Monday Morning Musings

Posted on May 27, 2019 under Monday Morning Musings with 4 comments

Germany, Poland, Canada, Poland and Argentina.

It’s a small world after all.

For the past four weeks, I have been hoofing it across Spain with people from every corner of the globe. Everyday, I wake up and know that there will be yet another meeting of the United Nations on the Camino. It is singularly the most unique experience of my life.

With only 50k to go, there is a sense of anticipation and excitement mixed with dread. Strong friendships have been forged in an atmosphere that’s hard to describe. We have shared cramped quarters most nights, had communal meals and of course, have walked almost 700k together.

We all realize that a journey such as this is a bit of a fantasy and that the real world will face us in a few days.

The people in the picture above have crossed my path several times in recent weeks but yesterday fate or synchronicity brought us all together on the same day at the same time. Such is the magic of the Camino. With less than 100k to go before reaching Santiago, we decided we’d walk it home as a group.

Yesterday was a long one. Everybody’s bodies are a bit beat up and our feet simply hate us! I plan to write an exhaustive and authoritative account on blisters!

As we were grinding out a 41k walk, I decided to lighten the atmosphere and sang “ The Happy Wanderer”. It somehow seemed appropriate. When I finished, my two Polish friends sang a rollicking, high spirited tune from their home country. Maty from Argentina (you might recognize him in the picture from the story I wrote about him a few weeks ago), sang a passionate song from a country he hasn’t seen since he left home to travel the world over 7 years. Not to be outdone, Jan rounded things out with a well known German song.

We were in high spirits as we danced and laughed along the trail. Someone suggested that we try a song that we all knew. I reckoned Happy Birthday might fit the bill.We sang a rousing chorus, arm in arm. Jan appeared somewhat emotional. It just so happened that this indeed was his birthday. There have been so many magical moments like this.

A few days ago, I was walking all day with a woman from Dallas, Texas. It was getting late in the day, it was hot and we were in a spot where accommodations were sparse. We came upon this very unique habitation that I have since coined as the “hippie farm”. It looked like something right out of the 60s.

Pilgrims can stop there for drinks and snacks that are free of charge. Donations of peace, love and cash are accepted as payment. Anybody is welcome to stay there at no charge and many people (mostly young) stay there for days at a time, even weeks. There is a catch. There is no electricity, running water or beds.

My traveling companion and I felt a little old to be doing the commune thing but we were forced with the prospect of spending the night there as the next village was 5K away with no guarantee of a place to stay.

The head hippie, a seasoned veteran of this fine establishment, mentioned that there was a private home on a farm 800m away that took in guests. We decided to check this out.

I’m not going to go into all the detail of what transpired next but we hit pay dirt and it turned out to be the best accommodations of the entire trip. It was so fantastic that I stayed an extra day so that I could use the jacuzzi in the bathroom! I plan to write a whole chapter on this in my book including the six hours we spent talking with two 40 year old Spaniards who kept us convulsed with laughter with their dark humour.

My last post from Spain will come from Santiago de Compostela on Thursday after we conclude our memorable Camino Walk.

Buen Camino

Have a great weekend.

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Monday Morning Musings

Posted on May 12, 2019 under Monday Morning Musings with one comment

Two new friends from the Camino on day nine on the Camino. Say hello to Frida and Jan.
The first 300 K’s are in the books. The Camino continues to amaze.
Every day is like a meeting of the United Nations. I have met people from all around the world, and everyone has a story to tell.

I met a young man from Barcelona the other day very early in the morning. I asked Marco a few questions about his Camino. For someone so young, he had some interesting insights. “ The Camino speaks to you. It tells you that the journey is going to be very difficult. There will be many obstacles. You will feel pain, loneliness, frustration and despair. But the Camino will also give you serenity, incredible beauty and camaraderie to help you along the way.” Marco was spot on. It is this and much more.

I have a patch of the Canada flag on the back of my hat. (Thanks Eva for ironing it on!) It is a bit of a magnet. Everyone recognizes it and Canada is still respected around the world.

Speaking of Canada, I bumped into twin sisters, Teresa and Tracy from B.C. They recently turned fifty and are doing the Camino to celebrate this milestone. I met them a few days ago in a village along the trail. I realized that I was very low on cash and no ATM anywhere in sight. They loaned me four Euros. When I told them I was a retired financial planner, they were not impressed with my planning skills.

We ended up walking for several hours together. We laughed most of the time. These are strong women with a love of the outdoors. It will be one of my fondest memories of the Camino. I asked them to adopt me. They declined!

I stayed in an Alburgue (hostel) the other night. I was the only male among 8 other women. We shared dinner together and many, many laughs. At the end of the meal I sang for them. “ Let Me Call You sweetheart.” More laughter.

It was extremely cold in the Alburgue that night. The only other occupant of my room that night was Marie from France. I had become accustomed to snoring so when I couldn’t even hear Marie breathe, I feared that she had died of hypothermia. Finally, at 2:00 a.m.,she started to snore. I was so relieved but then I couldn’t sleep because of her snoring. Life on the Camino!

Have a great week.

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Monday Morning Musings

Posted on May 5, 2019 under Monday Morning Musings with 4 comments

“Ask not for whom the bell tolls”
Sorry if this post doesn’t look normal. I’m doing it on my iPhone.
My trip has gone very well so far. I have two days of walking under my belt. It is more challenging than I thought but the countryside in Spain is simply spectacular.
I’m meeting people from all over the world and I’m collecting great stories for my book.
I walked the last 10k Saturday with a chap from Finland. We were having a beer at our hostel at the end of the day. Of course, I was asking a lot of questions. He looked at me and said, “In Finland, we are comfortable with silence.” No one ever told me to shut up so politely!
Yesterday, I was passing through Estella and heard the peel of bells for Sunday mass. Right next door to the church was a winery that had a spigot dispensing free red wine. I think that the winery drew a bigger crowd.
I am publishing this on Sunday as I’ll be on the road early tomorrow.
Have a great week.

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