Northern Thailand

Feb 10-25, 2019

Chiang Mai

We arrived into Chiang Mai at our so cute homestay. It was the first time we had a little kitchen in a month! It’s crazy the little things that you get excited over.

We took to the streets to explore. So so so so hot. And the air quality was still the pits – I was beginning to wonder when the air quality was going to get better. After 12 days in Myanmar where it seemed like I was choking on the air, I was craving some fresh ocean breezes. Sadly, we were still landlocked and were to be for another month until we saw the ocean again.

We decided to buy masks given how tragic the air quality was. It’s not any cooler behind a mask, let me tell you.

Chiang Mai is a town that, IMHO, is set for tourists. There’s tourist things everywhere. It also has some pretty incredible temples located right in town which we visited.

The next day, I THOUGHT we had to leave for the Chai Lai Orchid which is a place where we were visiting elephants. We packed everything up (on my order), and we were waiting for the bus to pick us up until the people at the homestay said to us “But you stay one more night!” I finally clued in that we were a day ahead of ourselves. Thank goodness it was Valentine’s day otherwise I’m sure would have hear more from Luc about my grave mistake.

We decided to find a fish spa to pamper our feet. OMG, the fish eating your feet is almost unbearable with the feeling it gives you. I ADORE my feet being tickled and touched but man oh man this was almost too much! Eventually it got better. You just had to power through the feeling for about 3 mins. Later on we headed to the massive night market and wandered around, bought a wet bag that I’d been eyeing up since I say the MM Families in Koh Tao, and also a couple of shirts. Starting to get a bit tired of all the markets that are everywhere. It seems like the market is always a place to “see” in the top 10 things to see in “name the place”.

Chai Lai Orchid

The next morning was the actual day to leave so we packed up (again) and waited for our red truck to bring us to the elephants.

We arrived and I asked if the one day tour could be split into 2 half days which ended up not being an issue. So we immediately got to head to the elephants and feel them. The elephants are like no other animal I’ve ever been near. It’s almost like they are communicating with you on an emotional level. There’s this intense draw to be with them, near them, and it’s almost like they are giving you their love. I can’t really explain it but it seemed like all negative emotions I might have been carrying, just melted away when I was near them.

We did a little walk through the forest where Luc and Vivi rode on one of them bareback. The mahout (elephant’s person) said that it’s ok, as long as it’s not for very long and you’re not on a big heavy metal seat.

After that we went in the water with them. The babies are adorable. Again a truly special experience bathing them and connecting with them. It was fun to watch them play around.

After that we hopped into the back of a truck and headed to the rafting point where we were able to raft down a river with a guide at the front. The scenery was spectacular. The only thing that was a little lame is that you rafted past elephants that were still being saddled up with heavy metal seats where multiple people were riding them. It’s hard to believe that this is still being done even though it’s widely considered poor practice.

The next morning we had breakfast and hopped into the back of a truck again and headed to where we were to do a half day hike. The hike was challenging but beautiful! We got to swim in two different waterfalls and lunch was prepared for us. Our guide made bamboo sticky rice over the fire. So delish! We walked through a  hill tribe where we got to watch them weave and learned a bit about our guides family.

The next day we spent the morning chilling out at the restaurant that is there overlooking the river. The elephants stroll past, there are rafts that float back and it’s just to calm. Chai Lai Orchid is such a special place for me. It’s a place that rehabilitates elephants and gives them a better life but it also is a place where women who have been involved in sex trafficking are able to come and get out of that world, learn English, and train in the restaurant industry to gain further skills. This organization is called Daughter’s Rising. I felt so good being here not only because of the surroundings but also because I felt a little like I was giving back by spending my dollars at this place. You can volunteer here and even take home stray dogs that end up here. I was sad to say good bye but hopefully I’ll be back one day.

We drove like a bat out of hell back to Chiang Mai. Not sure but the driver we had was driving like a maniac. I have such a hard time telling people who drive like this to slow down. I feel like an old lady but I just get so anxious when they are weaving in and out of traffic, pedal to the metal and screeching to a halt. Luc, correct me if I’m exaggerating.

We stayed for 2 more days in Chiang Mai. One day was a planning day, where we’re going next, buying plane and bus tickets, applying for Vietnam visas, and then we got massages…… and Luc got a haircut! FINALLY!!

We had been lugging Vivi’s car seat around with us wherever we go and we’ve used it only a handful of times. Luc and Vivi have been trying to strategically forget it places. I’m getting a bit tired of carrying it but never using it. We’ve been riding on boats, busses, back of trucks, cars without seatbelts, airplanes, rafts, and I can count on one hand, how many times we’ve used it. So I got on a Chiang Mai mom’s group and gave away the car seat. So long and thank you car seat for protecting my little girl.

We stayed at this place in the middle of town that was the smallest place we’ve ever stayed. There was literally 3 beds and just enough room for our bags on the floor. It’s the only place we didn’t get toilet paper and it wasn’t included. Say what?? Luc said the guy could sell the toilet paper on the side and make a fortune. We went to yet another night market and ate street food (it just happened to be sushi on the street).

Chiang Rai

We took a 6 hour bus ride to Chiang Rai and checked into our homestay. Although, the guy who owns the homestay didn’t work out that we would be there so we got a room that was tragic. The bed sheet had cigarette holes in it, no AC and it was just dingy. The next day we moved into the room we were supposed to have. We still didn’t have AC but the bed was much nicer as was the bathroom. The nice thing about this place was that the pool was the focal point of the place so it was easy to chat with other people about where they were from and where they were going. Thailand has soooo many French tourists. We made some jokes about there was probably no one left if France because they were all there! But what luck – we speak French so it was easy to make quick friends!

We explored Chiang Rai in the heat, and visited a hill tribe museum where we learned about hill tribes and the opium epidemic that raged in Laos not that long ago (2012 was when they started to put an end to it). We had hamburgers for lunch and walked through a beautiful flower garden.

I remember the place where we went for my birthday. Luc had gone for a run and spotted it and the food was delicious. I had yet another burger for dinner. These two are starting to make fun of my burger and French fry love. I think already by this time I was starting to get sick of noodles and rice. This became a bone of contention between me and Luc for 2 reasons:

  1. He doesn’t like to spend a lot of money – ever. Many arguments and comments about me spending more than he did on food mostly was beginning to really tear at me. I had spent the last 5 years saving my money for this trip, I’m going to spend it how I want. What I ended up doing was contributing $100 of my own money to make him shut up for a while about me buying western food (always more expensive) and cocktails (they don’t have wine and the beer is like kokanee – gross!).
  2. Street food is always way less expensive so he wanted us to eat this all the time. And it wasn’t good enough that it was sushi on the street, it had to be authentic. This also became a “thing” that we fought about. So many comments and issues about food and money that I just didn’t know would be such a problem travelling.


We’ve always, for the last 15 years, had arguments around food. It’s the most problematic issue in our marriage hands down. Travelling just exasperated this issue. It’s not until we get to Dalat, Vietnam where it comes to a head. More later.

We moved after 3 days into Chiang Rai centre. We had great hopes of meeting up with the MM family but they were all really sick and it turned out that Vivi also got quite sick there with a fever so we never ended up seeing all of them (Luc met up with Cam to go to a night market one night). We visited the clock and did a little meet up at a hostel with live music.

It’s always so disconcerting with your kid gets sick in a foreign country especially when it’s a fever. So we stayed home and just rested while we tried to control the fever. The next day the fever had broken but she was still experiencing issues with the toilet so we tried to wait until we thought she was better before heading out to the White Temple.

The White Temple was pretty incredible to see. It’s stunning and fairly new I think. It’s a little on the bizarre side too.

We went to the hospital after that. Reason being is that I wanted to get Vivi checked and get some antibiotics if she needed it before we left for Laos the next day and we wouldn’t be anywhere near a hospital if she got sick again.

The hospital was AMAZING! So quick, clean, spoke English, and we got the drugs right there so no need to go to a pharmacy. It was a better experience then going to the hospital in Switzerland for my kidney stone. We were able to pay, it was so cheap, and out in a flash. I felt a lot better about leaving the next day to go on a boat ride for two days.

REFLECTION:

  • Thailand is beautiful and set up for travellers. It’s fairly easy to get around Thailand and most people speak English. Getting money out of ATM’s was impossible for us (and we are later finding out it’s hard in Bali as well) not sure why. We have Visa and MC and they both don’t work. Also, in Thailand, not many places take credit card to pay for things (restaurant, shopping, etc…), it’s few and far between so we always needed to go to a bank to get money out.
  • We’re learning more and more about each other… The hot is really taking a toll on me and Vivi. Luc seems almost unfazed. For me and her it’s just becomes so intense that it’s hard to even see straight. There sweat pouring out of my face and it doesn’t stop which is nothing like I’ve ever experienced and it’s so uncomfortable.
  • I’m super surprised by the air quality here. I couldn’t imagine living here full time given this. It also makes me so grateful for living on the West Coast of Canada.
  • I love watching Vivi as she learns, explores, and meets new people. She’s such a great little backpacker and super resilient. She tries new foods, new things, and is absolutely fearless.
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Southern Thailand

January 9-30, 2019

Relationship Renewal

I’m not going to sugar coat this: it took a while to change my mindset about Switzerland. I haven’t yet posted the raw feelings about what I went through in Switzerland as I’m not ready yet, but what I will say is that I felt like I had some depression surface and it was a very rough time in my relationship with Luc. Because of this, I think Luc might have hoped that a switch was flipped when we hit Thailand. Paradise right? Yeah that didn’t happen.

I remember standing in the airport after a crazy time change with about 1 hour of sleep and 10 hours of flying, Luc saying to me “why are you always so negative?” talk about a trigger moment. I was ready to catch the next flight back to Canada and away from him as fast as I possibly could.

After finally arriving at the first fancy hotel, we had it out beside the pool. What a sight – us basically yelling at each other in the most beautiful place we had seen in a while. Him flabbergasted why I wasn’t finally in a good mood and me yearning for him to just try to understand and accept me but totally being reactive and defensive.

I think those 2 days was so crucial for our relationship to finally try to find our relationship and love again through the crap and bullshit of the past 3 months. Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t all crap and bullshit. We had an amazing experience while I was emotionally very low. I look back now and wonder how did we experience so many cool things when I really felt depressed, alone and low.

From this point on, we spent time getting to know each other again and new things began to crop up that I didn’t know about Luc and him, me. As I move through our trip I will expose those things as they become more and more apparent. There was an article I read that was really interesting. What I got from it was that long term travel with your partner actually has you get to know things about them that you didn’t know or it wasn’t in your face enough to notice. This is so accurate. Traveling presents many different challenges that you don’t get in every day life: being scared (or not), spending money, eating new foods, experiencing new things, being tired, hot, parenting kids who haven’t been through this experience either. It’s challenging to say the least.

So 2 glorious days at the hotel on points helped us to reform our bonds again and start again just the 3 of us.

Bangkok

After lounging in the pool, we headed to Bangkok to explore. You will hear this for the next 3 months until we get to Bali but Bangkok was my first experience of HOT. We had grand ambitions to do learning time with Vivi in the morning and then set out in the afternoon to explore. WRONG. It’s minuscule cooler in the morning so we learned hard the first day to do it opposite from this point forward.

Everything was scary for me. Tuk tuks, walking on the street, worrying about getting my purse stolen from passing scooters, getting ripped off, street food. I was well outside my comfort zone these first few days (weeks). Luc on the other hand was LOVING EVERY MINUTE OF IT. Which killed me. How can one person be so afraid and the other want more of everything. I’ve said it before but we are the epitome of Ying and Yang.

He was ready to sample every single food on the street and I was trying to get back to restaurants for fear of food poisoning. I’ve been sick so many times in the past in Asian countries that I’m jaded. So this was a bone of contention that didn’t stop for about 2 months until I said enough was enough. More on that later.

We went to a few temples in Bangkok, Khao San Road, out to the Amphawa Floating Market and the Maeklong train market (See Luc and Vivi’s C’est La Vie! Video), we did an amazing cooking class (See Luc and Vivi’s C’est La Vie! Video), we hired a boat to take us down the river, and saw the reclining buddha and Wat Pho.

After 4 days in Bangkok I had had my fair share. It’s smelly, noisy and busy. It’s also incredibly unique, different and special. I don’t need to visit Bangkok again.

Koh Tao

We took our first double decker bus to Koh Toa which I think was 12 hours. What an experience of smelly noisiness. Hoped on a boat and met Mossy Mermaid and family! We were introduced to this family from my best friend and mutual friend back home. The MM Fam as 6 kids in total and Vivi was in absolute heaven playing with them and talking in English. It had been a while since she got to play with kids in English.

We made another fail and didn’t do enough research on where we were staying and booked 4 nights in the centre of Koh Toa where you need a taxi to take you anywhere you want to go which is about $12 one way. Or a scooter but we weren’t scooter people yet and I heard learning on Koh Toa was a recipe for disaster. So we would walk to the MM fam daily to hang out with them while Luc and a few of them learned to Scuba dive.

We had a blast swimming, playing in the pool, watching movies and the moms got to do mom things. I got some much needed girl time and empathy from Shelby. It had been so long since I got some face time with another woman. Luc got some much needed guy time with Cam and we even poked fun at their bromance.

Eventually we moved closer to them and we rented a boat and went snorkeling around the island for the morning with them. We forms some close blonds and can’t wait to visit them in Tofino when we get back.

Ao Nang

We took another all day bus to the other side of Southern Thailand. We debated if we wanted to stay at Railay Beach, Krabi or Ao Nang and in the end Ao Nang won due to price. I quite liked this place. It’s like a seaside town with a beach vibe. Very touristy. Here you can buy a ticket to Railay Beach for the day which is what we did.

But first we booked a Kayak and explored with a guide through the mangrove trees and watched monkeys watching us. Of course no double kayaking trip is complete without me and Luc yelling at each other. We never learn to not get doubles.

The next day we spent a day at Railay Beach. White sandy beaches, beautiful Karsts, and PEOPLE. It was hot, busy and a lot of people. I’m sure glad we went to see it as it was beautiful walking around and witnessing the penis shrines (you read that right) – and one day is enough for me.

Koh Lanta

After that we headed to the island of Koh Lanta. We booked this place beside the beach with a great pool! The room itself presented some cockroaches, a lizard, and a massive wasp in our bathroom. The thing that was AMAZING about Koh Lanta was meeting some French people with some kids around the same age as Vivi that we became fast friends with. We ate dinner together and played in the pool.

We had our first experience of Trash Hero. Trash Hero is an organization around the world that organizes beach and city cleanups by volunteers. We decided to walk to the beach for the clean-up but gave up about half way as it was way too hot! Us and the French hitchhiked (they had done it before on Koh Lanta) to the beach and then we had a lovely lunch. Then we got down and dirty and started the clean-up. It’s incredible how much garbage was hiding in the foliage of the beach. Vivi got some motor oil on her but I had my DoTerra Essential Oils so doused her with lemon and watched it cut the grease easy peasy.

We also paid for a crappy experience which should have been a lot better than it was but because of the waves, it was tragic. We were supposed to boat out to 3 different snorkeling places. In the end we went to 2 and they were basically in the exact same spot. I think we got forgotten for pickup because after calling someone got us and when we got on the boat everyone was already on board. They had all been given seasick pills too but they neglected to give them to us. Because we were last, we had to sit at the very back and I got soaked from the waves splashing in and on me. People started puking. I ended up putting on my mask because the salt water was killing my eyes. On the way back it was worse and took even longer to get back. It was one of those moments when you wonder if these might be the last people you see in your life.

We said goodbye to our new friends after about 6 days on Koh Lanta to head back to Krabi by bus for one night before taking off to Myanmar.

I loved the southern side of Thailand because of the ocean. I would come back here in a heartbeat and spend more time on the islands exploring. We made some great friends during this time that I’m really grateful for. I feel like this was a time that we were getting our traveling legs, reuniting as a family, discovering what was scary and trying to deal with the heat. We were newbies during this time in our travels for sure.

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Interview with Vivi: Swiss School

I interview Vivi about her after thoughts of going to school in Switzerland (Luc’s actual school!).

  1. Before you started school in Switzerland, do you remember what you thought or felt about going to school there?
    That’s a hard question. I was scared to not make any new friends. Cuz they would all laugh about my accent.
    And how did it work out? It worked out fine actually, I made a lot of new friends.
  2. What was your first impressions of Swiss school?
    I don’t know. That’s a hard question again. This was a lot more different then I thought it was going to be. In what way? Some things that I didn’t know what they meant in French, I’m like, Ok I think that’s what she’s saying, but I don’t know… Is she saying that or is she saying that? Cuz I don’t know which one. I was a little bit confused. It was more at the beginning.
  3. How did you feel in the beginning?
    Scared. Was there anything that helped you not be scared?  Getting used to it, going every day. What helped you? Somebody explained to me everything. A friend. Avril. Merci Avril. Would you say you were outside your comfort zone?  Yes at the beginning. But then it became the new normal. It was kinda like school in Canada but in French and in a different country – when I was done. Did anybody laugh at your accent? I think a couple did but then they got used to it. I forget.
  4. What was the most fun thing?
    Going to the train to go to the pool, the gym, I love the train and that’s it.
  5. What was the thing you liked to do the most in school?
    Everything that I just said. Ummm… ACM -> where you do crafts, stuff for other people too, when it was Halloween, we made little baskets with skulls on them, I filled it up with candy and give it to someone. Did you like singing? When did I sing? Yeah, I like singing… but I didn’t need to do it in front of the whole class.
  6. What was the thing you liked to do the least?
    Math, and we all had different things to do everyday – so every week we had to change so once I was sweeping and once I was mopping and once I was cleaning tables and I don’t like doing that. Do you do that in Canada? No…. uh a little bit – I forget. What about dictee? No, cuz I only got for 5 months I only got 2 times right.
  7. What is something that is your favorite memory?
    My birthday cuz they all did a parade and said Canada! Canada! Canada! And some people’s birthday and also the train to go to the pool and the pool and the gym and yeah.
    What was it like staying for lunch some days at school?
    The first day was really scary because I didn’t get what was happening. My best friend explained what was happening, she went there last year and she helped me and so that helped a lot. What happens there? You get picked up when you get out of your class, then he collects all the people, and you go to a different room near the gym, you wash your hands, you go to a table that you want, he says “anybody that wants to serve your table?” and you have to put your hand up and you all have to agree. Your table all has to agree what person. And then all of the people who want to collect the  food, and then they go in line to collect the food, and the adults put the food on the plate and then you serve it to your table. What kinds of foods did you eat? Burgers. Once we ate taco, and we ate a whole bunch of other foods [like vegetables, and soup, and fruit] and we always have fruit for desert in Switzerland. When you’re done you brush your teeth and you have your name on a tooth brush and you have a special place to put your goblet and tooth brush on a shelf. They gave us the toothbrush but you have to get it.
  8. Did you learn new games you can teach your friends ?
    Yeah, I forget what they are called but I learned card games, outside games, inside games – there’s a lot of games.
  9. What was your teacher like? 
    Her name is Madame Amandine and she was really nice. She really, oh man I forget, [you told me that she was really nice to, and that she really helped you feel a part of the class and explained things to you as you were new to the class, and with cursive writing, everyone was a year ahead and she really helped you with that but you also told me she was strict and no nonsense.] Yes all of that but only a little bit strict.
  10. What are some of the differences between Swiss school and Canadian school?
    They don’t speak French that much in Canada. Usually the kids just talk in English at recess. But it was really different because sometimes I said words in English, and they copied it but really with a French accent.
  11. What difference would you bring back to Canada if you could?
    I don’t know. What was some of the things that you really liked in Switzerland and wish you had in Canada. Swimming and eating [the canteen, a hot lunch every day], ACM [crafts], sometimes you go in a bus and you go to a place, so I was group “boat”, let’s say, and sometimes I need to go over to another school. I made a pouch for pencil crayons and stuff like that and I made it all by hand and I choose my own colours and my own buttons for the eyes and different stuff like that. And also sometimes I go to a different school and sometimes the one go to a different school. We made a basket for Halloween. It was really cool ACM. So you didn’t do that in Canada? No. You have different tools? Yeah, a cursive pen – ink pen. When you do crafts in Canada, what’s the difference? I don’t know. I forget.
  12. Which school do you like better?
    I like both. 😀
  13. Are you better at speaking and reading in French now?
    Yeah! Yeah.
  14. Would you go back again?
    That’s a hard question because I miss Canada right now, but if I lived in Switzerland, yeah.
  15. If you had a friend that was in Canada and going to Swiss school and that was a bit worried what would you tell them?
    The first time I went there it was a little scary, but once I got used to it it was really fun!

Thanks so much Vivi! Super appreciate you answering all my questions. Your welcome!

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Camino: Day 32-34

Day 32 – Riego De Ambros to Camponaraya

I hiked in the dark this morning with 5 other people who spoke French but that doesn’t mean they were from France. What I love about the Camino is you choose the language that most people speak and that’s what you speak. The other day I was speaking with an Italian who spoke French so that’s what we spoke together. I STRONGLY suggest you learn Spanish before you get to the Camino. Meeting so many people from different lands has inspired me to learn at least two more languages. Eventually, the guys in front took off and the older people were at the back so I ended up hiking down the mountain essentially by myself. Which was perfect and serene. I found the guys in the next town and I had coffee with them and then walked with them (fastest I’ve walked so far) to Ponferrada where I wanted to slow down a bit. I took it easy walking out of Ponferrada and threw on the head phones. I danced and sang at the top of my lungs the last 5Km. To be honest, when I do that under the sun by myself I feel so alive and in my essence. I love it. I’m in a little albergue in a room with two bunks and me and another red head named Katie from the USA are occupying the bottom bunks. We’re going to leave together tomorrow around 6:30am. We had some good discussion tonight about the USA political state. Very interesting. Also, Monica and Jörg found me and we all had dinner together. Tomorrow it’s a short day to Villafranca del Bierzo (15km and I’ll carry my pack tomorrow for the first time in a few days) where my package was delivered 2+ weeks ago and where I’ll find the love of my life around 6:30pm. Tomorrow is the last day I walk alone and then I will be in a team of two. I’m ready.

Day 33 – Camponaraya to Villafrance de Bierzo

First day of carrying my pack again. I haven’t had any discomfort and it was a smaller distance so I figured let’s go for it. I walked with Katie from the states. 24 years old. I really liked her. We started at 6:30am (dark until 8) and chatted the whole way to Villafranca where we parted ways around 11am. I love leaving early when it’s cool but I still have a fear of walking in the dark by myself so I usually asked if I could tag along with those who left early. Wow! Villafranca! What a great little town. I got the box I shipped a couple of weeks from the albergue I shipped it too. Took out what I needed/wanted and shipped it back to Switzerland ??. I did laundry in a proper machine (had to be clean for when I saw Luc!) and then headed over to the hotel/hostel that I booked. It was a proper room with my own bathroom. It’s been a while since I’ve had my own room (hospital?) I had a lovely shower and then relaxed on the bed for a couple of hours. I maybe should have discovered the town but I was more content resting and enjoying the room alone. Then I headed for a drink and off to meet Luc at his bus stop at 6:30pm. It was hard to wait all day!! But oh man, so incredible that he’s here now. I feel this safeness, security and love wash over me. I guess that’s who he is for me. ❤️ We went back to the hotel room for him to shower and park his bag and then headed off for dinner. It was. nice to get reacquainted with him and share my experiences I’ve had. Also, the things I’ve learned about myself. I’m not the same person who started this journey. I’m more the person I want to be. They say the Camino is a metaphor for your life in many different aspects. From the people who I have talked to, my journey may have been the most challenging that they have heard. I also know that these challenges I’ve faced have created something new in me. I experience the upset less intense but the contentment and pure joy in my life is more accessible. Love is a constant and to have the love of my life by my side, is the most incredible gift.

Day 34 – Villafrance de Bierzo to Las Herrerias

First day hiking with Luc. It was a very flat, on the road kind of day. I’d say a perfect introduction to the Camino. I only wish it was so easy for me. ?? the weather was overcast (what?) I loved walking with him and hearing about violette and how she’s adapting to school in Switzerland and with her grandparents and making new friends. Luc was so curious about the plants and fruit and the cute towns. I realize that I had missed this along the way or I had forgotten and to see it through his eyes was beautiful. He asked a lot of questions about how things are and what I’ve experienced and I really enjoyed being able to share my experience. We stopped in Las Herrerias, this cute little town that had a tree where you could tie your dreams onto. And a beautiful little river where I cooled off my feet. Luc’s first experience in a bunk bed room and I have to say it was a pretty clean nice place. Although… there wasn’t a window and typically what happens is the door gets shut. So with 10 people in the room I woke up at 11:45 sweating and had to get out of the room. I sat on the stairs and shortly a man cane down from upstairs. I didn’t want to scare him but inevitably I did. He was heading outside to get some fresh air and smoke a joint which he invited me to partake in. I politely declined. I’m so enjoying Luc with me my pack is still heavier than his but that’s my choice. Tomorrow up and over the last mountain O Cebreiro and into Galicia. 

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Camino: Day 26-28

Day 26 – Leon (Day 3)

Omg I’m not sure if I should cry or laugh. Maybe both. Coffee (for someone with a kidney stone???) and 10 cookies with peach jam for breakfast at almost 10am (supposed to be served at 9 and I had to ask at 9:40 if I was going to get something). Also, a few other observations: no toilet roll holder in the bathroom, no soap to wash your hands IN A HOSPITAL??, they were going to give me morphine last night even though I was feeling no pain (thank god I asked).

Very uneventful day. Resting and being with where I am. I’ve been practicing just being in the moment. Knowing that the next information I get I can make choices from there and that place. I was completely at peace going home and ending early or continuing. Even the thought of going back to Canada I was at peace with. At 4pm I was taken to the master blaster (lithotripsy procedure). The urologist could see my kidney but was having a hard time seeing the stone. So 2 more X-rays and he still couldn’t see the stone. He asked if I would like to have a dye procedure where they shoot dye into you and can locate the stone easier with the X-ray. Yes why not! Was my answer. So 2 hours after that I was back on the X-ray table being pumped with iodine. 2 X-rays later and the stone is nowhere to be found. The doc said it’s not unheard of to pass a stone and not feel it but he’s fairly certain I should have felt that pass today. Anyway, I’ve got a clean bill of health and the doc said I can continue my Camino! Hooray! Since I missed the deadline to cancel the hospital bed I’m here again tonight but that’s ok cuz there’s no bed bugs, I’m all alone (no snorers), and I have my own bathroom and pjs! Bonus they’ve given my stuff to stop the itch from the bed bugs too! Tomorrow I’ll be discharged and I’m not sure if I’ll take off late morning or wait to see if some friends make it to Leon. I’d like to see them. I’m absolutely thrilled!! Taking it hour by hour has been a practice and a challenge but I know I’ve grown from this experience in so many ways. Thank you all for supporting me along the way. ♥️

Day 27 – Leon (Day 4)

I can hardly write this update cuz you’re not going to believe what happened today. I was discharges from the hospital around 10am. This first photo is Samantha. The last photo is Juan. I went back to the albergue and started organizing my stuff. I wanted to get my clothes in a washer and dryer to ensure there were no bed bugs in them. I let Juan know so he gave me some bed bug spray and I sprayed my pack and put it in a black garbage bag on my balcony. Then I grabbed my clothes to wash and I took off. 1 hour later and I’m back. But wait: where’s my pack in the bag on the balcony? So I ask Juan and his partner. They haven’t seen it. We look everywhere. I say: “any possible way you threw it out because it was in a black garbage bag?” “No no no.” Ok. So Juan has a camera that we can look back on the footage and see who came into my room. I spend 3.5 hours going through the footage (don’t ask why it took so long). Finally, I find the clip where Juan’s partner walks into my room and takes the bag out and into the hallway. Juan and I go to the dumpsters and the garbage has been hauled away. I had emptied the bag (mostly) as I was spraying it so I lost minimal stuff. And there is an outdoor store only 2 mins walking away that carries the exact same bag that I had. And Juan paid for the bag. His partner has apologized. I believe he just didn’t put two and two together. Practicing forgiveness. If there ever was a day of highs and lows this would be it. I enjoyed a nice dinner with Linda and Otto (so thrilled to see them again). I’m walking again tomorrow – finally back on the road. I can’t even express how I’m feeling about all this stuff happening. I’m trying to rise above, and sometimes it’s all I can do not to cry ?

Day 28 – Leon to San Martín Del Camino

I have left Leon. I repeat: I have left Leon! 6 days (I think) in this town and I’m happy to be heading out. Don’t get me wrong. It’s a beautiful town. But I’ve done my time there and it’s time to move on. Man! Can they party in that town. Doesn’t matter what day it is but people are up to the break of dawn hooting and hollering. I’m not exaggerating. So I headed out at 7:15 to catch a bus to skip the industrial part of Leon. About 6km. I’m pretty sure i was the only pilgrim in a bus full or Spaniards. I got out and looked for the yellow arrow. It wasn’t far thank goodness. Then I started walking. And it felt soooo good to walk. It’s been about 10 days since I walked. I felt strong, alive, well. I was walking away from everything that had happened and taking everything I learned with me forward. I met Pedro walking. That was nice to talk to someone only for about 20 mins. I gave away two oranges ? at a coffee stop. About 13km in I stopped for a bathroom break. I noticed some discoloration. I also started to notice some discomfort in my kidney. I decided to cut my day short and head to this wonderful albergue in San Martin del Camino. I spoke with Samantha who spoke with a doctor and they said it’s normal for some discoloration and discomfort afterwards and to see a doctor in a few days if it persists. Phew! I spent the afternoon in the hammock, resting, talking to friends and family. Around 6:30pm I spoke with Davis who can barely speak English and me Spanish. We had a great time trying both languages, making sound effects and hand gestures. Then dinner. Big table of people who seem to have the same end date as me now which could mean I run into them a lot – bonus!! There was one comedian at the table (Italian) names michael. Him and a French guy picked up two guitars and started hammering out Cat Stephens, led zeplin, etc… it turned into a sing along. Super fun. Too bad I can’t post the video And then the most amazing sunset. All in all it was a wonderful day. Just what I needed to get back on the road again. I will be catching a bus to Astorga tomorrow to rest the kidney some more. Gonna eat chocolate Yo!! 

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