Tag Archives: Camino de Santiago Pilgrimage

Playing Along the Camino Way

Lazy Days

Lazy Days

Just Playing Around

June 28, 2014

We are in Spain and what are we doing today. Well, after having walked about 9 miles (and that is 9 miles in the rain, up hills and down hills and all around about) in the rain, we came to our destination and parked ourselves. Did our laundry using the machines. We wanted to make sure to get our poo clothes clean and have them dry. Hang drying was just not an option due to the chance of more rain.

We also have hung our other clothes on the end of the bed to dry out. Our walking sandals are drying out. We have no place to go. No need to go out and visit this nice town, Arzua, and so we have parked our bodies on the soft couch. Our feet and legs will not let us move even if we had the desire to do so.

And here we sit. Or lay. Doing nothing. Well…we did watch “Finding Nemo” in Spanish. And we are watching ” Footloose” the hot Kevin Bacon 80’s version ( Abby is laughing at his teenage angst). And we are enjoying using our tech devices. We are lounging on top of each other. We are being productive. We are bonding. Which is what we have been doing this entire month. Yes…we have been out on the road, living out of our backpack a whole month now. WOW…30 days of being together, 24/7. That is something. When we are home, Abby and I don’t see each other this much.

So for some fun stories:

*We just discovered that I lost 1 pair of Abby’s underwear a couple of days ago when I forgot to take all her clothes off the line.

*Abby’s favorite purple pants ripped right down the inside of her leg as she was walking yesterday. This meant that she had to do a wardrobe change on the trail. And I sewed them up later that night by hand.

*We ate octopus. A Galician specialty in Melide. The octopus sits in a hot steamy bath, is taken out, cut up with scissors and fried in hot oil with garlic and seasonings. Tasted pretty good. You have to eat it hot or when allowed to cool down, the texture is like cheese curds on your teeth. And yes…of course you have to play with the tentacles.

And to top off the funny stories:

* I was taking a shower two days ago in an Albergue where the shower door had a three inch gap. Well, unbeknownst to me, the bathroom door didn’t latch all the way and the wind blew it open. An older French man (what is up with me and the French?) was standing in the doorway, admiring either my jelly belly or my tatas. He closed the door when I noticed him. Ahhhh!
For the rest of the day and into the evening he kept smiling at me. He even moved over on the bench outside for me to sit by him so the birds wouldn’t poop on my head as they were going to do if I sat on the other benches. Wasn’t that thoughtful?

All great stories to tell for years to come. Special meaning for Abby and I as we have lived this pilgrimage together. These are the stories that come with living the experience.

Walking on Sunshine (Not)

image image

Rain. Go. Away.

June 28, 2014

And it didn’t stop raining for hours, in spite of my pleas to God to make it stop. So we walked on. My theory was proved correct. Walking up and down the trails is not fun when it is raining. The water comes at you as you are walking up. Mass amounts of poo water. Poo from the sheep. Poo from the cows. Poo from the dogs. Poo from the humans. Not kidding about that last sentence either. Humans poop right there in the middle of the trail. All that water was rushing down the hilly trail as we slogged through. Then, as we walked down the trails, the water streamed down the backside of our shoes. Our socks smell of poo. Our feet smell of poo. We reek of poo. We now fit in with the locals as we all smell of poo.

Let me define rain. Not the misty tinkle. Not the light drizzle. But the type of driving rain that can be found in a good thunder storm/hurricane/Hawaiian tropical outburst. And add in the wind blowing the rain, driving it into your legs, whipping your poncho hither and thither. Water streaming down your face as you continue to press forward. I was thinking about seeing pictures in Life magazine showing the troops walking in the rain in Vietnam. I only have to deal with this for a little bit. Those guys had to live in it for what must have seemed forever. My feet and socks will dry out by nightfall, unlike their feet that grew jungle rot.

See how this falls into a whole different perspective. My pilgrimage is nothing in comparison to the other trials and tribulations others have had to deal with from the weather elements.

When we were out on the Meseta, Abby asked me what I was thinking about. “oh…John Adams walking this very trail all the way to France,” I replied. She was taken back that I was pondering this. And I still think about this every time I am on the Camino walking along. Thousands of people over many years have walked this very path in all types of weather with little to no shelter along the way.
If they could do it, than so can I.

Now Abby and I have a great story to tell about the day it poured on us as we walked up and down lots of steep hills. How the clouds cleared a bit and the rain became mist as we observed the changes in the scenery and smelled the trees, flowers and fields which was intensifying with the rain.

Our journey is coming to an end. We walked about 14 Km today. There are only 22 miles left ( depends on which guidebook you are using). According to the weather forecast, we are going to be walking in the rain for awhile. So we will suck it up like real pilgrims and keep on going. And find places with warm showers and laundry machines.

“All the Creatures Big and Small”

Snake in the grass

Snake in the grass

“I Simply Remember the Beautiful Things…”

June 8, 2014

Reflecting on some observations these past few days in no particular order.

*Walking behind Abby and watching the blueish-pale grey butterflies flit around her as she unknowingly meanders down the trail. The butterflies follow her, attracted to her crazy multi purple colored pants and bright pink compression sleeves. They land on her, believing that she is a wild flower that is similar to the ones lining the side of the trail.

*Our excitement with finding different types of insects. We have spent quite some time examining the little creatures that we have ” discovered” along the way. Red with black spots winged insect that is similar to a Ladybug, but with an elongated feminine shape and not the typical squatty-body as the one seen in the States.

*We point out the various caterpillars inching along the trail or dangling from the fauna. Tiny bright green with black spots, covered with fine black hair. Black fuzzy thick ones. Orangish colored ones.

*We spent about 20 minutes observing a teeny tiny snake located in a garden bed by a park bench. No one else noticed its presence. They were too busy rushing by and not looking down. I was resting, waiting to be checked into an Albergue in Pamplona, when I spied the creature nestled amongst the green fauna. At first, I thought it to be a long earthworm, but as I studied it, I could make out its triangle shaped head. Abby and I watched as a teeny-tiny snail sat on top of its head. We wondered out loud what reaction would occur. The snail toppled off, the snake’s tongue flicked out, and it’s body wrapped up to continue sunbathing in the humid garden. All of this being watched over by an orangish-tan colored lizard sitting high up on an old cement pillar.

*Listening to the birds tweet in song. Beginning early in the morning and continuing late into the evening. The buzz of the bees. Big huge chunky black and yellow globs that makes you wonder how they are able to fly, but they do. Traveling from one flower to another, poking their bodies deep inside a flower, emerging with pollen dust on their head.

We meander along taking delight in these sights as others hurry by like the Mad Hatter focused intently on not being late to arrive at their next destination. For us, we have arrived and are enjoying sauntering along and watching the creepy crawlies proceed at their own pace.

We are at one with these insects and small creatures that live alongside The Way.

Talk the Talk, Walk the Walk

Just take the bare essentials

Just take the bare essentials

May 25, 2014

“Walk this Way; Talk this Way” (Aerosmith)

No…no, walking the Camino is not about losing one’s virginity, like the lyrics in this Aerosmith song…well…I guess I could stretch it to be an allegory…a pilgrimage of 500 miles consists of losing the fear of being a control freak and planning every little thing out to the oomph degree. Ya…that could be a stretch…but in reality for anal, organized, over achievers, with the need to control one’s environment and be the Super Ultimate Boy Scout who is prepared for all things at all times with the “expect the unexpected” mentality…this is very real!

And yet, you have to carry all your stuff on your back as you are the donkey…or in my case, the Jenny. I guess I could refer to another lyric from the Rolling Stones…” A beast of burden.”

So seeing as how I’m the one who likes things organized (some things, some of the times) and I have been known to go overboard with planning for “expect the worse, hope for the best” scenarios (the first item on my check list for buying traveler’s insurance included repatriation-shipping home my carcass- NOT that I’m planning on getting hurt, let alone dying…but one needs to cover their ASSets just in case) I’m making sure that some items…ok…most items will do double duty.

As you look at the pictures of stuff piled in the staging area, aka, The Couch, you can see that ALL of this stuff that has been collected, will NOT fit into a backpack. And what is up with sanitary pads? Well, since you asked, the first thought is obvious. Like…no duh…we are women who will be gone for 50 days, but that is way to obvious. Double duty. You can insert the pads into your shoe to absorb the sweat from your feet that causes blisters to form! Yay-Way! And ya…guys wear them too…in their shoes. And since we are on the topic of female sanitary products, tampons are great for plugging your nose with when you get a nose bleed.
It makes for way awesome, “Hey-mom-look-at-me” summer camp pictures. Abby has a few of these pictures taken of her with these nose plug accessories.

And who can leave home without a copy of a Zombie book? My friend, Don Teague has instilled in me over the years, that one HAS to be prepared at ALL TIMES, in ALL PLACES for the Zombie Apocalypse. Might seem like dead (pun intended) weight to serious, fanatic backpacker minimalists, but THEY are going to want to be on MY team when the apocalypse happens!

Stay tune. We leave in 3 days. With posts like this before we even make it out onto the trail, you know this blog is going to document an epic adventure.

And please, feel free to go to my http://www.gofundme.com/8hte10 site to donate towards my pilgrimage. After all, those funds will be used to cover my bribe to transport Abby and I to safety when the Zombies attack!





Cleanliness is Next to Godliness

Smelling good!

Smelling good!

May 22, 2014

Well…off to Lush I went tonight. It is right down the street from me, across from Disneyland. My goodness, but does that place smell great. And it is expensive. $47/lb for soap. Not that I’m buying it by the pound!

I bought the coconut creme shampoo ($8) as it has been highly recommended on a variety of sites. And I bought the Jungle conditioner ($9) Abby and I will each have our own tin ($4–and I just discovered that I prefer the round locking tin as the oval tin will need a hair band to keep the lid on) to carry and use.

The toothpaste tabs are intriguing. Chew to activate with your spit, insert brush and scrub. $5 for 40 tabs ( sounds like an acid buy). I will pack them in a plastic bag to keep water out of them.

I will play around with dehydrating toothpaste to make my own tabs…but that will be when I come back.

The deodorant crystal is cool! Works great. I’m going to stab it with my ice pick to split with Abby and the chunks will be placed in a plastic bag too.


“Prepare Ye! Prepare Ye!”

Busy as a bee

Busy as a bee

May 21, 2014

“School’s Out for Summer!” (Alice Cooper)

And that is the song that has been going through my head today as I packed my classroom up. 180 days with 24 students equals an accumulation of a lot of stuff. All that stuff has to packed up, put away or purged. I did all of those things today. I also reorganized some of my materials in order to have my stuff ready for when I return the last week of July.

I just finished school and I’m already preparing for the coming year. I reflect upon what projects worked and which ones didn’t. I scribble in potential dates to hold parent nights. I jot down ideas about teacher trainings, report card and assessment revisions. I do this every year on the last day of school while the ideas are fresh.
The ending is a new beginning.

I have 7 days to pull my stuff together for the Camino. My pack lays empty at the end of my bed. Items bought specifically for the pilgrimage are stored in the brown paper sacks lined up in my hallway. Amazon boxes containing Camino items are stacked awaiting unpacking only to be re-packed and organized into the empty backpacks. But not before they are weighed, itemized, sorted into categories and scrutinized for multiple usages.

I have read several books describing the Camino. Have poured over the routes. Tagged my Spanish language book written with specific phrases for pilgrims. I have religiously followed the threads being posted in the American Pilgrims on the Camino forum. I have trained ( until I caught a chest cold and hurt my knee a couple of weeks ago) and have been toughening up my feet. Breaking in my sandals and trail runners.
And yet, I’m not really fully prepared.

I can have all the right materials in place. I can have the knowledge stored in my noggin to draw upon, but just like teaching, every year is a new year. You don’t really know what is in store for you until you just jump in and do it.

I’m jumping in with both feet on this pilgrimage, unsure what will occur even though I have read the advice. But just like teaching, reading all about teaching is very different from being in the thick of it. I’m following the same advice that I offer brand new teachers,”plan and then have a backup plan and then be willing to accommodate and adjust when things don’t go as planned!”

And this brings me to a line in John Lennon’s song, “Beautiful Boy” ” Life is just what happens to you while you are busy making other plans.” Can I really plan for every little thing for the pilgrimage? Should you really plan? Isn’t it a little too controlling and anal to have a detailed map outlining the entire 500 miles? I believe that this goes counter to what a pilgrimage is all about. In other words, just let go and GO!

Follow along as this adventure unfolds. It is going to be epic. And if you enjoy reading the blog, looking at the pictures and watching the videos (oh…there will be videos!) please feel free to donate to my journey. Visit my http://www.gofundme.com/8hte10 site

Buena Camino




I’m so excited (anxious) I could puke!”

"Gotta wear my LOVE shades"

“Gotta wear my LOVE shades”

May, 18, 2014

“In every life we have some trouble, when you worry you make it double, don’t worry, be happy” (Bobby McFerrin)

And that is the state of mind I am in. Somewhere between anxiety and excitement. We leave in 9 days. 9 days! Ahhh…so much to do in so little time.

I am a little anxious due to hearing about a woman on her Camino, fell on the Napoleon route and broke her femur. She had to be airlifted off the trail. What a way to begin and end a pilgrimage. My thoughts and prayers go out to her. Which is why I have been reviewing the beginning of the route more in depth, as the first part is steep and the descent in certain areas quite treacherous.

But, I keep reminding myself that thousands have walked this way, both the very old, the very young and all the ages in between with no problems. I just want to make sure that I do not forget which way to turn when I come upon the fork in the road and mistakenly take the route that I will regret. Steep descents cause more harm on the knees as well as one could stumble or slip and fall. Not the way to begin.

The good news is that due to Couchsurfing, I have made contact with a couple in Bilbao, Spain who will be hosting us for our first two nights. They sound like a fantastic couple who are interesting and they seek out adventurous, open- minded people to host. I believe Abby and I fit that description.

I have yet to figure out how we are going to travel from there to our starting point of Saint Jean Pied de Port. We will take a bus either to France or we will take a bus to Pamplona and then take another bus to SJPP. Either way, we will get there. It will all work out.

And that is the exciting part. Not knowing. No set plans in stone, except our reservations up at Orisson on the Great Pyrenees. We will just meander happily along singing joyful tunes to keep the anxious level at bay. “Ooh oo-ooh ooh ooh oo-ooh…don’t worry, be happy. Ain’t got no cash, ain’t got no style…”

Speaking of which, please check out http://www.gofundme.com/8hte10

Tick- Tock Goes the Clock

Grandma making cinnamon rolls

Grandma making cinnamon rolls

May 14, 2014

“Time is on my side, yes it is”- Rolling Stones

I think in song lyrics. There is always a song that expresses my thoughts.
This song has been rolling around all day long, except I panic as I replay it over and over. Time isn’t on my side. It has dawned on me that in 13 days, Abby and I will be in Spain for our pilgrimage.

The stuff we have gathered for our venture these past couple of months, are sitting in bags in the hallway AND on some delivery truck in route from Amazon.

But, this is the norm. I pack at the last minute. I have the stuff, but I procrastinate when it comes to putting it altogether. I learned how to pack from watching my dad pack for back packing trips with the Boy Scouts and our own expeditions that would last a summer. Everything in sacks until a couple of days before departure and then the living room and the couch became the staging area. A list was made. The scale came out. Everything weighed, and placed together in baggies, organized neatly. Everything had a place.

Such is the way I go about packing. All depends on where I’m going and how long I’m going to be away and how many people are coming along. But everything is organized and has a proper place.

I know it will all come together…but still…”time keeps on slippin, slippin, into the future” (Steve Miller). Even with my optimistic attitude, I can feel the pressure mounting.

See, I’m a school teacher. There are four days left before it is over. Lots of things have got to get done. I make a list to keep me sane and check it off as I go. The problems arise when unexpected things go awry. For example, putting together a class movie and the app isn’t working and the school system won’t play the movie that I made due to broken components in the school system and to further complicate the issue, incompatible systems…enough to make me cry as I can visualize THE movie NOT being made in time for the class show. That is to take place. Tomorrow night. Once again, this is an area I procrastinate in.

But, help in the form of my genius tech principal, steps in and remedies the situation. She figures it out and works her magic and has saved the class movie.

My five year old students are prepared for their opera. Costumes finished and set is designed and completed. Tomorrow night’s opera, movie and dinner theater will go on as planned. Because, I have THE List that was organized, checked off and parents who have stepped up and put things together. “Ask and ye shall receive.”

Things just don’t happen to fall into place. Be prepared is the Boy Scout motto. Being the mom of two Eagle Scouts, I can tell you that being prepared helps a whole lot in life, but being able to adapt, accommodate and remain calm when life throws you the curve ball is what makes all the difference in the world.

Today is my Grandma’s 99th birthday. She is alive and kickin. Grandma is in great health. Good genes. Good work ethic. Good exercise. Good outlook on life. All of these and more have contributed to her age. My Grandma loved to travel (she still does), and her way of traveling is the same way I travel. Get in the car and head out. Camp along the way. Stay with family and friends. Life is an adventure, just go and explore it! But, she too would make a list. Pack lightly. Place things in plastic bags. Organize the items. Everything had a proper place. Be prepared, but don’t stress it.

With examples such as these in my life, I know that it all comes together. No one sees the mistakes made or the accommodations one has had to adapt to or the changes that have occurred. Life is a journey. No matter how well you think you prepared and planned, something will go awry. How one chooses to react, will determine the feeling of success or disappointment.

“Que sera, sera” as Doris Day would sang. And with that attitude, I am back in synch. Buen Camino.


Movin & a shaking

Movin & a shaking

May 8, 2014

5:11 am is the time I roll out of bed to pull on my workout clothes in order to make it to the 5:30 CrossFit Brea class.


But I’m doing it because I have to. I need to. I want to.

I have to because looking at the pictures, you can see the reason. I also have to, because I need to lose the weight in order to keep medical issues away. The older I get, the more I weigh, the more likely medical issues will impact my life. I’m planning on living to the age of 110. And yes, yes I know that my pension will not cover me, so I’m already stocking up on wet, organic cat food.

I need to, because I’m training my body to walk 500 miles on the Camino. Getting it into condition to do so. Every pound I lose before I set out, is less baggage for me to cart along.

I want to, because I do enjoy working out early in the morning. Get it done. Get it over with. Check it off my list of things to do. This way I can look at my list and see that I was successful at one thing during the day.

And yup, I sometimes have to push myself to get out of bed to go. That is life. Last year in April, I had surgery and couldn’t workout for over three months. By the time I convinced myself that nothing would work its way out of the three holes in my stomach area ( visions of my intestines writhing around like the snakes on Medusa’s head gave me cause to avoid heavy lifting) about a year had gone by before I got my butt back in the gym.

So I’m back in the saddle again…and again…and again.

Changing eating habits, exercise habits, life habits…it is a challenge, but I keep on going and won’t give up. It took me a whole lot of years to gain this weight and it will take many years to get it off.

Now why can’t it just be like the Biggest Loser or those people pictured on the magazines with the bold statement, ” I Lost 100 lbs in 5 months and YOU can too!”

Ya…sure…for them, but not for me. Hence, when I had the surgery last year, I told the doctor that I was hoping that she would discover a massive (non- cancerous) tumor or the remains of an absorbed twin. She told me that I was funny. I told her I was serious as it would provide me with a reason as to why my belly looked this way.

And now that my hopes have been dashed, reality has reached out and smacked me up side the head. I’m going to have to lose the weight the old fashion way- work it off.

And that is why I rise and shine at 5:11 am. Teaching my body that I am in charge and can become disciplined in this area once again. My body is my Temple, granted it looks like a Rubenesque version instead of a Grecian Goddess, but I’m working it.

“What the Hell am I Doing?”

And that is the first question I asked myself upon committing my Visa to the purchase of tickets to Spain on March 15, 2014. Based upon the suggestion of my friend, Holly Abel, my daughter, Abby and I decided to undertake the Camino de Santiago Pilgrimage this summer. A 500 mile spiritual trek, beginning in Saint Jean Pied de Port, France and ending in Santiago, Spain, unless we decide to walk further to the coast of Finisterre Since purchasing non- refundable plane tickets, I have immersed myself in learning about what I have committed us to. So much information to process; selection of gear, bringing technology or not, to check you backpack ( yes, we carry our things on our backs and weight does matter) or not; where to stay, are there bathrooms spaced every few miles or are we squatting, what cell service provider do you connect with, is the water drinkable, how much money will this cost?

Questions upon questions and EVERYONE has an opinion or a suggestion or a thought. And this is how I have spent my free time…weeding through the information to keep my anxiety level in check.

Follow along with me, with us, as we prepare.