Thursday, April 18, 2013

April 18 - Arles Camino Day One

¿Dónde mueren sus sueños? En un lugar llamado miedo.

Where do dreams die? In a place called fear. Fear is such a conflicted emotion, as immobilizing as it can be motivating. How many times I've let fear (fear of failure, fear of looking foolish, fear of what 'might' happen, fear of stepping out of my comfortable comfort zone and self doubt ) stop me from undertaking some interest. Maybe older age (not old age, just older) has prompted me to a more 'now or never' or ' just do it' attitude. After years of doubting I could do it, last year I finally did a half-marathon with a more respectable result than I ever thought possible. Imagine if I had let myself do it, twenty years ago.

So now I am about to start our third complete pilgrimage, a 1000km walk across the south of France, over the Pyrenees and into Spain, putting doubts aside and worries about imminent tendinitis and shin splints, of accommodations in privacy deprived communal gites/albergues, of the stress of trying to communicate in two foreign languages and of taking too much stuff to carry or not the right stuff. Time to just go with the flow and trust that "tout va se passer bien".

So far everything has been going well. It is always a long tiring travel day going to Europe, leaving home late morning, shuttle bus to Pearson airport, overnight flight to Amsterdam and connecting flight to Marseilles and then train to Arles and finally a hotel to locate but it all went as planned and as hoped. We did arrive in Arles on a gloriously warm and brilliantly sunny day carrying our overloaded packs of ponchos, fleeces, raincoats, merino wool sweaters, neckwarmers and gloves. Obviously we had trust issues with the weather forecast. It's hard to believe in sunshine and warmth when you're enduring the bitter, cold, windy and rainy lack of Spring back home. We may pay for that lack of trust by having to carry all those extra layers of clothing instead of wearing them or paying to mail them home.

As we were about to land in Marseilles, Dayton expressed his concern (worst nightmare) about the coming months in countries in which he has no facility with the languages, "And so it begins, two months if not being able to talk to anyone but you." Ha. Actually, despite all my language lessons, I'm not doing any better. Every time I open my mouth in France, Spanish comes out.

A fairly typical Camino coincidence occurred as we were purchasing our tickets for the train to Arles. We saw a fellow pilgrim (obvious from his pack, his hiking poles and the Camino shell on his pack) . We struck up conversation and learned that he was an English gentleman living in Asheville, SC and, when he found out we were from London Ontario he immediately asked us if we knew Tom Friesen (one of London's resident Camino gurus). Imagine, half way round the world and the first person we talk to has a mutual acquaintance.

So we settled in our hotel and set off to explore the lovely ancient city of Arles and to enjoy a refreshing drink at one or two or more of this outdoor cares. It's typical of us that, after advising other pilgrim hopefuls that they should expect expenses of about 30€ a day, we are so far above that and we still haven't even gotten to dinner at the Tapas restaurant we have scouted out. But it is all good.



  1. We were in a resort town an hour's drive outside Melbourne, Australia two months ago, and my wife went into a bakery to buy a sweet treat for our little group. She came out a few minutes later and said, "You won't believe this: the woman who owns that shop has a son who's engaged to a woman from London, Ontario! Isn't that amazing?"

  2. So funny to see how "the Camino provides" yet again! And I know what you mean about opening your mouth to say something in one language and hearing yet another come out. That was me in Spain, speaking German to English speakers and Spanish to Germans and simply forgetting words all together after a while! Ahh enjoy! Buen Camino.