Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Let the planning and plotting begin!

We have begun! Plans are at last underway for a 2014 Camino.  Discussion is underway as to the exact route we'll take this time around.

Again it is a "we" trip.  There are currently 3 guys joining me including my ever reluctant spouse.  It'll be interesting to see how he fares on this journey.  God knows I'll be checking his backpack way WAY more carefully this time. No more discovering as the rain begins to pour down on us that he'd hadn't bothered to pack the poncho I'd gotten him.  Or his own toothpaste, shampoo, soap.  Nope, ain't gonna be a pack mule this time around!  I killed the pack mule on the Camino Portuguese!! However, I may opt for duct tape.  Great for so many repairs to feet and packs and whining!! Just kidding (just don't test me too much!)

We're looking at one of the northern routes.  Dates are still flexible, but if we go for more than 2 weeks (oh yes please!) I'm personally in for the Primitivo.  Or perhaps the Del Norte.  If the guys really want a truncated version of my solo trip, we could do some of the latter end of the Frances.  But with so much unexplored territory I'd much much rather opt for new terrain.

So now....off to begin getting the feet and the body ready!! That means calling the damn foot doctor!! Sigh.  Old feet, old injuries and old age are conspiring to make me work for what I want.  But work I will.

Un Abrazo for Santiago de Compostella

(I wrote this two days after the accident, but somehow life got in the way of posting it.  But not in the way of thinking about the North of Spain and all my fellow pilgrims out there on the way right now. Give the Saint a hug for por favor!!)

In July, I believe, every pilgrim alive was back on the way or in the Praza do Obradoiro.  We are all sharing the pain and the sorrow of our fellow pilgrims. 

My train had just pulled in, I was going home.
How many of us have ridden that same train, on those very same tracks.   Sitting, quietly, gently rocking along.  Sleeping our way to what destinations?  Bumping along, knee to knee sometimes.
My knees.  My fellow travelers knees.  Having just woken up, on my way back to Madrid I discovered Matt (knees on the right!) had covered my legs during the night with his shirt because I was shivering.  I hadn't even woken up! Angels along the way come in all shapes, sizes and forms!
I'm sure many were probably doing the same on the Wednesday eve of the Feast of St. James. 

Or perhaps they were just waking up and getting ready to disembark.  Excited to be reaching beautiful Santiago de Compostella.  The Feast Day at hand, celebrations, fireworks, parties all ready to begin.  Mass and the legendary Botofumeria ready to swing to the heights.  Weary pilgrims in the Cathedral, perhaps looking for familiar faces, come to meet them and welcome them back to the "real" world.

And then that slow motion that accidents always seem to happen in, crumbling of everything. Those few seconds that go so slowly and in such vivid detail as you relive them. 

To this day, 28 years later, I still see the two cars in front of me.  The slow motion decision to steer ever so slightly right to avoid the car with the children.  The impact.  The shaking hand groping for glasses.  Silence and at the same time the sound of metal being cut open on the car and then the ceiling of the ambulance.  And thinking what a strange way to travel, strapped to a gurney, staring up and then closing my eyes in a desperate attempt to shut out the other worldliness.  Strange and unkown hands carry you out and into the hospital.  Multiply this by unkown numbers.  Oh Santiago and Spain I truly ache for you.  And pray for you.

For all who must now get on a train and put faith in others that they will  in fact arrive in one piece, peaceably, I pray for you too. Getting in a car afterwards was so difficult.  As I'm sure riding in a train will be for so many now. 

So, beloved of cities, you are cared for, prayed for by countless numbers.  Held in so many hearts.  As you begin the slow journey forward to healing you are wished the most heartfelt of Buen Camino's. And angels ever guard thee. Perhaps today it is St. James giving all of Santiago "Un Abrazo".

View from my room at La Hospedería San Martín Pinario.

Monday, March 18, 2013


It has been a long time since I've posted here.  A really long time.  Not that I don't think of the Camino nearly every day.  Several times a day.  But it has been nearly two years since my last walk. Two years to feel fully grounded and both feet on the earth here at home.

Then it begins, that small shift.  That moment when the tide reaches it's peak and for a moment everything is still.  Then it turns.  I've seen it on the river enough times, kayaking madly happily, up river with the tidal surge.  For just a moment the water is a beautiful mirror.  Completely still beneath you. Yet somewhere deep beneath my little plastic shell bobbing on the top as I lean into my paddle, something shifts and the pull down the river begins again.  That's me with the Camino.  I've been quietly paddling in one direction for a goodly time now, but the tide, she's a changin.

Just as I've felt that pull calling me back to the North of Spain, apparently others feel it too.  Feeling the urge to read and reread posts on various Camino blogs and what to my wondering eyes should appear, but news of others heading back out again!  Sagalouts aka Ian of the Road to Nowhere is heading out soon. Karen Hype and her hubby will be Hyping the Camino again this year, as is Emilene from SA on My Pilgrimage to Santiago.  Also out of South Africa, Sylvia Nilson of Amawalker, will be leading a group of slower walkers beginning in Sarria. Walking in the fall this year will be two more friends from 2011, including Homer of Homer's Travels.  It's going to be a great year for blog hopping my way on the road to Santiago.  Following all of these blogs will help me focus on my preparations over this next year plus of waiting.

It's not just the means, but also life that keeps me here for the moment.  And I do mean LIFE!! On my last Camino I was a newly minted grandmother or Oma of two weeks. Currently there are three beautiful girls who call me Omi and by the time my feet hit the trail again, there will be four little ones!  Waiting, difficult as it is, lets me continue as the main babysitter for two of the girls.  It also allows me to be present for each amazing arrival.  Each first birthday.  All major events that this Oma wants and needs to be present for.  Still the undertow tugs and pulls.

Better than year allows me to plan a route.  I won't have quite as much time to walk, so the entire Camino Frances isn't possible, but there are so many other beautiful options.  For a while the Camino Ingles (the English Route) was top of the list.  Now the Camino Primitivo (First Camino) seems to be at the top.  It's somewhat less traveled and a bit more remote. It also appears to be, from all accounts, a bit more rugged.  So, for me, it sounds like more of a challenge.  Both a physical as well as a spiritual one.  Fewer people means fewer distractions from the internal road.

The Camino Frances was full of pilgrims.  It was wonderful to meet so many people from so many countries.  But there were moments when you had to really work at getting time alone to just be.  Not that it wasn't possible.  I found I had to be more aware of making that time.  For me that usually meant leaving very early in the morning to walk alone.  And as I wasn't well for most of the Camino, everyone else caught up with me pretty easily!  So a little care got me the best of both worlds.

This time I feel something different.  More of a need for solitude.  Not total and complete, just more.  From what I've read so far, I think the Primitivo might do the trick.  Time will tell.  Nice to be thinking concretely not just a vague and ephemeral someday!

Meanwhile, I'll just be peeking over many a pilgrim bloggers shoulder.  Watching postings with joy as they make their way towards St. James.