Forberedelser – fysisk og mentalt

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Der er under en uge til, jeg flyver til Canada. Det føles helt vildt, men også helt rigtigt. Det er 20 år siden, jeg sidst boede i udlandet. Dengang var det Sydney, Australien, der stod på billetten. Det var en kæmpe oplevelse dengang…og lidt skræmmende, for der er langt hjem til DK, når man kun er 20 år og sidder på den anden side af jordkloden. Men dengang mødte jeg fantastiske mennesker, der gjorde min tid dernede magisk, og jeg er sikker på, at min tur til Canada også bliver fyldt med nye skønne oplevelser og mennesker. Jeg flyver til Victoria, hvor jeg skal besøge Gail, jeg mødte første gang, jeg stiftede bekendtskab med Camino Frances.

Faktisk mødtes Gail og jeg sidste år i Seattle i januar, og jeg ser frem til at se hendes by denne gang. Jeg får også mulighed for at mødes med Stuart – endnu en Camino buddy fra min tur sidste år. Der bliver helt sikkert delt Camino historier, når vi alle tre mødes. Faktisk har de lovet at hjælpe mig med at fejre min 40 års fødselsdag, når den rammer d. 27/2.

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De seneste tre uger, jeg har boet i Vestjylland. Det er altid rart at komme hjem og lade op ved den jyske vestkyst. At blive blæst igennem og nyde den smukke kystlinje vil altid betyde ro i sind og sjæl for mig.

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Der foregår også en del fysiske forberedelser. Jeg har kastet mig over at genoplive en gammel oilskins jakke til min tur. For hvor svært kan det være? Som billedet viser indkøber man voks, der så smeltes langsomt over vandbad til formålet. Den del af processen er temmelig overkommelig. Jeg havde godt læst, at det kan være en omstændelig opgave at vokse en jakke, men som altid tænkte jeg…hvor svært kan det være?

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Sådan en jakke kan vel lige ordnes på en formiddag eller? Det er faktisk ikke fordi selve det at vokse er svært, men det tager væsentlig længere tid, end jeg havde forventet. Jeg har taget et lille nap hver dag, og projektet skrider da også frem, som I kan se:

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Jeg skal nok blive færdig til afrejse på tirsdag, og hver gang jeg ifører mig jakken, vil jeg glæde mig over al det arbejde, jeg har lagt i den. Men når min Barbour oilskins jakke trænger til en opfriskning, er jeg næsten sikker på, at jeg vil benytte mig af Barbour’s serviceafdeling, og lade dem klare opgaven.

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Jeg har brugt aftenerne i Vejers på at genopfriske mine evner til at strikke. Mest fordi jeg forestiller mig, at jeg får en del aftener på min rejse, hvor jeg ikke har adgang til tv, andre mennesker til en snak eller en god bog, og at strikke skulle jo være sundt, så jeg har allerede fabrikeret en karklud. Naturligvis er der indkøbt strikkepinde af træ, så jeg ikke bliver stoppet i sikkerhedskontrollen på vej ombord! Det føles nemlig rart at producere noget, istedet for bare at sidde og se ud i luften.

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Jeg slutter dagens indlæg med et billede taget i går morges på terrassen her i Vejers. Billedet viser desværre ikke helt de mange “diamanter” frosten havde skabt i løbet af natten, der glimtede om kap i morgensolen. Men jeg fik fornøjelsen af dette smukke syn, og tager det med mig som et håb om, at min forestående rejse vil blive fyldt med strålende, smukke og givende oplevelser. Nyd dagen og nuet!

A sweet ending to this year’s Camino

Protein breakfast

One of my favorite benefits on The Camino is that you can eat and drink as you like, because you burn so many calories every day you walk. Not that I ever would count calories, but I thouroughly enjoy good food, and after leaving Bercianos del Real Camino, we stopped for a second breakfast of 100% protein – bacon and eggs. It tasted amazing and fueled our bodies for that day’s walk. For exactly the food and drink reason I consider doing the Via Francigena that runs from Canterbury to Rome. Imagine walking through Piemonte….oh boy what a feast!

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As we were getting closer and closer to León, I struggled with the decision about where to end this year’s walk. I had time to go beyond León, but would it make sense logistically? Walking and talking with my friend Gary made it clear – I would get off The Camino in León and limit this year’s walk to the Meseta, leaving the remaining roughly 310km to Santiago for next year. Everyone has their own way of doing the Camino. Many goes all the way in one stint, but I am really starting to appreciate my approach of cutting it in three, since I that way get to meet three times the people, that I maybe would have in one stint. For me, the amazing people I meet, are very much part of my personal journey, and I value the friendships I gain highly. img_6228

This picture was taken by the hospitalieri in Mansilla de las Mulas, where these fine pilgrims came together to make a fantastic meal of salad, lentil soup with rice, ice cream dessert and all served up with fresh made sangria. At this table sat most of the pilgrims that I was fortunate enough to meet this year. They all made a big impression on me, and I look forward to meeting them again in future as I have with some of the lovely people I met last time. Thank you all for making my Camino some of the best times ever!

And now for the fun story of the evening. The hospitalieri at the albergue was an assertive young woman, who not only was a great host, but also had taken courses in taking care of the foot injuries pilgrims suffer. That day had been very hot – 25-30 degrees, and since my thin socks were not dry from yesterday’s washing, I was wearing my thick wollen socks, which meant I had more or less boiled my feet during the walk, resulting in heat blisters. The hospitalieri offered to have a look, and then this happened:

Hospitalieri "taking care" of my suffering feet.
Hospitalieri “taking care” of my suffering feet.

We all loved her sense of humour! Once the laughter had died, she took me into her office and very professionally took care of my feet, making next day’s walk into León a breeze.

Many guidebooks and apps suggest that you bus into León because the way should be very industrial and along the highway. Actually I’m glad we decided to walk. It was almost a magic morning and I loved this last walk on my 2016 Camino.img_2666

I loved the image of the tunnel, we passed along the route, with the lovely view at the end.
I loved the image of the tunnel, we passed along the route, with the lovely view at the end
Walking the street of León
Walking the street of León

I entered León with my new Camino family – Maria Grazia and Gary, and along the route Pablo had joined our little band into town. It felt amazing walking these streets, knowing that 177km of Meseta was in my backpack. Of course we ran into fellow pilgrims right in center of city and sat down with them to enjoy a pilgrim lunch complete with wine and good company right by the cathedral.

The new camino family makes it to León
The new camino family makes it to León

We had decided to stay an extra night in León, so we settled in and prepared for a night out. I must admit it was my first time going out wearing fleece leggings, hiking shoes and no make-up. Not exactly a dazzling look, but who cared? We had our fun any way. Thank you, Patrick, for the insider tip on Four Lions Brewery. Great craft beer!

Ladies, Camino and craft beer
Ladies, Camino and craft beer
Living it up!
Living it up!
Argentinian Juan showing me the moves to "You can leave your hat on"
Argentinian Juan showing me the moves to “You can leave your hat on”

We had fun, beaches!

Next day I set out to get my bus ticket to Madrid, some civilian clothes and a sence of the city. Gary decided to walk on and we said our goodbyes at the cathedral. Later Maria Grazia and I went exploring and stumbled into The Parador – the five star hotel known from the movie The Way. It felt so perfect to sit on their patio with a cool drink. Thank you for the tip, Pablo!

The Parador in León
The Parador in León
Courtyard view at The Parador
Courtyard view at The Parador

That night we all went to an organ concert at the cathedral. It is a beautiful building and such a fantastic setting for the concert. León proved the perfect ending to my vacation.img_2715

Thank you León. See you next year
Thank you León. See you next year

Next morning Maria Grazia and I walked to the cathedral together. We met in Madrid and now our ways were parting – me back to Madrid to fly home and Maria Grazia was staying on the Camino. It was bittersweet, but I know I have made a friend for lifeimg_2723

Camino family forever
Camino family forever

We spotted a hot air ballon making it’s way over León in the sunrise. It seemed very fitting to part ways with that sight.

Hot air ballon cruising over the city in the sunrise
Hot air ballon cruising over the city in the sunrise

I had time before my bus, so I got a table at Valor, the chocolateria, and ordered churros. Again it seemed the perfect way to end my visit in this lovely city and to take stock of my camino. My credential is not completely full, but I need to get a new one for the final stretch to Santiago next year. I can’t wait to go back and hopefully meet up with old camino buddies, Helen and Paul from Australia. See you guys down there!

Spanish breakfast treat - churros at Valor
Spanish breakfast treat – churros at Valor
My credential is filling up nicely
My credential is filling up nicely

Thank you for following my way on the Camino. Now comes the hard part – re-entry and finding my way in life. I look forward to meeting life head on and with positivity in my heart.

The simple things in life

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Do we notice the small, simple things in life as we rush along in our busy lives? I guess we often tend not to unfortunately. During my time on the Camino, I have tried to take notice of my surrounding, the people I meet and to remember to sometimes turn around and see what I just passed. It makes a world of difference, my friendsimg_2664

After having spent a night in Lédigos, being treated to dinner by a Swiss gentleman and overhearing a nightly argument between a French lady and a Korean man about usage of electronic devices after 23.00, I set out to catch up with my new Camino family, Maria Grazie and Gary – a friendly soul from Utah, that we met in Hontanas.

 

New Camino family
New Camino family

As mentioned I had been struggling with my feet. Probably due to the fact that my shoes and boots already had many kilometers in them and needed changing, so I for the first time sent my pack ahead at the mere cost of 5€, but at the joy of my feet, since they loved not carrying the burden. My mood immediately picked up, and I felt elated and happy to be able to once again have the energy to be in the moment. Such pretty sights that morning.img_2647

I caught up with my family just before Sahagún at the halfway point, and we entered the city together in search of lunch and new shoes for me.

Pilgrims in Sahagún
Pilgrims in Sahagún

We indeed found both! We happened to wander into a restaurant at Plaza Mayor with the most service-minded Spanish waiter. He performed Charades in order to describe the pilgrim menu of the day and just went out of his way for us. While we were eating the first course fellow pilgrims – Bernice, Martina and Paul joined our little feast and we had the most delightful lunch together.

Pilgrim lunch celebrating passing the halfway point
Pilgrim lunch celebrating passing the halfway point

With very full bellies and new shoes on my feet (I threw away my old boots and shoes…oh my), we went back to the trail in search of Bercianos del Real Camino. Did I tell you that after a few days of rain and cold, the weather had done a complete turnaround and we were now walking in 25-30 degrees? Not at all what I had expected in October, but it was a nice surprice.img_2649

In Bercianos del Real Camino we stayed at the parroquial albergue. It was very modest, no wi-fi, but full of caring hospitalieros, who cooked us dinner and afterwards asked us to perform a song or poem from our home country. Many countries were represented, but I was the only Dane, so they suffered through hearing me sing my home town song – Henne sangen, and afterwards I made a complete mess of our national anthem. Funny how it is easy to sing at the top of your lungs at a sports game, but it become impossible to carry a tune once you have to sing it alone in front of 30 people. I’m glad, I never have to do a solo performance at a stadium and so should your ears be!

Mind over matter

img_2598The last couple of days have been hard on my body. Since I went as a spur of the moment thing, I did not train like last time, and my body has been punishing me ever since. Like DOMS the second day after training is always the hardest, so Friday was complete torture. An excercise in self-diciplin to keep walking…especially the last 9km. But with a determined mind and singing Tim McGraw’s “Humble and Kind” I finished in Boadilla del Camino in Albergue en El Camino, which I can highly recommend.

View of Alto de Mostelares. The highest peak on the Meseta - 905m
View of Alto de Mostelares. The highest peak on the Meseta – 905m
From the top of Alto de Mostelares. What a view!!
From the top of Alto de Mostelares. What a view!!

It is interesting how we can put mind over matter and put ourselves through pain and smile about it afterward at the post-walk drink.img_2601

Maria Grazia and I walked together yesterday. She was patient with me and my sore feet, and she even cooked us pasta last night. Let me make it clear – The Camino provides.

img_2599During our walk we talked extensively about work culture, expectations and as I call it the hamster wheel. So many people get caught up in the hamster wheel, because breaking away seems difficult and scary. Too many people I know or have met randomly tell me that they hold jobs they basically do not enjoy, but their problem is that they don’t know what they want to do instead, so they just stay. I fully understand them, but isn’t it concerning that many people are unhappy with their job, and think they should be doing something else?img_2606

I listenend to myself and choose to leave DARE2, because I no longer feel happy servicing others…I’m not sure I have more to give after spending the better part of my career working in customer service, admin or as PA. I know I’m good at it, but it does not make me happy, so what is the point? I like so many others do not have a clear picture of what I want to do instead, but I’m also questioning if the big city is the right place for me? I love having nature right outside my doorstep, I prefer to eat organic, sustainable food and I continually attempt to minimize my possesions. Somewhere along that route of thought lies the solution for my future. I do not yet know where it will take me and what I will do, but I do know that I will not get back on the hamster wheel.

img_2592Lots of love from Lédigos where I enjoy the fireplace and my post-walk beer