Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Camino Addiction

It has been two and one half months since I walked into Santiago and I have to admit that seldom does an hour go by that I do not think of my experiences. Because of modern technology I am hearing from other pilgrims either by e-mail or on Facebook and together we share memories. Every single one of them wants to go back and do it again! What is strange to me is that while on the walk I heard several people say that they planned to come back and walk it again and I would always think and sometimes ask "why ?". Why would you put yourself through that extreme heat, fatigue, blisters, and everything else connected with it and NOW, I understand WHY they would. I would too, in a heartbeat except that I would never leave Steve for six weeks again. Not fair to him although he would never say that. I do remember telling Steve almost daily, that although it was hard and I was dead tired that I was happy! But I will have a part in it again because I am taking a small group of 12 to do the last 100 miles of it October 9-21, 2011. It will all be in Galacia except for the first two days we will be in Leon. Galacia is the Irish Spain, the Green Spain and is considered by most to be the most beautiful part. We will be staying in restored 16th century manor homes, no scrounging around for a place to stay and we will have wonderful meals and that includes restaurants, dinners in our hotels as well as gourmet picnic lunches each day. No more eating stale bread and old cheese out of my backpack! Bet I don't lose 15 pounds either but I would not anyway just walking 100 miles! But what I will do is disolve in tears upon reaching the Cathedral in Santiago because that is what we pilgrims do upon completion of the Camino de Santiago, be it 500 miles or 100 miles.
All the same.

There is a real Camino addiction because I have it.

Friday, October 8, 2010

One week post Camino!

It has been one week today since I walked into the city of Santiago, tears flowing freely but was not embarrssed by it as so many pilgrims were doing the same thing. The emotion one feels at the completion of this journey is amazing and I heard people, who were not doing this as a pilgrimage, say that something about this path got to them. I know it did to me.

I have not published this blog as a travel guide to the Camino as there are lots of those, but rather as a guide to the feelings and emotions I had as I walked it. I did this pilgrimage as a way to reappraise life's purpose for me and I think it did that. I felt from the start at Saint Jean Pier de Port, in France, that what I was doing was going to be life changing for me and it was. That first day of nearly 20 miles was the hardest thing I have ever done. I could hardly unlace my boots when I got to my hotel 12 hours later and was so tired that night that I could not sleep. But not one time did I think if quitting but along the way, on some of the long, long days with the temperatures close to 100 and no shade a all, I did think that I might just die on the Way. Truly. But along the Way I saw sights which amazed me: a cow had just given birth to a calf and while she was cleaning it up a horse came over and helped her lick the baby clean and get it on its feet! I have 3 pictures to prove it. That to me was a miracle and it said that this path of 1250 years was special. I saw strangers stop and try to help fellow pilgrims who were struggling with blisters or the heat or just exhaustion. They did not even speak the same language but givng aid knows no language. I made a list of the different countries the pilgrims I met came from and it totaled 23 countries as well as the 7 Americans I met. Four of the seven were monks from New Mexico who did the entire walk in the long black robes with US Army issued backpacks! And they were FAST! No one could keep up with them!

This journey went from the high mountains of the Pyranees in France to the valleys into Spain which were rich with vineyards and olive groves, through the Death Valley dry soil of miles and miles of cut grain fields to the old Roman roads to the untouched villages of a thousand years ago to the lush green of the Irish Spain as you walked your way into Santiago. Five hundred miles of 1,610,000 footsteps of the millions of pilgrims of the past and present who, for whatever their reason, left their own footprints in the dusty soil for others to follow.

I know I shall not pass this way again but the memories I made will stay with me the rest of my life. As Fr. Codd said in his book, "To the Field of Stars", I must remember that this time of the Camino is not my whole life but just a short period of it but my experiences will last forever and the love I felt for my fellow pilgrims will always be there.

May God bless each of you with your own personal Camino, wherever and whatever it is.


Sunday, October 3, 2010

Day one after the finish!

Today is the first day since August 28th that I have not had to put on my boots, or Keens, as it were and it seemed so strange. So, what did I do but put the boots on anyway and walk the 10 minutes to the Cathedral to watch the new pilgrims come in. Already I am a ¨has been¨ but that is how it should be.

I feel sorry for the pilgrims coming in today as it has been pouring rain since yesterday. Coming in the last 13+ miles was unbelievable. Spirits were so high that you could feel it. The ¨newer¨pilgrims, those who did the last 62 miles instead of the last 500 were suffering too as their blisters were new but their spirits were high. And lest I be prideful I have to keep remembering that it is THEIR Camino too, just as mine is my Camino. Ëveryone´s pace is a good pace and everyone´s Camino is a good Camino. I will have to get out of the habit of greeting everyone who passes me on the trails with a ¨Buen Camino!¨

One of the special things I have learned through this nearly 6 weeks is that 95% of the people, when we exchanged names of our home country, would say with admiration Ämerica. ¨ Several told me how lucky I was to live there and that was so good to hear because if you watch the news you think that American is hated worldwide but none from these pilgrims, just good wishes. When I am home and have time to sort
this out I will make a list of the pilgrims from the various countries I met.

I went to the wonderful Prilgrims Mass today and was moved beyone words. I could only recognize a few words said but I could feel the love for God and for this Camino without knowing the language. After standing in line 2 hours yesterday to get my Compostela, my certificate of doing this pilgrimage, and then coming out and seeing almost a block of pilgrims still waiting to get in, I fully appreciated all of the footsteps we all put in to do this.

My friend from Germany, Monica, and I can in together yesterday but our Canadian friend Ann got in today. She had an extra rest day so that put her a day behind us. Thanks to my cell phone I was able to keep up with her and meet her today. She left at 6:00am this morning, got lost 3 times in the dark but made it, soaked through.

I will say this one more time before I sign off for a week or so: This Camino has been life changing for me -body, mind and soul. I have never been a missionary or preacher but I was presented with so many opportunties to share my faith. I am amazed that people would want details about why, being a non-Catholic, I would do this as a spiritual pilgrimage. I was also surprised as how many, many people told me that that had given up on religion. I am not smart enough to help them but all I could do was to share what I felt.

For those who have been interested in this blog, and in my journey, I thank you with all I have in me. I felt surrounded by love and devotion of family and friends, as well as the One in whose name I did this and for this I am the richest person on earth.

I will leave Santiago for the airport at 4:30 in the morning and will fly out of Madrid at 11:00 and home by 3:30. The word ¨Home¨never sounded so good.

Goodby Spain, Hello United States and Rome, Georgia.

This HAS been a Buen Camino!

Love, Marie

Friday, October 1, 2010

Almost There!

I had a very wonderful post done but lost it somehow on this computer! Just to say that I am about 12 miles from Santiago and will finish tomorrow around 2:00. No use hurrying as the Pilgrims Mass is at noon and I will not go to it until Sunday.

I am still so overwhelmed over this Camino which I have dreamed about and planned for since Oct 2008. It was so, so much more than I ever imagined. Today, as the people on bikes passed us, shouting ¨Santiago¨as they would arrive today and the cars honked their hornes in celebration for us and as I sat have orange juice at a Bar, pilgrims hiked by and when they saw me called out my name, I am in a state of thankfulness for having the chance to do this. I am walking so carefully as I want to finish this standing up! So many people have had to go home because of injuries but I have been so blessed to hqave everything go perfectly!

I will write more when I get home and can process all that has happened to me.I am so overwhelmed by all I have seen, done and been a part of that I cannot even look through my pictures. I cannot believe that it is I, Marie Edwards, who has had this experience. I could not have without my main cheerleader, Steve, who would read ahead in Fr. Codd´s book and say things like ¨tomorrow will be a hard day but you can do it.¨ I am so thankful for him and cannot wait for Monday to come ánd to see that Delta plane which stands for home for me!!

Tomorrow, when I walk down those stairs in Santiago and look to the left to the church I will be in tears, I know that because I am already have started crying, but they will be tears of joy and of thankfulness for my opportunity for this, for the prayers of my friends, my family and for our God who allowed so many people from so many coutries to come together on this 500 miles path across Spain. I will probably never see any of them again but they are in my heart for all of my life. As you all are.

God Bless and Buen Camino.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Six more days to go!

I CANNOT believe that in 6 days I will finish this amazing pilgrimage. It has been the most awesome thing I have ever done and am in sensory overload when I think back to the past 30 days. I cannot believe that I have done the extreme milage in such heat but thankfully it is cool now.

I have not been able to do this blog for several days and wiil have to be quick as this computer is eating up the euros so fast! But I have gone from the ¨rain in Spain falls mainly on the plains¨NOT- to this most beautiful part of Spain, Galacia, the very green part which I entered yesterday. I did this same part 2 years ago so it is wonderful seeing it again.

When I get back I will take a vacation from FB and my blog for a week or so just to gather my thoughts and to pay attention to my Steve. There are a million experiences I want to share with you all but will have to wait until I get back to do it. I will finish this pilgrimage, all 500 miles and 1,466,000 feet, on October 2nd. My life will never be the same again. I wish for all of you the same experience I have had to enrich your lives. It is amazing. I never knew that having this much time to myself, to reflect and pray and give thanks, would be so powerful. I love meeting all of the people on the walk, but I also love my time alone. In fact, I crave it each day. I have made it a policy to enjoy everyone, especially at the end of the day, but to have my day to myself. The Camino is so well marked that you would have a hard time getting lost. I can start out in the dark and find my way. As someone who can hardly get around Rome by herself, this is a real miracle to have gone from France all the way across Spain and not get lost.

I am so very careful of what I do these last days because to qualify for my Compostela, at the end of the walk, I have to walk the last 100 kilometers, no matter that I walked the first 440 miles already. It is the last 100 which counts. I am so careful where I put my feet as one misstep would ruin it for me.

I want to thank each of you for your thoughts of me and your prayers. I know that is why I have done so well. I will try to post another blog before I get to Santiago on Saturday, around 2:00 pm Spain time. I only have 13 miles to walk that morning. I know also that I will probably start crying on Thursday!

Buen Camino,

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Rest Day in Leon and Pilgrims´ Mass

This morning I slept until nealy 9:00 as I am not walking today. Will begin again tomorrow but put on my boots anyway out of habit but quickly took them off! Must have needed that sleep as I have been getting up early every day for more than 3 weeks. It did seem strange to see the pilrims, outside of my hotel, following the yellow arrow!

Leon is an elegant city and the residents are beautifully dressed. Only we pilgrims look like bums and you can recognize us, even in normal clothes, by our sandels and bandages on our toes as well as our limps! Had breakfast this morning with a woman from Norway who has been infirm for 10 days with a pulled Achilles tendon. Is doing acupuncture and that is helping. She was into her 3rd week of the Camino so this can happen even when you think you are well on your way to Santiago. I read somewhere that you have to be humble on this Way or this Way will humble you and I so agree.

I went to the most beautiful church service last night. It was a Mass which I did not understand but did understand the feeling. I stood when everyone else stood and sat when they sat but I did not go down for communion. It was all in Spanish but I understand from my Catholic friends that all masses are alike and you can know what is going on even if you do know know the language. At the end the priest called all the pilgrims up to the front and asked what language we spoke, gave us a card with this prayer on it in our own language and then he did the following blessing in Spanish to us and it was followed by a beautiful solo. Every single person was in tears at the end. Here is what he prayed and what is on my card in English:


Dear Lord Jesus, who brought your servant Abraham out of the city of Caldeas, protecting him through all of his travels/wandering, and who was the Hebrew nation´s guide through the desert, we ask you to bless these children of yours who, for the love they bear your name, are on a pilgrimage to Compostela.

Be for them their companion on the Way, their guide at the cross-roads, their shelter on the road, their shade in the heat, their light in the darkness, their comfort in weariness and their resolve in intentions. So that through your guidance they arrive sound at the end of their road, and enriched with grace and virtue, return home healthy and full of worthy virtues.

In the name of Jesus Christ our Lord.

March in the name of Christ who is The Way and pray for us in Compostela.



Thursday, September 16, 2010

Thanks to all of you!

Tonight is the first night I have not been exhausted or have been able to get to a computer to really read the wonderful postings you all have posted on this blog of mine. Thank you all so much and please know that I appreciate each and every one of you and the lovely things you have been saying. I will honestly tell you that I have felt the love and concern and prayers along the way. It is a very real feeling and I will always cherish you. For those of you who have or have been reading Father Kevin Codd´s book of To the Field of Stars, you are there with me every day. Only the accommodations are different. Everything else we experience is the same. I am so grateful to him for writing that book as it was my inspiration.

Never in my life have I had the experience of making a really good friend and yet knowing that after this day, or tomorrow, I will never see him/her again and that is okay as that is what this Camino is about. ¨Cherish the moment.

Am having a late night tonight - 10:30 bedtime instead of 8:00- One night I was asleep at 6:00! Getting stronger every day but have to realize that ¨stronger¨for a 66 year old is not the same as ¨stronger¨for a 35 year old!

Good day today!

I don´t have any major stories to report as today was flat and easy. After walking in the hot sun so many days the drizzle was so welcome. Have learned that if I only have coffee and juice at the hotel I can wait until I get to a bar for breakfast around 9:00 or 10;00. Told Steve this morning that my eating patterns have changed - would have never considered waiting until 10:00 for breakfast but they serve lunch from 2:00 until 5:00 and dinner from 8:30 until midnight. I always carry stuff in my backpack even if it is a part of a leftover omelet sandwich from the day before. Sounds awful doesn´t it but it is not! Finally threw an omelet/ham sandwich out after 2 days of eating on it. Was huge!

Can´t believe that I am getting in to the villages in time to have a nap. For the first 2 weeks I was never in before 5:00. Seven until five is hard. These days the paths are not as hilly BUT they are coming up in a couple of days after Leon! I have some very, very long and hard days coming so am enjoying these days of 13-15 miles.

What is so strange about this is that people do all sorts of distances on this Camino and you may walk for hours with someone and you will stop and they will go on and that is the last you will ever, ever see of them. Felt so sorry for some pilgrims who got in today around 5:00 because the hostels are all full and my hotel is full too. They will have to sleep on the ground or go on to Leon and that will take a lot of the night. I am so thankful to have my hotels prebooked. I did it this way so I would not have to rush, with my bad knee, to get a bed in a hostel PLUS I did not relish the though of sleepign with 25 snorers in a room! One of the towns I stayed in had to close their two hostels because of bedbugs and the pilgrims slept in a sports hall on the floor!

Have Saturday off in Leon and am so excited about it. Last free time until Santiago!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

2nd Blog today

I just wrote a long blog but my euro ran out and I lost it! Can´t remember all I wrote but do remember that I am amazed at the spirit on this pilgrimage, so much, much more than an ordinary trek, no matter how wonderful the others were. Only one person has expressed to me that he is doing this simply as a walk and to lose weight. There are easier ways to lose weight than to walk 500 miles!

The weather has gotten cooler, especially in the mornings. I left at 6:00 2 mornings but won´t again as my little flashlight is not good enough. Everyone else has head lamps. With my 2 hiking poles it is hard to get my flashlight positioned right in my hand, simply no room. 7:30 is a great time to start. Some days I do not eat breakfast but eat something from my pack at 9:00 or so, so bread or cheese or even limp potato chips. I am staying filled up with water, am drinking more and more of it as time goes on. If I get to my hotel by about 3:00 I can get a pilgrims´lunch and that does me for the day with just a snack at night. The ordinary dinners here are not until 8:30 and that is too late for me. I have built up my strenght so I do not have to go to bed by 8:00 but can´t wait that late to eat. I wish I could find the bar that Father Cobb mentioned having greasy hamburgers, dripping with good stuff, because I would pay ANY amount for one of those hamburgers! Vegetables, except fries, are hard to come by and I was thrilled to hav peas and carrots today! It is amazing how the simple things are so wonderful!

Will get to Leon in 2 days. Am very worried about crossing the 4 lane highway, every book warns about it. If I could find a bus or cab without 2 or 3 miles of it I would certainly catch it.

I am on the downward turn of this journey of faith and love. I am so appreciative to all of you for your suppòrt and especially I am greatful for the wonderful support my husband, Steve, has shown me. Not just in the finances but for this attitude. He is the best!

I am at a hostel using the computer and they are about to eat so I will go to my little hotel.

Buen Camino and God Bless!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Almost half way!

In a day or two I will be half-way though this wonder pilgrimage. And it is a wonderful pilgrimage, in spite of the sore feet and today I have a sore knee but I think it was because of going up and down a big mountain early this morning. I left the hotel at 6:30 am with my flashlight but no friend. Was not entirely sure of the way but did find the magical yellow arrow which is the Camino sign. Wanted to get up and over the mountain and the hours of the flat hot plains before the sun came out. Kept to the trail by looking for the other lights ahead of me. And there were 4 at most. Normal people were still asleep! The stars were beautiful as was the sunrise. Did 15.3 miles in 6 hours which was pretty good. When I got to my town it took me 45 minutes to find my hotel. It is odd but I was feeling good until then and by the time I found it my legs were about to give way! Happens every single day!

This hotel is great and my bathroom has a deep, deep tub. When I get to the room I throw my clothes in the tub and we all bathe together! Then I get my pack ready for tomorrow, lunch and breakfast now that I am leaving so early, then wrap my wet hair in a towel and take a short nap. Found a place which served meals early, 5:00, so ate and now will do another bathtub soak and go to bed! Plan to leave even earlier tomorrow, maybe at 6:00. It is perfectly safe so do not worry!

Turned on the television to a PGA game today and was thrilled to hear English! Have heard ONLY German, Spanish, French, and assorted others for 2 w eeks but only about an hour´s worth of English from a lady from California. Have not seen her since that day. She had a pulled muscle and had been put to bed on day 2 and this was day 6 and her first day out.

Walked totally alone today and that was fine! Followed the yellow arrows for 15 miles and plan to follow them all the way to Santiago.

Monday, September 6, 2010

After 10 Days

It is hard to believe that I have been on this pilgrimage for 10 days! It is an amazing thing but much harder than even I expected. It is the relentless sun during this time of the year but tomorrow we are supposed to have rain and I will so welcome it! Stayed in the convent last night and the nuns were so good to me. I had just about had it with dehydration. I was using one of the hydration systems in my pack but was not getting as much fluid as I needed. I keep remembering that a man from France died of organ failure on the second day of this trip. I don´t remember him but he was in the group who started in the Pyrenees with me on the 28th. He was dehydrated and it affected his heart. Today my pack was so heavy with water but that is okay, slows you down but I have nothing to hurry for. i have put my hydration system away and am taking only big bottles of water.

The people doing this are amazing. They are so kind and concerned for each other. You might walk with one person for part of a day and never see them again. A lot of the pilgrims stayed back today to catch a bus to the next place but I went on. Am using a lot of sunscreen and stuff for my feet. One little blister can make you miserable when you have to walk 15 miles. Tomorrow is another long day, about 18 miles, but hopefully it won´t be so hot. Am in a little farming village tonight, very, very old. They are having an onion festival for the farmers! Big deal as everyone brings food and they are going to party. Only problem is that all of the restaurants closed at 6 and did not open until after 8. Am hungry for a real meal. Have eaten bar sandwiches for 3 days but nowhere in Spain do they serve real food until after 8 or 8 and I am usually asleep by then.

I am so blessed to have a cell phone so I can call Steve each day. I watch my time carefully so I am able to bridge the 6 hour time difference and not wake him up. Once I have talked with him I am able to get on with my pilgrimage.

In spite of the sun, heat, blisters and not understanding much of what is said, I am still so enthralled with this Camino. As I drag my feet through the dust and rocks, by the endless wheat fields, I can´t help but think of our Christ who did all of His journeys under much more difficult circumstances. I go into all of the churchs I can get to and just reflect on this.

Please continue to pray for me on this journey. 500 miles does not seem that long until you are walking them!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Heading to Santiago slowly!

It is 7:20 Spaninsh time and dinner is not until 8:30, in ANY restaurant! Found a computer and although Steve will update (my phone bill will be terrible!) I wanted to give you all some of my impressions myself: This is HARD but so wonderful! I am the luckiest person in the world to get to do this and doing it alone, as a pilgrimage, is great. I am amazed at the variety of people doing this. I have only met a few women who are solo but that is fine. The variety of countries is amazing: NZ, Australia, finland, Sweden, Germany, Russia, France, Spain, Grenada, Brazil, Ireland,Canada, and I am sure there are many more but I have yet to meet or even hear about any Americans at all. I know there are some but evidently they did not start out the same day I did. Most people are walking at the same pace so we will finish around the same time -October 1 or 2.

There is a wonderful German group I have connected with. Unlike 98% of the pilgrims they are like me and staying in hotels. We have some of the same hotels and today I would not have found my hotel had I not tagged along. Walked the last 4 hours with 2 lovely German girls, around 20, both students and on a very, very limited budget. I made them stop at a cafe with me so I could get us a Coke. I hope I see them tomorrow but they are staying in a hostel and I don´t know when they will leave for the trail. I left at 7:30 this morning and finished at 5:00. Totally wiped out but after taking THREE baths I am much better. I will repack my backpack tonight and be ready to leave about 7:00 AM. Lots of sun expected, they have not had rain since June and there are few places to get water so will take a lot. It weighs my backpack down but can.t depend on finding it, I do know that we will pass a wine fountain tomorrow where you can fill your cup with free wine but I will pass on that.

Had a wonderful time today among the vinyards and olive groves. I had never seen olive groves. Had a break at a 13th century Roman town and walked a Roman road for about 2 hors. All of these villages or towns are at the top of the hills and it is brutal.

I have been thinking about all of you and I have prayed for you. Prayer comes so easily along the Camino. Did you know that if you stay on the trail butterfiles follow you? That is true, has happened to me. If you get off it you do not see the butterflies.

THank you all for following Steve on my status. He has never been a FB follower so this is a labor of love for him.

Buen Camino!

Monday, August 30, 2010

Greeting from Pampalona!

Today I finished the 3rd day of my pilgrimage actually standing and not thinking I was going to fall! I have really pushed myself because I have not done any walking more than 3 hours due to my surgery and my first day I did 12 hours! Yesterday was shorter and easier but still long -9 hours, Today was the shortest at 8 hours. I have decided that the more you use your legs or muscles the better they get.

It is hard to put into words my feelings on doing this pilgrimage. And it is a pilgrimage to me. The first time I did any of this, the last 100 miles back in 2008, I did not realize the spiritual part of it. I was just doing it as one of my Southern Treks trips, But about half way I realized that St. James was not only a saint of the Catholic faith but was my Lord´s own. Totally changed how I looked at it and made me determined to come back and do it totally as a pilgrimage.

I have already seen evidence of our God in so many of the people. In kindness in taking care of blisters on others to a kind word of direction when my new friend from Finland and I were on the wrong path. A man got out of his car to point us to the right road. And the miracle of seeing the cow and the horse together cleaning up the new baby calf was beyond amazing to me. I did not know how to get to my hotel today in Pampalona and a group of Germans walked me to it. Time and time again I am seeing wonders and one of the wonders I am seeing is that I am healthy and can do this. Have a long, long way to go but plan to see the field of stars over Santiago on October 2nd and then see my special star, Steve on Oct 4th! I so appreciate him keeping all of you up to date on me, You might be tired of hearing about the Camino de Santiago by the time I get home!

Friday, August 27, 2010

I am here!

Folks, this girl from Rome, GA is about to put her footprients along with the millions of others who have trod this path for the last 1250 years. I start in the morning and can`t believe that this time has come, I have been in tears, or near tears, since Tuesday when some friends gathered to pray for me. There there were the tears in the airport after Steve dropped me off, then I am sure the tears last night were of fatique but after a 4-hour nap today I am packed and ready to head out at 7:00 in the morning. Have seen people come in all day so hope some of the same will be heading out the same time as I do tomorrow. I have talked to some, tried to anyway as not one has spoken English but I gather that those here this afternoon came from further in France and are going on to Santiago. People start all ovee Europe on this, so do as many as 700 miles but most begin here in this lettle French village. It is within an old castle wall and is charming. Although only 30 or some miles from Spain you never forget that you are in France! The shops, restaurants and flowers could be any little town in France. And the Pyrenees I will go over tomorrow are lovely from the ramparts.

It is hot here, today was nearly as hot as when we have had in Rome, Very surprised.
It is overcast now so it might rain. If it is rainy we are advised to take the lower route over the mountains but I hope for the higher one as the views are supposed to be spectacular.

Thank you all for continuing to love and pray for me. My precious husband will update my FB status when I call him every day. Steve is the greatest!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

The Night before I leave

Today has been a very emotional one for me because a group of friends got together at my church this afternoon and had a wonderful prayer service for me for safety, health, secuity, joy and peace on this Comino. I have never felt so humbled nor so elated at the same time. Plus, so many others have sent cards and called to wish me well that I am really a basket case but weeping is second nature to me, wether I am sad or if I am happy. One special friend sent me a little angel to take with me to be reminded that I am being watched over. I am so very blessed.

I think back to the two years I have been planning this pilgrimage and can't believe that it is now about to begin. In fact, I leave tomorrow, arrive in Madrid at 9:30 Thursday morning, have a 6 hour wait for my Iberia flight to Pomplona and then on to Saini-Jean-de-Port in France. I will get to my hotel in France around 7:30 Thursday night. I have Friday off to get over jet lag and then begin my pilgrimage around 7:30 on Saturday morning which will be 1:30am here at home. If you all are late sleepers by the time you are up and going, around 10:00 I should have my first day of 20 miles in the bag.

I will try to update this when I can get to a computer, whenever that is! Most of the places I stay will be small towns or villages and I have no idea if/when I get to a computer but be assured that I will do this blog whenever I can.

I so appreciate all of the good thoughts and prayers and wishes sent my way. I hope that all of you can have a similar dream to what I have had these past two years and that you can follow it as I am doing.

Until I am on my Camino, goodbye!

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Four Days to Go!

I am four days out of leaving and because of the weather and other things I did not get to do my long walks this week but I have decided that I am either ready for it or not! It is so very hot and humid here in Rome PLUS I have been working on my 2011
tours and so have not felt bad about not beating myself up in the heat and humidity.

I am still within the 10 days of advisement of not walking before the start PLUS I have to think that it is the years and years of walking that will work for me as opposed to these few days before. I know I will be tired at the end of the first day of nearly 20 miles but I will be fine!

I will not post anything until I get to the start, in France, at Saint-Jean_Pied-de-Port on the 26th. I arrive that day, have the next day off to get over jet lag and begin the morning of the 28th, about 8:00 French time and 2:00 EST time. If anyone believes in prayer, as I do, I will ask you to pray for me along this journey. Please pray for safety, for the ability to sleep at night when I am exhausted, for me not getting lost , and that I find someone who speaks English that I can walk with for awhile. I do not mind doing this by myself but would love SOME compant!

I so ppreciate those of you who are "following" me. It means a lot to me to know that you are thinking of me and offering prayers in my behalf. You are the best!!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

10 days to go!

I am 10 days out from leaving on this adventure. I am so excited but am already getting weepy over the thought of being gone from Steve so long. Because of my travel business I am used to being gone for 2-3 weeks but this 6 weeks is long even for me. I have the most wonderful husband, Steve, who does not believe that the word "let" has any part in a marriage. For instance "Steve let me go to Spain for 6 weeks." He will miss me but would never, by word or look or mood or whatever try to keep me from doing this. He is probably the only person who fully understands why I want to do this. I would hope that I would be the same if our situations were reversed but I doubt it! I am not as generous as he is!

I am backing off from my walking after this Thursday. I will walk about 12 miles on Tuesday and maybe 6 miles on Wednesday but that is all I will do. I had read that you should let your body rest for about 10 days before undertaking something like this. I plan to do lots of stretching though and on the 23rd, 2 days before I leave, I am going back to Advance Rehab, my physical therapists, to have them evaluate my knee. I know it is going to do fine. I still have some twinges but I might have had them for years but just had not been aware of them. Boy, am I aware now!

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Training in the heat of Florida

I have just finished a great week with Paige and the boys at the beach of SeaGrove, Florida. It was our 12th time to spend the hottest week of the year at the beach and this year it was no only hot but the humidity must hae been 85% every day. Paige and I would get up and walk from about 8:00 until 10:00 the last 4 mornings. The first morning we didn't start until 9:30 and I thought I would pass out before we got back. We measured it and it was about 6 miles. I also found out that we needed a bottle of water for every 2 miles, sometimes even more water. A sweet waiter at a restaurant gave us glasses of ice water and then gave us a "to go" glass! He was an angel in a white shirt! Would not let me pay him.

I have been checking on the temperatures of Spain and the highest I should confront would be about 80 and that would be perfect. After the 100s, 102s & etc of Rome and Seagrove this summer the 80s sounds like the South Pole.

I have read that about 90% of the people who do this Camino do very litte, if any, training so I am hoping that what I have done, in spite of taking the 2 months off with my knee, will hold me in good stead. It is 17 days away and I am counting the days. I know that if I can do the first 2 days, with its high milage, I will be fine the rest of the time.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Getting back on track!

I have had my precious daughter, Paige, and two of her 3 boys here this week so changed where I walked so that I would not be gone so much. I can walk 2 hours in my neighborhood here in Rome and not double back at all. Plus, I can go up a 700 foot incline along the "power line." I have used this power line to train for hard treks for the past 20 years and it always works. My problem is that it only takes me 30 minutes to go up AND down and the first 2 days of this trip I will be walking 8 hours UP before I start down. This is not enough but it is the best I can do.

I am on my 7th books of personal accounts of the Camino and this one is the most real one I have read but I hope my trek will be better than his. This fellow, a German, was also alone but he stayed in the hostels instead of the hotels until he decided that never would he stay in the hostels.Too many people snoring! Too few showers and toilets. But heck, the hostels are practically free, all you do is pay for the food. He seemed to get lonely a lot. This kind of scares me. I am such a people person and a friend warmed me about being too friendly on the trail and after reading this book I have decided that I need to tone my personality down and be a little more aloof. I do not want to be misunderstood. I am also going to buy some mace to take with me. I have 35 more days to really get in shape and indend to do it! Maybe next week I can do a REALLY long walk of about 15 miles which is less than my average day I will have for 36 days.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Trying to get back on track!

Well, I did my long walk on Tuesday and did okay but it was so hot and that about finished me! I did my usual walk with my Tuesday walking buddies then went back up to the House of Dreams. I did not double back as I had thought I would as it was brutal in the heat. I did what had suggested and took and extra pair of shoes/socks in my pack and about 3 hours into the walk I sat, had a real Coke, peanut butter crackers and a little tub of applesauce, then changed my shoes/socks. That made a real difference. My socks were Icebreaker wool and I wear them summer/winter but they were soaked although it had wicked away from my feet. This is supposed to keep blisters away and I have to agree with it. When I am actually on the trip I plan to take 2 pair extra socks with me every day to swap out. It is blisters that cause people so much trouble on this trek. Have gone back to wearing my boots for practice and have put an MBT intersole in them for cushioning. Will walk with these today and see how they do with the extra intersole.

Monday, July 12, 2010

First Long walk since knee surgery

I am planning on doing a long walk tomorrow, 13 miles, by doing 2 6.5 miles back to back. The first one will be with my usual Tuesday walking group and when I finish that I plan to do it again. I am not going to mention doing it to my group of friends as they will worry about me being along. I'll finish our walk, let them leave, then repeat it. It won't be nearly as much fun the second time, I am sure, but I need to know where I really stand in my training. If I am dead tired near the end of the first walk I will shorten the second one by leaving my group early and going up to the House of Dreams. That will make me have 10 or 11 miles instead of 13 but that will be fine. In fact, that is what I should probable do.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Walking the power line

I had a great time walking this morning! Started at 8:00 as it was supposed to get to 100 today and walked the 5 miles in my neighborhood as well as up the infamous "power line" that goes up Mt. Alto. It is so steep that I have to shorten my hiking poles going up but lenghten them for the downhill. Spent 2 hours doing all of this and felt great! I wish that I could get my mind off of my knee though. It is like waiting for a tooth to hurt! You think it will and just want it to happen so you can get thrugh it but it did not! My daughter Paige told me today that a physical therapist friend of hers told her to tell me that I should not be doing so much walking on pavement now, or even trails but that I should go back and forth in deep water in a pool but I cannot make myself do that. She said that I would get as much exercise doing this as I would by the actual walking but I can't bring myself to just do that. I honestly don't see how I can build up to do 20 miles a day for 36 days by walking around in deep water. Wish I had someone to give me an opinion on that.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

50 more days until I leave!

I am on a real countdown now! Got my Delta ticket last night, frequent flyer!, as well as my Iberia Air tickets to get me to the start and back to Madrid after the finish. Checked on my Delta itinerary this morning just to be sure they had not taken my free ticket away and it said "50 days until check in!"

I have a training schedule I am working on and feel that I will be fine. Maybe I am in denial but I really feel that I will be able to handle it. I better as it is too late to back out now as I have paid for the trip!

Getting up early tomorrow to walk about 4 miles in my neighborhood and then up the dreaded "power line" that goes up Mt. Alto. The up is hard but the down is harder-lots of little loose stones that threaten to make me fall. My hiking poles are invaluable. Going down I lenghten them and going up I shorten them. I try to put all of my weight on them going down so as take pressure off of my knees.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Hiking in Iceland

I got back on June 27th from my 12 days hiking in Iceland and I did fine. I did wear my knee brace on the advice of a doctor friend on the trip and it helps by reminding me that I do have a problem with my knee and need to watch where I put my foot. Have begun my training again but know that I need to do a couple of 15 + mile walks in the next 7 weeks but it is hard to do in Rome as it is so hot. I am in the mountains now but am afraid to get out in the woods for that long as we are having a real problem with the bears. Guess I will just have to do several of my usual 6 mile routes in Rome by doig them back to back. Hey, good idea Marie! If I can do my Berry route back to back, 13 miles, then I will be good as it is hot as hades so that balances out not going to 20 miles. Don't have the time this week as Paige and boys are coming on Tuesday but will do it beginning the 12th.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Hiking in Iceland

Today I will be beginning our hiking in Iceland and can see how my knee is holding out! Volcano lava will be a good test! Arrived yesterday and will be here until the 26th.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Heading to Iceland!

I will test my knees begin tomorrow when I take a group of 9 to Iceland for 12 days of hiking and sightseeing. Am very excited as this trip has been hard to plan because of the changes the volcano made. New trails, new travels, new hotels but whatever, it will be great and I will have my first real hiking experience since I had my surgery.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Walk to House of Dreams

I did a walk to the House of Dreams yesterday, about 4 miles, and did fine but I was so conscious of how I put my foot down as I did not want to fall. My leg/knee did fine going up but coming down I has pain which distressed me but it got okay later. Am going back today to do the same thing and see how I feel.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

New day coming!

Heading out tomorrow for a solo walk of about 6 miles at my favorite place in my town, Berry College. Am doing this alone so I can pay attention to my body and how it is reacting to this much walking. Two miles up, then level for about a mile, then back down. If all goes well I will do it again on Thursday.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Nearly Back to Normal!

I am so happy that I am getting back to where I was before my knee injury and surgery. Today, 4 1/2 weeks after surgery, I did a walk of about 80 minutes which involved 15 minutes of level, 20 minutes uphill, 30 minutes down ( I go slowly down and use my hiking poles even more) and then 13 minutes of level and finishing by going up a short steep hill to my house. I was so elated. My knee was hurting when I started and was hurting a little when I finished but nothing I could not handle so came in and iced it for 20 minutes. Now, if I can get to where I can do this daily for 18-20 miles then I will be very happy! And I was so pleased not to have stopped at all going uphill!

Friday, May 21, 2010


I am so very thankful for a great doctor and for wonderful physical therpists who have me up and going again! I knew they would but it has taken longer than I expected to get rid of the pain. And because I had done so much walking for years before I hurt my knee, my PT was faster than usual and now I can re-enter the trails and get back to where I was the end of March when I fell. I never expected that I would have such a thing happen to me and it made me realized that we need to be ready for all possibilities. The stupid thing I did was not buying trip cancellation early enough that would have covered me if I had not been able to rehab but thankfully I was able to do that. I did buy it afterwards but it does not cover anything to do with my knee as that is pre-existing but will cover anything else. And with the volcano ash interferring with flights over Europe I want to be sure that my trip cost is safely insured.

Friday, April 23, 2010

hopefully the problem is solved


Monday, April 12, 2010

My knee injury

Today finally came when I was able to find out exactly what is causing my pain. It is the torn Meniscus as the doctor suspected but he is going to do a scope on it April 20th, a week from tomorrow. I am so glad that he supports my wanting to get more walking in for the Camino so he pushing my surgery up as much as he could.
Said I will be on crutches for 3 or 4 days and then can do PT and soon after start walking again! Yea!!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Still waiting

It is 3:11 pm on Sunday afternoon and I am very impatient for tomorrow to come so I can see what my doctor says about my knee. I keep going to the web to read about injuries to meniscus but just need to wait until tomorrow. The weather is so wonderful and I want to get out and walk but am staying put.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Slight Setback

I have a setback for my training. I stumbled across a root on the trail while in New Zealand and when I fell I twisted my knee. Not too bad so did not make an issue of it but after I got home the pain got worse and worse. Walked my usual walk up the mountain, with my full backpack, on Tuesday and was in such paid I was not sure I could get home. Called my doctor at home that night and went to his office at 7:00am the next day. Had an x-ray and he said that according to his exam I had a torn/injured meniscus and according to what the MRI showed he might have to do a scope on it. I will find out Monday. Have been living on Advil and ice packs. He knows that I have this Camino coming up and said that I would still be able to do it.
Am anxious for Monday to get here so I can see what I have in store for me. This doctor is an orthopedic surgeon and is the team doctor for the Rome Braves bassball team as well as for a local high school's football team so he knows knee injuries very well and I trust him. He and his wife are going with me and my group to do a hike in Iceland in June and he said I would be able to do that too.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Back to training

After taking off 6 weeks due to my trips and bad weather, I am back in training. Walked yesterday with my backbpack up to the Cotswolds, a mountain neighborhood behind my house here in Highands. I only carried 10 pounds in this old backpack and when I get home today I am going to adjust the one I will be using on the Camino so that I do not have much more than that 10 pounds. I have been training with 18-20 and that is too much. Will do the same walk this morning and then go back to Rome.
Will do my long walk out at Berry tomorrow.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Why My Camino?

I am a 66 year old woman who lives in Georgia. I have owned an adventure travel company, Southern Treks Adventure Travel, for 20 years and take walkers to 12 countries plus Alaska and Oregon.

In September 2008 I took a group of 10 walkers to Spain to do the last 100 miles of the Camino de Santiago or The Way of Saint James. I had heard of this trek from a young Catholic priest who had done it and it had intrigued me so I began research and soon began to work with Fresco Tours to set this up. I had 6 Catholics and 4 Protestants and when I began it I had NO idea that it would affect me so. I did it strictly as one of my business trips but within a few days the spirit of the trail began to affect me and before that 100 miles was over I decided that one day I would come back and do the whole thing and in August of this year, 2010, I will begin my personal Camino across Spain.

This time I will be doing it by myself but I will not be alone as millions have done this path in the past 1250 years and millions will continue to do so. I will begin in the French Pyrenees and go all the way across the northern part of Spain. According to Church history the Apostle James preached in Spain and after his death his bones were taken by boat to Spain and buried. Hundred of years later they were interred in the Cathedral at Santiago. It used to be that only Catholics did this pilgrimage but now all sorts of people and all sorts of faiths and some with no faith walk this path.

I plan to blog my training for this in the hope that it will show that my efforts will pay off!