Monday, May 23, 2011

Day 223 - Hiking with friends.

Those of you who have read this blog for a while will know that Thursday is hiking day for me. Every Thursday, weather permitting, I put on my boots, pack my bag and head off with a group of like minded friends. We explore the mountains around our city and I will admit, there's something special about being on top of the world, at least once a week...

For a glimpse of what it's all about - have a look at

Here's hoping you have a splendid week!

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Day 221 - Yet another Camino gift.

Today I received yet another Camino gift. Coffee with a pilgrim.
And affirmation in abundance (yet again!), that the call of the Camino is something to be taken note of.

Ermanno Aiello walked his camino in April and May of 2007. Today, four years after the experience, he is still overwhelmed by emotion when he recalls some of the truly special moments he had during those weeks in Spain.

I feel truly blessed by these encounters that I have with people who have answered the call of the Camino and so graciously share their experiences and emotions. Ermanno wrote a book about his journey, entitled 'Forever a Pilgrim' and I finally got my own copy from him today.

He has very kindly allowed me to quote from his book, just like Tony Kevin did and I can't wait to share bits and pieces with you in the weeks to come.

Together with Jeremiah's journal, Ermanno and Tony's recollections and the updates I'm receiving from friends on the Camino right now, I almost feel as if I'm already there myself!

For now, I'd like to leave you with the prayer Ermanno shared with me today - it really is one of the most beautiful prayers I've ever heard and so representative of what I hope to bring home from my own camino.

Prayer of Saint Francis of Assisi

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love.
Where there is injury, pardon.
Where there is doubt, faith.
Where there is despair, hope.
Where there is darkness, light.
Where there is sadness, joy.

O Divine Master,
grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled, as to console;
to be understood, as to understand;
to be loved, as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive.
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born to Eternal Life.


Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Day 218 - Viva Espana!

Mute the Mixpod gadget at the bottom of the page on righthand side to watch this video...

I simply adore Spanish music and Spanish dancing - I used to take Spanish dancing lessons when I was much younger and watching this video just makes me want to put those dancing shoes on again!

I hope you enjoy watching this as much as I did!

And just to really bring back memories - here is the only photograph I have of one of our concerts...

That's me in the black and red in the right hand bottom corner - I'm sure if I go and scratch in one of my old boxes I'll find that dress... ;)

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Day 210 - A pilgrim's journal

Photo: J Ray
A while back I posted a few journal entries that my friend Jeremiah Ray from the States shared with me. He was fortunate enough to walk the Camino for a second time in December last year. I really do appreciate this kind of sharing as it gives one a honest and intimate glimpse into the camino journey as told by someone who experienced it first hand.

Today I'd like to share another piece from his journal. I realise that everyone has their own story and as I've mentioned before, I've come accross someone who said that he started walking the Camino as a Christian and ended up being an atheist by the time he reached Santiago. The vast majority of accounts I've read and discussions I've had with people who've actually spent a couple of weeks on the road in Spain however, have been incredibly positive.

As is clear from the particular piece that I'm sharing today, walking the Camino seems to offer one the opportunity to experience certain emotions very intensly. Jeremiah walked in December 2010, one of the coldest months that Europe has experienced in many years. In some of the albergues he was literally the only pilgrim and I suspect that as the different seasons in our lives bring about different emotions, walking in the coldest and lonliest season of the year also takes us to places within ourselves that perhaps we prefer not to visit too often.

Walking alone means you have more time to reflect and focus, so I think as much as I look forward to having people dear to me walk with me, I am going to make time for those days when its going to be just me and my thoughts! Luckily I know that those thinking of perhaps joining me are all like minded. At the same time I can't wait for those evenings of shared meals with old and new friends, all sharing an experience of a lifetime!

Jeremiah will be walking again next month - how I wish it was me!

Photo: J Ray

The following is an extract from Jeremiah's December journal.

'I stopped and set down my pack. I was carrying about 15kg, probably too much. I was tempted once in Burgos to send a package home of items I wasn't using, clothing that I didn't need etc. But I was unsure if I might need them and didn't want to pay the postage to the United States. The water in my bottle was cold, colder than that morning when I had filled it at the hostel. I could feel it running down my throat, it chilled me.

Replacing the bottle I stood erect and looked out into the flat nothingness that extended far and wide and was engulfed by a wall of fog, or rain, or maybe more nothingness. I hadn't seen another pilgrim in almost a week.

The nights alone in the hostels, the days of endless flatness were taking a toll on my mind and I was starting to feel a deep loneliness. I had this desire to call my mother. I thought that it might be the season as Christmas was only a few days away. But I knew that it was something more.

In 2001, being much younger then, I spent Christmas wandering around Munich, Germany. The streets were empty and I spent the day walking about and warming myself in the many churches that remained open. I wasn't lonely, nor did a I feel a desire then, at 19 years old, to call my mother. But now, at 28, here in the vast emptiness that is the Meseta, all I could think about was calling her and saying “Mum, thank you, I love you.”

In Burgos I treated myself to a few Leffe Blondes at a small cafe/bar. It was cold, a football match brought in dozens of people and I felt like doing a bit of journaling. My journaling is never straight forward. Usually it is about a feeling that arises during the day and plagues my mind until I set it in ink.

I was thinking, on that particular day, about my relationship with my mother. There is love and respect, but there is a deep, underlying sense of resentment or pain.

There, in the cafe, I was attempting to write out my feelings and see if I could get to the kernel of this emotion that has come and gone for the majority of my life. Mid-sentence my pen stopped. After the last word I placed a bold ellipsis and proceeded to write “LET IT GO!” in large, bold letters.

 I wrote it again: “LET IT GO!”

Standing by my pack I listened for signs of life. A few birds sang distant notes which were smothered by the winds that rose and fell with great force. The rain that came did so slowly. First one drop, then another. I looked at the ground and watched as the dry dirt became speckled. I felt the tiny drops upon my face.

Looking into the milky sky I squinted, attempting to hold back the tears that were coming. “Let it go!” I stood there, kilometers from any town and, perhaps, any other individual, and cried. I let it rush from me. Great sobs. Tilting my head back again I let the rain and tears mix and flow down my face. Let It Go.'

To view more of Jeremiah's Camino photos, click here.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Day 206 - Music of my dreams...

                                                James Grace

One of my biggest dreams is to be able to play the classical guitar one day. I have been so busy leading the life that unfolded for me the last thirty years that I have not been ready or able to make that dream come true...yet.

It certainly doesn't mean that I've given up. Just the opposite! I've been feeling that familiar something in the back of my mind that normally indicates the start of a new adventure of sorts. It feels like it's time to pursue this dream. I have enough CD's now, it feels like it's time to find a teacher.

It gives me great pleasure to introduce you to one of our greatest classical guitarists, James Grace. I've yet to attend one of his concerts, but rest assured, that's on my have to do list for 2011. I listen to his music while I'm driving and certain tracks are so firmly embedded in my memory by now, I'm sure if you put a guitar in my hand I'll almost be able to play it!

 If you'd like to read more about this very talented musician and one of our great South African exports, you can visit his website by clicking here

I am absolutely and totally in love with track no. 6 on his 'Cafe Latino' CD titled 'Oblivion'. The day I can play that song on my own will be the day I open a bottle of the best champagne I can afford!

I promise this will be the first place where I'll post a picture of that joyous event!

Life without dreams would be a sad affair indeed!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Day 205 - Walking in the rain...

If you've been following my blog for a while, you'll know that every Thursday I head off into the mountains. Thursday is my hiking day and unless there is a very good reason for me not to pack my backpack and put on my boots, you'll find me out there in the woods with my like minded buddies.

Today was no exception, despite the fact that we had a really wet winters day in Cape Town. I have started a blog dedicated to these weekly adventures as I thought it would be a great way to share some of the beauty of our city with people who've never been here. I take my camera along in the hope of capturing some of the essence of the day. Sometimes I'm lucky, like last week and the weather plays along, enabling me to get some great shots.

Today it was a bit of a challenge but I've posted a few shots nevertheless.

If you'd like to see a little of the Newlands Forest as experienced by us today, click here.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Day 204

Before watching this inspirational video, pause the MIXPOD down below on the right hand side of the page... :)

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Day 203 - Things that really count.

'The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched.
  They must be felt with the heart.'

This morning a very dear friend forwarded me a lovely email that ended with the lines above. In these busy times with all its challenges, I'm so glad she took the time to do this as it made me sit down and think about how true this statement is.

I'll be the last one to deny that I enjoy the good things in life but isn't part of this journey that I'm on to start focusing on what's really important? What brings real and lasting happiness? 

When I walk those 25km's a day, what will really bring a smile to my face? The new dress I bought a week ago, the nice car I love driving so much, or will it be the feeling of love that floods my entire soul when I hold my grandchild and we laugh till our tummies ache at the silliest of jokes?

As for how much luggage I can take along, I'm going to be restricted to less than 10kg. I thank God that the most important 'luggage' that I will be taking along weighs zero kg on earth but  a couple of tons in my heart!

I'll be focusing on accumulating as many special moments to pack in my storeroom from this day forward - I'll have at least 780km to relive each and every one!