Moving On

Hi there, folks! You might notice that I haven’t been posting on The Camino Plan regularly since February. That’s because I’m posting over on my regular blog at Compass & Quill. If you’d like to keep up with my Camino story (I hope so!) please follow me over there. I’m leaving in less than two months, and will be updating with photos and stories all along my Way.

The posts from this blog have been exported over to Compass & Quill, and I’ll be shutting this page down at the beginning of September. Thanks for the follows, and hope to see you over at Compass & Quill!

Buen Camino,

Anna

A Fountain Full Of Wine

“Pilgrim, if you wish to arrive at Santiago full of strength and vitality, have a drink of this great wine and make a toast to happiness.” (For more great photos of the fountain and the winery, head over to Caitlin’s blog.)

Today’s Daily Post prompt asks us if we’ve ever thrown a coin in a fountain and had our wish come true. When I was small, there was a water feature at the local mall into which people used to toss their coins. My mom always had to restrain me from climbing in to fish out pennies; I just thought it was a waste of perfectly good change. But hey, maybe the custodian got something out of it on fountain clean up day! I haven’t read much about fountains full of change along The Camino, but one thing I’ve been obsessing over is the (free!) wine fountain.

The Fountain of Wine, or Fuente del Vino, is located just outside of Estella, around Day 7 or 8 of a pilgrim’s journey on the Camino Frances. The fountain is run by the Spanish winery Bodegas Irache, a 19th century institution whose vineyards have served the royal houses of Navarre since the 12th century. According to the Bodegas Irache website, an adjoining monastery was the first hospital for pilgrims on The Camino, so although the wine fountain itself is a fairly new development (1991), a sip of its wine is a link to the very roots of The Way of St. James. Along with enjoying a little refreshment, pilgrims are also invited to have their credencials stamped at the winery’s business office on week days, so keep that in mind if you’d like to have a record of your visit!

Here’s another fun shot of the fountain, by Roam Far And Wide. Click through to see a ton of other great images from The Camino.

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. THE WOMAN WHO CANNOT COOK | She Writes
  2. This I Wish: | Musings | WANGSGARD
  3. Bitten by the Love Bug!! [Wish Come True] | She Writes
  4. Last wish | Perspectives on life, universe and everything
  5. “Take a breath, count to three, throw it in” | The Bohemian Rock Star’s “Untitled Project”
  6. Pensive | Perspectives on life, universe and everything
  7. Daily Prompt & For The Love And Sea Shells | The Jittery Goat
  8. Spring is late as we | y
  9. tossing a coin | Love your dog
  10. Daily Prompt: Three Coins in the Fountain | Sabethville
  11. Three Coins in the Fountain: Daily Prompt | ALIEN AURA’S BlOG: IT’LL BLOW YOUR MIND!
  12. Wishing | Kate Murray
  13. Shooting Star | the intrinsickness
  14. ever so often i | y
  15. Rejected by the Trevi Fountain | wisskko’s blog
  16. Wishes of a Dreamer | jsleflore
  17. Daily Prompt: Three Coins in the Fountain #postaday | Of Glass & Paper
  18. Fountains | Writing and Works
  19. Daily Prompt: Three Coins in the Fountain | genieve celada photography
  20. Daily Prompt: Three Coins in the Fountain | seikaiha’s blah-blah-blah
  21. Wishing on a Fallen Penny | snapshotsofawanderingheart
  22. Coins In A Fountain | Awake & Dreaming
  23. Fontana di Trevi | Life is great
  24. My 27 Cents Worth ::E.N.Howie’s Motivational Moments
  25. Daily Prompt: Three Coins in the Fountain | Basically Beyond Basic
  26. Me, aged about ten, “I wish I could fly”… | thoughtsofrkh
  27. Tossing pennies over the left shoulder into the Trevi Fountain and staving off nosebleeds « psychologistmimi
  28. I’m a Writer, Yes I Am
  29. Among the Whispers
  30. Daily Prompt: Three Coins in the Fountain | Burning Imagination
  31. ‘Wishful Thinking’ – A Short Story | jigokucho
  32. Daily Prompt: Three Coins in the Fountain « Mama Bear Musings
  33. Coins in the Fountain | Lisa’s Kansa Muse
  34. Throw Away Your Money | Knowledge Addiction
  35. Try it and See | Flowers and Breezes
  36. Daily Prompt: Three Coins in the Fountain- Psychological Reason of Why We Do It | Journeyman
  37. Wish Upon a Fountain Coin | Short Story Sally
  38. Superstitions exists, all across the Globe! | Sathya’s Sprinkles
  39. luck of the Irish | eastelmhurst.a.go.go
  40. I Wish I Were a Bad Girl: A Dirty Bird Learns to Fly | Kosher Adobo
  41. Darling, | shame
  42. Wishing Well | The Silver Leaf Journal
  43. Lost Dreams | INKLINGS
  44. Wishes (Daily Prompt Challenge) | Ana Linden
  45. When I Wish Upon a Well
  46. Daily Prompt: Three Coins in the Fountain | Amanda’s Blog™
  47. Wish Fountain | The Land Slide Photography
  48. Daily Prompt: Three Coins in the Fountain | My name is Ellie and this is who I am.
  49. When You Wish Upon a Coin | djgarcia94
  50. Wishing Anew | The Giardino Journey
  51. Daily Prompt: Three Coins In The Fountain | Chronicles of an Anglo Swiss
  52. Wish what you may | Emovere
  53. That Stupid Smile | Views Splash!
  54. Answers to Calls | The Word Trance
  55. The pond. | real talk and reverie
  56. Cinderella | U Be Cute – Follow the child inside of you…
  57. So where did the daily prompt go? | As I See It
  58. Daily Prompt: Three Coins in a Fountain | That Montreal Girl
  59. A Wish Upon A Fountain | B.Kaotic
  60. From the Horseshoe to the Singing Fountain | Never Finished
  61. Daily prompt: Forget the fountain, just gimme the wish | helen meikle’s scribblefest
  62. DP: THREE COINS | DANDELION’S DEN
  63. Daily Prompt: Three Coins in the Fountain | lessialiral
  64. Throwin’ good money after bad… | Willow’s Corner
  65. The Molar | field of thorns

Digging In…And Letting Go

Friends, I’ve hit a road bump. I’m not sure yet just how much it’s going to impact me, but it’s probably going to be pretty large. It might even mean that I have to sideline my plans to go to Santiago de Compostela this year. I’d rather not speculate and stress until all the facts are in, though.

Last weekend, my boyfriend and I called it quits after almost 8 years. It wasn’t unexpected; my crumbling relationship was one of the major problems in my life. The Camino was always something of an escape route, anyway. It was the place that I retreated when I couldn’t handle another second of my life. I still desperately want to go on pilgrimage, but now it will be less about running away from my future, and more about embracing it.

Unfortunately, a side effect of leaving a long-term relationship is divvying up your belongings and finding a new apartment. Apartment prices are pretty inflated in New Orleans. They say that about other cities, but here most people I know make under $35k a year, but pay around $1k in rent each month (if they live alone – it’s cheaper with a roommate, but that’s such a pain).  That means that the typical apartment takes up an unrealistic portion of a person’s paycheck, and that’s before utilities get tallied in. I’m currently hunting for something in my price range (a much lower budget than $1k, that’s for sure), and it’s hard. If I can’t find something at or under what I currently pay, there’s a good chance I won’t be able to save anything over the coming months to go on my trip.

Somehow, though, even though I’m writing all of this, I’m not that worried. I feel strangely certain that everything’s going to be just fine. I’m not giving up yet. Things have a way of working themselves out, and something tells me that this will, too.

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. 1930 – Rolls Royce Phantom II | The Bliss of Reality
  2. Sunlight on the plant | Crazy Art
  3. Daily Prompt: Never Surrender | Basically Beyond Basic
  4. Telenovela Style | Mila’s Misadventures
  5. Setting | Perspectives on life, universe and everything
  6. Spiked AA 🙂 | Perspectives on life, universe and everything
  7. lone deer (steadfast) | photo potpourri
  8. Reel On You ! | Life Confusions
  9. Eric’s Aria (Part 2) | The Jittery Goat
  10. DP Daily Prompt: Never Surrender | Sabethville
  11. ‘What doesn’t kill you…’ | Rima Hassan
  12. Care to Dare | Rima Hassan
  13. Never surrender | Sue’s Trifles
  14. 400 Pound Burden | Rima Hassan
  15. Stubborn is as Stubborn Does | Musings | WANGSGARD
  16. Headstrong | Active Army Wife
  17. Night at the Pier | Greg Urbano
  18. On Homophobia | AS I PLEASE
  19. of scary monsters and nice spites | Anawnimiss
  20. Daily Prompt: Never Surrender- Differentiating Between Resilience and Stubbroness | Journeyman
  21. The Trial, Not For the Weak of Faint of Heart: Part 1 | jlaneb
  22. No surrender on Mental Illness awareness/tolerance | ALIEN AURA’S BlOG: IT’LL BLOW YOUR MIND!
  23. There are just some things I like done or doing a certain way. The right way. | thoughtsofrkh
  24. Stubborn as a Mule! | meanderedwanderings
  25. Pardon me for everything I’m about to say | Attempted Human Relations and Self
  26. Welcome to the jungle | The verbal hedge
  27. Daily Prompt: Never Surrender | My Extraordinary Everyday Life
  28. How Are You Toward Health Goals, Easy Going Or Stubborn? | Because It Calms My Nerves:
  29. The Conundrum | Each Feather, A Freedom
  30. Java, Joe, Carbon Remover, Plasma | Exploratorius
  31. Tweet, Tweet, Twitterfiction | My Little Avalon
  32. Steadfast in my integrity: I am my mother’s daughter « psychologistmimi
  33. How Do I Get My Son To Go To School | A mom’s blog
  34. I am not bossy, I AM the boss | IvyMosquito
  35. Daily Prompt: Never Surrender | Finding Life
  36. Stubborn Love | peacefulblessedstar
  37. Daily Prompt: Never Surrender | Life is great
  38. Stubborn Dutch | Lisa’s Kansa Muse
  39. Minutely Infinite | Stubborn, Yes.
  40. Daily Prompt: Never Surrender | Chronicles of an Anglo Swiss
  41. daily prompt: steadfast | hereisandrea
  42. too stubborn | eastelmhurst.a.go.go
  43. A Letter to my Brother | The Magic Black Book
  44. Who Was that Masked Mule Anyway? | Green Embers
  45. Stubborn or steadfast? No Surrender | I’m a Writer, Yes I Am
  46. Stubborn Or Easy Going
  47. Daily Post: Never Surrender | melissuhhsmiles
  48. I’LL BE BACK | SERENDIPITY
  49. never surrender | klstar2000
  50. Never Surrender | Knowledge Addiction
  51. Daily Prompt: Never Surrender, 11.03.14 | Markie’s Daily Blog
  52. Staying Stubborn | snapshotsofawanderingheart
  53. Because I’m a Survivor
  54. “Never Surrender” | Relax
  55. Daily Prompt Response: Never Surrender | Confessions of a Monogrammed Runner
  56. Stubborn, determined, or stupid? | Parents Are People Too
  57. The Stubborn Mule and the Easy-Going Duck | Fun with Depression
  58. DP: Never Surrender – Leaving Mina (Hajj Diary Extract) | aliabbasali
  59. Beliefs or Ideas? Daily Prompt: Never Surrender | The Bohemian Rock Star’s “Untitled Project”
  60. Writer’s Block: Get Stubborn! | Sweat, Tears and Digital Ink
  61. Police horse, close up (Daily Prompt: “Never Surrender, Show us Steadfast”) | Photo0pal Photography
  62. Am I stubborn? | Asianchemnerd
  63. “Surrender” | Cosmic Heroism
  64. Insurrection | vic briggs
  65. Stubborn or delusional? | Emotional Fitness

There’s No Place That’s Home

The only existing photo of my old bedroom. It's crappy, but you're not missing much. Notice the missing bits of ceiling and walls, and the unfinished state of the other walls. The floor was particle board. Taken in the summer of 1999, right before I left for college (I think).

The only existing photo of my old bedroom. It’s a crappy shot, but you’re not missing much. Notice the missing bits of ceiling and walls, and the unfinished state of the other walls. The floor was particle board. Taken in the summer of 1999, right before I left for college (I think).

I’m a firm believer that “house” does not equal “home”. It’s probably due to a combination of factors. My childhood house was never completely finished; my father built it, but never had enough money to finish it. The eaves were never filled in, and there were walls and doors missing throughout. Consequently, although my family lived there for my entire life until I moved to New Orleans, it felt a little like squatting. It’s tough to explain the nuances, but it was never comfortable; I was always scared there, and hated being there alone. After I moved away, the house was demolished. Somehow the empty plot of land scares me even more.

During college, I moved to a different apartment every year. The place was always different, but my roommates, two of my best friends, were always the same. They became my home (and still are, even though they’re both so far away – one in Texas, the other in Croatia). After college, they both moved away, and I was on my own again. It took a couple of years, but eventually I found a sweet little half of a double shotgun house that I felt could possibly be a settling-down place. A couple of months later, I lost both the apartment and everything I owned when Hurricane Katrina hit. At first it was devastating, but eventually I realized how freeing it is to not have such strong emotional attachment to physical goods. In years since, I’ve downsized a couple more times; my cats, computer, a few important books, and old photos are all I really need to get by.

When I was a kid, since I hated being inside my house, I spent most of my summers hanging out in a tent in the yard, reading what felt like endless stacks of books. I devoured books as a kid, but horror, fantasy, and historical fiction were my faves – as long as they had cute boys and/or dragons, I was good to go. The Chronicles of Prydain and the Anne of Green Gables series were summertime must-reads; I read both series every summer from 11 to 17, and still remember how it felt to yearn (pretty much equally) for the affection of Princess Eilonwy and Gilbert Blythe. I wonder what it would have been like if they’d met?

Is it any wonder that this built-in need for magic and romance led me to a love of medieval art history? Of course, the magic of it all was beaten out of me pretty early in undergrad, but I’ll never get over the romance. I think that every day on my pilgrimage is going to have at least a touch of that wonder built in. What it won’t have, however, is homesickness. When you don’t equate the feeling of “home” with a place, it’s hard to dwell (ha!) on thoughts of somewhere that you aren’t. I do worry that I won’t have the ability (read: available technology) on the road to write as much as I’d like, though, and that bothers me a bit.

The one time I’m “me” lately is when I’m writing. In my day-to-day, I’m having kind of a tough go of it. It’s hard to explain; life probably looks peachy from the outside, but it’s kind of a dim time for me – hence the decision to get the hell out of dodge and cross the Pyrenees while I’m at it. I spend my days so tightly wound, dancing on the edge of my breaking point. Most people don’t see this about me. I’m a Scorpio; we’re built to naturally insulate our feelings. It’s probably why a lot of us end up becoming emotional time bombs. Over the years I’ve learned the hard way that even when I think I’m broadcasting loud and clear, other people tend to find me inscrutable. I let loose steam on my blogs, and every now and then in conversation with a trusted friend. Mostly, though, it’s the writing that gets me through.

Lots of people write on the road, but it seems most are doing it the old fashioned way, with pen and paper. Some books that I’ve read were sketched out on cell phones and tablets, and I know that it’s possible to find a place to power up your tech gear in many alburgues. The worst bit is the extra weight. I’ll hate to add more to my pack load, but I need to capture my thoughts. I’m not quick at physically penning words; a keyboard or voice recorder will be necessary. I’ll most likely be using an iPad mini with an attached keyboard, or maybe a cheaper tablet – I’m not sure on that just yet. It will have to be light, and I’ll probably have to give up some other comfort (like extra socks, or shampoo, or what-have-you) to bring it along. But it will be worth it.

Once the writing is taken care of, the only other issue I’ll have to take care of to feel really at home on the road is to make some friends. That shouldn’t be too hard – a bottle of wine and a great story or two go a long way when you’re all new to a place. I find myself hoping that maybe out there on The Camino, I’ll meet new family, and I’ll be able to extend my feeling of “home” to other corners of the globe. Soon, I’ll be at home in Australia, maybe, or perhaps Belgium. Maybe some of my eventual home team are from Wales, or Italy, or Slovakia. Who knows? I’m excited to find out.

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. New iPod | Crazy Markovich
  2. of raging wants | Anawnimiss
  3. Daily Prompt: Our House- The impact of family to our psychological mind | Journeyman
  4. Streaks in the Darkness | Exploratorius
  5. Home: Tankas | 365 days of defiance
  6. To London For Love & The Daily Prompt | The Jittery Goat
  7. Daily Prompt: Our House | Under the Monkey Tree
  8. Cumbraes, 1962 | ALIEN AURA’S BlOG: IT’LL BLOW YOUR MIND!
  9. Launching Pad | I’m a Writer, Yes I Am
  10. Daily Prompt: Home | The Wandering Poet
  11. evergreen | yi-ching lin photography
  12. My family are huggers, and it’s always been an awesome part of life. | thoughtsofrkh
  13. Daily Prompt: House | seikaiha’s blah-blah-blah
  14. Daily Prompt: Our House | tnkerr-Writing Prompts and Practice
  15. Short Plat – A Short Story | Kilbo – Chris Kilbourn
  16. The House in Middelburg. | Hope* the happy hugger
  17. BE IT EVER SO HUMBLE | SERENDIPITY
  18. Home, Sweet Home | Home’s Cool!
  19. Daily Prompt: Our House « Mama Bear Musings
  20. The Gray House | A Sign Of Life
  21. Childhood Memories of Home | Unload and Unwind
  22. Home | Perspectives on life, universe and everything
  23. 272. My Childhood Home | Barely Right of Center
  24. Children Must Be Seen And Not Heard | Lisa’s Kansa Muse
  25. My Childhood Home | A mom’s blog
  26. Chained Childhood… | Haiku By Ku
  27. Minutely Infinite | Is home where the heart is?
  28. House of Haiku | Finale to an Entrance
  29. An Ode Full of Home | L5GN
  30. Formerly known as home | Le Drake Noir
  31. The rising of the Sap Nymph: an erotic poem | ALIEN AURA’S BlOG: IT’LL BLOW YOUR MIND!
  32. The family home | Sue’s Trifles
  33. Daily Prompt: Our House | Chronicles of an Anglo Swiss
  34. A Trip Down Memory Lane | Views Splash!
  35. DP Daily Prompt: Our House | Sabethville
  36. DP: OUR HOME | Active Army Wife
  37. Daily Prompt: Our House | Rolbos ©
  38. Daily Prompt reply…3/3/14 | TheWritingMommy
  39. The Halls of Childhood | meanderedwanderings
  40. View from the attic | Standing Ovation, Seated
  41. Charity Begins At Home | AstridOxford
  42. breakfast music | peacefulblessedstar
  43. Our Old House | Flowers and Breezes
  44. Houses and Home | The Nameless One
  45. Thoughts of home | FUNNY…PECULIAR
  46. Childhood Memory… | Cats, Coffee, And Life At Random
  47. Homeless in your heart? | Emotional Fitness
  48. The Tracks–Home: Daily Prompt | Finicky Philly
  49. Moving Away | snapshotsofawanderingheart
  50. My first house: “mango tree” / Ma première maison: “manguiers” | Write for learning
  51. It Was Ours | The Book of Shayne
  52. “Tomorrow you’re going to be four!” | djgarcia94
  53. Our House: Slugs and Stairs (Daily Post) | Fun with Depression
  54. Burning Down the House in the Middle of the Street « psychologistmimi
  55. The House That Built Me | The Shotgun Girls
  56. Are There Five Interesting Facts About Me?
  57. I freaking love this house | The Bohemian Rock Star’s “Untitled Project”
  58. Our House in the Middle of the Street | thanks for letting me autograph your cat
  59. Daily Prompt: Our House | Cancer Isn’t Pink
  60. Early Memories of Home | The Silver Leaf Journal
  61. Quietness in the Houusse!!! | The Salmon Yatra
  62. Daily Prompt: Being Reminiscent! | All Things Cute and Beautiful
  63. Our House | viver para contar
  64. A Fresh Start | Menimèse Creare
  65. Daily Prompt: Home | Winging it
  66. The phone, the farmer, and the Batman. | Trucker Turning Write
  67. Our home, home on the Office Range | Institute for Hispanic Health Equity
  68. Life is Home | Live Life in Crescendo
  69. Our House | YAP + film
  70. Staying in Focus/Daily Prompt: Our House | Staying in Focus
  71. Home | A picture is worth 1000 words

Exploring Assisi – The Unintentional Pilgrimage (Part 2)

A wooden plaque of St. Francis above a residential doorway in Assisi, Italy.

A wooden plaque of St. Francis above a residential doorway in Assisi, Italy.

I first fell in love with medieval architecture in high school, on a trip to the UK. By college, I was firmly obsessed with medieval religious structures and art, with a particular interest in reliquaries (boxes, baubles, and statues created to hold holy items, like saints’ bones and so-called pieces of the true cross). I even graduated with a double major in Medieval Studies and Art History, which allowed me to spend the better part of four years studying this field. As soon as I had saved up enough money to take my first postgrad trip to Europe, I made a point to visit any saints, martyrs, and holy items I could find, just for curiosity’s sake. I didn’t realize it at the time, but aside from my lack of veneration at each holy site, I was performing the basic duties of any good medieval tourist. The macabre dressed skeletons of two martyrs at Peterskirche in Vienna, Austria; the Veil of Mary at Notre Dame de Chartres, France; the relics of St. Mark at the Basilica in Venice, Italy; the reliquaries housed at The Cloisters in New York City – any shard of bone or lock of hair encased in gold and rock crystal can hold my attention, make me crowd closer to get a better view, give me a thrill as I imagine its history and debate its authenticity.

In the summer of 2012, while planning my Italian itinerary, I had a choice – travel to San Giovanni Rotundo to see the shrine of recently canonized Padre Pio, or travel to Assisi to see the Basilica of 13th century St. Francis. I’m still not sure why I chose St. Francis in the end; I had no real knowledge of or affinity for the saint. In fact, I preferred more exciting saints, like Barbara, locked in a tower for refusing to marry a barbarian, or Sebastian, pin-cushioned with arrows for pissing off Emperor Diocletian. Up until visiting Assisi, my only intro to Francis was superficial, at best – a snippet of the Peace Prayer, recited in Band of Brothers, and a wooden statue of the animal-loving saint that my mother placed near the area of our yard that serves as a pet cemetery.

Maybe choosing St. Francis over Padre Pio was predicated by vacation timeline, but I don’t remember that, if so. I did only have five days in all to spend in Italy before returning to Croatia for a week of island-hopping with my friends. But given what happened in Assisi, and how my life has changed since, I think maybe I never even made a decision; maybe the Universe made it for me. At any rate, after two glorious days in Venice, and a beautiful evening exploring the cobbled streets and gelaterias of Perugia, I headed to the bus station to catch a ride to Assisi.

When the bus pulled up at its final destination, the combination of short journey and uninspiring view from the parking lot made me worry that I might be getting off at the wrong stop. But everyone else disembarked, so I followed suit. All worry dissipated as I entered the town gates and started wandering with the crowd towards the Basilica. St. Francis salt and pepper shakers, pencil holders, religious medals, tea towels, nesting dolls, posters, and t-shirts were in every shop window, and I smiled at the sweet-natured cheesiness embraced by locals and tourists, alike.

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As I got closer to the basilica, a German tourist on a bicycle stopped and asked me to take a photo of him. At the time, it registered as odd that he’d trust me with his expensive DSLR camera, but over the course of the day, I was stopped over and over again by tourists asking me to take photos of them in this holy place. Among these was a church youth group from Alabama, on pilgrimage to a host of holy sites across Europe. I was in the town, on a street high above the basilica, looking for the perfect vantage point to get a great shot of it plus the land beyond. Since I was in a residential area, I hadn’t seen another tourist on the street for probably 10 minutes. Suddenly, I turned the corner and ran into a group of 15 kids and their chaperones, discussing how they could take a group shot and get everyone in the frame.

At first they didn’t notice me enter the courtyard area that we were in, and I tried to ignore them and will them to ignore me, too. When you’re in another country where the first language isn’t your native tongue, unless you hear another person speak, it’s easy to assume that they don’t share your language. I used this assumption against them, fully intending to take my photos and get away without ever having to talk to them.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned (or thought that I’d learned, at least) after a few trips to Europe, it’s that the majority of Americans you’ll run into when travelling are generally classless jerks in foreign countries. They laugh at local custom, disrespect the people and landscapes they come into contact with, and generally end up making us all look bad. Most introverted Americans I’ve met on vacation tend to pretend they’re Canadian. So I didn’t know where these folks were from yet, but I knew enough to know I wouldn’t like them. An American church group with southern accents? Surely they’d be bible thumping inbreeds. I couldn’t get away quickly enough.

Eventually though, guilt got the better of me. I snapped a couple more photos on my own, then introduced myself as a fellow American, and offered to take their group shot. They were overjoyed to find out they could all be in the shot together. Afterwards, they all gave me hugs, and one of the chaperones gifted me with a laminated bookmark commemorating their pilgrimage, bearing the Peace Prayer on one side. I of course felt like a total shit, and resolved to be kinder to strangers in the future. I didn’t know it then, but it was the first of MANY lessons St. Francis was about to throw my way.

It’s taking me forever to tell this story, but I promise I’ll finish up in tomorrow’s post. Stay tuned to hear about the rest of my day in Assisi…(Click through for Part 3)

Detail of St. Francis taming the Wolf of Gubbio, from one of the doors of the Basilica of St. Francis in Assisi. In the story, Francis tames a wild, dangerous wolf that has been terrorizing a town, and the wolf, now gentled, becomes the town pet. During my visit to Assisi, I underwent the beginning of a very similar transformation. No leashes or flea bath necessary.

Detail of St. Francis taming the Wolf of Gubbio, from one of the doors of the Basilica of St. Francis in Assisi. In the story, Francis tames a wild, dangerous wolf that has been terrorizing a town, and the wolf, now gentled, becomes the town pet. During my visit to Assisi, I underwent the beginning of a very similar transformation. No leashes or flea bath necessary.

Conversation Can Be Overrated

infj-head

One of the things I’m going to enjoy most about The Camino is the chance to not have to talk that much. Don’t get me wrong, I love people, and I enjoy exchanging ideas with folks I meet. However, I’m also an introvert, and too much social interaction is emotionally and physically draining for me.

Tonight, for instance, I went to dinner with some clients whom I also consider friends. They’re fun to hang out with, and we had a great time talking about both business and personal matters over steaming bowls of pho at our favorite local Vietnamese place. But the strain of adopting a chatty, extroverted nature for a client meeting is really hard on me. I can do it; in fact, a decent subset of my acquaintances know me as a pretty outgoing person. It’s just that it takes every ounce of energy I have to be that kind of girl, and the aftereffects are sometimes major.

After dinner, my energy levels took a nosedive. I had plans to go out to a concert, but by the time I got home I knew that there was no way that could happen. I was exhausted. All that talking had worn me out for the night. The most I could do was put on pajamas and curl up on the couch.

On my walk, I’ll have hours of quiet every day, but also (hopefully, anyway) plenty of opportunities to meet new people and get to know their stories. I won’t have to pretend I’m anything other than what I am – a traveler enjoying the scenery, thinking about life, and looking forward to the next albergue. Ah, I’m feeling more relaxed already. G’nite folks!

Various Negative Reactions To My Decision To Walk To Santiago De Compostela

When writing the story of your life, don't let anyone else hold the pen.

Hand-drawn Typography by Carrie Chang. Click thru to visit her Behance page.

With my excitement, it was easy to forget that other people might not have the same amount of faith in my proposed journey as I have. That’s one of the reasons I needed to start this blog – the real life reactions were beginning to get disheartening. Since coming to terms with the fact that this trip was definitely happening, I’ve gotten a lot of confused stares, a few politely-worded questions to the basic tune of, “Why on earth would anyone want to do that?” and only a small handful of genuine expressions of interest out of everyone I’ve told.

The interested folks: my three best girlfriends, a friend’s mom, a couple of other friends, and a coworker.

The disinterested folks: my parents, the rest of my coworkers.

The people who think I’m wasting time / wasting money / otherwise making a stupid mistake / am just strange or insane: my significant other, the rest of my family, a decent chunk of friends, pretty much everyone else that I’ve told in passing.

A lot of my friends think that walking 800km is kind of crazy. I get it. Some people just don’t like being that physically active. I’m comfortable with people liking to be inactive, so why can’t they be comfortable with the alternative? I’ll probably never get it.

A couple of folks have asked me what I think I’ll accomplish. They hear “pilgrimage” and think that I’ve gone soft in the head, like I’m going to start wearing a hair shirt and toting a life-sized cross around. I wouldn’t get that reaction if I said I was going to hike the Appalachian Trail, even though plenty of people hike the Trail to find themselves and enjoy their surroundings, which is exactly what I’ll be doing. If pilgrimage is a quest to to pay homage, why can’t one use it to pay homage to the world, and in doing so, find his or her place in that world? True, I go with some religious questions in mind, but I also go to meet other seekers, to explore medieval architecture, to pit my weak body against the much stronger terrain, and to have a story to tell. Shouldn’t one of these things be enough? Why is it that I can go through the whole list without seeing a single sparkle in the other person’s eye? It’s heartbreaking to know there are people out there with such small imaginations.

A number of people are treating this like I’m talking about taking an extra-long vacation, and see me as somehow selfish for making these plans. Americans typically get two paid vacation weeks a year, compared to four weeks in most European countries. Many Americans – in the past, myself included – take their work with them on vacation, and don’t take their full vacation time each year. We’re workaholics, and it’s killing us. There’s no upside. And technically, even though I’m working 40 hours a week at an agency, I’m a freelancer, so I should be able to dictate my own work schedule. I’ve given up a higher paycheck and health insurance in order to have a job that gives me some choice in my life. Even so, there’s a good chance that I might come back to find I have no job waiting for me. But really, if they can’t hold my desk, is it really a job I want to keep?

One person, in particular, has made it clear that they don’t believe in my decision or ability to carry it out. Planning an expenditure of this scale when I don’t have the funds to begin with, especially knowing that I will surely suffer afterward, just makes them mad with me for being stupid and wasteful and willfully ignorant. This is probably the hardest burden for me to bear on a daily basis, that someone close to me plain doesn’t think I’m capable of achieving a beloved goal. They want me to do what they do – obsess about the future without ever living today. What they don’t, maybe can’t, understand is that I’ve looked at this from all angles. I know the hole I’m potentially digging for myself. But it doesn’t matter. What matters is having the faith that what I’ve decided will not only come to pass, but will be the right thing for me. I’ve decided to LIVE, even if they’re too afraid to make the same decision.

Out of everyone I’ve spoken to, only one person – my best friend – has looked at me with some understanding when I told her what I was planning. She might not have understood the compulsion, but she understands me. She understood, like I do, that this pilgrimage is not an option. It’s happening, one way or the other. As it turns out, she was one of the first that I told once I’d finally made the call that it was going to be this year. I’m so happy that she was the one, because it’s kind of painful trying to speak my soul to other people and having them write me off so easily. I don’t think I can be any clearer: this is of massive importance to me. If I were having a baby or getting married, people would drop everything to congratulate me for embarking on a new path. The irony is that here I am, literally embarking on a new path, and no one gets it.

One thing I’m learning through this process is that I can’t afford to take too much time to be angry or hurt. I definitely can’t try to spew irritation, disgust, or misguided language back at people who try to influence me to change my mind. I truly believe that if I just keep working at this, and putting my back into it, so to speak, only good will come out of my decision. Above all, I need to stay true to the spirit of this journey, and that means staying true to my heart, inviting only the best energy in. Kind of like karma, I guess.

One way or the other, it definitely helps that I have you, kind readers. I really appreciate you all being here, and coming back to read on as I progress in my plans. You’re giving me some of the strength I need to make this journey happen.

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