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

*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.

"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.