Things certainly are shaping up now! The team has been packing frantically for weeks now, reaching a virtual crescendo. Last minute sponsors have come on board such as the Solar Panels from PowerCom Solar.Burnie Hash House Harriers presented us with A TV Cheque for $500 which will ensure we have enough diesel for the truck to get us out of town and probably most of the way into WA!Graham at Cam River Signs offered to do the SignWriting for us, ensuring we will be seen and recognised! Graham and his wife are keen cyclists and would’ve loved to have joined us. Instead just their logo will cross the Nullarbor on our caravan complete with our messages.In the mean time Jo has brought her bicycle to the bike shop to get us spares and ensure her bike is set up as good as can be! All bikes now have Schwalbe Marathon tyres on them, a front basket, a rear rack and some panniers. Chains have been lubed, and two new puncture repair kits for each bike which according to the Umbrella Rule means we won’t get to use them… My bet is, by Murphies Law, one flat tyre on the entire trip…Leonie has been test riding her bike regularly to ensure she has the required fitness to pedal to Adelaide with us. Below she is pictured with me in front of the Spirit of Tasmania which will sail us to Melbourne next Sunday Night!
One of the many great things about taking A Million Steps on the Camino de Santiago was to imbibe each moment without any relation to the previous or next. It was like life was passing through me and I was able to glide along without letting…
Donkeys! Yes, I said donkeys. I could never get enough of them on the Camino del Norte. They always seemed so friendly and gentle. On a day like this when I was struggling in the hills west of Deba, they also brightened up my spirits. And believe me, as I started to weaken in the […]
Look! Leonie made us a proper poster! We’ll make sure they go on noticeboards along the way Feel free to print one out and promote our Cystic Fibrosis cause at your workplace. Remember we are starting our fundraising now: We hope to raise $10k during the ride and $10k during the hike: give.everydayhero.com/au/coughing4cf-1If you like to help cover the team’s expense, of which we have $$$ kindly support us here: https://chuffed.org/project/coughing4cf/Printing of business cards and posters provided free of charge by Burnie Print!
We are ever so pleased to have received Sign Writing from Graham at Cam River Signs. Below is the proposed sign-writing. We hope the rear of the caravan which says Keeping up with Wally intrigues people and gets them to find out more. Getting the caravan on the ferry to Melbourne, and to pay for fuel for the support vehicle are expenses we like to spare the self funded team from having to pay for. If you like to donate a few dollars towards those costs please do so here: https://chuffed.org/project/coughing4cf/
Welcome on board to PowerCom Solar who have kindly provided our support vehicle caravan with Solar Panels and some associated wizardry to give us power on the road. The electricians will be fitting it to the van next week, watch out for photos on our facebook page: www.facebook.com/Coughing4CfIf people like to help us pay for team expenses, such as fitting the solar equipment, preparing the caravan, the Spot emergency device, the ferry crossing or anything please donate to: chuffed.org/project/coughing4cf/And we are also starting to collect for Cystic Fibrosis now that we are getting on the road: give.everydayhero.com/au/coughing4cf-1
On the Camino de Santiago, many strangers crossed my path and I immediately accepted them just as they were. No time for judgement or over analyzing their personal traits. They say familiarity breeds contempt, so it made me think about the people that are near…
The Month of the Pilgrim continues. It is extraordinary. It is exhausting.Every night this month but one we’ve had at least two people, sometimes the full-capacity six or even seven, but almost always somebody. They walk 31 kilometers to get here. It’s another nine kilometers to the next stopping-place. We cannot in good conscience leave people to sleep outdoors.We chose to live here because there’s a relatively steady stream of pilgrims flowing past. We like the pilgrims, we’ve been pilgrims ourselves — they keep life interesting in a town that would otherwise be stiflingly isolated and insular. We’ve been at this for nine years. We have never, in all that time, had such a steady flow of pilgrims stay with us, day after day after day.They are nice people, sometimes funny, always cooperative. I’ve had only one ask for a hair dryer, and I’ve only had to tell one person “This is my home, it is not a hotel.”They clean up after themselves (mostly), they often phone ahead to tell us they’re coming. Some of them are really interesting characters — we’ve had a Dane who runs a Ribero del Duero winery, and a Swiss woman who rehabilitates injured wild animals up in the Alps, and the editor of the Korean Airlines in-flight magazine.A Korean man left a message on our shopping-list blackboard: “I love here,” it says.On Ash Wednesday there was no Mass in Moratinos, so we had a rite of our own. We anointed one another, told one another “from ashes you come, and to ashes you shall return.” Even the unbeliever, the “rationalist.” He’s the one who put the cross on my forehead. He’s the one who, the following morning, on his way out the door, assured me that yes, he will pray for me out there on the road. “Yes, I can do that,” he said.It’s moments like that that keep me going.Because keeping going is getting tough now, three weeks into this extraordinary February onslaught.I like the pilgrims, but I very much miss the quiet, the long evenings of no one but us. Simple dinners, or no dinners at all — a sandwich, some fruit. A good book, or a writing or editing project. Able to go out for the evening, able to make evening plans. Long stretches of my own company.I am spoiled rotten this way, or I was, up til Bruno left. Two weeks is the standard limit for volunteer hospitaleros. After that, they go all squirrelly. Two weeks is more than enough for a lot of volunteers. Most don’t come back again.I think of Bruno and Lourdes and Jato and Tomas the Last Templar and Edu in Boadilla, people who do this all the time, every day, for years. People who have to do this to earn enough money to pay their bills. People who do this because they just love pilgrims. And I see why Bruno takes two months off every year, and why Lourdes only opens her doors in wintertime, and why Jato and Tomas and Edu have gangs of people helping them out. And I remember some of the “sensei” hospitaleros of years past — Anna of Ages, who helped us get settled in here. The couple who ran the albergue in Eunate for years, and Cirauqui before that. The couple who opened the albergue in Villares del Orbigo, or the Brazilian guy who ran the place in Vega de Valcarce…They are gone now. Sold-up, moved on, retired. There’s a lifespan for full-time hospitaleros, and it does not seem to be a long one. There’s now enough pilgrim albergues on the market to support at least one specialist estate agent.Paddy is unhappy. He still turns out beautiful omelettes and couscous and stodge every day, and I heard him laughing out loud this afternoon with three semi-hysterical Korean ladies… but he glowers at me from behind his computer, even as the merry pilgrims chatter and laugh all around him.There’s hope. February is almost over. And last year, the albergue in Terradillos opened up again in March. Please, God. I am happy to be a hospitalera now and then, but I am a hermit in my heart. I am not cut out for full-on sainthood. Not even for the shortest month of the year. In other news, I do not have breast cancer.I got the test results. They did not get a clean biopsy sample, even after sinking the needle three times. But none of the tissue they did get showed any sign of malignancy. Something is still in there, but so far it’s okay. I am okay. I just have to keep going back every six months to be sure.Glory be. And thanks to everyone who supported me in this little adventure, with good thoughts, prayers, and words of encouragement.I love you guys. Please pray for us, whether or not you believe anyone is listening.
When I think about the Camino del Norte, the stretch between Deba and Markina-Xemein always comes to mind. This wasn’t the Camino Francés that was relatively tame for days after the initial climb through the Pyrenees. Between the two towns is over 25 kilometers of steep climbing, 3 altos, and numerous ups and downs. There were few facilities, and […]
One of my main reasons for taking A Million Steps on the Camino de Santiago was to put myself in an environment where everything was outside of my comfort zones. I flew to a foreign country, slept in bunk beds, walked 500 miles, changed my…