#Sarria2Santiago

Trying not to be obvious we whispered to each other that we could always follow the people sitting behind us if we don’t know where to go. Because we’re occasionally hopeless and semi-stalkers (even my dad sent us with a GPS tracker to watch our adventure from home).

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But that plan gave way to a little motherly trust and a daughter’s navigation through the town and up a hill in search of a monestary albergue.

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It was threatened mid hill that if I did not find the albergue my mother would be getting carried back down by yours truly….Seems a little unreasonable considering we planned to walk over 10 miles the next day. But we were rewarded with a view of the sunset overlooking the Camino’s entrance into Sarria and finally the monestary.

We had arrived with just half an hour before the night vigil mass in the church attached to the albergue. Talk about grace! We rushed to drop our bags and joined the few local parishioners for our trifecta of foreign language masses. (Italian, French, and now Spanish). Then we returned through the courtyard and actually looked around the albergue.

We got situated, took our first hot shower of the trip, used the coin laundry, and rehydrated the remaining meal gifted by my godmother for a taste of home on our trip.

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With a happy tummy, clean hair, and a blanket from our international flight #sorrynotsorry, I headed off to my bunk bed.

Snoring.

A wonderful sound that someone other than myself was getting a solid rest. Praise Jesus for the pilgrims around us. It did not bother me that morning because an excited restlessness for the trip had me abandon sleep as an option around 4:30am. By 6am most pilgrims were still asleep, a little to my surprise, but by 7am they were all up and moved quickly to get on the trail.

We started amid many pilgrims that morning but as time passes, the pace at which you walk tends to thin out the herd. By lunchtime we saw some of the same faces who passed us earlier resting at a bar/cafe.

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By the time we stopped to eat, they were again walking past us with a smiling “Buen Camino!”. It took almost no time for us to join in greeting every pilgrim with those words. Regardless of ethnicity or language, this greeting was universal on the trail.

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In order to qualify for the Compestela in Santiago we needed to complete the last 100km by foot or 200km by bike and our pilgrims passport needed at least two stamps per day. Almost everybody along the way had a stamp so filling our “passport” was an easy task.

A scallop shell or yellow arrow marked the way along the Camino. They were on stone markers, drawn on the side of houses or marked on the road itself. They become welcome sights as every stone marker had the number of kilometers left to Santiago.

Although we never missed a direction, it was quite easy to lose ourselves in conversation or watching the ground as we walked. My future advice is to just keep your head up and purposefully look for all the beauty along the trail!

The landscapes were gorgeous and every town we went through had some sort of resting place. Some were trying to sell us things or food, others were just welcoming areas graciously left open for weary pilgrims.

Of course all the walking and constantly “ooooh”ing and “ahhh”ing at the countryside burned a lot of calories. Sooo…of course we had to eat the delicious food along the way.

Natural springs and fountains kept our water bottles filled. However the weight of my water bottle seemed to grow exponentially with every step especially going uphill. Filling that bottle again was a blessing and a burden every single time.

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Alex had a different approach to this dilemma

We met up with Alex the night before our last walking day. Going down the trail we passed a note on a stick “I’ll meet you in Arca – Alex”.  We were so excited that amid his many world travels he was able to join us in our final steps to Santiago!

The Cathedral of St James has a way of making one feel so small and in awe of the intricacies hidden in the church. I firmly believe that this is the purpose of a church. To remind you the greatness of God through those feelings when you walk inside a beautiful church. I could not just glance and keep moving through the building, it required some study of the details. So it made this fast moving travel junkie slow down, which is always a good thing.

In “ye olden days” pilgrims carried a wooden shell to Santiago and finished their walk at the most western point of Spain at Finisterre. There they would collect the scallop shell. Thus the white shell would go home with them as proof that they completed the pilgrimage. Alex encouraged us to join him at the “end of the world” and so we took a day to visit.

Looking back, this was one of the best trips because it involved hiking in the outdoors, meeting new people, eating many different sandwiches/desserts, and doing all those things in the name of Jesus! I will leave you with some of my favorite moments from the pilgrimage…

BUEN CAMINO

-S

#Arise

“I’m sorry ladies and gentlemen, but since we are in final descent I can’t come through the cabin right now. That was out of our control but I just want to check and make sure everyone is ok….Everyone is fine?…… Ok”

What is she talking about, I wondered bemused by the vague announcement. *Shrug* I put my headphones back in and zone out, back to thinking how it was my last week of consulting. The next time l leave this early in the morning I’ll be headed to Madrid, Spain! Then I heard the Pilot making an announcement and it’s back to the real world.

“Well it seems we’ve been struck by lightning, not much we can do about that. Don’t worry everything appears fine, we’ll just have to check it out once we get on the ground. Not much we can do about that, it’s not in our control. We’ll have you landed and on the ground in another ten minutes” He continued with our weather announcement and I was no longer confused by the concerned stewardess. Well what a start to my last week….Plane struck by lightning. Whoo!

From lightning in the morning to hotel power flicking off right before checking in, it was a full on case of the Mondays. By the end of the day I was half expecting someone to just walk up and throw a smoothie on my face because why not? Just seemed like that kind of day. The rest of the week I slowly slipped away from the edge of health and into a sneezing, sniffling cold. Thursday night there was so much bad weather and backlog from Atlanta​ delays the day before that all but one connection flight was cancelled. The end result of my last week at work was being stuck in NJ until Sunday morning. Was this telling me that quitting my first career job was a mistake…Or good riddance now she’ll never want to come back? I don’t really know but I had never been so happy to walk back into the mess of my room, knowing that all I had left to do was pack and say my goodbyes.

To be honest packing was a tough mental game. I had to take it all out of the room, but packed in different sections heading to the Camino, Camp Kahdalea, and Anna’s room (aka my interim storage unit). I’d never moved/packed for more than one destination before but after one day of contemplation and procrastination it was moved box by bucket into my car. I’m rather proud of the fact that, excluding my mattress and bookcase, all my material possessions fit into the trunk of my car with room to still see out the back window.
The week flew by, filled with visits and goodbyes to my southern friends. Then off again to celebrate Easter with the family at home. From a laughter filled mass with the priest inviting children on the altar (asking question after question about the homily) to the overwhelming gratitude for our Father for taking on Easter Bunny duties once it was discovered that mother would not be providing us with Easter basket or candy this year. (I mean cmon….What are we? Adults?! Yeah I didn’t think so)

The Easter Pergies

Easter Monday consisted of the final repacking…s of mom and my packs. We both suffer from the plague of second guessing everything if left with the decision but no action for too long. So the bags were unpacked, reexamined, sighed at, hugged in some cases, and eventually I set aside the extra outfit I was attempting to squeeze into my backpack. And then I was done, too bad if it’s a little to big at the gate, I’ll just put on all my clothes and challenge the gate agent to a stare off. Moms approach was one of sitting on and measuring her pack to make sure it was the exact dimensions and no larger for the carry-on limits. Kat just laughed at us both and shook her head. Having spent three weeks galavanting around Europe, she was clearly the expert and we were hopeless pilgrims who are overly attached to their pajama pants.

“Just leave them behind!”

“But I don’t wanna…..”

*Amused smirk of superiority*

“Gahhhh fine but it’s your fault”

“Are you crying?!”

“What? No……”

And so on until we finally sat down to watch The Way and get a glimpse of what The Way of St. James would be like. It was an interesting take on a man who’s son died the first day and for whatever reason he decided to walk the whole Camino for his son. He meets some misfits along the way and you get a wide scope of the reasons one would make this pilgrimage.

Early Tuesday morning we boarded our flight to JFK and spent our lunchtime in the city. We stopped at the beautiful St. Patrick’s Cathedral for daily mass first. Stopping for lunch was next on my list and Angela’s Sandwich Shop was the place to go. An avacado filled chicken wrap soon heighted my spirits and we walked beneath a blue sky to take in the beauty of our corner in Central Park before heading back to the airport.

Now it’s time to hop on the long flight and travel 6 hours into the future. Mom and I will have a good layover in Madrid before heading to Lourdes. This is our first part of our pilgrimage before heading out on the Camino de Santiago.

Keep close, adventure waits for no one.

-S

#LifeInAbundance

All things must come to an end and some get a little push in the name of adventure.

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Here we go!

For about a year and one month I have worked in the world of consultants. This job gave me the opportunity to travel and visit friends states away.

However the career itself left me wanting something more. This corporate culture is not enough for me and my desires are greater than dollar bills. So I’m taking the jump from a stable “adult” job and finding a job I can be passionate about. I understand this isn’t a risk everyone is willing to take, but my motivation lies in finding meaningful work. I want to know that my day to day efforts are serving a greater purpose and affecting the lives around me in a positive manner. This desire motivates me to find an environment that fosters adventurous spirits and encourages the challenge to learn new skills.

Of course my logical personality could not just *snap* make a decision like this and ignore the questions that keep sane people awake at night. For the sake of a short story, I’ve been planning this for a while and made sure to cover my expenses for the next few months while I figure out where I’m headed.

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So…on to the “plan that isn’t really a plan and Oh My Jesus guide my feet” section of this story 😉

Easter is the time for new life and a fresh start.

Take a flight, do some hiking, praise God, and sweat a little. I’m taking the momma travel junkie all the way to Spain. She’s had a specific pilgrimage on her heart for a while and well….I love an excuse to journey with purpose and see somewhere new.

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We are taking about two weeks to visit Lourdes and walk along The Way of St. James #ElCaminoDeSantiago. This is a pilgrimage route over a thousand years old that many Christians (and just nature lovers) have walked to reach the Cathedral. Rumor has it this is the resting place of Jesus’ apostle, James the Elder. The way is marked with scallop shells  and each pilgrim carries one on their walk. We will start in Sarria and continue the last 100km to obtain a pilgrim’s certificate upon arrival in Santiago. Whoop whoop!

After we finish the Camino, before returning, I will be continuing for another week of travel in Italy and possibly Croatia. More to come on that later…

Lastly this summer will bring me back to the mountains that I so love and into the office at Camp Kahdalea. I am extremely excited to begin this journey and you can bet I’m psyched spend a few months among fellow Kahdaladies!

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Camp Kahdalea @ 2funcamps.com

“Life with Christ is a wonderful adventure”
Saint John Paul II

-S