Camino: Day 19-21

Day 19 – Burgos to Castrojeriz

As you can see I got my bike! Ok let’s back up… I woke up this morning and had to say goodbye for the last time to Feena. I think I’ve only known Feena for 6 short days but her and I got along fabulously. She makes me laugh all the time and her Irish accent is beyond cute (sorry Feena!) definitely NEVER say “top o the morning to ya” to an Irish person. It’s incredible the friendships you make along the way. Nothing I ever could have imagined. Now I absolutely must get to Ireland to visit this beautiful soul again. After parting ways, i got my bike! Fat tires and a heavy back end. I was nervous to ride it and you should have seen me ripping up the trail later in the day. The morning I couldn’t wipe the smile from my face. I was having so much fun! The wind in my hair, it was cool out, I was using different muscles, everything was a little different. My butt and wrists are sore but she’s my Angel. That’s her name. Today was HOT. 30+ degrees slogging away on the trail. I walked up some hills (it actually felt better) and I walked down some hills (they were incredibly steep). I stopped in at a place 10km before my end stop for my daily tinto de verano to give me one more push to the end. I found my albergue, showered and rested. I was exhausted!! We had a beautiful pilgrims meal with all the pilgrims: green salad, homemade bread, houmous, chicken legs and a paella with noodles instead of rice and a chocolate mousse. Now I’m freaking out about bed bugs as I just looked down and noticed the base boards are falling apart. Usually where they hide until 2am. Please no! I’m going to put on some essential oils to keep them away and climb into my silk bed liner (my mom says they don’t like silk. Hope she’s right).

Day 20 – Castrojeriz to Carrión de los Condes

Nothing like getting woken up at 5am when you don’t have to leave until 8am. I had ear plugs and something for my eyes too. Didn’t help. Anyway, after a great albergue breakfast I grabbed Angel and we took off for the alternate route around the massive up and over. There I was, in the middle of no where, no cars, no towns, no houses, no people. All alone on the road. It was peaceful for about 5 mins with the wind in my hair until I started getting weirded out by it. Then I wondered if I was going the wrong way. So I checked my google maps and called Luc to keep me company. After some confusion I was back on track and cruising along on the Camino again. Not gonna lie: my crotch hurts. And as you can see by the photo, my hand is bruised (too many bumps I think). I had some snacks in the shade. Then for the last 19km the Camino was tight beside the road so i picked the smooth road of course. Arrived at my destination at 1pm. I met some old friends on the trail and they suggested to stay at Albergue Santa Maria. And there I found more old friends!! So cool. This albergue is so cool. More on that in a minute. The bonus to riding is that your feet aren’t exhausted so I spent a good portion of the afternoon exploring the beautiful town. Then I came back for the nun’s singing. We went around the circle and said our name, where were from and why were doing to Camino. So beautiful. I had my daily tinto de verano with Maria and then headed to mass. Afterwards there was a very special pilgrims blessing where they gave us all stars to represent light. It was so beautiful. The nun that is glowing in the photo had such a beautiful loving energy about her.

Day 21 – Carrión de los Condes to Bercianos del Real Camino

Another beautiful day in Spain 🇪🇸. For up, talked to Luc and Vivi and took off on my bike. This morning the first stop was 17kms away. The longest stretch without a town on the Camino so far (dare I say the entire walk?). On a bike it’s not too bad at all. I forgot to mention yesterday that it was my first day without bandaids on my feet in 2.5 weeks! That’s big!! After the 17k the trail was again right beside the road so to save my saddle I rode the smooth road. I flew down the hills. I had my music on and I sang at the top of my lungs while I stood on my pedals. The meseta has been so much joy and fun for me on Angel. I have to part with her tomorrow. By 11am I was at my destination. So I opted for going another 10kms so I could reduce my ride tomorrow. I need to be in Leon by 1:30pm to return my bike. I found this tiny albergue (see the hole in the wall) that went to a wonderful garden area, nice big bathroom, and only two bunks to a room. Heaven. Albergue Santa Clara. So the annoying thing is this: I signed up for something called Step Bet where you pay $40 and if you make the 6 week goals then you have a crack at the pot. I thought “no problem, waking the Camino will be a breeze and I’ll get rich at the same time”. Well after the bike ride yesterday and today I was only at 2000 steps of 13,653. So yesterday it wasn’t so bad as my feet aren’t tired after biking (bonus) and the town was super cute to explore (double bonus). Today though the town is so strange. On my walking tour I took a lot of photos of doors. And I walked around and around while I talked to Brianna on WhatsApp. Seems strange to ride almost 50km and then walk almost 8km. Anyway the pot is $40k and week 3 of 6 so we’ll see what happens… Today I think I’m at 413km accomplished. Over half way. That feels good. I’m so looking forward to Luc joining me in less than 2 weeks. Can’t wait.

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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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OnFocus Journey

Footprints

Today I share a piece of unperfected writing that I will submit to Island Parent for consideration for a monthly submission for the next 20 months. I’ve never considered myself a writer, hence never thought myself good enough. It’s with fear of failure, trepidation, and feelings of not good enough that I write this – and will submit it anyway. Please share any feedback you have to make this article great. The idea is to have a monthly article posted in Island Parent of the journey our family is taking both from a worldly standpoint and from a inside-out perspective.


My phone bings. I look at it. It’s Trello being updated by my husband. Ahh the sweet sound of our 5 year-in-the-making, 1 year trip around the world coming closer to a reality. (Trello is a sudo project management app that is helping to keep our unquestionably complicated journey in check.)

5 years ago, after living 5 months in Switzerland while I was on maternity leave, Luc (my Dear Hubby) and I decided that we would come back there on a more permanent basis after our eldest daughter graduated high school. 2 years ago, that idea turned into a trip throughout our world. And now we’re 9 months away from leaving.

A lot has happened in that time, I became a personal life coach, we have both approved leaves from our jobs, and our dreams of where we want to explore have grown and expanded. We are discovering what it means to “slow-travel”. AND it all hasn’t been sunshine and rainbows – oh no! I remember wondering what are we going to do with our house (still a bit of a question mark to be honest). There was one particular planning session with Luc that went wildly sideways (I might have said “forget it let’s abandon this trip altogether” – not a shining moment). Our daughter graduated and then left for 4 years of university across the country to follow her dream (yep we’re going without her). And the thought of homeschooling our soon to be 7 year old sends me running as fast as I can to the interwebs.

While I explored my dreams and goals with my coach, I knew that the only thing between me and my dream was me. It’s all possible. It’s also completely outside of my comfort zone. That little voice in my head tells me still “oh this is going to be a lot of work. Why would you want to do this HARD thing. It’s going to be scary out there. Just stay right here where it’s super warm, cozy and you already know how it’s going to go.” Got it. Thanks. And I’m going to chose something different and something unknown.

One of the first things that people say to me when I tell them we’re going on a 1 year holiday “I would too if I won the lottery”. Know this: you 100% don’t need to win the lottery. There is a crazy big community of families that have been living for years on the road. Giving up their jobs and making money while travelling. There are resources out there that can make travelling cheaper (house sitting, buying plane tickets with points, and budgeting to name a few). Coaching can also help to dissolve your relationship to money – it’s definitely helping me.

What I will provide over the next 20 months: many many resources to help families like us, see that this can be a reality. Inspiration to people to live the life that they dream. Courage to show that it can be done. Reality of what life actually throws at you and the humour that surrounds it. The journey that we as parents are on in this world and in our lives.

Our itinerary so far: New York, France, Switzerland (where our home base will be for 5 months and our youngest will go to school in French), I will walk the Camino de Santiago in Spain, Italy, Germany, Thailand, Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia, the Philippines, Bali, Australia and Fiji.

My journey to get me to where I am right now has been one of self love, self reflection, giving up suffering, control, right and wrong, tapping into who I am, humanity, time and money. I have by no means perfected any of this, it’s a work in progress and I will be working on this until I die I’m sure of it.

This has and will be a journey. I look forward to the journey with you.


Robin Howe is a mother to two beautiful smart daughters (18 and 7), wife, public servant and a personal life coach exploring what it means to be human and what this great big world has to offer. Follow her journey at OnFocusCoaching.ca

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