stubborn Dutch | Lisa’s Kansa Muse
  39. Minutely Infinite | Stubborn, Yes.
  40. Daily Prompt: Never Surrender | Chronicles of an Anglo Swiss
  41. daily prompt: steadfast | hereisandrea
  42. too stubborn | eastelmhurst.a.go.go
  43. A Letter to my Brother | The Magic Black Book
  44. Who Was that Masked Mule Anyway? | Green Embers
  45. Stubborn or steadfast? No Surrender | I’m a Writer, Yes I Am
  46. Stubborn Or Easy Going
  47. Daily Post: Never Surrender | melissuhhsmiles
  48. I’LL BE BACK | SERENDIPITY
  49. never surrender | klstar2000
  50. Never Surrender | Knowledge Addiction
  51. Daily Prompt: Never Surrender, 11.03.14 | Markie’s Daily Blog
  52. Staying Stubborn | snapshotsofawanderingheart
  53. Because I’m a Survivor
  54. “Never Surrender” | Relax
  55. Daily Prompt Response: Never Surrender | Confessions of a Monogrammed Runner
  56. Stubborn, determined, or stupid? | Parents Are People Too
  57. The Stubborn Mule and the Easy-Going Duck | Fun with Depression
  58. DP: Never Surrender – Leaving Mina (Hajj Diary Extract) | aliabbasali
  59. Beliefs or Ideas? Daily Prompt: Never Surrender | The Bohemian Rock Star’s “Untitled Project”
  60. Writer’s Block: Get Stubborn! | Sweat, Tears and Digital Ink
  61. Police horse, close up (Daily Prompt: “Never Surrender, Show us Steadfast”) | Photo0pal Photography
  62. Am I stubborn? | Asianchemnerd
  63. “Surrender” | Cosmic Heroism
  64. Insurrection | vic briggs
  65. Stubborn or delusional? | Emotional Fitness

There’s No Place That’s Home

The only existing photo of my old bedroom. It's crappy, but you're not missing much. Notice the missing bits of ceiling and walls, and the unfinished state of the other walls. The floor was particle board. Taken in the summer of 1999, right before I left for college (I think).

The only existing photo of my old bedroom. It’s a crappy shot, but you’re not missing much. Notice the missing bits of ceiling and walls, and the unfinished state of the other walls. The floor was particle board. Taken in the summer of 1999, right before I left for college (I think).

I’m a firm believer that “house” does not equal “home”. It’s probably due to a combination of factors. My childhood house was never completely finished; my father built it, but never had enough money to finish it. The eaves were never filled in, and there were walls and doors missing throughout. Consequently, although my family lived there for my entire life until I moved to New Orleans, it felt a little like squatting. It’s tough to explain the nuances, but it was never comfortable; I was always scared there, and hated being there alone. After I moved away, the house was demolished. Somehow the empty plot of land scares me even more.

During college, I moved to a different apartment every year. The place was always different, but my roommates, two of my best friends, were always the same. They became my home (and still are, even though they’re both so far away – one in Texas, the other in Croatia). After college, they both moved away, and I was on my own again. It took a couple of years, but eventually I found a sweet little half of a double shotgun house that I felt could possibly be a settling-down place. A couple of months later, I lost both the apartment and everything I owned when Hurricane Katrina hit. At first it was devastating, but eventually I realized how freeing it is to not have such strong emotional attachment to physical goods. In years since, I’ve downsized a couple more times; my cats, computer, a few important books, and old photos are all I really need to get by.

When I was a kid, since I hated being inside my house, I spent most of my summers hanging out in a tent in the yard, reading what felt like endless stacks of books. I devoured books as a kid, but horror, fantasy, and historical fiction were my faves – as long as they had cute boys and/or dragons, I was good to go. The Chronicles of Prydain and the Anne of Green Gables series were summertime must-reads; I read both series every summer from 11 to 17, and still remember how it felt to yearn (pretty much equally) for the affection of Princess Eilonwy and Gilbert Blythe. I wonder what it would have been like if they’d met?

Is it any wonder that this built-in need for magic and romance led me to a love of medieval art history? Of course, the magic of it all was beaten out of me pretty early in undergrad, but I’ll never get over the romance. I think that every day on my pilgrimage is going to have at least a touch of that wonder built in. What it won’t have, however, is homesickness. When you don’t equate the feeling of “home” with a place, it’s hard to dwell (ha!) on thoughts of somewhere that you aren’t. I do worry that I won’t have the ability (read: available technology) on the road to write as much as I’d like, though, and that bothers me a bit.

The one time I’m “me” lately is when I’m writing. In my day-to-day, I’m having kind of a tough go of it. It’s hard to explain; life probably looks peachy from the outside, but it’s kind of a dim time for me – hence the decision to get the hell out of dodge and cross the Pyrenees while I’m at it. I spend my days so tightly wound, dancing on the edge of my breaking point. Most people don’t see this about me. I’m a Scorpio; we’re built to naturally insulate our feelings. It’s probably why a lot of us end up becoming emotional time bombs. Over the years I’ve learned the hard way that even when I think I’m broadcasting loud and clear, other people tend to find me inscrutable. I let loose steam on my blogs, and every now and then in conversation with a trusted friend. Mostly, though, it’s the writing that gets me through.

Lots of people write on the road, but it seems most are doing it the old fashioned way, with pen and paper. Some books that I’ve read were sketched out on cell phones and tablets, and I know that it’s possible to find a place to power up your tech gear in many alburgues. The worst bit is the extra weight. I’ll hate to add more to my pack load, but I need to capture my thoughts. I’m not quick at physically penning words; a keyboard or voice recorder will be necessary. I’ll most likely be using an iPad mini with an attached keyboard, or maybe a cheaper tablet – I’m not sure on that just yet. It will have to be light, and I’ll probably have to give up some other comfort (like extra socks, or shampoo, or what-have-you) to bring it along. But it will be worth it.

Once the writing is taken care of, the only other issue I’ll have to take care of to feel really at home on the road is to make some friends. That shouldn’t be too hard – a bottle of wine and a great story or two go a long way when you’re all new to a place. I find myself hoping that maybe out there on The Camino, I’ll meet new family, and I’ll be able to extend my feeling of “home” to other corners of the globe. Soon, I’ll be at home in Australia, maybe, or perhaps Belgium. Maybe some of my eventual home team are from Wales, or Italy, or Slovakia. Who knows? I’m excited to find out.

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. New iPod | Crazy Markovich
  2. of raging wants | Anawnimiss
  3. Daily Prompt: Our House- The impact of family to our psychological mind | Journeyman
  4. Streaks in the Darkness | Exploratorius
  5. Home: Tankas | 365 days of defiance
  6. To London For Love & The Daily Prompt | The Jittery Goat
  7. Daily Prompt: Our House | Under the Monkey Tree
  8. Cumbraes, 1962 | ALIEN AURA’S BlOG: IT’LL BLOW YOUR MIND!
  9. Launching Pad | I’m a Writer, Yes I Am
  10. Daily Prompt: Home | The Wandering Poet
  11. evergreen | yi-ching lin photography
  12. My family are huggers, and it’s always been an awesome part of life. | thoughtsofrkh
  13. Daily Prompt: House | seikaiha’s blah-blah-blah
  14. Daily Prompt: Our House | tnkerr-Writing Prompts and Practice
  15. Short Plat – A Short Story | Kilbo – Chris Kilbourn
  16. The House in Middelburg. | Hope* the happy hugger
  17. BE IT EVER SO HUMBLE | SERENDIPITY
  18. Home, Sweet Home | Home’s Cool!
  19. Daily Prompt: Our House « Mama Bear Musings
  20. The Gray House | A Sign Of Life
  21. Childhood Memories of Home | Unload and Unwind
  22. Home | Perspectives on life, universe and everything
  23. 272. My Childhood Home | Barely Right of Center
  24. Children Must Be Seen And Not Heard | Lisa’s Kansa Muse
  25. My Childhood Home | A mom’s blog
  26. Chained Childhood… | Haiku By Ku
  27. Minutely Infinite | Is home where the heart is?
  28. House of Haiku | Finale to an Entrance
  29. An Ode Full of Home | L5GN
  30. Formerly known as home | Le Drake Noir
  31. The rising of the Sap Nymph: an erotic poem | ALIEN AURA’S BlOG: IT’LL BLOW YOUR MIND!
  32. The family home | Sue’s Trifles
  33. Daily Prompt: Our House | Chronicles of an Anglo Swiss
  34. A Trip Down Memory Lane | Views Splash!
  35. DP Daily Prompt: Our House | Sabethville
  36. DP: OUR HOME | Active Army Wife
  37. Daily Prompt: Our House | Rolbos ©
  38. Daily Prompt reply…3/3/14 | TheWritingMommy
  39. The Halls of Childhood | meanderedwanderings
  40. View from the attic | Standing Ovation, Seated
  41. Charity Begins At Home | AstridOxford
  42. breakfast music | peacefulblessedstar
  43. Our Old House | Flowers and Breezes
  44. Houses and Home | The Nameless One
  45. Thoughts of home | FUNNY…PECULIAR
  46. Childhood Memory… | Cats, Coffee, And Life At Random
  47. Homeless in your heart? | Emotional Fitness
  48. The Tracks–Home: Daily Prompt | Finicky Philly
  49. Moving Away | snapshotsofawanderingheart
  50. My first house: “mango tree” / Ma première maison: “manguiers” | Write for learning
  51. It Was Ours | The Book of Shayne
  52. “Tomorrow you’re going to be four!” | djgarcia94
  53. Our House: Slugs and Stairs (Daily Post) | Fun with Depression
  54. Burning Down the House in the Middle of the Street « psychologistmimi
  55. The House That Built Me | The Shotgun Girls
  56. Are There Five Interesting Facts About Me?
  57. I freaking love this house | The Bohemian Rock Star’s “Untitled Project”
  58. Our House in the Middle of the Street | thanks for letting me autograph your cat
  59. Daily Prompt: Our House | Cancer Isn’t Pink
  60. Early Memories of Home | The Silver Leaf Journal
  61. Quietness in the Houusse!!! | The Salmon Yatra
  62. Daily Prompt: Being Reminiscent! | All Things Cute and Beautiful
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  71. Home | A picture is worth 1000 words

Imagining The Road To Roncesvalles

Click thru to find out more about the path from St. Jean to Roncesvalles.

Click thru to see a larger version of this image, plus find out more about the path from St. Jean to Roncesvalles.

When I first found out about the pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela, I remember being most excited about hearing that you had to cross the Pyrenees to get there. Of course, this technically isn’t true – you don’t HAVE to cross the Pyrenees on your Camino. However, the most popular route, the Camino Frances, kicks off in St. Jean Pied de Port in France, and takes peregrinos across the famous mountain range on the way into Spain. I definitely plan to start my journey in St. Jean Pied de Port, but it still gives me a little bit of worry.

From what I’ve read, those who elect to take this route find that the first day on the trail is one of the most challenging. The road is straight up (and then straight down) a mountain, with a vertical incline of almost a mile. The surroundings can be treacherous, and I’ve read accounts from different times of the year with problems ranging from heavy fog to torrential downpours to blizzard conditions that call for trail closures. In the movie “The Way,” the main character’s son dies on his first day on the Camino. It’s implied (or at least I always thought) that he lost his way and fell over a cliff, but I’ve also read that pilgrims can get lost and die of hypothermia. This list of people who’ve died on the way to Santiago de Compostela includes a few people who passed away during this first day of the journey.

However, that’s not really what scares me. I’m planning to spend this first part of the trip with other pilgrims (I’m sure I’ll find someone to walk with), just to make sure I don’t fall off any mountains. What makes me nervous is the more mundane “killer” on the journey – many people don’t train adequately for a walk of this scope, and the first day is an incredibly demanding hike. People don’t correctly gauge their energy levels, forget to eat or drink enough, and generally have no concept of what it takes to walk for 27 kilometers (almost 17 miles) up a mountain on Day 1. I’ve even read that some people get so worn out that they’re delirious and disoriented by the end, which makes me think of how I felt when I ran my first (and last) marathon.

Sure, I’m planning to get in some training, but I know myself very well, and I know that there’s no way I’m going to get in enough time on a StairMaster to be adequately prepared for the incline. If we had some mountains around here to practice on, then maybe I’d get in the practice, but spending hours in the gym every day is not my cuppa. But that’s OK. The best part about the first day on The Camino will be meeting new people – and that most likely means commiserating with the other folks who’re just as ill-prepared as I’ll probably be! As strange as it seems, I’m really looking forward to the challenge.

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

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Book Review: The Way, My Way

There is no shortage of books about the pilgrims’ path to Santiago de Compostela. From travel guide to personal memoir, spiritual exploration to historical documentation, there is something for every armchair pilgrim who wishes to travel The Camino by way of words. This week’s book chronicles the journey of an Australian filmmaker who relies on his gut instinct to make the right choices along The Way of St. James, coloring his pilgrimage with sometimes painful, often hilarious, observations about himself and his fellow peregrinos.

"The Way, My Way" by Bill Bennett. Click through to learn more about the book on Amazon.com.

The Way, My Way by Bill Bennett. Click to see the book on Amazon.

Australian filmmaker Bill Bennett was on vacation in New Orleans when a gut feeling saved his life. While preparing to drive through a green light at an intersection, something internal urged him to slow down. As he did, a truck going the opposite way sped through its own red light and barreled through the space where Bennett’s car should have been, missing him by inches. By nature a seeker, he encountered the terrifying moment with curiosity, terming this unexpected, primal message that saved him as a lesson from his PGS, or “Personal Guidance System.” In The Way, My Way, our middle-aged, good-natured, and somewhat smart-alecky protagonist takes his PGS on the road, exploring what it means to listen more deeply, enjoy life as it comes, and most of all, to stop being so damned competitive all the time. He’s still working on that last one.

It takes a great storyteller to provide for raucous laughter and heart-felt tears, all within a 300-page span. From the first page, the author’s honest, no-holds-barred exploration of personal strengths and weaknesses gives readers a well-rounded picture of a funny, driven, and ultimately relatable guy who has a slight problem admitting defeat.

The book reads as a personal memoir, taking 59-year old Bennett from the airport in Biarritz, France, where he meets the people who are to become his “Camino Family” (whether he wants them or not) all the way to Santiago de Compostela. Along the way, the author meets a host of colorful characters whom he alternately either endears himself to or pisses off. He takes a million and one photos, daydreams about his beloved, long-suffering wife, Jennifer, contemplates what it means to get older, and nurses an injury that threatens to end his journey before it even begins. Most of all, he discovers what it means to take the time to listen to your body and spirit, and how this not only affects your own path, but also your relationship with the world around you.

The Way, My Way joins the ranks of other humorous Camino memoirs by authors like Hape Kerkeling and Tim Moore, though with considerably more honest self-examination. As a result, we’re given a great selection of laugh-out-loud moments, tempered by earnest introspection that manages to touch all the right emotional chords. A reader could be excused for imagining she hears her PGS humming softly in the background…

(Note: If you’re interested in finding out more about Bill, his experiences on the Camino, or the Personal Guidance System, please follow him at PGS – The Way or PGS Intuitive.)