2 kms to go – all uphill!

My daughter,  my coach, told me I’ve got this.   I am 2/3 of the way UP!   Thank goodness there is a refuge.  Unlike most, I’ve stopped for un cafe au lait and wifi.

The weather is perfect after rain last night.  A little  cool,  clear and now sunny.   Such good fortune!  I had a soulful gaze with a beautiful cow and almost cried.  Apparently my emotions are running high.

Was so excited to see my first flock of sheep!

Elizabeth, thank you for believing in me.20160916_093409.jpg20160916_093328.jpg

St. Jean Pied de Port Sept.15

I made it to the Camino “gateway” this afternoon.   Staying in a wonderful hostel with only 4 beds in my room, 3 women, and private showers.  And we each get a locker and a little shelf with an outlet for charging.

Walked about 7 miles today, hoping that makes tomorrow’s trek up, but not all the way over, the Pyrenees easier than it seems it will be.   This town reminds me a bit of Cusco in Peru, except there are many older people.  Very hilly.  Beautiful.

Found the *best* spice shop.  It smelled so good!  On the drive in, saw signs for the “Rabbit Forest.”  I wish I knew what that is.

To sleep, for tomorrow I trek.20160915_170048_001.jpg20160915_175842_003.jpg20160915_181124_003.jpg

Biarritz – Sept. 15

20160915_094640_002Went to the sea this morning.  Wild on one side of town ; nice waves on the other.  Had a yummy breakfast, including pan au chocolate and cafe.

Took the bus to the airport to get the van to St. Jean, where I am now.   I’m the first person in my gite, so have a coveted botttom bunk in a room with only 4 beds.

Off to do some sightseeing in this very hilly medieval town.

Having trouble with the site, so only one pic.

Day 2: Exhausted and Exhilarated

20160914_103719.jpg Nothing like seeing giraffes at Heathrow airport.

So, it is almost 11 pm on Wednesday.  Travel took from 1pm Tuesday until 730 pm today:  Jax to Dallas to London to Biarritz.  This is a delightful seaside town.  The salt air smells great, and a significant thunderstorm made it seem cozy.  Very glad I am staying in town rather than at the airport, where I return tomorrow to take a van to St. Jean.  I hope to wake up early enough to sightsee a tiny bit before leaving the coast.

Met a few peregrinos on the flight to Biarritz.  I think we were all tired, nervous and excited.  I hope to see them again, but we’re all getting to our starting point different ways and at different times.

For now, stretching out on my back is luxurious!   I hope someday to fly business class when I go overseas.

I am happy, as the venture begins.

 

Today is the day!

I leave my home in a few hours.  I am beyond excited – some butterflies and high expectations.   I wish the flights weren’t such a slog, but much of this walk will be a slog, so this will be good practice in going with the flow.

So I’ve taken the obligatory photos of my gear, both unpacked and packed.  Wish me luck!20160913_08455220160913_093412

Why walk?

deborah_IMG_4630“Because I like to” is hardly an answer.  Although it’s true, it raises the next question – why do I like to walk?  There are many answers, going back to my childhood.

Walking was my first taste of freedom as a child.  I lived in a semi-urban, mixed use neighborhood in Philadelphia.  By just walking all the way around my block, there was much to see:  different types of houses, a church, a “mansion” (to my childish eyes) converted to a small apartment building.  When I was permitted to cross the first street alone, I was able to go to the corner grocery for penny candy, and to the newsstand for an ice cream.  Once I could cross two streets alone, I had access to the 2 square block playground and rec center.  Soon I was walking the whole neighborhood, resting many days at the local library branch, which became my second home for many years.

But even before my solo explorations, I walked with my mother.  We would sometimes take the streetcar to Pennypack Park.  We would stop at the corner deli to buy hoagies, sodas and Tastykakes for dessert, which would be our lunch.  [I know, not the healthiest.  The fat and sugar was offset by the walking!]  I loved getting out into nature.  And I loved these special outings with my mom.  It was so close to home, yet offered the chance to sit by streams, climb boulders, see birds and sometimes deer, and just enter a different, quieter, simpler world.  Walking in the woods always makes me feel at home, which in turn makes me feel loved.

Today I still enjoy the feeling of fixing on a far destination and the feeling of progress as that destination comes closer.  Destinations are usually for city explorations.  And when in nature, I love the quiet to contemplate, to think and sometimes just to “be.”

I love the feeling of power in being able to traverse an area using only my body.  It is an elemental feeling that ironically leads me to feeling at one with humanity, especially when I am walking alone.

And walking is something I will be able to do for many, many years.  It’s not “athletic”; it’s nothing out of the ordinary.  But it is incredibly natural.  And the act of walking doesn’t require much attention, leaving me free to think, to ponder questions both profound and simple.

And that is why I have a desire to walk the Camino!  I have some things I need to ponder.

Who is doing this walking . . . and thinking?

Thank you for asking!  Gosh, here’s where it can sound like I’m writing a dating profile.  I will do my best to stay away from that.

My mother named me “Deborah Anne”, and my friends call me Deborah.  (No “Debbie” for me, thank you very much!)  I live in Orange Park, Florida and have been practicing law for 36+ years.  And let me be quick to add – I am a “public interest” lawyer.  For 25 years I worked for a non-profit, representing the poor and the underrepresented, including children.  Now I work for the State of Florida, still trying to make a difference at the Dept. of Children & Families.  I have a very strong sense of social justice.  I’m sure that came from being raised Catholic.

I am excited about my upcoming Camino, and will use this space as my personal journal. But so many of my friends and colleagues have expressed surprise that I am undertaking this journey solo, as well as envy, that I decided to share this journey with you.

At least for the time being, I will focus on the Camino and my reflections relating to the journey.  I will do my best to stay away from the politics of the 2016 elections, not because I don’t care, but because I need to distance myself from such negativity.  I am sure that I will continue to think about, and therefore to write about, issues of social justice, the politics of poverty, and . . . food.  Yes, food is my hobby:  shopping for it, cooking it, eating it, and the politics of it.  Perhaps you will read, at some point, about the ways in which food is a theme in my family, as well.

Along the Way, I will do my best to eat well, and to share that with you.  I’ll discuss the wines of the regions and the local and national dishes.  This blog will go from the ridiculous to the sublime, from the everyday to the spiritual, as I put one foot in front of the other.

In the beginning . . .

Like the peripatetic Socrates, I walk to think, as well as to simply be in the moment.  In about 7 weeks, I’ll get on a plane, destination France, to begin walking the Camino Frances.   I plan to walk a distance that equals walking from Orange Park, FL, where I  live, to New Orleans.  I plan to walk more than 500 miles.

Initial plans were made at the beginning of the year.  I’ve studied and learned, slowly acquiring the gear, the documents and the necessary reservations.    It was all so exciting.   And now that the time is getting closer, the element of terror rears its head from time to time — what was I thinking?

But I know that once I start walking,  I only need to put one foot in front of the other until I’ve crossed the Pyrenees and the border into Spain.   I  will do that over and over and over.  I will take my time, see the countryside, and eventually achieve my goal.

I am pleased you will be providing a bit of company along The Way.  Welcome!