Sunday, November 05, 2006

new adventures in spanish

i started my time in spain with best intentions of speaking Spanish. To start with though, when someone spoke to me I would do my full routine of "I´m sorry, I don´t speak Spanish. Do you speak any English". This became annoying after a while because they were often just asking very mundane questions like "would you like anything else" etc. They would get frustrated at my "speech"

I then learnt bits and pieces to cover these basic interactions so moved on to saying "No entiendo" only when I didnt understand...... but this also had its drawbacks as some people were asking if they could open the window, or making idle comments in the bus line etc.

So, tired of looking foolsh I decided on a new strategy and started saying yes to everything, if in doubt. This became a little expensive as I kept getting upsized and extra items turned up on the bill etc. It also led to that awkward moment when they wait for me to continue after Ive said yes, and I then have to backtrack to admit that I dont know what they are saying afterall an we return to my second phase.

So, rather than just admit that Im foreign and dont speaka de language, Ive now taken to saying no to everything. Just to confirm that this not a smart move, I tried it at the local budget grocer. The checkout chica asked me a few questions and I shook my head with confidence and said "no gracias" in my best accent. She said something like, "I guess its not necessary...." and I stood there with my shopping, and no bags and realised that Id told her that "no thanks, I dont need any bags". The walk home was mercifully short as i tottered under the awkward pile of washing powder, toothpaste, bread, tuna and tomatos etc....... as i reminded mysef that i HAVE to practice my spanish so I can stop playing these games....


postscript........ I had a man outside a pub on halloween call after me as I walked past to go down the street to my flat..... and tired of men having their little piece to say to the chicas, I flipped my hair and strutted off ignoring his continued calls..... Then a few minutes later i looked back and realised that I had a 5 metre trail of fake spider web cottony stuff stuck to my heel (not as bad as toilet paper but not far off)... suspect he was trying to alert me to the fact thats id picked up some of their decoration on my way past....... humbled and reminded that i dont know everything.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Article about Reintegrating after the Camino

Click on the title fo rthe link - an interesting (but loooong) article that may be interesting to any past, present or future peregrinos!!

Besos y abrazos

Statistics for the Camino - May 2006

The Pilgrimage to Santiago in May 2006
Pilgrim’s Office

During the month of May 2006, 9.986 pilgrims were received at the Pilgrim’s Office. The number of pilgrims in the year 2005 during the same period was 9.306.

Of those pilgrims, 3.866 were women (38,71%) and 6.120 men (61,29%). 8.158 pilgrims arrived on foot (81,69 %), 1.769 by bicycle (17,71%), 56 on horseback (0.56%) and three pilgrims on wheel-chair.

Pilgrims’ Age.
1.597 pilgrims were younger than 30 years old (15,99%); 5.921 were between 30 and 60 years old (59,29%); 2.468 were aged above 60 years old (24,71%).

Pilgrims’ Motivation.

Religious ..................4.308..........43,14%
Religious and Cultural ...4.946..........49,52%
Cultural...................732............7,33%

Pilgrims’ Nationality.
Spanish: 3.462 (34,66 %). Most of the pilgrims come from: Madrid, 603 (17,41%); Galicia with 533 (15,39%); Cataluña, 521 (15,04%); Andalucía with 318 (9,18%); Valencia 267 (7,71%); País Vasco, 262 (7,56%) and Castilla León, 237 (6,84%)

Foreigners: 6,524 (65,33%). Most of the pilgrims come from the following countries: Germany with 1.408 (21,58%); France with 1.093 (16,75%); Italy with 727 (11,14%); Austria with 319 (4,88%); The Nederland’s with 295 (4,52%); Canada with 290 (4,44%); Portugal with 287 (4,39%); United Kindom with 284 (4,35%) and the United States with 228 (3,49%)

Pilgrims’ Profession.
Regarding the professional fields, the majority of pilgrims are retired with 2.572 pilgrims (39,42%); employees with 1.835 (28,12%), freelancers with 1.435 pilgrims (21,99%); technicians with 1.222 (18,73%); students with 641 (9,82%), civil servants with 562 (8,61%); teachers with 397 (6,08%) etc.

Starting Points.
Most of the pilgrims received during the month of May started their Way to Santiago in: Saint Jean Pied de Port, 1.543 (15,45 %); Sarria, 1.222 (12,23%); Roncesvalles 845 (8,46%); León 674 (6,74%); Cebreiro 517 (5,17%), Le Puy 466 (4,66%), Pamplona 458 (4,58%); Ponferrada 435 (4,35%); Astorga 430 (4,30%), Burgos 352 (3,52%), etc.

The Chosen Routes.
Most of the pilgrims chose the French Way with 8.332 (83,43%); followed by the Portuguese Route with 619 pilgrims (6,19%), the Silver Way has been chosen by 530 pilgrims (5,30%), the Northern Way with 342 (3,42%), and the Primitive Way with 82 (0,82%) pilgrims.

Friday, August 25, 2006

travel mantra

it is what it is...
it will be what it will be...
acceptance is the answer...
flexibility the key...

go with the flow

Friday, August 11, 2006

mountain hiking - a short photo tour


After taking me on an easy walk to warm up, Gunther took me on a 2 day hike up Möseler above Lake Neves. I started confident and assured that today was 2 hours uphill to the hut we would be staying in for the night.












Three hours later (!) we reached the point where we had to cross the raging whitewater of melted glacier. Gripping the flimsy wire I crossed the frigid water. This photo is from a slow motion re-inactment - I didnt look that calm the first time across!












We then had some time for a spot of skiing on the glacier. The melting snow is forming multiple rivers down the mountain side so we crossed another few on our way.






When we made it to the hut after 4 1/2 hours (! hmmm) we were treated to this lovely view and a dramatic sunset over the peaks as we sipped on some res wine! All the breathlessness of the climb to 2450m is now worth it.


Day 2 and we backtracked for an hour before starting on the traverse around the mountain face. Here is a lovely little glacier that we had to cross. Only short but got my pulse racing a little as we had to cross another river on the other side and my boots felt a little laking in the neccesary grip! Of course it wasnowhere near as dangerous as I felt it was - i just dont come across these conditions every day.








Then I saw the secret on the way down. These little kids had hired their grandpa to drag them up the hill! How can I get one of those. Pure genius!






Then after a futher 4 hours we came down to this lovely view. Two clear days in the mountains capped off with glass of their local brew - Perfection!













more pics of Italy on the flickr page here

Monday, August 07, 2006

lost and found

Ill start with the bad news..... beacuse its quite bad.

After I finished the camino I collected all of my most valuable momentos together to send home for safe keeping.

Into a box I put my Compostella (the certificate of completion of the camino), my credential (the pilgrim passport stamped at each stop), my t-shirt and sourvenirs from Santiago, the beautiful pendant (that I bought with money I was given from a friend to "buy something special"), and most important of all, the CD's with the photos that I had taken along the way (ie: the ONLY high resolution copy of these pics)

And now over 2 months later the box is missing in action! Not in Spain, not in Australia and not able to be traced!

Trying hard not to think about how irreplacable these items are!!

But on a brighter note I had a previously lost item come back to me most unexpectedly, so that has renewed my faith that someitems just go on a detour on their way home.

Before I left Sydney, some friends gave me small items to bring with me. One of these gifts was a cotton braided bracelet from Penni and Emmanuel which I wore immediately. It slowly started to stretch and soon I could pull it off over my wrist. before I had a chance to tighten it I noticed that it had slipped off, sometime around the 3rd week of the walk. I felt really sad about that because it when all you have is a few light possessions on your back, small sentimental items take on greater significance.

So I had assumed that it had dropped somewhere along the path in the mountains. Then, after 2 months and multiple packings and unpackings of my backpack, I found it had come out of my bag and was tucked half under the bed in the house I visited in Switzerland....... somehow....

Perhaps this little momento had hidden itself somewhere in my bag to jump out just when I needed a reminder that sometimes the lost can be found again.

But still, if you have any psychic ability that you would like to use, see if you can see where my precious little box is hiding......pleeeease.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Homework for returning to Spain.....

How to sleep a Siesta:

To fully enjoy a siesta it is very important to have a good lunch with friends or/and relatives.
1. The real siesta takes place in bed and in pyjamas, but a comfortable sofa is also fine if no bed is not available.

2. Timing is very important. A siesta should last between 15-30 minutes, no more.

3. Don't let anything disturb you. The siesta is a very serious business. Some people can't enjoy a siesta unless the TV or radio is on. If these kind of things help you to fall asleep, use them.

4. The best way to wake up from a siesta is to hear a delicate human voice. If you don't have anybody near, remember to use an alarm clock.

Tips:· Right after the siesta, a glass of water and a piece of chocolate will make your life easier. ·

Disconnect all telephones!

Courtesy of http://www.donquijote.org/culture/spain/siesta/

Love it!!
Kellie

Monday, July 31, 2006

slow travel

I read about the notion of slow travel, and I realised that I had already been trying to implement it on this trip. Turns out it is very satisfying but quite difficult in practice.

I have been trained and socialized to aspire to "good organisational skills", "ability to develop strategic plans and processes", "co-ordination of multiple tasks simultaneously".

Slow travel, for me, has meant the resistance to all longer term plans - and by long term I mean more than 1 or 2 weeks! I cannot predict any movements 100% if they are beyond that time frame as I need to be free to follow the flow of the river that is carrying me along.

Good things that have happened from not having plans:
1: Met Phil at the end of the camino because, unlike everyone I met, Id made no plans on how or when to leave santiago. His email on the very last day set my direction to Salamanca
2: Because I met Phil, I also met Esther and Paddy
3: Because I met Esther I have a new and very cool friend who has helped me survive my post-camino shock at returning to a big city and has offered me a home when I return.
4: With no plans I could go to Paris to meet with Jose when I wanted to
5: By reisiting any plans out of Paris I was able to fly to Italy to meet Gunther at a time perfect for him.
6: With no plans to leave Italy, Gunther and I were able to take a last minute drive to Switzerland to visit Andrea
7: By procrastinating with my research, I was able to stay to joing Gunther and his friends on the Lake of Garda this weekend for their summer camping holiday.

Now, I have a flight booked and one nights accommodation in Cinque Terre and already the accomm booking is restricting me a little..... I panicked that its so busy at this time of year so made the booking, but should have had faith that it would have worked out ok without it.

But, Oh, how this strategy challenges me. I am constrantly fighting the urge to book and plan.... and panic.....

But the rewards are great! If you are an overplanner, try it some time!

Serendipity is much more memorable than Certainty anyday!

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Pueblo Ingles

I have been off line for the last week because I have been busy on the language immersion course I signed up for in Valldelavilla!

I came to this week with very few expectations - only the knowledge that I have the chance to spend a week in the countryside, eating three-course meals for lunch and dinner and talk all day with little or no expenses - a dream situation for a poor backpacker!

What I experienced is much more enjoyable than I imagined. We had 20 english speakers and 20 spanish speakers there last week. For the first few hours after arrival we settled in our separate groups and looked suspiciously at each other. Not a great start..... The english speakers didn't know each other but we at least all spoke the same language.

After a few ice-breakers, the sessions of talking started and we found ourselves talking one-to-one with a different spanish person for an hour all morning and afternoon. After apologising for their bad english, the conversations usually started to flow and we all got to know each other very quickly.

Tongues were loosened each evening in the bar and before long everyone felt like old friends. At every meal we sat at tables of four - with 2 english speakers and 2 spanish speakers at each table. This is where some of the funniest conversations happened - often with each of us talking about something completely different and trying to figure out what the topic was when we got off track.

Like any intense courses, there are intensely funny situations and there were many many laughs all week. I was definitely in my element with these great people and I know that more than a few people thought I was completely mad. There was at least one lady who made it clear that she disliked me and a few others who were having fun, but I figured that it was her problem if our good mood grated on her.

The week was long and tiring but VERY enjoyable. The location was peaceful and stunning but it was the people who made it so great. I barely slept and still managed to get up every day and keep on talking. My plan was to catch up on sleep when I returned to Madrid but I have had a few nights out with people from the course that have kept me out once again.

Today was my enforced rest. I am completely out of money {except for 5 euros in my pocket} until my bank transfer comes through tonight so it was a great excuse to stay in bed all day and catch up on some sleep.

Ok, I am off to finish my laundry, find something cheap to eat and find somewhere to watch the Spain game tonight.

Hope you are all well = would love to hear some news from home if you have time!

kel

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Finisterre and Muxia Photos


IMG_1859
Originally uploaded by Sabihabeautiful.
Come on in - there are a few more pics to look at which have us at the "end of the world" enjoying sunsets and general celebrations.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

0km - the end


0km - the end
Originally uploaded by Sabihabeautiful.
Some more photos have been added today - feel free to have a look.

I have some more from the sunset at the cape and the ensuing celebrations to come.

enjoy

Life is Wonderful

LIFE IS WONDERFUL
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R08q2wzGpzk
by Jason Mraz


It takes a crane to build a crane
It takes two floors to make a story
It takes an egg to make a hen
It takes a hen to make an egg
There is no end to what I'm saying

It takes a thought to make a word
And it takes a word to make an action
It takes some work to make it work
It takes some good to make it hurt
It takes some bad for satisfaction

La la la la la la la life is wonderful
Ah la la la la la la life is full circle
Ah la la la la la la life is wonderful

It takes a night to make it dawn
And it takes a day to you yawn brother
It takes some old to make you young
It takes some cold to know the sun
It takes the one to have the other

It takes no time to fall in love
But it takes you years to know what love is
It takes some fears to make you trust
It takes those tears to make it rust
It takes some dust to make it polished

Ha la la la la la la life is wonderful
Ah la la la la la la life is full circle

It takes some silence to make sound
It takes a loss before you found it
It takes a road to go nowhere
It takes a toll to know you care
It takes a hole to make a mountain

Ah la la la la la la life is wonderful
Ah la la la la la la life is full circle


tme for the party to stop!

Hola from sunny and hot Madrid.

Where did I leave you last? In Finisterre I think. Well, after the last post a group of us walked to the cape and watched the sun set on the Atlantic and we drank wine and took photos to celebrate that we WALKED there to see this ;) We were back in the local restaurant that we discovered the night before and finished dinner around midnight (spanish style!). We continued on to a bar that was recommended and we were still dancing around at 5am when a few of us decided to have one last dip in the ocean!

A bus the next day to Muxia was strange. I had not moved this quickly in over 6 weeks and it f elt very strange. Muxia is a cute town that is trying desperately to jump on the camino wagon and were very accommodating to the handful of pilgrims who make the extra km´s to visit. W slept in the sports hall that night and, surprisingly, it ws the best sleep I had had in a while.

Back in Santiago, we had one more night before parting ways with our Finisterre crew and happened upon the party for thye Ascencion (40 days after easter) and the locals partied LOUDLY until 5am - bands, dancing, marching bands etc, all night. Had every intention of an early night and whil I was in bed early I didnt get any sleep.

A few weeks earlier I had an emal from Phil - ann irish guy who had emailed me some tips for my camino months ago. We agreed that we would try to meet wh ile he is in Spain. So that gave me somewhere to go, because until now, I had no post camino plans. Caught a bus to Salamanca and met up with Phil, his friend Shane and their other new friend Christi from Canada. Despite being exhausted, good manners meant that I must join them on a locals tapas crawl, taking in the best of the best. The food and company was A1 and we had a great night. Tapa followed tapa, nightclub followed bar and then bed followed dawn!!! How did THAT happen?? Slept til midday then meandered around town for the afternoon before meeting up for dinner with the crew again. This time I showed restraint and managed to get to bed by 2.30 (!!!)

Caught a train with Phil to Madrid (eventually - we managed to miss our origional train by a minute!!) and went straight out to see his best friend Paddy play at a bar. I was then introduced to Phil´s tight group of camino friends - Paddy and Esther - who have welcomed me with open arms. I have now spent some part of each day with either Phil or Esther and I have been shown the local sights and better bars/restaurants.

And, as you would imagine, with all of this frivolity, I am now well and truly sick and run down. I have spent the last few days in bed and am coughing and spluttering when I do get up. So, I will go back to bed soon to feel sorry for myself but also happy that its all been for a good cause ;)

Monday, May 22, 2006

end of the world as we know it

what an adventure the last few days have been.

the minute I logged off from my last post I decided to catch the bus to the next town. I t seemed rediculous to walk in the rain when I have the start of a cold, a stomach bug and little sleep....... Then while I was waiting I felt that this was an opportunity to channel my Japanese amigo, so packed my bag, put on my waterproof gear and headed out with a final "buen camino" to those waiting for teh bus.

I was wet within a few minutes but my body stayed warm and I let my wind wander and the km´s went by. My body felt ok - if weary - and after a few hours, I stopped for breakfast /lunch and saw the only other person I would talk to that day. After 30 mins I walked on and felt amazingly peaceful. I didnt "marcg" once and kept a calm and even pace - not very fast but effective enough. I took one more stop in another 2 hours for a hot chocolate and kitkat then kicked on. I started the countdown with 10km to go and found it passed quite quickly. Whenever I felt anxious the time would drag and it reminded me of the earlier lesson of mind over matter - when happy , the km´s flew by!

I finally dragged my legs into town and had a welcome shower. Finally found my comrades in the bar (of course) and I received a cheer and pat on the back for my efforts. Some had assumed that I had caught the bus or bailed out and the one I have spent the most time with said "no, Kel´s tough - she´ll stick with it"

We had a great night - the hospitalero cooked us soup that we all shared then sat around singing songs with some German´´s, French and English. Wonderful atmosphere and felt elated from surviving the day that could have been so difficult had I let it.

The next day we woke to pouring rain and whipping, gusty wind. I didnt feel ready to tackle this day alone and stuck with teh others but my mind wass et in the right place and it didnt get to me. About 20 minutes into the walk the wind was so fierce that the waterprrof cover on Mark´s bag blew off and flew into the brambles. I leapt in after it and landed in a hole full of water . Our shoes had pools of water and we were tilted into the wind to move ahead. Soon we were all in histerical laughter at how ridiculous this was! What are we doing this for??? After a long lunch where we rung out out socks and soaked up as much water from our shoes as we could we started out and the sun eventually broke through and we were able to dry a little.

In the afternoon I was aware that I felt completely peaceful. Despite what was external to me, I felt a complete peace inside. It didnt come from the sun, or the flowers or the birds - but was just there. I don´t ever recall this feeling before and it was so beautiful to meet it! what a great gift from this long long road!

The hospitaleros in the next town were really gorgeous - they had met 2 weeks prior on thier camino and while from different continents, were spending their final days together before going home to their "other" lives. THey gave me a hug goodbye after a lovely chat and wished me well. They had found some peace too - you could see it in their eyes.

Today I arrived at Finisterre - the end of the world and after 40 days of walking. When we made it to the beach a few of us stripped down to shorts and t-shirts and leapt in to the cold Atlantic. Im not a big fan of cold water but it was invigorating and cleansing and perfect. Walking alone the beach with our boots hanging from our packs and our bare feet in the sand was such a fitting end to this walk.

We shared a seafood lunch and tonight will walk to the Cape to watch the sunset and leave behind the shells and items that we carried with us from home. It is also traditional to burn something that you have carried. I have thrown out the things that I didnt want anymore but bought some insense to burn when I reflect on all that has been and all that will come.

So this is the end and the begining - what a strange and exciting place to be.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

the big test on the road to finisterre

not in a very happy place today. feeling a little sick so slept badly and now it is pouring rain - the worst since that horrible day into Los Arcos.

i guess i can now test out if ive learnt any serenity!!

That was 18km and this is 35km!! But now that I have finished the main camino im not too proud to jump in a taxi....... but ill see how i go

stay tuned

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Peregrino Competo

Hola from and very grateful and satisfied little peregrina!

After the last email I met up with a few new people and have had a wonderful few days on the approach to Santiago.

I walked the final 3 days with Jose and had lot´s of laughs and I had to try to explain english words thaht I was using to someone who used english as a fourth language!! Think we covered off "weirdo", "creepy" and "dag" before going for more high brow terms!

We left on the last day at 5.30am as Jose really wanted to walk in the night once and the sun doesnt rise til 7am so we got a few hours of dark in. I wanted to have a siesta under a tree one day too so squeezed that in on the second last day. Otherwise pretty much did everything else I hoped to. The last day took us through a few eucalyptus forests which smelt amazing and felt very comforting. The few aussies around all had to become flora experts overnight though to explain the intricate details.....

We arrived a little late for the midday pilgrim mass so sat at the back of the impressive square before the cathedral, kicked off our dirty boots and lay on our packs looking up at the cathedral of St James. This was Jose´s fantascised end to the walk and was actually really perfect. We lay there in silence for about 2 hours, mulling over all that we had done and achieved. After the adrenaline of arrival wore off we could have a few private tears. Mine were mainly because i wasnt really ready for this little wolrd to come to an end. By getting my final pilgrim stanp and picking up my compostela (certificate) I would be letting it all be over, so I procrastinated for a while to soak up my final moments as a dirty pilgrim. A few well dressed coach tour people had us in their photos I think as we looked very tired, dirty and smelly lying on the ground - but also looked very happy.

Then the friends started coming in - one by one people that I had met or talked to came out from mass, retunred from Finisterre (the fast walkers!) or arrived into Santiago for the first time. What a wonderful reunion with people with such interlinked, but unique experiences.

Splurged on a nice room last night and today had lunch with 14 people that are now like old mates. The FA Cup is on tonight (Barcelona v Arsenal) and its a fiesta day so its a great atmosphere for celebration.

Today it has started raining so that means that in my 5 weeks walking we only had 1 day and 2 half days of rain! Almost unheard of for this time of year so feel very lucky.

Off to meet up with todays arrivals and a celebration cerveza! Love to you all and thank you so much for your encouragement alone the way. The time has really flown by and I will miss this journey very much but I know that it will all stay with me for a long time and I hope you have enjoyed the view from home.

Lots of love from peregrina kellie

Saturday, May 13, 2006

65km to go!!

well, its down to the final few days and can hardly believe that I am within 3-4 days walk from Santiago. Some people are speeding up to finish it off and a few of us are slwoing down and starting to unwind a bit.

Been VERY lucky and still have not had any more rain during the day. In Galicia (region) that is known for its rain and we have had beautiful ,c lear sunny days that are quite hot. Sat in the sun with three lovely people from Holland and had lunch and walked with them the final 8km to Palais del Rei. Nice to find people who also enjoy the slower pace and basking in a bit of sunshine rather than racing to the albergue each afternoon!

So at this stage I am looking at arriving in Santiago on Tues afternoon or Wed morning (depending on how I time it) and may catch a few friends before they head home. Will have a night or two in town then walk out to Finnisterre - so named because before Chris Columbus it was considered the end of the world. Will be nice to reach the coast.

The mountains that we have passed through were really spectacular and I realised that I really like being up high - everything about it is different and it uses a whole different group of muscles. Climbing O Cebreiro involved 8km of uphill climbing that took about 3 hours. Strenuous but very beautiful - wound through little valleys and forect paths til coming out the top to an amzing view behind of the smaller mountains that we had traversed without realising. Following the ridge line to the top. Thinking that was the worst for the day I was pretty unahhpy to find a surprise hill in the afternoon that came out of nowhere and nearly killed everyone. I had a little tantrum over that one and needed a little beer to console me. Thankfully everyone else felt the same so we ended up with quite a little party. Appropriately the town name was Alto de Poio and is now known amongst our little grouap as "Top of the Poo"!

The people I know on the walk are all quite scattered but I think we should all meet up at some stage in Santiago this week and that is such a lovely part of this trip. Every new town that you walk into, you are guaranteed to run into a dozen or so familiar faces at the first bar and there is a knowing nod passed amongst peregrinos - identifiable by the sandled feet and slight limp as we shuffle to the nearest restaurant. There is something comforting about this community and something that we will all miss when we are back to being unknown and faceless in the big city.

Hve some funny stories to share and some more`pics so stay tuned - this blog will continue when the walk is down so if you are bored at work I can do what I can to keep you amused for a few minutes at least.

Ciao for now

kel

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

New Photos


IMG_1032
Originally uploaded by Sabihabeautiful.
Here are some new pics for your viewing pleasure. Click on this photo to go to my Flickr page. None are captioned or rotated yet so please excuse me...... will get o that in the next few weeks

Cheers

Kel

Monday, May 08, 2006

210km to go

hi from the road once again. I havent been able to call home for a few days so am checking my emails in a bar on the road to Villafranca de Bierzo and have a few minutes for a quick update.

Feeling great at the moment. still getting blisters but thanksfully they don´t hurt anymore and no longer have to pierce them everynight. Tomorrow i will have been walking for 4 weeks - can you believe it!!!! Strange, sometimes thay seems much longer but then again the first week seems 20 years ago.

Met and walked with many people and many we keep running into at each stop. Was in a cafe this morning and it was like a reunion of old friends as different people wandered in for breakfast. Its like a very supportive wandering community who all look out for each other. Not sure if Ive mentioned Ernest from Amsterdam before - but he started from him front door 3 1/2 months ago and is a real character. Well he was feeling bad the other day and checked into a hotel and when someone he had met didnt see him fro breakfast he alerted the staff and they found him in a diabetic coma and had him taken to hospital!! He is ok and I saw him walking again the other day - a real fighter.


Passed over the highest point in the walk yesterday and LOVED being back in the mountains after the flat lands for the past week. We walked through the clouds and it was very eerie and beautiful. Came down about 1000 meters in the afternoon and covered 34 km. Had loads of energy after that and felt great.

Tomorrow we pss over another hill called O´Cebreiro and looking forward to that challenge. The next day we enter Galicia, a region with very strong Celtic origins and lots of rain. Think I have dealt better with my rain issues and cant wait for the new scenery.

Hope all are well and more soon
kel

Saturday, May 06, 2006

what i am loving

LOVE:
the sky is HUGE and the clouds have been fluffy and white all week

the vapour trails left by the planed flying overhead. they leave big diagonal streaks across the sky

the tiny blue butterflies who sit on the ground, camouflaged til you walk near, then lift up, revealing their blue/purple wings. have to be careful to not tread on them.

the passing parade of caterpillars, bugs, millipedes, centipedes, snails and ants. easy to stop and watch them a few times a day

the sound of the wind blowing through the groves of trees by the path..... gives an eerie ghost sound

the cockoo birds that sing out from the woods. i like to answer back.

saying hi to the cows and sheep and dogs and horses in the fields that we walk by. they often come over to the fence to have a chat.

the wild flowers everywhere

the windows and doors on the mud brick houses in the little villages. taken loads of photos of them.

the cool breezes as we climb into the mountains! lovely on the face and in the hair.

the ideas that pop into my head while i am walking along that i have to stop to write down! need to remember to make time for walking and thinking when i have to go back to the¨"other" world

all for now - off to dinner. hope you are all well

love kel

Thursday, May 04, 2006

walking walking walking

wow - ive missed updating this but internet has been a little hard to get hold of for long enough and after I have checked my messages and done boring stuff like banking etc I am out of time! But today I am on a hotels computer and its a little cheaper.

Here is a quick update:

* poo issue was short lived thankfully. some people are being laid up for 3-4 days but this passed and am now feeling much better

* spent a day in leon and really enjoyed the town. met up with two others and painted the town red - found the most gorgeous bar run by an lady who loved rock music so we drank vino tinto and danced around her bar all night. booked a pension on the main square as a treat so didnt have to wake up at dawn to the rustling of eager pilgrims for once - didnt get up until 9am (ooo ahhh) heaven!

* am now less than 300km from Santiago which means that we should be at the end in two weeks! from there i want to walk out to Finisterre which will take one more week.

* our initial little walking group have split a little but run into each other every few days. hope we all get to spend time together in the next few weeks and catch up in Santiago! Marco is about a day ahead, heather has stormed in front and may see her again before she heads back to dublin and robin and becky should be in the same places as me but keep missing them.

* have met some other people who are alot of fun and getting some great ideas and nuggets of wisdom from them.

* love that every conversation that you have here cuts right to the core and we are having REAL talks rather than filling in air time. MOstly find peoples most personal info before dinner, which can be a little disconcerting but also refreshing.

* body feels ok - just a few aches and pains when the body winds down from the days walk!! blisters are there but dont really hurt. fellingmuch fitter and a 20km walk seems like a warm up now. Walked my first 36km day this week and it felt great.

* a little tired today and need some regrouping time. I am deliberately walking a lone for a few days. It really is the best time and you have all day to daydream, think, plan etc. its fun to walk with someone else and often enlightening and entertaining but that needs to be balanced and thats what I am doing now.

* after a week and a half in the meseta we are finally back in the mountains and it is lovely. tomorrow we go over the highest point in the camino - 1350 feet. hopefully the rain prediction will be incorrect.


On other news I have been accepted to the english camp thing Imay have mentioned before and that is from June 9-16. There is a company that runs intensive language training camps for spaniards and they recruit englich speakers to help with their training. Its all voluntary but I get a weeks accommodation paid for, have a laugh, meet some locals and enjoy a week in the countryside. So that gives me my next step which is nice.

So at this stage I am looking to finish the walk sometime around May 24, spend a few days in Santiago to see the town and catch up with walking friends as they come in, then walk on to Finisterre for another 4 days. I have a few people that I can meet up with in Madrid or I could walk a little of the camino to Portugal (not because I am punishing myself but it is a very cheap way to get around!).

For the summer I am toying with getting a jon in Greece or Ireland, then return to Spain when it is a little cooler.

all for now
kel

Saturday, April 29, 2006

poo

have bed tummy today so will skip to the loo my darlin´

passed halfway point and will soon leave the meseta for some more mountains.
knee better, hip ok, blisters up again today but not painful.

more later - loo then bed!

Friday, April 28, 2006

Carrion de las Condes

Hola from Carrion

While I guessed that this was my halfway point it is actually a little way down the road and there is a sign to say you are half way - so thats exciting!

Today was a little dull in that it was a straight path alongside the road but it was also very easy (didnt have to look for arrows all day to find the way) and gave me time to enjoy the little things around me.

Became a little obsessed with snails today and took a dozen or so photos of the little fellas. Think I can actually relate to their pace a little better now. Sadly also saw a few crushed by passing pelegrino feet.....

The ipod has decided that it doesnt want to charge anymore and while that is a pain, it also means that I can walk and listen to the sounds of nature - which are many and varied. Simple pleasures on the camino!

However, I have found that to fill some time i sing to myself and the hit list at the monent is;
*Lucksmiths - Chapter in your life - thanks to Kristie i listened to this alot and now can sing it to myself without the ipod
* Simon and Garfunkles Cecilia - this is the song de jour for getting up hills and other hard bits. The beat gets me going when i otherwise want to stop
* Every $%&/$ city by Paul Kelly - dont know all the words but i can mix it up a bit.
* Only 19, Redgum - listened to this on anzac day and now its on repeat in my head. little depressing, but easy words to sing along to
* Freedom Calling - by Colin Hay on Seachange soundtrack has some lovelu words that repeat in my head:
"when i let go of the master plan
i could then hear freedom calling!"

like that one

going back to the albergue now for my "delicious" tuna and tomato roll then to bed. tomorrow will be another big day and need to rest the bung left knee and dicky right hip! feeling good though and enjoying the adventure!

love to all and a million thanks for the comments - love them!

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Pilgrims Progress

Hola all

Wow - this walk is going much quicker than I expected! I am almost halfway already and it feels like it has only just begun.

The stats to date:
27.0 St Jean Pied de Port - Roncesvalles
20.5 Roncesvalles - Zubiri
21.5 Zubiri - Pamplona
4.7 Pamplona - Cizor Minor
18.8 Cizor Minor - Puenta la Reina
22.0 Puenta la Reina - Estella
21.8 Estelle - Los Arcos
18.6 Los Arcos - Viana
9.4 Viana - Logroño
29.0 Logroño - Najera
21.0 Najera - Santo Domingo
22.9 Santo Domingo - Belorado
27.7 Belorado - Ages
23.3 Ages - Burgos
18.8 Burgos - Hornillos de Camino
20.3 Hornillos de Camino - Castrojeriz

TOTAL WALKED - 328.5km
KMs to Santiago - 456km

Now, if you use a calculator and find that these figures do not add up, dont be surprised. It seems that every source possible varies on the distances between these towns and the total distance from SJPP to SdC. You would think after thousands of years they would agree on that at least, but still...... the most important thing is getting to the end of each day! The rest is only for a bit of perspective.

Body check - the earler blisters have hardened into callouses (more or less) so they are no longer a problem. The sideof my feet are toughening but still have new blisters to treat each day on the sides and heels. Nothing too dramatic though and quite enjoy the process of draining them (sad but true)

My left knee has been sore the lst two days but hasnt really slowed me. Feels swollen but is fine as long as I dont go down hills or stairs too quickly. Hasnt got me down at all so that is good.

Mind check - feeling fantastic. LOVE the meseta, which I am told translates to "little table" and it is basically a high area that is very flat and occassionally undulating. Actually the hills reminded me alot of the Burren in west Ireland. It is very peaceful and very beautiful and I hope this landscape lasts a few more days. Lot{s of little birds flying around, hundreds of insects and crawlies criss crossing the path we are on, so lots to look at!

Am walking alone and intermittently catch up Marco, so have periodic company. Being alone again is great.

Not sure where I am off to tomorrow and will stick to me plan so far and that is to stop when tired or when a place seems worth visiting. It is a lot less stressful for me to walk this way. No maps = a happy kellie!

Must be off - the pilgrims are tucking into bed (at 9.30!!) and I get dirty looks if I go in after 10 ;)

Buenos noches amigos

Sunday, April 23, 2006

the Km´s fly by

Its amazing that time is going so fast. We have now walked within a day of the next big town and will arrive in Burgos tomorrow afternoon. On Tues we will have walked for 2 weeks and it is getting easier all the time. My body is getting stronger so the km´s pass a little easier. Tomorrow will be a comfortable 20km then will most likely take a rest day or half day to see the city.

I am still travelling with our little band of walkers but I think I need a few days away from the company. It gets to a point with all groups that a "group mentality" kicks in and suddenly we need consensus for every little decision. I have to remind myself that I chose to travel alone so that I wouldnt have to sit outside in a gutter waiting for everyone to agree rather than booking into an albergue when I arrive. I appreciate that everyone has different needs and I would like to be more patient but after 2 weeks I am ready to make my own decisions and not feel that I am letting others down by doing my own thing. We are all on a similart time frame so I know we will meet again - Id rather still enjoy everyones company rather than get tired of the dramas now.

On the up side the scenery is stunning. The endless rolling hills make me want to roll down them all day. There are amazing windmills lining every ridge - the fancy new white ones that are so much a part of the landscape now. Saw a mole crossing our path today which was very cute and passed very close to some unfenced cows and bulls who look like they have watched more "pilgrims" pass than they can count.

Each little town is a postcard as it appears in the valley below - ofetn less attractive when you get in amongst its old delapidated streets. The hospialeros (volunteer albergue managers) have been wonderful - some of them outstanding in their helpfulness. The albergues have been far nicer than I expected - clean and modern, as new facilities open up each year to cope with the increase in walkers. The taller men have trouble with the short beds but ive found it fine ;)

Its anzac day on tues (my favourite aus holiday) so am trying to recruit some 2-up players to join me in a game. Not too optimistic for that but will try to get up for my own little dawn service to keep up part of the tradition.

Ok, best get off to bed - sleep is the best thing after a day of walking - that and a glass of local wine to celebrate another day on the road.

Hope everyone is well is Aus and thinking of your all.

take care

Kellie

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Its the 20th and I cant seem to figure out if it is Thursday or Friday!!  It doesnt really matter much out here.
 
Today was a great day and thought I should share it a little.
 
I have taken it easy the last few days with two shorter walks (18km and 9.5 km) so felt rested and the feet are recovering.  I met a lovely girl last night and she said some things to me that made sense.
 
She walked the Camino 4 years ago and is walking for 2 weeks now as a bit of therapy after a relationship breakup. I was telling her that I find the pressure to walk fast and keep up with the passing crowd annoying and I dont want to feel pressured by it.  My plan was always to find my own rhythm and take my time.  When you meet great people there is also pressure because you want to keep up with them and enjoy their company for longer.  I now have a group of people that I know one day and two days ahead of me and I need to learn to let them go and walk my own camino.
 
She said that reaching Santiago last time was great but she really felt that she got there too soon........ and there is no need to rush because this is a time to savour.  Im glad we had that chat because it reminded me to take my time and to stop "marching".
 
Last Monday - the day of horrors - in the rain, I saw a Japanese man and he amazed me.  We were all in ponchos or rain jackets with our heads down and we wrere all powering to Los Arcos and a place out of the rain.  He was walking very slowly and carried an umbrella and I saw him almost tip toeing around the puddles and seemed completely serene.
 
While walking I thought he was mad and kept striding on.  He arrived into Los Arcos only a short time after me, which was amazing b/c he appeared to be so slow.  Next I saw him lying on his bunk and softly singing to himself.  He was very calm and seemed very relaxed while I felt shattered.
 
I thought about him this morning and decided to try to find some of that serenity today.  I left Logroño and walked easily to Naverette and had an early lunch.  A little boy and girl came past and the boy gave me a flower he had picked and kissed me on the cheek!  Very cute.  I planned to stop after 20km and sleep in a small town for the night but I felt so good when i got there that I decided to go on and ended up walking 30km! the longest day so far and at the end I felt great.
 
At no stage did I rush and I felt calm and relaxed all day.  What a difference. 
 
The Camino is a great teacher and I seem to meet alñl the right people at all the right times.  My japanese amigo doesnt even know that he helped me but I have a new plan - keep the peace inside.
 
Ive still got 6 blisters on each foot but thankfully the treatment is kind of fun! Ill try to get a photo as its a little gruesome to explain - involves needle and  thread and looks likt Im sewing myself together ;)
 
Apparently a storm is coming tonight so I may get to test my serenity in the rain tomorrow
 
Adios for now
 
Kellie


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Tuesday, April 18, 2006

update

today i have been walking for one week and one day and it feels like a year! so much has happened and so many km´s have been covered, so many conversations, so many faces and so many thoughts.

As I mentioned in my last post, I had an amazing day on monday in that I was completely miserable all day but had the most amazing time (in hindsight of course). I actually woke up angry and couldnt understand why we were getting up in the dark and walking all day on blistered feet. I set off alone as I needed some time out and then was hit by an unnamed sadness and had a little cry. It rained all day and the going was miserable. It was long and boring and wet and cold. THere was nowhere to stop and I walked for 5 hours not saying a word to anyone all day - mainly b/c i didnt pass an English speaker but after a while i didnt care - I needed to be alone.

And after awhile my thoughts became incredibly fluid and I came up with some mini epiphanies. I hope i can write them all down before I forget about them....... One thing I didn realise in that walking makes your body stonger and your mind looser - thoughts flow with ease and you do not feel alone beacuse there is so much happening in your own head if you let it. Walking with others just doesnt give you that luxury!

At one stage all of my energy and mind was in my boots and on my left shin. I was sore and it was really uncomfortable. I was limping and miserable. After about an hour i was pissed off that I was having to walk all day and all i could think about was my pain. I was then aware of the direct connection between the body and the mind and all day I was able to experience the cliche of "mind over matter"....... and found that there was a direct effect of my mind focussing on my body. The minute I thought about my feet I could think of nothing but my pain. When I saw a sign that said 10km to Los Arcos the road seemed longer than ever and unbearable. I had to make a really conscious decision to move away from the physical for the rest of the day. And what happened was bizarre. I became seperated from the lower half of my body. It actually went numb and I was able to continue despite my limping. Towards the end of the day I had this clear impression that I was marching on confidently like a fantasticly pious pilgrim. After I saw people passing me at a casual stroll, I realised that my feet were actually dragging through the puddles and i wasnt " striding" at all. And even when I realised this my mind still registered that I was marching confidently and i could continue on. The minute I got the alburgue I could do no more than shuffle and limp painfully with ice on my shin. (I was lucky to have a massage therapist there that night and booked in. TUrns out he does kinesiology and reiki and he fixed me completely. I walked with renewed energy today and it was as if yesterday didnt exist.)

There were so many experiences in one day that I cant even describe it. A different emotion each hour, a new challenge to work through as my legs just kept moving, moving, moving towards our next stop. LIke I said yesterday, I did ask WHY and there is no answer to that, but today felt like the first day again and I could barely relate to mondays challenges.

Tomorrow is yet another day on the road and we have thankfully agreed to a shorter day and half day rest in Logroño where I can pick up my mail.

Mum is concerned that I am having a hard time and I guess i need to explain that while this is hard I certainly am so grateful to be here. I am logging the good and the bad here beause I want to make sure I can read all sides in the future too. I will try to make my next post more positive..... I can describe some of the characters Ive met or some funnier stories.

When it doesnt rain there is nothing better than to walk through the fields of miaze with the great expanse of sky overhead, the rolling hills and the distance ancient cities ahead, somewhere along this road we are following.

I now have walked and farewelled some new friends who have invited me to stay in touch - a few girls from Madrid who walked for the easter week, the lovely 20yo lucia from italy who wants me to pick fruit with her somewhere and her friend Innazio who said if I visit, his mum will cook pasta for me. I am still walking with Becky & Robin and Marco. We may seperate before Santiago but know we will stay friends and catch each other somewhere along the walk. We all want to continue on to Finisterre if we are able so you never know.

Thats all for now - thanks for reading and sorry for those who I havent been able to reply to yet! I do love reading your comments though - makes my day

Kel

ps: as an aside, mum told me that she won her grade 4 comp in QLD this weekend and came 3rd in the opens, so a big achievement - very proud of you mum. Also Jonathan clapped for the first time last week - what a clevr kid! Actually at one point I thought about him and how I could do that hours walk for him (you need incentives at times) and I immediately accelerated through the pain! So thanks you JS for your moral support!

PSS: Jo - my blisters are on both feet sadly - so my prediction remains unsubstantiated - excpet that it was my left shin - so that might be somethoing ;)

Monday, April 17, 2006

....and then she asked "why"

Ive learnt many things on the path today. I walked alone for 5 hours and didnt speak to anyone else in that time. It was mediatative and slightly annoying.

I dont have time to tell you all that I learnt today but the summary is that you should not ask WHY we are doing this. Its day 7 and it feels like we have been walking for a year and I started to wonder why i was doing this.....

and there is no answer to that when the road is long and the rain is falling

Off to treat my new blisters and shin splint! ;)

More soon

Kellie

Saturday, April 15, 2006

.... and then it rained

what a day we have had today.

after staying in pamplona for a rest day on Friday we had a bit of a problem findinag a bed as many new Peregrina´s had arrived in town and the beds filled up. The "rules" say that we cant stay more than one night in a refugio without a medical certificate and rather than 5 of us faking an injury, we decided to try elsewhere. THe holiday thwarted our plans and the short story is that after the 3rd refugio denied us a bed we slept under the stars outside. What should have been idyllic and adventurous turned annoying as the rain started to fall, then the wind started to blow and the dew started to settle...... .Good thing we had all become friends as we were all sandwhiched together in our sleeping bags trying to stay warm. (sounds suspiciously like my last stay in pamplona!!)

We creaked and groaned as we got up and set off our days walk with no food and hardly any sleep.

Then it started to rain..... lovely Irish rain that fell softly on our fields. It was beautiful and green and perfect. I felt strong and alive.

Then it got harder, and harder and then we started climbing a hill and then a mountain.......... in the mud.

We charged up the path and made it to the top where, according to the sign, the way of the wind meets the way of the stars. The enormous windmills whooshed and the mist closed in and the rain kept on falling...... but it was wonderful.

The rest of teh walk went quite quickly and I met a Sth African lady to walk the last leg with. You kind of pass people and sometimes fall into step and then part company a few hours later. When I arrived at the refugio I met up with my little band of friends, plus many of the others who I had talked to, or passed or sharded a room with earlier. Its incredibly easy to make friends and I am naturally in heaven!

Treated my first two blisters today - not painful - just a little annoying. With so much mud and rain today we have all been madly washing the cacked on mud from our clothes and boots and the rooms all look like laundry´s.

Tomorrow is Easter Sunday so we need to stock up on food now. Not sure where we are walking to tomorrow and find that I prefer it that way. Better to let the day throw up what it will and enjoy what comes.

So, basically having a ball and cant see why I was worried....... after all....... its JUST walking!

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

She went up.... she came down

This will be a quick one but after reading my messages I felt so grateful that so many people were thinking of me on the 11th.

I was feeling very nervous as I packed in Paris and came ny train but St Jean Pied de Port was such a lovely town and I met people straight away that Ifelt better.

I woke this morning to a very misty and cold morning. I mailed some things ahead to lighten my load and then started walking around 9.15 - which is alitle late to start.

I planned to stay in Orisson, 10km up the hill and made it there by midday. Jacques informed me that it does not open for 2 more days - even though I had made a reservation....... seems i had to face the next 17.5 kms!!

<Jacques very kindly drove me up the road for 3km to catch up with the next group of people as I was the last to come up the mountain (due to post office duties etc) and I rec´d some dirty looks for taking a car!! as it was the safer thing to do I decided to not feel guilty!

Then met up with a really lovely bunch of people who I stayed with all day - 2 from Scotland, one form Italy, 1 from Amsterdam, one from Holand and one from Poland! A funny little mix.

We pushed on and after 10 hours !!! finished the pass and came into Roncesvalles at 6.30pm!!

My feet hurt and I am very tired but I am also very proud f us for mak8ing that pass. IT was 1350m at the highest point and covered 27.5km. It was breathtakingly beautiful and we had lots of stops to admire the view.

Now that the hardest part is over I feel more calm and more capable.ç


I feel very lucky that I have such support from my friends and family and I thank you - I think all of those good wishes carried me up that hill today. I found it much easier than I should have - considering my fitness :-)

Love to all and onwards to Santiago!!

Love kellie

Thursday, April 06, 2006

THis is quick one from Paris again.
 
Day three now and feeling much better after sleep.  LOVING walking around the city and that is building up my legs a little.  The people at the hostel have been very nice but they have no more room at the inn, so I am off in search of new digs.
 
Mum forwarded my a number of an old friend who lives in Paris so will call her today.  Walking aimlessly has been fun but going somewhere thats for "locals" will be fun too and have more hope of that when actually with a local.
 
I will go to book in my hammam today and get around the shopping districts.  If its not too cold I might even get a bike for a few hours.  The weather is lovely and sunny but terribly cold still.  Have JUST enough warm clothes and way too many misc items in my pack.  Looking forward to a big cull before the walk.  REalising how little I need.
 
Still police everwhere to keep an eye on the general "unrest" that seems to pop up on street corners spontaneously.  All harmless by the looks. 
 
All for now - I best get out there and enjoy this lovely day!
 
Au Revoir


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Wednesday, March 29, 2006

reality check

After finishing work on Friday I have a week off to finalise all of my to-do list, which is great.

I spent Monday and Tuesday at my aunt and uncles near Nowra and it turns out it was the best thing I could have done, After feeling pretty overwhelmed for the last few weeks I was able to receive the reality check that I needed.

We sat around after dinner talking about family and the holidays that they used to take. When their kids were small they used to jump in the car with only a change of clothes and just drive. Six or seven of them in the car, no tents or equipment, nappies hung out the window to dry, parks and school verandahs utilised for sleeping, the kindness of strangers helping at other times.Their faces lit up talking about it and I could see what an amzing time that was - when it was possible to travel in that way with small kids. Then these two vibrant 70 years olds looked at me and said how wonderful they thought my trip was and I was reminded that this IS exciting - that all the bits and pieces I am worrying about is just fluff.

I made a decision that even though I still feel the butterflies in my stomach that I wont let it get to me. Grateful for the time away too where I could do something that wasn't about the trip! It does get a little all-consuming.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

oh, the places you'll go

"Its a dangerous business, going out your front door. You step into the Road, and if you don't keep your feet, there is no knowing where you might be swept off to"

J.R.R. Tolkien
(1892-1973)

*I gave this quote to my nephew today for his christening with a copy of Dr Suess's book "Oh, the places you'll go" If you haven't read it, you should get a copy - it's brilliant. Actually, on the back of the book it says that it's a "fable for the slightly more able!" so good for adults too.

This quote is what most often comes to mind when I think about what I am setting off to do on the Camino. It feels like I have Bilbo Baggins waving me off - and I can almost see the elves watching over me from the distance.

there are no walks, there are no walks today....

Had my last day at work on Friday - that was a relief. Now I am officially unemployed. That means I have one less thing to concern myself with, which is a GREAT thing right now.

No walk this weekend. Too many things planned to catch up with people before I go. Something tells me that 5km uphill in the Pyrenees, with 5 more uphill kms to go, will be when I wish that I had one less farewell beer and 10 more walks!

8 sleep to go.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

tick, tick, tick......

Today I tuned in to a soft little "tick, tick, tick" in the back of my head...... "time is passing, not long now, you must be getting excited".... tick, tick, tick.... " have you got everything ready, do you know any spanish".... tick, tick tick.... "are you fit, have you been walking, do you have enough money" .......tick, tick, tick.......

with every well meaning question i am forced to take stock of progress:
* gear bought and tested - check
* camera bought and tested - check (all seems to work well - have practiced and like results)
* practice walk with full pack - check (well, only one with a full pack- and everyone seems to recommend long walks EVERY day! that hasnt been possible and have settled for once a week! )
* transport to Pyrenees and accomm booked for two nights - check (while winging it is fun, I have booked two hostels at the very start of the walk that I really love the look of. Thats my treat to myself)
* spanish language CD"s bought - check (but i failed there - still only know how to say hello in the morning, afternoon and night, order a ham and cheese sandwhich and a large beer!)
* weight in pack still too heavy - check - (have a list of cull-able items so that is ok)
* more jobs left than days to complete them - check (figuring out the essential from the desirable and working from there

Am down to my "first draft" in packing and know there is still some more that I can cull. Because I will be mailing some things ahead to pick up in Santiago, I don't mind saving the final pack til I get there and have a better idea of the weather and conditions. I can then decide what is necessary and what is packed purely for comfort or vanity! Am taking extra clothes and a pair of shoes for Paris so I dont feel too daggy. All is well-loved stuff that I can either mail ahead or donate to the local waste disposal.

I can tell that most of this tension that I am feeling is from the waiting; when you are more or less ready tro go but you need to tread water for the last few weeks, tying up loose ends until the plane leaves..... At the moment I go home from work and faff about moving things from here to there, sorting, restacking, minimising, weighing, repacking etc. My brain can't seem to handle anything more complicated than these repetitive and mostly unnecessary tasks. Dont even bother asking me what I feel like for dinner or if i want a drink or what i want to watch on tv..... can't answer that either. Very grateful that everyone around me is doing their best to make allowances for my vagueness!

On the up side - Just heard back from a daughter of mums friend who lives in Paris and we will try to catch up on the w/e that I am in the city. Will be nice to have company to see some of the sights. I also have had contact from the American girl, Kimberli, who I have been emailing and it looks like we are starting the walk one day apart so no doubt we will be thrown together at some stage.

12 sleeps to go....

tick, tick, tick...

Monday, March 20, 2006

Quiet anxiety

In these few moments between waking up and realising that it is a work day, to actually rolling out of bed, when my brain starts to warm up for a new day, is normally a peaceful time where I have a bit of a stretch and yawn and consider what I have to get done over the next 24 hours.

Today, those few moments ran me down with an anxiety that I haven't felt in a long time. It hit me that the simple luxuries of having a double bed to myself, of sheets and a doona, of a house and a car, or a family and friends close at hand, of space and privacy and an income and job - these will all be gone from my life in 14 days time.

In it's place I will have freedom, new faces and adventures EVERY day, a simple life and contact with kind strangers - and all of this I know I love, but none of these positives went through my head in those few moments. Just the the sly creeping fear that I may not be up to it, that it is hard, that it is lonely, that I may not be able to go the distance......

Thankfully, I found a blog when I got to work and I have been reading about another person's feelings of dread, fear and lonliness before her walk and how the circumstances on the road eased them and replaced them with new friends, amazing experiences and an easier passage across Spain than she imagined.

This was exactly what I needed to read today.....

Monday, March 13, 2006

21 days to go

Thursday 9th March - while I dont really want to make too many plans I also dont want to miss out on any potential discounts along the way. I was advised to buy my train ticket to SJPP early to get said discount. Then paid an extra 10 Euros so that I got a flexible ticket. Then if I love or hate Paris I can come and go more easily. All booked to leave Paris on April 10 to have me ready to start my walk on April 11!

Friday 10th March- to avoid any more cleaning, packing, planning or other misc travel related activity, I took myself and the free movie pass I was given for Christmas to Miranda for a 6pm nana session of Brokeback Mountain. I really enjoyed the movie and found it quite moving and its left a fair impression. I had a half hour to kill before the movie so I did a spot of window shopping at JF Hifi and accidently bought a camera! Not your average impulse buy, I know, but I knew the camera that I wanted and the price was right and the sales assistant was the least smarmy of them all.

Saturday 11th March-
AM: shop shop shop..... How can I still need MORE stuff? Did a few laps of the "outdoor" stores on Kent Street and after much indecision I bought a pair of shorts, a walking top and a walking pole! I had sworn against these as I didnt want to look too "German" (can I say that without it sounding like a generalisation?? I hope so) BUT it was only $35 and it it helps me survive Day 1 on the Pyrenees I am satisfied. I might learn to love it afterall. I also bought a large pack bag. These sooper dooper light packs dont fold away in to a plane/train/automobile friendly bag that tucks in the straps and there is also no way to lock them securely from the curious or criminal, so I had to buy another bag to put my first bag in! Oh, and a padlock to secure it all away! Who said backpacking was a budget option?

PM: pack pack pack - how to fit all my purchases in one pack and maintain a sub 7kg weight! I now have (almost) everything (still have sandles to go - they are sooooooo ugly I am having trouble spending $145 on something I hate the sight of!). It all fit with room to spare. My toiletries are compact yet complete, the medical supplies are no bigger than playing cards and I dont have any/many "just in case items". I will be very daggy but from what Ive heard I will be in good company!

Sunday 12th March-
AM: the first "fully loaded" practice walk. 33*C prediction meant that I started early to avoid the worst heat. With water I think I came in at about 8.5kg or so and it was manageable. Took lots of small breaks for snacks and photos and that helps the feet at. Took the last leg of the gorgeous Coast Walk from Otford to Burning Palms. I was going to push on to North Era for a better length walk but as the entire first half was downhill I needed to save some energy for the uphill walk out. Lunch on the beach in Burning Palms was lovely. Had one end of the beach to myself and only a few hungry ants came to say hi. Emptied a tin of tuna and cut up a small avacado on my roll and had a leisurely lunch, shoes off, wind in my hair etc etc etc. It wasnt the longest walk I could have done but good to know that the weight is managable.

As I got to the top of the escarpment I ran into a couple who are starting their Camino in Po a week after I start in St Jean Pied de Port. Who knows - I could run into them again! I seem to be meeting fellow Peregrinos everywhere!

PM: Received an email from the hostel in Orisson, the place I want to stay 10km uphill from SJPP in the Pyrenees, to say that I have a bed reserved for me! Thats good to have arranged. The Napolean Route which goes directly over the mountains is the most scenic and spectacular part of the whole Camino but is also the most dangerous. If the weather closes in you can get in serious trouble so I am sending out sunny thoughts for April 11/12 so that I can do this crossing. Circling eagles, vultures, cows, horses, flowers and a view across France and Spain are the main attractions and I really want to experience that!

Thursday, March 02, 2006

back story

Im going to pop bits in here that decsibe the walk in ways that I can understand and may help others to see what I am doing and perhaps a little of the "why"..... This is from the above website promoting a hostel that I would like to stay in on my first night on the Road.

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"To take the road" is a well known metaphor for life. For many people their decision to walk to Santiago de Compostela, coincides with a special occasion or a new phase in their lives.

The Camino has not always been just a walk to honour God. There were also other motives, like: adventure and battle (the Camino played an important role in the recapturing from the Moors of present-day Spain), penance (many people walked the Camino as a penalty for their sins), money (richer people arranged others do their penalty), business (in the past also the Camino was big business for cities like Santiago de Compostela). In certain periods there were so many people walking to and fro Santiago, that the authorities were afraid that the social order could become endangered.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Meeting people already

I have been lurking in the Santiagobis Yahoo Group for a few months now and learning LOADS of great thinsg from people who have done the walk before, but now I have met someone who will be starting around the same time as me. Kimberli is flying out of LA and we land in Paris on the same day. I had planned to be in Paris til the 10th, she planned on leaving on the 8th. We may get a chance to meet up in Paris before we set off on the walk , which would be fun, but if we don't its comforting to know that there is another 30-something year old girl, travelling alone, seeking adventure and clarity within a few days walk of me.

We are sending emails to each other and it's exciting to see how easy it is to strike up simple relationships when you have a common thread.

Makes it all seem a little less lonely.

Monday, February 13, 2006

practice walk

The last two weekend i have walked part of the Coast Walk in the Royal National Park and Im really impressed. Week 1 i walked Bundeena to Wattamolla which was about 16km and on sat i started at Garie Beach and got to Burning Palms beach. This week was less km's but very hilly - up up up the headland then a steep decline on the other side, across a beach then up and over the next headland 4 times....... the final up-hill on the way back nearly did me in though. Sun was hot and I was a bit over it all by then!

Will give Garie to Wattamolla a go next time. Thats a lovely section of the walk too.

I love the people you meet along the way who are a mix of locals, o/s visitors in awe of the views, campers who have hiked in for the night, couples who seem to have different degrees of attraction to the great outdoors, groups taking a hike, adventurous surfers seeking a break away from crowds etc.

Then little ol' me on a day hike wondering what on earth she has got herself into :-)

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

One pilgrims lovely camino photos

I was scooting around yesterday for some personal accounts from other people about their Camino in Spain and came across this man's site:

http://www.shinealight.com/write/camino/index.htm

I was mostly blown away by his beautiful photos. Im uploading them here as a bit of inspiration as I'd be so happy if I could even get one or two that are this lovely.