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Sounds of the Camino

You are probably all dying to know what I listened to while trekking through Spain.


Well, I didn't actually listen to my iPod while walking. Not even once! It wasn't intentional (until the last three days), but I'm glad it panned out that way.

Walking time was for thinking or talking or counting steps in my head. Sometimes I found myself humming songs in time to our rhythmic steps... Most frequently, Pachelbel's Canon or Come Thou Fount. (It is so easy to fall in step. I like that feeling of being perfectly paced together.) 


On trains, during the occasional nap, and to block out the sounds of a shared room at night, I had a playlist of favourites, and listened to a lot of Hey Rosetta! Their song "Bandages" is now linked to this adventure for the rest of my life (dramatic, much!?).


In the last week of walking, I returned to Foxy Shazam - last summer's surprise discovery. Perfectly upbeat and gritty and good for my ears and my heart. This song was my them…

Bells' Wedding Bells

Back before I left for Spain, I said to Nadine, "If Matt proposes while I am gone, there had better be an email in my inbox telling me so within the first twelve hours."

But Matt, kind as he is, kept my plans in mind (obviously) and proposed the week before I left. So instead, I got an email mid-trip telling me they'd picked their date, location, and a dress. (Well, Nadine picked it. Matt almost saw it, but was rescued/ambushed by a round of yelling and hustling out of the store.)

On Sunday night, as we sat in the living room at our computers, Nadine said into the silence, "So. Want to be my maid of honour?"

"Um, let me think about that..." I replied, "KIDDING! Yes."

I was there the night Matt and Nadine met. I may have known that he was going to ask her out before she did. I saw them the night they became an "official" couple. When Nadine walked in the door and announced to me, "I think I have a crush on my boyfriend!" I…

San Salvador Cathedral, Oviedo

San Salvador Cathedral, Oviedo
Originally uploaded by bethaf. Finished editing my photos tonight.

I loved this place.

Three Thoughts

Someone told me this morning that they are looking forward to hearing my Spain story.

"So am I," I replied.

I am not sure yet what my "Spain story" is. Or if there can be a definitive, streamlined, simple-to-share summary.



I had a really reflective walk home this afternoon. I almost missed how beautiful the sunshine and the clouds were. I like that when I got into the apartment, I could sit and sort out my brain with a little help from my roommate. It is good to be home.



This week is the first time in a year that I have been off work and at home for more than a long weekend. Tomorrow I am making a list of things I need to/want to do...job-hunting/confirming is a priority. But so is relaxing. I think I can manage to do both. Especially if jet-lag keeps waking me up at 6am every day.

Jet Lag Increases Productivity

Since I woke up at 6:30am and have a computer and the internet right in my very own home (it is good to be here), I started editing some photos from the trip and now I'm sharing them with you...
 Sacre Coeur Basilica in Paris

 Ready to Roll (Walk) in Bilbao

 The Bruised and Broken(?) Toe

Beach Day! (an accidentally amazing background capture...)

Sunrise (made 6am wake-up worth it)

Watching the Sunset on the Sea

Tonight was a celebration. It involved wine and cliffs and an unexpected herd of goats. Tomorrow, for the first time in three weeks, we head east. This is the beginning of the trip home. Santiago on Wednesday, Paris on Thursday, Toronto on Friday...It has been something great.

Finisterre

We finished. In case there were any doubts. After a lot of rain and a celebratory evening, we are off to pilgrims' mass and then the ends of the earth tomorrow.

Mañana Mañana

Tomorrow we arrive in Santiago, having logged 224 km since last Sunday and over 300 in total. I am excited and relieved and sad all at once. The adventure is not QUITE over, as we plan a brief trip to Finisterre (the end of the earth) and don't fly back to Canada til Friday. But it is clearly a certain sort of ending. This will be our last 6:30am walking start, that much is true.

In Which We Press On

(from August 19)Yesterday was 22 km, no stops. Not sure why, just how it happened. Had plenty of time for laundry and a nap at the end... Today we had planned on covering 18, but in the end did 41. A bit of a mistake that we don't regret, now that we are here. Speaking of HERE, tonight we sleep in a monastery. I am sure if you google "Monastery of Sobrado des Monxes," something will come up. (They seem to make cheese as well as host pilgrims.) That is all. For now.

On the Wee-Fee For Awhile*

I did some math. We have walked a grand total of 166 kms so far! Eighty-two were in the last three days. And this doesn't include all the extra walking around town to find food OR the touring we did during our days "off."We have another 140ish to go, and eight days to do it in. Less than 20 kms a day! Things are looking well, but I am not yet ready to say they will be EASY. What I am sure of is that they will be GOOD.
*Our albergue had wifi, which is pronounced "wee-fee" here. It was kind of great, especially when I thought I wouldn't be able to stay awake until I could reasonably go to bed. Thanks, girls, for amusing me.

a clarification

I just read my last entry out loud to Kirsten. She questioned my use of the phrase "surprisingly excellent attitudes," because that sounds like we have had bad attitudes, and we have not. Instead, she would like it to be replaced with "attitudes that snapped their fingers at difficulty with a jaunty Ha-Ha." Duly noted, agreed and clarified, Kirsten.

Be Proud

We are proud of us, and I am inviting all of Canada to be proud with us. Another 30 km day, with surprisingly excellent attitudes and all before 2pm. The hard part now is staying awake until 9, which is the earliest reasonable bedtime we can fathom.

Back At It

Two nights in Avilés, two nights in León, and today we head northwest. Hopefully sleep in an albergue tonight, and resume the Camino tomorrow. This time, the coastal route we left before attempting the Primitivo. Things always happen. Glitches and unexpected blessings. So far, in near equal proportions. It feels weird to me that we have another 13 nights in Europe. I can't even imagine what will happen between now and then.

The Toe Runs The Show

We tried. Five kms in, while roosters were still crowing, Kirsten's blisters bled. And it turns out that the underside of my toe is the darkest shade of purple/red/black I have ever seen on my body. So we are resting for a day or two in Avilés, on the northern coast. And then we will see where the wind blows. The Camino isn't over for us, but it is on hold for a little while, and our plans are shifting... Adventure, however, is still in the schedule.

Who Is Winning? We Are.

Day Three, Kirsten conquered blisters the size of Madrid. I did not flake out on the way up the mountain, and we were rewarded with an incredible view of the valley and the last two beds at the albergue below. We befriended some Germans. And a Korean who lives in Germany. Kirsten led us in yoga on the front yard, and many others watched. And applauded.
Day Four got tougher. After a strong morning, the blisters rallied their troops. Ten kilometres later, an attempt to catch the bus to the next albergue almost ended in disaster. Then a stranger pulled over at the bus stop where we waited. "There is no bus to Guemes," he told us. Hearts fell. Then, through much effort, we finally discerned that he was going to the albergue himself, to treat peregrinos (pilgrims), and HE WOULD DRIVE US. So the local physiotherapist took us to a place where hot lunch was waiting...and rest was ours.
Day Five has been deemed "Jump Ahead Day." A short car ride, a quick ferry, lunch and go…

Days One and Two Are Through

By whatever measures we are gauging success, these first two days have been just fine. We have covered 47 kms. We have no major injuries. No sunstroke. I conquered my fear of the bathroom of nature. Helpful people pop out at just the right time. There has been laughter, and no tears. Or tears. (ha! Synonym fun.) The scenery has been phenomenal. Tonight we sleep in Castro-Urdiales. And sleep, we will. Six AM rise and shine!

Last Sleep in Luxury

These are the errands standing between us and El Ruta del Norte:1. Change my bills to smaller ones. Hopefully the front desk of this very nice hotel will do so. 2. Eat breakfast. 3. Go to the post office. Mail 5 lbs of my stuff to myself, in Santiago. I am lightening my load as much as possible. 4. Get Sello Número Uno in my Credencial del Peregrino. And then we are off.
I said to Kirsten on the train today, "I just realized I am probably going to have to go to the bathroom outside in the next three weeks."She looked at me, surprised, "You didn't think of that before now?""Nope. Guess it's too late to back out now..." This has now become my greatest concern. Ugh. I just don't like it.
(Later, as I read through our guide, I exclaimed, "We're going to Poo!! Look!!" as I pointed out a small town's unusual name. "Of course we are," she answered, not even needing to look.)

Bon Nuit, Paris!

Two full days in Paris. Saw a bunch of things. Liked: having an almost-Parisienne take us under her wing for a day. I like how even the not-nice neighborhoods are old and lovely (to paraphrase Kirsten). I like speaking French and trying to bluff my way through a conversation (the drawback of having a decent accent is that people will talk to you!). I like baguettes and Coeur de Lion cheese. I like that MacDonalds sells macarons, even though I didn't try one. I like the sense of history. Things I do not like include: all the other tourists. Seriously, we are too plentiful. I also dislike the common smells of garbage and body odor. Not omnipresent, but frequent. And that is about it. Tomorrow morning, we leave for Bilbao. After a day of trains, we sleep in a hotel. Then, it is all walking and hostels for three weeks...