October 06, 2018

Boots on the ground 

First, a shoutout to all my friends fighting the good fight in West Virginia. It’s weird to be so fat away with everything going on. Eight years or so ago I was out of the country when Upper Big Branch happened.

Must be my uncanny sense of timing.

Back to the Camino (since im here) ...

A friend asked about footwear on the Camino....tender subject.
At first I planned to go in trail running shoes, but reading suggested these would get eaten fast. I decided to take some hiking boots that seemed broken in but not too far gone....
They died on Day 2.

Good news: it happened near a shoe store in Zubiri. Bad news: they only had three pairs to pick from I my size.. and I have a ginormous big toe joint from an old karate injury. I went with a Columbia boot.

Any runner knows it’s not cool to do even a short race with new shoes, let alone a 500 mile walk.
Since Day 2 my boot and toe have been fighting it out. Sometimes the pain is really bad but they seem to be working things out.

Bottom line: if you’re going to try something like this, and I’m not sure I’d recommend it, wear some hiking boots that are broken in...but not too broken in.

The Camino is long. And rough.

October 05, 2018

News from home 

First, I got some great news from West Virginia today. First my friend Ken Ward from the Charleston Gazette-Mail won a well deserved genius award from the MacArthur Foundation.https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.ehn.org/west-virginia-reporter-ken-ward-jr-wins-prestigious-macarthur-genius-grant-2610042271.amp.html
Also receiving the award was the Rev. William Barber, leader of the Moral Monday movement and the Poor Peoples Campaign.


Finally, my dear friend Jennifer Wells just accepted the position as director of the WV Healthy Kids and Families Coalition. She succeeds another dear friend Stephen Smith, who we’ll hear more from in the future.

I’m so proud of all of them.

More about the Camino tomorrow inshallah.

October 04, 2018

Church of the holy chicken

There are all kinds of legends about the Camino de Santiago. One of the most colorful is set in Santo Domingo de Calzada (two days or so back).
It goes like this: two pious German parents and their teen son were walking the Camino. They stopped at an inn in Santo Domingo. A woman at the tavern made sexual advances on the son, which he rejected.
In revenge, she put a goblet in his pack and framed him for theft. He was hanged.
The parents went on to Santiago and prayed. When they came back , they went to a magistrate to say the son was innocent and that he would be raised.
The magistrate, who was eating at the time, said that was as likely as the rooster on his plate coming back to life. It did, and it’s decedents are honored in the cathedral to this day.
And yes, I believe every word of it.

October 03, 2018

Camino nuts and bolts

A friend asked for some of the practical parts of walking the Camino de Santiago. Here’s one installment.
You need a credencial or pilgrim’s passport. It gives you the right to stay in low cost hostels called albergues. These are dorms with bunk beds for all sexes. The showers and bathrooms are often that way too.
It seemed a little weird at first but I got used to it really quickly. It’s actually kind of sweet. The hardest part is probably trying to go through your stuff in a small space.
The passport needs to get a sello or stamp each day and twice a day for the last 100 km in order to receive a Compostela or certificate of completion when you get to Santiago.
More to come.
(It’s hard to blog on an iPhone with limited WiFi here. More on Facebook.)

October 01, 2018

Distance matters

Day 7 Camino: Important geographic discovery. European kilometers are way longer than American kilometers (not that we care much for kilometers there).

In US a km is like 10 football fields or 21/2 laps on a track. Nothing. In Spain it is an incalculable distance mostly uphill.

So if a sign here says your destination is 4.9 km, it’s probably 17 vertical miles. That’s how it feels anyway.

September 30, 2018

An apology to the dead

I remember reading about how some Unions troops in the western theatre of the war threw away their blankets and gear during a warm spell...just in time for the weather to turn freezing cold.

I thought “how dumb. And how bad could it be to carry a standard pack?

I stand corrected and apologize to the Union dead. I’ve been carrying about half what they did, 25 pounds or so with water and I’m tempted to chuck mine or ship it through. I also remember reading that Rom├ín soldiers  carried 60-80 pounds, without the fancy packs we have today.

Teo songs have been going through my head: Comrade Paul Robeson singing about beating the burden in the heat of the day and The Band singing The Weight (especially the part about pulling into Nazareth and feeling about half past dead.

Good though!