Karen's Blog

Post Date: July 9th, 2011

 

The images keep flooding my consciouness even after leaving the camino. It has been two weeks now since I have finished my pilgrimage and I am still processing the "beingness" that I experienced on my walk and slowly acclimating to life back home. Fortunately, I live in paradise on earth in Vail, and it has been an easy transition back to my world in the mountains and I am so grateful for the comfort and beauty that I am privledged to live in.

We take for granted simple things like  hot showers, a wash cloth and towel, a comfortable bed, clean linens and clothes, and food in the refrigerator. How much do we really need in our daily life to be comfortable? I am overwhelmed by the amount of things that I have collected over the years as being "essential" but they are not.  I am going to go to task over the  next few weeks and clean out my closets and clutter and stay concious to live a simplier life. Being a pilgrim was a stretch for me, and my body is still recovering from the pain and exhaustion, but it is an experience that I would have never achieved in my daily life and routine. You cannot discover the depths of your soul with all the distractions that life creates in your world. At least, I can't, and I have been on a soul searching, truth seeking journey my entire adult life. This is just one more stepping stone to the top of the mountain.  My husband asked me before my journey began, "What is your goal in walking the camino?" I said "Only to begin".

There are many paths up the mountain. Choose one that works for you.

I have posted photos on my facebook page for anyone whip is interested to view. Enjoy the images of the camino.

Post Date: July 9th, 2011

 

Post Date: June 19th, 2011

I walked the final day to Sanitago two days ago for 18 miles in the pouring rain. I did not mind it so much in the beginning as I was grateful for having such good walking weather up until then, but after about 5 hours of that I started to get chilled and had no dry clothes to put on as I had sent by backpack by courier on the final day. I stopped at a coffee shop for about an hour to dry off but as soon as I walked outside again the chill set in deeper. By the time I arrived in Santiago I was having fever symptoms and I was shivering violently. I stood before the magnificent church wondering why I was not crying with joy at the sight of it, so instead I climbed the steep stairs and cried at the pain I was feeling in my knees and with gratitude for it being over. I took the last pew in this enormous cathedral and stripped down to my first layer of clothing, I had three on including a raincoat, but was still wet on the first layer.  I sat in in the pew in awe and in a state of disbelief that I had walked all the way here from Pamploma. I really don´t know how many miles exactly  but I was averaging 100 miles per week for three weeks, so about 300 miles, which was not the 500 I set out to do, but I cut my trip a week short after Aaron decided to leave so I could relax on the beach with Chuck, which I think was a good choice. I really don´t know if I could have walked another week, but then again I am sure I could, if I set my mind to do it. It really is all about your mental psyche and overcoming the physical pain. Some have more pain than others, but many of these conditions are things that we have held onto in our lives and they manifest in our bodies, so it is necessary to push through the pain. I would say my pain on this walk ranged form a 5 -8 on a daily basis between a level of 1-10, but as a result I know how to manage pain much better than I did. And the experience I had of meeting a couple hundred people on their own journey, sharing their stories was priceless.  As was true in childbirth, and while I am still feeling the pain, I would say I would not do it again, but I think everyone should do it once, and who knows  . . . .  I am the ¨"walk alone woman" and I am sure I ¨ll just find another place to walk, but maybe not so far.  I will not be blgogging anymore  while Chuck and I are relaxing on the beach. We both just need to unplug from the world, so thank you for following my story and I will post photos on facebook when I get home the 1st week in July. Buen Camino!

Post Date: June 15th, 2011

Women who walk alone.

I think this will be the name of the book I am writing in my head as I walk and hope to publish, when I return home. I have been walking alone and mostly in silence for three days as I have been out in the country and there has been no email service. I finally feel like I am in synch with the energy of the camino. I was gifted a blue feather on the path which I had asked for at the beginning of my walk. I cried when I found it two days ago as there are not any blue colored birds in this area, so I felt the angels were watching over me. Yesterday I went to a  woman who is Shiatsu therapist, in a village that had a population of 15 people, which has cows and bulls roaming the cobblestone streets. You have to get out of their way. It is amazing!!

Anyways, she worked on my knees which are still bothering me, and then I noticed she had two very bright blue feathers in her window and asked her if I could buy one. She said one of the feathers wanted to walk with me and gave me the most beautiful one, so I gifted her back the feather I found on the camino and sobbed in her arms as the flow of energy rushed though me and between us. I felt myself being in such a place of universal connection and gratitude that I have only expereinced a few times in my life. I also stayed in the BEST pension yesterday with a German woman I met on the way and we had the BEST pilgrims dinner served famliy style with all 14 people who were staying there. People from Germany, Portugal, Ireland, Spain and I was the only American which has usually been the case. Very few people speak English here and it has given me the opportunity to practice my Spanish, French and panomime skills. The dinner was such celebration of everyones victory in making it so far, and the whole day experience has left me feeling so much joy and contentment. It is for this reason, I have been walking the camino. The feeling that we are all connected to a higher source and we all makeup the tapestry of this journey called life. It is not so much that there are separate color threads that make up the tapestry, but it one contiuous thread that is multi colored and when woven, makes this beautiful pattern. ( My beloved spiritual teacher Almine has said this before and although I understood it conceptually, I  now I understand it more experiencially. She has also said that it  is necessary to experiece the dark side to appreiciate the light side, like the lace doliy placed over the lit lamp, where if you did not see the shadows of the doily, you would not be able to see the beauty that is created by the light side.  Almine has also said that I represent the archetype of the Goddess of "¨The walks tall woman", now I feel like the "Limps a lot woman!" But I am learning alot from the other women who are walking alone, most older than me, up to age 73, and listening to their stories and understanding why they walk alone. It is an Goddess archtype, The "Walks Alone Woman". (More on this when I write the book!)  I am walking the last 50 km in the next three days and then will complete my journey in Santiago on Friday and go to the mass for Pilgrims on Saturday. . .  and then on to the beach to relax. Life is good . . .

Post Date: June 11th, 2011

The walk today from Ponferrada to Villa Franca was 25 km. (16.25 miles) My knee is doing better now that I have had the chriopractor adjust my hips in Leon. My third vertabrae was rotated which was causing a good amount of my pain. I am still wearing ace bandages on both knees now, but only the downhill is painful. Since I was having so much pain walking, Chuck has decided to come meet me in Madrid on the 17th to relax with me on the beach so I need to speed up my walk a few days to finish at Santiago.  I will take a bus after Ocebriero tomorrow to Sarria so I can still get my Compostela certiciate by walking the last 100 km of the El Camino. We have arranged a house trade on the Cote de Sur in The south of Spain to spend a week on the coast relaxing. I love my magic carpet, which is my house, that allows me to stay anywhere in the world on a whim.

http:// www.homeexchange.com if any one is interested in checking it out. The house we are staying in is listing #39718. Mine is #39726. Have to run my laundry is finished and someone is removing my things already. I hate staying in Albergues and I swore after the last one I stayed in that had a co-ed bathroom with open urinals, that  was the last straw, but alas, this was the first place to stop after my very long walk today and my Canadian friend Melanie is here tonight, so I will not be a not a peregrina princesa tonight!

Post Date: June 9th, 2011

I back tracked for 5 miles today. Jennie, my experienced Camino friend, said NEVER do this! I took a bus to Ponferrada from Leon as I needed to cut some days off my journey since we am  going to go down to the Cote del Sur for a week of relaxation on the beach, provided the house trade goes through. Otherwise Chuck is going to experience how the life of a Peregiño is! And so after I waked about 8 miles today and was headed out of town, a local man stopped to talk to me and I asked how much further it was to the next town. He told me 20 -22 km which I knew I could not make, since I am still dealing with my knee-leg issue, so I turned around and came back to the local Albergue which was 5 miles back. What a disappointment! After being greeted by the hostalier who gallantly carried my back pack for me, I follwed him down to the basement, where the ceilings are only about 7 foot high and the walls are concrete with 50 bunk beds in this room. There are no blankets and the beds are covered in plastic. I nearly cried and decided I would leave my back pack and look for another place to stay, but my leg hurts, and then I met some Peregrinos from New Jersey, Germany, South Africa, and Italy and they invited me to their Peregrino dinner at the Albergue. So I am staying, and will take a sleeping pill as soon as I hit the plastic mattress. I miss my 600 count linen sheets. I wish I still had my bug zapper. I will wear my hat to bed tonight to keep the bugs out of my hair.

What is the point of this?

I do not know, I only know you don´t choose the Camino, it chooses you, and I have known for 12 years now that I needed to make this journey since I read my first book about the Camino. I am a spiritual being on a human journey and there is something very human about participating in this grueling, agonizing experience that is rewarded each day with beauty and human interaction that goes beyond language.

I am considering writing a book after this is over called the Princesa Peregriña, advising women how to make this journey by avoiding staying in Albergues and getting beauty treatments at every spa they pass. Also to allow themselves a budget to replace their smelly dirty clothes each week with something beautiful and not to continue carrying or washing their dirty clothes.

They have the most beautiful dress shoppes in Spain and I am too smelly to go in and try anything on but when I reach Santiago I shall buy myself a beautiful dress and strappy sandals and throw away my pergriño clothes.

I look forward to being a Princesa Peregriña.

Post Date: June 8th, 2011

Yesterday I I had a magnificent day. Slept late, went online for about an hour and found a fabulous home in Sevilla that I am negotiating for a trade for the last week now, had coffee with some South African women, Shirley and Annilee, while watching the passerbys including a Spanish guy who kept walking from the plaza to the Cathedral in exactly the same pattern over and over while smoking a cigarette for the entire day. He was there doing it again this morning. He looked to be in a trance like state. We watched him for about an hour each day. Quite entertaining! Then I went to the cathedral and prayed for all my sins and all of yours too. Oh yes, I checked into the pension that the South African girls are in and I have a private room with a balcony overlooking Le Jardin with a fountain with French doors opening to it for only 23 Euros. I will be staying for two nights. Right down the street there is a spa and today is Peregrino day and I get a 30 minute massage and use of the spa facilities which include a jacuzzi and pool, steam and sauna for 15 Euros. I had to go buy a bathing suit which was my biggest challenge today. I nearly settled for a bikini that was two sizes too small when I found a top that will work quite well with my black spandex underwear that I already have. My Canadian friends have had an intervention on my backpack and have made me give up several small luxuries like my bed bug zapper which I paid $40.00 for, and my extra lotions and q-tips. Also I am ripping out the pages of my tour guide everyday as I go along to make the load lighter. I would like to leave a shirt behind, but it has been quite cold and I have to wear all the layers I have. I am carrying one long sleeve shirt, one pullover lightweight patagonia top, a raincoat, one short sleeve shirt, one sleeveless,a pair of running pants, a pair of zip off hiking pants a nightshirt to sleep in, 3 pair of underwear, 4 pair of socks,  which I go through two per day, hiking boots, walking shoes, flipflops, a hand towel and a pashmina. This has been one of my biggest challenge in traveling without my normal assortment of clothes to choose from and deciding which shoes to wear. Everythinng I wear gets washed nightly and hung out to dry. Most of it is black.  Nobody seems to notice, but they are all wearing the same things everyday too. Thanks for all the comments. Keep them coming, it gives me strength to move on.

Post Date: June 7th, 2011

It´s hard to believe it´s been only two weeks. I feel like it has been two months since I have been away. Have walked about 150 miles so far and I am still having knee trouble. I think I may have some miniscus damage to my right knee which is making it very difficult to carry my pack and walk up and downhill, which there are plenty! So I am in Leon today and going to spend some time in the absolultely beautiful cathedral here, meditating and praying for the healing of my knee and all the other sins I have committed in my life up to today. So I should be free from sin by this afternoon! Let me know if anyone needs prayers said for their own personal healing. The Canadian girls have moved forward today as I am trying to recover, so this will be the first time I will be traveling alone. I think this is were the real journey begins. . . The comment button should be in place now to respond to my blog. Give it a try!

Post Date: June 5th, 2011

Ugh! My feet are killing me and my knees are buckling. I am taking the bus to Leon tomorrow.

I am out of internet time. I will try to blog tomorrow!

Hasta La Vista . . .

Post Date: June 2nd, 2011

 

We are in Burgos and Aaron will be taking a train to Madrid tonight, sleep in the airport and then fly back to the States tomorrow. We have walked 107 miles together and I am very proud of his courage to come this far on this journey with me. This is NOT easy! His ankle continues to cause him a lot of pain when walking and he feels it will only cause further damage to it by continuing on. I have met a couple of Canadian women who have embarked on the journey separately and we all seem to be keeping about the same pace, so I will continue on with them, walking mostly solo but hooking up an the end of the day at the Albergues to share some dinner. The Albergues are in  general very clean, but very crowded and it is always a challenge sleeping in a big room with alot of strangers who snore. However, it  is a place to meet new friends, share a bottle of wine and stories after a long hard day. Both of my knees are causing me pain and I have support bandages on both, so I will keeping walking until my knees buckle and then I will take the bus.My blisters have healed over pretty well. We rode the bus from Logroño to Burgos so Aaron could make it here to see the beautiful catherdral and make a transfer back home from here. Everything logistically is a challenge to make arrangements, we still can´t figure out how to dial an 800 # from here and internet access is very unreliable from my smart phone, which is smarter than me, BTW, and there are usually lines of people waiting to do their laundry and use the internet. So if I do not blog for a few days, that is why.  I believe you should be able to post a comment here and my blog and I would love to hear from you all.