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Laureen

    Travel Around the World

    Keep to the Paths of the Righteous

    My Camino Day Seven

    I am not Catholic or particularly religious. I am not walking the Camino de Santiago for religious reasons, although it has a definite spiritual quality.  I believe anytime you have the opportunity to spend hours walking quietly you will find your inner peace and personal spiritual being. Whatever that is for

    The path crosses this 2000 year old Roman bridge

    you.

    The Camino or Way of Saint James has an incredible history that goes well back before Catholicism to Pagan and Roman times and perhaps further.

    Difficult rocky descent

    Pilgrims walked for many reasons for many thousands of years.  Read an interesting article here.

    And today the renewed interest in the Camino as a physical or spiritual journey has created a tourism destination that spans thousands of miles, numerous routes and multiple countries, bringing hundreds of thousands of visitors to Santiago each year.

    Up and away

    Buen Camino.

    I’m not all that familiar with the Bible but as I walk and contemplate I’ve found certain bible verses I know come to mind as I reflect on things I’m seeing and doing.

    For instance I am a bit astonished at the variety of pathways and conditions of pathways we have walked on over the

    Meeting friends on the path

    past seven days.  This verse comes to mind;

    So you will walk in the way of good men And keep to the paths of the righteous. Proverbs 2:20

    A dirt path through the vineyards

    Not all of the original “way” is still available. Unfortunately over time and when the Camino had fallen out of favor some of the route was paved over and destroyed. But it’s still easy to envision walking

    Through the hay fields

    where pilgrims a thousand years ago and pilgrims just yesterday have walked – and keep to the paths of righteous.

    While trying to be righteous I’m also trying to not trip on loose rocks, slip on scattered shale, step in horse or cow dung or fall in creeks and streams. I’m also trying to remember to look up from the path and enjoy the

    2000 year old Roman Road

    scenery, stop and smell the flowers or taste the wild blackberries and drink water and put on sunscreen.  I’m also trying to not get run over by cars or cyclists

    Here the path parallels a busy highway. Pilgrims weave crosses into the chainlink fence

    keep my eyes open for markers and arrows pointing the way and cheerfully greet other pilgrims with a sincere Buen Camino!  To walk in the way of good men. 

    84 miles done. 405 Miles to go. 🙃

    Reading Wednesday

    Reading Wednesday

    Bel Canto by Ann Patchette

    Bel Canto by Ann Patchette ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

    I’ve missed writing Reading Wednesday the past wo weeks. It wasn’t because of walking the Camino (although please see note below).  I started two books and just couldn’t get in to either one. So I didn’t finish. It happens sometimes.

    But then I picked up Bel Canto by Ann Patchette and I fell into the world this book creates.  A beautiful story  – another great accomplishment by Patchette.

    Loosely based on the Japanese Embassy hostage crisis in Lima Peru in 1996, this story follows the lives of both the terrorists and the hostages during a four-month hostage situation that includes among the hostages a famous opera singer.

    Patchette has a great talent for creating characters you fall in love with, feel sympathy for and hope for- and this includes the terrorists.  Certainly not what you think is going to happen in the beginning when the terrorists storm the embassy.

    This book may make you stop and think –  Everyone has a story you know nothing about.

    I have enjoyed other Patchette books (most recently Commonwealth) and find her to be a great American author.

    Five stars for Bel Canto.

    Note – for the next 4-5 weeks I am walking the Camino de Santego. I hope to read along the way, but I’ve been so tired so far each evening I have not. So Reading Wednesday will most likely be sporadic.

    Travel Around the World

    My Camino Day Four

    Surprise Us With Your Love

    Surprise us with your love at daybreak; then we’ll skip and dance all the day long. Psalm 90:14

    So surprising, walking the Camino. Many things we did not expect or imagine-

    Freezing rain one day, hot sun the next.  I think it’s a test.

    Significantly more women than men.  Many women walking in small groups or pairs.  Many pilgrims walking alone.

    Loud pilgrims.  Thoughtful, contemplative pilgrims. Slow pilgrims. Fast pilgrims. Injured pilgrims.

    NOWHERE to go to the bathroom.  That is not only a surprise but a problem.

    I’d say more than half the pilgrims are not carrying packs.  These people are obviously using the courier service to send their packs or bags ahead each day.  Arne says that’s cheating… (I might try cheating
    😉).

    We were astonished to learn there were no rooms available in several of the towns we just went through.  I don’t know what becomes of people who did not plan ahead and book.  Luckily we reserve something one or two days out.  Albergue with other pilgrims, bed and breakfasts or hotels – we are doing them all.

    September is usually a quieter time on the Camino – but not this year.  Apparently the numbers were down over the summer as pilgrims have heard the horror stories of overcrowding.  So now, like us, everyone has waited until September. Surprise!

    After only less than a week we are surprised at the variety of terrain, flora, and geography we have stomped through.

    Our bodies hurt.  I don’t know why this is a surprise. Despite the training, the old bod is feeling it.  I imagine it will take at least a week before my body settles in to a pattern and accepts the daily toll.  I’m hopeful…then we’ll skip and dance all the day long. 

    45 miles done. 444 to go. 😯

     

    Travel Around the World

    My Camino

    In the beginning…

    It was a relief to finally start walking. I just needed to GO. And so we did.

    Day One. Leaving Saint Jean Pied de Port

    We arrived in Saint Jean Pied de Port France on the evening of August 31st. Went straight to the Albergue we had reserved in advance, located right in the Camino. But at checkin

    On the steep climb on day one

    the very rude owner
    told us we would need to pay again, even though we had a paid in full confirmation from

    Bunk room in Orisson

    Booking.com. Apparently Booking. Com hadn’t paid her, even though we booked months ago. Arne says to her this is between her and Booking.com. She says no, I won’t allow you in the room until you pay.

    Ugh. What are we supposed to do?  We need a place to sleep. So we pay. She is not kind. We are pissed and now need to try and get a refund from Booking.com.

    The Albergue in Orisson

    So I try to put it behind me. I want my mind clear and focused on the task we have worked hard for. We sleep restlessly and are up and ready to go by 7:30am. Step out the door and we are on the path. Here we go.

    The beginning poses a problem. You need to choose. Either only go five miles day one because it is very

    We frequently have an audience.

    steep. Or do the steep five miles and then continue another 12 to the next town.

    Since it was day one we chose the short day. And it was very steep, and also very beautiful. But it wasn’t all that difficult to do just five miles and we were at our stopping point by 10am. Sheesh. What were we going to do all day?

    Water is available all along the route

    We ate lunch at 10:30 because I was starving. We then showered and sat out in the sun to get my hair to dry. But the weather then took a turn so we went and laid in our bunk beds and read for hours.

    We were in a bunk room with a total of ten beds. Arne was the only male. Women seem to outnumber men about four to one.  Curious that.

    Dinner in Orisson

    Dinner for forty people was served at 6:30 and it was really delicious – chicken and vegetables with wine.  We enjoyed talking to other guests and then everyone introduced themselves and said where they were from.  Pilgrims from South Korea, New Zealand, Germany, Italy, South Africa, Brazil, Ireland, Holland, England, Spain, France and the USA.  We briefly told our story about how the Camino was the

    Bread and coffee for breakfast

    catalyst for our Grand Adventure and we got a big round of applause.

    I slept like a log with my ear plugs in and woke at 6:15.  Breakfast so far has only been bread and jam and coffee.  I’m a bit disappointed by that.  I really need some protein when I’m tackling a mountain.  But no protein for this mountain.

    Sunrise day two

    It was beautiful but chilly when we started walking at 7:45.  We had 12 miles today, and most of it up.  But after less than an hour we saw the storm coming.  We stopped and put our rain covers on our packs and put on our ponchos.

    The start of day two

    The rain came.  It was a sideways rain.  Very cold.  Windy and the damp seeped into my bones.  Slogging along the fog so thick we couldn’t see more than 40 feet in front of us.  After an hour I needed to put on another layer.  I was shivering and so cold so we stopped and got out another coat.  Then we continued the climb.  We ate our sandwiches as we walked because it was just too wet to stop.  Slogging on.

    Miserable conditions

    Finally the wind stopped and the rain lessened.  Grateful.  At the peak elevation 4680 feet there was actually someone selling hot coffee.  I think he was an angel in disguise.  That coffee made the

    At the summit 1420 metres

    remaining three miles down much easier.

    We arrived in Roncesvalles 6 hours after leaving Orison. Here we have a real hotel.  No bunk beds.  Happy Hiker! Hot shower, a little yoga, a beer.  Oh the pleasures of life!

    Tomorrow is a long one – 17 miles.  But it is relatively flat and hopefully dry.  Surely better weather than today!

    Our route yesterday, today and tomorrow

    Total so far 17 miles!  Only 472 more to go!! 😳

    Buen Camino!

     

     

    Travel Around the World

    Chasing Anthony Bourdain

    Finally in Spain – I Can’t Refuse It

    Well I never been to Spain
    But I kinda like the music
    Say the ladies are insane there
    And they sure know how to use it
    They don’t abuse it
    Never gonna lose it
    I can’t refuse it

    – Three Dog Night

    In all my travels and visits to Europe since my first trip 30 years ago I somehow have never been to Spain.

    Until today. Hello you beautiful old girl. It’s very nice to meet you. Hola hermosa, buena apariencia!

    Unfortunately it’s raining. So clearly the rain in Spain does not stay mainly on the plain.

    I hadn’t officially been adding up the country totals, even though I get asked the question often. I know where I haven’t been – and Spain eluded me.

    But a couple of weeks ago I read an article about Anthony Bourdain that said he had been to 80 countries. Well I’ve mentioned before that I am a big fan of Mr. Bourdain so it really made me want to know how many countries I have BEEN to.

    So I now have a new App appropriately called BEEN. I can add any country in the world and it keeps track of the percentage of the world I have seen.

    So guess what Mr. Bourdain I’m on your tail buddy! Watch out!

    With the addition of Spain in my BEEN list I have been in 64 countries. I think I can get to 80 before we head back to the USA for a visit next May.

    Of course it is not a contest – especially since we are looking at travel as a way of life and not a vacation.  But heck yeah, it’s fun to have something in common with my man TONY! Who knows, maybe I’ll run into him one of these days in who knows where?

    And I will ask him “Have you been to Spain? In the rain?”

    La vida es buena!

     

    Health, Fitness & Fashion  --  Travel Around the World

    Finally – Spain and the Camino de Santiago

    Let me tell you a story –

    Five years ago I had never heard of the Camino de Santiago until one evening my husband mentioned it as something he would like to do. I have a very clear memory of that moment – because in hindsight I know how pivotal it was.

    After doing a little research we talked about tackling it the following year. But even though I was retiring that year my husband was not. He thought we should wait until we were both retired and could take our time and do the entire 500 miles.

    Then we thought, well, maybe we will take five or six weeks to walk the Camino and spend another couple of months in Europe.

    Then that conversation expanded to maybe we should go abroad for a year… or maybe indefinitely. And the next thing we were talking to our realtor and purging our belongings and beginning our new life.

    Whoa. It really happened like that. All from that one comment about wanting to walk the Camino.

    It’s been nine months now since we left the United States and through all our travels we have been focused and preparing for our personal pilgrimage. Significant in so many ways but for me most significant because we had a goal and we went for it. We didn’t just talk about doing something –  we changed our entire life and we feel great about it.

    If you like our blogs I would love for you to Pin It.

    So now the Camino. I hope we haven’t waited too long. The Camino, like every other destination, has grown in popularity substantially in the last few years. I hope it’s not too crowded. I hope it’s not too hard. I hope I can do it.

    But even if I can’t – if injury or sickness stops me – I’ve still accomplished so much. I am at my physical and mental peak and I’m excited and ready to go.

    Our three weeks in Lagos Portugal has been the

    A month in Portugal with our youngest.

    perfect final preparation – lots of hikes and training combined with lots of relaxation and healthy food. I’ve loved Lagos and I’m so glad we had the time here. It was especially great to spend this time with our son Erik.  He now heads back to the USA after being away for 32 months.

    We fly to Madrid on Monday. We have three days there to do final preparations and last-minute items before taking the train to Pamplona and a bus into France where we begin walking from Saint Jean Pied de Port on September first. We expect to finish somewhere around Oct 8-10th in Santiago Spain. 500 miles.

    PLEASE NOTE – I plan to do short and frequent blogs all along the way and daily I will post photos to My Fab Fifties Life Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook and Twitter pages (except possibly the first two days while in France since my phone may not work in France). I hope you will comment and follow on any or all of these resources and share in our pilgrimage, as you have shared in all of our preparation.

    The time has come!  Finally – the Camino begins September 1st!

     

    Health, Fitness & Fashion  --  Travel Around the World

    Your Imperfections Make You Who You Are

    In Control of my Camino

    After 57 years I have a friend in my body. I know it well. I listen when it talks. In return it is supportive and pretty reliable.

    I don’t use anti-aging creams and potions. I don’t try to act or look younger.  I have no interest in trying to look 30, act 40 or any other age than what I am. I proudly display my silver crown as grey Goddess. I’ve earned it. I am 57 without shame. Don’t tell me I’m too old for anything – I abhor ageism and the limitations it attempts to impose on me.  I heard a quote by Susan Sarandon just today , “As you get older, it’s your imperfections that make you who you are.”  Damn straight.

    I am not old. I just am. And I will walk 500 miles.

    For nearly a year we have been training for this walk.  If I’m not ready now I never will be.

    I am in control of the things I can control – I stopped running three weeks ago because my body said I should.  The constant sciatic pain disappeared when I didn’t run.  So for now, there will be no more running.  I’ll try again in a few months.

    I stopped taking my statin (after consulting with my doctor back home).  I slowly became aware the statin was causing me joint and muscle pain.  So for now, I’m off. In a few months I’ll have my cholesterol checked and make a decision with my doctor.  But for now, my body says no.

    We’ve walked and trained and walked some more. Only one training day left.  This I control.

    There will be things I can’t control- weather, sickness, injury, and more.  But I won’t dwell on these things.  There is no point.

    Instead I am excited. Ready. Hopeful. Prepared – and definitely not old.

    Time to enjoy the final training days of a year of preparation.  Grateful to this body for all it provides, including the wisdom of nearly six decades.

    Proud and Fabulous and Ready.