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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