Sunset at Finisterre

Sunset at Finisterre

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Completing the Blog May 2014

May 1, 2014 What a lovely collection of memories I have discovered in re reading this blog that I put so much of my heart and soul into over the time I was walking the Camino. It was especially important for me to track my progress for family who were following my journey, but more importantly, it was a way for me to record the journey of how my life was changed as a result of this long and difficult walking experience. Since I have completed these walks, I have changed my life completely. I still find joy and solace each morning in my daily walks around my neighbourhood and I am deeply committed to my health and lifestyle balance. It is a joy to have the freedom of retirement from a terrifically stressful work life and to be able to structure my days and my life around the activities and people that I love. I have become addicted to my yoga practice, finding the peace of mind and strength in my physical well being that I gained from my walk along the Camino. In addition, I have discovered lovely new friends and acquaintances who are committed to similar intentions about life and wellness. I find myself at a different stage of life these days. I feel that I am getting older but more settled in knowing who I am and what inspires me each day. There is a calm place mentally and physically which I can access from my experience of walking in Spain. This has been a source of happiness for me, just to realize that anything is possible really - who would have thought I could walk all those miles across Spain, especially the mountains in the northern route. If I could do that adventure on my own, then I am capable of coping with whatever comes my way. I have a great sense of peace from this awareness. My intention now is on my health and wellness, keeping strong physically with walking and yoga classes and spiritually balanced with the practice of yoga and my other interests. I am creating - music and art - through my piano playing and the interests that I have in photography and knitting, painting and writing. My goal is to accomplish a repertoire of music that I can record, to develop a craft that I can use as gifts for others and a sense of creative outcomes for myself. Ah - how the structure of my work life intrudes into my process with the need for goals and outcomes still! My intention around writing has been developing thru short stories about my life and while my idea always was to write more seriously in the form of a book, I have not yet had the courage to lay it out. There is something I have been brewing over the past decade regarding life and relationships; the challenge of living out a happy life amidst the everyday and the unexpected hurdles that we face. This will come with time I am sure. I had meant to complete this blog some time ago and have realized that it is helpful to people still - who are contemplating a journey such as I have undertaken in walking the Camino Frances and the El Norte. Because there is still 'traffic' on my posts, I am happy to see that the entries that I made are of interest to others. In completing this blog, I am actually using it as the launch of another - more focused on the journey that I am on now in this lovely stage of my life. I am married once again to a lovely man that I met after completing the El Norte. I have 5 grandchildren now and am happy to watch my 3 lovely kids reach middle adulthood with great marriages, successful careers and lovely homes. I am inspired by my daily conversations with my Mother - who will be 93 this summer. Her energy and enthusiasm for life is unbounded and provides me with the kind of role model that few other people have the good fortune to experience. I live in several places, having a lovely home in Florida for the winter months and a beautiful cottage in the north for the summer months. I an indeed fortunate to have the abundance that life has provided to me in the past 8 years since I first launched myself onto the Camino - looking for hope again following the death of my husband Chris in 2006. Who could have imagined it would all turn out like this and the great news is that I have a new life ahead of me, once that will be healthier, happier and more creative that the past, simply because I have learned so much about myself and life along the way. So thanks to all of you who have read this blog and been involved in my journey. I wish you well on your own way. A few thoughts: Happiness is in the doing not in what you want. We are the sum of the moments of our lives. It is the insignificant of the everyday that provides meaning for the vagabond. Meaningful life is about imagination. Imagination is the creative side of the brain that we do not give ourselves permission to dwell in because it does not appear as productive visually in our world - or as much of a contribution. So much to learn from the simple experience of just living. The experience of walking brings all of life's moments together in one place. Buen Camino Maggee (

Friday, October 1, 2010

Sept 30 Santiago to Finisterre

Nothing surprises me now. Jette and I are walking to the bus station to get the bus to Finisterre when we are approached by a man who offers to drive us there in his van along with 5 other pilgrims that he picked up. This means a 1 hour trip instead of 3 and so we jump on into the van, trusting in his good intentions. It is a good ride to Finisterre and he is a man who just tries to make some extra money this way. We are impressed with the scenery and his good humour along the way and meet some new and interesting people in the process.
We arrive in Finisterre which is wonderful and the day is perfect.
We spend some time at the beach and with the tide all the way out, there are many shells to pick from and such a wonderful afternoon to spend lying in the sun. There are a lot of people here, some having walked all the way from Santiago which would take 3 to 4 days and others coming by bus like us. We have a lazy day and then meet to do the final ritual which is to walk up to the light house near sunset to burn our socks and watch the sun go down over the sea.
There are so many pilgrims there, burning clothes and hanging others from the tower on the rock. It is kind of weird actually, and you would have to be a pilgrim to understand the ritual. Lots of people spread all over the rocks with the sun setting over the sea and it is such a place of beauty and peace and a wonderful way to complete such a journey. It is a long walk up to this place, nearly 3 kms and so we are walking down again in the dusk and with others who are going our way.
It strikes me that many people - more than we can imagine have come this way, done these rituals and then gone home again to change their life in some small way. Surely there must be a change in the world as a result.
A post at the top of the hill near the light house says "may there be peace on earth" and perhaps this is what somme are looking for, first of all in their hearts and then in their community.
It is not surprising to me to wake to rain the following morning as it is a signal that I should get mmoving along with the rest of my journey and so we are on our way once again.

Sept 29 Santiago

And so we find each other! I am looking for Jette and Sonja all through the wonderful Pilrgims Mass in the morning at the church and when I go out to walk along with the rest of the people leaving the church, there sits Sonja on the stone wall, as if she were waiting for me. It is a warm and wonderful welcome and reunion of friends. The mass was just as important as the first time that I sat in the church after the Camino Frances was completed in 2008. This time I chose a seat in the cross of the church and so had a much better view of the mass itself and when they prepared to swing the botefumeiro, it was a spectacle worth waiting for. It goes so high up and then comes barrelling down such that you actually duck, thinking that it will surely hit you on the head. It doesn´t, but what a feeling being there in that space once again.
Sonja and I go for lunch and have a wonderful talk and a walk and then agree to meet later for a drink and hopefully find the rest of our friends. This is accomplished with Chris, the American fellow we have met many times, the Korean couple and then along comes Jette. We have a wonderful time with a drink and then a dinner together with a lot of other people that we know from our travels. So much laughter!
I am feeling ready to leave here, but will stay for one more day to tour around and see what I have missed on other occasions.
Jette and I spend a wonderful day touring around the museums which I had not noticed before. There is a lot to see in the underground of the church with the architecture and then some access to the cloister up above the main church. We are impressed with the things we get to observe and then make a reservation to tour the roof of the cathedral later in the day. This turns out to be the most impressive of all of our explorations. We are taken through the palace which dates back to the 13th century and then high up to the balcony that runs around the sanctuary of the church. This is a place where the pilgrims of the past were allowed to sleep once they arrived in Santiago.
The stairs that led to the roof are old and worn and we are soon on the very top of the cathedral roof. We are able to walk all over the area as the roof is made of cement plates that form slanted steps on the roof top. We walk around the various bell towers and over the main sanctuary and then over the dome that covers the tomb of St James. We are able to look over balcony railings to the streets below and then to listen to the bells as they chime the hour and the call to mass. We are told many stories of the past and see the Cross of Rags which is beside a cement basin in which the pilgrims uses to burn their clothes. This was moved to the roof of the catherdral many centuries ago.
After this wonderful tour, we go down to the square for a great dinner and then we remember on our way home that the church across from the cathedral holds a vespers service in the evening and we are in luck. As we enter, the nuns have just begun to sing their mass for the evening prayers and so we sit and listen to the music and the atmosphere is very special.
It is a great way to complete our visit to Santiago with all of the things that we have seen and learned about this place.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Sept 28 Santiago

It is actually very exciting to be here in Santiago and amidst the great vibe of people arriving from all over the world to this spot. It is a special feeling of happiness and accomplishment and excitement to be near the cathedral which is a place that people have been heading to through many challenges and difficulties over the past many days of walking.
I have met so many people today, that we walked with along the way, including Sonja who I found outside the church after the mass this morning. Have yet to locate Jette, but she has been spotted and we have everyone on the lookout to help us find her.
We are going to meet with several of the people that we walked with for dinner this evening which will be lovely. Quite a few are heading to Finisterre tomorrow to complete this journey. I will do that also on Thursday, either walking or by bus depending on how I feel. I will sit tight tomorrow as no one is sure about how this country wide strike will affect things locally.
Last night I spent the evening having dinner with the group that Linda and Jim have been walking with for the past 10 days, a wonderful collection of individuals who have done the camino in their own way. One thing that struck me was the vibe of good feelings in the group who did not know each other before and the other was the intention that each had to get to know the other during this trip as they seemed to have some solid friendships between them.
I thought that Kirsten and Alvina and I had a pretty complicated system for sharing costs and settling accounts at the end of the day, but this group which included 3 bankers topped the pile. All that was missing was one of those adding machines with a roll of paper trailing out the back! IN the end, the individuals bills were accurate and complete and the waiter only needed minor resuscitation before we left.
It also struck me how language has played a big part in this journey for me. In the beginning of the journey, French was the most common language and so for most of it I could understand but not really participate in the conversation. This marginalizes you in the experience of being together and I once again regret my single languge capability when some others seem to speak so many.
For the next part, Spannish predominated outside our little group, but we spoke English with the people we walked with and then struggled with Spannish when we had to interact with the local people. Always there is an awareness that communication is a challenge even to do simple things, like buy food or find your way.
Last night it was an English blast, fast talk, good humour and all Canadian which I had not experienced for some time. I realize how much we take for granted in being a generic common language group in our daily life and how little we have to think about getting our message across or understanding what is being said to us, as has been the case for the past 5 weeks on this trip. It was good for me to have a good Canadian feast of communication with others from my own country and even some who are neighbours in my new community back home.
Today, a wonderful day with the sun shining and people happy all around. My room is an attic room at the top of a little hotel, just beside the cathedral and across from the pilgrims office so lots of action all day long. At night, the dark sky is lit by the lights from the cathedral and the silence late at night broken by people happy in the streets and then the sound of the church bells ringing in the hours. It is a joyful place, overflowing with ancient history and rituals that have endured for centuries as people arrived here from walking the Camino from all over the world.

"It is not important to know where we are going, nor to find a place to go. The world is open to our appetite. It opens. It spreads perspective, widens the stems of a piece of herb until it reaches the forest, and the window entirely. We travel only when we let go" Frantz Bartlett


Monday, September 27, 2010

September 27 Santiago

What a difference arriving here by bus instead of on foot. It was beautiful ride through the mountains to Lugo and then to LaCoruna and then to Santiago. It took about 4 hours, a journey on foot of about 2 weeks. I enjoyed the new experience of travel and then of being in this city once again.
It is crowded and accomodation is tight, so tight that I am in an expensive hotel which I do not mind at all. In fact it is treat to be close to the cathedral for a few days and in a place which will be wonderful for resting and collecting my thoughts AND feeling better.
I had such a surprise!!! I did not expect to meet anyone once I got here as the city is big and full of people, tourists and pilgrims alike. But the karma of life aligned and there on a corner of the street was my friend Linda and her husband Jim, who had just completed the Camino Frances yesterday. Linda was the one who had to leave the CF in 2008 with knee injury and so to meet her here like this was just to miraculous and wonderful.
(Note to Michael - can you please sms to Kirsten and Alvina that I found Linda as I have no way to do this myself and I do not think they will have e mail for a few days)
Linda and I spent the afternoon together walking around the church and the landmark sites that we visited as an original group 2 years ago. It was such a wonderful completion for us and so good for me to find someone like this in this way. It just felt like all the gods have been aligning around me to make this trip work out in a way that is a surprise to me, yet with unexpected bonuses at every turn.
So I am here for a few days. It is crowded and accomodation is tight as there are many people as well as conferences going on in the city. I am lucky to have a room tonight
The cathedral is cordoned off so that you cannot enter by the main entrance way and must use the back entrance. Still Linda and I went to lie down and look at the spires upside down as was recommended to us 2 years ago. The only way to get to the apostle and the tomb is to line up with the tourists to go through the holy door which will not be opened again until 2021 or so. So it is all together different.
Weather continues to be great, but everyone is a bit nervous about the pending general strike across Spain on Wed. Not sure how this will affect services and travel so will sit tight and wait and see

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Sept 26 Ribadeo - still

Well here we are still in Ribadeo. Kirsten has been quite sick for the past few days with a flu and not able to continue to walk, so we have had some quiet time and a lot of rest which is good for all of us.
The tempo of the Spannish way of life is addictive and we are sleeping later and enjoying the afternoon siesta when everything shuts down anyway, so there is no where to go.
We are on the town square right across from an ancient church that was commissioned by St Francis when he walked the camino so there is much history here. We have seen one funeral and two wedding while watching through the window or from the balcony that Kirsten and Alivina have in their room. The funeral was a procession with the family walking behind the hearse to the church and the weddings were smimilarly unique with the bride walking along the street with her father anf followed by her family in one of the weddings. Lot of excitement through the wedding service with people coming and going to the bar and at one point a whole band playing in the bar while people waited for the bride and groom to leave the church.
Tomorrow,I will take a bus to Santiago as I am not feeling well enough with this cough to continue the walk for the next 150 kms. Alvina and Kirsten will walk on their own through the mountains and perhaps we will meet up in Santiago later.
Life presents many unexpected options and so I am going to stop walking to rest and fell better and get rid of this cough before I do anything else.
All is as it should be and I will learn from this as well. It is just my camino going a differnt way than I thought

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Sept 25 Ribadeo

Well, we are still here spending a third night in the hostel that I found a few days ago. We are tired and both Kirsten and I have been unwell, so we have stopped for a rest and it is doing us a lot of good to just spend some quiet time to ourselves and to re arrange our thoughts about how we are handling things as a group. The past few weeks have been challenging in many ways with the adventure of the walk and the interests of many people to include in how we make decisions, so we are planning to simplify things and to continue to walk tomorrow on our way to Santiago.
We have a commitment to arrive together and it seems to be such a short way to the goal that we set out so long ago.
Resting like this is something that I never allowed myself to do on the Camino Frances 2 years ago and I think it is a good thing for re establishing my balance and re directing my energy.
Ribadeo is a pretty place on the sea and the town is very typical of Spannish places with the local square being the meeting place for families and old people in the evening. Because it is not too big, the prices are very reasonable and so the food and the lodging are nice, comfortable and cheap for us.
Alvina gave me this yesterday when I was feeling a little down about the whole thing and it has helped me to just figure out what to do next.
"Any path is only a path, and there is no affront to oneself or the others in dropping it if that is what your heart tells you" Carlos Castaneda
Not sure what the next step will be and will just see how I feel and how it goes over the day and the night.
Every trip like this brings surprises and it is not what happens rather how we respond to it that matters in the end.
AND I figured out how to get into my e mail, so it is like I found myself once again too!