Sunday, 15 June 2008

Dad Tracker v2.0

27th May 23:54
I think I'll just make one post and update it from time to time. (My Dad, who has no religion but very long legs, has just retired, and is walking across northern Spain by the ancient pilgrims' route from France to Santiago de Compostela. He is communicating by text message, which has its own charm as a literary genre — like a return to the telegraph). The links are from Google Maps.

20th May: Saint Jean Pied-de-Port, France.
21st May: Splits first leg, crossing mountains, in two. "Scenery amazing buzzards and kites just need hardening love".
22nd May: Roncesvalles, Spain. Scenery amazing. Feet OK. Optimistic. Sends vaguely-addressed postcard.
23rd May: Rain. Scenery still amazing. Basques not inimical.
24th May: Pamplona. Only 700 kilometres to go.
25th May: Resting in Pamplona after rain, steep paths, waterfalls, mudslides. Feet still OK.
26th May: Puente La Reina. Roman bridge. Storks nesting on church. Town asleep till 5pm. [No link because Google Maps appears to have the wrong place].
27th May: Estella. Sits on steps waiting for Tourist Information to open.

Updates begin: 28th May 20:18
28th May: Los Arcos. Slept badly in pilgrim hostel last night, so sleeps in hotel. Here's the flash map again, with the local information and culinary advice, which in this case includes roast sucking pig, trout, and "renowned cheeses".
29th May: a postcard arrives. It sketches the pilgrims, walking alone or in small scattered groups, admiring the view or photographing each other against local shrines. There is no pressure to walk together, and no competitive spirit. Very friendly, open and pleasant. Text message: feeling good, 29k to Logrono.
30th May: another postcard, from Pamplona, showing a bunch of Basques doing something really insane with some cattle, and on the written side a drawing of a very small child standing on tiptoes trying to operate the button of a water pump which will drench him if he succeeds. Text message: the Rioja; red earth, flowers, goldfinches.
31st May: eating chocolate in Santo Domingo de la Calzada. Good coffee. Rain.
1st June: Phone call. Weather terrible, socks wet and difficult to dry. Pilgrim hostels have their humourous moments. The plan is for a rest day and a night in a proper hotel once a week. Speculations on why people do this, and in particular why some people do it more than once. Romanesque churches reminiscent of one another. Appreciations of home from a distance. Happy voice.
2nd June: Weather somewhat better. Flowers beautiful. 27k. Saw a redstart. Used washing machine. Smell better but wetter.
3rd June: in Burgos. Accommodation in huts. Hotel tomorrow. 550k to go.
4th June: rest day in Burgos. Sent some stuff to friend's house. Now on meseta, flattish terrain for several days. Room to self tonight, bliss.
5th June: Horrible 30k flog through rain and mud.
6th June: Itero de la Vega. Nice weather, but feeling sick. After 20k took room to self, 2hrs sleep.
7th June: 14k to Frómista. Feeling much better, slept 14hrs. Lovely romanesque church.
Carillon de los Condes, 8th June8th June: 1st two hours flat, boring, damp. But easy day. Convent room. Think OK. [Edit 25th June: picture added, Carillon de los Condes, left].
9th June: Passed half way! Over 390k so far. Endless plain of meseta, 800m above sea level, cold North wind. About three days from León. Missing everyone.
10th June: Holed up in Sahagón with tendonitis. Seen doc, very kind. at least engaging with language and country. Have to reduce km and hope it will go away. All part of fun.
Crazy fiesta in Sahagún, 20th June11th June: Leg getting better, still in Sahagun, try 10k tomorrow. Fiesta tonight with bull running, will try to take pictures. [Edit 25th June: added picture, right, "Crazy fiesta in Sahagún"]
12th June: 10k to Bercianos. Problem tomorrow, either 8k or 23k. May try 23 slow with long pause. Can't get into emails with spanish keyboard @.
13 June: Managed 21k. Very tired, weather good, walking easy but just ticking off days. Sent postcard. León tomorrow.
14 June: Watching Spain v Sweden in bar in León. 26k, ok. Spanish families dressed to kill. Nice atmosphere.
15th June: 20k further on, weather better, sleeping on veranda of nice albergue by choice, hope wind doesn't change. "A baby sparrow came and sat on my hand he's been hopping about enjoying the novelty of being a bird these are such quiet places love x".


ModernTanguera said...

This is really neat! I love Spain and have thought about making the trek to Santiago de Compostela. (Well, I traveled there once but by bus! The pilgrimage sounds fascinating to me.) I look forward to seeing the updates to his progress. :)

tangobaby said...

OMG, I love your dad. Can we trade?! (Mine retired recently and he is just upping his television intake.)

I just realized that I have written two comments to you starting with OMG. I need to stop doing that.

tg said...

Good on him! May his feet hold out! I wanted to do this too, but ended up on some Himalayan pilgrimages instead. Much more spectacular scenery, but the food simply can't compare. One or two days' drive from the nearest arable land the diet was lentils, chappaties and chillies.

Do you know Luis Bunuel's film La Voie Lactee? The Camino de Santiago is called the Milky Way in French. Bunuel was anti-clerical (to say the least) but studied old stories about beliefs, visions and events along the way, and compiled them into a film. His contemporary pilgrims are two vagrants (one played by Michel Piccoli) who make the pilgrimage because the begging will be better, and find themselves involved in these old stories and visions. Filmed along the way, too.

tangobaby said...

Wow. I need to find that movie. It sounds amazing.

Anonymous said...

I've done the St Jean to Burgos section. What a long, strange trip that was. I'd only recommend it done using hostels if you are very, very emotionally tough and super-tolerant. It was absolutely gruelling mentally but a doddle physically if you have any hill-walking experience. If I was to complete it, and I'm not sure if I can face going back, I'd do it Pere Hedgehog's way - unhurried and on my own, with plenty of money in my pocket for nice little pensiones.

msHedgehog said...

He is staying in pilgrim hostels most of the time, and it seems they're quite an experience. Hotels on rest days, and when feeling unwell.

Anonymous said...

Didn't help that I fell out big-time with my best mate half way through. Must have been the mysterious spiritual power of the Camino stripping our true selves bare.
Hostels are fine if you can manage to sleep in a room with up to a hundred other snoring, wriggling, coughing people.
On the plus side, one hostel let me in for free when I was in tears and destitute thanks to Barclay's international computers being down and not giving me any cash. Yet another salutary and character building experience! Amd another example of the spiritual nature of the Camino.