Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Day 577 - Tickets are booked!

Funny how I started feeling slightly nervous about my Camino plans a few days ago. I can't put my finger on it, but for some reason I had that funny feeling in the pit of my stomach that we all hate having - not a good feeling at all but not something that can be fixed by swallowing a pill.

You know what I mean...

And then, this morning, with a click of the keyboard, the feeling disappeared. My flight tickets have been booked. Paid for, can't change it, done.

I had a lovely message with loads of advice from a regular pilgrim on the Camino recenly and in it he said: 'The Camino doesn't pose problems, only solutions.' How true that turned out to be.

At one stage none of the dates worked as they should to fit in with our plans after the Camino - in fact, the boat that we really wanted to hire for the barging wasn't available on the route we first chose - the list goes on.

Just like that, it all started falling in place. No need for frantic questions about some of the bigger issues anymore - it just all worked out. As I should have known.

The Camino offers only solutions - not problems.

I love that!

In my elated state I have found a new desire to get out there and put some miles under my feet in preparation - the picture above and the ones below are some of the sights that greeted me on my walk from home yesterday.

Filled with a new sense of purpose, I'll be hunting for shoes tomorrow. I guess the dream is no longer a dream now!

For more advice from someone who knows the Camino pretty well, click here. As you can see by the advice he gave me - he seems to be on to something!

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Day 575 - Experiencing the heart of the Camino...

Sunday is normally a day of reflection for me. This morning I decided to re-read sections of my friend Ermanno Aiello's book, 'Forever a Pilgrim'. Ermanno walked the Camino in 2007 and still lights up whenever he talks to you about his experiences during those few weeks in Spain.

Today I lingered on page 132 of his book where he talks about a very special personal experience.

As an introduction to the piece that really spoke to me, I quote:

'To know something but not to feel it are two totally different things. To know what hunger is is not the same as to feel what hunger is, or to know what poverty is but to never have known poverty is not the same.

I knew that I had to love God with my whole heart, my whole soul, my whole mind, my whole body but had I really known how and with what to feel it?

Had I ever felt the deep, deep burning sensation in my very core which Christ referred to as 'your whole heart' , which is, I realized, much more than that organ but the very centre of my being, where all emotions reside?

This is the very place where, I believe, one's love for God has it's origins. From there this love expands to embrace and fill the entire soul, that wonderful, eternal breath of God within each one of us, which cries out with love for God in its own voice which is unlike any human voice.'

He continues a bit further down the page with the following piece - the part that really fills me with anticipation for the experiences awaiting me on my own journey!

'It was here, in this beautiful place where I had stopped on my camino, that I felt the searing warmth of my love for God for the first time in my life - deep, deep within me.

I could feel my soul, my mind and my body responding to this feeling and I stood there in silence, unable to move. It was here too, that I realized that, no matter how beautiful nature's scenery is, one is only seeing a very small reflection of God. To really see God one has to look for Him in the eyes of one's neighbour who is dying of Aids, or in the eyes of a starving child, or in the eyes of anyone who is suffering but who we, more often than not, purposely avoid seeing.

When I finally did move on it was with an inner peace like I had never felt before. The peace that only Christ can give when we begin to love as we should.'


Friday, January 27, 2012

Day 573 - Holiday pics

           I love Africa but I have to say, being in Europe at the end of a year and seeing in the new year in Funchal, Madeira, is a pretty special treat!   

Here are just a few of the trillion pictures I took...


Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Day 571 - Less than 5 months to go!

Headless in Spain...

Even though I took this picture, I could very well have been the one posing for it instead. I'm feeling a little headless myself at this stage of the game! Somehow the months have managed to fly away from me and now I have less than five months to go before I start walking.

There seems to be a million things to organise and plan and for the very first time I'm starting to feel a little nervous. I'm hoping it's sheer excitement rather than nerves, but I will admit, that lady in red on the pic feels a lot like me looking in the mirror right now! Dressed up for Spain but without a plan to match and definitely wearing the wrong shoes! The missing head is probably up in the clouds somewhere - well, I can't say that's far from the truth either!

Two evenings ago we had a planning get together at our house and in keeping with the event, I opened a bottle of  'Barefoot' Merlot from California. How on earth that arrives on a shelf in Cape Town, South Africa for under R30, I don't know! I bought it for three reasons - it had won a medal in the States, I loved the label for the occasion and I found the price hard to resist. (Plan B was to cook with it if it really tasted like bare feet...) I can however report that it wasn't half bad!

So that's how Eddie, Oscar and I came to share our first glass of red whilst planning our camino! (Up to now it's only ever been discussed over cups of coffee or Energade in the mountains!)

How apt is that!

Initially we thought we would be flying Cape Town - London - Biarritz. After looking at all the options available to us regarding airlines, frequent flyer miles in the bank etc., we have decided to fly Cape Town - Paris - Bordeaux. From Bordeaux we'll take the train to St Jean Pied de Port. We'll start walking from here on.

Our barging trip in Burgundy post Camino was confirmed today as well.

Hang on.

Writing all of this down makes me realise that perhaps I'm not AS headless at this stage as it feels - it actually sounds like the plan is somehow coming together. So it must be nerves - drat. Maybe it's time to sign up for that Yoga class I've been meaning to do. Someone needs to teach me how to breathe...

So these are the questions I have to deal with right now:

1)  I know where to store my luggage that I will need for the barging trip after the Camino, the question is HOW do I get it to Santiago from Bordeaux without paying a fortune? I know that posting it is an option and that it would be best to post it from within Spain but that would mean that I would have to schlep it with me over the Pyrenees and that aint happening...

As we will be barging in Burgundy and we fly back home from Paris, it might be worth finding out if the boating company has some system in place whereby I can forward the bag from Paris to the town where we collect the boat.

2)  As I'm working on the budget (well just roughly anyway) I need to figure out what the approximate daily cost is for an albergue and three meals. As we have decided on the dates, I now know more or less how many days we've given ourselves, so that will help with that calculation.

3)  We plan to arrive in Santiago on the 12th of July - the day of my birthday. So I'm thinking that we'll pay a visit to the church that day and then attend mass the next morning before going to the pilgrims' office to collect our 'Compostella's' - proof that we completed the Camino. SO - I need to find out what time mass is and what the hours of the pilgrims' office are.

From here on we could hire a car and drive to Burgundy to board our boat at 16h00 the next afternoon. Google map tells me this is a journey of about 16-17 hours by car, so now I have to look at the cost of this and the time it is going to take as opposed to perhaps flying to Paris and then going to Migennes by train.

Those are a few of the most important questions I have right now, as the sooner some of these things are booked, the better the prices are going to be. (And I don't think finalizing this will harm my breathing either...)

So if you are a Camino graduate and you have been through any of this or have answers or suggestions regarding any of these arrangements - I would love to hear from you!

In the meantime - 'Barefoot in California' it is for me! Oh, and I'll post some of our holiday pics in the next post - funny how Spain keeps featuring in my life...