Monday, June 11, 2012

One week, plus some

Hello, The last few days have been interesting. I celebrated my 24th birthday on a hot, sunny day. I walked much of the walk with a meteorologist from Barcelona who is walking part of the walk with his uncle. Our destination was a decent sized town, considering some of the pueblos I have stayed in on this trip! The hostel was large and clean. After cleaning up, I had a yummy sandwich and ran into some other pilgrims I had met earlier. I went to mass in the evening in a beautiful church, and then joined some new friends for dinner. It was a delightful evening, and a very simple birthday, but one I am sure I will remember! Thursday and Friday I walked a bit further than my guidebook suggested for those days (30-35km, I think), mainly because I was feeling energetic and figured I might as well take advantage of the energy. Saturday ended up being a very long, exhausting day, and I hit a wall, so to speak. I tried to take a detour to visit an abbey that St. Francis visited when he walked this walk (which is a pretty neat fact in itself!), but after going 6km off of the track, I found it to be closed. Needless to say, I was disappointed. But I continued walking and when I reached my intended stopping point, I was less than impressed with the location and decided to go another 7km to Santo Domingo. All in all, I think I walked arounf 40km that day, which was quite a lot. I reached the hostel in a daze. But, after a much needed talk with a specialist tending to my blisters (poor guy, I don´t think he signed up for free therapy sessions), and a decent night of sleep (I was between two serious snorers!) I felt better. And the last two days have been significantly more positive. I think I needed to let the past week really catch up with me, which it did, in full force. Thankfully, my feet are doing slightly better. My knees are still sore, but I figure if they get me to Santiago, I´ll be pleased. I reflected yesterday with my friend Tim, from Arizona, about our first week on the trail. I don´t really know what I expected, but somehow it is different from my expectations. It is hard to believe it has been over a week, but even harder to believe I still have so far to go! My favorite part so far is meeting so many wonderful people. I have some anecdotes, but I´ll save those for another day. Thank you for all the encouragement and prayers. Un abrazo.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

It´s a Simple Life

(I apologize in advance for the strange formatting/layout. It is the best I can do on the hostel computers!) I have started to settle into a routine; it already feels like I have been on the trail a month rather than four short (actually, long) days. Here is what a day in the life of a Camino-walker (at least this one) is like: I wake up when I hear other people rustling, or when my alarm goes off at 6:00 (usually I don´t need the alarm). I go to the bathroom to brush my teeth and splash water on my face. There isn´t much need for primping on the trip, so after sun screen and deodorant (there is a great need for both of these, however) I consider myself ready. Then I focus on my feet. I do the best I can with the blisters that have formed, and then take all the preventative steps I can...and I put on my boots, which hurt. I fill up my water bottle and take a vitamin C tablet. If I have something for breakfast, I munch while I am getting ready, otherwise I stop at the nearest cafe for a quick croissant or toast and coffee. Usually I am on the ¨road¨ by 7:00 or a bit before. I start my walk with a rosary. After I finish praying, I stop to stretch my musclese a bit. And then...I just keep walking, chatting here or there with people on the walk; at the very least wishing them all a ¨buen camino!¨ I snack when I feel hungry, and drink lots of water through the day. I have found that I walk best if I am well fed...though that is no surprise. Depending on the size of villages/towns I pass through, I might stop for a sandwich around mid-day. I reach my destination about six hours after I leave, usually between 1:00-2:00pm, give or take. In the mornings I always tell myself I will walk a bit further, but by the time I see the name of the pueblo matches the ¨end point¨ in my guidebook, I am ready for a break. I check into the hostel, and immediately dig out my (hopefully) clean clothes and shower items. I take a quick shower (sometimes longer if I am lucky and there is still hot water!) and put on the shorts and shirt that I will wear the next day. I wash clothes if I need to. After that I look into food. Some days I will just have a snack and wait for a big dinner later, but today I had a big lunch, so will find something lighter for dinner. After I am fed I do some reading and journaling, and some prayers, if it is quiet. At this point I want a nap, but try to stay awake until bedtime, to ensure a good night of sleep (assuming there are no snorers in my room...which is unlikely). I find ways to kill time until dinner; in the smaller pueblos there isn´t much to do or see, so they are quiet afternoons. After dinner I read for a bit more and then organize my bag so I can leave as easily and as quietly as possible in the morning. And then it starts again! Here are a few pictures of my trip so far: My pilgrim credential, which I get stamped at each hostel, and my shell, which I wear tied to my backpack. First day climb over the Pyrenees! My motto. Prayers are appreciated, especially for my sore feet and knees! And please know that I am praying for all of you! Un abrazo fuerte.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Ready, Steady, Go!

And...she is off! I started the Camino de Santiago! On Friday I took a bus to Madrid, a train to Pamplona, and another bus over the mountains into France, to Saint Jean de Pied de Port. I registered with the Pilgrim office, picked out my shell and ¨passport¨ and nestled into a hostel for the evening. Bright and early Saturday morning I set off for the first leg, which is also (hopefully) the most difficult of the journey. I literally climed the Pyrenees from France into Spain. I was off to a difficult start. I eventually found a good pace for me (I sent the marathoner I started with ahead-and he ended up finishing 2 hours ahead of me!), and settled into a rhythm. I tell you, it was rough, but the views were worth it 100%. I started day two with some angry feet, and by the end of the day I had my first blister. Day two had less of an intense climb, but was more difficult because I had sore muscles. Each time I started to think (complain to myself) about the pain, I offered it up for someone. Needless to say, a lot of people were prayed for...I am quite a whiner, even when I am my own-and only-audience! Here I am at the end of day three. Still achy as all get out, and with a sore knee to boot. I am hoping the knee pain will cease soon. The scenery is just beautiful, but I pass through small villages, too. Sometimes the path winds through the woods (which always reminds me of home) and sometimes it follows a busy street. Today I went through Pamplona, Hemingway´s stomping grounds and home to the famous running of the bulls. I took a turn through the Cathedral before buying ibuprofen and blister pads at the pharmacy. And now I am settled into a lovely little hostel just outside of Pamplona for the evening. I have met people from all over the world (though a proportionally large number of Australians), both young and old. Yesterday I spent much of the day with two Australian friends, both 65. If they can walk (and pass me!) this trek, so can I! I will update again as soon as I am able. Un abrazo muy fuerte.

Up to Speed

I realize I haven´t written in over a started to fly after Elizabeth´s trip! Jarrod came at the beginning of May, and after that, what little time I had left I filled with hikes, a wedding (not my own, a coworker´s!), cooking lessons (I learned gazpacho and tortilla espanñola from a friend), nights dancing with friends, and playing tour guide to a friend from Salamanca. It was a wonderful, busy end to the school year. (Jarrod and I had a blast in Madrid, Toledo, and Barcelona! Sorry I haven´t potsted any pictures...). And now, on to the next adventure: El Camino de Santiago! In short (ha) it is a 500 mile hike across northern Spain, and should take me about a month! I hope to finish just in time to head to Toledo to get my luggage, and catch my flight in Madrid on July 6th! Actually, I would love to finish earlier, but my feet will make the final call. We shall see. I have to pay for internet access most places, but I will try to update as often as I am able! However, in an effort to take on the ¨pilgrimage spirit¨ I am trying to disconnect, just a bit. Also, I hope to get pictures uploaded, but that is proving complicated. Un abrazo muy fuerte.