Camino: Day 13-15

Santo Domingo, Viloria de Rioja, and Villafranca Montes de Oca

Day 13 – Najara to Santo Domingo:

My feet are singing in my new shoes. I grabbed coffee from A place nearby and video chatted with Luc and vivi before vivi went to school. I headed out of town by myself. I did a lot of walking by myself yesterday. The weather was beautiful. Cool and a bit cloudy. I met Sidsel and Maria on the way. We talked for a while and took a coffee and breakfast at a cute little town. I had a ham and cheese sandwich for breakfast. Then I carried on up a massive hill and then there was a golf course and this really weird town with hardly any amenities but brand new condos/apartments. So strange. I stopped for a drink and to rest my feet before the crazy walk on the washed out road into Santo Domingo. I almost thought I might spend the night right in the middle of the trail. It was ankle breaking and toe crushing. Down down down through gravel with no rhyme or reason. And it’s the last 3km coming into town. I should mention right before that I was walking down this other hill in the fields: the sunlight was perfect, the clouds were fluffy against the blue sky, there were pilgrims up ahead and the most perfect music (thanks Justin Hewitt) was playing in my ear; I stopped in the middle of the road and started crying. It was a moment of sheer bliss, presence, and utter joy. I carried on into town, for situated in my albergue, washed my clothes and then met Otto and Linda for dinner. Later, Francis and David pulled me into the cathedral to check out the cock and hen (MIA) and attend mass (which ended up being a funeral). Every day is full of connection with new and old friends, being, learning about myself, and wonder. I couldn’t ask for more. Tomorrow Belorado.

Day 14 – Santo Domingo to Viloria de Rioja: 

I lost a day of posting so had to catch up that’s why there’s 2 in one day. Woke up and left the massive albergue we slept in and set out. Every day it’s a wonder what will be the story with my feet. Feena and I slowly walked through town and my feet were not happy at all. Pain all around. I couldn’t believe it. The day before my feet were feeling so great. As we walked beside sunflower fields we chatted about the things that were in my pack that I didn’t really need or use. I was a bit upset about carrying yet more weight (my boots) and then I had a grand idea… when I get to the next town with a post office I’m going to mail forward a bunch of stuff I’m not using and then when I get there I can decide if I still want it for the rest of the trip or send it on the Switzerland 🇨🇭. Well once I figured that out I was so excited to not be carrying all this extra weight. We stopped for some breakfast and coffee and I realized my socks were quite wet from sweat. By this time my second pair of socks were almost dry from last night (things actually don’t dry as quickly as I thought they would) so I put them on and then – my god – my feet were so much more happy. I was motoring. We stopped again at another little village for a glass of wine and a foot relax. Then onto our tiny town with the albergue. We got there first and slowly started to do our daily routine: check for bed bugs, shower, wash clothes, find out what the plan is for tomorrow. It was a nice afternoon. The town, Viloria del Rioja, is so small there isn’t even a supermarket or Bar. I prefer staying in towns like this rather than big towns. At seven we got called in for dinner and we dined with a girl from Hungary 🇭🇺, a boy from Germany 🇩🇪, a man from Italy 🇮🇹 and us. We had a beautiful salad and a homemade paella – delish!!!! I’m a surprised about the younger people who walk the Camino. There’s quite a few of them. I packed my bag for tomorrow and then hit the hay. Tomorrow is 20km to Villafranca Montes de Oca.

Day 15 – Viloria de Rioja to Villafranca Montes de Oca: 

I’ve been on the road for 2 weeks and clocked 245km. Wow! I’m killing my step bet and carrot app. Today saw my feet feeling pretty ok. I know now I need to stop around the 5-6km mark for a break for my feet. Dry them out. Today I walked alone. Feena was so amazing and she got to the albergue before me and she reserved a private two bedroom room for us in Villafranca Montes de Oca. She much faster than I am. I shipped forward 3kg/6.6lb of stuff. Now my pack is lighter. Feels good to be carrying less. It got quite hot in the later part of the walk and I was sweating my bag off. I had one of those moments where I wondered if I was ever going to get there. I actually went to the wrong albergue (totally my fault) which added on a pretty steep hill and probably 500 mts. I can honestly say after two weeks and many blisters: the uphills are where it’s at. I’ve learned to go at my own pace (slow) or I get hurt. I’ve learned I can’t control much. I’ve learned my mom and my aunt are wise (I knew this but having these two in my back pocket has been amazing). I so appreciate Feena for sorting out my accommodation before I get there. And so many people who look after and are concerned for my feet (both on the Camino and at home). I’m grateful for people who speak better Spanish than me. And for WhatsApp so I can keep in touch with my family and friends. Today I thought I might have contracted bites from bed bugs. After consulting with my albergue owner, she didn’t think so. Just to be extra cautious, everything went into the washer and dryer and I sprayed my pack. I’m grateful for beautiful sunrises. And for 80s music that plays all over Spain in English. And for women who love George Clooney pinups. I’m grateful for paella and tinto de verano. Tomorrow Atapuerca (if we can get a bed).

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Camino: Day 10-12

Logrono, Navarette, and Najara

Day 10 – Los Arcos to Logrono:

27km by bus 🚌. Today was one of the hardest and most grateful days. I woke up and one of my blisters was infected. It’s not just that it was painful but it meant a whole lot more: 1) I wouldn’t be able to walk today. 2) I would need to find a doctor. 3) do you know how hard it is to find a doctor, food, bandages when it hurts to walk? 4) I would need to take a day off. 5) I might need to bus which I didn’t want to do. I called Luc and vivi and vivi told me she was mad at me because she missed me. I cried and cried. I was all alone in the albergue and was getting kicked out. So I walked to the front door where some German friends were. I got a hug 🤗 from all three of them. One of them cried. We walked slowly to the town square. I saw Alan and another friend from Bulgaria. I continued to cry and get hugs. Then my angel Ozzie friend Antoinette who I literally just met said “I’m going to Logroño to go to the doctor there if you want to join me.” In that moment I knew that her and I were placed together for a reason. I said “yes pls”. We bussed to Logroño and found our albergue right across the street from the hospital. We headed to the hospital and no one spoke English. Annie and I got poked and jabbed and antiseptic and dressed and they didn’t charge us at all. Thank you camino. I walked back to the albergue and called Luc where I cried some more. Then I rested. My friends from a few days ago came by and visited! So special that they did that. #forevergreatful. Then Annie and I went for a slow walk to look at sandals, bank and get some food. While we were sitting there in the square we ran into people we walked with, ate with and slept alongside throughout our journey. What amazes me is how quickly you become friends and then how amazing it is when you see these gorgeous souls again. It’s like nothing I’ve ever experienced. Tomorrow I’m going to try and walk to Navarrete 13km away. I found a couple of women that are walking there tomorrow slowly so I’ll try to meet up with them in the morning. Many tears, disappointments, fears, frustrations, putting the ego aside, finding angels, smiles, love and connection were had today. ♥️🙏❣️🚶‍♀️⛰

Day 11 – Logrono to Navarette:

Decided to take it slow and see how my feet were doing. Not too bad. Things started to hurt about 3km from the destination. I threw on some music and danced and sang my way through the vineyards. I’ve decided to leave 1 thing behind from my pack at every albergue. My pack has always been too heavy so this helps that AND it signifies me leaving my fears behind. Today was a better day emotionally. I’m sleeping in an albergue where there is room for 40 people but there’s only 4 of us. Most excellent! I’m going to walk 16km tomorrow. A little increase from today. I met Fina, Dave and Francis today from Ireland. Love that accent. And I met up with Linda and Otto again!! I love seeing those two. I can’t get over how special it is to run in to people after not seeing them for a few days. We had a drink and talked about the last few days. We talked about the struggle and how the struggle is necessary to go to heaven. I’m going to meet them early to walk with them in the dark while it’s still cool. Supposed to be rain tomorrow. That would be the first day walking in the rain if it happens. Tomorrow Najera.

Day 12 – Navarette to Najara: 

So here we go again. I started out at 6:20am with Otto and Linda and headed out of town in the dark. We meandered among the vineyards for most of the day. We had a wonderful breakfast while the rains poured down. It was my first time walking in the rain. It really only lasted for about 30mins. After that I walked alone for the better part of the day. I walked into Najera with a couple of Canadian women which was nice because my feet were killing me. I had started to get yet another blister on my pinky toe almost just after leaving the albergue. By the time I got to my next albergue my feet were in so much pain. I decided I was going to buy new bigger trail shoes (which I did). I headed out for dinner and drinks with Otto, Linda and Feena. I retired to my bed. This albergue has sooo many beds and people don’t like to sleep with the window open so it gets stuffy with all that breathing so in the middle of the night I got up to go pee and I sat in the hallway for a while texting my mom and aunt and falling asleep in the chair. Eventually I went back to bed. People here are reporting bed bugs. It is a way of life on the Camino but it doesn’t mean it’s not my worst nightmare. I wake up at night every night wondering if tonight will be the night I fall prey. Tomorrow Santo Domingo.

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Camino: Day 7-9

Cirauqui/Zirauki, Estella, and Los Arcos

Day 7 – Zariquiegui to Cirauqui/Zirauki:

Started our day at 6:15am an took off directly up hill for the sun rise. 2.4km. A beautiful sunrise. And then down down down on a river of balls as my mother describes this part (she’s not wrong). Then a nice easy walk. We stopped in a town for 2 tinto des verano (my new fave drink). And the carried on 2.6 km to this wonderful place. It was flat then up and so steep I wasn’t sure if I would fall backwards. I’m still with the lovely Sherri and Leena for another day. So incredibly grateful for them. I have 6 blisters that I drain at the end of the day with thread. I like this technique. I’m surprised actually how far you can walk with blisters on your feet. The pilgrims dinner was the BEST YET. lentil soup, a big green salad from the hosts garden and the a cod dish (see photo) that is a speciality in the area. I’m feeling good mentally and spiritually. Physically my toes and parts of my feet are hurting but otherwise all is good. The hardest part by far is the uphill in the hot afternoon Spanish sun. Tomorrow Azqueta.

Day 8 – Cirauqui/Zirauki to Estella:

Today was about self love and slowing down. We got up early and started walking. It was clear to me from the get go my feet were not happy. I remember Eric in SJPDP say “listen to your body”, Michael in Puenta De Reina say “take care of your feet” and Iona say “take it easy the first 10 days. After that you’ll be able to walk more”. So I told Sherri and Leena (who clearly could walk faster than I as they would wait for me) to go and I’ll meet up with them later. If I didn’t then Buen Camino. And then I was alone again. And it was ok. I talked with Luc and Violette for about an hour while I walked and listened to an audiobook. Then I decided, it’s day 7, I’m going to practice fierce self love and get my own room in Estella. Which is where I sit now. I’m so grateful to be able to splurge and look after my body and soul.

Day 9 – Estella to Los Arcos:

I chose to leave a bit later today (8am) which had some significant consequences (walking in the heat of the day). I immediately forgot my walking sticks (walk back 200m). My toes are not happy. So it was slow going. I walked alone and up to villa mayor. Not before stoping in at the wine fountain! We Stopped for some breakfast at 10am with some awesome people who I saw in Orisson. Then it was 12.4km until I saw another town. And down. You would think that it would have been easy. But no, it was 12:30 and we walked until 5pm. It was as HOT. My toes were killing. But I had Alan, a 72 year old Brit who told me fascinating stories of his life when he was younger. Very occasionally there was a breeze and I was so grateful for this small mercy on the blazing Spanish sun. Every little piece of shade we saw from the trees we hunkered under until we finally made it to this albergue. I peeled off my socks and bandages, popped my blisters, and the Camino provided to me tape to deal with my blisters. We headed out for dinner to the square. Right now there seems to be a lot of German’s in my company. They are all so happy, pleasant and kind. I love to hear about all the journeys why people are walking the Camino. Tomorrow will be a rest day for me. I need to heal my toes and blisters a bit more. My feet are more important than doing the distance. It pains me to say that but I need to look after my little digits. ♥️

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Camino: Day 4-6

Zubiri, Pamplona, and Zariquiegui

Day 4 – Roncesvalles to Zubiri:

Today was hard. Not gonna lie. I started off alone listening to music walking through the beautiful countryside. At km 11 I stopped for a coffee and met up with Linda and Otto and walked with them the rest of the way. It got hot. And someone had told me that it was only down from Roncesvalles. They were so wrong. Up down upppppp dowwwwwwn. Up up up down down down. It was one of the hardest hikes I’ve done. My feet ached. Calves are tight. Shoulders ache. Blisters on pinkie toes. Now I’m in an Albergue In Zubiri. There is the most insane electrical storm I’ve ever seen. For the last hour the sky has been lighting up constantly. I haven’t seen any lightening really. And I think I can hear a low rolling thunder. Massive quantities or rain and hail. Insane. Tomorrow Pamplona.

Day 5 – Zubiri to Pamplona:

Another 23km day. Today was much cooler and easier. Although… I have 4-5 blisters on my feet and my feet REALLY hurt by the end of the day.

I walked with Sherri and Leena today. We got a good early start on the day (6:30am). We stopped for breakfast at a little cafe with the other pilgrims around 9. Then ups and downs couple of times and a few kms later we’re in Pamplona with hurting feet. I drained my blisters with a needle and thread (thanks mom for the tips). We FaceTimed with Luc and Vivi (in Switzerland 🇨🇭), my mom and Jaedyn (in Canada 🇨🇦) and me (in Spain 🇪🇸). Then we had delicious tapas and wine with Alex. One of my friends has some serious blister stuff going on (worse than me) so we’re going to take it easier tomorrow and see how we feel. I’m feeling in good spirits. 23kms seems like too much for my feet (I get quiet and I suffer for the last 5kms) so I’m hoping a couple of infiltrations with padding will help tomorrow. I also got a new hat!! I’m feeling pretty good. Miss my family like crazy. Tomorrow is a new day. I’m grateful for cooler weather, Camino friends, draining blisters, amazing food/wine, seeing my family, talking to friends and love all around.

Day 6 – Pamplona to Zariquiegui:

Today we walked from Pamplona to Zariquiegui – a tiny town along the way. Today was hot again. More hills again. I have mantras now as I walk up the hills that I recite in my head to take my attention off the suffering and difficulty of the hill. “Kill the hill”, “it’s just a hill, get over it” are a couple. My feet hurt today. My blisters on my toes are getting worse. We will start tomorrow at 6:30am to catch the sunrise at the top of the hill. 2.4km up out our door tomorrow morning. I might be parting ways with my friends. They have a much shorter time to get to Santiago than I so I can afford to go a bit slower. We’ll see how we’re feeling.

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Camino: Day 1-3

France, Cannes to Saint Jean Pied-de-Port, Orisson, and Roncesvalles

Day 1 – France, Cannes to Saint Jean Pied-de-Port:

First day on my own. It was an early wake up call. We cleaned the studio and left for the airport. I cried. We got to the airport. I cried. Vivi cried. It was hard to say goodbye to her and Luc. Then through security where I sat and wondered what the hell I was doing. Onto the plane. Then into the airport in SJPDP. I waited for Express Bouricot to find me. Then Linda from California found me. Then Lori and Jeff. And two people from Australia. Then our driver. Into the van and off to SJPDP. Linda, Lori and I visited the pilgrims office, our places we are staying, the citadelle, an ATM and then we parted ways. And then I was alone. I checked into my alberge where Eric the host was talking. See below for his words of wisdom. It’s absolutely perfect for my first moment alone on my first day. I put the covers on my bed and pillow case and then I was alone. Like really alone. What was I feeling: nervous, afraid, weird, excited. I’m here. I’m sleeping in a room with 4 bunk beds. I’m really here. Tomorrow I walk to Orrison.

“The more you love yourself the more you will love the other person. 
It’s not Important to get to Santiago, what’s important is your journey. 
Listen to your body and stop when it tell you too. 
You will stop at the right moment and get exactly what you need not what you want. 
Just be humble. The first gift on the way. 
You do not have any control. Leave it to the way. The way will tell you something important. 
Live intensely each moment. 
You have the right to choose to be happy. 
Walk with your heart not with your head. 
It’s magic. 
1. Stop when your body tells you to stop
2. Drink. All the time.”

Day 2 – Saint Jean Pied-de-Port to Orisson

Wow what am amazing day climbing up up up. I understand that this first day can be quite foggy… definitely not for me. The views were stunning. Walked from Saint Jean Pied de Port to Orisson. It was a hard quick walk. Stopped at a lovely little place along the way for a coffee and rest. I’m meeting so many new people and learning about why they are doing the Camino. Today I even met a new friend from Victoria. Wow small world. Every person I meet I’m learning something from. Cheryl taught me about bed bugs and being “home free”. Tomorrow Roncesvalles.

Day 3 – Orisson, and Roncesvalles:

Epic day. Over the Pyrenees and down to Roncesvalles. Not gonna lie… it was hard. But I did it and I’m super proud of myself. I also understand that I’m pretty lucky as the weather can be pretty shitty doing up and over. It was simply amazing today. I woke up to the most incredible sunrise. Then breakfast and we hit the road. I walked with Leena and Sherri today. The sun was incredible in the morning. There was a truck selling fruit, drinks and snacks. So we grabbed something and took a break before a massive hill. We left the road and walked through beautiful shaded trail until we hit a super cold fountain where I changed my socks. Then a little further and another break for our prepacked sandwich. Then the last killer hill and a stop at the top. You could go the straight down route or a milder meandering route. I chose the latter to save my knees. We found our albergue and did some laundry. Vivis first day of school today. She did great!! Then a pilgrim dinner (meh) and off to mass at the church for a pilgrim blessing. Tomorrow Zubiri.

Reflection:

They say the first 2 days of the walk are the hardest. It’s the first 3 days (tomorrow as well) that make you wonder why you’re doing what you’re doing.

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I’m back!

"Walk neither faster nor slower thank your own soul." Paulo Coelho

Hello all!

I’m back from the Camino, Germany, Austria and Turkey. I’m back in Switzerland and I can say that I’m not the same person that was here over 2 months ago.

This is just a quick hello to let  you know what’s coming…

I’m going to be writing a book of my experience on the Camino. I tell people that it the best thing I’ve ever done in my entire life and the worst. I had many physical challenges which helped me to grow both emotionally and spiritually on my journey. It was touch an go at one point whether I would complete the Camino.

Over then next few weeks, I’ll be posting the journey on here for those of you who I’m not friends with on Facebook or Instagram.

I’m excited to be reliving the experience again as I post and reflect the 42 days I was on the way.

The journey begins now.

"Walk neither faster nor slower thank your own soul." Paulo Coelho

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France La Finale!

Heading into the last week here in France… We have a pretty full week of stuff planned and I’m already starting to feel the push to the Camino. The excitement is building, I’m itching to be alone and see what that is like, meet my tribe, just get out there and walk.

For now, I’ll write about what we’re doing for the final last days of our stay here.

Last I posted we were in La Doire, high in the cool French mountains. (I’m writing now from Antibes again where it’s 30 degrees. Man I miss those cool French mountains.).

I believe the following day we went to look for the river that Luc found the day before in the canyon. It was beautiful but FREEZING. Being a pisces, I can’t turn down getting wet in a body of water, so of course I had to go in. We read a sign later that said we really shouldn’t be swimming – more rule breaking!

That night was a lightening and thunder storm. So so so cool. It’s a common occurrence here. Kind of like fireworks for some reason.

The following day we drove to Castellane and visited the market and the quaint little town. So beautiful and picturesque. We meandered home and had a quiet evening.

The next day we cleaned the house and drove back. I really really appreciated so much being able to stay in Luc’s aunt’s house. It was a wonderful break from the heat and it provided some much needed space for everyone I think. We got to play a lot of board games and just hang out and ‘be’. It was wonderful watching Violette catch grasshoppers. She didn’t ask incessantly to watch the iPad but instead asked incessantly to go outside and catch grasshoppers. So enjoyable to watch, and I think she really built a wonderful memory going out and being alone with nature.

We returned back, but not before passing through Grasse and visiting a perfumery called Molinard. Last time I was in Grasse I visited Fragonard (another perfumerie). We went on a little tour and learned about perfume and how its made. Fascinating. This was more what I would call “world schooling” for Violette. Visiting somewhere in the world and learning about the region, history and what their primary product is. I fell in love with a bottle of perfume called “Les Amoureux”. I didn’t buy any (49 euros) but I sure wanted to. If anyone can find me a small bottle of this and ship it to Canada, I’ll pay you back.

Back to Antibes where immediately I was struck by the heat. The Swiss frolicked in the pool, while I had some alone time.

The following day was a day for errands. We went to an outdoor sporting store that is as big as Costco. We don’t have anything like it in Victoria. We bought Violette a pair of hiking boots perfect for hiking the Swiss Alps. Two bike helmets for les Swiss (Luc and Vivi) and a pair of head phones for me. I’m not sure how they are going to get those helmets home in their luggage (there’s hardly any space). They might have to wear them on the airplane. LOL!!

Then dinner at Luc’s cousin’s house. She lives on a super steep narrow road that caused me much stress as Luc drove and I was SURE he was going to drive into someone or something. We got up to her 7th floor apartment and the views were extrodinary! The sun was just going down so it had this wonderful orange light on all the buildings over looking the Mediterranean Sea. We visited and ate like kings and queens while enjoying and meeting more new family.

The next day we set out for a museum tour for Violette – learning and understanding about architecture in this area in an old castle. We went for a little walk in the hot hot heat and then finally found a wonderful place for lunch under some trees. Sooo good and delicious.

The next day was big. We went for a kayaking expedition in the Cape d’Antibes with Remy our guide. Luc’s cousin (yes he has a few) works at this place and managed to get us free kayaking! Thank you so much Jerome! Luc was in his own single kayak (as he should be) and Violette and I were together in a double. We learned about sea grass and different houses along our route. I found out what a sea tomato was and we met a cool crab. The water was very wavy, turquoise, beautiful. I wasn’t sure if I was going to hurl from seasickness. It was super sunny but we came prepared with hats, sunscreen and water.

We had lunch (sandwiches) and then walked down to the water again and snorkeled around. Unfortunately, after a while, Violette’s snorkel wasn’t working well (water kept coming in) so we abandoned that idea and headed home.

That night we spoke with Jaedyn and I coached a client and I caught up with Leah. It was a great night of connection.

Today is the day before our last day together. It’s a bit of a sad day. Violette had to have a small incision done on her ear as the infection from her ear piercing has come back. Vivi hasn’t had an earring in her ear since March but it’s still causing problems. Parents, think good, long and hard before you decide to get earrings in your kid’s ear. This has been nothing but a nightmare for us and torture for Violette.

Poor thing. Last night we put on this freezing cream that the doctor said to put on (we’ve been to the doc already once). Then we had to put on a big massive bandaid that folded her ear all night long and held the freezing cream. Turns out that you’re supposed to apply the cream 1 hour before the operation. So the bandaid and the cream were useless. We tried to take the bandaid off in the morning and apply more cream “just in case” but she cried bloody murder at how much that hurt.

We arrived at the clinic. The bandaid is ripped off by the doc and Vivi cries… it breaks my heart. I find out from Luc that they are going to give her laughing gas. I’m holding an ice cube on her ear while the doc preps his tools. the mask goes over her nose and face. He cuts into the back of the ear and she squirms and cries and screams. I’m about to lose my shit as well. It’s so friggen hard to see you daughter in so much pain. The gas doesn’t seem to do anything.

After he squeezes out the puss (sorry all) he dresses her ear. She seems…. ok. She get’s up, we use the bathroom and I ask her “did it hurt?”. “A little.” A little? Are you kidding me? She says “what does it mean when the nurse said she would forget about her ear?” I realize that she doesn’t really remember the pain she endured when it was actually happening. I think back to when I had laughing gas when I was in labour… I remember it hurt, but not really how much. Ok, it’s been 7 years (19?)…

We head to the pharmacy and then to the boulangerie (to get a wonderful pastry of course) and then home for the day. We need to relax. After all, there’s only 1.5 days left until we part ways.

Things to note:

  • It’s hot again…. but I’ve been watching Victoria and the smoke there has accompanied the heat here… I’m grateful I can breath clearly which I know some of my friends and family back home are struggling with.
  • The coolness of La Doire (in addition to the alone time) has contributed to me feeling more myself and being able to appreciate and enjoy exactly where I am at. It’s amazing what these two things together do to help me be more myself. I will remember to check these two things when I’m feeling out of sorts first, because I know that my wellness depends upon them.
  • I’m getting excited for what comes next. While I’m so grateful for being in la cote d’azur, I’m ready to move onto the next part of the journey: being, being alone, being myself, practicing self love, practicing connecting with other humans and whatever else shows up in my space.
  • I’m about to move outside my comfort zone again: Luc does the planning and I do the approving and following. Now it’s all going to be in my hands…
  • I can’t wait to get to cooler temps! Phewf.
  • I’m studying Spanish and the voice in my head says I’m no good. We’ll see how I go.
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France Part 1

A girl and her grasshoppers

Thank you to everyone who responded with comments and direct messages to me. I was overwhelmed with the love, understanding and compassion that you all gave me.

I’m feeling more myself bit by bit. Practicing self-love and self-acceptance is at the top of my radar. Also, Luc and I have had some good conversations about this trip and how he can support me. We’re finding our way.

We’re in La Doire, France right now as I write this. We’re in Luc’s aunt’s house with 3 bedrooms, a living room, kitchen, deck, etc… all by ourselves. This is more helpful being here. It’s about 5 degrees cooler and we actually have time alone. Vivi has had a chance to go into her own room and shut her door and watch some iPad. I’ve got to lay in bed and read my book, alone. Luc got to explore some of the places where a lot of his memories growing up, took place.

The space, the reduced heat and feeling understood and heard has really helped my head and my heart. I wouldn’t say that I was feeling home sick… I was feeling very alone.

So I’m not going to give you a play by play of every day… we’ve been here now for 2 weeks. I’ll review the highlight reel.

We arrived in France and waited for about 45 mins until our luggage came out the chute. I suspect the baggage handlers had gone for lunch, wine, maybe a siesta. Or simply laughing on the other side of the wall. We picked up our rental car in a room that was probably about 40 degrees inside. The people who worked in this room were sweating profusely. I looked at them like, “how are you working in these conditions?” After the guy tried to tell us we could only go 50KM’s per day and Luc pulled out the printed off contract that we were mailed that said “unlimited” he backed down and agreed.

We met up with Luc’s sister and boyfriend to get the keys for the studio apartment. This is Luc’s parents studio in Antibes, France. It’s one big room with kitchen, beds, laundry machine, TV. Then the bathroom is in another room. And they have a ground level balcony.

We became familiar with the place and the pool in the apartment. It was hot so we went there in the afternoon. The pool became the place for us to go every day to cool off and practice dives, hand stands, snorkelling, games, read our books and practice Spanish.

That night it was 31 degrees inside. Because we’re ground level it was felt that we should put the voler’s down for security. Unbearable. We did this the next night again but it was the absolute worst. So, after that we risked it and left the door open to let in the fresh air. The apartment building has 2 gates that people would have to get through, so we felt that was sufficient protection. It was at this point I started wondering if maybe we should move somewhere else cooler.

We headed on Sunday to a 4.5 hour lunch with Luc’s cousins. They built a beautiful house with a pool (everyone seems to have access to a pool here). We ate, drank, swam, and because I hadn’t been sleeping well, I curled up on the couch after about hour 3 for a siesta. It was a wonderful reunion. So many little cousins now for Violette to play with. It was nice to see them bonding and creating connections.

The next morning, we were advised from Luc’s mom, to get to the beach early. So off we went at 8am to get to the beach and get a parking spot and a piece of the playa. We snorkelled and read until about 1pm when the sun was beating down on us so we took off home (stopping first in Antibes to get some stamps for some postcards).

The next day was our anniversary! 9 years ago that day, we got married in Switzerland. Luc’s idea was to go to Gourdon, a tiny little walking only town, up in the mountains for a bit and look around there (it’s very artisanal) and then head to a restaurant for dinner. It was another hot day with some crazy twisty roads to get to and from Gourdon. All in all it was a nice way to spend our anniversary.

The next day, I wanted to visit the market in Antibes. I remember going there after one of the cousin’s wedding so wanted to remember it again. We parked a ways from the town where there was tons of parking. Then we walked along the waterfront where all the really big and fancy yachts are parked. I have to say, I definitely got that feeling of “I want ‘all the things’ and my life would feel complete”. It’s amazing what just being around wealth will do to your “want” desire.

The market was crazy busy and it was so hot. We bought a lot of wonderful fruit, veg, olives, and tapanade. We then went to find something to eat. We stopped in at this restaurant that had mussels and fries. Garcon, deux s’il vous plait! Dripping sweat while eating is one of the most unpleasant experiences I’m had I think. I soaked 4 napkins.

We left there totally full and went to the “Nomad” sculpture as it wasn’t too far away. Pretty cool looking. Luc climbed it even though it clearly said “no climbing”. Rule breaker!

Then Luc tried numerous times to convince us to go for the other little walk around a castle. No way. Vivi and I were dying of the heat. We crawled back to the car and home to cool off in the pool (the pool is at least 28 degrees so ‘cool off’ is an exaggeration. Later that night, Vivi threw up two times. We think it was maybe too much sun. We also aren’t sure if it was the mussels (she hasn’t had problems before).

The next night we went to Luc’s cousin’s place for a wonderful dinner of Pizza! Jerome built a pizza oven at his house, so we had several different kinds of home made pizza direct from a wood fire pizza oven. Again all the cousins, the pool, wonderful wine… it was so much fun and good to connect.

The next day, we drove the scenic route (sea side) to Cannes.  We had lunch in a tiny little restaurant with really great tasting water (It’s the little things I swear…) There we went on tiny train that took us through Cannes and told us all about the history of Cannes and the different buildings and areas of town. We drove past some of the most expensive hotels in the world… there must have been something going on because it was car after car: Lambos, Ferraris, Porches, Bugatis, Mercedes (suped up PUSH), etc… Luc wanted to check out his grandpa’s old house, so we drove past there and he hopped the fence so he could take a trip down memory lane.

The next day was one for the records… we got up as early as we could (Vivi didn’t want to get out of bed and no convincing her that we needed to get going before it got too hot – helped). We got out the door to walk around Cape D’antibes. It was stunning and beautiful but it was so incredibly hot. Hardly any shade, in and out of rocks and climbing. Not too much of a breeze but when there was the breeze was hot. First Vivi started complaining about the heat and then it was me. I was a mess – every single piece of skin was wet with sweat. My face was a HOT MESS. I didn’t bring a hat because I seriously thought it was early enough (remember it was about 9am). It was like my body was on overdrive. I looked around at the other people almost casually walking, some RUNNING (I shit you not) and I was like “what the fuck is wrong with me?”. Luc actually wondered the same. We got to this place in the walk where we could continue (in the shade) or take a short cut and motor back to the car. Short cut please. I later read these two articles:

and now I’m so sure it’s completely linked with my red hair. Yes I am a unicorn. Thank you very much.

After getting to the car which was parked at the beach no less we joined the masses of people on the beach to get a cool down. This beach… you were LITERALLY right beside the next people. There was almost no sand to walk between the towels to get to the sea. People were scouting and fighting over spots…. You know when you ask someone if they are leaving so you can take their parking spot? Yeah that happened ON THE BEACH.

I feel like the next day was a down day. I think it’s when I wrote my last blog post. There was a massive storm which helped to relieve the heat much to my joy.

Then we went to Olivier’s house for another wonderful 4 hour meal at lunch. In the pool, speaking some English, it was really really nice. We went directly from their house to here. I coached in the most wonderful spot and then to dinner at a pizzeria just a little down the hill from where we’re staying. Live music, an awesome vibe, cheap, good food. It was really neat.

Yesterday… so Luc wanted to go for a 1-2 hour hike. I said “1-2 hours… have you done this before?” Response: “Oh yeah, so many times when I was little”. Me: “but 1-2 hours… that’s pretty vague. Why such a vaste difference?” Response: “It was a long time ago I can’t remember exactly”. So we head up the “hill”. About 30mins into a straight uphill “little walk” (that’s what he called it) I started to ask more questions. “Please show me the map and what we’re doing…”

Out comes the map “ok, up to the ruins here… then around the mountain, down to this town, and back up home.”

Me: “Ummmmm 1-2 hours? We’re not even at the ruins yet! And you want to go around THAT mountain?” Pointing at a mountain that seems like would take about a day to walk around the circumference. I’ve packed 1 litre of water and 2 cliff bars for the “little walk” for the 3 of us. I demand he calls his aunt for clarification.

His aunt says it’s about 1 hour to the ruins (which was “just around the corner”). Ok, we regroup and we decide once we get to the ruins we’ll choose what comes next. It’s a beautiful walk after the uphill turns to flatish. So many butterflies, crickets, lizards, beautiful views, the clouds shield us from the beating sun, there’s a breeze. AN ACTUAL BREEZE that’s cool! I love this place.

We get to the ruins. They are pretty cool. Way up at the top of this mountain, I try to think about what life must have been like for them. Creating these buildings that are made from stone, overlooking the beautiful valley. Why so high? It couldn’t have been easy to build there.

We drink water, eat the cliff bars. It’s been 2 hours. We choose to go back the same way we came. Luc said the path around the mountain is probably overgrown. Yeah let’s go with that.

We come home and head out for lunch and I’m exhausted so Luc takes off to find some canyon and river and I take a nap and Vivi has a rest. How he can keep going, I’ll never understand.

Side note: Man on man they eat a lot of bread here. I feel like I’m turning into the a French loaf. So I’ve decided no bread for breakfast and no bread from the bread baskets that they bring. I’m slower, I’m more tired, I feel like I’m constantly bloated. I need a bread break.

We have one more day here. And then we head back to the studio. 8 days until I leave for the Camino….

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3 weeks in.

Vulnerability where courage meets fear

This blog post has been ruminating inside my head for a few weeks now. I’m struggling with not wanting to write it because I don’t want you to know how I’m feeling. I feel shame and guilt for feeling how I’ve been feeling. I started out this journey wanting to share about everything that was going on for me, but when push came to shove, I wanted to just hide and hope you think I’m having a good time.

So with that, I’ll write this.

Let me start by saying: I am having a good time. I really am. What I don’t want you to know is that it’s been a struggle on so many levels.

I feel guilt about saying those last few words. “It’s been a struggle on so many levels.” I feel like you all have expectations of me that this trip should be so incredible. That I’m living the life. I’ve heard people are jealous of what I get to do. I feel like I “should” be feeling a certain way: bliss, joy, contentment, peace, excitement, adventure. Right? Are you thinking that’s exactly what I should be feeling?

Because of this story I have of how I “should” feel, I now wonder “what’s wrong with me”. Yep, then more guilt comes in “you’re a life coach, you should know how to coach yourself out of this slump. This is your dream. You know not to make yourself wrong.” The self deprecating goes around and around. Luckily I have been working with my own very patient and loving coach. We are exploring and discovering what is going on for me.

Of course it’s not just one thing. Here’s some of the things churning in my head:

  • It’s so freaking hot. I literally can’t sleep, think, keep a cool head. I noticed when the heat reduced even by 3 degrees, my whole life shifted. Weeks of 30+ temperatures day and night have taken a toll on me.
  • I’m living in a small tiny room (every where I go) with the same people 24/7. This doesn’t work for me. I know I need my space, time alone and connecting with other people. Luc doesn’t really understand this at all because he doesn’t need the same for him – he would be happy being together without a break – ever.
  • We fight and fight over the stupidest stuff. Which causes so much disruption in my head. I can’t think clearly, I wonder if we are actually cut out to travel together for the next year. This makes my head spin more.
  • Luc needs to see way more than I need to (even spending just one afternoon in New York in our suite had him going stir crazy). I need to “be” way more than he needs to. This is really a compromise (I don’t like this word as it doesn’t seem very empowering) in our relationship. He needs to stay still more often, I need to do more, more often or he goes off and I stay home (which I’m content with but I doubt he is).
  • Lack of sleep, speaking and thinking in French way more than I have in years, eating at the same time every day, not being able to eat what I want (when I went to work 8 hours a day I got to choose what and when I ate – what a novelty). Two days ago, I was given the gears about eating potato chips when I should have been eating grapes…
  • The 9 hours time difference now between here and Canada… I’m not going to say that I’m not feeling this difference… There is only a small window now between where we’re both awake. It’s roughly from 7am-2pm PST (4pm-11pm here). Which means a lot of the communication that I have is around 6-8pm here. Right at dinner time. And I want to be connecting with my family and friends over video chat or phone call… this presents issues with us doing things.
  • We just had an argument about how it’s felt that I don’t like French culture because I said I don’t want to eat Ratatouille. Then it was because I don’t like how the French drive (sorry but you guys are fucking mental), the bread (don’t know what this is about)… I’m feeling out of place all over the place.

This is life on the road. All of this is new to me. I’m actually feeling quite alone even though I’m so not.

The irony is that this “should” be the time of my life. And I’m struggling. I’m really trying to understand being a different way. This is the breakdown before the breakthrough (god I hope it comes soon).

I don’t want you to feel sorry for me or even judge me for feeling this way (you are but I don’t want you to). It’s not as easy as saying “snap out of it”. I’m sharing where I’m at because I promised I would share the ups and the downs. And it’s not easy sharing when you’re hurting or feeling out of sorts with the world when you feel that others have expectations of you.

But it’s what’s true for me.

I’m working through it. Not stuffing down the emotions. Practicing choosing me and what’s important to me. Practicing being present. Reviewing the blocks that I have identified and how those blocks are getting in the way of joy. Seeing where I’m not integrating my whole self in this journey.

Writing this already has me be more present to what is so for me.

If you’ve ever felt like you should be experiencing something that you’re not, please share in the comments below. I’d love to learn from others experiences.

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Cheese, wine, Switzerland

It’s good to be back in Switzerland, even if it was just for 3 days.

The idea was for us to come back here, rearrange our stuff, celebrate the 1st of August (Swiss national holiday) and spend some time with friends and family. Exactly what we accomplished.

We arrived by train at the train station where Guy, my father-in-law picked us up. I’ll spare you the broken record: it was hot, morning, day and night.

We dropped our bags, had a wonderful dinner with Luc’s parents, and then Luc, Vivi and Guy headed to the fireworks and I retired to my bed – I thought I was fighting a cold.

The next day was the 1st. We hunted for a box we left in the attic 6 years ago when we lived there for 6 months. After some brou ha ha, Guy found it tucked in a far reaching corner of the attic. It held so many treasures that I had forgotten about: towels, tampons, Christmas cookie cutters, Christmas wrapping, a pair of shoes, a curling iron, books, slippers… it was like a time capsule we got to reopen.

A neighbour to Guy and Camille invited us over to their pool for a swim. This neighbour has a daughter about Vivi’s age who we hope will become great friends with her. Unfortunately she was on holidays still but the pool was incredible to cool off.

Later that night we headed to Jouxtens for sausages, wine, bread, lentils, wine, and lots of friends and connecting – it was the 1st of August and the Swiss national holiday. Vivi made a friend on the play ground. It rained like crazy and thunder and lightening. So cool.

After that, we headed down to the field where there was a MASSIVE bonfire and fireworks. I’ve never been one to really dig fireworks and I find it interesting that it seems like the Swiss (and now I’ve witnessed the French – more on that later) really do enjoy watching the night time spectacle. They light up the sky for what seems like a half an hour. All I can think is “wow this must be so expensive”.

The next day was the 2nd. Time to look at everything we brought: store winter stuff, pack for the Cote D’azure for 3 weeks and the Camino for 40 days. Try not to forget anything. We downsized to a backpack each and one big backpack. Not too bad. Much fighting and arguing ensued for Luc and me.

After that, we headed to a friend’s house for a wonderful lunch. Let me paint the picture: first the lunch was about 4 hours (and I left early to catch up with a friend, my mom, and my daughter). We had some aperitifs under the tree in their backyard: baby tomatoes, crackers, wine. So lovely. Then we moved to the table in their yard where we had a pasta salad and tomatoes with mozzarella and basil as a starter. Then sausages  and green beans – more wine. So delicious and so spoiled. It was beautiful. We moved back to the table under the tree to have bread and 2 different kinds of cheese. I think more wine. Then we had a Turkish drink called Raki that tastes like Ouzo. Then a little tiny delicious coffee. I was a little drunk by the end of that meal to be sure.

It was such a wonderful time catching up with our friends and getting to connect with Luc’s longtime friend’s wife who speaks English. She’s a new friend of mine but I’m so happy to meet her and her two wonderful children.

Since Luc and I have been fighting like cats and dogs, I suggested that we take the opportunity, while we have babysitters, to go out that night on a date and try to reconnect. I wanted to go to Vevey where we lived for 6 months, 6 years ago.

We grabbed his parents car and headed out around 8:30pm taking the lakeside route from Jouxtens to Vevey. Just like how I remembered it.

We got to Vevey as the sun was setting over the lake. I immediately felt like I was home. There is something so special about Vevey for me. I had only been there for about 10 mins when I told Luc I could absolutely move back here in a heart beat.

We ate at our old stomping ground, Pizza Taxi over looking the lake. It was pristine. I couldn’t have asked to be in a better place at that time. It filled up my heart and spirit to soak it all in.

We slowly walked back to the car, I remembered the times we spent here, the different seasons, the snow, the Uno competition, the walks beside the lake pushing Violette in the pousette, visiting the town when it was Christmas, watching the leaves change as I walked Jaedyn to school…it was heaven.

The next morning we woke up and headed to the airport to take off for Antibes. It was weird thinking I wouldn’t be back in Switzerland until October. I’ll come back and the leaves will have started to change, it will be cooler (hopefully), Vivi will have been in school for over a month and things will be different again.

 

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