Well hello there! It’s been awhile, no?
You’d probably think that now that I’m no longer walking for 8+ hours a day with limited internet access, and instead now finding myself at home, unemployed, with a high-speed wifi connection, I’d be blogging all the time! But instead it seems the opposite has happened.
The thing is, despite not having an actual job, I’ve actually been pretty busy since I’ve come home! Between friends and family and visitors galore and Thanksgiving and unpacking and trying to put our life back together, my days have actually been quite full these past couple of weeks. I haven’t been wasting my days screwing around online, or binge watching TV, or doing any of those other time suck things, but what I have been doing hasn’t really been all that interesting. And I guess going from having the time of your life and walking up in a new city every single day, to spending your days running errands and doing laundry hasn’t exactly provided me with a whole lot of inspiration.
And I think that has put me into a little bit of a blog funk. Because not only do I miss being on the camino, I miss writing about the camino. I miss stopping mid-day to take notes because something so utterly amazing just happened that I had to stop to write it down so I wouldn’t forget it. And now that my days have consisted of laundry and Thanksgiving shopping and internet researching, I haven’t had a whole lot of those moments. And really, who wants to hear about those things anyway?
While my funk seems to have mostly affected my blog, Kevin’s been having a real-life funk. He’s been having some major post-camino blues. I’ve been trying to remind him that just because the camino was an incredible and amazing experience, it doesn’t make our life in San Francisco any less amazing or significant. But it’s hard to go from such a high back into the monotony of real life, and I’m sure if I had to jump right back into work I’d be feeling the same way. He’ll figure it out.
Anyway, all of this is to say that I’ve missed this little blog of mine, so I’m going to try my best to snap out of this funk and dedicate some more time to my corner of the world wide web. One of the many things I’ve been wanting to do with my downtime is focus on this blog, give it a blog makeover and what not, so hopefully you’ll be seeing some exciting things soon.
I’m also going to write some more camino and travel related posts, while the information is still fresh in my mind. As I’ve mentioned before, if you have any camino or travel related questions, please let me know (either through email or in a comment below) because I’m working on a FAQ, as well as some posts on Portugal and Morocco. And if there’s anything you’d like to see more of on my blog, let me know that too!
In the meantime, here’s a bit of what I’ve been up to lately:
If you’ve been reading for awhile you might remember that I am a major Huger Games fan. So you can only imagine my excitement to watch Catching Fire…
Yes I own a Hunger Games t-shirt.
And yes I wore it to the movie.
And yes my friends all laughed at me.
And I did not care at all.
Team Peeta all the way, yo!
We also hosted Thanksgiving! Kevin’s parents, his sister, my mom and step-dad, and two of our best friends all crammed into our teeny tiny apartment and had a feast. Nine people. And I have to say, for such a small place, I think we did a great job!
Top: Our apartment normally…
Bottom: our apartment after converting our desk to an extra table and using our buffet… as an actual buffet!
Who says you can’t entertain in small places?!?
As a side note – remind me later to tell you how somehow I was tricked into drinking non-alcoholic wine. Who does that to someone?!?! Cruel, I tell you! Cruel!
I’ve also been up to a bit of karaoke. Me and Michelle absolutely rocked Don’t Stop Believing, if I do say so myself.
I’m clearly a natural on stage!
If only I could sing.
And there you have it. Hunger Games and Thanksgiving and Karaoke. Just a few highlights of the past couple of weeks.
What’s up with all of you? I hope good things!
We are back. And it is weird. So weird.
We got home on Saturday night and we’re still trying to get our bearings and get back into the groove of our life again. Kevin went right back to work on Monday so I imagine that this transition is immensely harder for him than it is for me, but even without a job to return to, I find myself struggling to get back into normal life.
When Kevin left for work it was the first time in over 45 days that we had spent more than 10 minutes apart, which was a strange strange thing in and of itself. And while it was nice having my own time, as gag-inducing as this may sound, I missed him. I did. And I think that’s a good sign! Of course we had our difficulties and our share of bickering along the way, but if we can spend almost seven weeks together inseparable and still miss each other at the end, I think we’re on a good path for the rest of our life!
I have already seen a handful of friends which has been so wonderful, but a lot of people have already started asking me what my plan is. And like I wrote last week, I just don’t know. I’ve only been home three days. I’m still trying to adjust back into a life that doesn’t revolve solely around how far I’m walking and what I’m eating. Right now I still find it strange that I can speak English and people understand me! Or that I don’t have to wear the same clothes every single day. I’m fascinated by the fact that I have a refrigerator! And a bed! And a curling iron! It’s a bit overwhelming, to be honest… being surrounded by so many things.
I’m having massive sticker shock as well – spending $8+ on a glass of wine is just mind boggling to me (but since I’m clearly not going to give up going to my beloved wine bars, I’m sure I’ll get used to that one soon enough!). I’m also having a hard time accepting that it is no longer acceptable to consume 3500 calories along with a bottle of wine every single day.
But more than anything I’m just trying to hold onto some of the camino magic and not fall back into my old routine, which consisted of a lot of laziness and TV. I am trying to be more active and less stationary. Prior to the camino I lived such a sedentary lifestyle, and I don’t want to fall back into that again. Since I’m unemployed right now I have no excuse not be active, but I want to develop a good routine so that when I do get back into the workforce I won’t immediately fall prey to my old ways. I’ve learned a lot about myself on our trip, one of which is that I feel so much better when I’m more active. I know everyone always says that, but this was the the first time in my life where I actually felt it.
Yesterday I walked to Trader Joe’s. This walk used to seem a little too far for me to walk for groceries, but this time it felt like nothing… like a leisure stroll! And when I looked up the distance I realized that it really was nothing…. a mere 0.6 miles away! And yet I used to think that was too far to walk! It’s so strange. My perspective on distance has changed completely.
However, despite the short distance I seemed to have forgotten that I had to also carry back everything I bought, so at the end of the trip I had considerably more than was comfortable to hold. It was raining, so I contemplated taking a taxi, but then I reminded myself that I’ve walked much farther in far worse conditions, so I took out my umbrella, moved some things around, and then trudged up the .6 mile hill back to my house. And I was proud of myself, because that is something I never would have done prior to this trip. Carry 25 pounds of groceries up a half-mile hill in the pouring rain? I would have laughed at even the suggestion!
I’m also trying to make sure I start to do all the things I’ve always wanted to do but hadn’t made the time for. Things like finally make our wedding album, clean out our closets, de-clutter our guest room, frame the artwork we’ve been meaning to frame for over a year, take a Spanish class… you know, all of those things that you always want to do, but that tend to fall to the very bottom of your priority list when you work full-time. Because now, for the first time in a long time, I actually will have the time.
So yeah, I’m trying my best! Every time a wave of “what am I going to do with myself” anxiety starts to creep in I tell myself that it will all work out, and though I don’t know how or when, I truly believe that it will. I don’t want to not enjoy the present by worrying too much about the future, because as we all know, I am an excellent worrier! And worrying is nothing but a waste of time.
Over the next week I’m going to try my best to respond to all of the wonderful comments and emails I’ve received over the past couple months. If you haven’t heard from me please don’t think I’ve forgotten you! I have not. I have appreciated all of your comments and notes so so much, and I’m in the process of responding. Thank you so much for following along.
Back to drinking wine and hanging out with some of my favorite people.
Not all my old routines were bad ones
After a week in Morocco, we are heading back to Spain for the final leg of our adventure. Morocco was truly a different world, and after spending so much time in Spain, this feels almost like coming home. I like that we are ending this journey in the same country we started it in. It feels right.
I don’t even know how to describe our time in Morocco. It was crazy and hectic and beautiful, but it was also a bit harder than we expected. More exhausting. In hindsight, coming from the tranquility and peacefulness of the camino right into the craziness of Marrakech probably wasn’t our best idea, but we had a great time regardless. It was an experience we will remember forever, though I can confidently say we much prefer the European lifestyle. I no longer have dreams of owning a Riad, that’s for sure!
We now have two nights in Barcelona, and then we will board yet another flight to take us back to our actual home, San Francisco. We’ve been gone almost seven weeks, and while I’m going to miss this (so much!), I’m looking forward to all the goodness that awaits me at home. Friends and family and holidays and all the other wonderful things that make up our life. Just thinking about it makes me happy.
I’ll be joining the ranks of the unemployed when I return, so I’ve been thinking a lot lately about what it is I plan to do with my life when I get back, but I still don’t know. I was hoping this trip would provide some sort of eureka moment of clarity, but that hasn’t happened. However, it has provided me with a lot of time to reflect and think about how I want to live my life and be the person I’d like to be, and to focus on what is really important to me and the life I’m building with Kevin. And that has been invaluable.
I think the greatest gift I can give myself is time. Time to let myself figure out what it is that makes me happy and how to incorporate that into what it is I end up doing. I’ve been so unhappy in so many jobs, and that is truly no way to live. Life is too short to be miserable five out of seven days of the week.
More than anything I’m thankful that I have a husband that is allowing me to take this time, that supports me and encourages it and doesn’t mind if we live off of pasta and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for a bit. I know I can’t be unemployed forever, but I’m so grateful to have the luxury of being able to be jobless for a few months. And I’m well aware that it is just that – a luxury.
I have no idea what my future has in store, but for now, I’m not going to think about any of that. I can easily waste hours (days!) focusing on the “what ifs” of my life, but I’ll have plenty of time for that later. Instead I’m going to try to be as present as possible these next two days, and enjoy every second of the time we have left. Because if this trip has taught me anything it’s that – enjoy the here and now. So I intend to.
And now, a picture of me and my camel, who I lovingly named camel-toe:
I write this to you from a plane on its way to Morocco. Kevin and I have done quite a lot of traveling this past month, via bus, train, and foot, but this is the first plane we have taken. And you guys, planes are so fast! The map just told us that we are about 350 miles away from our destination and we will be landing in less than an hour.
Kevin and I recently traveled that same distance. By walking. With our feet.
It took us 30 days.
Technology is amazing!
We just spent the last three days in Portugal, which wasn’t nearly enough time but at least we got a taste of it. We drank port in Porto and ate sushi in Lisbon and I was so happy to
not have to eat a peregrino menu del dia I could have cried (outside of the major cities, the food in the smaller towns in Spain was challenging, consisting primarily of bread bread bread, ham, cheese, and then more bread. Soooo much bread. Too much bread, even for a carboholic like me).
Leaving Santiago I was sad for about half a day, but then my “travel is to me what meth is to Walter White” feeling kicked in, and suddenly I was happy as a clam to be traveling again. We were going somewhere new! By train! Where we could eat real food! And see new sights! Oh the excitement!
We loved Portugal. For some reason it had never been that high on my “must visit” list, but it is now. The food, the wine, the culture, the people, the architecture… all were amazing. Lisbon itself was just incredible, and it quickly earned the title of one of my favorite European cities. It’s worth so much more time than we were able to give it.
I suppose we will just have to go back!
(the more we travel, the more our list grows)
We’ve also run into quite a few pilgrims in Portugal, which has been fun. We are all easily identified by our backpacks and lack of normal clothes (aka ugly clothes). Though I was able to buy some boots in Porto, I wasn’t able to find anything appropriate for 80+ degree Moroccan weather. So, I’m still in my gross pilgrim clothes, which I am not thrilled about, but hey, there are bigger problems in the world than what I look like. And I get to go to Morocco! What I’m wearing should be the least of my concerns. I’m a lucky girl, ugly clothes and all.
We are both ridiculously excited for this leg of our adventure. We haven’t even arrived and we are already whining annoyingly about how we wish we had more time. There is just so much to do, and one week isn’t nearly enough time to do it all! But it’s a start.
We are also particularly excited to experience a totally new culture, something entirely different than we are accustomed to. Spain and Portugal are amazing, and of course they are not the same as California, but as Western countries, are not all that different from the U.S. Not like Africa, anyway. We are looking forward to the culture shock of it all.
My food just arrived (on foreign airlines you still get food! for free!) so I’m going to stop writing and start eating. Lunch consists of a chicken sandwich, a yogurt, and a Mars bar. This is gourmet compared to what we get in the states. It puts our airlines to shame.
The above was written on our flight from Lisbon to Casablanca. I think I was getting too comfortable, too arrogant in my traveling skills, so the universe decided to humble me.
“Hahaha” the universe said to me. “You want different, I’ll show you different!”
After landing in Casablanca, the following things happened:
Our connecting flight to Marrakech was canceled, because of that we lost our luggage. The driver we organized to pick us up at the airport wasn’t there, so after much confusion we took a taxi, who then got lost and took us to the wrong Riad, which led to a new slew of problems.
As if that wasn’t enough, shortly after going back to the airport the next day to pick up our lost luggage, two men got into a fight and one of them took out a MACHETE and chased the other one down the street!!!!*
So yeah, we’re not in Spain anymore!
Obviously all has worked out, we eventually got to our Riad and we eventually got our luggage, and now that we’ve had some time to settle and get our bearings we are back to having a great time (and it wouldn’t be traveling if something didn’t go wrong!).
Marrakech is nuts. It’s crazy and chaotic and stressful and beautiful and amazing all at the same time. It’s different than I remember it being… far less secular and more dirty and gritty, but wonderful nonetheless.
Tomorrow we are taking a three day tour through the Sahara desert. I am excited not only to see the desert and experience its secrets, but also to not have to make any more decisions for a few days. For the past five weeks we have been GO GO GO, so it will be really nice to just let someone else tell us what to do for a bit. Sometimes it’s nice not having to use your brain.
Happy weekend** friends!
All in less than 48 hours!
Oh what a life we are living right now!
*This was a complete fluke incident, as Morocco is typically an incredibly safe place, especially for tourists. What we saw could have happened anywhere, it just randomly happened right in front of us. Even with that incident, we have not felt unsafe.
**you know life is good when you have to look up what day of the week it is…
***Written yesterday, November 3rd.***
We made it!
After hundreds of miles full of strained calfs, blisters, shin splints and arch pain, we made it to Santiago de Compostela happy, wet, and relatively unscathed. In the end we walked 346 miles, which is about 100 miles short of our original goal, but it’s an accomplishment nonetheless.
We arrived on November 1st, two days earlier than our original date of November 3rd.
It is incredible.
The whole thing still seems a bit surreal. I can’t believe we’ve reached the end. It’s been a whirlwind few days, to say the least.
I barely slept the night before we arrived. My mind was racing, thinking about how tomorrow was the end. The last day! I kept waking up and checking my watch, wondering if it was time to go. It felt like the night before graduation. The excitement was almost tangible.
Our friends Paul and Katy were staying at the same hotel as us, so we started walking together. It was raining softly but we didn’t mind. We had made it this far – a little rain wasn’t going to get us down!
Within an hour, the rain went from a light drizzle to a torrential downpour. Despite our rain gear we were soaked, but still we trudged along, laughing and splashing and having a blast. When we could see the spires of the Santiago cathedral in the distance, we all got a bit quiet. The end was literally in sight.
We had met Paul and Katy just a few days before, but our connection was instant. They are the first (and only) couple we had come across in the past month that was around our age, and within an hour of meeting we felt like we had all been good friends forever, swapping stories and laughing so hard we cried.
They have been about one day behind us the entire camino, and it’s almost eery how similar our experiences have been. We all keep saying that we wish we had met each other sooner, but the fact that we have met at all feels like a gift. A camino reward. They are the friends we didn’t know we were looking for.
As we walked into the city, the wind picked up, and soon the rain was coming down on us sideways. The city was confusing, and strangely enough, the path into Santiago was the least marked that we had encountered along the entire camino. Somewhere along the way we missed a turn, losing the path. When we realized that we would be arriving at the cathedral from behind, and not on the actual camino trail, Katy and I started to get sad. We had both really wanted to walk in on the path, the way that pilgrims had been doing for hundreds of years. To get lost at this stage seemed like a mean joke.
But then we realized that we were being ridiculous. What mattered was that we were here, in Santiago! That we had made it!
As soon as we got to the cathedral, it was clear that it didn’t matter which direction you had come from. There were pilgrims everywhere, laughing and crying and hugging, oblivious to the pouring rain. We stood in the middle of the square and looked up at the cathedral with awe and a little bit of disbelief. We had reached the end of our pilgrimage at last.
We popped inside just in time to see the botafumeiro swing. Because it was All Saints’ Day the church was packed wall to wall with people. We squeezed into a corner and stood silently, watching the botafumeiro swing back and forth as the room filled with incense. We stayed for about 20 minutes, occasionally looking around to sneak waves and smiles and thumbs up at other friends we had met along the way. And then the four of us left to get drinks.
We celebrated until almost 4 am. I woke up yesterday morning with hands down my worst camino hangover of our entire trip, and though I felt absolutely wretched, my sheer delight at the fact that I didn’t have to walk anywhere almost counteracted my hangover. Almost.
The last 48 hours have been a big blur of celebrations and hugs and wine and goodbyes. There have been lots and lots of “congratulations!” and “we did it!“s from people and to people, even if we had never met them until that very moment.
We have reconnected with friends we hadn’t seen for weeks, said goodbye to people that feel like family, and bonded with others we never even crossed paths with while walking. It’s been an incredible and overwhelming few days.
I’m a huge mixed bag of emotions right now. I’m sad it’s over. I’m proud of us for having done it. I’m grateful for the experience. I’m thrilled that we have made so many great friends and connections. And I’m so excited for what is next for us, not only on the rest of this trip, but in life in general. It feels like a new beginning in a way.
It’s going to take us awhile to process this whole experience, but Kevin said earlier that next to getting married, this is the best thing that we have ever done. I agree. We are stronger for it, both individually and as a couple. I believe we are better for it.
I’m already suffering from some post-camino blues, but whenever I start to get really sad that it is over, I try to remind myself that being sad over something ending is a good thing. It means that I was lucky enough to experience something so great that I didn’t want it to end, and for that I am so grateful. Bedbugs and all.
Tomorrow morning we hop on a bus to Portugal, where we stop being pilgrims and start being plain old travelers. Just thinking about it feels strange, as if I am losing a part of myself, like a snake shedding skin. It’s harder than I thought it would be to let go of this pilgrim identity, though I think no matter where I am, I’ll always be a little bit of a peregrina in my heart.
Though I’m sad it’s over, I’m content with how it ended, and I’m looking forward to the new travel adventures that await us. The camino has been such an all-consuming experience that I haven’t even thought about the rest of our trip, but we still have about two weeks left. And I certainly intend to make the most of them.
Thank you for following along so far. It has meant the world to me.
I will never get used to how ridiculous we look in our ponchos.
We made it!
Excitement and awe
Laughing so hard I’m crying with Katy
Compostelas in hand! We did it!
Goodbye dinner, Like I said, we hang out with the retirees. And they are awesome.
The Parador. Major end of camino splurge.
P.S. I’ve gotten quite a few questions about the camino, so when I get back home I’m planning on putting together a sort of FAQ post that answers them all, along with my own personal tips and recommendations and what not. If there’s anything you’d like to know (really, anything, I love this kind of stuff!) please feel free to send me an email or ask it in the comments. There is no such thing as a stupid question