For anyone who has followed Brianna and her old Dad for the last two weeks, you have seen & heard sights and sounds that the two of us have never experienced before.
Imagine walking, not running, a marathon everyday for 13 days. Cross-country marathons with hills, valleys, mountains, and river and creek beds. Farms and villages. Dirt paths to concrete roads. Highways and rarely used back roads. You get the pictures…..
Like our world, the Camino is diverse with places & paths,,,,,and people. We walked between and lived in 14 different places, most called albergues, over these last 14 nights. Every single one was managed by capable folks, but varied wildly from hippie style to chic. Throw in an eclectic bunch of pilgrims at each stop, all randomly brought together based on timing and levels of exhaustion…and you have a different dynamic every night.
Any travel you do, local to afar, is about the big 3. People. Places. And things. Or, nouns, as I like to call them.
The last being interesting to totally boring. The middle being required to get you out of your daily comfort zone. And, the first, to engage you in conversation, laughs, and memories that can never be duplicated anywhere..
.to be continued tomorrow. I’m tired…
(7.5 hours of needed sleep later…)
Good morning ! I’m up. As I was saying, before exhaustion overcame me….Things are just things, Places get you going and out of your comfort zone and the People are many reasons to motivate you to get out there. Be it your daughter who asks for that Spring Break trip to NYC or the beach or for weeks walking Spain…..I know. What young person asks to spend precious vacation time with old Dad? Well, evidently, mine….the point is to find a way and just go.
None of us are getting any younger, especially yours truly….
How does one go from such black to gray, you may wonder? Life details provided in my initial posts are archived here. My 40’s started in a rough way and we’ve regrouped, downsized, and prioritized like the younger me could not anticipate. Two constants, over most of the last decade, have held steady. Family and travel. Sure, we lost both of our Dads a couple of years ago, but our family was there. Sure, I cannot plan and bill business/pleasure trips to my company anymore. But, we still find a way to go and help our girls explore foreign lands & experiences via Delta SkyMiles. Thanks, AMEX & Delta!
What motivates you to get out of your ordinary world and explore that different place? Or, keep returning to that place where family memories keep building up layers upon layers?
Here are my motivational loved ones…
Those are my reflections from this long and fruitful experience with Brianna and many others. Santiago again today. Train to Madrid tomorrow. Back to home on Monday. Hanging with our boys for a couple of days, then…off to Costa Rica on Thursday with My Love. Couples-only trip that she earned with her business team. Nice July, heh?
As I’ve tried to make all too clear, I may not be getting any younger, but my loved ones and the places & experiences we share together are about as good as any fountain of youth that this mind & body has found. Or. Maybe they found me.
Maybe that’s what God had planned all along.
We started early today for us. 6:30 was so early that our pension’s kitchen wasn’t quite ready to serve. That was fine. A great nights sleep was all we needed, after hot showers and delicious dinners, of course.
Our intent was to split yesterday and today into nice 25k days. Geography had another idea. 24k yesterday and closer to 28k today. And it felt like it.
But, we rolled into the cathedral squares right around noonish and here’s a sample of the welcoming structures…
The pedestrian-only areas go on and on out from the plazas. We window shopped and scouted out cafe’s and park areas before our respective ciesta s. Our boutique pension is just down the hill from the cathedral, the quiet side of the old city. It’s managed by a husband & wife with two little ones running around or needing care too. The may live in the apartment behind the hotel. Another chic, yet affordable place to rest, get clean, and adventure out of for a couple days of recovery & exploration. We even have air-conditioning. Bonus. For my improving health, I sourced our supply of mineral water, bag full of huge oranges, and a couple more 1.55€ liters of local vino tinto for nightcaps on the patio.
Obviously, post-ciesta now, I continue to yawn like never napped. My body is telling me that 13 days straight crossing northern Spain might just be my limit. That’s my understanding of certain aches and weird pains in weird places.
However, it’s been remarkable from concept to making it happen. All thanks to a remarkable daughter…
Our huge world just got a little smaller thanks to My Love above and to that little girl of ours who’s all grown…but wonderfully not quite grown-up.
Love to you all back at home in the U.S., in Munich, and right here in Santiago, Spain.
And, all the best the world can offer you & yours who are reading, sharing, and encouraging our journey.
I’ll be offering reflections about this challenging “spiritual” journey next time. For now, here are the last images we took on the Camino….
It’s only happened once…so far. Spanish women are fun, impossible to understand, and a laugh a second. That is reason enough to spend a fun-filled night with them. But, so is a lack of private rooms at your local aubergue. These are such women with my lovely daughter…
We all slept in the same room due to the packed town of pilgrims. We all ate, washed clothes, relaxed, and chatted in common spaces or sidewalk cafes as needed. It was an experience. First and last.
You see, Brianna and I have been putting all of our energy and sweat into the Way. The walk. The hike to Santiago from Leon, Spain. 300km of the 800km Camino Frances that demands 5-6 weeks of hiking.
I’ll make no apologies for needing comfort after our days on the Camino. We paid 10€ for our first private room and 20€ for our favorite aubergue experience and 55€ for a remarkable B&B in the smallest village. Other private rooms with clean beds and killer baths have all been in that range , averaging us about 35€ per night. Well worth the 15-20€ per night for securing our stuff, clean everything, total privacy, quiet naps, peaceful overnight sleep, and NO BEDBUGS. Yes, Yes, those are an issue in cheap hostels and aubergues on the Camino.
Not worth it. Budget accordingly or just camp outside. Either way. Avoid those critters. Ridding them from your person, clothes, and backpack is quite the ordeal.
From where we are now, it’s Camino paradise @ 45€ + 20€ total for both 3-course dinners with vino. Not bad….
Gracias, Brianna. Mucho gracias, señorita.
She’s off to bed now. 4.50€ and my nightcap awaits me…
And Buen Camino!
Imagine a funny guy. A balding guy. A joke-telling guy. A guy who ran a profitable ranch with 5,000 head of cattle. The same guy that was stripped of his investment in property by the Zimbabwe government with no appeal nor recourse. $5 million or so gone forever, along with his life.
Just add a little salt to his wounds. His wife leaves too. What does Larry do? Hike the Camino in Spain, head to Ibeza for kicks, and go explore the “walking with lions” business potential in Belize. I love it. Here’s Laurence, Larry to me…
So, on our last night in one of our hippie villages, La Faba, I picked up a 1.50€ bottle of local white wine as Larry was checking out the cattle farm.
And We forgot the sunset as we headed back downhill.
We were stumbling just fine until we heard the voices of the sweetest family we knew from Barcelona. We popped in during their communal serving of dinner…
…and the old man in-charge showed us the door. Another couple of jugs of beer later, and we were chasing cattle. Well, Larry was…but, a couple of nights before…well…..to be continued…this video from our second night past Leon says it all. Laurence tells his joke we laugh and proverbial chips fall…
Warning: keep tender ears away from this video!
I can’t wait to catch up in Belize. Or wherever.
Buen Camino, Laurence! And cheers!
We awoke very early this morn to the wafting aroma of farm dung. You see, there’s no air conditioning in this part of Spain. Your open windows and sweet nights in the breezy 50’s do the job. Just avoid aubergues downwind from farm animals.
Thus, we packed up and hit the cafe’ and then the trail.
Galicia is perfect for morning hikes. Cool, as everywhere, but mist and clouds hang over this valley. They burn off by lunchtime, when we are winding down. Not so today. We needed to go more that 32km to leave two more days to cover the last 52km. As for today, my body is talking to me. Screaming a bit, at one point. But I thought it may have screamed, yet again, “Cervesas, por favor!” Thus, I answered my body’s cry. Grande cervesa before we finished. And another as reward. Between, there was this….
That hanky you cannot see there was from Brianna herself. As a child, she sewed my initials in the corner of a dozen handkerchiefs many years ago. We are hanky carriers from way back. Maybe she personalized 15 or so. I brought that one for good reason. It means a lot to me. Just like this adventure. Just like her.
As we continued today, the sky cleared and it became hot. Just the high 70’s but with sun. Carefully maintained cabana trails really help…
And, Buen Camino!
I was in business for almost two decades and I navigated a lot of $#!+. But nothing like the merde I’ve navigated literally and technologically the last few days. But, here we are, in Gonzar, at the bar (oh, Dr. Suess) wifi from afar. Oh, the places we go.
You see. We had a first world problem. When in the vast space of Galicia, techy concerns, wifi (pronounced “wee-fee”) is what it is. The flies here have stronger connections than technology. Maybe that’s the point. Horse a and cow poop smells stronger than any online connection could be. C’est la vie. (Camino is French too)
Until I have a real connection with gusto. Trust me. I have pics & videos to write home about. That’s the whole point. Sure, I want to entertain my blog followers, but this blog is mostly for the most beautiful and caring woman & partner and our 4 remarkable kids (2 grown women & 2 little dudes).
Find pics and videos & links @justbecausetwit on Twitter. I sincerely wish I could do better here. Just. Not. Gonna. Happen. Galicia. Spain.
Thanks for reading and following.
Best to you & yours,
We are on a trip, an experience, an adventure. Not a true vacation.
You see. This Dad-daughter adventure began with long flights/train ride and others catering to our needs. We didn’t have to think too much.
Once in Leon, Spain, that changed. Where to stay? How to get there? Where to eat? How to get on the Camino trail? Like Dr. Seuss does Spain.
And, we were off. More ways than one. Trekking through Leon was urban boring, but led to gorgeous countrysides. We went for days on long, easy hikes of 15-20k a day. Fun walks. Fun people. Excellent naps, meals, vino & cervesas, and overnights everyday. Then. Payback.
We took on our first 30k journey. Great weather. 52f to start. Not really hot until afternoon. That’s been our fortune. Yesterday, however, we pushed our limits and felt it. We dragged ourselves into medevial Villafranca with all the gusto of two beaten rugs. But, we made it. No blisters. No bruises. No lacerations. Just sore in certain places. This is our motivation…
We had another bohemian aubergue last night and slept like babies with a cool breeze from our open window that cost us an extra 4€. Best deal there. After FaceTime with My Love and boys, I was out. Our host shut all pilgrims down by 10:30 and there was nothing but the sound of the breeze.
Up @ 7 and we were off again. Our Camino bible detailed trail one over two mountains, climbs of over 1,500ft in elevation over 10k. We chose 2. We hit the pass, along a road and off-road past the pass. It was very enjoyable. Until those last two kilometers. Straight up. Rocks to climb. 15-25% pitch all the way. But, this old man did it. Girl too. Lots of rests and water breaks. My cue to break was the distinct feeling of my rapid pulse in my neck. One’s heart should rarely scream through one’s neck, me thinks.
26k later. We made it. Just an uphill 4k away from the next tallest peak. No worries. We are here…
Our next bohemian albergue came in at a nice 5€ per bed and we are each suspended high in the room in elevated bunks. Nice Spaniards will be joining us across the room. Only 8 beds in a cool stone & timber room. Communal veggie dinner with jugs of organic wine is @7:30 sharp or when the dinner bell rings. Just like mom never did!
Super wi-fi here is stunning. La Faba is quaint, sweet, and remote. How do they do it? Great way to stay in-touch via FaceTime, text, fb, and blog. Verizon’s international package? Not so much.
No TV that I can understand. No NPR. No USA fast food, news, creature comforts….and it’s all good.
I’m here with someone I love. Staying in-touch with home loves. Kait joins us next week. And we are challenging ourselves like never before with great excercise and many a culinary & libation reward each day and evening. Plus, I was educated by my dear daughter that the less I drink , the less I snore. Never stop learning, I say.
But, I did buy her & Kait earplugs , just in case the free-flowing vino tinto & ridiculous conversations get away from me again. Just in case.
Tonight’s hippie dinner, after dinner stroll, and sleeping around others should be interesting. Really looking forward to it.
Hope you and yours are well and good day or goodnight from La Faba…
The longer you live, the more important a few things are and how little most things mean to you…or should.
Today was a great day. Perfect weather. Glorious views…
…descending from over 1,500km to about 600km elevation (over 3,000ft) over a couple of hours. However, overlooking one emence valley, I found myself obsessing about home. One little guy who turned 9 today. To know Max is to love him…
Smart, funny, good-looking…all Mom’s traits. I’m just a blessed Dad. I’ve never missed his birthday. It’s just not done. Most summers, we’ve all gone to the beach this week. We did that in May this year. I barely made it through a video message to him last night and Brianna and I did our best for him on the trail this morning here…sorry for the shotty camera work….
I’m blessed to be here with our first-born, Brianna. I’m blessed to have her sister join us in Madrid next week. Blessed to have a partner in life who loves me unconditionally and encouraged this Dad-daughter pilgrimage. And blessed to have two brilliant and funny boys at home, who also need to travel the globe and immerse in how the other halves of this world live.
But, this was a trip for our girls and me. God willing, I’ll have a few decades to explore with one to all of Hill family of 6. But, today, I do miss those at home. Not the trappings. Not our mundane routines. Not the stuff. The people. The ones who mean the most to me.
Most of all, today, it’s our boy of 9. Thor, as I like to refer to him. Maxwell, for real.
Although he does not follow blogs, even mine, for good reasons, Hsppy 9th my boy and I’m going to squeeze on you and all that matter so hard when we return home. Hey, God, could you work my love into Max’s dreams later tonight ? Thanks!
I know. I know. He’ll barely remember one birthday out of so many. Maybe. But I will. I will remember this magical journey with my daughters, just as I will remember missing one of our boys birthdays. C’est la vie, I guess.
I’ll leave tonight or today with a few images of The Way of the Camino de Santiago. Real monuments. Real homage to those lost or suffering now. Such warmth coming from serine.
Eyelids getting heavy. Eyesight foggy. Hard to type. Brianna is out cold. Great time to share.
Again, happy 9th Max, wherever you are. Hope today was fun and enjoy dinner out with family there!. Love and miss you all! Celebrate for me celebrating for you!
Love from one sweet little town in Spain…to a sweet boy back home.
Love you, Max, and Buen Camino!