Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Camino Entry 63

Entry 63, January 26th, 2012

Sitting in the Dublin airport, around 7:30am local time. I managed to get some sleep . . . makeshift sleeping locations keep the pilgrim inside of me smiling.

I have been experiencing periods of “fuzzy” as I am living life after the camino. These are interspersed with moments of clarity where I feel like a pilgrim again. I just skimmed through Coelho's book on his pilgrimage and it has left me feeling clear, calm, and fluid.

The clarity is where I want to remain. Fatigue and sickness have me worn down somewhat, as well as being traveling for 11 months. But the camino has left me with a powerful spiritual momentum as well. Peter was right – the way back is just as important as the way there. I wonder if the way back is the secret camino mentioned by Coelho's guide?

But this was not the right camino to walk back. It wasn't the right camino at all, in some ways – I mean, it was exactly the right camino for the moment, but it is not my camino. It was training, the beginning, the test run. My camino lies somewhere more personal to me. It will be a path much like the first part in Cataluña – intense and walked alone.

Although maybe I am wrong. Maybe Santiago became a part of my personal mythology through these experiences. I don't know. I feel the fog returning. I needed to walk the way back, but where would I have walked back to? It is going to take me a while to sort through all of this. I am unsure about the third liminal stage.


The British couldn't do it, but the Irish have sold me on the idea of beans as breakfast food. And I was the only Yankee on a flight of all Irish people last night . . . just as the British accent makes dental visits bearable, the Irish accent makes flying a pleasure.

The one comforting thing about living a life asleep is that you wouldn't notice being asleep.

I must remember that the camino was not a paradise of clarity and the beginner mind – rather, it was usually confusion, frustration, doubt, and fear. There is no reason to expect normal life to be any different.

Kenny Werner says that struggling young musicians keep playing music because either 1. They love doing it, 2. They need to express themselves, or 3. They're afraid not to do it. This is something I need to look inside myself and find the answer to. Although I suppose my actions will answer it for me. Damn, I prayed to have the strength to act despite fear, and it might take me away from the music.

But if it takes me away from the music, I was never that close to begin with.


Just went through US customs! Huge American flag! Big picture of Barack Obama! So excited to be going home. It is about three times more complicated than all of the other customs, but everyone here has been really profession and friendly. Good to have real, green, freedom-loving money in my pocket instead of that Hasbro Euro shit. 'Muhrica!

I love the United States. Sitting on the EL from O'Hare to Union Station, a woman across from me was having a conversation about bidding on a mule via an iPhone. She mentoined Wyoming and so after her call I asked if she knew Pinesdale . . . she does! I need to tell Ryan that I met the fire marschall from Jackson Hole on her way to see the Chicago Symphony perform Carmina Burana.

Midwesterners are friendlier. I didn't notice before leaving for a year, but I have been having conversations with total strangers ever since I landed. This just doesn't happen in Europe.

The Midwest is resplendent with ugly January. I love it. Dead brown trees, dirty snow, cracked pavement, people hunched over in winter coats. It exists under harsh orange streetlamps, visible in fleeting images as Amtrak #354 speeds out of Chicago. It is ugly and I love it. It is the land of the blues.

Our country deserves better, though, especially passenger rail. Nobody does freight rail on the scale we do or as well, but Amtrak sucks. Underfunded and out of date. If the political will doesn't exist to rebuild passenger rail in this country, somebody else should do it. Someone like me.

The railroad narrative is very different between Europe and here. In Europe, the story is of a beautiful symphony of rail lines, curving together in crescendos and decrescendos in a work of art. The fact that trains run on them is secondary. In the USA, though, it is all about the lone locomotive, setting out to do battle with the elements. The traveler conquering the terrain.

Expenses, Day 63
Irish Breakfast: 9.95
Extra Luggage: 50.00
Total: 59.95

Trip Total: 1574.77

Camino Entry 62

Entry 62, January 25th, 2012

Went for a late paella lunch today with the three Brazilians. It was delicious, and we sat in view of the beach . . . what a good way to say goodbye to Barcelona, Spain, and Europe in general. I can't believe I have been here for nine months, and that I'm finally leaving!

Expenses, Day 62
Excellent farewell lunch: 35.00
Bus to Airport: 5.30
Total: 40.30

Trip Total: 1514.82

Camino Entry 61

Entry 61, January 24th, 2012

Ah. It is good to be back in Barcelona. I am at La Pallaresa right now with chocolate and churros.

The hostal is filled of Brazilians and Australians, as usual. There was one particularly vivacious and beautiful Brazilian girl named Marcella who wants to walk the camino but keeps putting it off . . . I gave her one of my yellow arrows as a good luck charm. Maybe this is a violation of the rules, maybe I only did it because she was beautiful – fuck it, I did it and it was good.

She also knows Clifford Brown, so I should give myself a little more credit. They wanted to hear me play . . . I let myself be convinced, and I played Stardust despite being two months out of shape. The trumpet has not felt that strange in a long, long time. Not only am I weak, but it feels alien on my face. Weird.

Afterward she and a Brazilian guy who plays guitar gave me some Brazilian artists to check out. We'll play again tonight I hope.

Still sick as a dog. Time to run some errands.

Expenses, Day 61
Chocolate con churros: 4.30
Equipment for trip home: 18.00
New netbook charger + adapter: 50.00
Total: 72.30
Trip Total: 1474.52

Camino Entry 60

Entry 60, January 23rd, 2012

I'm not sure which is more amazing – that I walked from Barcelona to Santiago in 51 days, or that I traveled from Santiago to Barcelona in an hour and twenty minutes the other way. Woke up at 6am, was in Barcelona by 11. Shit.

One of the other guests at the albergue was kind enough to wake me up, as I have no alarm clock. They start today to Finisterra and are so excited they were up till 3am. I'm happy to see other pilgrims starting a journey.

Packing my carry on, I realized that I have become one of those people that everyone else mentions to their family when they travel. My carry on is a plastic shopping bag containing only a collection of shells wrapped in a towel and a battered copy of the Tao te Ching. This, along with the floppy hat and patches of beard, is how the nice Galician tourism survey girl knew I was a pilgrim.

I feel like a spy in a foreign land. My insides are those of a pilgrim (I hope that never changes) and I feel a total disconnect from the concerns of those around me. It feels good. Those three days back from Finisterra were well spent.

While talking with Simon I realized what my next quest will be. I want to find someone enlightened, someone who has figured “it” out. I don't really have any questions for them, I just want to see if it can be done.

Expenses, Day 60
Bus to Airport: 3.00
Bus from Airport: 5.30
Sant Jordi Hostal (2 days): 32.80
Groceries: 17.06
Metro Tickets: 8.00
Total: 66.16

Trip Total: 1402.22

Camino Entry 59

Entry 59, January 22nd, 2012

Beautiful, wonderful weather today. Like the first days of spring in Michigan, when no one can pay attention in class.

Definitely sick again. I felt the first symptoms of a head cold two nights ago, and today it has settled in with full force.

I'm having lunch at a little roadside restaurant where I did the same on my way out. Sunday it is full of families. It reminds me of Flap Jack's or the Robin's Nest. All my thoughts are of home.

The wind here is very sweet, but no wind is as sweet as the one that blows over your homeland.

I arrived at the cathedral again and could feel my camino end. It is time to assume the camouflage of the masses again, but I know that inside I will remain outside of that world, and happy to be so.

In other words, time to shave.

I still feel a bit lost as to what comes next, but that's okay. I will follow my enthusiasm. The camino has not taught me what to do, but it has taught me how to do it.

Gotta find an alarm clock . . .

Expenses, Day 59

Lunch: 5.30
Albergue + laundry: 16.00
Internet: 3.00
Donation: 3.00
Total: 27.30

Trip Total: 1336.06

Camino Entry 58

Entry 58, January 21st, 2012

I've been lost twice today and it's only lunchtime. The signs do not work nearly as well in reverse. It's okay, though, I have dad's luck in wandering. I think I found the old camino at one point . . . I was following markers, but the road was only ruts and they were all covered in vines. I don't remember crossing the mountain that way, either.

The ancient old lady running this bar is looking at me like I'm crazy. Which I suppose I am. I am the only customer.

I probably look more like Arno right now that I do like normal people. He spoke about his relationship with the city . . . when he was in silence for six months, he would come by the church to get fresh water from a spigot. No begging or anything, but even then the people coming out of mass would not make eye contact with him. “What were they talking about in there?” wonders Arno. Sometimes the priest comes by Arno's chapel, driving his BMW . . . the thing reads like something out of a Sunday school textbook.

Alright. Time to go.


I met another American! His name is Simon, he's from NYC, and he walked from Sarria. He's 32 and lives very fast – lots of traveling. He is trying to do Lisbon and Madrid in the two days after Finisterra . . . I don't know if he will need an extra day or not, he has a double layer blister just like the Spanish guy that the Master told to go to a hospial.

Got lost a third time, this time for six or seven kilometers. Pressed on, found the camino. It was a long day. The marker says 67km from Finisterra . . . pretty good for two days' work.

When Simon asked about the camino to Finisterra at the pilgrim office in Santiago, the man was insulted. “That's a pagan route; we don't have any information on that here!” How 12th century of him . . . fascinating, especially since the pagan routes predate the death of St. James.

Today's realization – I cannot make anyone happy. I do not know what would make them happy, and I do not have the power to realize it. So, I release myself from the obligation to make myself happy as well, because emotions are like the weather.

Instead, I assume two new obligations. First, to love everyone instead of trying to make them happy. Simple, but not easy. Second, to live in harmony with myself, instead of trying to be happy. Again, simple, but not easy.

I am accumulating bug bites all over my body. I worry that my sleeping bag is infested. Also, my left big toe is a little swollen and numb on one side. My right ankle wore through the sock today and began rubbing. I am starting to wear out – time for a rest soon.

Expenses, Day 58
Breakfast: 3.50
Internet: .50
Lunch: 4.20
Dinner Provision: 8.00
Albergue (Negreira): 5.00
Total: 21.20
Trip Total: 1308.76

Also important: the best way I can love others is to know myself, so that I can be truthful and genuine with them. Or at least that would be a good start.

Camino Entry 57

Entry 57, January 20th, 2012

Wet and rainy all day as soon as I got inland . . . welcome to Galicia. I barely made it to Olveira . . . it was solid night as I walked into the city. This is probably because I dwadled on the long beach outside of Finisterra.

I know now why the symbol of the camino is the shell. The beach at Finisterra is covered in them! Thousands, no, tens of thousands. Some of them are larger than my hand. I picked up several for gifts, and to decorate my pack (finally) with a visible sign of pilgrimage. Must wait till after flying, though – no way a shell survives baggage handling.

Then I said goodbye to the ocean. I wet my fingers in a wave and pressed them to my lips. I could taste the salt, and a little stayed in my beard and trickled down my arm. Goodbye, ocean. I will live by you someday.

Ran the gamut of emotions on the trail today, same as always. Part of me is very frustrated to walk back. I think maybe I will not need to walk in the USA on my way home – perhaps my journey has been long and strange enough not to need the trip back Peter speaks of. Has this whole eleven months been a pilgrimage of sorts?

Passed my own footprints today. Now that is a spooky feeling.

In the albergue here in Olveira there is a woman from Valencia and two Germans (Mar, David, and and Sebastian, respectively). They walked with Frank, Ernesto, and Chan Hee! And Ursula! Everybody made it! I am so happy to hear it . . . this means that Jay and I are the only ones of that group from Puenta la Reina still walking. Last I heard he was in León. I told them to visit Arno.

Expenses, Day 57
Coffee: 1.50
Provision: 1.00
Lunch: 9.00
Internet: 1.00
Dinner: 1.00
Albergue: 5.00
Total: 18.50
Trip Total: 1287.56