weareallpilgrims

Camino de Santiago

Month: October, 2014

Fewer Wants

20140922-Bello-VillaF-09-B&Wx40x22Coming back into our “Life after the Camino”, as I stated last week,  Terri and I have been trying to live out some of the lessons we learned on our walk. One of the things we learned was it really doesn’t take a lot in life to make us really happy. The Camino gets you back to the basics of life. We were immersed all day long in nature, we had food, shelter and good company. We did not have a lot of luxury but aside from our aches and pains,  we found that we did not need a lot to be happy.

I read a quote recently from Henry David Thoreau that I think hits the mark on this lesson.

“I make myself rich by making my wants few”

Oh, what a great lesson this is for us to learn (and re-learn). Now that we have returned back to our “everyday life”, I find how easy it is to be seduced back with the endless desires of the mind for more things and stuff to do that are going to make me happy (or happier). One of the tricks to living this way, might be to work more on “savoring the moments” we have each day. Maybe we should try and avoid letting our minds trick us into thinking we need to be doing things or acquiring things to make us happier. Perhaps trying to get outside more or spending more time with family and friends, just being together would help.  This week is as good as any to get started. We can’t wait until things slow down or we are finished because this never really happens. The time to start is now, I say!

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Camino Panoramas

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As many of you know, I am very focused these days with Panoramic Photography. I would have loved to have taken by full frame sensor high end Nikon D700 camera and tripod but unfortunately the weight was too much for me to carry for 500 miles! So I settled on taking a much lighter weight Sony NEX 6 and a lightweight tripod. I walked the entire Camino carrying my camera and tripod in my hand! This was comfortable for me so I could be ready at any point to capture those special panoramic landscapes of the Camino.

One of my goals is to publish a new pano every few days.  You can see my Camino Panoramics on my Smugmug website.

The first one is titled: “Pryenee Foothills Dawning” (click to take you to the picture)

This image was taken on Day 1 of our Camino. It was the most difficult day of walking of the entire Camino since we climbed 4000 ft of elevation to get over the top of the Pryenees. The climb out of the city of St Jean Pied De Port was very steep and long. We climbed in the dark with a full moon to light our way and the morning fog was forming in the valley below. About 1 hour into the climb, the sun was beginning to rise when I came across this beautiful pastoral scene.

I can not help but think of Psalm 23 when I see this image.

“The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures.”

God Bless!

John

Human Being vs Human Doing

 

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Terri and have arrived back in the United States and are now home from our long Camino journey. We have begun to get back to our “regular life” again! It is strange not getting up in the dark and heading out with our headlamps on and walking. I think I might even try it at least once in the next week just for fun (Ha ha)!

It has been a week since we finished the Camino and I have not updated the Camino blog now for one week. As I mentioned in my last Camino Blog update email, we were just overwhelmed by the number of folks that really enjoyed and looked forward to the blog each day. Your responses to the blog have really encouraged me to keep writing. So I thought I would give it a try. I will try and write an entry at least once a week. My focus will be related to the fact that we are all on a journey and are pilgrims and I hope to keep the “Camino Spirit” alive as well with this blog.

So here goes, here is the first blog after our Camino walk has been completed.

As I mentioned before, the Camino provides a lot of time to think. You are basically spending the majority of each day walking and thinking. That long list of things that need to get done or places we needed to go were not on our minds. There was just a time of being, not doing. There was time to listen and observe the scenes of nature all around us. A time to really have a conversation with God (that is what prayer is). There was time to enjoy the company of our fellow pilgrims or to meet new friends. We were in touch with each other and listening and responding to each other’s needs.

When we returned back this week to our “regular life” back here in Edmonds, there was suddenly this long list of to do’s again and places to go. It is strange though in that I feel a little different about these list of “to do’s”. I was reading from a new book I started on “Mindfulness For Beginners” and I think it really speaks to what I am thinking and feeling these days following the Camino.

“If we are not careful, it is all too easy to fall into becoming more of a human doing than a human being, and forget who is doing all the doing, and why.”

We are hoping that we can keep a bit of that “Camino Spirit” going and stay in each moment more fully aware of our surroundings and those we are with. Staying in the present and being more than doing. That long “honey do” list can be a real trap I believe as we can quickly become consumed by it and we find we are becoming more of a “Human Doing” and less and less of a “Human Being”. Let’s all strive to be more of a “Human Being”!

God Bless!
John and Terri

Finisterre

We went to the “end of the world” today – Finisterre. It is the official end of the Camino walk – 0.0km. We took a guided tour bus to the “end of the world”. You see this is the way the majority of the Pilgrims do it. Once you arrive at the Santiago Cathedral and get your “Compostela” (official paperwork validating you have walked the Camino), there is not much desire to walk the rest of the 4 or 5 days more to Finisterre on the Atlantic Ocean shore.

It was raining sideways almost all day and we were so glad to be not walking! What a great way to finish our Camino by traveling to the beautiful Spainish coast and finishing it all at the “end of the world”. Eating the fresh seafood caught fresh from the Atlantic Ocean was also pretty special!

We learned so much about the wonderful people of Galacia. This region of Spain is one that many of us who live in the Pacific Northwest would identify with especially regarding the climate and the beautiful ocean shoreline. They also have a lot of Celtic influence in their culture. We learned about many of the ancient legends and beliefs of this region that included good and bad witches and the souls of those ancestors that still walk the earth today!

Terri and I throughly enjoyed not walking today and being a tourist!

John and Terri

 

There Is A Hope

So we made it today to our journey's end, the Cathedral of Santiago Compostela! Like so many pilgrims before us we were filled with joy as we entered the Plaza do Obradoiro in front of the Cathedral. We cried our tears of joy as we hugged and kissed each other over and over. It was complete. We finished the journey of 500 miles! It is over! What joy! What joy! We were “home”!

A wonderful man from Quebec that we met named Ben told us that he thought if everyone could have the “Camino Spirit” there would be no more war. You see the Camino Spirit is strong; it has been around for centuries as people have walked this path since some time in the 10th century! It is a spirit of simple humble love for your fellow man. It is pilgrim helping pilgrim in need. It is someone being there at your lowest point to help you. It is shared journey! That is what we hope to bring back home. We are all pilgrims you see on a journey in this life.

During our walk as we approached Santiago, Terri noticed someone had put the lyrics to the John Lennon song, “Imagine” on some of the walls as we were walking along. I thought well that sure is it! That is the “Camino Spirit”!

“Imagine no possessions, I wonder if you can.

No greed or hunger, a brotherhood of man.

Imagine all the people sharing the world…

You say I'm a dreamer but I am not the only one,

I hope some day you will join us!

And the world will live as one.”

So remember there is always hope in the goodness of man that carries the “Camino Spirit”. One of my favorite songs these days is called “There Is A Hope”. I end this day's blog with the last lines of the song that filled me today as we hugged each other and cried today.

“Then joy unspeakable will flood my soul, for I am truly home!”

 

Grounded

Today Terri and I were discussing what the Camino has taught us. This is a very natural thing to do as we approach the end of our Camino walk. We were discussing how it has crushed some of our pride a bit and it taught us about humility. It is interesting that the humility, like the word human, comes from humus, or earth. I was thinking how humility, like earth is about “staying grounded” on the important things in life.

How did the Camino do this? Well, the Camino strips away so many of “creature comforts”. Each day you are only concerned with getting your basic needs fulfilled (food, drink, shelter, warmth, sleep) and that along with your walking for the day takes up most of the day. This happens not just for one day but for weeks!

You begin to slowly realize that a lot of the other stuff we think we “need” we really don’t. We are closer to nature each day. We hear the chickens cock-doodle-do as we head out each day, we hear the birds singing (rain or shine) and we realize how easy it is to be happy. We are grounded. We don’t need a lot more in life to be happy. We get back to “the basics” of life. We wonder if that might be how it is for many of the folks we see working the rural small Spainish farms we have walked through on the Camino.

As our Camino comes to a close tomorrow, we can not help but wonder what it will be like as we go back to “life after the Camino”. We hope to continue to hold on to some of what we have learned about life and how simple it can be to be happy.

Buen Camino!

John and Terri

 

Meat and Potatoes

One of the things we were aware of before going on the Camino was that our diet was going to have to change. We were aware that it would be hard to be able to maintain the diet we had established over the last year or so. Terri and I were largely eating vegetarian with some fish. Terri had also decaffeinated herself a while ago.

Well, guess what? We have eaten mostly meat and potatoes now for over a month. We quickly realized that it was just almost impossible to eat anything close to vegetarian here in this part of Spain. We have also eaten a huge amount of bread as well each day. It became apparent that if we were going to get our nutrition for all the walking we were doing, we needed to eat the food of the Camino.

One of the interesting things you learn about ordering a salad here in Spain, is that you are going to get a huge helping of tuna on the top of the salad. Now the tuna is ok for a while but pretty soon you can not take another bite of tuna. We likely will not have a tuna fish sandwich for some time!

Another funny thing we experienced with food was when we went to a wonderful restaurant in Leon (quite fancy) for a special dinner, on the menu they had listed those items that were vegetarian. When you looked at what you ended up with you got vegetables alright but there was a small helping of bacon or ham along with the veggies! You had to laugh.

We did enjoy the wonderful cabbage, bean and potato soup of the Gallacia region. It is a true peasant soup, low cost, but extremely filling and warming for some of the rainy walks we have had the last week.

We can not talk about food without talking about the “Pilgrim’s Menu” or the “Menu del Dia”. Almost everywhere you go, some variation of this is offered. 1st course: soup, salad, pasta, or paella. 2nd course: chicken, beef, veal, pork, or fish with most always French fries. In addition you get dessert, wine, water, and bread. Many places placed whole bottles of wine on the table for just one or two people. These menus are a very easy “go to” when you are tired and can’t think. Oh yeah, all that food and drink for 9-10.00 euros per person!

Well, we are now down to our last two days of walking and we are both very ready to complete this journey and return home to all our friends and family and to the wonderful foods we so enjoy again!

Buen Camino,

John and Terri

 

Staying On The Camino Path

One of the really cool things about walking the Camino, especially the “Camino Frances path” (the path most people walk), is it Is extremely well marked to help keep you on the path. When you think about it it is pretty amazing that all along a 500 mile path you have markers at every turn to help you make sure you don't go the wrong way!

The main sign for the Camino is a “yellow arrow”. We saw it painted on ever surface you could imagine. We became “addicted” to our little yellow arrows. Nothing was more comforting than when you were not sure if you were still on the path than seeing the “little yellow arrow”. They usually showed up just when you needed it too.

Now it did not always work out perfect though because sometimes you are deep in thought or talking with someone and you might just go right on by that turn you were suppose to make. Then after a short while you would get that “funny feeling” that something was wrong. We had not seen our “yellow arrow” in a while. A quick backtrack to the last time you saw one you would see where you went wrong and off you go again on the right path. Often times a fellow pilgrim would shout out when you went the wrong way helping you from going too far off the path.

One of the funny stories that Terri had was of a woman from Australia that early in the morning (you almost always start each day in the dark with headlamps) missed a turn coming out of the town. (We also had missed the same turn but were able to figure it out and get back to the path agaIn). Well, this lady did not figure it out for some time and really got lost. So she phones her husband in Australia, who is able to determine her location (apparently from her GPS) and re-directed her on a path that reunited with the Camino path.! She walked an extra 4km that day!

We are going to miss our “little yellow arrows” to “keep us on the straight and narrow”!

Buen Camino!

John and Terri

 

Our Shared Journey

I was thinking today about how in some ways, the experience I had at Boeing just before retiring, on the 787 Battery problem, was similar to our shared journey we have had on the Camino. The Camino is very hard and demanding and takes every ounce of energy you have for a very long time. It is also a shared journey as there are so many other pilgrims along the way that you bond with as you go through this most challenging, physical, emotional and spiritual journey.

Working the “787 Battery Problem” was the most demanding and difficult job that I had while working at Boeing. It took every ounce of energy I had and drained me and many of the other “Boeing Pilgrims” assigned to work this problem. What also occurred, like what has happened on the Camino journey, is the bonding that went on with all your fellow “787 Battery teammates”. You experienced something TOGETHER that would likely never happen again. We were all like brothers and sisters or like soldiers that came back from war. There was a special bonding.

Terri and I have had this bonding with many of the wonderful pilgrims we have shared this most challenging and difficult journey with. We have met so many pilgrims from all over the world and have gotten to be good friends with several.

In just 4 days (Tuesday next week) we will arrive at Santiago de Compostela. It will be the end of our long journey. We will see and celebrate with many of our friends we have met and bonded with and we are very excited about this coming opportunity. After the 787 Battery problem was solved, Boeing threw an amazing party for all of us. It was one of the best parties I ever attended. We all enjoyed it so much and relived all our most challenging and tough times. I suspect that when we get into Santiago (we are spending 3 nights there), we are going to have so much fun “partying with all our pilgrim friends”!!

Buen Camino!

John and Terri

 

The End Of Our Journey Is Fast Approaching

Whenever one takes a good vacation, as the end of the vacation approaches you often don’t want it to end. You are often having so much fun you would like it to go on. You kind of savor each moment a bit more near the end. Since we are now only 4 days from the end, it is starting to hit both Terri and I now that our journey is about to be complete. We have talked about it and we both do have some mixed emotions. Since it has been such a long journey and for Terri a painful one each day now as she limps along with her sore ankle, seeing it end is not all bad. We do long to sleep in our own bed (we have slept in a different bed every night now for over a month!)

But as as they say, “all good things must come to an end”. Our journey to Santiago must end as well now. I found myself savoring each of the moments today. It was a beautiful walk today in some of the most perfect rural farm country scenery. It was throughly enchanting all day long. I know these last days we have left will be a special joy for us as we take our time to enjoy each moment of the rest of this journey.

We are also very excited as well to get to Santiago and celebrate together with everyone we have shared this journey with. We are expecting to spend a couple days there and hoping to reunite with some of the folks we have lost track of during the last several weeks. We are expecting we will shed a few tears before it is all over!

Buen Camino!

John and Terri