Posts Tagged With: Camino de Santiago

Coming soon to Amazon

Camino Sunrise: Walking With My Shadows

A memoir and Camino de Santiago adventure by Reginald Spittle

Illustrated by Sue Spittle

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Illustration: Sue Spittle

They call it a pilgrimage, but for Reginald Spittle the 500-mile Camino de Santiago was the test of a lifetime.

A professional journalist and a gifted educator, Reg projected an air of confidence to those who thought they knew him. Recently retired, Reg’s new life of leisure included morning coffee on the front porch, bike rides and day hikes in nearby Yosemite National Park, followed by an evening glass of wine (or two) next to his backyard pool. However, painful childhood memories filled with relentless teasing, insecurity, and loneliness cast shadows on his adult life, undermining feelings of self-worth, trust, and friendship.

Tragedy brought him to reluctantly accept his wife’s challenge to carry his red backpack across Spain on a trail traveled by millions for centuries.

Self-reflection, humor and a recurring cast of characters create the backdrop for Camino Sunrise — Walking With My Shadows. Join Reg as he sets out with anxieties about the lack of privacy in communal dorms and about competition from younger, experienced backpackers. But his journey would also lead him to places far removed from daily Camino life. As each new day reveals lessons in camaraderie, acceptance, and hope, Reg is forced to confront disturbing emotional shadows from his past.

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Categories: Camino de Santiago, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , | 60 Comments

Hip, hip hooray for Marion!

If at first you don't succeed, try, try, try again.

Ian and Marion journeyed from their home in Oxford, England in spring 2013 to tackle the 500-plus mile Camino de Santiago. We met them on our first day out from Pamplona, Spain and we quickly became friends, enjoying laughs and stories over coffee, drinks, and meals.

Ian and Marion take a break during their 2013 Camino trek.

Like so many other Camino trekkers, Marion battled blisters. She doctored them each day, but they got worse and worse. More than most people, she was determined to conquer the Camino.

Then, she suffered a stress fracture of the shin, but continued to trudge on. Finally, after several hundred miles, she hit the wall. Sue and I were so sad when she and Ian returned home, but we were not nearly as disappointed as Marion was.

You see, Marion had tried and tried when many trekkers of all ages would have quit.

Last month, Marion laced up her boots to try again. She and Ian returned to finish their Camino, taking on the Galicia section, marked by many mountain climbs and descents as well as spectacular scenery.

We eagerly awaited Ian's eloquent e-mail reports and were happier than the Camino cuckoo birds when they made it to Santiago de Compostela.

But we were not surprised. We knew Marion would succeed.

I now raise my gin and tonic and say, “Cheers, Marion!”

 

Categories: Inspiration | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Life’s path redirected by chance meeting

 

When James and Gitta unexpectedly crossed paths, a new journey began for them both.

 

 

 

Much like a well-worn trail, life provides a beautiful journey of highs and lows. We smile easily from the mountaintop where possibilities seem endless. It is when we gaze up from below, unsure where our path will lead, that our optimisim is challenged.

We met James and Gitta while hiking the Camino de Santiago in April of 2013. Both far more experienced walkers than we were, they taught us how to embrace the Camino Spirit…and not to walk over 12 miles each day!

We learned that Gitta had completed her first Camino several years earlier, walking from her home in Copenhagen, Denmark, through to Santiago, in celebration of her 60th birthday. The trek took her six months. We were in awe! Now she was back, accompanying James as he completed the missing segment of his first Camino.

As it has done for hundreds of years, the Camino continues to provide modern day Pilgrims with a sense of purpose; to ask questions, to seek answers, to reflect, express gratitude…to take a chance.

One evening, James shared with us the story of what led him to originally walk the Camino, and how that chance decision changed the path of his life.

It was at his late wife's burial that James' good friend suggested they walk a portion of the Camino de Santiago together. Standing at one of life's many crossroads, James immediately agreed and their plan was set in motion.

Six months after their return, James and his friend made plans to attend a meeting of fellow Camino Pilgrims. However, at the last minute, his trekking partner was unable to attend, leaving James with a decision to make: Enjoy an unexpected quiet evening alone or step into a room filled with unfamiliar faces. After some thought, James took a chance and made the decision to attend the meeting solo. As luck would have it (perhaps it was destiny or the magic of the Camino) Gitta too, chose to attend that same meeting where, at some point in the evening, she crossed paths with James.

The rest, as they say, is history!

 

 

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Big Screen Illuminates The Way

 

Take a walk along the Camino de Santiago...

 

 

 

Reg had been tracking the whereabouts of Lydia Smith's documentary Walking the Camino – Six Ways to Santiago for months, hoping to locate a showing close to home. It has been nearly a year since we set out on our own life-changing adventure along the Camino Frances, so we were anxious to revisit our memories.

The film documents the journey of six very different individuals who have unique reasons for making the 500 mile trek along the Camino Frances.

Would we recognize ourselves in any of these pilgrims? Would they experience the same joys, the same doubts? Would they overcome obstacles, both real and imagined, and conquer their fears? We were eager to find out!

 

 

The pageant Theater is a Chico icon.

 

 

Mid February found us seated at the Pageant Theater in Chico, California, awaiting show time. As the lights lowered, we found ourselves transported back to the Spain we remembered, spellbound as the individual stories unfolded. The scenery was breathtaking.

Based on our experience, the documentary presented an accurate picture of life along the Camino. Through a series of honest and often emotionally raw interviews, we watched the pilgrims push forward through their good and bad times, all determined to complete their journey to Santiago.

Because no two journeys are alike, the film won't be a spoiler for anyone planning their own Camino. It will, however, serve as an inspiration to those who seek personal fulfillment along this centuries old path. Buen Camino!

 

 

 

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Travel theme: Work

A fascinating part of travel is the opportunity to see work in other cultures. Here are some people in various countries we have visited as they toil, often in the service of tourists. The theme for this post was suggested by wheresmybackpack.com, a blog we follow.

Sue found an accordionist in Rome and was enchanted by a piper at Glen Coe in the Scottish Highlands.

A calligrapher paints our name in Shanghai, China. A woman on the Li River in southwest China brings our tour boat fresh food for lunch.

Men in Spain operate a transplanter next to the Camino de Santiago during our trek last spring.

 

 

 

Categories: Reflections | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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