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Archive for August, 2017

 

“Be prepared.”

That’s a piece of wisdom that anyone who backpacks can appreciate. When hiking in the wilderness one has to rely on self-preservation. It’s You and Mother Nature. How you have prepared for the hike and how you handle any issues that arise is a difference between enjoying your adventure and telling the tale . . . or not making it.

This is harsh reality.

Walking the Camino is not a walk thru a city park. You will hit a variety of terrain from mountians, valleys, farmland, forests, towns, cities and industrial areas. Be vigilant and prepared with both mind and body.

When my husband decided to walk the 500 miles from St Jean Pied de Port in 2015 to Santiago I would have loved to go with him. I wasn’t ready though plus I knew at that time he needed to do this alone. Now I have had 2 years to get my self “up to speed” for the 600-mile hike that we plan to take. I have actually been quite surprised at how quickly my body has come back into shape after too much neglect.

I also have two really good pair of boots that I have broken in with the daily walks and weekly long hikes that we are doing.

 

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Those comfortable boots that you have loved for years?  Maybe not a good idea.

 

Taking care of your feet is something often talked about in the various articles and web sites on El Camino de Santiago de Compostela. Good quality boots, good health practices and…moleskin for blisters.   When my husband was getting prepared for his walk the first thing I told him was that he needed to get a good pair of boots and to bring moleskin with him.

“Moleskin? What’s that?” He asked.

I showed him and told him that whenever he felt the beginnings of a blister that he was to put this on it and leave it on. I was thanked via text many times by him while he was on his first walk. He also encountered people who didn’t take care of their feet and suffered gravely for it.

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My husband’s feet with moleskin…and no blisters

 

To me it’s common sense to take care of yourself and make sure that your feet are well cared for since they will be taking you on a long journey. It should be common sense…but common sense is not always there.

Which reminds me of a story…I am a storyteller…

Anansi the Spider decided that he wanted all the common sense in the world for himself. So he took a gourd and collected all the common sense he could find and placed it in that gourd and stuck a cork in the opening good and tight. He then tied a rope around the gourd so that he could carry it around his neck. He found this too cumbersome though and decided that he needed to hide the gourd full of common sense somewhere where it would not be found. He decided high up in the tallest tree would be a good place.

So one day he began to climb, up and up and up. But that gourd swinging around his neck between his belly and the tree just kept getting in the way. It was a difficult climb even with his eight legs.

Far below he heard a small voice, “If you put the gourd behind you you’ll be able to clime easier!”

“What?!?” Anansi didn’t quite hear what the voice said. He looked down and far below standing beside the tall tree was a small boy. His hands where cupped around his mouth and he repeated even louder:

“If … you … put … the … gourd … behind … you … you … will … be … able … to … climb … easier!” He called out again.

Anansi had heard the boy this time. He looked at the tree trunk in front of him; he looked his belly so round; he looked at the gourd full of common sense between the two.

“What?!?” He thought to himself. Here he had all this common sense…all the common sense of the whole world and a little boy still had more than he. What good was it doing him? Nothing.

So Anansi popped the cork and let the common sense ride the four winds. It was taken all over the world and some people ended up with a lot of common sense, some a little and … well others … ended up with none at all.

 

Take care of you feet. They will be carrying all the weight.

Boots1328   The boots that will carry me along

 

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Shells found throughout Santiago de Compostela, Spain

Like many of us, I collect shells. I have bowls and jars full of shells that I have collected along the coasts of California and Costa Rica when I lived there. When I was leaving California in the mid 70’s for the Army, I dragged a friend of mine to Black’s Beach that lies just South of Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve. I had seen bits and pieces of cowrie shells there along a line of rocks that protruded out of the ocean. We spent about an hour looking for a cowrie shell that was not broken, then we gave up and that’s when I found it.   I have carried it with me ever since.   It reminds me of my childhood, growing up and the value of a great friendship that still continues to this day…Love you Jeffrey.

In Costa Rica in 1992 while pregnant with my daughter my husband and I visited the family ranch in Guanacaste along the Pacific Coast. There I found another cowrie shell. This one joined the first and reminds me of my early adulthood, the man that has become my life partner and motherhood…Love you Guillermo and Geannina you’re the heart and soul of my life.

Cowrie1324_4x3 Cowrie Shells from California and Pacific Coast of Costa Rica

Shells are the primordial reminder of where life began. They protect, are beautiful and some hold the sound of the ocean within them.

Throughout Europe the symbol of the scallop shell can be found on doors, windows, walls, statues, and embedded in the roadways. It has become a symbol of the pilgrimage of Santiago de Compostela.

The scallop shell is found naturally along the coastline and at the end of the Camino in Finisterre. Early pilgrims would collect one to prove that they had walked and finished El Camino to the end of the world. Modern day pilgrims will attach one to their packs. It has both practical as well as symbolic uses in the long history of the Camino. For more information on this please go to www.Followthecamino.com they have a very good article on the legend, history and symbolic use of the scallop shell.

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Scallop Shell on pilgrim’s pack

When my husband finished his 500-mile walk to Santiago de Compostela in 2015 we bought each other silver shell charms. He added this to the chain that he wore around his neck throughout his walk and still wears. He added it to a wooden St. Francis of Assisi cross that I bought him at Santa Croce in Florence. When we bought the chain for the cross it was too long so we had it shortened and a bracelet made for me. I placed the shell charm on the bracelet and have worn it almost everyday for the past two years. (Had to take it off for a while when I got my tattoo)

This charm reminds me of the goal that I have set for myself. It reminds me of what I hope to achieve for myself and be a better person. I don’t know if I will be wearing it as I walk but I will have it with me. When I finish and return home I will be adding a new tattoo to my wrist, just under the one I have of a gingko branch and three-legged crow. I will add a scallop shell.

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Note: Follow the Camino is the company that we are using to organize our walk.

 

 

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