Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Now this is what I´ve been talking about!

Wednesday, April 29

Now this was the Camino day we envisioned when we did all our planning. We left our refugio just as the morning light was struggling through the overcast sky. Not an auspicious start, as we took an immediate wrong turn in the gardens of the refugio, but we managed to find the exit and we were on on way through the quiet streets of Cizor Menor.

Even though the start of this day was a huge climb of 790m. up to Alto de Perdon, it was on an easy pathway and it was rewarded with wonderful views of the countryside. It was exciting to reach the much anticipated site of the famous metal sculpture of Camino pilgrims. We descended down a country path to the small town of Uterga where we had another Camino first; our first real café stop. We had café con leches, té, tasty pastries, and the waitress kindly agreed to mail our postcards. Perfect! After that it was an easy walk to Eunate where there is an 11th century hexagon church thought to be built originally for the Knights of the Order of Jerusalem. (I´ll perfect my historical references later). Then we walked on to Puente La Reina. To get to our alberque for the night, we had to trudge up a steep hill for 350kms but it seems worth it; lots of space, separate mens´and womens´hot showers, laundry facilities and a bar. Knees are better and quads have gone from total spasms to a dull ache. Can´t ask for more.

I did have a small epiphany today when it came to me that that perhaps the reason pilgrims who complete the Camino are promised a bit of a dispensation from their time in Purgatory is because they have done penance enough and suffered enough on their Camino.

So we´re good for another day. I´ve re-packed the reservation phone number for Air Canada that I was sure two days ago I was going to use to move up our departure date and I´m looking forward to what tomorrow brings.


I just realized that I haven´t been posting where we are on our Camino so this blog will log in where we are at the end of each day and I´ll update it as computer access is available. I´ll post date, hiking day, departure place and arrival destination, actual distance walked and the distance equivalent when adjusted for cumulative climb (like the wind chill factor) for hikers.

Day 1. Saturday, April 25 - St. Jean Pied de Port to Orisson
8 kms, (11kms)11:00 am to 1:30pm, RAIN
Day 2.Sunday, April 26 - Orisson to Roncesvalles
17kms, (23kms) 8:00am to 1:15pm, BLIZZARD
Day 3. Monday, April 27 - Roncevalles to Larrasoana
27.7kms, (29kms) 7:00am to 2:30pm, MUD
Day 4. Tuesday, April 28 - Larrasoana thru Pamplona to Cizur Menor
21.2kms, (23kms) 6:55am to 1:45pm LITTLE RAIN & SUN
Day 5. Wednesday, April 29 - Cizur Menor to Puente La Reina
19.6kms, (21.3kms) 6:45am to 2:00pm CLEAR DAY
Day 6. Thursday, April 30 - Puente La Reina to Ayegui (Estella)
22kms, (23.5kms) 6:45am to 1:15pm GLORIOUS DAY
Day 7. Friday, May 1 - Ayegui to Torres del Rio
27km (29.59kms) 6:30am to 1:30pm CLEAR DAY
Day 8. Saturday, May 2 - Torres del Rio thru Logroño to Navarette
34.5kms. (36kms) 6:25am to 2:45pm CLEAR DAY, LONG!
Day 9. Sunday, May 3 - Navarette to Azofra
24kms (24.5kms) 6:50am to 12:30pm SUNNY, WARM
Day 10. Monday, May 4 - Azofra to Redicilla del Camino
26kms (27.5kms) 6:30am to 1:30pm LIGHT RAIN
Day 11. Tuesday, May 5 - Redicilla del Camino to Villafranca Montes de Oca
26kms (27kms) 6:25am to 11:45am COLD, CLEAR, SUNNY
Day 12. Wednesday, May 6 - Villafranca Montes de Oca to Burgos!
39.2kms (42.7) + 5kms wandering 6:20am to 4:30pm HOT, SUNNY
Day 13. Thursday, May 7 - Burgos to Hornillas del Camino
20kms (20.7) 8:10am to 12:30pm HOT, SUNNY
Day 14. Friday, May 8 - Hornillas to Castrojeriz
21.2kms (22.4) 6:30am to 11:10am HOT, SUNNY
Day 15. Saturday, May 9 - Castrojeriz to Fromista
25.5kms (26.7) 6:32am to 12:45pm HOT, SUNNY
Day 16. Sunday, May 10 - Fromista to Carrión de los Condes
20.1kms (20.3) 6:36 to 11:40am WARM, SUNNY
Day 17. Monday, May 11 - Carrión de los Condes to Terradillos de los Templarios
26.8 kms (27kms) 6:25am to 12:15pm WARM, OVERCAST, HINT OF RAIN
Day 18. Tuesday, May 12 - Terradillos de los Templarios to Bercianos Real Camino
23.5kms (23.5kms) 6:30am - 12:15pm OVERCAST
Day 19. Wednesday, May 13 - Bercianos Real Camino to Villarente
33.7kms (33.5kms) 6:30am - 2:15pm WARM, SUNNY, COOL BREEZE
Day 20. Thursday, May 14 - Villarente through Leon to Mazarife
35kms (35kms) 6:30am - 3:30pm COLD, WINDY AND LATER SUNNY
Day 21. Friday, May 15 - Mazarife to Astorga
31kms (32kms) 6:30am - 2:10pm FREEZING, WINDY, COLD, SUNNY
Day 22. Saturday, May 16 - Astorga to Foncebadón
27kms ( 31kms) 6:30am - 1:30pm WARM, SUNNY
Day 23. Sunday, May 17 - Foncebadón to Ponferrada
29kms (33kms) 6:45am - 1:45pm FREEZING START, SUNNY
Day 24. Monday, May 18 - Ponferrada to Villafranca del Bierzo
24.5kms (25kms) 6:45am- 2:25pm
Day 25. Tuesday, May 19 - Villafranca del Bierzo to O´Cebreiro
31km (38kms)6:40am-2:43pm HOT, SUNNY, toughest day, SPECTACULAR
Day 26. Wednesday, May 20 - O´Cebreiro to Samos
32.4kms (33.4kms) 6:30am - 2:15pm HOT, SUNNY, BEAUTIFUL
Day 27. Thursday, May 21 - Samos to Ferreiros
26.9kms (27.9kms) 6:30am-2:15pm OVERCAST, HUMID
Day 28. Friday, May 22 - Ferreiros to Palas de Rei
35.5kms (39.2kms) 6:30am - 2:45pm HOT, SUNNY
Day 29. Saturday, May 23 - Palas de Rei to Arzúa
29.4kms (30.4kms) 6:40am - 1:30am HOT, THUNDER, RAIN, SUNNY -EVERYTHING
Day 30. Sunday, May 24 - Arzúa to Arca
20kms (20kms) 6:40am - 11:40am OVERCAST, RAIN JUST AT ARCA
Day 31. Monday, May 25 - Arca to Santiago
20.6kms (21.2kms) 6:20 - 11:05am RAIN, RAIN, RAIN, RAIN, RAIN

Day 32 . Wednesday, May 27 - Santiago to Negreira
22.4kms (25.6kms) 6:35am - 12:55pm HOT, SUNNY
Day 33. Thursday, May 28 - Negreira to Olveiroa
33.1 + 3 (38.8kms) 6:40am - 2:50pm HOT, HOT, SUNNY
Day 34. Friday, May 29 - Olveiroa to Fisterre
31.2kms (33.7kms) 6:17am - 1:10pm HOT, SUNNY (Dayton only)

Monday, April 27, 2009

Bring it on!

Bring it On -

So far the experiences we have been welcoming have been more excrutiating than ecstatic but we are still hopeful. Day One from St. Jean Pied de Port to Orisson was a major climb and all in the rain.
¨What a stupid I am¨! Dayton was reminded of this fractured phrase from a press conference comment by Argentinian golfer, Roberto de Vicenzo, who when he won the Masters only to lose it for signing an incorrect scorecard. "What a stupid I am" was how he described himself for adding in an extra stroke on one hole. The memory of this comment came as we were all berating ourselves for having too much as well but for us it was too much weight in our backpacks. How this could have happened after all the advice and planning is inconceivable but there it is. And....a lot of good all this stuff has done us. John cut his hand slicing an apple and, despite the fact that we have 4 kg. of first aid supplies, antiseptic wipes, bandaids, polysporin and whatnot, we were all too lazy to take off our packs and dig for them so John just licked the blood off his hand, wrapped it in kleenex and we carried on. Highly hygenic!

Orisson to Roncevalles was in a blizzard. Unbelievable. It was cold, dangerous and scary. I´m sure I was one shiver away from hypothermia by the time I got to Roncesvalles. I had mistakenly followed the front runners and John down a steep, snow covered descent and, as I slid and slipped and tried desperately to brace myself from catapulting headfirst or somersaulting down the hill, I totally ripped out my quads. Turns out saner, safer decisions were made by the slower group and they went down the road way. The payment for my folly is that my quads and now my knees are destroyed.

The next day every step was painful and I was ready to give it up a couple of times but I talked myself into pulling up my ´big girl underpants´and toughing it out.

So Day One was rain, Day Two a blizzard and Day Three, today, was a mud bath. Can´t wait for tomorrow.

Communal living is also already starting to wear thin with. At Larrasoana we were amongst the first 15 to register for the Alberque and so we each got a bed in a room that sleeps 14. It is in a really, really small room. And the bathrooms and showers are co-ed! I have seen more men´s briefs in the last two days than I need to ever in a lifetime. Apparently, there´s only toilet paper for the first 12 people.

However, I am not ready to change my return flight. Whether that is being strong or stupid is yet to be decided.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

And we're off. Here today.....Spain tomorrow.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

"The soul should always stand ajar......."

"The soul should always stand ajar, ready to welcome the ecstatic experience." Emily Dickinson

Oh, how ready we are to welcome and embrace this experience and all it promises. However, it is probably a good time to consider that it is one thing to envision something and another thing to actually experience it.

While out walking, on the few spring-like days we've had, I've imagined the trek over the Pyrenees. I've seen myself clomping up the mountain. I've felt the refreshing breeze offsetting the intense warm rays of the bright sun. I've inhaled the crisp mountain air. I've felt the pack cushioned comfortably on my shoulders and my camera slung easily ready to capture this glorious moment. What I have not pictured was me slogging through a torrential downpour staggering under the weight of my overloaded backpack. I have not felt my fingers frozen to my hiking poles or the tears of ice, from wind whipped eyes, streaming down my face. I have not felt my steps weary from boots laden with mud. However, as the saying goes, "Man plans, God laughs" so if reality does not reflect my naive vision then I am prepared to persevere, endure, prevail and be open to the experience.

Just what is it that we are open to and, just as importantly, why are we doing this? Up to this point I have not been overly introspective about my purpose for this pilgrimage. Planning and packing have dominated most of my Camino thoughts. As our departure date creeps up, I now find myself second guessing my abilities and my stamina and also questioning the deeper reason for embarking on this adventure.

At the risk of being superficial I, somewhat facetiously, but not entirely so, see it as a vacation where I can indulge but not gain weight. I see it as a test of my stamina and endurance and, hopefully, a slap in the face to my astounding chronological age. It will be a chance to see if those 18 months of Spanish classes were of any value. I imagine it as a peacefully flowing, or plodding, meditation on the move. For Dayton; well, he says he is going on this Camino because it's a 'meet and greet' opportunity, new people with whom to share wine and food, and John, well, he's going because Linda said he could. On a more serious note, we have been counselled that the real reason for going on a pilgrimage will become clearer once we are finished. Hmm.

The one thing that we have to keep at the centre of this is that it is the journey not the destination that counts. What we need to remember is to be in the moment, to enjoy the moment and to not obsess or over plan where we want to be and when.

For whatever reasons we are doing this, we all agree that we are open to the experience; we are determined to let things happen; our souls stand ajar and we are ready to experience our Camino.