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Go Big or Go Home

March 31, 2019

I’ve started training for my next walk – here’s the plan: Fly to Vienna on May 18, then start the European Peace Walk at Lindl, Hungary (south of Budapest) on the 22nd. It is about 2 weeks, 330 kilometers, and ends in Trieste on the Mediterranean coast of Italy. Then walk to Venice, about another week. I’m doing this part with trail friends I met in Portugal and France last year. And I’ll make new trail friends.

Then, fly to the port city of A Coruna in northwestern Spain, and walk the Camino Ingles, the traditional route for English pilgrims to get to Santiago de Compostella.  That walk is only 3-5 days (depending on the route I take).  Then meet up with Kay and walk the Santiago -Muxia – Finisterre camino triangle, another week or more. Kay will have just completed the Camino Francais, solo (800 kilometers).

My friend Patricia leaves tomorrow for St Jean Pied de Port in southern France to start her Camino Francais walk, 800 kilometers to Santiago. I have helped her understand the process, make the plans, and provided encouragement; the motivation is all hers.

Patricia is 81 years old and plenty capable of the walk. My only real concern was in her actually getting to St Jean; once there, she will be in the “Camino pipeline.” I’ve convinced her that sometimes she might take a bus or a taxi and that she will always be willing to ask for help when needed. My old navigator from 40 years ago, Tom (California), is starting today from St Jean. One of my friends from Air Force pilot training 45 years ago will be walking it with his wife in a few months.

From the excellent story, “Ego Trip, 40 Days and 40 Nights on the Camino de Santiago” by Paul Granaghan:

I had no doubt when I decided to leave my job: time really is short when compared to death, and once gone it will not come back. You can spend money, waste it, you can give it away; yet there is always the possibility of getting it back again, by fair means or foul. But time is a one way system; it radiates from you like body heat, taking with it your youth, your ambition, your stamina, your courage, and for some it will take with it your mind, your memories, and your dignity as it goes. The time of your life is all you have, and it is not paused when you are at work, or stuck in a queue, or sitting in front of the TV, or hungover, or listless, or at a loose end. Without speeding up or slowing down, it goes, goes, goes. So, if not now, when? I’ve saved enough and have no debts, not even a credit card.  What’s the alternative?

Irish writers! Sigh. I’m not wealthy or high income or rich, and neither is Pat or Tom or most of the people I’ve met on the trail. I’m not in the best of shape, just good enough. My friends think this is something big, and maybe it is.  But is also something most of my friends could do.


Pat and I at a coffee shop talking about her pending Camino. Pat is Going Big.




From → Writing Fiction

  1. Very nice, Robert! Gosh, I have had the opportunity to look, think, feel, and contemplate about what we call time in ways I never dreamed of, while out here in the bush…how to “fill up” my “downtime” (days I don’t have any Peace Corps-related activities or projects to do), the issue of “African time” (it being completely acceptable and expected for folks to show up 2 or sometimes 4 hours “late” for an event or appointment)…many more examples… on a macro scale, how these soon-to-be two years of service have felt and passed (or not) compared to how I imagined they might feel

    Best wishes to you and all!! Enjoy to the fullest!


  2. What an endeavour! Good luck – I’m keeping my fingers crossed.

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