Archive for August, 2011

Any beginning spells change – a change from the old into the new, a change in perspectives and attitudes and hopefully always a change for the better.

This pilgrimage – “My Camino” –  starts with the usual overnight flights from southern hemisphere into northern. Then inevitably connecting  to final destinations within the favored hemisphere. With the collection of our plastic- wrapped backpacks from Pamplona’s rotunda, our names on a taxi sign board, a winding trip across the Pyrenees, our journey starts from St Jean Pied de Port.

One night in Albergue L’Esprit du Chemin (French for a backpacker’s hostel called The Spirit of The way) to restore travel fatigue – which feels non-existent compared to the much bigger adrenalin rush and energy churning excitement about the unkown.

Like the first day at school millions of years ago, I can’t wait for the doors of our Albergue to open so that I can put all the prepping into real action! The start of our adventure – hiking across the Pyrenees  …  My Fairy Friend (MFF) and me!

Misty start across the Pyrenees

Stepping into early morning mist does not dampen our spirits, it rather acts as a fuzzy blanket protecting us from cold, harsh realities and paralysing fears.

Everything is new. Thin air with strange smells from pre-dawn bakeries and last night’s left overs in foreign streets,  muffled sounds of like-minded pilgrims on the move and a chiming bell announcing the time of day, cobbles under our keen feet and chill on our cheeks, ancient walls and unfamiliar gardens. The senses are alert.  This ‘new’ is the unfamiliarity associated with the beginning of an adventure.

Orisson Albergue  lure us from the mist with the smell of hot chocolate, away from a viewless pilgrims road – yellow guiding arrows barely visible and peregrinos (pilgrims) and their mochillas (backpacks)welcome navigators.  This first stopover away from ‘civilization’ proves to be a very gentle introduction to shared accommodation and facilities – the beginning of adaptation. We have no illusions about the necessity of a good meal and sound sleep to assist with the next day’s test in endurance – survival.

The expanse - interconnected with all


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Any trip has 3 equal parts, all connected like the sides of a triangle – which mathematically can be contained in a circle – the proverbial and ever present cycle of life.

Journey = Plan + Start + Finish

After the effort of explaining and justifying my passion in mathematical terms, I have now reached the point where I have to sit and face my demon – creative writing.  This urge to write, I presume, is a normal consequence for anyone on a journey or who ever  experienced some amazing travels.  The trigger for my ‘urge’  was an amazing pilgrimage .  The Camino de Santiago is a very popular pilgrimage/hike across the northern provinces of Spain and there will be more details in future posts as the journey unfolds.  “My Camino”  finally happened to me over the period of May, June and July 2011.

Although the planning started years before with the usual hearing about it, reading about it, asking about it, dreaming about it, talking about it and being envious about it – it never reached that pinnacle of deciding on a date.  During March 2011 the decision was finally made and logistics became a straight line as all fell into place and the planning phase very quickly became the packing phase!

The inevitable ‘trying-to-get-fit’ frenzy had to fit in between the ‘exchanging-my-responsibilities’ and the ‘streamlining-of-duties’ meetings. There were also seven whole weeks of getting my physical and proverbial house in order to enable me to undertake six weeks of backpacking.

Finally it was packing, repacking and weighing. Ticking off lists of needed and wanted items, finding small containers to decant, stocking up on emergency supplies, clearing the camera’s memory card, checking out the what-ifs  …  and then starting all over again – packing, repacking and weighing.  Until finally all was ready and the total weight was miraculously  just below 10kg’s.

My guide book reminds me that, “If you go as a pilgrim you travel two paths simultaneously, always try and balance inner and outer realities,” and my preparation takes on a different approach. Pensive now overrules practical and time is a blur. Finally it all becomes real as I fasten my seatbelt.

The actual beginning of the adventure – without the start there can be no journey! “Whatever you do, don’t forget to start!!”  – Brierley

The dawning of a new day

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It was a quote from the Camino de Santiago Pilgrim’s guide  (John Brierley)  that got me planning and walking! And living….
Quote by  William Ward :-
“To laugh is to risk appearing a fool
To weep is to risk being called sentimental
To reach out to another is to risk involvement
To expose feelings is to risk exposing your true self
To love is to risk not being loved in return
To live is to risk dying
To try is to risk failure
But risks must be taken
Because the greatest hazard in life is to risk nothing
The people who risk nothing may avoid suffering and sorrow
But the cannot learn, feel,change, grow or really live
Only a person who risks is truly free…

"The End of the Earth"

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