Monthly Archives: June 2014

Take it Off? Leave it On? Whatever…

The Walking Dead

The Walking Dead

Things to Remember to Take Off or Not Put On ( and other things that bug you)

June 15, 2014

*Toe rings- your feet swell in the hot weather when you are walking. The toe ring cuts off circulation until your toe becomes numb. When you discover the toe purple in color, the ring band embedded in the flesh, you remember too late that the pain you were feeling in your toe wasn’t due to a hot spot, but the ring. Removing it is quite an undertaking. Your toe will turn back to flesh color in a few hours, if you are lucky. If you are not so lucky, your toe will blacken and it will need to be snipped off.

*Make-up. Why bother putting it on in the first place. It will drip off with the sweat and sting your eyes. Plus it is one more thing to pack, along with make-up remover. No one cares what you look like.

*The over-the-shoulder- boulder- holder. Also known as, The Bra. Take it off as soon as you come to the place you will rest for the night. Air out your wares. This contraption helps to reinforce The Girls, but it also is very binding when rubbing on you under your backpack straps. Hint: wear your bra when buying your pack in order to see how the two will fit together. Go buy a bra that fits with your backpack shoulder straps.

* Trying to decide if I can balance with my pack on or if I have to take it off in order to pee.

* Being aware of the direction the wind is blowing when peeing and then it changes on you.

* How to scratch an itch when you can’t get to the bug bites- on the bottom of your foot ( who wants to take off all the socks and the shoe in order to scratch it?) and on
your backside ( good luck trying to reach around your pack to take care of the itch). It drives me mad…feels like the way a dog looks, chasing its own tail trying to nip that flea.

* Pulling a wedgie out. Ahhhhh!

Stay tuned. I’m sure there are more things I will discover as I walk.



My Own Philosophical Musings

Looking at the road less traveled

Looking at the road less traveled

Philosophies of Men (Rambling musings along the dusty road)

June 14, 2014

Some thoughts as I contemplated life while walking the long, flat terrain of the Meseta today.
We human beings love to qualify things. We appoint levels of pain; scale grades; have ranges for a variety of areas…we love percentages and data. And then we have the audacity to determine based upon these ratings the degree to which one has reached success. As a teacher, I know all too well about determining the level of achievement based on a chart that shows developmental levels of growth. And yet, these results don’t really acknowledge the learning an individual has achieved over a given time period.

Hence when one decides just how successful a pilgrim is, it is based on some pseudo misconception that has been predetermined by an individual or a group that has collectively decided the scale as to what a pilgrim is. Pain and suffering seem to be a key point. You get points if you suffer along the pilgrimage. More points if it is for a spiritual reason–and by spiritual it is not a broad encompassing definition. It is determined based on the individual who is reading or hearing about a pilgrim’s journey that decides if it qualifies within a small range.

How one travels is another point of either contention, justification or qualification. Anything deviating from actually walking and carrying one’s own pack is frowned upon by some hard- core believers that one can not be a pilgrim unless you suffer the whole way through. Comes to mind the saying, “there is no gain, if there is no pain.” And yet history shows that pilgrims throughout all the centuries have used modern day convieninces in order to make the journey on the Camino de Santiago. Porters were used to carry bags. Carts and animals were used to transport not only bags, but people too. So in today’s time and place, buses, taxis are used for the transporting of individuals as well as equipment.
For some purists, this is sacriglious of the purpose of the pilgrimage and is seen as circumventing the journey.

This brings to mind the other scripted controversies heard throughout the years, women who use drugs for labor vs those who did it the natural way and birthed their young without. Does this mean that one way is superior to another even though the outcome is the same…a baby. For some, it is lauded above those who “caved” and birthed with the usage of drugs or other methods that deaden the pain.

Pain. Being a mrytre for a cause or enduring through pain and suffering is seen as a sign of strength or evidence of “true” sacrifice for service. And yet, is a veteran any less of one if he/ she does not have battle scars to prove to those that they were in combat?

Yes, we humans indeed enjoy determining grade levels, point systems, stats, percentages…in all areas in order to show proof of one’s level of success. And yet, why do we believe that there are certain ways which one has to meet in order to be a pilgrim on a pilgrimage? Why do we cancel out others levels of achievement by saying, “Well, next time…” Or “You almost made it…” Or ” If you put your mind to it you can do better.” We, in general discredit the level of one’s success by comparing theirs to another’s. Us humans are very quick push others to be better, faster, richer, better looking, smarter…

For me personally, I came to the realization early on, that for me, my pilgrimage is on- going. It is a metaphor for life in general. It isn’t to be confined to a 500 mile walk from France to Santiago, Spain. It isn’t something to check off on a bucket list. It isn’t about collecting the most stamps on my credential and framing it like a trophy on my mantle. It isn’t about how many miles I can walk in a day and brag about. It isn’t about how many or lack of any blisters I have. It isn’t about the pain or suffering. It isn’t about the need or the belief that one needs a health issue in order to justify taking a bus or having someone transport the pack ahead. It isn’t about the struggle in the elements or the long walks over the stones.

I don’t have to have the acceptance or acknowledgement of others in order to justify the belief that I am a pilgrim. My spiritual experiences are different from everyone else’s, because I am a unique individual and there is only one of me. There are no amount of notches needed to obtain in order to prove to others that I am a pilgrim. We all are different from one another and therefore what we each learn and how we develop on our own pilgrimages cannot be qualified. There is no need to do so and how presumptuous are we for doing this very thing.

A successful pilgrimage cannot be determined using science researched based methods. It isn’t quantifiable. The experiences cannot be replicated-even by the same individual. Anecdotal notes can be kept and compared, but to what avenue?
And yet, I have read and have listened to a great number of individuals ( I’m even guilty of having said some of these things way early on in the beginning of my planning stages) who believe that certain conditions need to be met in order to have a ” true” pilgrimage.

And this means for me, I am still learning how to embrace others whose experiences differ from mine and that I need to guard against becoming smug and resting upon my laurels. Everyday is a new day that brings with it a new adventure and another 7 hours to contemplate life as I trudge along The Way—or ride the bus.



Seek and Ye Shall Find

The monastery in ruins

The monastery in ruins

Seek and Ye Shall Find, Ask and it Will be Provided

June 16, 2014

Quick update as I’m tired. We are currently in Itero de la Vega. We had to climb up out of a deep valley, 1080 ml high at a 12% grade- though at some points it felt closer to 25%. And then we descended back down 380ml at 18% grade.
So thankful for the breeze blowing and the dark rain clouds covering us from the bright sun.

Last night we stayed in San Anton Albergue, which is housed in the ruins of of an ancient crumbling monastery. No electricity, no warm water and yes it was cold at night in spite of the two horse blankets I slept under.

But I wouldn’t have it any other way. This place is beautiful. Under the full moon, it was gorgeous.

Oh…and a Japanese TV station showed up to interview those of us staying at the Albergue. The documentary is being produced to commemorate the 10th yr anniversary of their relationship with The Way- or something along this line. Anyway, the Japanese show had selected 10 Albergues to document in this series which will air only in Japan. They were selected based on their historical ties to the Camino. So since there were only three of us staying the night, Abby, myself and a very interesting woman from Lutherania and the both of them quickly headed to the bedroom, that left me standing there to be questioned.
The donativo hosts were making dinner and I was asked by them to help out and as I was slicing cucumbers for the salad, the camera was zooming in on close- ups of my hands all the while I am being questioned about the Camino. Thank goodness I have been able to process my thoughts during the long hours of walking the many miles of the Camino. I was able to answer all the questions fluidly ( Abby and the Lutherania woman confirmed this as they could hear everything on the other side of the wall division) much to the satisfaction of the interviewer.
Nothing like being filmed looking like a real pilgrim, decked out in a multitude of different mix matched clothes, with no make-up on and my hair sticking up in all directions due to it drying funny. A 20 minute interview…whew!

And then we were filmed eating. All of us were told to ignore the camera and act natural. While we did the best we could. The subject of why Abby and I didn’t drink alcohol came up as other religions allowed consumption. On film, I explain that we are member of a The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter- day Saints…which drew blank looks until I said “Mormon” and that was understood.

Who knows how much will be kept and cut, but keep your eye out in Japan for my debut. After the Japanese film crew left, we all cheered and toasted them leaving. We had a great conversation which we enjoyed before going to bed.

What a great day and evening. We knew we were meant to stay when we arrived there at 10:30 am ( by this time we had already walked out 10 miles). I am so glad we listened to our heart and to our feet. A great relaxing day, filled with interesting conversation amongst this small group.

And these are the rich blessings that the Camino provides.


Do I Really Need a Reason to Justify Doing the Camino?

Bonding as we journey

Bonding as we journey

And Your Point Is?

June 11, 2014

I was asked why I’m doing the Camino de Santiago. Was this for a religious reason?
I have many reasons and not just one will suffice.

I like to explore. It can be at home in my own backyard, but I enjoy venturing out and partaking in life. Everyday is an adventure. Going on a pilgrimage, such as this is for me an epic adventure. It is fun. Exciting. Scary. This is outside of my comfort zone. I need to rely on others to help me along the way. This is a humbling experience because usually I am the one who is steering the boat, so to speak.

I believe that I should instill in my children a thirst for attaining knowledge. Traveling broadens their horizons. Going on a pilgrimage with my 19, soon to be 20 year old daughter is a bonding experience. I’m showing her that it is a good thing to challenge oneself and go interact with others in the world. What a great experience to do this together. I don’t have all the answers. I don’t know everything, but I’m willing to ask for help. I believe that by showing my daughter that we can go venture into the unknown, we are empowering ourselves with fortitude, strength and humility. When I’m old, we will look at pictures together of this adventure and tell lots of stories to the next generation. What a great opportunity to do this together when we can, before life becomes more complicated.

We both had a cancer scare. It smacked us up side our heads by surprise. A very eye wakening experience for the two of us. Life can end at any time in any place. Why put off until tomorrow what can be done today. And with this thought in mind, the seed was planted to go and live life now, not wait for some day. We should take glory in the present and rejoice in the life that God has created for us.

What do I hope to gain from this pilgrimage? So many thoughts to that question.

A feeling of freedom. A belief in myself for being able to endure all things, even be able to overcome difficult situations that I don’t haven control over, but that I will have the fortitude to move forward and persevere. That my daughter will witness this and see how we can overcome problems together and not just by ourselves.
We will have a sense of accomplishment. When the going got tough, we kept on going and that it was/is ok to acknowledge that situations do not always go as planned. Change the course and make your own path. Create your own journey.

When we are born, we don’t have a playbook/guidebook/travel guide to follow. We are dependent upon others to mentor us along the way. We make mistakes. We learn from them. We gain more wisdom and knowledge as we grow older. Only through first- hand experience can we obtain these lessons.
This pilgrimage, is a reflection of life’s journey for me. We are on the road discovering sights and sounds that we can’t witness first-hand, sitting at home on the couch, reading about others adventures or watching the travelogue special.

Bottom-line, life is meant to be lived and enjoyed. The world is a beautiful place. The people who populate it are fascinating. By going outside our comfort zone, we are embracing the unknown and welcoming whatever we find on our path. The good, the bad and the ugly. And the best part, we are not alone, doing this by ourself. Just as we mature, we have others to lean on. All we have to do is humble ourselves, open our mouths and ask.

Just like from the beginning of birth, leaving our Heavenly Father’s presence and security of being with him, to come test ourself on Earth and to the end of life when we die to return Home to his presence once again, we are not alone. Guidebooks are full of suggestions, but it is up to each of us to decide how we are going to travel on our own journey. To own it. Buena Camino!


Slow Down, Take it Easy

Hanging in the cathedral

Hanging in the cathedral

Checking out the morning sights

Checking out the morning sights

Easy Rider

June 12, 2014

Last night as we were sitting in the kitchen area of the huge Albergue, two people came over to ask if I was, Shawna. Turns out, Liz and Alek are following me on the American Pilgrim site and are fans of mine. Oh my gosh…I’ve got groupies!

It was nice to sleep in without having to hurry and pack up and get out by 6:30 am. However, a woman decided that 4 am was a good time to take a shower, which was located not to far from my bed!

We packed up and moved to another Albergue- Divina Pastora down the street from last night. It too is 5€ for each of us. We were escorted by one of the hostel workers. Something got lost in the translation. He thought we wanted our bags transported when we wanted them stored…ahhh! But anyway, we came and got a bed, but not before the owner looked at us and translated to another guy who translated to us, that we were too fat for the top bunks.

Someone broke one of the top bunks last night due to being too heavy and the frame bent. I took a picture of it. We are real careful about bunk bed safety as is. I get to sleep on a bed mat on the floor next to Abby. Fine with me.

Then as we headed out to watch Burgos wake up on the morning. Most pilgrims are gone by 7 am. They hit the road early to beat the heat of the day. But we got to enjoy watching what happens in the morning. For instance, a duo, dressed up in fancy cloaks, came out onto a terrace and played their horns a couple of times. Some kind of official morning ritual? I don’t know, but Abby and I were the only ones in the plaza who witnessed this performance. We videotaped it. How cool is that?

I got my hair cut at the salon. That was fun trying to explain that I wanted shorter hair, but not too short. The woman really did give my head a scrub. We went and visited the market place. We got to stand and watch all the different parts of animals placed out to be sold…pig noses, bull balls, very tongue imaginable, pig lungs, pig feet and ears…very fascinating watching the fish woman gut a fish. We meandered around the whole place taking in the sights, smells and sounds. Then we spent two hours touring the cathedral. Abby wouldn’t take a picture of me laying on the ground next to the sarcophagus. She said it wasn’t appropriate.

Darn it!

Now we will take a nap and go find some churros and chocolate.

This is how we do the Camino. Slowly, but really soaking up the experiences.

European hair cut

European hair cut


Thou Shall Not Kill

Stacked high like cords of wood

Stacked high like cords of wood

Pilgrim Etiquette ( how to keep yourself and others from killing each other)

June 10, 2014

First off, recognize that you, yourself have habits that others will find disgusting, weird, bizarre, sick, twisted, horrifying…and you think your behavior is perfectly normal. You aren’t normal. You are a pilgrim on a 500 mile journey, living out of a backpack.

And let us begin with a few things I have observed and you should avoid doing ( right now…it is all about me and my comfort zone).

*You might think that your sh*# doesn’t stink but it does and everyone else’s does too. You fart, I fart, we all fart. And we poop too. And it stinks. Try not to let one rip while you are the occupant of a top bunk. That smell just permeates through the mattress and I swear I can see that stink cloud hovering over me. Aim your butt sideways. And yes…EVERYONE can hear EVERYTHING that is going on in your bunk and in the bathroom. It is life. We are packed into small rooms. Sounds travel.
Please don’t stay in the toilet until the smell disappears. Those of us standing in line outside the door really need to use the bathroom in the morning. You don’t have the luxury of waiting till the smell leaves. We are pilgrims. We will deal with it.

*The WC ( water closet, toilet) is not your personal changing room with a locked door. People have to pee in the morning while you are inside taking your sweet time being modest. We are pilgrims. We will deal with seeing you in your undies. In fact, I say flaunt it. Go buy some wild and crazy knickers so we all can laugh and you can make friends. We are pilgrims. We can deal with it.

*Taking a shower is a necessity, it is not the steam room. You get 5 minutes of warm water. Spending 25 minutes filling the bathroom and the adjoining bedrooms with steam will cause you to lose face with the rest of us pilgrims because of your thoughtless actions you have bogarted ALL the hot/warm/lukewarm water for EVERYONE else and have left us literally in the freezing cold. We don’t like this. We are pilgrims and we will deal with it, but we might not treat you nicely anymore.

*Snoring, like farting, comes with the pilgrim territory. Just a fact of life. Hot air will escape from either the pie hole or the butt hole ( if it comes out your ear or nose holes, you will look like a cartoon character). We are pilgrims. We can deal with it.

*No one wants to hear you yelling, talking loudly or fighting with your spouse, friend, kid, the temp fling that you picked up while on the trail, while you are both at opposite ends of the hostel. Or better yet, one of you is at the farthest end of the hostel while you are in the shower with the hot water on and you are ripping each other a new one. We are pilgrims out here on a journey that involves self reflection…quietly…and a lot of us left this kind of drama at home. Don’t share your quarrel with the rest of us ( especially when it is in a language I can’t understand). We are pilgrims, not your therapist. And because we are pilgrims, a great many will deal with it instead of yelling, “SHUT-UP!” Unless you are in the same hostel as me. And then, I’m going to give you the disapproving, shame-on-you teacher look that EVERYONE can understand in any language.

*Do NOT sit on someone else’s bunkbed, especially on their pillow, with your sweaty, stinky, smelly backside! (This just happened to me. Stupid boys, with crap for brains and porno vocabulary)
Pilgrims are supposed to be considerate and this type of misbehavior is disgusting. Where is common sense?
I am a pilgrim and am supposed to be thinking kindly towards my fellow beings…I am a work in progress.

For me…my bad habits include, cutting my toe and fingernails wherever…kitchen table, bedside, living room, outside, in the bathroom…same goes with flossing my teeth. Anywhere, anytime. I’m refraining from doing these two things in public. So if I can make an v effort, others can too. Just have to put your mind to it.

There are more etiquette scenarios to cover. Stay tune as I eek them out over time.


Hotel CA…NOT!

Cute town

Cute town

In the Arm Pit of the Devil Spawn

June 10, 2014

We have jumped ahead. Taken a bus to Najerino ( we have cramps which has created back pain and stomach pain and who can wear a backpack with these things going on?) and are staying in a donativo. It sucks. Really.

The place is nice ( no wifi, very cramped…think of summer camp as a kid with bunk beds right next to each…I can reach out and touch the bed next to mine), the hosts are nice. The cute little kitchen is nice ( but no way can it accommodate more than two people cooking). However, there is this group of Neanderthal, cigar smoking, crotch scratching, Mafia, macho men, with one I believe to be a bookie. Really. He has a notebook, gets calls and makes calls every few minutes, writes in his book and yells in his phone. He and another man, are the ring leaders for a group of pigs…uh…men. They are rude, pushy, crude and if we hadn’t already bought the ingredients to fix our meals with, we would leave. We don’t know if the other hostel has a kitchen.

The rude two, quickly shoved others aside to be first in line and had the other men give them their credentials to attain beds, before the rest of us who cued up.
Then while I’m checking in, the two guys took over the kitchen and commandeered the entire place and filled up the stove with all their pots. I was told to come back in 40-60 minutes.

I am in no mood to be messed with. Not during this time of the month. Do. Not. Mess. With. A. PMS woman.

To top it off, two of the younger guys in this group are practicing their pick- up lines in English. I can not write what they are saying because my blog is rated PG-13 and is not a porno site. Trust me when I say I got disgusted, looked at them and “ummmphhhheeeed” The sentences they said might pick up a prostitute, but certainly is not appropriate to say out loud in a public setting like this. I have been around plenty of men and NONE of them have EVER used these words out loud with women present. They must be learning English phrases from porn videos. That is the only thing I can surmise as they keep repeating them to each other over and over.

What pigs. And they are sleeping next to me. And there are only 6 women staying here among the 80 men. And in my bottom bunkbed as I lay there, I am treated to looking at the guy’s crotch who has a bed above me, but he stands at my eye level while fiddling with his stuff ( not the stuff in his pants….the stuff on his bed).

I predict that tonight this place will be filled with a lot of animal sounds and barnyard smells. We will not repeat this experience again.

Oh…I forgot to mention the guy with lice. He looks really super creepy. Like Richard Ramerize’s booking photo. He has long hair pulled into a bun. He has been scratching the back of his neck constantly and pulling little things out, looking at his fingers and repeating the gestures. We are creeped out.

All I want to do is soak my feet in ice water. I go to the laundry room to see what they have in there and I come face to…well…bottomless man! He has taken off his pants and undies and has his shirt pulled up over his head as he is trying to undress and toss his clothes into the washer. OH. MY. GOSH. What kind of place have we stumbled into?

So much for a relax day. I think I will sleep with my knife tonight while holding onto Abby tightly.

Sucking the Life Out of Life

Suckin it up

Suckin it up


June 9, 2014

Today was a sucky type of day, in a great way. We saw lots of babies sucking from their mommy. A cute little foal that was born just prior to us seeing it. And then who doesn’t love baby kittens, though these guys were quite large to be nursing on their mother.

We arrived to the fountain that spews fourth wine freely for all to partake too late in the afternoon. Each day, it is filled up in the morning for the pilgrims to consume as they walk by just prior to entering Estrella, but it usually runs out by noon. That was ok with us, as we don’t partake in vino, so we could suck on the water pouring out of the fountain.

And then for dinner tonight, we bought these cute little yogurt cups…we thought they were a type of custard/flan thing, but no, this was just the ceramic jars that the yogurt is cooked in ( I really want to bring these home. Cute little clay pots. But…no. They weigh too much). It is made from sheep’s milk and isn’t sweetened come to find out. So we ate it with the sweet peaches we bought.

Today’s 10 mile walk ( others are walking 15-18 miles daily) fell between “this is a walk in a kids park” to ” suck it up, you can do it”. We left a beautiful Albergue that was small and intimate and we enjoyed the company of the 10 other people staying there, at 7 am. What a beautiful morning for walking. I love walking at 6:30/7 am out here just when nature is awakening. The morning sun is pale pink in the sky. The breeze is cool. The smells are intoxicating. The little villages that we walk through are still sleepy and still.

It is a very well travelled path. Tons of people walked by us intent on arriving to Estrella. I have been singing a Lynyrd Skynard song, pieces of ” give me three steps…” And the Beatles, ” here comes the sun” and ” we all live in a yellow submarine” As I was walking,a group of three kids, Abby’s age, were behind me singing songs from Frozen. I joined in with them and told them that my class would sing these songs everyday. It was hot and yet we were channeling icy cold.

Abby and I are soaking up the sights. We are walking where the Romans marched. Where Napoleon traveled. We are walking through history. The bridges, paths, a wide variety of structures were built by ancient civilizations. It is awe inspiring to see them still standing and in use.

We arrived in Estrella around 2:30 pm, tired, sweaty and looking for a place to sleep. One place was full. The next place didn’t have hot water and I didn’t like the looks of the metal bunk beds. The third place, a municipal hostel had beds available. And the woman checking us in gave us our own private cubicle with a locked door! We scored. It only cost us 12€ for both of us. Perfect.

After taking a shower, washing our clothes by hand, hang drying them, we got ready to go to the market for food items. But there was a HUGE thunderstorm. Quickly I ran to pull our clothes off the line and just as quickly snagged the one dryer to stick the clothes in to dry. I offered to share it but nobody wanted to put their clothes in with us, even though I was paying the 2€ for the 40 minutes.

Finally we were able to go to market. Abby and I can’t get over the fact that we are walking through these wonderful streets. It is just way cool.


Rolling Stones Grow No Moss

Thank goodness cows don't fly!

Thank goodness cows don’t fly!

All Roads That Lead to Rome Are Paved With Rock and Stone
(I know. I am walking on them)

June 9, 2014

And today’s product placement commercial is brought to you by the makers of Vaseline, Tampax and Coke.
Now a word from my sponsors ( I wish these companies would underwrite our pilgrimage).
For you of the male species, this part has no bearing on you. You just don’t get it. But us females…well…we want to know: How do you walk the Camino when it is that special time of month? I know YOU want to ask this question, because let’s face it, walking 500 miles takes some time and Aunt Flo will visit us females at least twice—oh lucky us.

I will try to remain tactful on this subject. If this is too much TMI for you to contemplate, don’t read any further. But I’m a practical, down- to- earth type of person and I believe that my blog is to entertain, educate and inform.

First off, I would highly suggest that you pack some ( not all) feminine hygiene products that you like to use. Chances are, your cycle will be thrown off ( me…not so lucky) and for some you just might stop altogether due to time change, food intake change, the amount of exercise you are doing…but just bring along a few women products as you don’t want to pack the extra wright. And you don’t want to be caught unaware in a small town on a holiday when all the stores are closed.

Yes, you can buy pads and tampons here along the Camino. The tiny stores will not sell the same brand you are used to, nor do they stock all the variety of sizes that you find in the States. Not much choice at all. However, because I am doing the homework for you, Tampax Tampons are found in all the stores ( the teeny tiny hole in the wall village store to the larger markets. Might not have the size you want in stock in the one store you first go to, but they do sell them. You will just have to stop at the different locations in town or proceed to the next town. I have found them being sold in packs of 20 in Light, Regular, Super and Super Plus and the cost is anywhere from 3.50-4.50 €. As for pads, well…I have only seen Spanish brands and I do not know what thickness or length they are.

Speaking of pads. For me personally, and yes…this goes into TMI, but at least you will be able to decide ahead of time what will work for you, instead of having an embarrassing situation occur. I can’t walk wearing them out here. To sweaty and this causes the pad sticky glue to not stick in place. At least that is what I am finding to happen.
For others who have done the Camino, please weigh in.

Also, there are plenty of bars and cafés with bathrooms that you can use ( you will need to purchase something…get a Coke or an Aquarius, which is a product of Coke- helps with those cramps) or, hide on the side of the road and put some survival skills to use. Don’t forget to pack out your stuff. Bring a few baggies with you to keep the Camino Hwy clean.
AND DON’T flush feminine products down the toilet!

And that brings me to Vaseline. I LOVE this product. It keeps your butt checks and inner sweaty thighs from chaffing! Trust me…if you are wearing a pad, it is going to shift and rub you raw in areas you don’t want to be rubbed raw in while walking long distances. It is a lot easier to take your shoes and socks off on the side of the road to deal with blisters by rubbing on Vaseline, but try doing this on the side of the road with your pants down around your ankles or your skirt flung over your shoulder to rub Vaseline where no one wants to see as they go walking by. Plus, those tiny gnats get stuck in the Vaseline and now you are wearing them.

Just saying.

Also, if you are a fan of the wet butt wipes like I am, bring along your pack from home ( I gladly carried the weight) and when you use them up, you can purchase these in smaller quantities in the Chinese stores found in many villages along the Camino or in the tiny markets.

There you go. Now you know what to expect when you cycle…not the bike riding cycle either.



Climb Every Mountain-leave no stone unturned

Summer breeze

Summer breeze

Looks Can Be Deceiving (the guidebook lied)

June 8, 2014

I am going to write my own climbing book. It will present the facts as to how difficult a climb/walk is as well as the terrain to expect to walk on. I’m going to use the following phrases to paint the levels of difficultly:
“What the bloody Hell!”
“This is a bitch”
“This sucks”
“Suck it up”
“Tough, but you can do it”
“That was a walk in the kiddy park”

I will not deceive my readers by offering lovely descriptions to lull one into believing that the trail is a breeze to do. The word, “easy” is in the eye of the beholder and for the hiker who is in tip- top form. Think of an Alp mountaineer, not me.

Which is why, I need to write hiking books. I will put my picture on the cover along with my body stats and say, “If I can hike, climb, walk or crawl to these places looking like this, than you can trust my description of what the path lays in store.”

Such were my thoughts today as I hit an area on the trail that I thought I might succumb to heat stroke. The guide states it is “Easy” and there is a 300m ascent just prior to entering the village of Maneru. Ok…I’m thinking…not too bad. What it failed to describe was that you are walking/climbing almost straight up the trail in some areas ( oh…who am I kidding…most areas) on slippery little ground up shards of rock. I am pretty sure that when it rains, the water and mud just bleed down the mountain. Oh…it is a mountain. We started out on a very nice flat terrain meandering along side fields of grain when we took a turn and kept on climbing…up…up…up. By the time we reached the top and looked back down, the tractor and farm equipment looked like miniatures!

And also, walking on this type of trail, watch what time of day you decide to walk. For instance, when the sun is mid- way in the sky, those light colored rocks reflect the sun right back at you. And check your water bottle. Don’t be like us and run out of water. Ug.

But in the end we did make it. Not that we had a choice, but it was a struggle. I was just happy to have lighten my backpack to be able to channel my nanny goat power (slugs would have fried in a nano second) and sing Sound of Music songs in my head, intermingled with curse words in every language I knew.

Now that is what I call motivation.